Just conservation: What is it and should we pursue it? Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-24 John A. Vucetich, Dawn Burnham, Ewan A. Macdonald, Jeremy T. Bruskotter, Silvio Marchini, Alexandra Zimmermann, David W. Macdonald
Efforts to realize conservation are often met with stakeholders contending that particular conservation actions are unfair for conflicting with their basic interests. A useful lens through which to view such conflict is social justice, which may be considered the fair treatment of others judged according three principles: equality, need, and desert (noun form of deserve). We formally demonstrate that (i) the subject of social justice (others) includes many non-human elements of nature and (ii) realizing conservation that is also socially just requires being guided by a non-anthropocentrism principle, whereby no human should infringe on the well-being of others any more than is necessary for a healthy, meaningful life. The concept, “healthy, meaningful life” is less vague and subjective than might be presupposed. That concept is for example subject to considerable objective reasoning through social and behavioral sciences. We indicate how realizing socially-just conservation requires another guiding, safeguard principle: If a significant and genuine conservation interest calls for restricting a human interest, that restriction should occur except when doing so would result in injustice. When the restriction would be unjust every effort should be made by all involved parties to mitigate the restriction to the point of no longer being unjust. This principle covers concerns often raised when conservation is opposed – e.g., financial costs, loss of cultural tradition. We explain how these two principles are neglected or excluded by many methods for resolving conservation conflicts and collaborative governance of natural resources.
Using simulation modeling to inform management of invasive species: A case study of eastern brook trout suppression and eradication Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-24 Casey C. Day, Erin L. Landguth, Andrew Bearlin, Zachary A. Holden, Andrew R. Whiteley
Ecosystem impacts due to invasive species continue to attract significant conservation effort worldwide. In aquatic ecosystems, physical interventions such as suppression and eradication of non-native species are typically expensive, long-term commitments, with few examples of lasting success in the absence of significant ongoing effort. Control of non-native species is a major conservation and restoration challenge, as a species' demographic resilience and connectivity within networks can limit the ability of suppression or eradication efforts to influence populations. Simulation tools can provide valuable insights for the management of these systems - from evaluation of tradeoffs between time and effort to prediction of relative success rates of alternative strategies in changing environments. In the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S., the eastern brook trout (EBT; Salvelinus fontinalis) is a non-native invasive species that competes with native fish species across a wide spatial scale due to extensive human-mediated introduction starting in the early 20th century. The goal of this study was to simulate the individual movement and demographics of EBT before, during, and following implementation of control efforts in tributaries within the Pend Oreille River watershed. The ultimate purpose of the model was to inform mitigation decisions through the investigation of alternative management actions in an adaptive management framework. Our results indicate that eradication of EBT is improbable in large systems via electrofishing, but suppression is a viable alternative given sustained management efforts. Changes to scheduling, effort, and length of electrofishing suppression treatments had minimal effects on EBT population recovery times. We reproduced the effects of compensatory responses to control treatments, including increases in juvenile survival and emigration rates, and demonstrated that these mechanisms are likely drivers of recovery following treatment. Our study highlights the many benefits of incorporating spatially explicit, individual-based models into management plans for the control of invasive species.
Metrics of population status for long-lived territorial birds: A case study of golden eagle demography Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-23 Javier D. Monzón, Nicholas A. Friedenberg
Content analysis of newspaper coverage of wolf recolonization in France using structural topic modeling Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-22 Marie Chandelier, Agnès Steuckardt, Raphaël Mathevet, Sascha Diwersy, Olivier Gimenez
Populations of large carnivores are recovering in Europe and incur increasing conflict interactions with human activities. According to the agenda-setting theory, the media dissemination of information on these interactions is likely to contribute to shaping public perceptions of large carnivores. We conducted a content analysis of printed media coverage of wolf recovery in France over the period 1993–2014, ever since its natural return to southeast France. To do so, we used a recently developed statistical method – structural topic modeling – that allows to generate topics from large amount of texts and formulate new or assess existing hypotheses. This method formally includes covariates to explain variation in topic prevalence and content in a way that is similar to standard regression analyses. We contrasted content variation between articles in a regional (Nice-Matin; N = 742) and a national (Le Monde; N = 148) newspaper and analyzed time trends in topic prevalence. The most represented topics were mainly related to the management issues regarding wolf recovery. We found that Le Monde represented management issues in a generic manner associated with a perspective centred on carnivore species. In contrast, articles in Nice-Matin were about factual issues and associated with a human-centred viewpoint. This contrasted framing emphasizes the gap in representations of wolf management between citizens who directly interact with the wolf and favor detailed information content, centred on human views, and citizens who do not interact or only indirectly with the wolf who will focus on less detailed news, with a more ecological approach. We suggest that increased communication between local and national stakeholders and institutions could provide the context for a more balanced media content of interactions between carnivore species and human activities. This combination could attenuate the gap between regional and national representations.
Developing forensic tools for an African timber: Regional origin is revealed by genetic characteristics, but not by isotopic signature Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-23 Mart Vlam, G. Arjen de Groot, Arnoud Boom, Paul Copini, Ivo Laros, Katrui Veldhuijzen, David Zakamdi, Pieter A. Zuidema
Combatting illegal timber trade requires forensic tools that independently verify claimed geographic origin of timber. Chemical and genetic wood characteristics are potentially suitable tools, but their performance at small spatial scales is unknown. Here we test whether stable isotopes and microsatellites can differentiate Tali timber (Erythrophleum spp.) at the level of forest concessions. We collected 394 wood samples from 134 individuals in five concessions in Cameroon and Congo Republic. The nearest neighbour concessions were 14 km apart and the furthest pair 836 km apart. We constructed genetic profiles using eight nuclear microsatellite markers and measured concentrations of δ18O, δ15N and δ13C. We differentiated provenances using PCA (microsatellites), ANOVA and kernel discriminant analysis (isotopes). Next, we performed assignment tests using blind samples (n = 12, microsatellites) and leave one out cross validation (LOOCV, isotopes). Isotopic composition varied strongly within concessions and only δ13C differed significantly between two concessions. As a result, LOOCV performed only marginally better than random. Genetic differentiation among provenances was also relatively low, but private alleles were commonly found. Bayesian clustering analysis correctly assigned 92% of the blind samples, including those of nearby concessions. Thus, Tali timber can be successfully assigned to the concession of origin using genetic markers, but not using isotopic composition. Isotopic differentiation may be possible at larger spatial scales or with stronger climatic or topographic variation. Our study shows that genetic analyses can differentiate the geographic origin of tropical timber at the scale of forest concessions, demonstrating their potential as forensic tools to enforce timber trade legislation.
Facilitating ecosystem assembly: Plant-soil interactions as a restoration tool Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-23 A.U. van der Bij, M.J. Weijters, R. Bobbink, J.A. Harris, M. Pawlett, K. Ritz, P. Benetková, J. Moradi, J. Frouz, R. van Diggelen
The non-linear, interactive effects of population density and climate drive the geographical patterns of waterfowl survival Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-22 Qing Zhao, G. Scott Boomer, William L. Kendall
On-going climate change has major impacts on ecological processes and patterns. Understanding the impacts of climate on the geographical patterns of survival can provide insights to how population dynamics respond to climate change and provide important information for the development of appropriate conservation strategies at regional scales. It is challenging to understand the impacts of climate on survival, however, due to the fact that the non-linear relationship between survival and climate can be modified by density-dependent processes. In this study we extended the Brownie model to partition hunting and non-hunting mortalities and linked non-hunting survival to covariates. We applied this model to four decades (1972–2014) of waterfowl band-recovery, breeding population survey, and precipitation and temperature data covering multiple ecological regions to examine the non-linear, interactive effects of population density and climate on waterfowl non-hunting survival at a regional scale. Our results showed that the non-linear effect of temperature on waterfowl non-hunting survival was modified by breeding population density. The concave relationship between non-hunting survival and temperature suggested that the effects of warming on waterfowl survival might be multifaceted. Furthermore, the relationship between non-hunting survival and temperature was stronger when population density was higher, suggesting that high-density populations may be less buffered against warming than low-density populations. Our study revealed distinct relationships between waterfowl non-hunting survival and climate across and within ecological regions, highlighting the importance of considering different conservation strategies according to region-specific population and climate conditions. Our findings and associated novel modelling approach have wide implications in conservation practice.
Geographical and socioeconomic determinants of species discovery trends in a biodiversity hotspot Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-22 Mario R. Moura, Henrique C. Costa, Marco A. Peixoto, André L.G. Carvalho, Diego J. Santana, Heraldo L. Vasconcelos
Understanding how we built our knowledge on species descriptions is especially important in biodiversity hotspots, since those regions potentially harbour many undescribed-endemic species that are already threatened by intensification of human activities. We compiled an extensive dataset on anuran, lizard, and snake assemblages in the Atlantic Forest (AF) hotspot, South America, to evaluate the role of geographic and socioeconomic factors on herpetofaunal species discoveries. We applied spatial autoregressive methods under a multimodel inference framework to quantify the extent to which human occupation, economic development, on-ground accessibility, biodiversity appeal (i.e. interest of first researching preserved areas), and expertise availability explain geographical discovery trends of distinct herpetofaunal groups. More populous regions show more recently described species, particularly in southeastern AF where regional expert availability and economic development are greater. The influence of human occupation on geographical discovery trends carries the impact of historical human colonization in the AF, which happened mainly over endemism-rich mountainous regions in its southeastern section. Similarly, the biodiversity appeal effect is linked to the current reserve network in the AF that was only established after the massive human disturbance of lowland forest regions. Overall, our findings indicate that low-populated areas with low on-ground accessibility should be prioritized in future studies in the AF, since these are where the taxonomic impediment is more likely to occur.
Do responsibly managed logging concessions adequately protect jaguars and other large and medium-sized mammals? Two case studies from Guatemala and Peru Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-22 Mathias W. Tobler, Rony Garcia Anleu, Samia E. Carrillo-Percastegui, Gabriela Ponce Santizo, John Polisar, Alfonso Zuñiga Hartley, Isaac Goldstein
Large areas of tropical forest have been designated for timber production but logging practices vary widely. Reduced-impact logging is considered best practice and third-party certification aims to ensure that strict standards are met. This includes minimizing the number of roads constructed, avoiding sensitive areas and strictly regulating hunting. Large scale camera trap grids were utilized in Guatemala and Peru to evaluate the impact of reduced-impact logging in certified concessions upon the large and medium-sized mammal fauna with special emphasis on jaguars (Panthera onca). Spatial capture-recapture models showed that jaguar density in Peru (4.54 ± 0.83 ind. 100 km−2) was significantly higher than in Guatemala (1.52 ± 0.34 ind. 100 km−2) but in both regions, densities were comparable to protected areas. Camera traps detected 22 species of large and medium sized mammals in Guatemala and 27 in Peru and a multi-species occupancy model revealed that logging had no negative impact on any of the species studied and actually had an initial positive impact on several herbivore species. We found no avoidance of logging roads; in fact, many species, especially carnivores, frequently used logging roads as movement corridors. Our results indicate that well-managed logging concessions can maintain important populations of large and medium-sized mammals including large herbivores and large carnivores as long as hunting is controlled and timber volumes extracted are low. Responsible forest management would therefore be an ideal activity in the buffer zones and multiple use zones of protected areas creating much less impact and conflict than alternatives such as agriculture or cattle ranching while still providing economic opportunities. Logging concessions can also play an important role in maintaining landscape connectivity between protected areas.
The endangered red panda (Ailurus fulgens): Ecology and conservation approaches across the entire range Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Arjun Thapa, Yibo Hu, Fuwen Wei
The red panda (Ailurus fulgens), a vegetarian member of the order Carnivora, is distributed in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, and China. Many populations occur at low densities in small fragmented forest patches and face pressure from habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, poaching, and developmental activities. Most studies have taken place in China and Nepal; few studies have been conducted in the other countries, creating a gap in documentation. Therefore, there is an urgent need to increase our knowledge regarding the ecology of the red panda and its threats. Based on literature regarding the red panda, we attempt to summarize the progress in research on its current distribution, ecology, and existing threats in the wild, highlight conservation approaches and recommend future directions. Recent studies have focused on wild populations; however, earlier studies emphasized captive. China and Nepal have a wider elevational range in red panda distribution (2000–3800 m) compared to other countries. Bamboo mixed subtropical and temperate forest and other associated variables, including a relatively high cover of bamboo, shrubs, and canopy, high densities of fallen logs, relatively steep slopes, and proximity to water sources, are ecologically important in the habitat. Due to differences in methodologies, prior estimates on population size and habitat area have varied. The genetic diversity of red pandas is high in China, but a lack of such data in other range countries makes subspecies classification unclear. Movement, microbiota, pathogens, and threats have been insufficiently documented; thus, we recommended extensive research in these areas. Furthermore, regional cooperation in research, data sharing, and policy implementation are urgently needed to protect wild panda populations.
The influence of hedgerow structural condition on wildlife habitat provision in farmed landscapes Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Lyndsey Graham, Rachel Gaulton, France Gerard, Joanna T. Staley
In this review, we discuss the role of hedgerow structure and condition in determining the value of hedgerow habitat for biodiversity conservation within an agricultural context, to inform and evaluate hedgerow management decisions and policy. Through a systematic literature review, narrative synthesis and vote counting, key structural condition indicators were identified for a range of conservation priority taxa. Abundance, survival or fecundity of ground vegetation, birds, mammals and invertebrates were affected by height, width, woody biomass, foliar quality and quantity, and gappiness of hedgerows. Although general patterns may not occur, a response to a particular structural feature can vary both within and between taxonomic groups, many responses are synergistic and interdependent. In conclusion, the definition of a “good quality” hedgerow for biodiversity conservation should be expanded to include all those key structural features which are important across taxa. Furthermore, the importance of heterogeneity in hedgerow structural condition is highlighted, where no fixed set of hedgerow characteristics were found to benefit all taxa. If uniform hedgerow management is overprescribed, as has been the tendency with some agri-environment schemes, some species (including those of conservation concern) are likely to be adversely affected by a loss of suitable habitat or resource decline.
The rapid expansion of Madagascar's protected area system Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-08 Charlie J. Gardner, Martin E. Nicoll, Christopher Birkinshaw, Alasdair Harris, Richard E. Lewis, Domoina Rakotomalala, Anitry N. Ratsifandrihamanana
Protected areas (PAs) are our principal conservation strategy and are evolving rapidly, but we know little about the real-world management and governance of new forms. We review the evolution of Madagascar's PA system from 2003 to 2016 based on our experience as practitioners involved. During this period PA coverage quadrupled and the network of strict, centrally-governed protected areas expanded to include sites characterized by: i) multiple-use management models in which sustainable extractive natural resource uses are permitted, ii) shared governance arrangements involving non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local community associations, and iii) a management emphasis on livelihood-based approaches and social safeguards. We discuss the principal challenges for the effectiveness of the expanded system and detail management/policy responses. These include i) enhancing stakeholder participation, ii) ensuring financial sustainability, iii) enforcing rules, iv) ensuring the ecological sustainability of PAs faced with permitted resource extraction, v) reducing the natural resource dependence of local communities through transformative livelihood change, and vi) developing long-term visions to reconcile the differing objectives of conservation NGOs and other stakeholders. In general PAs have had limited effectiveness in reducing deforestation and other threats, which may be related to their rapid establishment processes and the complexity of management towards multiple objectives, coupled with insufficient resources. While Madagascar's achievements provide a basis for conserving the country's biodiversity, the challenge faced by its protected areas will continue to grow.
The hidden consequences of altering host-parasite relationships during fauna translocations Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 A.S. Northover, A.J. Lymbery, A.F. Wayne, S.S. Godfrey, R.C.A. Thompson
Host-parasite relationships are complex, and in wild animal populations individuals are commonly co-infected with various parasite species or intraspecific strains. While it is widely recognised that polyparasitism has the potential to reduce host fitness and increase susceptibility to predation or disease, the role of polyparasitism in influencing translocation success has never been investigated. Here we review the consequences of translocation for the host-parasite infracommunity and demonstrate how translocation-induced perturbations to within-host-parasite relationships may exacerbate the negative impacts of polyparasitism to the detriment of host health and translocation success. We also consider the ecological and immunological effects of altering host-parasite assemblages during translocation, and illustrate how the use of anti-parasitic drugs can further modify parasite infracommunity dynamics, with unintended impacts on target and non-target parasites. Importantly, as the evolutionary and ecological significance of the host-parasite relationship is increasingly recognised, we discuss the benefits of conserving parasites during fauna translocations.
Edge effects of oil palm plantations on tropical anuran communities in Borneo Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-08 Sarah A. Scriven, Graeme R. Gillespie, Samsir Laimun, Benoît Goossens
The expansion of industrial agriculture (oil palm) has significantly reduced lowland tropical diversity through direct loss or alteration of habitat, leading to habitat fragmentation and edge effects. Edge effects can have serious impacts on species diversity and community dynamics. To assess the effect of oil palm plantation edges on anuran communities in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, we surveyed anuran species and measured structural habitat and landscape parameters at 74 sites spread across forest and plantation habitats along the Kinabatangan River. We then evaluated how anuran species richness and assemblage composition varied in relation to these environmental parameters. Relative species richness was higher at forest sites, compared to oil palm plantation sites. Plantation sites were dominated by wide-ranging terrestrial species, and assemblage composition varied mostly in relation to standing surface water. Forest habitats supported both more endemic and arboreal species. Variability on anuran assemblage composition in forest habitats was greatest in relation to distance to forest edge followed by canopy density, which was also partially correlated with forest edge distance. Moreover, anuran species richness in forest habitats declined as proximity to the forest-plantation interface increased, and as canopy density decreased. Our study provides further evidence that oil palm plantations provide little conservation benefit to anurans. Furthermore, oil palm plantations appear to have adverse pervasive impacts on amphibian diversity considerable distances into adjacent forest areas. These findings suggest that in order for small patches or narrow corridors of retained forest in landscapes managed for oil palm to maintain biodiversity values in the long term, their sizes and widths need to adequately account for the considerable influence of edge effects.
Effects of illegal grazing and invasive Lantana camara on Asian elephant habitat use Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-08 Christie Sampson, Peter Leimgruber, David Tonkyn, Jennifer Pastorini, H.K. Janaka, Elaine Sotherden, Prithiviraj Fernando
Protected areas provide some of the last refuges for Asian elephants in the wild. Managing these areas for elephants will be critical for elephant conservation. Scientists know little about elephant habitat use in Asia and how invasive species or livestock grazing influence habitat use. We studied these issues in two protected areas in Sri Lanka, Udawalawe National Park and Hurulu Eco-Park. These areas contain some of Sri Lanka's largest remaining grasslands. These grasslands are threatened by the invasive and toxic shrub, Lantana camara, and are used for illegal livestock grazing. To measure habitat use by elephants and livestock, we conducted dung surveys along over 50 km of transects stratified across grassland, scrub, and forest. We surveyed 159 vegetation plots along these transects to assess plant composition, and mapped habitat types based on satellite images. We used mixed-effect models to determine the relative importance of habitats, livestock presence, and plant associations for elephant use. Elephant presence was greatest in scrub and grassland habitats, positively associated with both livestock presence and short graminoids, and unaffected by L. camara, which was widespread but at low densities. Given the importance of these areas to elephants, we recommend a precautionary management approach that focuses on curbing both illegal grazing and the spread of L. camara.
Conservation status of Phasianidae in Southeast Asia Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-08 Matthew J. Grainger, Peter J. Garson, Stephen J. Browne, Philip J.K. McGowan, Tommaso Savini
Local and regional extirpations of individual species, typically high profile cases, are now well documented, leading to calls for urgent action for particular species in specific locations. There is a need to broaden our assessments of extinction to identify landscapes that contain high proportions of threatened species and therefore, how more holistic species conservation responses might be developed. The conservation status of species is especially concerning in Southeast Asia and within the region, the avian family Phasianidae affords the opportunity to develop an approach for examining species richness and extinction probability for an entire family at landscape scale. There are 42 pheasant, partridge and quail species in the region and 77% of Southeast Asia encompasses the geographic range of at least five species. Due to high levels of uncertainty about how species respond to anthropogenic threats, we created an expert elicited Bayesian Belief Network to explore survival prospects using publically available data on IUCN extinction probability categories, proxies of threat (effects of hunting, forest loss and protected area effectiveness) and species geographic ranges to assess where the overall risk to survival was highest. Western Myanmar, Central Indoburma (Thailand/Myanmar), the Annamite mountains and Central Vietnam lowlands, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo are priorities for avoiding large numbers of extinctions of phasianids. This assessment will be strengthened by more detailed data on intensity of hunting pressure across the region, and variation in species' tolerance to human disturbance. Strategically, therefore, conservation and research should be targeted towards these landscapes.
Protecting nature on private land using revolving funds: Assessing property suitability Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Mathew J. Hardy, Sarah A. Bekessy, James A. Fitzsimons, Luis Mata, Chris Cook, Alex Nankivell, Kate Smillie, Ascelin Gordon
Forecasting the outcome of multiple effects of climate change on northern common eiders Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Cody J. Dey, Christina A.D. Semeniuk, Samuel A. Iverson, Evan Richardson, David McGeachy, H. Grant Gilchrist
Contemporary climate change has complex effects on animal populations caused by the (non-linear) combination of multiple direct and indirect effects on individuals. These interactions make predictions of the ecological response to climate change challenging; however, predictive models are required to effectively manage wildlife populations and conserve biodiversity. Here, we demonstrate how agent-based models (ABMs) can be used to predict population responses under multiple effects of climate change. We consider the case of northern common eiders (Somateria mollissima borealis), a culturally and ecologically important seaduck which is experiencing dramatic environmental change due to losses in Arctic sea ice. Our model shows that losses in Arctic sea ice will lead to increases in nest predation by polar bears in areas where these species are sympatric. However, climate-mediated increases in breeding propensity and clutch size could have a large positive effect on eider population size. When considered together, these effects are predicted to result in a relatively stable eider population size over a 50-year period. Additionally, assuming eider populations are influenced by climate change in the manner proposed in this study, our model suggests that future eider populations will not be more susceptible to extrinsic perturbations (e.g. severe weather events, disease outbreaks) than were historical populations. As a result, our study demonstrates increasing climatic suitability and increasing nest predation will not lead to major changes in population size in northern common eiders, and emphasizes the importance of considering multiple, interacting effects on wildlife populations experiencing climate change.
Public attitudes toward the presence and management of bats roosting in buildings in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Southeastern United States Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Kirstin E. Fagan, Emma V. Willcox, Adam S. Willcox
In the human dimensions of wildlife management, evaluating stakeholder perceptions of target species helps inform effective conservation efforts. Stakeholder perceptions are invaluable when managing taxa like bats, which may have historically negative cultural preconceptions. However, insectivorous bats provide critical ecosystem services in North America through agricultural insect pest control, and many of these species are threatened by white-nose syndrome (WNS), a disease caused by an invasive fungal pathogen. In Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM), the most visited National Park in the United States (USA), bats are regularly observed roosting in historical buildings by visitors and park employees during summer. As a result, natural and cultural resource managers seek to ensure public safety and protect historical structures while minimizing impacts on bats, especially in light of declines in bat populations as a result of WNS. However, managers lacked information on visitor perceptions of bats and support for potential management action regarding the taxon. From June to August 2016, we surveyed 420 park visitors at three sites in the Cades Cove area of GRSM on their attitudes toward bats, perception of threats to and ecosystem services provided by bats, and support for management of bats. Most respondents supported management action to protect bats in buildings in Cades Cove during summer (76%). Standardized parameter estimates from a multiple linear regression developed with survey data indicated that attitudes toward bats and perception of threats to bats had the greatest effects on support for bat management. Wildlife management and conservation agencies seeking to further cultivate support for management of bats roosting in public spaces may apply these results in the design of tailored programming and outreach materials.
Forest-edge associated bees benefit from the proportion of tropical forest regardless of its edge length Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Catalina Gutiérrez-Chacón, Carsten F. Dormann, Alexandra-Maria Klein
Natural areas are important for wild bees in human-dominated landscapes as they provide permanent feeding and nesting resources. Understanding how bee communities vary with the amount of natural areas is thus key to guide conservation measures. This information, however, is largely lacking in montane tropical ecosystems. Here we explore to what extent the amount of forest area or forest edge (as landscape variables) influence the species richness and abundance of forest-edge associated bees in the Colombian Andes. In addition, we assess the effects of flower species richness and abundance (as local variables) to better understand the individual and interactive effects of forest conservation. Bees were surveyed along 20 forest edges differing in forest proportion and forest edge length within four spatial scales (250, 500, 1000 and 1500 m radii). We conducted trait-specific analyses as bees with different traits associated to body size, sociality and nesting behavior might differ in their response to local and landscape variables. We found that overall bee species richness and abundance increased with an increasing proportion of forest within 1000 m radius, but also with flower abundance. Similarly, the species richness and abundance of social, large and above-ground nesting bees increased with an increasing proportion of forest area, mainly within 500 and 1000 m radii. However, only the abundance (not the species richness) of solitary and small bees were positively related to the proportion of forest within 1000 m. Below-ground nesters did not respond to the individual effect of forest area at any spatial scale. Interactive effects between local and landscape variables were mainly found between flower richness and the proportion of forest. Forest edge length influenced only the abundance of solitary bees. These findings highlight the importance of conserving and/or restoring forest areas – at meaningful spatial scales – to promote diverse bee communities in montane tropical regions.
Identification of critical habitat in a data-poor area for an Endangered aquatic apex predator Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Alec B.M. Moore
Conservation often focuses on “critical habitat” including areas important for the reproduction of threatened taxa. As for many aquatic species a priority of shark conservation is the protection of nurseries, yet few countries can support the costly fieldwork required to identify these according to strict criteria. Alternative approaches are therefore required where resource, capacity and security constraints exist. This study collates low-resolution data from alternative, remotely collected and inexpensive existing sources (fish market surveys, literature, museums, anecdotal accounts), to evaluate a possible nursery for the regionally Endangered bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) in the Tigris-Euphrates system and adjacent northwestern Persian/Arabian Gulf (Iraq, Iran, Kuwait), a data-poor area long characterised by conflict and inaccessibility. Evidence is presented that aligns with two of the three nursery definition criteria (abundance and repeated use), along with other data supporting known C. leucas reproductive behaviour. While the necessarily low resolution data cannot answer the full suite of strict nursery criteria nor identify precise nursery locations, they nevertheless collectively provide compelling evidence for a broad area of importance to young and juvenile C. leucas. This area is both highly threatened (e.g. by damming, climate change, fisheries) and of potential major significance, given the apparent absence of similar estuary habitat for thousands of kilometres of arid northwestern Indian Ocean coast. The inexpensive desk-based approach to identifying critical habitat provides another toolkit option for conservationists and could best be applied to distinctive threatened aquatic taxa, especially in the developing world where conservation is often resource-limited.
Identifying potential areas for an expanding wolf population in Sweden Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Therese Eriksson, Fredrik Dalerum
Counting bears in the Iranian Caucasus: Remarkable mismatch between scientifically-sound population estimates and perceptions Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Ehsan M. Moqanaki, José Jiménez, Staffan Bensch, José Vicente López-Bao
Lack of reliable information on the status of species often leads managers to exclusively rely on experiential knowledge, opinions or perceptions, usually derived from personnel associated with natural resource management agencies. Yet, the accuracy of these sources of information remains largely untested. We approached this challenge, which is particularly common for wildlife monitoring programs in developing countries, using a population of Asian brown bears (Ursus arctos) in the Iranian Caucasus as case study. We conducted a noninvasive, genetic, spatial capture-recapture (SCR) study to estimate bear density across a core protected area, Arasbaran Biosphere Reserve, and compared our estimate of bear abundance with rangers' perceptions as collated through interviews. The perceived abundance of bears by local rangers was between 3 and 5 times higher than our SCR estimate of 40 bears (2.5–97.5% Bayesian Credible Intervals = 27–70; density: 4.88 bears/100 km2). Our results suggest that basing management of the local bear population on perceptions of population status may result in overestimating the likelihood of population persistence. Our findings offer a scientific baseline for an evidence-based conservation policy for brown bears in Iran, and the broader Caucasus Ecoregion. The majority of threatened terrestrial megafauna occur in developing countries, where collecting and analyzing demographic data remain challenging. Delayed conservation responses due to the lack of, or erroneous knowledge of population status of such imperiled species may have serious consequences.
Low genetic diversity, limited gene flow and widespread genetic bottleneck effects in a threatened dolphin species, the Australian humpback dolphin Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Guido J. Parra, Daniele Cagnazzi, Maria Jedensjö, Corinne Ackermann, Celine Frere, Jennifer Seddon, Natacha Nikolic, Michael Krützen
Numerous species of marine megafauna are at risk of extinction and understanding their genetic population structure and demographic history is essential for their conservation. We used mitochondrial DNA and 18 nuclear microsatellite loci, on the largest genetic dataset compiled to date on Australian humpback dolphins (eight sampling sites, 159 samples), to assess their genetic diversity, gene flow and past demographic history along the east coast of Queensland, Australia. Levels of genetic diversity were low (mtDNA: h = 0–0.52, π = 0–0.007; nDNA: Ho = 0.27–0.41; AR = 1.7–2.4). Both mitochondrial (ΦST = 0.49, P = 0.001) and nuclear markers (FST = 0.14, P = 0.001) showed strong genetic structure among sampling sites. Four putative populations were identified, with little contemporary gene flow (m = 0.017 to 0.047) among populations. Genetic divergence follows an isolation-by-distance model (r = 0.38, P = 0.0001), with an apparent restriction in gene flow occurring at scales of 382–509 km. Estimates of contemporary effective population size were low (Ne = 11.5–31.2), with signatures of genetic bottlenecks for all putative populations about 50–150 generations ago. The current low levels of genetic diversity, gene flow, and effective population size in Australian humpback dolphins indicate the effects of historical population bottlenecks and/or founder events during the late Holocene period (~1250–3750 years ago); probably associated with sea level fall and increased intensity of El Niño Southern Oscillation-climatic events. Our results raise important conservation concerns and emphasize the vulnerability of Australian humpback dolphins to stochastic demographic, genetic and environmental processes. Conservation strategies should focus on promoting connectivity among local populations and reducing direct causes of human-related mortality.
Atlantic forest mammals cannot find cellphone coverage Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Leandro Macedo, Carlos Henrique Salvador, Nadia Moschen, Adrian Monjeau
We present a novel and simpler way to measure human influence: the cellphone coverage. Besides, we also evaluated its influence in the probability of occurrence of medium and large wild mammals in Brazilian Atlantic Forest, as a study case. As a first step, we have demonstrated the correlation between cellphone coverage and human footprint globally, using a database of >23 million antennas. Then, we have carefully studied the correspondence between the presence of a species and the cellphone coverage for 45 species of medium and large mammals of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. We recorded 18,211 points of presence of mammals, and their probability of being under cellphone coverage was on average very low (18%). Most of the species showed a clear negative relationship with cellphone coverage, and threatened species presented an even lower probability, of at least 4% when compared with non-threatened ones. The strong positive relationship between cellphone coverage and the Human Footprint gradient at a global scale corroborated our a priori hypothesis that cellphone coverage can act as a surrogate for human presence, even in forested areas were no other footprint evidence is easily detectable.
The disparity between species description and conservation assessment: A case study in taxa with high rates of species discovery Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Benjamin Tapley, Christopher J. Michaels, Rikki Gumbs, Monika Böhm, Jennifer Luedtke, Paul Pearce-Kelly, Jodi J.L. Rowley
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Red List) details the extinction risk of the world's species and presents an important biodiversity indicator for conservation policy. Its continued utility relies on it containing up-to-date information on the extinction risk of species. This requires both regular reassessments and the timely assessment of newly described species. We provide an overview of the status of amphibian Red List assessments to highlight the difficulties of keeping assessments updated for species groups with high rates of species description. Since the publication of the IUCN's Global Amphibian Assessment in 2004, description rates of new species and assessment rates were initially similar; yet while the former has remained consistent, the latter has recently sharply declined. Currently 61.3% of amphibian species are either Not Evaluated or have out-of-date assessments. The situation is particularly problematic in countries with the richest amphibian diversity, which typically have the highest rates of amphibian species discovery and face the greatest threats. Efforts to keep the Red List up-to-date are primarily limited by funding, we estimate that an annual investment of US $170,478–$319,290 is needed to have an up-to-date Red List for amphibians. We propose suggestions to increase assessment rates by improving the availability of data relevant to the process: authors of species descriptions or taxonomic revisions should publish information relevant to Red List assessments. Taxonomic journals should suggest inclusion of such information in their author guidelines. We suggest that contributors with significant input into assessments should be rewarded with co-authorship of published assessments.
Loss of catchment-wide riparian forest cover is associated with reduced recruitment in a long-lived amphibian Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Catherine M. Bodinof Jachowski, William A. Hopkins
Bird collisions at wind turbines in a mountainous area related to bird movement intensities measured by radar Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Janine Aschwanden, Herbert Stark, Dieter Peter, Thomas Steuri, Baptiste Schmid, Felix Liechti
Bird collisions at wind turbines are perceived to be an important conservation issue. To determine mitigation actions such as temporary shutdown of wind turbines when bird movement intensities are high, knowledge of the relationship between the number of birds crossing an area and the number of collisions is essential. Our aim was to combine radar data on bird movement intensities with collision data from a systematic carcass search. We used a dedicated bird radar, located near a wind farm in a mountainous area, to continuously record bird movement intensities from February to mid-November 2015. In addition, we searched the ground below three wind turbines (Enercon E-82) for carcasses on 85 dates and considered three established correction factors to extrapolate the number of collisions. The extrapolated number of collisions was 20.7 birds/wind turbine (CI-95%: 14.3–29.6) for 8.5 months. Nocturnally migrating passerines, especially kinglets (Regulus sp.), represented 55% of the fatalities. 2.1% of the birds theoretically exposed to a collision (measured by radar at the height of the wind turbines) were effectively colliding. Collisions mainly occurred during migration and affected primarily nocturnal migrants. It was not possible to assign the fatalities doubtlessly to events with strong migration. Fresh-looking carcasses were found after nights with both strong and weak bird movement intensities, indicating fatalities are not restricted to mass movement events (onshore). Rather, it is likely that an important factor influencing collision risk is limited visibility due to weather conditions. Local and regional visibility should be considered in future studies and when fine-tuning shutdown systems for wind turbines.
Relating plant height to demographic rates and extinction vulnerability Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-15 Melinda M.J. de Jonge, Jelle P. Hilbers, Eelke Jongejans, Wim A. Ozinga, A. Jan Hendriks, Mark A.J. Huijbregts
To prioritize conservation efforts, it is important to know which plant species are most vulnerable to extinction. Intrinsic extinction vulnerabilities depend on demographic parameters, but for many species these demographic parameters are lacking. Body size has been successfully used as proxy of such parameters to estimate extinction vulnerability of birds and mammals. For plants, not all necessary demographic parameters have been related to size yet. Here, we derived allometric relationships with maximum plant height for the intrinsic population growth rate and the carrying capacity. Furthermore, for the first time, we derived a relationship between the variance in population growth rate due to environmental stochasticity and plant height. These relationships were used to relate extinction vulnerability to maximum plant height. Extinction vulnerability was found to be most sensitive to fluctuations in the population growth rate due to environmental stochasticity. Large plant species were less susceptible to environmental stochasticity, resulting in a lower vulnerability to extinction than small plant species. This negative relationship between plant size and extinction vulnerabilities is in contrast to previous results for mammals and birds. These results increase our theoretical understanding of the relationship between plant functional traits and extinction vulnerabilities and may aid in assessments of data deficient species. The uncertainty in the allometric relationships is, however, too large to quantify true extinction vulnerabilities. Further investigation in the relationship between demographic parameters and plant traits other than height is needed to further enhance our understanding of plant species extinction vulnerabilities.
Competition for light as a bottleneck for endangered fen species: An introduction experiment Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-13 Willem-Jan Emsens, Camiel J.S. Aggenbach, Håkan Rydin, Alfons J.P. Smolders, Rudy van Diggelen
Many endangered plant species remain absent in rewetted, previously drained fens. We performed a 3-year introduction experiment with endangered fen species (9 Carex- and 6 bryophyte species) in 4 hydrologically restored fens to investigate which factors hamper establishment and survival. Carex species were introduced as adults and seedlings, mosses as gametophytes. Introductions were done on (initially) bare soil, which allowed us to exclude excessive competition for light during the first year. First year survival of the transplants was high in all fens (mean survival = 96%), indicating that there were no direct abiotic constraints on establishment. However, survival analysis revealed that a decrease in relative light intensity (RLI) at the soil surface during consecutive years (indicating an increase in biotic competition for light) drove high mortality rates in most species. As a result, overall final survival was lowest in the two most productive (low light) fens (mean survival = 38%), while most transplants persisted in the two less productive (high light) fens (mean survival = 79%). Taller and faster-growing Carex species were able to outgrow light limitation near the soil surface, and thus had a higher overall survivability than smaller and slower-growing species. Light limitation also drove the loss of 5 out of 6 bryophyte species. We conclude that both dispersal limitation and asymmetric competition for light may explain the lack and loss of small and endangered plant species in rewetted fens. A minimum empirical threshold of c. 30% relative light intensity near the soil surface is required for successful introduction.
A salt lake under stress: Relationships among birds, water levels, and invertebrates at a Great Basin saline lake Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-12 Nathan R. Senner, Johnnie N. Moore, S. Trent Seager, Steve Dougill, Keith Kreuz, Stanley E. Senner
Saline lakes are threatened globally and provide critical habitat for a diverse array of migratory and breeding waterbirds. The ability of large numbers of waterbirds to profitably use saline lakes is primarily dependent upon concentrations of invertebrate fauna that are only present within a narrow range of salinities. Additionally, waterbirds themselves can incur steep physiological costs as their salt loads increase, meaning that they are especially sensitive to changes in salinity. Nonetheless, relatively little is known about ecosystem function within natural saline lakes or how birds will respond to fluctuations in salinity across time, hindering efforts to maintain ecologically functional saline ecosystems. To help address this gap, we coupled data from waterbird surveys undertaken across 25 years at Lake Abert, Oregon, USA with data on lake area (a proxy for salinity) and invertebrate abundance to document how waterbird numbers changed in response to variation in lake area and the presence of their invertebrate prey. We found that as the area of Lake Abert decreased and salinity increased, both invertebrate and waterbird numbers declined, with especially high salinities associated with the presence of few waterbirds and invertebrates. However, we also found that at high lake levels and low salinities the abundance of most waterbirds and invertebrates either plateaued or declined as well. Our study reinforces physiological studies showing that both invertebrates and waterbirds can only tolerate a narrow range of salinities, and is among the first to document the effects of this tolerance range at the ecosystem level. As anthropogenic water usage increases and snowfall decreases in the coming century, Great Basin saline lakes are projected to increasingly face water shortages and high salinities. Conserving saline lake ecosystems thus requires mitigating these losses and maintaining water levels and salinities within the normal range of inter-annual variation. When conditions outside of this range occur too frequently or persist too long, they can result in dysfunctional ecosystems with deleterious consequences for the species that rely on them.
Conservation of the endemic species of the Albertine Rift under future climate change Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-09 S. Ayebare, A.J. Plumptre, D. Kujirakwinja, D. Segan
The Albertine Rift region of Africa is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, with more threatened and endemic vertebrates than elsewhere on the continent. Many of the endemic species are confined to montane forest or alpine areas. We assessed impacts of loss of habitat to agriculture and predicted impacts from niche modelling of climate change to the endemic species of the Albertine Rift. Modelling species distributions for 162 endemic terrestrial vertebrates and plants, we estimated the average percentage of habitat already lost to agriculture at 38% across all species. However, of the remaining suitable habitat the average percentage protected is currently 46%, greatly increased by the recent establishment of Itombwe, Kabobo and Ngandja Reserves in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo from 30%. Species ranges in 2080 were estimated using climate models and predicted to lead to an average loss of an additional 75% of remaining suitable habitat across all species. An estimated 34 endemic species were predicted to lose >90% of their current remaining suitable habitat. The percentage of the total suitable habitat protected in parks or reserves increases under future climate change to 56% because as ranges contract more of the remaining area occurs within existing protected areas. This indicates that the protected area coverage is reasonably well located for future climate change. Based on these data we estimate that 46% of the endemic species we assessed would qualify for threatened status on the global Red List.
Concentrations of environmental DNA (eDNA) reflect spawning salmon abundance at fine spatial and temporal scales Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-06 Michael D. Tillotson, Ryan P. Kelly, Jeffrey J. Duda, Marshal Hoy, James Kralj, Thomas P. Quinn
Developing fast, cost-effective assessments of wild animal abundance is an important goal for many researchers, and environmental DNA (eDNA) holds much promise for this purpose. However, the quantitative relationship between species abundance and the amount of DNA present in the environment is likely to vary substantially among taxa and with ecological context. Here, we report a strong quantitative relationship between eDNA concentration and the abundance of spawning sockeye salmon in a small stream in Alaska, USA, where we took temporally- and spatially-replicated samples during the spawning period. This high-resolution dataset suggests that (1) eDNA concentrations vary significantly day-to-day, and likely within hours, in the context of the dynamic biological event of a salmon spawning season; (2) eDNA, as detected by species-specific quantitative PCR probes, seems to be conserved over short distances (tens of meters) in running water, but degrade quickly over larger scales (ca. 1.5 km); and (3) factors other than the mere presence of live, individual fish — such as location within the stream, live/dead ratio, and water temperature — can affect the eDNA-biomass correlation in space or time. A multivariate model incorporating both biotic and abiotic variables accounted for over 75% of the eDNA variance observed, suggesting that where a system is well-characterized, it may be possible to predict species' abundance from eDNA surveys, although we underscore that species- and system-specific variables are likely to limit the generality of any given quantitative model. Nevertheless, these findings provide an important step toward quantitative applications of eDNA in conservation and management.
Identifying cost-effective invasive species control to enhance endangered species populations in the Grand Canyon, USA Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-07 Lucas S. Bair, Charles B. Yackulic, Michael R. Springborn, Matthew N. Reimer, Craig A. Bond, Lewis G. Coggins
Recovering endangered species populations when confronted with the threat of invasive species is an ongoing natural resource management challenge. While eradication of the invasive species is often the optimal economic solution, it may not be a feasible nor desirable management action in other cases. For example, when invasive species are desired in one area, but disperse into areas managed for endangered species, managers may be interested in persistent, but cost-effective means of managing dispersers rather than eradicating the source. In the Colorado River, a nonnative rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) sport fishery is desired within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, however, dispersal downriver into the Grand Canyon National Park is not desired as rainbow trout negatively affect endangered humpback chub (Gila cypha). Here, we developed a bioeconomic model incorporating population abundance goals and cost-effectiveness analyses to approximate the optimal control strategies for invasive rainbow trout conditional on achieving endangered humpback chub adult population abundance goals. Model results indicated that the most cost-effective approach to achieve target adult humpback chub abundance was a high level of rainbow trout control over moderately high rainbow trout population abundance. Adult humpback chub abundance goals were achieved at relatively low rainbow trout abundance and control measures were not cost-effective at relatively high rainbow trout abundance. Our model considered population level dynamics, species interaction and economic costs in a multi-objective decision framework to provide a preferred solution to long-run management of invasive and native species.
Multi-species occupancy modelling of a carnivore guild in wildlife management areas in the Kalahari Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-07 Leanne K. Van der Weyde, Christopher Mbisana, Rebecca Klein
Populations of large carnivores are declining at a rapid rate, primarily resulting from land use change due to increasing human pressure. Such changes can restrict available habitat for many species, particularly wide-ranging large carnivores. In Botswana, aside from protected areas, large tracts of land are set aside as wildlife management areas (WMAs). Wildlife management areas are important regions of habitat for many species and can serve as buffer zones between protected areas and agro-pastoral land, while allowing communities to utilise resources. It was hypothesised that land use type surrounding WMAs, human settlements and prey availability might affect carnivore distribution patterns. We conducted a camera-trap study with 96 stations in two WMAs in the Ghanzi district and used a Royles-Nichol multi-species occupancy model to test which factors influenced habitat use for nine carnivore species. Detection probability was low across all species, whereas occupancy varied substantially. Lion occurrence was highest close to protected areas, whereas leopards and brown hyaena occurred closer to commercial farms. Black-backed jackal and caracal had high occurrence probabilities near both protected and commercial farming areas. Settlement locations and wild prey availability did not strongly influence occurrence of any species, although black-backed jackals had higher occurrence in areas with high livestock frequency. As pressure for land continues to increase, available habitat for wildlife is reduced and wide-ranging species like carnivores are vulnerable to edge effects. The WMAs provide vital habitat for carnivores and can be used to improve livelihoods for communities, whilst maintaining biodiversity in the Kalahari.
Aboriginal burning promotes fine-scale pyrodiversity and native predators in Australia's Western Desert Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-02 Rebecca Bliege Bird, Douglas W. Bird, Luis E. Fernandez, Nyalanka Taylor, Wakka Taylor, Dale Nimmo
Both invasive mesopredators and altered fire regimes impact populations of vulnerable native species. Understanding how these forces interact is critical for designing better conservation measures for endangered species. This study draws on Indigenous ecological knowledge and practice to explore heterogeneity in faunal responses to Indigenously managed landscapes in the Western Desert of Australia. Using track plot surveys and satellite image analysis of fire histories, we find evidence that pyrodiversity increases activity measures of dingoes and monitor lizards. Dingoes were more active in recently burnt patches, while foxes were more active in slightly older burnt patches. These results add to previous work showing significant effects of pyrodiversity on kangaroo populations in the region. Together, the findings suggest that Aboriginal burning not only creates diverse niches for native animals, it helps to facilitate the ecological role of species that are themselves functionally vital. This work adds to a growing body of research suggesting that the loss of Aboriginal burning can cascade through ecosystems by transforming and simplifying ecological networks, thus contributing to the decline and extinction of vulnerable species.
The ecological benefit of tigers (Panthera tigris) to farmers in reducing crop and livestock losses in the eastern Himalayas: Implications for conservation of large apex predators Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-02 Phuntsho Thinley, Rajanathan Rajaratnam, James P. Lassoie, Stephen J. Morreale, Paul D. Curtis, Karl Vernes, Leki Leki, Sonam Phuntsho, Tshering Dorji, Pema Dorji
Ecologists have primarily focused their attention on how predator loss influences ecosystem structure and function in intact ecosystems, but rarely tested these ecological concepts in agricultural landscapes. We conducted a study in western Bhutan on the inter-specific dynamics between tigers, leopards, and dholes, and their subsequent impact on livestock and crop losses faced by agro-pastoralists. We found that when a tiger was present in forests surrounding villages, leopards and dholes occupied areas closer to village croplands and preyed on a higher relative abundance of wild herbivore crop raiders, thereby significantly reducing crop (β = −2.25, p < .0001) and livestock losses (β = −2.39, p ≤.0001). In contrast, leopards and dholes occupied areas in deep forests farther from croplands when a tiger was absent in the village vicinity, leading to increased predation on a higher abundance of untended free-ranging livestock. We posit that justifications for large predator conservation based on their iconic status is not persuasive to rural farmers residing close to their habitat and suffering crop and livestock loss. There is a need to determine ecological services from apex predators to farmers which may dissuade them from retaliatory killings. We recommend conservation practitioners conserve large apex predators to maintain optimal inter-specific interactions in a large predator guild to benefit rural socio-economy.
Changes and drivers of freshwater mussel diversity and distribution in northern Borneo Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-03 Alexandra Zieritz, Arthur E. Bogan, Khairul Adha A. Rahim, Ronaldo Sousa, Leonardo Jainih, Sahana Harun, Nabilah Fatin Abd Razak, Belinda Gallardo, Suzanne McGowan, Ruhana Hassan, Manuel Lopes-Lima
Community assembly and the sustainability of habitat offsetting targets in the first compensation lake in the oil sands region in Alberta, Canada Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-03 Jonathan L.W. Ruppert, Joanne Hogg, Mark S. Poesch
Resource development can have a negative impact on species productivity and diversity through the loss and fragmentation of habitat. In many countries, developers are required by law to offset such impacts by replacing lost habitat or providing other forms of compensation. In the case of broad scale development, offsets often cannot be constructed to replace lost habitat “like-for-like” (i.e., they are not ecologically equivalent). In freshwater ecosystems, one approach to habitat offsetting is to create new lake ecosystems, called compensation lakes, to replace lost riverine habitat. In this study, we use a long-term data set (2008–2015) of fish and benthic invertebrate communities from Canada's first compensation lake in the oil sands region of Alberta, to address (1) whether the assembly of the fish community has a trajectory that is influenced by management activities and (2) determine whether the community composition in the habitat offset is common in natural lake ecosystems within the region. We find a significant decline in the mean trophic level of the lake, where 61.9% of the variation in trophic level is explained by time indicating a strong structuring influence on fish communities. This outcome has enabled the compensation lake to meet overall and single species productivity targets, but we find that the species assemblage and composition is not common within the region. A combination of the founding species community and reduced connectivity of the lake has contributed to the current fish community structure, which may be problematic for the sustainability of the habitat offsetting targets. Our study highlights the need to establish multiple conservation guidelines, using both productivity and diversity based metrics, to provide the best ecological equivalency, which can produce better function, resilience and health within focal species communities in habitat offsets that are not “like-for-like.”
Assigning indicator taxa based on assemblage patterns: Beware of the effort and the objective! Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-03 Asko Lõhmus, Kadri Runnel
What the ecosystem approach does to conservation practices Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-03 Isabelle Arpin, Arnaud Cosson
Highlights • The ecosystem approach (EA) is not as successful as expected. • Institutional and organizational obstacles do not suffice to explain this situation. • The EA affects multiple dimensions of the conservation practitioners' work. • These effects vary according to organizations and individuals. • Field practitioners unfamiliar with the EA must receive tailored support.
Predicting the impacts of co-extinctions on phylogenetic diversity in mutualistic networks Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-03 S. Veron, C. Fontaine, N. Dubos, P. Clergeau, S. Pavoine
An important bias in the estimations of threatened evolutionary history is that extinctions are considered as independent events. However, the extinction of a given species may affect the vulnerability of its partners and cause extinction cascades. Co-extinctions are likely not random in the tree of life and may cause the loss of large amounts of unique evolutionary history. Here, we propose a method to assess the consequences of co-extinctions for the loss of evolutionary history and to identify conservation priorities. We advise considering both the complexity of the interaction networks and the phylogenetic complementarities of extinction risks among species. Using this approach, we demonstrated how co-extinction events can prune the tree of life using various species loss scenarios. As a case study, we identified pollinators for which extinctions would greatly impact plant phylogenetic diversity within local pollination networks from Europe. We also identified species features that may result in the highest losses of phylogenetic diversity. Our approach highlights the consequences of co-extinctions on the loss of evolutionary history and may help address various conservation issues related to co-extinctions and their impacts on biodiversity.
Promoting restoration of fish communities using artificial habitats in coastal marinas Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-03 Mohamed Selfati, Najib El Ouamari, Philippe Lenfant, Amélie Fontcuberta, Gilles Lecaillon, Abdelhakim Mesfioui, Pierre Boissery, Hocein Bazairi
Rapid urbanization has become an area of crucial concern in conservation, owing to urban infrastructure impacts on natural ecosystems. Urban infrastructures are often poor surrogates for natural habitats, and a diversity of eco-engineering approaches has been trialed to enhance their ecological value. Marinas are among the most common human-made infrastructures found on the shoreline, and cause substantial habitat destruction within the sheltered coastal areas previously used as nursery grounds by many fish species. The present study aimed at testing the suitability of installing artificial habitats (Biohut®) in marinas to reinforce the nursery function of the Marchica coastal lagoon, which historically hosts many species of juvenile groupers, including the endangered dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus. Our hypothesis – that artificial habitats, by increasing habitat complexity, enhance the ecological value of a marina – was strongly supported by our results. The Biohuts hosted a high relative density of juvenile dusky and comb groupers in comparison with natural habitats. They can, therefore, be considered as a reservoir for juvenile groupers, including the endangered dusky grouper, and are suitable to reinforce the nursery function of this coastal lagoon. Subsequently, Biohuts can act as a ready-made nursery area to support the creation of small marine reserves that can reinforce the grouper population re-colonization along the coast of North Africa, which is considered to be the region from which the individuals populating the north western Mediterranean originated, and thus provide for long-term recovery of the endangered dusky grouper.
Asia's economic growth and its impact on Indonesia's tigers Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-02-03 Matthew Linkie, Debbie Martyr, Abishek Harihar, Sofi Mardiah, Timothy Hodgetts, Dian Risdianto, Moehd Subchaan, David Macdonald
Illegal wildlife trade represents a major threat to biodiversity. Recent wildlife consumption trends across Asia have shown shifts in preference towards new species, such as Sunda pangolin, and increased volumes of consumption for longer-traded species, such as tiger. These trends are widely thought to be a result of the higher levels of wealth generated from the impressive economic growth experienced across Asia. This raises important questions regarding the role that economic growth plays as a driver of poaching on source populations of highly-prized species. As a first step to answering these, we investigate trade dynamics related to the poaching of tigers and their principal prey using a long-term biological and economic data set. The fluctuating poaching patterns recorded for tiger prey, which are locally consumed for their meat, showed no association with rising domestic beef prices, the most likely substitutable protein source. However for tiger, annual poaching rates were positively and significantly correlated with changes in local tiger skin prices that, in turn, were closely correlated with annual GDP changes in the key consumer countries. Our preliminary analysis raises further questions around the causal pathways through which rising affluence and extinction risk are linked; a question that should be posed for a wide set of species. Thus, the strong regional leadership that has enabled high economic growth across Asia and lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty should now be urgently directed to tackling illegal wildlife trade and, as a priority, to closing domestic and international trafficking routes.
Hydrological effects of paddy improvement and abandonment on amphibian populations; long-term trends of the Japanese brown frog, Rana japonica Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-30 Noriko Kidera, Taku Kadoya, Hiroya Yamano, Noriko Takamura, Daiichi Ogano, Takashi Wakabayashi, Masato Takezawa, Masami Hasegawa
In rice fields, the cultivation area itself can play an essential role as a habitat for wetland organisms. Many previous studies showed negative impact of agricultural intensification and abandonment on biodiversity in wet farmland ecosystems. However, verification of the direct impact of aquatic environmental change by the paddy improvement and abandonment still remains. Here, we investigated the effects of the intensification and abandonment on the area of wet fields remaining in paddies during the fallow season, as well as the factors driving the population decline of the Japanese brown frog (Rana japonica), using data of long-term monitoring numbers of egg masses at multiple sites. To quantitatively estimate the spatial and temporal variation in saturated areas with water in the paddies where the frogs spawn in early spring, we used infrared bands of Landsat images. Both paddy improvements and abandonment have affected R. japonica populations through the reduction of wet areas in the fields. Furthermore, the frog's population size was positively associated with the area of surrounding forest. Our findings suggest that conservation in wet farmland requires appropriate water management inside the cultivation area as well as in other landscape elements that serve as secondary habitats.
Too much of a good thing; successful reintroduction leads to overpopulation in a threatened mammal Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-16 K.E. Moseby, G.W. Lollback, C.E. Lynch
The failure of broadscale management to protect some threatened species has led to an increase in the use of islands and fenced reserves as translocation sites or foci for intensive threat mitigation. Although highly successful at excluding some threats, these sites may be prone to ecosystem imbalance due to the absence or removal of predators and competitors. We documented population trends and environmental impacts of the burrowing bettong, (Bettongia lesueur), a threatened herbivorous macropod reintroduced to a 1400 ha fenced reserve in arid Australia for 17 years after release. The population increased from 30 individuals to an estimated 1532 individuals (1.09 per ha), a density up to ten times higher than wild populations. There was little evidence that population growth was density dependent, the average intrinsic rate of increase (r) was 0.125 and population size was unrelated to rainfall, body condition or reproductive output. Browse damage on palatable plant species increased, and cover of palatable shrub species decreased, with increased abundance of bettongs. Activity of another reintroduced herbivore, the greater stick-nest rat, (Leporillus conditor), declined as bettong abundance increased while a reintroduced species not reliant on herbage was unaffected. The burrowing bettong has been successfully reintroduced to the Arid Recovery fenced reserve but the positive average intrinsic rate of increase, inflated population density and impacts to resident plant and animal species suggests the population is now overabundant. This is the first documented case of overpopulation of a reintroduced species at a restricted site in Australia, highlighting the importance of preparing overpopulation management plans and considering reintroductions of species from all trophic levels including native predators.
Protected area connectivity: Shortfalls in global targets and country-level priorities Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-10 Santiago Saura, Bastian Bertzky, Lucy Bastin, Luca Battistella, Andrea Mandrici, Grégoire Dubois
Analysis of species attributes to determine dominant environmental drivers, illustrated by species decline in the Netherlands since the 1950s Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-11 C.J.M. Musters, Peter M. van Bodegom
The relative impact of climate change and land use change on biodiversity loss is still under discussion. To alleviate drawbacks related to the use of observed species distributions, we introduce a novel approach to separate the effects of climate change and land use change, the latter split into fragmentation, agricultural intensification and reforestation. This approach, coined the Attribute Importance Analysis (AIA), uses the ability of species attributes to explain population declines. Through the a priori association between attributes and individual drivers, the relative importance of the drivers in causing the species decline can be assessed. We tested this approach on the population decline of vertebrate, insect, vascular plant, and fungi species in the Netherlands since the 1950s. Fragmentation was clearly the strongest driver of species decline for vertebrates and plants, and this may also be true for insects. For fungi, climate change seems the only driver. We found a weak signal of the importance of agricultural intensification for the decline of vertebrates only. We ascribe this unexpected low importance of agricultural intensification to our partitioning of agricultural effects into fragmentation and intensification. Our generic approach can offer valuable quantitative information on the relative importance of drivers that change local community composition without the need for spatial explicit information. Without data on temporal trends in drivers, including local climate and land use change, accurate information on species decline, species attribute values and association of attributes with drivers can give insights into the causes of species decline, which, in turn, can be used to adapt nature management accordingly.
Remote electronic monitoring as a potential alternative to on-board observers in small-scale fisheries ☆ Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-09 David C. Bartholomew, Jeffrey C. Mangel, Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto, Sergio Pingo, Astrid Jimenez, Brendan J. Godley
Small-scale fisheries can greatly impact threatened marine fauna. Peru's small-scale elasmobranch gillnet fishery captures thousands of sharks and rays each year, and incidentally captures sea turtles, marine mammals and seabirds. We assessed the ability of a dedicated fisheries remote electronic monitoring (REM) camera to identify and quantify captures in this fishery by comparing its performance to on-board observer reports. Cameras were installed across five boats with a total of 228 fishing sets monitored. Of these, 169 sets also had on-board fisheries observers present. The cameras were shown to be an effective tool for identifying catch, with > 90% detection rates for 9 of 12 species of elasmobranchs caught. Detection rates of incidental catch were more variable (sea turtle = 50%; cetacean = 80%; pinniped = 100%). The ability to quantify target catch from camera imagery degraded for fish quantities exceeding 15 individuals. Cameras were more effective at quantifying rays than sharks for small catch quantities (x ≤ 15 fish), whereas size affected camera performance for large catches (x > 15 fish). Our study showed REM to be effective in detecting and quantifying elasmobranch target catch and pinniped bycatch in Peru's small-scale fishery, but not, without modification, in detecting and quantifying sea turtle and cetacean bycatch. We showed REM can provide a time- and cost-effective method to monitor target catch in small-scale fisheries and can be used to overcome some deficiencies in observer reports. With modifications to the camera specifications, we expect performance to improve for all target catch and bycatch species.
Invisible barriers: Differential sanitary regulations constrain vulture movements across country borders Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-10 Eneko Arrondo, Marcos Moleón, Ainara Cortés-Avizanda, José Jiménez, Pedro Beja, José A. Sánchez-Zapata, José A. Donázar
Political boundaries may represent ecological barriers due to differences in wildlife management policies. In the European Union, it might be expected that these differences should be highly diluted, because all countries have to comply with common directives issued by the European Commission. However, the subsidiarity principle may lead to the uneven uptake of European Union regulations, which can impact on biodiversity conservation due to unequal legislation in neighboring countries, particularly in the case of highly mobile organisms. Here we address this issue, by analyzing how EU regulations issued in response to the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) crisis differentially affected vulture conservation in Portugal and Spain. Taking advantage of the intensive GPS-tracking of 60 griffon (Gyps fulvus) and 11 cinereous vultures (Aegypius monachus) from Spain, we found that the Spanish-Portuguese border acts as a quasi-impermeable barrier. In fact, there was an abrupt decline in the number of vulture locations across the Spanish-Portuguese border, with modelling showing that this was unlikely to be related to differences in land cover or topography. Instead, the pattern found was likely due to differences in trophic resource availability, namely carcasses from extensive livestock husbandry, resulting from the differential application of European sanitary legislation regarding the mandatory removal of dead livestock from the field. Overall, our results should be seen as a warning signal to policy makers and conservation managers, highlighting the need for a stronger integration of sanitary and environmental policies at the European level.
Measuring progress in marine protection: A new set of metrics to evaluate the strength of marine protected area networks Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-09 Kelsey E. Roberts, Rebecca S. Valkan, Carly N. Cook
Marine protected areas (MPAs) have proven to be a valuable tool for both promoting the sustainable use of marine resources and long-term biodiversity conservation outcomes. Targets for marine protection under the Convention on Biological Diversity have seen rapid growth in MPAs globally, with progress judged using targets for total area protected rather than evaluating growth based on the capacity to protect biodiversity. The value of a MPA network to biodiversity conservation depends on a range of attributes of both individual MPAs and portfolios of MPAs, which are not captured by simple area-based targets. Therefore, a clear and efficient set of metrics are needed to effectively evaluate progress towards building MPA networks, considering the representation and adequacy of protection for biodiversity. We developed a universally applicable set of metrics that can evaluate network structure in relation to its capacity to conserve marine biodiversity. These metrics combine properties of effective individual MPAs with metrics for their capacity to function collectively as a network. To demonstrate the value of these metrics, we apply them to the Australian MPA network, the largest in the world. Collectively, the indicators suggest that while Australia has made significant progress in building a representative and well-structured MPA network, the level of protection offered to marine biodiversity is generally low, with insufficient coverage of no-take MPAs across many bioregions. The metrics reveal how the current value of the MPA network could be greatly increased by reducing the prevalence of multi-use zones that allow extractive activities known to negatively impact biodiversity.
In the wake of bulldozers: Identifying threatened species in a habitat decimated by rapid clearance Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-09 R.J. Fensham, B. Laffineur, J.L. Silcock
Where habitat loss is rapid, formerly common species may be at risk of extinction. We provide a method for using habitat mapping data and herbarium records to identify plant species that are threatened by the rapid conversion of brigalow forest, a widespread habitat type in eastern Australia that has been decimated over the last 60 years. The method weights species depending on the strength of their association with the brigalow forest habitat and their association with the Brigalow Belt region where the clearance of native vegetation has been extensive. The process identifies 56 out of a total of 1229 plant species that are at greatest potential risk. Twenty of the 56 species also occur in habitats that have not been extensively cleared. Of the remaining 36 species, 11 are closely associated with brigalow forest, which in general has been more extensively cleared than other habitats. The method revealed several species potentially imperilled by habitat loss that have not previously been identified by formal listing of threatened species. The rate of habitat loss for the target species can be clearly documented, although further survey is required to determine the potential persistence of species in habitat that has been modified by clearing and an estimate of generation length of the plant species is required in order to assess this decline against IUCN threat categories. The method has broad application in situations where there are records of species and documentation of habitat loss.
Is local biodiversity declining or not? A summary of the debate over analysis of species richness time trends ☆ Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-07 Bradley J. Cardinale, Andrew Gonzalez, Ginger R.H. Allington, Michel Loreau
Recently, a debate has developed over how biodiversity is changing across the planet. While most researchers agree species extinctions are increasing globally due to human activity, some now argue that species richness at local scales is not declining as many biologists have claimed. This argument stems from recent syntheses of time-series data that suggest species richness is decreasing in some locations, increasing in others, but not changing on average. Critics of these syntheses (like us) have argued there are serious limitations of existing time-series datasets and their analyses that preclude meaningful conclusions about local biodiversity change. Specifically, authors of these syntheses have failed to account for several primary drivers of biodiversity change, have relied on data poor time-series that lack baselines needed to detect change, and have unreasonably extrapolated conclusions. Here we summarize the history of this debate, as well as key papers and exchanges that have helped clarify new issues and ideas. To resolve the debate, we suggest future researchers be more clear about the hypotheses of biodiversity change being tested, focus less on amassing large datasets, and more on amassing high-quality datasets that provide unambiguous tests of the hypotheses. Researchers should also keep track of the contributions that native versus non-native species make to biodiversity time trends, as these have different implications for conservation. Lastly, we suggest researchers be aware of pros and cons of using different types of data (e.g., time-series, spatial comparisons), taking care to resolve divergent results among sources to allow broader conclusions about biodiversity change.
Long-term genetic consequences of mammal reintroductions into an Australian conservation reserve Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-05 Lauren C. White, Katherine E. Moseby, Vicki A. Thomson, Steve C. Donnellan, Jeremy J. Austin
Reintroduction programs aim to restore self-sustaining populations of threatened species to their historic range. However, demographic restoration may not reflect genetic restoration, which is necessary for the long-term persistence of populations. Four threatened Australian mammals, the greater stick-nest rat (Leporillus conditor), greater bilby (Macrotis lagotis), burrowing bettong (Bettongia lesueur) and western barred bandicoot (Perameles bougainville), were reintroduced at Arid Recovery Reserve in northern South Australia over the last 18 years. These reintroductions have been deemed successful based on population growth and persistence, however the genetic consequences of the reintroductions are not known. We generated large single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) datasets for each species currently at Arid Recovery and compared them to samples collected from founders. We found that average genetic diversity in all populations at the Arid Recovery Reserve are close to, or exceeding, the levels measured in the founders. Increased genetic diversity in two species was achieved by admixing slightly diverged and inbred source populations. Our results suggest that genetic diversity in translocated populations can be improved or maintained over relatively long time frames, even in small conservation reserves, and highlight the power of admixture as a tool for conservation management.
Amazon protected areas and its ability to protect stream-dwelling fish fauna Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-05 Renata Guimarães Frederico, Jansen Zuanon, Paulo De Marco Jr.
Large protected areas have been created in Brazilian Amazon intending to safeguard as much of its biodiversity as possible. Despite these intentions, such megareserves were created predominantly focusing on terrestrial organisms and ecosystems. Here, we assessed the ability of the current Brazilian Amazon protected areas network to efficiently safeguard its stream-dwelling fish fauna. Ecological niche models were built for 138 stream fish species using MaxEnt software. We performed a gap analysis and spatial prioritization under three different Amazon protected areas scenarios: (1) strictly protected areas (SPAs) only; (2) SPA plus sustainable use areas (SPA + SUA); and (3) SPA + SUA plus indigenous territories (SPA + SUA + IT). The species were classified according to their distribution range size and required representation targets. Widespread species usually had lower area under the curve (AUC) and true skill statistics (TSS) values, which would be expected for large and heterogeneous areas such as the Amazon. Only partial gap species were found, with 20% to 90% of required representation targets included in PAs, which was not enough for a complete protection. Most of the officially protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon do not correspond to areas with high direct conservation values for stream fishes, once the priority areas for these species conservation were outside the PAs, leaving a high portion of the regional vertebrate fauna inadequately protected. We conclude that fishes and other freshwater organisms and habitats should be explicitly included during systematic conservation planning in order to thoroughly protect the Brazilian Amazon biodiversity.
Vanishing of the common species: Empty habitats and the role of genetic diversity Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-02 Jan Christian Habel, Thomas Schmitt
Biodiversity is declining, with major causes identified as habitat loss and a reduction of habitat quality. Recent studies have shown that particularly species with specific habitat demands are suffering in this way. Accordingly, habitat specialists have been nominated as umbrella species, which because they represent a much larger number of species, are thought best to fulfil the requirements of nature conservation. However, species which are ecologically intermediate between habitat specialists and generalists, and typically form networks of populations on adjoining habitats, might suffer even more severely under rapid habitat fragmentation than those specialists which had for a long time already occurred as discrete populations. Today, most of these formerly more widely distributed intermediate species also exist only as small and isolated populations which, because of their increasing geographic isolation, cannot counterbalance local extinctions by recolonisation. Furthermore, these species are mostly equipped with relatively high genetic diversity that is maintained by continual exchange of individuals between local populations. However, this high level of genetic variability frequently decreases after the collapse of population networks – with negative effects on the viability of these species. Thus, factors at the population and molecular levels may lead that formerly common species vanish in the near future.
Conservation professionals agree on challenges to coexisting with large carnivores but not on solutions Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-03 Michelle L. Lute, Neil H. Carter, José V. López-Bao, John D.C. Linnell
Although many studies explore characteristics of stakeholders or publics “for” or “against” large carnivores, disagreements among conservation professionals advocating different conservation strategies also occur, but are not well recognized. Differing viewpoints on whether and how humans can share landscapes with large carnivores can influence conservation policies. To characterize current viewpoints about terrestrial large carnivore conservation, we conducted an online survey assessing a wide range of viewpoints about large carnivore conservation among international professionals (n = 505). We explored how variation in viewpoints was related to expertise, background, and broader institutional contexts in which one lives and works. The majority of participants agreed people and large carnivores can share the same landscapes (86%). Human adaptation to carnivores (95% agreement) and acceptance of some conflict (93%) were the highest ranked requirements for human-carnivore coexistence. We found broad consensus regarding intrinsic value of carnivores, reasons carnivores are imperilled, conflict drivers, and importance of proactive solutions, such as adopting preventative livestock husbandry methods or avoiding situations that put people at risk. The greatest polarization was observed in issues related to lethal control, where we only found broad consensus for killing carnivores in situations where humans are in immediate risk. Participants opposed the killing of large carnivores when objectives were to decrease population sizes or increase human tolerance, profits, livelihoods, or fear of humans. Results point to considerable diversity, perhaps driven by local context, concerning how to proceed with large carnivore conservation in the increasingly human-influenced landscapes of the Anthropocene. The different observed viewpoints represent both different strategies about how to best conserve, but also different moral platforms about what, how, where, and for whom conservation should occur. Our study underlines that challenges to adopting and implementing long-lasting carnivore conservation strategies may well occur as much within the conservation community as outside it.
Reserves as double-edged sword: Avoidance behavior in an urban-adjacent wildland Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-03 Michael A. Patten, Jutta C. Burger
Human activities affect wildlife in a variety of direct (e.g., hunting, supplemental feeding, and culling) and indirect (e.g., displacement from habitat loss, competition with introduced invasive species, and avoidance of human-dominated landscapes) ways. Even ostensibly benign activities such as hiking or horseback riding in established parks may affect the spatial and temporal activity patterns of wildlife species. Characterization and quantification of effects is essential if parks and other protected areas are to balance the dual needs to nurture an appreciation of wildlands or satisfy a need to encounter nature (sensu the biophilia hypotheses) and to ensure that wild animals can survive and reproduce. We explored how human presence affects wildlife presence in a spatially extensive system of camera traps established in various protected areas in coastal southern California. To characterize and quantify effects we developed a conceptual framework on the basis of joint probabilities of occurrence on a per-camera basis and created a novel statistical approach to assess whether observed probabilities of co-occurrence differed from expected probabilities of co-occurrence. We found that same-day co-occurrence of wildlife and humans was significantly lower than expected at > 90% of the cameras established. This pattern held across sites, across the seven species of large and medium-sized mammals (Bobcat Lynx rufus, Mountain Lion Puma concolor, Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus, Coyote Canis latrans, Striped Skunk Mephitis mephitis, Northern Raccoon Procyon lotor, and Mule Deer Odocoileis hemionus), and across the five types of human disturbance examined (hikers, bicyclists, domestic dogs, vehicles, and equestrians). Our results demonstrate that human presence acutely affects same-day wildlife detections in protected areas, supporting the hypothesis that avoidance behaviour is a type of “mortality-free predation.” Adaptive and flexible management plans need to be established, evaluated, and updated regularly to facilitate the human nature experience while lessening as much as possible long-term degradation of wildlife habitat. Wildlife in urban-adjacent preserves constitute a major part of the nature experience by humans and require effective management of pressures for use and recreation along aside those for wildlife habitat needs.
Drivers of waterbird communities and their declines on Yangtze River floodplain lakes Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-03 Qiang Jia, Xin Wang, Yong Zhang, Lei Cao, Anthony David Fox
The seasonally flooded Yangtze Valley Floodplain wetlands of China are globally important for wintering waterbirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. These birds have declined in the last 60 years, so understanding factors shaping waterbird distribution and abundance patterns is critical for their conservation. We applied linear mixed models to investigate the effects of climate, winter water area and inundation area (the difference between maximum flooded and winter dry season water area) on waterbird abundance and diversity at 72 lakes in 2005 and 2016. Neither winter water area nor climate featured in the best models, rather inundation area was the key determinant of waterbird abundance and diversity. Future water abstraction and land claim will therefore have greater impacts on waterbird abundance and diversity than likely climate change effects. Significant declines in waterbird abundance and diversity between 2005 and 2016 were not explained by modelled variables and there was no reduction in wetland inundation areas to explain these declines, confirming other factors were responsible. These potentially include declining wetland quality affecting carrying capacity (e.g. flooding phenology, disturbance, habitat loss and degradation, declining water quality caused by eutrophication and pollution) and/or factors limiting migratory waterbird populations at other stages in their life cycle elsewhere. The studied Yangtze lakes are amongst the best for wintering waterbirds and many are protected for their biodiversity, suggesting such protection cannot fully safeguard these internationally shared populations when threatened by other, currently unknown factors. This confirms the urgent need for more research to safeguard these ephemeral lake systems for their global biodiversity significance.
Relationships between multiple biodiversity components and ecosystem services along a landscape complexity gradient Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.022) Pub Date : 2018-01-03 Klaus Birkhofer, Georg K.S. Andersson, Janne Bengtsson, Riccardo Bommarco, Juliana Dänhardt, Barbara Ekbom, Johan Ekroos, Thomas Hahn, Katarina Hedlund, Annelie M. Jönsson, Regina Lindborg, Ola Olsson, Romina Rader, Adrien Rusch, Martin Stjernman, Alwyn Williams, Henrik G. Smith
The assessment of effects of anthropogenic disturbance on biodiversity (BD) and ecosystem services (ES) and their relationships are key priorities of the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Agricultural landscapes and their associated BD provide multiple ES and it is crucial to understand how relationships between ES and BD components change along gradients of landscape complexity. In this study, we related eight ES potentials to the species richness of five invertebrate, vertebrate and plant taxonomic groups in cereal farming systems. The landscape complexity gradient ranged from areas dominated by annually tilled arable land to areas with high proportions of unfertilized, non-rotational pastures and uncultivated field borders. We show that after accounting for landscape complexity relationships between yield and bird richness or biological control became more positive, but relationships between bird richness and biological control became less positive. The relationship between bird and plant richness turned from positive to negative. Multidiversity (overall biodiversity), was positively related to landscape complexity, whereas multifunctionality (overall ES provision), was not significantly related to either one of these. Our results suggest that multidiversity can be promoted by increasing landscape complexity; however; we found no support for a simultaneous increase of several individual ES, BD components or multifunctionality. These results challenge the assumption that biodiversity-friendly landscape management will always simultaneously promote multiple ES in agricultural landscapes. Future studies need to verify this pattern by using multi-year data, larger sets of ES and BD components and a study design that is appropriate to address larger spatial scales and relationships in several regions.
Some contents have been Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.
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