Misconception and mismanagement of invasive species: The paradoxical case of an alien ungulate in Spain Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-15 Jorge Cassinello
Abstract Scientific evidence should dominate in any management decision dealing with alien species. It is also essential for all stakeholders to agree on the terminology used to avoid undesirable misinterpretations. A well-known example is the use of the term “invasive,” which has two basic meanings, one as a biogeographic criterion and the other as an impact criterion. The aoudad (Ammotragus lervia) is a North African ungulate introduced in Spain, which was labeled “invasive” by Spanish authorities due to misreading of the term used by early studies. Indeed, to date, there are no conclusive empirical data showing negative effects of the aoudad on native flora and fauna. Recent studies have shown that its closest native ungulate, the Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica), has expanded throughout territories already occupied by the aoudad, without any apparent conflict. Aoudad diet selection studies also show them to be markedly grazers, so its role in the Mediterranean trophic network might be similar to that of extinct wild ungulates that fed in natural meadows, maintaining landscapes heterogeneous. New opportunities for its study are opening, particularly in Iberian semiarid lands. Unfortunately though, its current simplistic definition as an invasive species keeps in suspense its eventual eradication throughout the country.
The undervalued contribution of mangrove protection in Mexico to carbon emission targets Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-10 Maria Fernanda Adame, Christopher James Brown, Marylin Bejarano, Jorge Alfredo Herrera-Silveira, Paula Ezcurra, J. Boone Kauffman, Richard Birdsey
Abstract Mangrove deforestation threatens to release large stores of carbon from soils that are vulnerable to oxidation. Carbon stored in deep soils is not measured in national carbon inventories. Thus, policies on emission reductions have likely underestimated the contribution of mangrove deforestation to national emissions. Here, we estimate that emissions from deforestation and degradation of mangroves in Mexico are 31 times greater than the values used to determine national emission reduction targets for the Paris Agreement. Thus, Mexico has vastly under valuated the potential of mangrove protection to reduce its emissions. Accounting for carbon emissions from mangrove soils should greatly increase the priority of mangrove forests to receive funding for protection under carbon trading programs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Fuzzy Models to Inform Social and Environmental Indicator Selection for Conservation Impact Monitoring Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-02-01 Edward T. Game, Leah L. Bremer, Alejandro Calvache, Pedro H. Moreno, Amalia Vargas, Baudelino Rivera, Lina M. Rodriguez
Abstract Conservation projects increasingly aim to deliver both environmental and social benefits. To monitor the success of these projects, it is important to pick indicators for which there is a reasonable expectation of change as a result of the project, and which resonate with project stakeholders. Results chains are widely used in conservation to describe the hypothesized pathways of causal linkages between conservation interventions and desired outcomes. We illustrate how, with limited additional information, results chains can be turned into fuzzy models of social-ecological systems, and how these models can be used to explore the predicted social and environmental impacts of conservation actions. These predictions can then be compared with the interests of stakeholders in order to identify good indicators of project success. We illustrate this approach by using it to select indicators for a water fund, an increasingly popular and multiobjective conservation strategy.
Integrating Social and Ecological Knowledge for Targeting Voluntary Biodiversity Conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-02-22 Riikka Paloniemi, Teppo Hujala, Salla Rantala, Annika Harlio, Anna Salomaa, Eeva Primmer, Sari Pynnönen, Anni Arponen
Abstract Improving the effectiveness of voluntary biodiversity policies requires developing trans-disciplinary conservation plans that consider social constraints to achieving ecological objectives. We integrated data on landowners’ willingness to participate in voluntary conservation efforts with ecological data on conservation values in a spatial prioritization, and found that doing so considerably reduced the loss in conservation value caused by landowners’ reluctance to participate. We learned that conducting prioritization with stakeholder input gained through dialogue during field visits could be beneficial for increasing the legitimacy of conservation plans with stakeholders. Thus, in addition to developing a methodology for using data on stakeholder perceptions of conservation in spatial prioritization, our study suggests that engaging landowners and other stakeholders in the conservation prioritization process will improve the success of conservation plans.
Accounting for Life-History Strategies and Timescales in Marine Restoration Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-02-22 Ignasi Montero-Serra, Joaquim Garrabou, Daniel F. Doak, Laura Figuerola, Bernat Hereu, Jean-Baptiste Ledoux, Cristina Linares
Abstract Understanding the drivers of restoration success is a central issue for marine conservation. Here, we explore the role of life-history strategies of sessile marine species in shaping restoration outcomes and their associated timescales. A transplantation experiment for the extremely slow-growing and threatened octocoral Corallium rubrum was highly successful over a relatively short term due to high survival and reproductive potential of the transplanted colonies. However, demographic projections predict that from 30 to 40 years may be required for fully functional C. rubrum populations to develop. More broadly, a comprehensive meta-analysis revealed a negative correlation between survival after transplanting and growth rates among sessile species. As a result, simulated dynamics for a range of marine sessile invertebrates predict that longer recovery times are positively associated with survival rates. These results demonstrate a tradeoff between initial transplantation efforts and the speed of recovery. Transplantation of slow-growing species will tend to require lower initial effort due to higher survival after transplanting, but the period required to fully recover habitat complexity will tend to be far longer. This study highlights the important role of life history as a driver of marine restoration outcomes and shows how demographic knowledge and modeling tools can help managers to anticipate the dynamics and timescales of restored populations.
Social Media Data Can Be Used to Understand Tourists’ Preferences for Nature-Based Experiences in Protected Areas Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-02-22 Anna Hausmann, Tuuli Toivonen, Rob Slotow, Henrikki Tenkanen, Atte Moilanen, Vuokko Heikinheimo, Enrico Di Minin
Abstract Can social media data be used as an alternative to traditional surveys to understand tourists’ preferences for nature-based experiences in protected areas? We explored this by comparing preferences for biodiversity obtained from a traditional survey conducted in Kruger National Park, South Africa, with observed preferences assessed from over 13,600 pictures shared on Instagram and Flickr by tourists visiting the park in the same period. We found no significant difference between the preferences of tourists as stated in the surveys and the preferences revealed by social media content. Overall, large-bodied mammals were found to be the favorite group, both in the survey and on social media platforms. However, Flickr was found to better match tourists’ preference for less-charismatic biodiversity. Our findings suggest that social media content can be used as a cost-efficient way to explore, and for more continuous monitoring of, preferences for biodiversity and human activities in protected areas.
Meeting the Global Ecosystem Collapse Challenge Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-02-27 Chloe F. Sato, David B. Lindenmayer
Abstract Natural systems are declining at an unparalleled rate. To prompt conservation of ecosystems, the IUCN has developed a framework to assess ecosystem threat. By 2025, the IUCN aims to assess the collapse risk of all the world's ecosystems using this framework. This increases the pressure to refine tractable methods to predict collapse. However, there has been no systematic review of whether predicting collapse is possible and practical, which is impeding consistent and comparable assessments of ecosystem threat. Here, we conduct such a review and highlight six areas of concern – stemming from the findings of our review – in need of immediate attention to progress work on assessing ecosystem collapse and the application of such assessments to the management of at-risk ecosystems. These are: (1) better conceptualizations of ecosystems, (2) better conceptualizations of ecosystem collapse, (3) improved integration of theory, experimentation, and practice, (4) improved surrogates and early warning indicators of ecosystem collapse, (5) the implementation of management experiments to enhance understanding of ecosystem stability, and (6) ensuring IUCN Red List of Ecosystems listings result in the conservation of biodiversity.
Lions in the modern arena of CITES Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-07 Hans Bauer, Kristin Nowell, Claudio Sillero-Zubiri, David W. Macdonald
AbstractLions have often been discussed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild flora and fauna (CITES). While CITES decisions on species trade regimes are ostensibly based on science, species data are often inconclusive and political considerations inevitably determine outcomes. We present the context of lion conservation and the technical and political processes of CITES to illuminate how a failed uplisting proposal nonetheless resulted in an unprecedented trade restriction as well as conservation initiatives beyond the CITES trade function. We conclude on the limitations of science to guide future directions of CITES debates, leaving politics and ethics to shape decision making.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
A global analysis of management capacity and ecological outcomes in terrestrial protected areas Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-08 Jonas Geldmann, Lauren Coad, Megan D. Barnes, Ian D. Craigie, Stephen Woodley, Andrew Balmford, Thomas M. Brooks, Marc Hockings, Kathryn Knights, Michael B. Mascia, Louise McRae, Neil D. Burgess
AbstractProtecting important sites is a key strategy for halting the loss of biodiversity. However, our understanding of the relationship between management inputs and biodiversity outcomes in protected areas (PAs) remains weak. Here, we examine biodiversity outcomes using species population trends in PAs derived from the Living Planet Database in relation to management data derived from the Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) database for 217 population time-series from 73 PAs. We found a positive relationship between our METT-based scores for Capacity and Resources and changes in vertebrate abundance, consistent with the hypothesis that PAs require adequate resourcing to halt biodiversity loss. Additionally, PA age was negatively correlated with trends for the mammal subsets and PA size negatively correlated with population trends in the global subset. Our study highlights the paucity of appropriate data for rigorous testing of the role of management in maintaining species populations across multiple sites, and describes ways to improve our understanding of PA performance.
Widespread occurrence of an emerging fungal pathogen in heavily traded Chinese urodelan species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-01 Zhiyong Yuan, An Martel, Jun Wu, Sarah Praet, Stefano Canessa, Frank Pasmans
Abstract Understanding introduction routes for wildlife pathogens is vital for the development of threat abatement plans. The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) has recently emerged in Europe, where it is considered to be a serious threat for urodelan conservation. If the highly diverse Chinese urodelans were to constitute a Bsal reservoir, then the significant international trade in these species may vector Bsal into naïve urodelan communities. Here, we analyzed a total of 1,143 samples, representing 36 Chinese salamander species from 51 localities across southern China for the presence of Bsal. We found Bsal was present across a wide taxonomic, geographical, and environmental range. In particular, Bsal DNA was detected in 33 samples from the genera Cynops, Pachytriton, Paramesotriton, Tylototriton, and Andrias, including the heavily traded species Paramesotriton hongkongensis and Cynops orientalis. The true Bsal prevalence across our data set was estimated between 2% and 4%, with a maximum of 50% in a population of P. hongkongensis. Even at this overall relatively low Bsal prevalence, the exportation of millions of animals renders Bsal introduction in naïve, importing countries a near certainty, which calls for the urgent implementation of proper biosecurity in the international wildlife trade.
Vaccination protects endangered albatross chicks against avian cholera Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-01-30 Vincent Bourret, Amandine Gamble, Jérémy Tornos, Audrey Jaeger, Karine Delord, Christophe Barbraud, Pablo Tortosa, Sarah Kada, Jean-Baptiste Thiebot, Eric Thibault, Hubert Gantelet, Henri Weimerskirch, Romain Garnier, Thierry Boulinier
Abstract Global change is contributing to unprecedented expansions of infectious diseases in wildlife. Recurrent avian cholera outbreaks are causing dramatic chick mortality and population decline in endangered albatross colonies on Amsterdam Island, a critical seabird breeding ground in the Southern Indian Ocean. We manufactured a killed vaccine using a Pasteurella multocida strain isolated from a dead albatross in the field. We used this same bacterial strain to establish a serological assay allowing the monitoring of antibody levels following bird vaccination. Using this vaccine on chicks 2 weeks post-hatching caused 100% seroconversion and reduced the death risk by a factor exceeding 2.5, raising fledging probability from 14% to 46%. These results suggest that using a specifically tailored vaccine could be a key tool to effectively protect endangered seabirds from disease outbreaks threatening them with extinction. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
When conservation goes viral: The diffusion of innovative biodiversity conservation policies and practices Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-01-29 Michael B. Mascia, Morena Mills
Abstract Despite billions of dollars invested, “getting to scale” remains a fundamental challenge for conservation donors and practitioners. Occasionally, however, a conservation intervention will “go viral,” with rapid, widespread adoption that transforms the relationship between people and nature across large areas. The factors that shape rates and patterns of conservation interventions remain unclear, puzzling scientists and hindering evidence-based policymaking. Diffusion of innovation theory – the study of the how and why innovations are adopted, and the rates and patterns of adoption – provides a novel lens for examining rates and patterns in the establishment of conservation interventions. Case studies from Tanzania and the Pacific illustrate that characteristics of the innovation, of the adopters, and of the social-ecological context shape spatial and temporal dynamics in the diffusion of community-centered conservation interventions. Differential trends in adoption mirrored the relative advantage of interventions to local villagers and villager access to external technical assistance. Theories of innovation diffusion highlight new arenas for conservation research and provide critical insights for conservation policy and practice, suggesting the potential to empower donors and practitioners with the ability to catalyze conservation at scale – and to do so at less cost and with longer-lasting impacts. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Conserving biodiversity and Indigenous bush tucker: Practical application of the strategic foresight framework to invasive alien species management planning Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-01-28 Vanessa M. Adams, Michael M. Douglas, Sue E. Jackson, Kelly Scheepers, Johnathan T. Kool, Samantha A. Setterfield
Abstract Invasive alien species are a major driver of global biodiversity loss. Constrained conservation budgets demand that threat abatement strategies take into account the heterogeneity of areas in need of protection, such as significant ecological and cultural sites, as well as the competing values, preferences and objectives of stakeholders. We used strategic foresight to assess the threat that invasive alien grasses pose to environmental and Indigenous cultural values on the floodplains of a co-managed, World Heritage-inscribed national park. We found strategic foresight to be a useful framework to set management priorities that simultaneously conserve biological and cultural diversity. However, it required the development and application of novel ecological and participatory tools and significant time, financial and human resources. This was the first study to apply strategic foresight to weed management planning in a realistic, culturally complex setting and our work provides an exemplar for the application of the strategic foresight framework and our tools to other contexts. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Biologically representative and well-connected marine reserves enhance biodiversity persistence in conservation planning Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-01-17 Rafael Almeida Magris, Marco Andrello, Robert Leslie Pressey, David Mouillot, Alicia Dalongeville, Martin Nilsson Jacobi, Stéphanie Manel
Abstract Current methods in conservation planning for promoting the persistence of biodiversity typically focus on either representing species geographic distributions or maintaining connectivity between reserves, but rarely both, and take a focal species, rather than a multi-species, approach. Here, we link prioritisation methods with population models to explore the impact of integrating both representation and connectivity into conservation planning for species persistence. Using data on 288 Mediterranean fish species with varying conservation requirements, we show that: (i) considering both representation and connectivity objectives provides the best strategy for enhanced biodiversity persistence; and (ii) connectivity objectives were fundamental to enhancing persistence of small-ranged species, which are most in need of conservation, while the representation objective benefited only wide-ranging species. Our approach provides a more comprehensive appraisal of planning applications than approaches focusing on either representation or connectivity, and will hopefully contribute to build more effective reserve networks for the persistence of biodiversity. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Descent with modification: Critical use of historical evidence for conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-01-16 Simon Pooley
Abstract The clear evidence of the accumulating impacts of anthropogenic actions on the Earth system is driving researchers to look to historical data as a resource for understanding the present and predicting the future. In the conservation science literature, using historical sources usually refers to data mining ‘the past’ using the scientific methods of historical ecology. This paper considers the often overlooked methodological challenges of sourcing and interpreting historical data. A schema is provided for conservation scientists, summarising the kinds of questions and metadata required to work rigorously with historical data. This will improve the accuracy of the data we use to construct trends to inform our understanding of the conservation status of particular species and ecosystems. It will also deepen our understanding of the interplays of factors influencing policy and management in particular social-ecological contexts. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Real-world conservation planning for evolutionary diversity in the Kimberley, Australia, sidesteps uncertain taxonomy Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-01-16 Dan Frederick Rosauer, Margaret Byrne, Mozes Pil Kyu Blom, David Jack Coates, Stephen Donnellan, Paul Doughty, J. Scott Keogh, Janine Kinloch, Rebecca Jan Laver, Cecilia Myers, Paul Michael Oliver, Sally Potter, Daniel Lee Rabosky, Ana Catarina Afonso Silva, James Smith, Craig Moritz
Abstract Targeting phylogenetic diversity (PD) in systematic conservation planning is an efficient way to minimize losses across the Tree of Life. Considering representation of genetic diversity below and above species level, also allows robust analyses within systems where taxonomy is in flux. We use dense sampling of phylogeographic diversity for eleven lizard genera, to demonstrate how PD can be applied to a policy-ready conservation planning problem. Our analysis bypasses named taxa, using genetic data directly to inform conservation decisions. We highlight areas that should be prioritised for ecological management, and also areas that would provide the greatest benefit if added to the multi-sector conservation estate. We provide a rigorous and effective approach to represent the spectrum of genetic and species diversity in conservation planning. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
An assessment of threats to terrestrial protected areas Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-12-29 Katharina Schulze, Kathryn Knights, Lauren Coad, Jonas Geldmann, Fiona Leverington, April Eassom, Melitta Marr, Stuart H. M. Butchart, Marc Hockings, Neil D. Burgess
Abstract Protected areas (PAs) represent a cornerstone of efforts to safeguard biodiversity, and if effective should reduce threats to biodiversity. We present the most comprehensive assessment of threats to terrestrial PAs, based on in-situ data from 1,961 PAs across 149 countries, assessed by PA managers and local stakeholders. Unsustainable hunting was the most commonly reported threat and occurred in 61% of all PAs, followed by disturbance from recreational activities occurring in 55%, and natural system modifications from fire or its suppression in 49%. The number of reported threats was lower in PAs with greater remoteness, higher control of corruption and lower human development scores. The main reported threats in developing countries were linked to overexploitation for resource extraction, while negative impacts from recreational activities dominated in developed countries. Our results show that many of the most serious threats to PAs are difficult to monitor with remote sensing, and highlight the importance of in situ threat data to inform the implementation of more effective biodiversity conservation in the global protected area estate. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Bigger or better: The relative benefits of protected area network expansion and enforcement for the conservation of an exploited species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-12-22 Caitlin D. Kuempel, Vanessa M. Adams, Hugh P. Possingham, Michael Bode
Abstract The global portfolio of protected areas is growing rapidly, despite widely-recognized shortfalls in management effectiveness. Pressure to meet area-coverage and management effectiveness objectives makes it essential to determine how limited conservation funds should be allocated between expanding protected area networks and better enforcing existing reserves. We formally explore this question for the particular case of an exploited species in a partially-protected system, using a general model linking protection, enforcement and legal/illegal resource extraction. We show that, on average, funds should be disproportionately invested in enforcement rather than expansion. Further, expansion alone, without additional enforcement, can actually reduce conservation outcomes. To help guide future decisions, we calculate the optimal allocation of resources between these two actions given any current level of enforcement and protected area coverage. In most cases, simultaneously investing in expansion and enforcement is the optimal decision. However, in places with low enforcement and high protection, protected area contraction, or strategically concentrating enforcement effort, produces the greatest benefits. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Seizing opportunities to diversify conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-12-14 Rachelle K. Gould, Indira Phukan, Mary E. Mendoza, Nicole M. Ardoin, Bindu Panikkar
This paper identifies, and offers several ways to address, a serious, persistent issue in conservation: low levels of diversity in thought and action. We first describe the lack of diversity and highlight the continued separation of the environmental conservation and environmental justice movements. We then offer—based on previous research and our collective experience—two suggestions for how to increase inclusivity (a step farther than just increasing diversity) in holistic, sensitive ways. We suggest that embracing narrative, including historical narrative that can be profound and painful, may be essential to addressing this deeply rooted problem. We also suggest the need to re-define “environment” to more closely align with the diversity of perspectives that different people and disciplines bring to the topic. We support these suggestions with selected data from our empirical research and provide examples of initiatives that exemplify them. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Not all group incentives are created equally Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-12-08 Carl Salk, Henry Travers
The growing interest in payment-based incentives as a policy tool requires robust evidence regarding the effectiveness of alternative payment structures in eliciting pro-conservation behavior. How incentives are structured not only determines how much individual resource users can be influenced, but also impacts wider co-benefits, such as building the capacity of local institutions or changing social norms. Gatiso et al. (2017) contribute to this evidence base with their experimental study of individual- and group-based payments to promote sustainable community forestry. Two important points arise from their study: i) how group and individual incentives are defined and ii) the need for fair comparisons between incentives in experimental studies. The authors find that individual payments performed better in their experiment and note that previous studies (Salk et al., 2017; Travers et al., 2011) draw the opposite conclusion, attributing this to cultural, political and experimental factors. While these are certainly relevant, there are more fundamental explanations, notably how these studies define individual and group incentives and the relative payout gained from free-riding. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Asymmetric cross-border protection of peripheral transboundary species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-12-06 Daniel H. Thornton, Aaron J. Wirsing, Carlos Lopez-Gonzalez, John R. Squires, Scott Fisher, Karl W. Larsen, Alan Peatt, Matt A. Scrafford, Ron A. Moen, Arthur E. Scully, Travis W. King, Dennis L. Murray
International political boundaries challenge species conservation because they can hinder coordinated management. Peripheral transboundary species, those with a large portion of their range in one country and a small, peripheral portion in an adjacent country, may be particularly vulnerable to mismatches in management because peripheral populations are likely in greater conservation need than core populations. However, no systematic assessment of peripheral transboundary species or their status across borders has been attempted. We show that numerous species in three vertebrate taxa qualify as peripheral transboundary species in North America, and that these species are often protected differently across US-Canadian and US-Mexican borders. Asymmetries in cross-border protection may threaten populations through disruption of connectivity between periphery and core regions and are especially relevant given expected impacts of climate change and the US-Mexico border wall. Our results highlight the need for greater international collaboration in management and planning decisions for transboundary species. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
The governance of land use strategies: Institutional and social dimensions of land sparing and land sharing Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-12-13 Tolera S. Jiren, Ine Dorresteijn, Jannik Schultner, Joern Fischer
Agricultural land use is a key interface between the goals of ensuring food security and protecting biodiversity. “Land sparing” supports intensive agriculture to save land for conservation, whereas “land sharing” integrates production and conservation on the same land. The framing around sparing versus sharing has been extensively debated. Here, we focused on a frequently missing yet crucial component, namely the governance dimension. Through a case-study in Ethiopia, we uncovered stakeholder preferences for sparing versus sharing, the underlying rationale, and implementation capacity challenges. Policy stakeholders preferred sparing whereas implementation stakeholders preferred sharing, which aligned with existing informal institutions. Implementation of both strategies was limited by social, biophysical, and institutional factors. Land use policies need to account for both ecological patterns and social context. The findings from simple analytical frameworks (e.g., sparing vs. sharing) therefore need to be interpreted carefully, and in a social-ecological context, to generate meaningful recommendations for conservation practice.
Integrating conservation biology into the development of automated vehicle technology to reduce animal–vehicle collisions Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-30 Amanda C. Niehaus, Robbie S. Wilson
Every year, hundreds of millions of animals die in collisions with cars. For some species, road strikes are a major cause of population declines, and reducing collisions is a conservation priority. We suggest that the emergence of automated vehicles will provide new opportunities for the use of computerized animal warning systems and variable speed zones in areas (and times) of high collision risk—but only if conservation biologists play a role in the development and implementation of these vehicles on the road.
Assessing the significance of endemic disease in conservation—koalas, chlamydia, and koala retrovirus as a case study Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-28 Hamish McCallum, Douglas H. Kerlin, William Ellis, Frank Carrick
It can be difficult to establish the conservation significance of endemic infectious diseases—those that are well established in a population—in contrast with infectious diseases that are still invading. This difficulty can have important implications for designing policy to address species declines. The infectious diseases of koalas provide an ideal case study to examine issues involved in identifying the role of endemic disease in conservation biology. Koala populations are in decline, amidst claims for many years that infectious diseases, particularly those with chlamydial etiology, play a key role in this loss. However, weak associations between prevalence of infection, clinical signs of disease, and population decline mean that it remains unclear whether infectious disease is a primary driver of koala population decline. There are multiple causes of koala decline including drought, habitat destruction, and disease. Well-designed experiments, linked to appropriate models, are necessary to determine the true role of infectious disease in the current koala population declines and whether a focus on disease is likely to be a feasible, let alone the most cost-effective, means of preventing further declines.
Forest and landscape restoration severely constrained by a lack of attention to the quantity and quality of tree seed: Insights from a global survey Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-27 Riina Jalonen, Michel Valette, David Boshier, Jérôme Duminil, Evert Thomas
Meeting the multimillion hectare commitments for forest and landscape restoration (FLR) will require billions of tree seed and seedlings. However, the adequacy of seed supply in terms of quantity, genetic diversity and quality has received scant attention in FLR planning. We surveyed 139 FLR projects worldwide and identified widespread problems in the availability and diversity of tree seed, with potentially deleterious consequences for the vigor, productivity and long-term persistence of restored tree populations. Large projects and those focused on climate change mitigation were particularly associated with multiple problems in seed sourcing. To avoid large-scale failure in FLR, we recommend: (1) national assessments of seed supply and demand for FLR, (2) reviewing FLR targets and funding cycles, (3) fostering sharing of knowledge and experiences regarding seed supply and selection, (4) enhancing seed exchange across landscapes, and (5) introducing regulations for seed quality and strengthening capacities for compliance.
Social fit of coral reef governance varies among individuals Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-20 Rachel A Turner, Johanna Forster, Clare Fitzsimmons, David Gill, Robin Mahon, Angelie Peterson, Selina Stead
Improved natural resource governance is critical for the effective conservation of ecosystems, and the well-being of societies that depend on them. Understanding the social fit of institutional arrangements in different contexts can help guide the design of effective environmental governance. This empirical study assessed individual-level variation in institutional acceptance of coral reef governance among 652 respondents in 12 fishing and tourism-oriented communities in the Wider Caribbean. High institutional acceptance was strongly associated with perceptions of community cohesiveness, underlining the potential contribution of civil society to effective governance processes. Institutional acceptance was also influenced by reef use, awareness of rules, perceived trends in reef fish populations, education, and contextual community-level factors. Understanding what influences diverse perceptions of coral reef governance among individuals can help to assess the likelihood of support for conservation measures. This study highlights how knowledge of institutional acceptance can inform the design of more targeted interventions that enhance the social fit of conservation governance to local contexts and diverse resource users.
Social equity and urban nature conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-16 Jensen Reitz Montambault, Myriam Dormer, Jacob Campbell, Naureen Rana, Sara Gottlieb, John Legge, Deron Davis, Mohamad Chakaki
Nature conservation and social equity issues have been approached in a myriad of ways by conservation, humanitarian, and development practitioners. The rapid and shifting urbanization of the globe makes the interaction of these issues paramount and it is imperative to articulate pathways to harmonizing these relationships readily followed by conservation practitioners. We describe the processes and compare the resulting social equity and conservation objectives of two initiatives purposefully integrating these approaches. A private nonprofit seeking to develop an urban conservation program in the Atlanta metropolitan area purposefully engaged residents from surrounding communities and self-identified local and sector leaders to identify communities where social equity and conservation objectives could be created together. A public agency, built on a century-long history of environmental stewardship for migratory birds and pollinators, integrated 20 years of participatory action research to engage the surrounding communities using methods suggested and developed by the communities themselves. In both cases, community-based research approaches have helped establish cocreated objectives and flexible monitoring and evaluation baselines. Both initiatives found a need to appropriately resource and train staff to remain open to learning and evolving new objectives as additional perspectives emerge and the impact on conservation and equity objectives is assessed.
Making Tough Choices: Picking the Appropriate Conservation Decision-Making Tool Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-06 Shannon D. Bower, Jacob W. Brownscombe, Kim Birnie-Gauvin, Matthew I. Ford, Andrew D. Moraga, Ryan J. P. Pusiak, Eric D. Turenne, Aaron J. Zolderdo, Steven J. Cooke, Joseph R. Bennett
Conservation practitioners face complex challenges due to resource limitations, biological and socioeconomic trade-offs, involvement of diverse interest groups, and data deficiencies. To help address these challenges, there are a growing number of frameworks for systematic decision making. Three prominent frameworks are structured decision making, systematic conservation prioritization, and systematic reviews. These frameworks have numerous conceptual linkages, and offer rigorous and transparent solutions to conservation problems. However, they differ in their assumptions and applicability. Here, we provide guidance on how to choose among these frameworks for solving conservation problems, and how to identify less rigorous techniques when time or data availability limit options. Each framework emphasizes the need for proper problem consideration and formulation, and includes steps for monitoring and evaluation. We recommend clear and documented problem formulation, adopting structured decision-making processes, and archiving results in a global database to support conservation professionals in making evidence-based decisions in the future.
The Allure of the Illegal: Choice Modeling of Rhino Horn Demand in Vietnam Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-06 Nick Hanley, Oleg Sheremet, Martina Bozzola, Douglas C. MacMillan
Using choice modeling, we explore willingness to pay for rhino horn among existing and potential future consumers in Vietnam. We find that wild-sourced horn, harvested humanely from the least rare species, is the most highly valued product. Furthermore, consumers are willing to pay less for rhino horn products under a scenario where international trade is legalized compared to the current situation of illegal trade. We discuss the potential implications of our findings on rhino poaching and international trade policy.
Marine Noise Budgets in Practice Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-03 Nathan D. Merchant, Rebecca C. Faulkner, Roi Martinez
Many countries have made statutory commitments to ensure that underwater noise pollution is at levels which do not harm marine ecosystems. Nevertheless, coordinated action to manage cumulative noise levels is lacking, despite broad recognition of the risks to ecosystem health. We attribute this impasse to a lack of quantitative management targets—or “noise budgets”—which regulatory decision-makers can work toward, and propose a framework of risk-based noise exposure indicators which make such targets possible. These indicators employ novel noise exposure curves to quantify the proportion of a population or habitat exposed, and the associated exposure duration. This methodology facilitates both place-based and ecosystem-based approaches, enabling the integration of noise management into marine spatial planning, risk assessment of population-level consequences, and cumulative effects assessment. Using data from the first international assessment of impulsive noise activity, we apply this approach to herring spawning and harbor porpoise in the North Sea.
Inclusion of Biodiversity in Habitat Restoration Policy to Facilitate Ecosystem Recovery Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-03 A. Randall Hughes, Jonathan H. Grabowski, Heather M. Leslie, Steven Scyphers, Susan L. Williams
Maintaining biodiversity is a central tenet of conservation, in part because biodiversity influences ecosystem functions across terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems. Biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships have clear relevance for the design of habitat restoration efforts, yet the degree to which biodiversity has been incorporated into restoration practice is unclear. We conducted a review of the published literature on habitat restoration to evaluate this potential science-practice gap. The number of published restoration studies including the term biodiversity has increased slightly from 1990 to 2015 relative to the broader restoration literature. A greater percentage of empirical restorations, and a higher percentage of those with a biodiversity component, were from terrestrial than freshwater or marine ecosystems. The majority of studies considered biodiversity as a response to restoration rather than incorporating it in the restoration design. In fact, nearly half of the studies in our database that actively transplanted species manipulated only a single target species. Little consideration was given to genetic or trophic diversity despite their documented importance for ecosystem function. Given the limited resources available for and high economic costs associated with habitat restoration projects, we recommend policies that account for biodiversity to bridge this gap and maximize ecosystem function and restoration success.
Conservation from the Grave: Human Burials to Fund the Conservation of Threatened Species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-10-30 Matthew H. Holden, Eve McDonald-Madden
Most conservation scientists and practitioners are unaware that their corpses can transform into protected areas after death. The practice is called a conservation burial, where burial fees fund the acquisition, protection, restoration, and management of new land to benefit human and environmental well-being. If conservation burials became commonplace, then the revenue generated could exceed the amount of money required to fund the conservation of every threatened species on the planet. The additional human-health benefits of increased urban greenspace could also be substantial. As Halloween, “the day of the dead,” approaches, we urge governments, NGOs, and the public to contemplate how death can support future life on earth through conservation burials.
Avoided Deforestation Linked to Environmental Registration of Properties in the Brazilian Amazon Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-10-27 Jennifer Alix-Garcia, Lisa L. Rausch, Jessica L'Roe, Holly K. Gibbs, Jacob Munger
We quantified the avoided deforestation impacts of environmental land registration in Brazil's Amazonian states of Mato Grosso and Pará between 2005 and 2014. We find that the program reduced deforestation on registered lands. The magnitude of the effect implies that deforestation in the two states would have been 10% higher in the absence of the program. The impacts of registration varied over time, likely due to changing suites of policies linking environmental registration to land use incentives. Our results also reveal that agriculturally suitable lands and those located in regions undergoing the most land-use change were more likely to be registered than those in less suitable, less dynamic regions. We conclude that environmental registration is an important first step in implementing avoided deforestation policies targeting private landholders.
Encouraging State Governments to Protect and Restore Forests Using Ecological Fiscal Transfers: India's Tax Revenue Distribution Reform Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-10-24 Jonah Busch, Anit Mukherjee
In February 2014, India's 14th Finance Commission added forest cover to the formula that determines the amount of tax revenue the central government distributes annually to each of India's 29 states. The Government of India estimates that from 2015 to 2019 it will distribute $6.9–$12 billion per year to states in proportion to their 2013 forest cover, amounting to around $174–$303 per hectare of forest per year. Assuming that contemporary forest cover will remain an element of the formula beyond 2020, Indian states now have a sizeable new fiscal incentive to protect and restore forests, contributing to the achievement of India's climate goals. India's tax revenue distribution reform creates the world's first ecological fiscal transfers (EFTs) for forest cover, and a potential model for other countries. In this article, we discuss the origin of India's EFTs and their potential effects. In a simple preliminary analysis, we do not yet observe that the EFTs have increased forest cover across states, consistent with our hypothesis that 1 to 2 years of operation is too soon for the reform to have had an effect. This means there remains substantial scope for state governments to protect and restore forests as an investment in future state revenues.
Corals in Healthy Populations Produce More Larvae Per Unit Cover Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-10-18 Aaron C. Hartmann, Kristen L. Marhaver, Mark J. A. Vermeij
In coral reef conservation and management, the prevailing metric of reef health is percent coral cover, a measurement commonly used with the assumption that each unit of live coral tissue has equivalent ecological value. Here we show that the reproductive output of a coral population is not proportional to the cover of coral present. Instead, when compared to declining populations nearby, high cover coral populations produced up to four times more larvae per square centimeter of tissue, resulting in up to 200 times higher larval production per square meter of reef. Importantly, corals that produced more larvae did not produce smaller larvae, as predicted by resource allocation theory. Instead, higher fecundity corresponded to higher energetic lipid reserves in higher cover coral populations. In the wake of unprecedented global coral bleaching, our findings suggest that the largest reductions in coral reproduction may occur when corals are lost from previously healthy populations.
Reserve Sizes Needed to Protect Coral Reef Fishes Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-10-17 Nils C. Krueck, Christelle Legrand, Gabby N. Ahmadia, Estradivari, Alison Green, Geoffrey P. Jones, Cynthia Riginos, Eric A. Treml, Peter J. Mumby
Marine reserves are a commonly applied conservation tool, but their size is often chosen based on considerations of socioeconomic rather than ecological impact. Here, we use a simple individual-based model together with the latest empirical information on home ranges, densities and schooling behaviour in 66 coral reef fishes to quantify the conservation effectiveness of various reserve sizes. We find that standard reserves with a diameter of 1–2 km can achieve partial protection (≥50% of the maximum number of individuals) of 56% of all simulated species. Partial protection of the most important fishery species, and of species with diverse functional roles, required 2–10 km wide reserves. Full protection of nearly all simulated species required 100 km wide reserves. Linear regressions based on the mean home range and density, and even just the maximum length, of fish species approximated these results reliably, and can therefore be used to support locally effective decision making.
Call for a Paradigm Shift in the Genetic Management of Fragmented Populations Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-10-11 Katherine Ralls, Jonathan D. Ballou, Michele R. Dudash, Mark D. B. Eldridge, Charles B. Fenster, Robert C. Lacy, Paul Sunnucks, Richard Frankham
Thousands of small populations are at increased risk of extinction because genetics and evolutionary biology are not well-integrated into conservation planning–a major lost opportunity for effective actions. We propose that if the risk of outbreeding depression is low, the default should be to evaluate restoration of gene flow to small inbred populations of diploid outbreeding organisms that were isolated by human activities within the last 500 years, rather than inaction. We outline the elements of a scientific-based genetic management policy for fragmented populations of plants and animals, and discuss the reasons why the current default policy is, inappropriately, inaction.
Informing Aerial Total Counts with Demographic Models: Population Growth of Serengeti Elephants Not Explained Purely by Demography Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-10-10 Thomas A. Morrison, Anna B. Estes, Simon A.R. Mduma, Honori T. Maliti, Howard Frederick, Hamza Kija, Machoke Mwita, A.R.E. Sinclair, Edward M. Kohi
Conservation management is strongly shaped by the interpretation of population trends. In the Serengeti ecosystem, Tanzania, aerial total counts indicate a striking increase in elephant abundance compared to all previous censuses. We developed a simple age-structured population model to guide interpretation of this reported increase, focusing on three possible causes: (1) in situ population growth, (2) immigration from Kenya, and (3) differences in counting methodologies over time. No single cause, nor the combination of two causes, adequately explained the observed population growth. Under the assumptions of maximum in situ growth and detection bias of 12.7% in previous censuses, conservative estimates of immigration from Kenya were between 250 and 1,450 individuals. Our results highlight the value of considering demography when drawing conclusions about the causes of population trends. The issues we illustrate apply to other species that have undergone dramatic changes in abundance, as well as many elephant populations.
Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-10-04 Georgia E. Garrard, Nicholas S. G. Williams, Luis Mata, Jordan Thomas, Sarah A. Bekessy
Cities are increasingly considered important places for biodiversity conservation because they can harbor threatened species and because conservation in cities represents an opportunity to reconnect people with nature and the range of health and well-being benefits it provides. However, urbanization can be catastrophic for native species, and is a well-known threat to biodiversity worldwide. Urbanization impacts can be mitigated by urban design and development improvements, but take-up of these practices has been slow. There is an urgent need to incorporate existing ecological knowledge into a framework that can be used by planners and developers to ensure that biodiversity conservation is considered in decision-making processes. Here, we distill the urban biodiversity literature into five principles for biodiversity sensitive urban design (BSUD), ranging from creating habitat and promoting dispersal to facilitating community stewardship. We then present a framework for implementing BSUD aimed at delivering onsite benefits to biodiversity, and that is applicable across a range of urban development types and densities. We illustrate the application of the BSUD framework in two case studies focusing on the: (1) protection of an endangered vegetation remnant in a new low-density subdivision; and (2) persistence of an endangered reptile in an established suburban environment.
Adding the Third Dimension to Marine Conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-09-28 Noam Levin, Salit Kark, Roberto Danovaro
The Earth's oceans are inherently 3-D in nature. Many physical, environmental, and biotic processes vary widely across depths. In recent years, human activities, such as oil drilling, mining, and fishing are rapidly expanding into deeper frontier ocean areas, where much of the biodiversity remains unknown. Most current conservation actions, management decisions and policies of both the pelagic and benthic domains do not explicitly incorporate the 3-D nature of the oceans and are still based on a two-dimensional approach. Here, we review current advances in marine research and conservation, aiming to advance towards incorporating the third dimension in marine systematic conservation planning. We highlight the importance and potential of vertical conservation planning and zoning from the sea surface to the seafloor. We propose that undertaking marine conservation, management and environmental decisions in 3-D has the potential to revolutionize marine conservation research, practice and legislation.
Divergent Landowners' Expectations May Hinder the Uptake of a Forest Certificate Trading Scheme Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-09-28 Marta Lisli Giannichi, Martin Dallimer, Timothy R. Baker, Gordon Mitchell, Paula Bernasconi, Guy Ziv
A major challenge to reduce forest loss in the tropics is to incentivize conservation on private land in agricultural settings. Engaging private landowners in conservation schemes is particularly important along deforestation frontiers, such as in the southern Brazilian Amazon. While we know much about what motivates landowners to participate as providers, or sellers, of conservation schemes, understanding what motivates landowners who act as buyers, that is, those who require land to meet conservation obligations, remains lacking. Here we identify viewpoints of sellers and buyers of an emerging forest certificate trading scheme in Brazil and quantify the compatibility of their views to examine potential barriers to trade. Sellers and buyers could be divided into three groups, but only one group in each case was positive about participating in the scheme. A key concern of buyers was the desire for establishing contracts with a long duration; in contrast, price was a key issue for sellers. Addressing these concerns by defining minimum contract lengths and restricting the spatial scale of transactions will be essential if this scheme is to realise its potential to reduce rates of deforestation.
Shark Bites and Shark Conservation: An Analysis of Human Attitudes Following Shark Bite Incidents in Two Locations in Australia Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-09-13 Christopher Pepin-Neff, Thomas Wynter
This article reports on the first comparative surveys in two separate locations to measure public attitudes toward sharks following shark bite incidents. This study focuses directly on the communities affected by the shark bites, both in Australia—the town of Ballina in the State of New South Wales (N = 500) and the city of Perth in Western Australia (N = 600)—and reports on their attitudes and policy preferences relating to sharks immediately after serious shark bite incidents in 2015 and 2016. In both communities we find that a large majority of respondents prefer nonlethal policies; most respondents believe shark bite incidents to be accidental rather than intentional; while fear of sharks correlates with support for lethal policies, this association is powerfully mediated by perceptions of intentionality. These findings have implications for international wildlife management, particularly regarding predator species in need of conservation. Conservation is based on the public acceptability of a species and if intentionality can mediate fear effects and promote policies that protect the species this is a step forward for conservation management globally.
An Evaluation of Marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in the Context of Spatial Conservation Prioritization Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-09-08 Jennifer McGowan, Robert J. Smith, Moreno Di Marco, Rohan H. Clarke, Hugh P. Possingham
Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) are sites identified as globally important for bird species conservation. Marine IBAs are one of the few comprehensive multi-species datasets available for the marine environment, and their use in conservation planning will likely increase as countries race to protect 10% of their territorial waters by 2020. We tested 15 planning scenarios for Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone to guide best practice on integrating marine IBAs into spatial conservation prioritization. We found prioritizations based solely on habitat protection failed to protect IBAs, and prioritizations based solely on IBAs similarly failed to meet basic levels of habitat representation. Further, treating all marine IBAs as irreplaceable sites produced the most inefficient plans in terms of ecological representativeness and protection equality. Our analyses suggest that marine spatial planners who wish to use IBAs treat them like any other conservation feature by assigning them a specific protection target.
Wild Salmon Sustain the Effectiveness of Parasite Control on Salmon Farms: Conservation Implications from an Evolutionary Ecosystem Service Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-09-08 Maayan Kreitzman, Jaime Ashander, John Driscoll, Andrew W Bateman, Kai M. A. Chan, Mark A. Lewis, Martin Krkosek
Rapid evolution can increase or maintain the provision of ecosystem services, motivating the conservation of wild species and communities. We detail one such contemporary evosystem service by synthesizing theoretical evidence that rapid evolution can sustain parasiticide efficacy in salmon aquaculture, thus creating an added incentive for salmon conservation. Globally, wild and farmed salmon share native parasites: sea lice. In most major salmon farming areas sea lice have evolved resistance to parasiticides, but in the North Pacific, where farmed salmon coexist with large wild salmon populations, resistance has not emerged. We present a model to show that flow of susceptible genes from lice hosted on wild salmon to those hosted on farmed salmon can delay or preclude resistance. This theoretical and observational data suggests that wild salmon (both oceanic populations that function as a refuge and local migratory populations that connect this refuge to domesticated environments) provide an evosystem service by prolonging parasiticide efficacy. To preserve this service, aquaculture managers could avoid production quantities that exceed wild salmon abundances, and sustain wild salmon populations through regional and oceanic scale conservation. The evosystem service of resistance mitigation is one example of how a contemporary evolutionary process that benefits people can strengthen the case for conservation of intrinsically important wild species.
Rediscovering the Potential of Indigenous Storytelling for Conservation Practice Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-09-01 Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares, Mar Cabeza
Several intergovernmental policy instruments, including the World Heritage Convention of UNESCO and the Convention on Biological Diversity, have proposed to develop integrated strategies to build bridges between biological and cultural diversity agendas. We contend that to succeed in this endeavor, it is crucial to link biocultural revitalization to conservation practice. Our hope with this review is to call attention to indigenous storytelling as an option worth adding to the repertoire of conservation practitioners who aim to: (1) link conservation actions to indigenous worldviews; (2) foster connections between indigenous peoples and their landscapes; (3) facilitate intergenerational transfer of indigenous knowledge; (4) support dialogue over conservation; and (5) promote local participation in conservation. Because indigenous stories are full of resonance, memory, and wisdom—in a footing that is structurally free of power imbalance between conservation practitioners and local communities—, we contend that they can be crucial to guide future efforts in biocultural conservation practice. Our review shows that deeper consideration and promotion of indigenous storytelling can lead to enhanced understanding of diverse values and perceptions around biodiversity, while offering a constructive approach for greater inclusion of indigenous peoples in conservation pursuits.
Global Review of Social Indicators used in Protected Area Management Evaluation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-08-30 Colleen Corrigan, Catherine J. Robinson, Neil D. Burgess, Naomi Kingston, Marc Hockings
Social considerations in conservation are increasingly recognized as important for successful environmental outcomes. However, social measures lack consistency and may underreport key issues. This article analyzes social indicators and well-being dimensions used in protected area effectiveness tools, with specific attention to local communities and Indigenous peoples’ contexts. Using the Global Protected Area Management Effectiveness database, we reviewed 2,736 indicators from 38 methodologies applied in over 180 countries. We analyzed: (1) representation of human well-being dimensions, (2) direction of impacts, and (3) level of neutrality in indicators. We found limited diversity and representation of important well-being dimensions such as health and governance. While impacts on communities and nature are similarly measured, positive wording is used three times more often than negative, which may unintentionally bias evaluations. We recommend using and developing indicators with greater diversity, increased clarity, and reduced bias to enhance management and policy responses for biodiversity and human well-being.
Changing Wild Meat Consumption: An Experiment in the Central Amazon, Brazil Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-08-22 Willandia A. Chaves, Denis R. Valle, Martha C. Monroe, David S. Wilkie, Kathryn E. Sieving, Brooke Sadowsky
Millions of people across the tropics rely on wildlife for food and income. However, overhunting to satisfy this demand is causing the decline of many species; an issue known as the wild meat crisis. We applied a before-after control-intervention design to assess the effects of social marketing (an information campaign and community engagement) with and without an economic incentive (discount coupons for chicken) on wild meat consumption. Coupons increased chicken consumption, as expected, but did not reduce wild meat consumption. In contrast, social marketing without the price incentive reduced wild meat consumption by ∼62%. This study demonstrates how social marketing and price incentives may be effective at reducing demand for meat and other wildlife products.
A New Opportunity to Recover Native Forests in China Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-08-03 Fangyuan Hua, Jianchu Xu, David S. Wilcove
Despite unprecedented efforts at reforestation in recent decades, China's native forests continue to be displaced by plantations. Collective forest land (CFL)—land owned by rural households/communities—accounts for 60% of China's total forest land and harbors nearly half of its remaining native forests. However, China's existing policy structure for native forests suffers from considerable deficiencies with regard to CFL, most notably because policies provide no mechanism for restoring native forests on CFL. Rectifying these deficiencies requires that China's management approach toward CFL forests recognize the value of forests, especially native forests, for things other than tree crop production. In particular, policies must account for biodiversity in assessing the ecological conditions and values of forests and must provide incentives to protect and restore native forests. An opportunity has arisen to incentivize native forest recovery on CFL through the newly announced “mechanism of compensation for ecological protection” (MCEP), introduced in May 2016 and on track to become China's umbrella policy for ecosystem protection. Currently, however, MCEP does not explicitly target CFL, and it contains no incentives for restoring native forests. Adding these elements to MCEP could herald a renaissance for China's diminishing native forests and associated biodiversity. The Chinese government should not let this opportunity slip away.
Evaluating the Design of Behavior Change Interventions: A Case Study of Rhino Horn in Vietnam Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-08-02 Alegría Olmedo, Vian Sharif, E.J. Milner-Gulland
Behavioral change interventions are increasingly widely used in conservation. Several projects addressing rhino horn consumption were recently launched in Vietnam. We used key informant interviews, document analysis, and marketing theory to explore their strategies for intervention design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. We developed a framework to evaluate whether they followed best practice and identify implementation challenges. Interventions could make greater use of key project design steps, including basing interventions on robust research to understand the behavior in question, identifying the target audience whose behavior interventions aim to change, and developing measures that can provide reliable evidence of success or not. Challenges include the need for law enforcement to complement campaigns; improving cooperation between NGOs; and clearly defining aims of demand-reduction initiatives. Using best practice from other fields and considering demand reduction within the wider context of wildlife, trade policy will help address these challenges.
Farmer Perceptions of the Ecosystem Services Provided by Scavengers: What, Who, and to Whom Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-07-31 Zebensui Morales-Reyes, Berta Martín-López, Marcos Moleón, Patricia Mateo-Tomás, Francisco Botella, Antoni Margalida, José A. Donázar, Guillermo Blanco, Irene Pérez, José A. Sánchez-Zapata
A socioecological approach to biodiversity conservation has recently been encouraged. We examined farmer perceptions of ecosystem services provided by scavenging vertebrates in Spain through face-to-face surveys with farmers in seven large extensive livestock systems. Scavenging services (i.e., carrion consumption) was the most perceived benefit whereas the role of some scavengers as predators was the most recognized damage. The most beneficial scavengers perceived were vultures. Overall, we detected a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” paradox as the same species and species within the same guild can be dually perceived as beneficial or harmful. Our findings provide evidence that traditional extensive farming linked to experience-based and local ecological knowledge drives positive perceptions of scavengers and their consideration as ecosystem services providers. Research on social perceptions can contribute to the conservation of scavengers by raising awareness about the ecosystem services provided by this functional group.
Identifying Species Conservation Strategies to Reduce Disease-Associated Declines Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-07-31 Brian D. Gerber, Sarah J. Converse, Erin Muths, Harry J. Crockett, Brittany A. Mosher, Larissa L. Bailey
Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are a salient threat to many animal taxa, causing local and global extinctions, altering communities and ecosystem function. The EID chytridiomycosis is a prominent driver of amphibian declines, which is caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). To guide conservation policy, we developed a predictive decision-analytic model that combines empirical knowledge of host-pathogen metapopulation dynamics with expert judgment regarding effects of management actions, to select from potential conservation strategies. We apply our approach to a boreal toad (Anaxyrus boreas boreas) and Bd system, identifying optimal strategies that balance tradeoffs in maximizing toad population persistence and landscape-level distribution, while considering costs. The most robust strategy is expected to reduce the decline of toad breeding sites from 53% to 21% over 50 years. Our findings are incorporated into management policy to guide conservation planning. Our online modeling application provides a template for managers of other systems challenged by EIDs.
Private Landowner Conservation Behavior Following Participation in Voluntary Incentive Programs: Recommendations to Facilitate Behavioral Persistence Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-07-27 Ashley A. Dayer, Seth H. Lutter, Kristin A. Sesser, Catherine M. Hickey, Thomas Gardali
Voluntary incentive programs are a keystone policy tool for increasing private landowner conservation behavior. Although landowner participation in conservation incentive programs is well studied, limited empirical research has focused on whether and why landowners continue to conduct conservation practices on their land after payments end, which we term persistence. The assumption is that a landowner who participates in an incentive program will likely continue the conservation practice after the payments end. This assumption fits with conservation policies that limit the number of years or times a landowner can receive payments for a given practice. If persistence occurs, it would provide cost-effective outcomes from conservation funding investments. However, there is little published information to support persistence. Based on the narrow body of research on persistence of landowner conservation behavior, as well as persistence research in other fields, we identified five pathways that may support persistence outcomes and insights for when persistence could be expected. We then provide recommendations for policy, practice, and research. With billions of dollars invested annually in programs to incentivize landowners to take conservation action, an empirical examination of landowner conservation behavior persistence is sorely needed for shaping more effective incentive programs and policies.
Tax Shifting and Incentives for Biodiversity Conservation on Private Lands Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-07-26 Richard Schuster, Elizabeth A. Law, Amanda D. Rodewald, Tara G. Martin, Kerrie A. Wilson, Matthew Watts, Hugh P. Possingham, Peter Arcese
Conservation in human-dominated landscapes is challenging partly due to the high costs of land acquisition. We explored a property tax mechanism to finance conservation easements or related contracts as a partial-property acquisition strategy to meet Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) treaty targets to conserve critically imperiled coastal Douglas fir ecosystems in Canada. To maximize cost-efficiency, we used systematic planning tools to prioritize 198,058 parcels for biodiversity values, estimated the cost of eliminating property tax on high-priority parcels to engage land owners in conservation, and then calculated the tax increase on nonpriority parcels necessary to maintain tax revenue. Marginal tax rate increases of 0.13, 0.21, and 0.51% on nonpriority parcels were necessary to offset the elimination of tax revenue on ∼21,000 ha of high-priority parcels, and potentially sufficient to increase area protection from 9% to 17% to meet CBD targets given uptake rates of 100, 50, or 25%, respectively. Sensitivity analyses suggest uptake rates of 30% to 40% could allow government to achieve a 17% target with 30% of the planning area prioritized for inclusion in a property tax mechanism. Our results suggest prioritizing parcels for biodiversity value and commensurate “tax shifting” may offer an efficient route to conservation on private land.
Predicting and Assessing Progress in the Restoration of Ecosystems Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-07-20 A.R.E. Sinclair, Roger P. Pech, John M. Fryxell, Kevin McCann, Andrea E. Byrom, C. John Savory, Justin Brashares, Anthony D. Arthur, Peter C. Catling, Maggie D. Triska, Michael D. Craig, Tim J.E. Sinclair, Jennie R. McLaren, Roy Turkington, Rene L. Beyers, William L. Harrower
Restoration of degraded landscapes has become necessary to reverse the pervasive threats from human exploitation. Restoration requires first the monitoring of progress toward any chosen goals to determine their resilience and persistence, and second to conduct in a comparable adjacent area but with less human impact the restoration of trophic structures and ecosystem processes to act as reference systems (controls) with which we compare the viability of the chosen goal. We present here the rationale and a method for predicting the trajectory of restoration and assessing its progress toward a predetermined state, the endpoint, using a restoration index. This assessment of restoration requires that we know when a predetermined endpoint has been achieved and whether the envisioned community of species and their interactions can be restored. The restoration index can use species’ presence or density, and the rate of change of ecosystem processes. The index applies to trophic levels, functional groups, successional stages, alternative states, and novel ecosystems. Also, our method allows measurement of the resilience of ecosystems to disturbance, a desired property for conservation and management. We provide global examples to illustrate these points.
Assessing Africa-Wide Pangolin Exploitation by Scaling Local Data Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-07-11 Daniel J. Ingram, Lauren Coad, Katharine A. Abernethy, Fiona Maisels, Emma J. Stokes, Kadiri S. Bobo, Thomas Breuer, Edson Gandiwa, Andrea Ghiurghi, Elizabeth Greengrass, Tomas Holmern, Towa O. W. Kamgaing, Anne-Marie Ndong Obiang, John R. Poulsen, Judith Schleicher, Martin R. Nielsen, Hilary Solly, Carrie L. Vath, Matthias Waltert, Charlotte E. L. Whitham, David S. Wilkie, Jӧrn P.W. Scharlemann
Overexploitation is one of the main pressures driving wildlife closer to extinction, yet broad-scale data to evaluate species’ declines are limited. Using African pangolins (Family: Pholidota) as a case study, we demonstrate that collating local-scale data can provide crucial information on regional trends in exploitation of threatened species to inform conservation actions and policy. We estimate that 0.4-2.7 million pangolins are hunted annually in Central African forests. The number of pangolins hunted has increased by ∼150% and the proportion of pangolins of all vertebrates hunted increased from 0.04% to 1.83% over the past four decades. However, there were no trends in pangolins observed at markets, suggesting use of alternative supply chains. The price of giant (Smutsia gigantea) and arboreal (Phataginus sp.) pangolins in urban markets has increased 5.8 and 2.3 times respectively, mirroring trends in Asian pangolins. Efforts and resources are needed to increase law enforcement and population monitoring, and investigate linkages between subsistence hunting and illegal wildlife trade.
Citizen Science: Exploring the Potential of Natural Resource Monitoring Programs to Influence Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-07-11 Sarah K. Chase, Arielle Levine
Citizen science programs monitoring ecosystems and natural resources are promoted for their potential to foster environmental awareness and stewardship. We surveyed volunteers in natural resource monitoring programs to determine whether they perceived changes in their environmental attitudes and decision-making. The majority of participants perceived changes in their attitude toward the resource being monitored, but not in their decision-making toward the resource they monitored or toward the environment more broadly. While the resources volunteers monitored in this study were diverse, program volunteers themselves were not. Participants were largely white, older, affluent, well-educated, held strong preexisting environmental attitudes, and were involved in other conservation, research, or management efforts. While engaging this narrow range of self-selected volunteers has the potential to reinforce existing pro-environmental attitudes through strengthening social networks, citizen science programs can increase their potential to promote attitude and behavioral change by making a concerted effort to engage a more diverse “citizenry.”
Assessing Equity in Protected Area Governance: Approaches to Promote Just and Effective Conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-07-05 Neil Dawson, Adrian Martin, Finn Danielsen
With the inclusion of equity concerns in Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, equitable management has become an important objective for the world's protected areas. The way equity is defined and operationalized influences whether this strategic shift can help identify pathways commensurate with conservation effectiveness. We examined equity around a protected area in Laos, combining quantitative and qualitative methods to explore the three dimensions of procedure, recognition, and distribution. Local understandings of equity depended on discrete, evolving issues, with attention to informal decision making and dynamic values required to uncover suitable solutions. We show that equity definitions focused on material distribution and assessments reliant on standardized indicators may result in inadequate responses that sustain local perceptions of inequitable management and miss opportunities for effective conservation. Equity should be considered a management goal to continually adapt toward, informed by stakeholder dialogue.
License to Kill?—Disease Eradication Programs May Not be in Line with the Convention on Biological Diversity Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-06-30 Axel Hochkirch, Joscha Beninde, Marietta Fischer, André Krahner, Cosima Lindemann, Daniela Matenaar, Katja Rohde, Norman Wagner, Charlotte Wesch, Sarah Wirtz, Andreas Zink, Stefan Lötters, Thomas Schmitt, Alexander Proelss, Michael Veith
Global human population growth is associated with many problems, such as food and water provision, political conflicts, spread of diseases, and environmental destruction. The mitigation of these problems is mirrored in several global conventions and programs, some of which, however, are conflicting. Here, we discuss the conflicts between biodiversity conservation and disease eradication. Numerous health programs aim at eradicating pathogens, and many focus on the eradication of vectors, such as mosquitos or other parasites. As a case study, we focus on the “Pan African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign,” which aims at eradicating a pathogen (Trypanosoma) as well as its vector, the entire group of tsetse flies (Glossinidae). As the distribution of tsetse flies largely overlaps with the African hotspots of freshwater biodiversity, we argue for a strong consideration of environmental issues when applying vector control measures, especially the aerial applications of insecticides. Furthermore, we want to stimulate discussions on the value of species and whether full eradication of a pathogen or vector is justified at all. Finally, we call for a stronger harmonization of international conventions. Proper environmental impact assessments need to be conducted before control or eradication programs are carried out to minimize negative effects on biodiversity.
If Possible, Incentivize Individuals Not Groups: Evidence from Lab-in-the-Field Experiments on Forest Conservation in Rural Uganda Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-06-30 Tsegaye T. Gatiso, Björn Vollan, Ruppert Vimal, Hjalmar S. Kühl
Payment for ecosystem services has become one of the most important conservation policy options worldwide. In developing countries, however, payments are often targeted toward communities instead of individuals. Nonetheless, there is little evidence for the effectiveness of different payment schemes in promoting proconservation behavior. We compare three payment schemes (community-based payments [CBP], equality-based individual payments [EBIP], and performance-based individual payments [PBIP]) using dynamic behavioral experiments with 450 participants in 34 Ugandan villages. We further assess the interplay of the payment schemes with stylized local organizations including communication, leadership, and external advice. We find that PBIP lead to better conservation outcomes than EBIP and CBP. Furthermore, PBIP outperform CBP under all tested conditions. Thus, our results provide important insights for the design of future incentive-based conservation interventions, and we underscore how our novel and low-cost approach can be used to increase the effectiveness of conservation policies.
Funding Conservation Locally: Insights from Behavioral Experiments in Indonesia Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-06-29 Katherine M. Nelson, Achim Schlüter, Colin Vance
Proximate stressors such as destructive fishing are key drivers of coral reef degradation. Conservation strategies that marshal local action and are tailored to the preferences of the target group are thus needed to sustain coral resources. We experimentally analyze the behavior of marine resource users in a coastal village in Indonesia to gain insight into whether people prefer to donate time or money to environmental or other charitable causes. Each person is subject to one of four treatments: monetary donation, monetary donation match, volunteer time donation, and volunteer time donation match. Contrasting with the existing literature, we find that participants give significantly more when donating money compared to time. We also find that matching donations increases the percent of people giving but does not increase the amount donated. This research furthers our understanding of what motivates resource users in a developing country to contribute to the provision of public goods.
Some contents have been Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.
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