Missing, delayed, and old: The status of ESA recovery plans Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-08-09 Jacob W. Malcom; Ya‐Wei Li
Recovery planning is an essential part of implementing the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), but conservationists and government agencies recognize challenges with the current planning process. Using data from all U.S. domestic and transboundary ESA‐listed species, we quantify the completeness, timeliness, age, and other variation among ESA recovery plans over the past 40 years. Among eligible listed taxa (n = 1,548), nearly one‐fourth lack final recovery plans; half of plans have taken >5 years to finalize after listing; half of recovery plans are more than 20 years old; and there is significant variation in planning between agencies, and among regions and taxonomic groups. These results are not unexpected given dwindling budgets and an increasing number of species requiring protection, but underscore the need for systematic improvements to recovery planning. We discuss solutions—some already underway—that may address some of the shortcomings and help improve recovery action implementation for threatened and endangered species.
Environmental governance: A practical framework to guide design, evaluation, and analysis Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-24 Nathan J. Bennett; Terre Satterfield
Governance is one of the most important factors for ensuring effective environmental management and conservation actions. Yet, there is still a relative paucity of comprehensive and practicable guidance that can be used to frame the evaluation, design, and analysis of systems of environmental governance. This conceptual review and synthesis article seeks to addresses this problem through resituating the broad body of governance literature into a practical framework for environmental governance. Our framework builds on a rich history of governance scholarship to propose that environmental governance has four general aims or objectives – to be effective, to be equitable, to be responsive, and to be robust. Each of these four objectives need to be considered simultaneously across the institutional, structural, and procedural elements of environmental governance. Through a review of the literature, we developed a set of attributes for each of these objectives and relate these to the overall capacity, functioning, and performance of environmental governance. Our aim is to provide a practical and adaptable framework that can be applied to the design, evaluation, and analysis of environmental governance in different social and political contexts, to diverse environmental problems and modes of governance, and at a range of scales.
Efficiency of species survey networks can be improved by integrating different monitoring approaches in a spatial prioritization design Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-24 Alejandra Morán‐Ordóñez; Stefano Canessa; Gerard Bota; Lluis Brotons; Sergi Herrando; Virgilio Hermoso
Public participation to monitoring programs is increasingly advocated to overcome scarcity of resources and deliver important information for policy‐making. Here, we illustrate the design of optimal monitoring networks for bird species of conservation concern in Catalonia (NE Spain), under different scenarios of combined governmental and citizen‐science monitoring approaches. In our case study, current government efforts, limited to protected areas, were insufficient to cover the whole spectrum of target species and species‐threat levels, reinforcing the assumption that citizen‐science data can greatly assist in achieving monitoring targets. However, simply carrying out both government and citizen‐science monitoring ad hoc led to inefficiency and duplication of efforts: some species were represented in excess of targets while several features were undersampled. Policy‐making should concentrate on providing an adequate platform for coordination of government and public‐participatory monitoring to minimize duplicated efforts, overcome the biases of each monitoring program and obtain the best from both.
The importance of early life experience and animal cultures in reintroductions Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-20 Claire S. Teitelbaum; Sarah J. Converse; Thomas Mueller
Even within a single population, individuals can display striking differences in behavior, with consequences for their survival and fitness. In reintroduced populations, managers often attempt to promote adaptive behaviors by controlling the early life experiences of individuals, but it remains largely unknown whether this early life training has lasting effects on behavior. We investigated the behavior of reintroduced whooping cranes (Grus americana) trained to migrate using two different methods to see whether their migration behavior remained different or converged over time. We found that the behavior of the two groups converged relatively rapidly, indicating that early life training may not produce lasting effects, especially in species that display lifelong learning and behavioral adaptation. In some cases, managers may consider continual behavioral interventions after release if desired behaviors are not present. Understanding the roles early life experience and animal cultures play in determining behavior is crucial for successful reintroduction programs.
Support for the U.S. Endangered Species Act over time and space: Controversial species do not weaken public support for protective legislation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-19 Jeremy T. Bruskotter; John A. Vucetich; Kristina M. Slagle; Ramiro Berardo; Ajay S. Singh; Robyn S. Wilson
We used data from a 2014 survey (n = 1,287) of U.S. residents and recent polls to assess how public support for the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) changed over time, and whether protecting controversial species affects support for the law. We assessed support for the ESA, trust in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and attitudes toward wolves across three regions with different experiences in conserving gray wolves through the ESA. We found: (a) ∼4 in 5 Americans support the ESA, whereas ∼1 in 10 oppose; (b) support for the ESA remained stable over the past two decades; (c) strong majorities (>68%) of individuals identifying with 8 special interest types support the ESA; and (d) no differences in support for the ESA, attitudes toward wolves, or trust in the FWS across regions. Results suggest that protecting species—even controversial predators—does not weaken support for protective legislation.
CITES‐listed sharks remain among the top species in the contemporary fin trade Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-17 Diego Cardeñosa; Andrew T. Fields; Elizabeth A. Babcock; Huarong Zhang; Kevin Feldheim; Stanley K. H. Shea; Gunter A. Fischer; Demian D. Chapman
Trade‐driven overexploitation threatens many sharks. Twelve of the world's most vulnerable shark species have been listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to regulate internationally traded products such as meat and dried fins. CITES records indicate that Hong Kong was the world's top legal importer of dried fins from listed sharks in 2015 (N = 8 species at that time), but traded a relatively small volume, with a few partners, in a small number of shipments (16). In contrast two CITES Appendix II listed hammerheads were consistently the fourth and fifth most common species (out of >80) in processed fin trimmings (N = 9,200) collected randomly from the Hong Kong retail dried fin market from February 2014 to December 2016 and were found in 100% of sampling events and in 66% of sampled retail vendors. This difference, and the fact that exporting nations previously known to land these species were not among those to report trade to CITES, suggest that listed species were often imported without CITES documentation in 2015. There are a number of incentives for trade hubs to meet their obligations to this treaty, which they could achieve by scaling up monitoring capacity and increasing inspection efficiency.
Conserving European biodiversity across realms Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-16 Sylvaine Giakoumi; Virgilio Hermoso; Silvia B. Carvalho; Vasiliki Markantonatou; Mindaugas Dagys; Takuya Iwamura; Wolfgang N. Probst; Robert J. Smith; Katherine L. Yates; Vasiliki Almpanidou; Tihana Novak; Noam Ben‐Moshe; Stelios Katsanevakis; Joachim Claudet; Marta Coll; Alan Deidun; Franz Essl; José A. García‐Charton; Carlos Jimenez; Salit Kark; Milica Mandić; Antonios D. Mazaris; Wolfgang Rabitsch; Vanessa Stelzenmüller; Elena Tricarico; Ioannis N. Vogiatzakis
Terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems are connected via multiple biophysical and ecological processes. Identifying and quantifying links among ecosystems is necessary for the uptake of integrated conservation actions across realms. Such actions are particularly important for species using habitats in more than one realm during their daily or life cycle. We reviewed information on the habitats of 2,408 species of European conservation concern and found that 30% of the species use habitats in multiple realms. Transportation and service corridors, which fragment species habitats, were identified as the most important threat impacting ∼70% of the species. We examined information on 1,567 European Union (EU) conservation projects funded over the past 25 years, to assess the adequacy of efforts toward the conservation of “multi‐realm” species at a continental scale. We discovered that less than a third of multi‐realm species benefited from projects that included conservation actions across multiple realms. To achieve the EU's conservation target of halting biodiversity loss by 2020 and effectively protect multi‐realm species, integrated conservation efforts across realms should be reinforced by: (1) recognizing the need for integrated management at a policy level, (2) revising conservation funding priorities across realms, and (3) implementing integrated land‐freshwater‐sea conservation planning and management.
Incorporating biotic interactions reveals potential climate tolerance of giant pandas Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-13 Fang Wang; Qing Zhao; William J. McShea; Melissa Songer; Qiongyu Huang; Xiaofeng Zhang; Lingguo Zhou
Many studies have overestimated species’ range shifts under climate change because they treat climate as the only determinant while ignoring biotic factors. To assess the response of giant pandas to climate change, we incorporated spatial effects in modeling bamboo distributions, which in turn was incorporated to represent giant panda–bamboo biotic interactions in predicting giant panda distribution. Our study revealed potential tolerance of giant pandas to climate change. We found significant residual spatial correlation in the bamboo models. The biotic interactions with bamboo understories and anthropogenic activities had large effects on panda distribution, which lowered the relative importance of climatic variables. Our results are fundamentally different from previous studies that used climate‐only and nonspatial approaches, which may have overestimated the effects of climate change on panda and lead to inappropriate conservation recommendations. We strongly advocate that giant panda conservation planning continues to focus on protecting bamboo forest and reducing anthropogenic interferences.
Peace in Colombia is a critical moment for Neotropical connectivity and conservation: Save the northern Andes–Amazon biodiversity bridge Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-13 Nicola Clerici; Camilo Salazar; Carolina Pardo‐Díaz; Chris D. Jiggins; James E. Richardson; Mauricio Linares
Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world that has historically and is currently experiencing extensive deforestation and habitat fragmentation. Here we show how the most extensive region acting as a natural corridor between the Colombian Andes and Amazon biogeographical regions, the Picachos–Tinigua–Sierra de la Macarena–Chiribiquete megacorridor, is being eroded by large‐scale agricultural expansion endangering the maintenance and connection of gene flow and biodiversity exchange. Several phylogenetic studies indicate that the complex dynamics between the Andean highlands and the Amazonian lowlands have strongly influenced the origin and maintenance of Neotropical biodiversity. We appeal for the attention of international conservation and governmental organizations to direct resources and promote projects focused on the preservation and sustainable management of this strategic Andes–Amazon bridge in both protected and unprotected areas. In the current postconflict era, Colombia has a unique opportunity to create a new social and economic paradigm based on long‐term sustainably developed landscapes and more equitable sharing of wealth. We believe improved management and conservation efforts for the Picachos–Tinigua–Macarena–Chiribiquete megacorridor would demonstrate a collective will in helping to achieve this goal.
Participation in planning and social networks increase social monitoring in community‐based conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 27 April 2 Steven M. Alexander; Graham Epstein; Örjan Bodin; Derek Armitage; Donovan Campbell
Biodiversity conservation is often limited by inadequate investments in monitoring and enforcement. However, monitoring and enforcement problems may be overcome by encouraging resource users to develop, endorse, and subsequently enforce conservation regulations. In this article, we draw upon the literature on common‐pool resources and social networks to assess the impacts of participation and network ties on the decisions of fishers to voluntarily report rule violations in two Jamaican marine reserves. Data was collected using questionnaires administered through personal interviews with fishers (n = 277). The results suggest that local fishers are more likely to report illegal fishing if they had participated in conservation planning and if they are directly linked to community‐based wardens in information sharing networks. This research extends well‐established findings regarding the role and impacts of participation on biodiversity conservation by highlighting the importance of synergies between participation and social networks for voluntary monitoring of conservation regulations.
Maximizing biodiversity conservation and carbon stocking in restored tropical forests Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-04-16 Pedro H.S. Brancalion; Carolina Bello; Robin L. Chazdon; Mauro Galetti; Pedro Jordano; Renato A.F. Lima; Aretha Medina; Marco Aurélio Pizo; J. Leighton Reid
Assessing the conservation value of restoration plantings is critical to support the global forest landscape restoration movement. We assessed the implications of tree species selection in the restoration of Brazil's Atlantic Forest regarding carbon stocking and species conservation. This assessment was based on a comprehensive dataset of seedling acquisition records from 961 restoration projects, more than14 million seedlings, 192 forest remnants, and functional data from 1,223 tree species. We found that animal‐dispersed trees with larger seeds tend to have higher seed prices, yet are underrepresented in the seedlings acquired for restoration plantations. Compared to forest remnants, fruit supply potentially offered by the species acquired for restoration plantings is lower for birds, but higher for bats. Reduced abundance of medium‐ and/or large‐seeded, animal‐dispersed trees lead to declines of 2.8–10.6% in simulated potential carbon stocking. Given the uncertainty in these estimates, policy interventions may be needed to encourage greater representation of large‐seeded, animal‐dispersed tree species in Atlantic Forest restorations. These findings provide critical guidance for recovering tree functional diversity, plant‐frugivore mutualistic interactions, and carbon stocking in multi‐species tropical forest restoration plantings.
Wicked conflict: Using wicked problem thinking for holistic management of conservation conflict Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 24 April 2 Tom H.E. Mason; Chris R.J. Pollard; Deepthi Chimalakonda; Angela M. Guerrero; Catherine Kerr‐Smith; Sergio A.G. Milheiras; Michaela Roberts; Paul R. Ngafack; Nils Bunnefeld
Conservation conflict is widespread, damaging, and has proved difficult to manage using conventional conservation approaches. Conflicts are often “wicked problems,” lacking clear solutions due to divergent values of stakeholders, and being embedded within wickedly complex environments. Drawing on the concept of wicked environmental problems could lead to management strategies better suited to tackling conflict. However, it is unclear whether managers are embracing ideas from the wicked problems concept. There is currently a lack of guidance for applying strategies to tackle particular wicked problems, such as conservation conflict. We explored the suitability of wicked problems‐inspired management, using eight contemporary conflict case studies. Conservation conflict was managed predominantly using conventional approaches suited to tackling single objectives in simple environments, rather than balancing competing objectives in complex environments. To deal with different characteristics of wickedness, we recommend that managers develop strategies combining distributed decision‐making, diverse opinions, pattern‐based predictions, trade‐off‐based objectives, and reporting of failures. Recent advances in conservation conflict research have focused on improving interactions among stakeholders. We believe that such stakeholder‐focused approaches would dovetail with the whole‐system focus of a wicked problems framework, allowing conservationists to move toward a holistic strategy for managing conservation conflict.
Conservation technology: The next generation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-04-06 Oded Berger‐Tal; José J. Lahoz‐Monfort
Attitudes among conservation biologists toward technological innovations and solutions have changed over the years from mistrusting and dismissive to widely accepting. However, the time has come for the conservation community to move from being technology consumers to become innovation leaders and to actively seek to create novel technologies to provide conservation tools and solutions. This challenging but critical mind‐set change requires thinking outside the box to establish and support the necessary bridges between the conservation community, technologists in both the public and the private sectors, and policy makers. The ingredients already exist, but success hinges on an open mind to new types of interactions, and bold but coordinated movements to nurture the organisational ecosystem in which such collaborations can thrive and be funded.
Armed conflicts and wildlife decline: Challenges and recommendations for effective conservation policy in the Sahara‐Sahel Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-04-03 José Carlos Brito; Sarah M. Durant; Nathalie Pettorelli; John Newby; Susan Canney; Walid Algadafi; Thomas Rabeil; Pierre‐André Crochet; Juan Manuel Pleguezuelos; Tim Wacher; Koen de Smet; Duarte Vasconcelos Gonçalves; Maria Joana Ferreira da Silva; Fernando Martínez‐Freiría; Teresa Abáigar; João Carlos Campos; Pierre Comizzoli; Soumía Fahd; Amina Fellous; Hamissou Halilou Malam Garba; Dieng Hamidou; Abdoulaye Harouna; Mahamat Hassan Hatcha; Abdullah Nagy; Teresa Luísa Silva; Andack Saad Sow; Cândida Gomes Vale; Zbyszek Boratyński; Hugo Rebelo; Sílvia B. Carvalho
Increasing conflicts and social insecurity are expected to accelerate biodiversity decline and escalate illegal wildlife killing. Sahara‐Sahel megafauna has experienced recent continuous decline due to unsustainable hunting pressure. Here, we provide the best available data on distribution and population trends of threatened, large vertebrates, to illustrate how escalating regional conflict (565% growth since 2011) is hastening population decline in areas that were formerly refugia for megafauna. Without conservation action, the unique and iconic biodiversity of Earth's largest desert will be forever lost. We recommend: (1) establishing strong commitments for change in global attitude toward nature; (2) engraining a culture of environmental responsibility among all stakeholders; (3) fostering environmental awareness to drive societal change; (4) reinforcing regional security and firearms control; and (5) implementing local research and wildlife monitoring schemes. We identify relevant international partners needed to tackle these challenges and to make strong policy change for biodiversity conservation and regional stability.
Present and future biodiversity risks from fossil fuel exploitation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-03-14 Michael B. J. Harfoot; Derek P. Tittensor; Sarah Knight; Andrew P. Arnell; Simon Blyth; Sharon Brooks; Stuart H. M. Butchart; Jon Hutton; Matthew I. Jones; Valerie Kapos; Jӧrn P.W. Scharlemann; Neil D. Burgess
Currently, human society is predominantly powered by fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—yet also ultimately depends on goods and services provided by biodiversity. Fossil fuel extraction impacts biodiversity indirectly through climate change and by increasing accessibility, and directly through habitat loss and pollution. In contrast to the indirect effects, quantification of the direct impacts has been relatively neglected. To address this, we analyze the potential threat to >37,000 species and >190,000 protected areas globally from the locations of present and future fossil fuel extraction in marine and terrestrial environments. Sites that are currently exploited have higher species richness and endemism than unexploited sites, whereas known future hydrocarbon activities will predominantly move into less biodiverse locations. We identify 181 “high‐risk” locations where oil or gas extraction suitability coincides with biodiversity importance, making conflicts between extraction and conservation probable. In total, protected areas are located on $3‐15 trillion of unexploited hydrocarbon reserves, posing challenges and potentially opportunities for protected area management and sustainable financing.
Intention to kill: Tolerance and illegal persecution of Sumatran tigers and sympatric species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 06 April 2 Freya A. V. St. John; Matthew Linkie; Deborah J. Martyr; Betty Milliyanawati; Jeanne E. McKay; Fachruddin M. Mangunjaya; Nigel Leader‐Williams; Matthew J. Struebig
Tolerance may lessen when wildlife adversely impacts people. Models from psychology can help elucidate how people make judgments, why they act accordingly, and whether beliefs and norms influence support for policy and intervention. Working in a globally important region for tigers, we estimated hunting prevalence for this endangered species and three sympatric taxa using methods for asking sensitive questions. We also investigated the relative strength of ethnicity and social‐psychological predictors in influencing intention to hunt. Men's behavioral intention and perceptions differed by species: proconservation values were most prevalent for tiger, weakest for wild boar. Perceived behavioral control was the strongest predictor of hunting‐intention; affect and injunctive norms were also important. The prominence of affect in determining intention suggests increasing environmental knowledge is unlikely to curb hunting. However, existing norms could be leveraged to incentivize behaviorchange. Integrating behavior‐change models into conservation science is crucial where strategies require changes in people's actions.
Descent with modification: Critical use of historical evidence for conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 26 January Simon Pooley
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 article considers the often overlooked methodological challenges of sourcing and interpreting historical data. A schema is provided for conservation scientists, summarizing 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.
Seizing opportunities to diversify conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 18 January Rachelle K. Gould; Indira Phukan; Mary E. Mendoza; Nicole M. Ardoin; Bindu Panikkar
This article 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 increasing diversity) in holistic ways. We suggest that embracing narrative, including historical narrative that can be profound and painful, may be essential to addressing this deeply rooted issue. We also suggest the need to redefine “environment” to more closely align with the diversity of perspectives that different people and disciplines bring to the topic. We support our suggestions with selected data from empirical research and provide examples of initiatives that embody them.
Assessing the significance of endemic disease in conservation—koalas, chlamydia, and koala retrovirus as a case study Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 28 Novembe 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 7.279) Pub Date : 27 Novembe 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.
When portfolio theory can help environmental investment planning to reduce climate risk to future environmental outcomes—and when it cannot Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 12 July 20 Amy W. Ando; Jennifer Fraterrigo; Glenn Guntenspergen; Aparna Howlader; Mindy Mallory; Jennifer H. Olker; Samuel Stickley
Variability among climate change scenarios produces great uncertainty in what is the best allocation of resources among investments to protect environmental goods in the future. Previous research shows Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) can help optimize environmental investment targeting to reduce outcome uncertainty with minimal loss of expected level of environmental benefits, but no work has yet identified the types of cases for which MPT is most useful. This article assembles data on 26 different conservation cases in three distinct ecological settings and develops new metrics to evaluate how well MPT can reduce uncertainty in future outcomes of a set of environmental investments. We find MPT is broadly but not universally useful and works best when multiple investments have negatively correlated outcomes across climate scenarios; a second‐best investment has expected value almost as good as the value in the best investment; or multiple investments have little uncertainty in ecological outcomes.
Predator Free 2050: A flawed conservation policy displaces higher priorities and better, evidence‐based alternatives Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-10 Wayne Linklater; Jamie Steer
New Zealand's policy to exterminate five introduced predators by 2050 is well‐meant but warrants critique and comparison against alternatives. The goal is unachievable with current or near‐future technologies and resources. Its effects on ecosystems and 26 other mammalian predators and herbivores will be complex. Some negative outcomes are likely. Predators are not always and everywhere the largest impact on biodiversity. Lower intensity predator suppression, habitat protection and restoration, and prey refugia will sometimes better support threatened biodiversity. The policy draws attention to where predators are easily killed, not where biodiversity values are greatest. Pest control operations are already contested and imposing the policy is likely to escalate those conflicts. While “high‐profile,” a focus on predator eradication obscures the fact that indigenous habitat cover and quality continues to decline. Thus, the policy is flawed and risks diverting effort and resources from higher environmental priorities and better alternatives. Biodiversity conservation policies should be guided by cost‐benefit analyses, prioritization schemes, and conservation planning in an adaptive management framework to deliver nuanced outcomes appropriate to scale‐ and site‐specific variation in biodiversity values and threats. The success of biodiversity sanctuary‐“spillover” landscapes, habitat restoration, and metapopulation management provide the foundation to build a better policy.
The area–heterogeneity tradeoff applied to spatial protection of rockfish (Sebastes spp.) species richness Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-06 Alejandro Frid; Madeleine McGreer; Katie SP Gale; Emily Rubidge; Tristan Blaine; Mike Reid; Angeleen Olson; Sandie Hankewich; Ernest Mason; Dave Rolston; Ernest Tallio
The “area–heterogeneity tradeoff” hypothesis predicts unimodal effects of habitat heterogeneity on species richness, implying that habitats with intermediate heterogeneity may be priority for spatial protection. Alternatively, if heterogeneity effects are positive, then protecting the most heterogeneous habitats may take precedence. We tested for unimodal effects of habitat heterogeneity on the species density (area‐corrected richness) of rockfishes (Sebastes spp.): long‐lived, benthic fishes vulnerable to overexploitation. Inconsistent with predictions, topographic structural complexity had a strong linear effect on species density; other heterogeneity measures had weaker, positive effects and the only unimodal effect (depth range) was weak. The clear implication is that, to protect the highest density of rockfish species, marine protected areas should include the most topographically complex substrates. Our results can also help refine and test species distribution models needed to inform spatial planning where in situ surveys are lacking. The area–heterogeneity tradeoff generates useful predictions for which support may be context‐dependent.
Impact of protected areas on poverty, extreme poverty, and inequality in Nepal Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-04 Bowy den Braber; Karl L. Evans; Johan A. Oldekop
Protected areas (PAs) are key for biodiversity conservation, but there are concerns that they can exacerbate poverty or unequal access to potential benefits, such as those arising from tourism. We assess how Nepalese PAs influence poverty, extreme poverty, and inequality using a multidimensional poverty index, and a quasi‐experimental design that controls for potential confounding factors in non‐random treatment allocation. We specifically investigate the role of tourism in contributing to PA impacts. Nepali PAs reduced overall poverty and extreme poverty, and crucially, did not exacerbate inequality. Benefits occurred in lowland and highland regions, and were often greater when a larger proportion of the area was protected. Spread of benefits to nearby areas outside PAs was negligible. Furthermore, older PAs performed better than more recently established ones, suggesting the existence of time lags. Although tourism was a key driver of poverty alleviation, PAs also reduced extreme poverty in areas with fewer tourists.
Risk‐sensitive planning for conserving coral reefs under rapid climate change Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 27 June 20 Hawthorne L. Beyer; Emma V. Kennedy; Maria Beger; Chaolun Allen Chen; Joshua E. Cinner; Emily S. Darling; C. Mark Eakin; Ruth D. Gates; Scott F. Heron; Nancy Knowlton; David O. Obura; Stephen R. Palumbi; Hugh P. Possingham; Marji Puotinen; Rebecca K. Runting; William J. Skirving; Mark Spalding; Kerrie A. Wilson; Sally Wood; John E. Veron; Ove Hoegh‐Guldberg
Coral reef ecosystems are seriously threatened by changing conditions in the ocean. Although many factors are implicated, climate change has emerged as a dominant and rapidly growing threat. Developing a long‐term strategic plan for the conservation of coral reefs is urgently needed yet is complicated by significant uncertainty associated with climate change impacts on coral reef ecosystems. We use Modern Portfolio Theory to identify coral reef locations globally that, in the absence of other impacts, are likely to have a heightened chance of surviving projected climate changes relative to other reefs. Long‐term planning that is robust to uncertainty in future conditions provides an objective and transparent framework for guiding conservation action and strategic investment. These locations constitute important opportunities for novel conservation investments to secure less vulnerable yet well‐connected coral reefs that may, in turn, help to repopulate degraded areas in the event that the climate has stabilized.
Collapse of farmland bird populations in an Eastern European country following its EU accession Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-27 Jiří Reif; Zdeněk Vermouzek
Eastern European countries are considered a stronghold for the continent's farmland biodiversity. The abundance of farmland birds is one important element of this biodiversity. At the end of the 20th century, member states of the European Union (EU) experienced serious population declines of farmland birds due to agricultural intensification, which was not observed in the Eastern European nonmember states. In 2004, 10 mostly Eastern European countries acceded to the EU. It is thus important to ask whether this historical step resulted in changes of agricultural production and, in turn, in farmland bird populations. Here we used annual crop yields and monitoring data on farmland bird abundance in an Eastern European new EU‐member state and showed that agricultural production intensified and farmland bird populations declined steeply after country's EU accession. These results indicate that entering EU's Common Agricultural Policy caused significant deterioration of farmland biodiversity in a once biodiversity‐rich region.
Tracking trends in the extinction risk of wild relatives of domesticated species to assess progress against global biodiversity targets Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-27 Philip J. K. McGowan; Louise Mair; Andrew Symes; James R. S. Westrip; Hannah Wheatley; Sarah Brook; James Burton; Sarah King; William J. McShea; Patricia D. Moehlman; Andrew T. Smith; Jane C. Wheeler; Stuart H. M. Butchart
Ensuring the conservation of wild relatives of domesticated animals that are important food sources for humans forms part of targets for both the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). There is, however, no indicator allowing progress toward these aims to be measured. We identified 30 domesticated mammal and bird taxa that are sources of food for humans and consider 55 mammal and 449 bird species to be their wild relatives. We developed a Red List Index for these wild relatives, which declined by 2.02% between 1988 and 2016. Currently, 15 species are Critically Endangered, indicating that the Red List Index could deteriorate sharply unless action is taken to ensure the survival of highly threatened species and the reversal of their declines. This Index can meet a range of global policy needs, including reporting on progress toward Aichi Target 13 of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and SDG Target 2.5.
Poor ecological representation by an expensive reserve system: Evaluating 35 years of marine protected area expansion Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-25 Kerstin Jantke; Kendall R. Jones; James R. Allan; Alienor L.M. Chauvenet; James E.M. Watson; Hugh P. Possingham
Global areal protection targets have driven a dramatic expansion of the marine protected area (MPA) estate. We analyzed how cost‐effective global MPA expansion has been since the inception of the first global target (set in 1982) in achieving ecoregional representation. By comparing spatial patterns of MPA expansion against optimal MPA estates using the same expansion rates, we show the current MPA estate is both expensive and ineffective. Although the number of ecoregions represented tripled and 12.7% of national waters was protected, 61% of ecoregions and 81% of countries are not 10% protected. Only 10.3% of the national waters of the world would be sufficient to protect 10% of each ecoregion if MPA growth since 1982 strategically targeted underrepresented ecoregions. Unfortunately 16.3% of national waters are required for the same representative target if systematic protection started in 2016 (an extra 3.6% on top of 12.7%). To avoid the high costs of adjusting increasingly biased MPA systems, future efforts should embrace target‐driven systematic conservation planning.
Generic names and mislabeling conceal high species diversity in global fisheries markets Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-22 Donna‐Mareè Cawthorn; Charles Baillie; Stefano Mariani
Consumers have the power to influence conservation of marine fishes by selectively purchasing sustainably harvested species. Yet, this power is hindered by vague labeling and seafood fraud, which may mask market biodiversity and lead to inadvertent consumption of threatened species. Here, we investigate the repercussions of such labeling inaccuracies for one of the world's most highly prized families of fishes‐–the snappers (Family: Lutjanidae). By DNA barcoding 300 “snapper” samples collected from six countries, we show that the lax application of this umbrella term and widespread mislabeling (40%) conceal the identities of at least 67 species from 16 families in global marketplaces, effectively lumping taxa for sale that derive from an array of disparately managed fisheries and have markedly different conservation concerns. Bringing this trade into the open should compel a revision of international labeling and traceability policies, as well as enforcement measures, which currently allow such extensive biodiversity to be consumed unknowingly.
Transboundary cooperation improves endangered species monitoring and conservation actions: A case study of the global population of Amur leopards Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-19 Anna V. Vitkalova; Limin Feng; Alexander N. Rybin; Brian D. Gerber; Dale G. Miquelle; Tianming Wang; Haitao Yang; Elena I. Shevtsova; Vladimir V. Aramilev; Jianping Ge
Political borders and natural boundaries of wildlife populations seldom coincide, often to the detriment of conservation objectives. Transnational monitoring of endangered carnivores is rare, but is necessary for accurate population monitoring and coordinated conservation policies. We investigate the benefits of collaboratively monitoring the abundance and survival of the critically endangered Amur leopard, which occurs as a single transboundary population across China and Russia. Country‐specific results overestimated abundance and were generally less precise compared to integrated monitoring estimates; the global population was similar in both years: 84 (70–108, 95% confidence interval). Uncertainty in country‐specific annual survival estimates were approximately twice the integrated estimates of 0.82 (0.69–0.91, 95% confidence limits). This collaborative effort provided a better understanding of Amur leopard population dynamics, represented a first step in building trust, and lead to cooperative agreements to coordinate conservation policies.
Giant panda distributional and habitat‐use shifts in a changing landscape Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-19 Wei Wei; Ronald R. Swaisgood; Qiang Dai; Zhisong Yang; Shibin Yuan; Megan A. Owen; Nicholas W. Pilfold; Xuyu Yang; Xiaodong Gu; Hong Zhou; Han Han; Jindong Zhang; Mingsheng Hong; Zejun Zhang
Long‐term data on populations, threats, and habitat‐use changes are fundamentally important for conservation policy and management decisions affecting species, but these data are often in short supply. Here, we analyze survey data from 57,087 plots collected in approximately three‐fourths of the giant panda's (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) distributional range during China's national surveys conducted in 1999–2003 and 2011–2014. Pandas associated preferentially with several ecological factors and avoided areas impacted by human activities, such as roads, livestock, mining, and tourism. Promise is shown by dramatic declines in logging rates, but is counterbalanced with recently emerging threats. Pandas have increasingly utilized secondary forest as these forests recovered under protective measures. Pandas have undergone a distributional shift to higher elevations, despite the elevational stability of their bamboo food source, perhaps in response to a similar upward shift in the distribution of livestock. Our findings showcase robust on‐the‐ground data from one of the largest‐scale survey efforts worldwide for an endangered species and highlight how science and policy have contributed to this remarkable success story, and help frame future management strategies.
Population models reveal unexpected patterns of local persistence despite widespread larval dispersal in a highly exploited species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-05-11 Lysel Garavelli; J. Wilson White; Iliana Chollett; Laurent Marcel Chérubin
Nearshore marine populations are structured in metapopulations that are connected through larval dispersal across national boundaries. One of the main challenges for effective management of these metapopulations is the need for partnerships between nations that share the same resource. By coupling large‐scale connectivity information to a dynamic population model, we analyzed the patterns of connectivity and population persistence for the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) metapopulation both within and across national boundaries. Although spiny lobster subpopulations are highly connected at the basin scale, several nations located in the northern Caribbean and ecoregional networks could persist independently of the larger basin‐wide metapopulation. Based on these results, we propose transnational neighborhoods for spiny lobster management. Our analysis suggests that the dynamics and management of those subpopulations neighborhoods are not intrinsically dependent on “upstream” connectivity even though current rates of upstream larval supply are very high.
Management strategies to minimize the dredging impacts of coastal development on fish and fisheries Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-08 Amelia S. Wenger; Christopher A. Rawson; Shaun Wilson; Stephen J. Newman; Michael J. Travers; Scott Atkinson; Nicola Browne; Douglas Clarke; Martial Depczynski; Paul L.A. Erftemeijer; Richard D. Evans; Jean‐Paul A. Hobbs; Jennifer L. McIlwain; Dianne L. McLean; Benjamin J. Saunders; Euan Harvey
Accelerating coastal development and shipping activities dictate that dredging operations will intensify, increasing potential impacts to fishes. Coastal fishes have high economic, ecological, and conservation significance and there is a need for evidence‐based, quantitative guidelines on how to mitigate the impacts of dredging activities. We assess the potential risk from dredging to coastal fish and fisheries on a global scale. We then develop quantitative guidelines for two management strategies: threshold reference values and seasonal restrictions. Globally, threatened species and nearshore fisheries occur within close proximity to ports. We find that maintaining suspended sediment concentrations below 44 mg/L (15–121 bootstrapped CI) and for less than 24 hours would protect 95% of fishes from dredging‐induced mortality. Implementation of seasonal restrictions during peak periods of reproduction and recruitment could further protect species from dredging impacts. This study details the first evidence‐based defensible approach to minimize impacts to coastal fishes from dredging activities.
Local human activities limit marine protection efficacy on Caribbean coral reefs Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-06 Adam Suchley; Lorenzo Alvarez‐Filip
Marine ecosystems globally have suffered habitat, biodiversity and function loss in response to human activity. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) can limit extractive activities and enhance ecosystem resilience, but do not directly address external stressors. We surveyed 48 sites within seven MPAs and nearby unprotected areas to evaluate drivers of coral reef condition in the Mexican Caribbean. We found that local human activity limits protection effectiveness. Coral cover was positively related to protection characteristics, but was significantly lower at sites with elevated local human activity. Furthermore, we predict ongoing coastal development will reduce coral cover despite expanded protection within a regionwide MPA if an effective integrated coastal zone management strategy is not implemented. Policy makers must acknowledge the detrimental impact of uncontrolled coastal development and apply stringent construction and wastewater regulations in addition to marine protection.
Adaptive comanagement to achieve climate‐ready fisheries Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-03-14 Jono R. Wilson; Serena Lomonico; Darcy Bradley; Leila Sievanen; Tom Dempsey; Michael Bell; Skyli McAfee; Christopher Costello; Cody Szuwalski; Huff McGonigal; Sean Fitzgerald; Mary Gleason
Climate‐related impacts to marine ecosystems threaten the biological, social, and economic resilience of the U.S. fishing industry. Changes in ocean conditions and variability in fisheries productivity have stimulated an effort to integrate climate information into fisheries science and management processes to inform more responsive decision‐making. However, institutional, capacity, and budget constraints within U.S. federal and state fisheries management agencies may hinder the potential to deliver climate‐ready strategies for many fisheries. We examine whether adaptive comanagement as a governance approach can enhance capacity and advance climate‐ready fisheries objectives. Adaptive comanagement may improve the quality of science and decision‐making needed to prepare for and respond to impacts of climate change in fisheries by taking advantage of skills, technology, and funding often not optimally utilized under the current governance system. We focus on the potential to improve information flows as a means to achieve climate‐ready fisheries via adaptive comanagement, but suggest that a greater level of partnership in the management process may be possible in the future after a period of formal experimentation and learning.
Increasing disturbance demands new policies to conserve intact forest Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-03-09 Jörg Müller; Reed F. Noss; Simon Thorn; Claus Bässler; Alexandro B. Leverkus; David Lindenmayer
Ongoing controversy over logging the ancient Białowieża Forest in Poland symbolizes a global problem for policies and management of the increasing proportion of the earth's intact forest that is subject to postdisturbance logging. We review the extent of, and motivations for, postdisturbance logging in protected and unprotected forests globally. An unprecedented level of logging in protected areas and other places where green‐tree harvest would not normally occur is driven by economic interests and a desire for pest control. To avoid failure of global initiatives dedicated to reducing the loss of species, five key policy reforms are necessary: (1) salvage logging must be banned from protected areas; (2) forest planning should address altered disturbance regimes for all intact forests to ensure that significant areas remain undisturbed by logging; (3) new kinds of integrated analyses are needed to assess the potential economic benefits of salvage logging against its ecological, economic, and social costs; (4) global and regional maps of natural disturbance regimes should be created to guide better spatiotemporal planning of protected areas and undisturbed forests outside reserves; and (5) improved education and communication programs are needed to correct widely held misconceptions about natural disturbances.
Time series analysis reveals synchrony and asynchrony between conflict management effort and increasing large grazing bird populations in northern Europe Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-03-08 Jeremy J. Cusack; A. Brad Duthie; O. Sarobidy Rakotonarivo; Rocío A. Pozo; Tom H. E. Mason; Johan Månsson; Lovisa Nilsson; Ingunn M. Tombre; Einar Eythórsson; Jesper Madsen; Ayesha Tulloch; Richard D. Hearn; Steve Redpath; Nils Bunnefeld
The management of conflicts between wildlife conservation and agricultural practices often involves the implementation of strategies aimed at reducing the cost of wildlife impacts on crops. Vital to the success of these strategies is the perception that changes in management efforts are synchronized relative to changes in impact levels, yet this expectation is never evaluated. We assess the level of synchrony between time series of population counts and management effort in the context of conflicts between agriculture and five populations of large grazing birds in northern Europe. We reveal inconsistent patterns of synchrony and asynchrony between changes in population counts and impact management effort relating to population harvesting, monetary payments, or scaring practices. This variation is likely due to differing management aims, the existence of lags between management decisions and population monitoring, and the inconsistent use of predictive models across case studies. Overall, our findings highlight the need for more adaptive and timely responses of management to changes in target species numbers so as not to unexpectedly increase social conflicts and jeopardize the status of wildlife populations.
New policy directions for global pond conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-03-05 Matthew J. Hill; Christopher Hassall; Beat Oertli; Lenore Fahrig; Belinda J. Robson; Jeremy Biggs; Michael J. Samways; Nisikawa Usio; Noriko Takamura; Jagdish Krishnaswamy; Paul J. Wood
Despite the existence of well‐established international environmental and nature conservation policies (e.g., the Ramsar Convention and Convention on Biological Diversity) ponds are largely missing from national and international legislation and policy frameworks. Ponds are among the most biodiverse and ecologically important freshwater habitats, and their value lies not only in individual ponds, but more importantly, in networks of ponds (pondscapes). Ponds make an important contribution to society through the ecosystem services they provide, with effective conservation of pondscapes essential to ensuring that these services are maintained. Implementation of current pond conservation through individual site designations does not function at the landscape scale, where ponds contribute most to biodiversity. Conservation and management of pondscapes should complement current national and international nature conservation and water policy/legislation, as pondscapes can provide species protection in landscapes where large‐scale traditional conservation areas cannot be established (e.g., urban or agricultural landscapes). We propose practical steps for the effective incorporation or enhancement of ponds within five policy areas: through open water sustainable urban drainage systems in urban planning, increased incentives in agrienvironment schemes, curriculum inclusion in education, emphasis on ecological scale in mitigation measures following anthropogenic developments, and the inclusion of pondscapes in conservation policy.
Misconception and mismanagement of invasive species: The paradoxical case of an alien ungulate in Spain Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-02-15 Jorge Cassinello
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 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-03-12 Maria Fernanda Adame; Christopher James Brown; Marylin Bejarano; Jorge Alfredo Herrera‐Silveira; Paula Ezcurra; J. Boone Kauffman; Richard Birdsey
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 undervaluated 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.
A global analysis of management capacity and ecological outcomes in terrestrial protected areas Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) 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
Protecting 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.
Lions in the modern arena of CITES Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Hans Bauer; Kristin Nowell; Claudio Sillero‐Zubiri; David W. Macdonald
Lions 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.
Widespread occurrence of an emerging fungal pathogen in heavily traded Chinese urodelan species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-02-01 Zhiyong Yuan; An Martel; Jun Wu; Sarah Van Praet; Stefano Canessa; Frank Pasmans
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 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-02-14 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
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 posthatching 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.
When conservation goes viral: The diffusion of innovative biodiversity conservation policies and practices Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-02-28 Michael B. Mascia; Morena Mills
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.
Conserving biodiversity and Indigenous bush tucker: Practical application of the strategic foresight framework to invasive alien species management planning Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-02-13 Vanessa M. Adams; Michael M. Douglas; Sue E. Jackson; Kelly Scheepers; Johnathan T. Kool; Samantha A. Setterfield
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 comanaged, 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.
Biologically representative and well‐connected marine reserves enhance biodiversity persistence in conservation planning Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-02-22 Rafael A. Magris; Marco Andrello; Robert L. Pressey; David Mouillot; Alicia Dalongeville; Martin N. Jacobi; Stéphanie Manel
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 multispecies, approach. Here, we link prioritization 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: (2) considering both representation and connectivity objectives provides the best strategy for enhanced biodiversity persistence and (2) 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.
Real‐world conservation planning for evolutionary diversity in the Kimberley, Australia, sidesteps uncertain taxonomy Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-02-16 Dan F. Rosauer; Margaret Byrne; Mozes P. K. Blom; David J. Coates; Stephen Donnellan; Paul Doughty; J. Scott Keogh; Janine Kinloch; Rebecca J. Laver; Cecilia Myers; Paul M. Oliver; Sally Potter; Daniel L. Rabosky; Ana Catarina Afonso Silva; James Smith; Craig Moritz
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 11 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 prioritized for ecological management, and also areas that would provide the greatest benefit if added to the multisector conservation estate. We provide a rigorous and effective approach to represent the spectrum of genetic and species diversity in conservation planning.
Slow treatment promotes control of harmful species by multiple agents Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-05-12 Adam Lampert; Alan Hastings; James N. Sanchirico
The management of harmful species, including invasive species, pests, parasites, and diseases, is a major, global challenge. Harmful species cause severe damage to ecosystems, biodiversity, agriculture, and human health. The control of harmful species is challenging and often requires cooperation among multiple agents, such as land‐owners, agencies, and countries. Agents may have incentives to contribute less, leaving more work for other agents, which can result in inefficient treatment. Here we present a dynamic game theory model and we show that slow treatment may promote a stable solution (Markovian Nash equilibrium) where all agents cooperate to remove the harmful species. The efficiency of this solution depends critically on the life history of the harmful species that determines the speed of optimal treatment. Furthermore, this cooperative equilibrium may coexist with other Nash equilibria, including one dictating no treatment of the harmful species, which implies that coordination among agents is critical for successful control.
Using consumer preferences to characterize the trade of wild‐collected ornamental orchids in China Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-05-15 Sophie J. Williams; Stephan W. Gale; Amy Hinsley; Jiangyun Gao; Freya A. V. St. John
Overexploitation of wildlife for trade threatens taxa globally. Interest in demand‐side approaches to address this problem has grown but understanding of how consumer preferences shape demand remains limited. To quantify the role of consumer preferences for wild orchids in China's horticultural market, we used conjoint analysis to determine which attributes are preferred by orchid owners and nonowners in two socioeconomically contrasting areas of South China. Across all respondents, price was the most important attribute followed by flower color. While Xishuangbanna participants exhibited a slight preference for wild over cultivated plants, origin (wild/cultivated) was of minimal importance. We also measured awareness of orchid import regulations. Most did not recognize the CITES logo, and knowledge of import laws was significantly lower in Hong Kong than in Xishuangbanna. Our findings suggest that trade in wild ornamental orchids in South China is supply‐driven, and strengthened regulations might be effective in reducing overexploitation.
Seagrass meadows support global fisheries production Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-05-21 Richard K.F. Unsworth; Lina Mtwana Nordlund; Leanne C. Cullen‐Unsworth
The significant role seagrass meadows play in supporting fisheries productivity and food security across the globe is not adequately reflected in the decisions made by authorities with statutory responsibility for their management. We provide a unique global analysis of three data sources to present the case for why seagrass meadows need targeted policy to recognize and protect their role in supporting fisheries production and food security. (1) Seagrass meadows provide valuable nursery habitat to over 1/5th of the world's largest 25 fisheries, including Walleye Pollock, the most landed species on the planet. (2) In complex small‐scale fisheries from around the world (poorly represented in fisheries statistics), we present evidence that many of those in proximity to seagrass are supported to a large degree by these habitats. (3) We reveal how intertidal fishing activity in seagrass is a global phenomenon, often directly supporting human livelihoods. Our study demonstrates that seagrasses should be recognized and managed to maintain and maximize their role in global fisheries production. The chasm that exists between coastal habitat conservation and fisheries management needs to be filled to maximize the chances of seagrass meadows supporting fisheries, so that they can continue to support human wellbeing.
The elephant (head) in the room: A critical look at trophy hunting Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-05-09 Chelsea Batavia; Michael Paul Nelson; Chris T. Darimont; Paul C. Paquet; William J. Ripple; Arian D. Wallach
Trophy hunting has occupied a prominent position in recent scholarly literature and popular media. In the scientific conservation literature, researchers are generally supportive of or sympathetic to its usage as a source of monetary support for conservation. Although authors at times acknowledge that trophy hunting faces strong opposition from many members of the public, often for unspecified reasons associated with ethics, neither the nature nor the implications of these ethical concerns have been substantively addressed. We identify the central act of wildlife “trophy” taking as a potential source of ethical discomfort and public opposition. We highlight that trophy hunting entails a hunter paying a fee to kill an animal and claim its body or body parts as a trophy of conquest. Situating this practice in a Western cultural narrative of chauvinism, colonialism, and anthropocentrism, we argue trophy hunting is morally inappropriate. We suggest alternative strategies for conservation and community development should be explored and decisively ruled out as viable sources of support before the conservation community endorses trophy hunting. If wildlife conservation is broadly and inescapably dependent on the institution of trophy hunting, conservationists should accept the practice only with a due appreciation of tragedy, and proper remorse.
The major barriers to evidence‐informed conservation policy and possible solutions Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-04-20 David C. Rose; William J. Sutherland; Tatsuya Amano; Juan P. González‐Varo; Rebecca J. Robertson; Benno I. Simmons; Hannah S. Wauchope; Eszter Kovacs; América Paz Durán; Alice B. M. Vadrot; Weiling Wu; Maria P. Dias; Martina M. I. Di Fonzo; Sarah Ivory; Lucia Norris; Matheus Henrique Nunes; Tobias Ochieng Nyumba; Noa Steiner; Juliet Vickery; Nibedita Mukherjee
Conservation policy decisions can suffer from a lack of evidence, hindering effective decision‐making. In nature conservation, studies investigating why policy is often not evidence‐informed have tended to focus on Western democracies, with relatively small samples. To understand global variation and challenges better, we established a global survey aimed at identifying top barriers and solutions to the use of conservation science in policy. This obtained the views of 758 people in policy, practice, and research positions from 68 countries across six languages. Here we show that, contrary to popular belief, there is agreement between groups about how to incorporate conservation science into policy, and there is thus room for optimism. Barriers related to the low priority of conservation were considered to be important, while mainstreaming conservation was proposed as a key solution. Therefore, priorities should focus on convincing the public of the importance of conservation as an issue, which will then influence policy‐makers to adopt pro‐environmental long‐term policies.
The use, and usefulness, of spatial conservation prioritizations Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-04-15 Samuel P. Sinclair; E.J. Milner‐Gulland; Robert J. Smith; Emma J. McIntosh; Hugh P. Possingham; Ans Vercammen; Andrew T. Knight
Spatial conservation prioritization is used globally to guide decision making with the aim of delivering the best conservation gain per unit investment. However, despite many publications on the topic, the extent to which this approach is used by decision makers has been unclear. To investigate the degree to which prioritization has been adopted by practitioners to guide conservation implementation, we conducted an online survey, collecting data on the approaches used to develop prioritizations and the reported extent of translation to on‐the‐ground action. Using a cluster analysis, we identified two categories of prioritizations, those developed to advance the field (42% of responses) and those intended for implementation (58% of responses). Respondents reported 74% of the prioritizations intended for implementation had translated to on‐the‐ground action. Additionally, we identified strong collaboration between academics and practitioners in prioritization development, suggesting a bridging of the theory‐practice gap. We recommend continued collaboration and research into the effectiveness of prioritizations in delivering conservation impacts.
Predicting the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances on marine populations Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-05-07 Jacob Nabe‐Nielsen; Floris M van Beest; Volker Grimm; Richard M Sibly; Jonas Teilmann; Paul M Thompson
Marine ecosystems are increasingly exposed to anthropogenic disturbances that cause animals to change behavior and move away from potential foraging grounds. Here we present a process‐based modeling framework for assessing population consequences of such sub‐lethal behavioral effects. It builds directly on how disturbances influence animal movements, foraging and energetics, and is therefore applicable to a wide range of species. To demonstrate the model we assess the impact of wind farm construction noise on the North Sea harbor porpoise population. Subsequently, we demonstrate how the model can be used to minimize population impacts of disturbances through spatial planning. Population models that build on the fundamental processes that determine animal fitness have a high predictive power in novel environments, making them ideal for marine management.
When conservation research goes awry: A reply to Mascia and Mills (2018) Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-05-02 Jens Friis Lund; Jevgeniy Bluwstein
We raise two points of contention with “When conservation goes viral: The diffusion of innovative biodiversity conservation policies and practices” in which Mascia and Mills make a case for “diffusion of innovation theory” as a way of understanding how conservation interventions spread, drawing on case studies from Tanzania and the Pacific. First, the conceptualization of the spread of CBNRM as the uptake of innovative policies through diffusion depoliticizes CBNRM and ignores existing social science scholarship on Tanzanian CBNRM. Second, the article's central claim of “diffusion” builds on inflated statistics on the spread of CBNRM in Tanzania.
An assessment of threats to terrestrial protected areas Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-01-15 Katharina Schulze; Kathryn Knights; Lauren Coad; Jonas Geldmann; Fiona Leverington; April Eassom; Melitta Marr; Stuart H. M. Butchart; Marc Hockings; Neil D. Burgess
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.
Bigger or better: The relative benefits of protected area network expansion and enforcement for the conservation of an exploited species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-01-10 Caitlin D. Kuempel; Vanessa M. Adams; Hugh P. Possingham; Michael Bode
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.
Asymmetric cross‐border protection of peripheral transboundary species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2017-12-18 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.
The governance of land use strategies: Institutional and social dimensions of land sparing and land sharing Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) 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.
Some contents have been Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.
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