Do substitute species help or hinder endangered species management? Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-02-14 Erica Henry, Elizabeth Brammer-Robbins, Erik Aschehoug, Nick Haddad
Substitute species (common species used to represent endangered species) are used to evaluate a range of conservation strategies globally. However, the effectiveness of this approach has not been empirically evaluated. We leveraged a large-scale habitat restoration experiment to test the validity of the substitute species concept. We selected a common butterfly, Satyrodes appalachia, that is on first inspection as near a substitute as possible - it is closely related to, overlaps in distribution, habitat requirements, host use, and life history with Neonympha mitchellii francisci, an endangered butterfly. We integrated small-scale measures of behavior, habitat preference, and demography of both species in our test, demonstrating that subtle differences between two species cause the substitute relationship to fail. Despite nearly identical habitat requirements, we found the endangered butterfly used different host plants, had higher larval survival in restored sites, and was found in more open habitat than the common butterfly. These differences added up to differences in abundances; the endangered species was more abundant than the common species in restored sites, the opposite was true in un-restored sites. Management decisions based on unvalidated substitute species run the risk of doing more harm than good for endangered species conservation. Instead, using experiments to evaluate a target species' response to management will result in effective recovery strategies.
Future fire scenarios: Predicting the effect of fire management strategies on the trajectory of high-quality habitat for threatened species Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-02-14 Jemima Connell, Simon J. Watson, Rick S. Taylor, Sarah C. Avitabile, Natasha Schedvin, Kathryn Schneider, Michael F. Clarke
Prescribed (or “planned”) burning is used by land managers to reduce fuel-loads in order to mitigate the spread of wildfire, thereby protecting life and property, and to promote environmental heterogeneity to enhance biodiversity. Globally, many fire management agencies focus on increasing extent and frequency of prescribed burning. There is a need to assess how high levels of prescribed burning may affect the long-term, landscape-level persistence of ecological communities. We forward projected management scenarios over 21 years to explore how the operationally realistic implementation of four different prescribed burn targets, covering 5, 3, 1.5 and 0% of a large reserve per annum (p.a.) might affect provision and removal of fire-mediated habitat of 11 rare and threatened bird species. Sustained implementation of high targets (5 and 3% p.a.) homogenised the landscape toward young vegetation, substantially reducing highly suitable habitat for species requiring intermediate (20–60 years post-fire) and older (60+ years) age classes. In contrast, no prescribed burning generated insufficient habitat for species with early (<20 years) and intermediate seral requirements. Strategies reliant upon persistently high levels of prescribed burning are likely to have negative effects on a number of threatened species already considered vulnerable due to their low populations and restricted ranges. In contrast, management processes that allow for periodic evaluation and flexibility in how strategies are implemented would better enable practitioners to tailor fire management to individual ecosystems. Carefully targeting key areas for wildfire prevention, and promoting some successional changes through application of fire in other areas, will help to maintain and improve suitable habitat for species of conservation concern.
Resettlement and landscape-level conservation: Corridors, human-wildlife conflict, and forest use in Central India Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-02-14 Amrita Neelakantan, Ruth DeFries, Ramesh Krishnamurthy
Since the origin of the protected area network, authorities have resettled people in the interest of wildlife conservation. However, the impacts of resettlement on wildlife corridors connecting increasingly insular protected areas and the interaction of resettlement with existing human-wildlife conflict (HWC) outside of protected areas remain unclear. Using Kanha National Park (KNP) in central India as a case study, we quantified impacts of 450 households (that were resettled from 2009 to 2013, surveyed in 2016) on non-protected forests at their new settlement locations. We measured forest use for cattle grazing, tendu leaf extraction (a commercial non-timber forest product) and consumption of forest foods. We also quantified HWC risks that resettled households face at their new settlement locations. We use published spatial analyses on designation of the corridor and risks of human wildlife conflict in conjunction with our data to assess post-resettlement impacts at the new settlement locations. Overall, most resettled households (330) have moved to existing villages that lie outside of wildlife corridors around KNP. They comprise <10% of existing populations at most of their new settlement villages. Many resettled households and their non-resettled neighbors face high HWC risks due to the spatial patterns of HWC around KNP. Controlling for assets and proximity to forest, resettled households own more cattle, are less involved in tendu trade, and consume fewer forests foods than non-resettled neighbors. Model results suggest that increasing off-farm economic opportunities would reduce pressures on forest resources for both resettled and non-resettled households. Our findings, while limited to the KNP landscape, provide approaches applicable in other human-dominated places to design resettlement strategies towards landscape-level conservation goals.
Strong fish assemblage patterns persist over sixteen years in a warming marine park, even with tropical shifts Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-02-14 Hamish A. Malcolm, Renata Ferrari
Conservation value of moist evergreen Afromontane forest sites with different management and history in southwestern Ethiopia Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-02-13 Girma Shumi, Patrícia Rodrigues, Jannik Schultner, Ine Dorresteijn, Jan Hanspach, Kristoffer Hylander, Feyera Senbeta, Joern Fischer
Tropical forest ecosystems harbor high biodiversity, but they have suffered from ongoing human-induced degradation. We investigated the conservation value of moist evergreen Afromontane forest sites across gradients of site-level disturbance, landscape context and forest history in southwestern Ethiopia. We surveyed woody plants at 108 randomly selected sites and grouped them into forest specialist, pioneer, and generalist species. First, we investigated if coffee dominance, current distance from the forest edge, forest history, heat load and altitude structured the variation in species composition using constrained correspondence analysis. Second, we modelled species richness in response to the same explanatory variables. Our findings show that woody plant community composition was significantly structured by altitude, forest history, coffee dominance and current distance from forest edge. Specifically, (1) total species richness and forest specialist species richness were affected by coffee management intensity; (2) forest specialist species richness increased, while pioneer species decreased with increasing distance from the forest edge; and (3) forest specialist species richness was lower in secondary forest compared to in primary forest. These findings show that coffee management intensity, landscape context and forest history in combination influence local and landscape level biodiversity. We suggest conservation strategies that foster the maintenance of large undisturbed forest sites and that prioritize local species in managed and regenerating forests. Creation of a biosphere reserve and shade coffee certification could be useful to benefit both effective conservation and people's livelihoods.
Richness, diversity, and factors influencing occupancy of mammal communities across human-modified landscapes in Colombia Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-02-12 Valeria Boron, Nicolas J. Deere, Panteleimon Xofis, Andres Link, Andres Quiñones-Guerrero, Esteban Payan, Joseph Tzanopoulos
As human-modified landscapes are increasing in the tropics, it becomes critical to understand how they affect mammal communities to reconcile conservation and development. We combined land cover information and camera-trapping data to explore the effects of agricultural expansion on mammals in the Magdalena river valley of Colombia. We estimated species diversity, evenness, and dominance across two agricultural landscapes, modified by cattle ranching and oil palm cultivation. We further assessed which variables influence species- and community-level occupancy using multi-species occupancy models. Results highlight that modified landscapes display lower species richness, diversity and evenness, and higher dominance than more pristine sites. Residual forest cover and distance to water had significant effect on community occupancy (positive and negative respectively). Forests were particularly important for pumas, ocelots, lowland pacas, Central American agoutis, and crab-eating raccoons while wetlands had a positive effect on jaguars, the apex predator in the region. The influence of anthropogenic pressure was not clearly evident, though pastures were not valuable habitats for any mammal species, as they had a negative, yet not significant, effect on species and community occupancy. In light of rapidly expanding agriculture across the tropics, our findings highlight species-specific responses to disturbance that can inform land use planning and conservation policies. We stress the conservation value of forest and wetland habitat to mammal occupancy in heterogeneous ecosystems. Moreover, our results demonstrate that oil palm and crop expansion should target existing pastures, which displayed limited conservation value for Neotropical mammals but occupy vast swathes of land across Latin America.
Combining behavioural and LiDAR data to reveal relationships between canopy structure and orangutan nest site selection in disturbed forests Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-02-08 Andrew B. Davies, Felicity Oram, Marc Ancrenaz, Gregory P. Asner
Primary tropical forests are becoming increasingly disturbed and fragmented, making it critically important to understand the conservation value of degraded forests. Many populations of even the largest and most iconic species are now found outside of primary habitats, and the long-term survival of these and many other species depends on appropriate management of degraded areas, whether protected or not. However, for conservation in degraded habitats to be successful, an adequate understanding of the minimal ecological requirements necessary for species persistence within them is required. We combined ground and helicopter nest surveys of critically endangered Bornean orangutans with high-resolution measurements of forest canopy structure from airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to understand orangutan nest site selection across multiple spatial scales in degraded forests of the Lower Kinabatangan region, Malaysian Borneo. We found orangutans to be selective when choosing nest sites, with nests more likely to be observed in canopies of tall and uniform height and closer to full canopy gaps, which was consistent across spatial scales and orangutan age and sex classes. These sites likely offer orangutans an improved vantage point and/or shelter from wind and rain. In contrast, no discernible relationships between nest site selection and canopy complexity, or nest abundance and landscape forest structure or aboveground carbon density were recorded. Our findings suggest that although orangutans do nest across a range of forest conditions, their optimum requirement for nesting strongly depends on forest patches with sufficient tall canopy of uniform height. These results serve to inform degraded forest conservation strategies across Borneo, particularly where orangutans are a focal species.
Quantifying the contribution of conservation easements to large-landscape conservation Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-02-08 Rose A. Graves, Matthew A. Williamson, R. Travis Belote, Jodi S. Brandt
Private lands are critical for conservation of ecosystem diversity and sustaining large-scale ecological processes. Increasingly, conservation easements (CE) are used as a tool to protect private land from future development; yet, few studies have examined whether contemporary patterns of CE effectively contribute to landscape-scale biodiversity and ecosystem conservation goals. We analyzed the distribution of 1223 CE established between 1970 and 2016 in the High Divide, a region dominated by public lands and of national conservation importance in the Rocky Mountains of the United States, with respect to ecosystem representation and landscape connectivity, two common large-scale conservation goals. We found that CE were frequently located closer to water and to other land protected for biodiversity (e.g., GAP 1 and 2 status) than were private lands more generally. CE provided increased representation within the protected areas network for 10% of the ecosystems within the region, particularly for mesic and riparian areas. Despite the addition of CE to the protected areas network, we found insufficient representation for 43 out of 87 ecosystems (<5% representation on land managed for biodiversity). Protection of priority ecosystems varied across CE and illustrated potential mismatches between regional and national scale conservation goals. Furthermore, while public lands contributed the most toward conserving important areas for connectivity, CE protected potential landscape connectivity only slightly more effectively than randomly allocated areas. CE provide important complements to public lands in terms of ecosystem diversity and landscape connectivity. However, conservation planners and land managers could increase conservation benefits from CE by prioritizing under-represented ecosystems and more explicitly targeting lands to maintain landscape permeability.
Opportunities and barriers for endangered species conservation using payments for ecosystem services Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-02-07 Aaron M. Lien, Colleen Ulibarri, Wendy Vanasco, George B. Ruyle, Scott Bonar, Laura López-Hoffman
Endangered species laws seek to prevent extinction by outlawing actions that may cause harm or lead to extinction. In doing so, these laws are sometimes criticized for limiting management flexibility and subjecting landowners to regulatory burdens. One proposed solution to this challenge is development of payment for ecosystem service (PES) programs. These programs provide an economic incentive to conserve endangered species by compensating landowners for the costs of conservation or forgoing other profitable uses of land and resources. To assess the utility of PES as a means of overcoming opposition to endangered species regulations, we surveyed ranch operators in Arizona and New Mexico facing new regulations related to endangered jaguars (Panthera onca). Our findings suggest that PES cannot overcome the perceived burdens of species protection regulations and are unlikely to increase collaboration between landowners and government agencies. PES approaches are only likely to succeed where there is strong fit between institutional design and resource manager preferences. In the context of endangered species, PES proponents must pay particular attention to institutional arrangements that reduce concerns about regulatory risk. To this end, to effectively meet endangered species conservation goals, we recommend: 1) framing PES programs as voluntary conservation incentives, 2) focusing incentives on healthy ecosystems rather than a single species, and 3) using private funding to support incentives. Under these circumstances, PES may be an effective endangered species conservation tool.
Why we must question the militarisation of conservation Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-02-05 Rosaleen Duffy, Francis Massé, Emile Smidt, Esther Marijnen, Bram Büscher, Judith Verweijen, Maano Ramutsindela, Trishant Simlai, Laure Joanny, Elizabeth Lunstrum
Concerns about poaching and trafficking have led conservationists to seek urgent responses to tackle the impact on wildlife. One possible solution is the militarisation of conservation, which holds potentially far-reaching consequences. It is important to engage critically with the militarisation of conservation, including identifying and reflecting on the problems it produces for wildlife, for people living with wildlife and for those tasked with implementing militarised strategies. This Perspectives piece is a first step towards synthesising the main themes in emerging critiques of militarised conservation. We identify five major themes: first, the importance of understanding how poaching is defined; second, understanding the ways that local communities experience militarised conservation; third, the experiences of rangers; fourth, how the militarisation of conservation can contribute to violence where conservation operates in the context of armed conflict; and finally how it fits in with and reflects wider political economic dynamics. Ultimately, we suggest that failure to engage more critically with militarisation risks making things worse for the people involved and lead to poor conservation outcomes in the long run.
Human- and risk-mediated browsing pressure by sympatric antelope in an African savanna Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-02-01 Tobias O. Otieno, Jacob R. Goheen, Paul W. Webala, Albert Mwangi, Isaac M. Osuga, Adam T. Ford
Human activity shapes landscape heterogeneity, which can influence where and how species interact. In African savannas, human-mediated changes to woody cover affect perceptions of risk and foraging decisions by large herbivores. Through cafeteria-style feeding trials, we presented two common, browsing ungulates (Guenther's dik-dik [Madoqua guentheri] and impala [Aepyceros melampus]) with branches from four tree species that varied in their relative investment in mechanical and chemical defenses. We conducted trials in habitats that were perceived as risky to either dik-dik (i.e., open habitat) or impala (i.e., bushland habitat). We found that dik-dik preferred to eat thorny trees low in tannin content within bushland habitats, while the larger-bodied impala preferred tannin-rich but thorn-less branches within open habitats. Risk-induced habitat use homogenized browsing pressure in the lower canopy, but increased heterogeneity in browsing pressure in the upper canopy. In addition, plant defenses neutralized the effects of risk, and foraging height on browsing pressure. Our results demonstrate how foraging experiments—typically the basis for field studies on species coexistence—can be extended to make inferences about consumer-resource dynamics in human-modified landscapes.
Implications of flood disturbance for conservation and management of giant panda habitat in human-modified landscapes Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-31 Eric I. Ameca, Qiang Dai, Yonggang Nie, Xiaodong Gu, Fuwen Wei
As certain extreme weather events are becoming frequent and intense, conservationists must identify areas across species' ranges recurrently affected, especially with regard to threatened species. Focusing on the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and historical flood frequency distribution, we determined overlaps between panda distribution affected by floods and nature reserves. We also examined the correspondence between areas subject to high flood exposure densities, areas with high panda habitat use, and areas that exhibit high human density. Of the 67 reserves established for giant panda conservation 7 included areas with the highest flood exposure densities while having a mean exposure ranging between 20 and 75%. In Sichuan province up to 32% of areas of high habitat use were subject to low flood density, and 10% overlapped with areas subject to high flood density. We also found that 40% of the total area with high human density was subject to a high flood density. Our findings indicate that high frequency of flooding is affecting areas of nature reserves where people are rather than areas which pandas are using more intensively. In areas occupied by pandas, strategies should remain focus on mitigating habitat degradation and fragmentation caused by human activities that can also reduce habitat resilience to floods. Management aimed at reducing vulnerability and enhancing resilience in flood-prone areas is warranted if we are to prevent negative indirect impacts on panda habitat driven by human responses to increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events in the coming decades.
Global congruence between cuckoo species richness and biodiversity hotspots Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-31 Federico Morelli, Yanina Benedetti, David Moravec, Leszek Jerzak, Piotr Tryjanowski, Wei Liang, Anders Pape Møller
Considering loss of biodiversity a global threat, cost-effective tools for monitoring spatial distribution of species are relevant for conservation planning. The aims of this study were (a) to compare the global pattern of species richness in Cuculidae with species richness of birds, amphibians and mammals; (b) whether it is spatially congruent with hotspot areas of biodiversity at a global scale; and (c) whether the distribution of night light intensity reflecting human population density is associated with cuckoo species richness. We mapped the global distribution of all cuckoo species, classified as parasitic or non-parasitic species. Species richness was calculated at a fixed spatial scale for: Cuculidae, amphibians, birds and mammals. We applied Generalized Linear Mixed Models in order to explore the associations between species richness of each group of animals, night light intensity and hotspots of biodiversity areas at a global scale. Worldwide patterns of species richness of parasitic and non-parasitic cuckoos reflected species richness of birds, amphibians and mammals. In addition, and importantly, species richness of cuckoos was spatially congruent with hotspot areas of biodiversity across the world. Finally, night light intensity was slightly positively associated with species richness of parasitic cuckoos. Our findings confirmed that cuckoos constitute an important surrogate of high species richness of different animal taxa at a global scale: It is easy to learn how to identify cuckoos, whereas other species of birds, mammals or amphibians can only be identified by specialists. Our findings also suggest that other parasitic cuckoo species can be used as a biodiversity surrogate in a similar way as the common cuckoo in Eurasia.
The genetically engineered American chestnut tree as opportunity for reciprocal restoration in Haudenosaunee communities Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-31 S. Kathleen Barnhill-Dilling, Jason A. Delborne
As genetic engineering becomes a part of the toolkit for the conservation and restoration of biodiversity, a broad range of social science frameworks are required to understand how different groups of people perceive these emerging technologies. Reciprocal restoration is one such framework that offers Indigenous-specific perspective on new applications of genetic engineering for conservation and restoration. The restoration plan for the American chestnut tree includes the potential wild release of a genetically engineered tree in close proximity to the sovereign Haudenosaunee communities of Central and Upstate New York. This paper uses reciprocal restoration as a framework for evaluating if a restoration project that uses a genetically engineered species could support broader cultural restoration efforts in these communities. Results are complex, but suggest that reciprocal restoration may be possible if certain foundational dimensions – such as kincentric relationships and spiritual responsibilities – are attended to. Reciprocal restoration also offers insight for future cases where Indigenous perspectives on the use of genetic engineering for conservation and restoration are important dimensions of broader governance considerations.
Ramifying effects of the risk of predation on African multi-predator, multi-prey large-mammal assemblages and the conservation implications Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-02-01 Norman Owen-Smith
Impacts of predators on prey populations are incurred not only through mortality inflicted, but also from how the risk of mortality affects the behaviour, spatial distribution and resource access of potential prey species. This risk is governed by exposure to predators and vulnerability following encounters. Behavioural responses to reduce risks have ramifying consequences for habitat partitioning, regional distributions and local impacts of herbivores on vegetation. These consequences are reviewed for carnivore-ungulate assemblages in African savanna ecosystems. Vigilance serves multiple functions, including locating food and maintaining group cohesion as well as detecting predators. Prey responses depend on whether predators hunt by ambush or pursuit and whether they are mainly diurnally or nocturnally active. Ungulates can lower their vulnerability by restricting time spent foraging at night and avoid places providing cover for lurking carnivores. Risks of predation can have a stronger influence on spatial partitioning among large grazers than distinctions in resource use. Only species above some threshold size have distributions indifferent to tree and grass cover. Observed mortality rates are constrained by recruitment potential. Spatiotemporal variation in risk may regulate populations and limit regional abundance. Herbivores confined to secure habitat may generate local brown-green-black world mosaics. Less common prey species of greatest conservation concern are most susceptible to having their habitat security breached by changes in predation risk. Studies establishing baseline responses of ungulates to the risk of predation need to be augmented by investigations focussed on extreme situations.
Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-31 Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, Kris A.G. Wyckhuys
Biodiversity of insects is threatened worldwide. Here, we present a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports of insect declines from across the globe, and systematically assess the underlying drivers. Our work reveals dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world's insect species over the next few decades. In terrestrial ecosystems, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera and dung beetles (Coleoptera) appear to be the taxa most affected, whereas four major aquatic taxa (Odonata, Plecoptera, Trichoptera and Ephemeroptera) have already lost a considerable proportion of species. Affected insect groups not only include specialists that occupy particular ecological niches, but also many common and generalist species. Concurrently, the abundance of a small number of species is increasing; these are all adaptable, generalist species that are occupying the vacant niches left by the ones declining. Among aquatic insects, habitat and dietary generalists, and pollutant-tolerant species are replacing the large biodiversity losses experienced in waters within agricultural and urban settings. The main drivers of species declines appear to be in order of importance: i) habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanisation; ii) pollution, mainly that by synthetic pesticides and fertilisers; iii) biological factors, including pathogens and introduced species; and iv) climate change. The latter factor is particularly important in tropical regions, but only affects a minority of species in colder climes and mountain settings of temperate zones. A rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends, allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide. In addition, effective remediation technologies should be applied to clean polluted waters in both agricultural and urban environments.
Pothole wetlands provide reservoir habitat for native bees in prairie croplands Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-02-01 Jess L. Vickruck, Lincoln R. Best, Michael P. Gavin, James H. Devries, Paul Galpern
The act of converting prairie grassland to agricultural farmland has negative implications for pollinator communities. In the Prairie Pothole Region, wetland remnants are a common feature in intensively cultivated landscapes. These wetlands are typically small and often left embedded in the cropland matrix and may act as the only semi-natural feature in a radius of several hundred metres. To quantify the role that these in-field wetlands play in supporting native pollinators, we sampled bees at three distances from the wetland margin into the surrounding cropland (0 m, 25 m and 75 m) across the season in three field types (canola, cereal and perennial grassland). We used Bayesian multilevel models to test the hypothesis that native bees are using infield wetlands as habitat for nesting and foraging. Native bee abundance and diversity decreased further away from the margin of wetlands in both canola and cereal fields, while it increased in wetlands located in perennial grassland. Community composition did not change further away from wetlands, which may be because the foraging range of most species was within the sampling distance of the study. These results suggest that wetlands play an important role in providing critical resources for native pollinators, and encouraging farmers not to drain or plow through these wetlands will have beneficial impacts for native pollinators in the area. Maintaining in-field wetlands may have additional pollination benefits for farmers growing crops such as canola, which is known to benefit from insect visitors.
Social identity shapes support for management of wildlife and pests Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-25 Lily M. van Eeden, Thomas M. Newsome, Mathew S. Crowther, Christopher R. Dickman, Jeremy Bruskotter
Public attitudes are important in shaping wildlife management decisions. However, publics are not homogeneous, and conflicting perceptions and attitudes often create barriers to achieving conservation outcomes. Here we use a social identity approach to analyze public acceptance of different options for managing four animals in Australia (kangaroos, wild horses, dingoes, and red foxes). We conducted an online survey (N = 793) of adult residents of Australia. Analyses indicate 11.4% of respondents strongly identified as animal rights activists, 19.0% as wildlife conservationists, and 19.2% as farmers. Using the Potential for Conflict Index and permutational multivariate analysis of variance, we found that on average, all identity groups supported nonlethal management for all species and reintroduction or maintenance of dingoes to suppress kangaroos and red foxes. All identity groups except farmers were generally unsupportive of lethal control, but there was less consensus among responses within groups compared with support for nonlethal methods. Results suggest that policies which prioritize nonlethal management over lethal control (where effective) will be less controversial than those that use lethal management. Likewise, incorporating predator conservation into ecosystem restoration seems well supported across constituencies typically interested in wildlife conservation.
Two species, one snare: Analysing snare usage and the impacts of tiger poaching on a non-target species, the Malayan tapir Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-25 Kassandra Campbell, Deborah Martyr, Dian Risdianto, Christofer J. Clemente
The illegal trade in tiger bones and body parts is crippling the remaining populations of tigers worldwide, but what effect does this trade have on other wildlife that get caught in the cross fire? The Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus) is the only species of tapir found outside of South America, yet little is known of this subspecies despite its large size. Aside from habitat loss and an encroaching human population, effects of wildlife trade are taking their toll on this endangered species. In Sumatra Indonesia, tigers and tapirs are known to share habitat, potentially leaving tapirs vulnerable to fall victim to snare entrapment. This study looks at correlations between tiger and tapir indices as well as active tiger snares within Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia over a four-year period. Data was provided by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Fauna and Flora International, and this study investigated the frequency, and spatial relationships between all three variables. Across the study period, tiger snares increased significantly in numbers and spatial extent, indicating increased illegal poaching in KSNP. Areas with high frequencies of tiger evidence also showed high frequencies of tapir evidence, but while tiger frequency remained consistent, tapirs displayed a decreasing trend. Spatially, tiger evidence moved further away from snare and tapir locations over time, indicating tigers, (while being the target species) may display a greater response to poaching threats than tapirs. Tapir mortality was significantly correlated with the number of snares per kilometre surveyed, further supporting a negative impact from snares on tapirs. This study recommends long-term analysis to accurately determine the current population of Malayan tapirs in Sumatra and identify population trends. Identifying Sumatra's tapir population and recovery in response to poaching and habitat loss threats, must be determined to accurately inform conservation management actions of Sumatra's National Parks, and halt the decline of this illusive species.
Spatial risk assessment of eastern monarch butterfly road mortality during autumn migration within the southern corridor Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-24 Tuula Kantola, James L. Tracy, Kristen A. Baum, Michael A. Quinn, Robert N. Coulson
Spatial knowledge deficiencies drive taxonomic and geographic selectivity in data deficiency Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-25 Lina Zhao, Yuchang Yang, Huiyuan Liu, Zhangjian Shan, Dan Xie, Zheping Xu, Jinya Li
The uncertain threat status of species inevitably influences their focus on conservation. Just as in extinction risk, the non-randomness phenomenon related to uncertainty (also referred to as selectivity), which is a certain character cluster in some groupings, also exists in data deficiency of species' knowledge. In order to illustrate this kind of non-random phenomenon and explain the uncertainties it caused, we performed a hypergeometric test on taxonomic and geographic groupings of China's spermatophyte species and quantified two factors— frequency of collections and spatial accessibility— to indicate the primary causes of spatial knowledge deficiencies. We found that selectivity in data deficiency exists both taxonomically and geographically. Fifteen of the families were more deficient than expected, which included 30.0% of species and 56.3% ranked data deficient (DD). Among these, eight families were statistically highly significant with p < 0.001 and included 25.2% of species and 50.0% ranked DD. Forty-six families were less deficient than expected. With respect to floristic division, four of 29 floristic regions and subregions were more deficient than expected, and seven were less deficient than expected. Spatial autocorrelation analysis on DD species suggested an aggregated pattern of data deficiency in China (Moran's I = 0.58, z-score = 27.0, p < 0.001), and these areas that contained the highest numbers of DD species also contained the highest number of species (Spearman's R2 = 0.879, p < 0.001). However, the largest DD ratio had a low correlation with the richest DD spatial diversity. Moreover, we found the larger the DD ratio was, the lower the frequency of collections and the poorer the spatial accessibility would be. In the research, we showed that the uncertainties associated with DD species would alter the non-randomness in the selectivity of data deficiency and further affect the focus of conservation. Only with a full understanding of the process and mechanisms of data deficiency can we determine where and what kind of actions are necessary to improve the knowledge of plant diversity.
Explaining harvests of wild-harvested herbaceous plants: American ginseng as a case study Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-23 John Paul Schmidt, Jennifer Cruse-Sanders, James L. Chamberlain, Susana Ferreira, John A. Young
Wild-harvested plants face increasing demand globally. As in many fisheries, monitoring the effect of harvesting on the size and trajectory of resource stocks presents many challenges given often limited data from disparate sources. Here we analyze American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) harvests from 18 states in the eastern U.S. 1978–2014 to infer temporal patterns and evidence of population declines, and we test the effects of local environmental and socioeconomic factors on ginseng harvesting at the county level 2000–2014. Despite rising prices, annual wild ginseng harvests decreased from a high point in the late 1980s to early 1990s, then, in most, increased after 2005 or 2010 - suggesting range-wide overexploitation notwithstanding federal regulations that, since 1999, restrict minimum harvest age. County-level harvest rates increased with available habitat, road density, poverty and unemployment, but decreased when public land formed a large proportion of county area. Harvests were largest in the Southern Appalachian region. Poverty and accessibility were strongly related to high levels of harvesting. A key implication is that to conserve valuable wild native plant products while also improving local livelihoods, wild cultivation and good stewardship practices must be strongly promoted. Our approach to assessing the condition of wild populations offers a broad template that could be adapted to other wild-harvested plants.
The role of den quality in giant panda conservation Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-23 Wei Wei, Ronald R. Swaisgood, Megan A. Owen, Nicholas W. Pilfold, Han Han, Mingsheng Hong, Hong Zhou, Fuwen Wei, Yonggang Nie, Zejun Zhang
Small features in ecological systems are often underrepresented in conservation monitoring, management and policy. Tree cavities and other forms of refuge play disproportionately large ecological roles due to their importance for shelter and rearing vulnerable offspring. Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) cubs are highly altricial, and dependent on dens. In Fengtongzai—a reserve with cavity-containing old growth forest—we measured 19 structural and microhabitat variables in potential tree dens. We also established data loggers in rock cavities in Foping Nature Reserve (which due to logging does not contain old growth) and tree cavities in Fengtongzai to monitor temperature and humidity inside and outside dens to evaluate microclimatic buffering. Fengtongzai pandas selected tree dens that were better concealed, with large interiors and entrances but smaller entrance to interior ratios. Microclimate inside dens differed dramatically from ambient conditions outside: in cold weather dens were warmer, in hot weather dens were cooler, dens were less humid and dens had more stable microclimates. Dens used by maternal pandas were warmer, drier and less variable than tree and rock cavities that were not used. Tree dens showed better capacity to buffer against extremes of temperature and humidity than did cave dens. Our findings have important conservation implications, including the value of den sites and the need for better monitoring and management. Specifically, management practices that preserve large old trees may increase carrying capacity and any experimentation with artificial dens as a conservation intervention should reference our findings on structural and microclimatic characteristics of preferred den sites.
Chasing the light: Positive bias in camera-based surveys of groundfish examined as risk-foraging trade-offs Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-22 Alejandro Frid, Madeleine McGreer, Twyla Frid
Unbiased survey data are important for understanding the effects of fisheries and environmental change on fish communities. We applied predation risk and life history theories to examine how parallel laser beams, which provide a scale for estimating transect width and the sizes of fish and habitat features, might bias groundfish counts during visual surveys conducted with a towed video camera. The laser beams project forward as “dots” onto the benthos, and species differ in their propensity to chase them. We hypothesized that fish perceive the laser dots as potential food and the camera, which lags behind the dots while moving forward, as a generalized threat. Analyses accounted for species primary diet and tested the prediction that shorter-lived species are more likely to chase the laser dots than longer-lived species, but these differences should weaken in the perceived safety of larger groups. Consistent with our predictions, the probability that fish would chase the laser dots decreased with the maximum age of species and increased with group size, although these effects were independent of each other. Also, chase probabilities were ≈20 to 25 times greater for species known to include benthic mobile prey in their diet than for species that feed primarily on pelagic, sessile or low-mobility prey. Our results suggest that risk-foraging trade-offs are inherent to fish behaviors that might bias surveys counts. While further insight into species differences is still needed, we illustrate how group size- and species-specific chase probabilities can generate bias correction factors to improve surveys counts.
An experimental test of a compensatory nest predation model following lethal control of an overabundant native species Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-22 Richard Beggs, Jennifer Pierson, Ayesha I.T. Tulloch, Wade Blanchard, Martin J. Westgate, David Lindenmayer
An ecosystem-based risk assessment for California fisheries co-developed by scientists, managers, and stakeholders Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-17 Jameal F. Samhouri, Errin Ramanujam, Joseph J. Bizzarro, Hayley Carter, Kelly Sayce, Sara Shen
The intensive harvest of wild populations for food can pose a risk to food security and to conservation goals. While ecosystem approaches to management offer a potential means to balance those risks, they require a method of assessment that is commensurate across multiple objectives. A major challenge is conducting these assessments in a way that considers the priorities and knowledge of stakeholders. In this study, we co-developed an ecological risk assessment (ERA) for fisheries in California (USA) with scientists, managers, and stakeholders. This ERA was intended to meet the requirements of existing policy mandates in the state of California and provide a systematic, efficient, and transparent approach to prioritize fisheries for additional management actions, including the development of fisheries management plans fully compliant with California laws. We assessed the relative risk posed to target species, bycatch, and habitats from nine state-managed fisheries and found risk to target species was not necessarily similar to risks to bycatch and habitat groups. In addition, no single fishery consistently presented the greatest risk for all bycatch or habitat groups. However, considered in combination, the greatest risk for target species, bycatch groups, and habitats emerged from two commercial fisheries for California halibut. The participatory process used to generate these results offers the potential to increase stakeholders' trust in the assessment and therefore its application in management. We suggest that adopting similar processes in other management contexts and jurisdictions will advance progress toward ecosystem-based fisheries management that simultaneously satisfies fisheries, conservation, and relationship-building objectives.
The importance of spatiotemporal fish population dynamics in barrier mitigation planning Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-16 Christina Ioannidou, Jesse R. O’Hanley
In this study, we propose a novel framework combining spatially explicit population viability analysis and optimization for prioritizing fish passage barrier mitigation decisions. Our model aims to maximize the equilibrium population size, or alternatively minimize the extinction risk, of a target fish species subject to a budget on the total cost of barrier mitigation. A case study involving a wild coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) population from the Tillamook basin, Oregon, USA is used to illustrate the benefits of our approach. We consider two different spawning adult dispersal patterns, river and reach level homing, as well as straying. Under density dependent population growth, we find that homing behavior type has a significant effect on barrier mitigation decisions. In particular, with reach homing, our model produces virtually the same population sizes as a more traditional barrier prioritization procedure designed to maximize accessible habitat. With river homing, however, we find that it is not necessary to remove all barriers in order to maximize equilibrium population size. Indeed, a stochastic version of our model reveals that removing all barriers actually results in a marginal increase in quasi-extinction risk. We hypothesize that this is due to a population thinning effect of barriers, resulting in a surplus of recruits in areas of low spawner density. Our findings highlights the importance of considering spatiotemporal fish population dynamics in river connectivity restoration planning. By adding greater biological realism, models such as ours can help conservation managers to more strategically allocate limited resources, resulting in both cost savings and improved population status for a focal species.
Holidays? Not for all. Eagles have larger home ranges on holidays as a consequence of human disturbance Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-15 Arturo M. Perona, Vicente Urios, Pascual López-López
Human-wildlife conflicts are the object of raising concern in conservation biology. People living in urban areas are rapidly increasing worldwide and consequently the temporal pattern of occupation of natural areas for recreation is changing as well, resulting in an ever-increasing concentration of people during weekends and holidays. This is particularly evident in affluent societies, where more recreationists visit natural areas on holidays and weekends, causing disturbance to wildlife in the so-called “weekend effect”. Here, we tested the response to disturbance of 30 Bonelli's eagles tracked by high-frequency GPS/GSM telemetry. We analysed daily home-range size, a measure of changing behaviour that integrates their vital requirements, throughout the annual cycle, considering three different levels (95%, 75% and 50% kernel density estimators). Our results showed that eagles made a higher ranging effort on weekends and holidays throughout the annual cycle. This was particularly evident during the non-breeding period, when larger home-ranges were observed. Higher ranging effort can lead to conservation problems such as extra energy expenditure, hunting interference, and eventually nest and/or territory abandonment, decreasing eagles' fitness. Measures aimed at reducing human-wildlife conflicts including spatio-temporal limitation of leisure activities particularly during the most critical periods (i.e., incubation, chick rearing) are urgently needed. Finally, where possible, high quality information of animal movement should be incorporated into conservation plans in order to delineate efficient spatially-explicit management measures.
Climate change, grazing, and collecting accelerate habitat contraction in an endangered primate Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-16 Xumao Zhao, Baoping Ren, Dayong Li, Paul A. Garber, Pingfen Zhu, Zuofu Xiang, Cyril C. Grueter, Zhijin Liu, Ming Li
Correlational models are widely used to predict changes in species' distribution, but generally have failed to address the comprehensive effects of anthropogenic activities, climate change, habitat connectivity and gene flow on wildlife sustainability. Here, we used integrated approaches (MAXENT model, circuit model and genetic analysis) to assess and predict the effects of climate change and anthropogenic activities on the distribution, habitat connectivity, and genetic diversity of an endangered primate, Rhinopithecus bieti, from 2000 to 2050. We created six scenarios: climatic factors only (scenario-a), anthropogenic activities only (scenario-b), climatic factors and anthropogenic activities (scenario-c), plus three additional scenarios that included climatic factors and anthropogenic activities but controlled for individual anthropogenic activities (scenario-d: grazing, scenario-e: collecting, and scenario-f: grazing and collecting). The results indicate that areas of suitable habitat for R. bieti are expected to decline by 8.0%–22.4% from 2000 to 2050, with the collection of local forest products and the grazing of domesticated cattle as the primary drivers of landscape fragmentation and range contraction. If these anthropogenic activities are strictly controlled, however, the area of suitable habitat is predicted to increase by10.4%–14.3%. We also found that habitats vulnerable to human disturbance were principally located in areas of low habitat connectivity resulting in limited migration opportunities and increased loss of genetic diversity among R. bieti living in these isolated subpopulations. Thus, we suggest that effective management policies to protect this species include prohibiting both livestock grazing and the collecting of forest products. Although our study focuses on a single primate species, the conservation modeling approaches we presented have wide applicability to a broad range of threatened mammalian and avian taxa that currently inhabit a limited geographic range and are affected by anthropogenic activities (e.g. collecting, grazing, hunting), loss of habitat connectivity, reduced genetic diversity, and the effects of climate change.
Research priorities for freshwater mussel conservation assessment Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-16 Noé Ferreira-Rodríguez, Yoshihiro B. Akiyama, Olga V. Aksenova, Rafael Araujo, M. Christopher Barnhart, Yulia V. Bespalaya, Arthur E. Bogan, Ivan N. Bolotov, Prem B. Budha, Cristhian Clavijo, Susan J. Clearwater, Gustavo Darrigran, Van Tu Do, Karel Douda, Elsa Froufe, Clemens Gumpinger, Lennart Henrikson, Chris L. Humphrey, Caryn C. Vaughn
Freshwater mussels are declining globally, and effective conservation requires prioritizing research and actions to identify and mitigate threats impacting mussel species. Conservation priorities vary widely, ranging from preventing imminent extinction to maintaining abundant populations. Here, we develop a portfolio of priority research topics for freshwater mussel conservation assessment. To address these topics, we group research priorities into two categories: intrinsic or extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors are indicators of organismal or population status, while extrinsic factors encompass environmental variables and threats. An understanding of intrinsic factors is useful in monitoring, and of extrinsic factors are important to understand ongoing and potential impacts on conservation status. This dual approach can guide conservation status assessments prior to the establishment of priority species and implementation of conservation management actions.
An evidence-based approach to specifying survey effort in ecological assessments of bat activity Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-16 Suzanne M. Richardson, Paul R. Lintott, David J. Hosken, Fiona Mathews
Robust ecological assessments are fundamental for effective wildlife conservation. Owing to the high legal protection of bats, surveys are frequently required as part of ecological assessments. Yet there is uncertainty about the amount of survey effort that should be deployed to facilitate bat protection. Bat activity can be extremely variable, and capturing periods of high activity can be as important as estimating parameters such as the median activity level. However the frequency and intensity of surveys required to capture the required information is unknown. Here we assessed the probability that acoustic surveys of differing durations would detect periods of high activity within a focal site and the importance of a site relative to others in a regional or national context. We randomly subsampled from 660 nights of activity data collected from 33 wind farm sites across Britain. The minimum surveying effort required to classify bat activity accurately varied between species and was dependent on weather conditions. We found that the survey periods required to give reasonable certainty in assessing risk exceeded those currently recommended in Europe. The approach of using bat activity accumulation curves, as described here, is transferrable to other situations where determining surveying effort and risk is necessary to ensure that ecological assessments provide a robust evidence base, whilst minimising the time and expense of surveys.
Converting arable land into flowering fields changes functional and phylogenetic community structure in ground beetles Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-15 D. Baulechner, T. Diekötter, V. Wolters, F. Jauker
Agri-environmental schemes aim to promote biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. However, knowledge about the impact of these measures on diversity components beyond species richness, especially for non-target species and their ecological functions, is still very poor. Here, we investigated the response of ground beetle communities to the conversion of arable land into flowering fields, which are primarily installed to counteract pollinator loss in agricultural landscapes. We are focusing on the relationship between biodiversity components and the evolutionary relationship among functional groups. Land-use conversion from arable land to flowering fields has changed the phylogenetic community composition of ground beetles towards a phylogenetically clustered community. This is due to an increase in closely related medium-sized herbivorous species and a decrease in evolutionarily distinct small carnivorous species. Phylogenetic clustering did not result in a reduction of functional richness, but it increased the number of unique trait combinations of species within the local communities. This suggests a low ecological redundancy among herbivorous species. Because species richness, functional richness and phylogenetic diversity were unaffected by conversion, phylogenetic community structuring was predominantly driven by species turnover rather than by numerical changes. Flowering fields can act as refuges for herbivorous carabids that potentially affect the surrounding agricultural landscape by providing important ecosystem services such as weed control. To understand the impact of habitat transformation on carabid biodiversity, it was more informative to relate response traits to phylogenic and functional diversity than to use single diversity measures such as species richness. This conclusion might also apply to many other taxa.
Plant-hummingbird interaction networks in urban areas: Generalization and the importance of trees with specialized flowers as a nectar resource for pollinator conservation Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-14 Pietro Kiyoshi Maruyama, Camila Bonizário, Amanda Perin Marcon, Giulia D'Angelo, Monique Maianne da Silva, Edvaldo Nunes da Silva Neto, Paulo Eugênio Oliveira, Ivan Sazima, Marlies Sazima, Jeferson Vizentin-Bugoni, Luiz dos Anjos, Ana M. Rui, Oswaldo Marçal Júnior
Cities harbour considerable biodiversity and there has been an increased concern about the conservation of pollinators in urban environments. Here, we evaluated how urbanization affects plant-hummingbird interactions at two spatial scales. First, in a medium-sized city from southeastern Brazil (>600,000 inhabitants), we contrasted interaction networks from urban and natural areas, and used artificial nectar feeder stations to evaluate changes in the composition of hummingbird assemblages across an urbanization gradient. Second, we compiled data on six urban plant-hummingbird interaction networks from south and southeastern Brazil to identify the characteristics associated with the most important plants. Locally, urbanization affected hummingbird communities by promoting higher generalization and dominance by more aggressive hummingbirds. Notably, specialized long-billed hermits were absent both in the urban interaction network and at feeder stations from more urbanized areas. Across networks, trees were more important for hummingbirds than shrubs/herbs as were specialized ornithophilous flowers in relation to non-ornithophilous flowers. Plant origin (native or exotic) did not matter. Our results indicate that urban plant-hummingbird communities are organized differently than their counterparts from natural areas, which usually feature key hermits and few trees. Since hermits provide important pollination services, especially for specialized ornithophilous plants, initiatives such as green corridors and preference for native plants with specialized hummingbird-pollinated flowers in urban landscaping may contribute to community restoration and ecosystem functioning.
Value-oriented criteria, indicators and targets for conservation and production: A multi-party approach to forest management planning Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-28 Jillian Spies, Tahia Devisscher, Janette Bulkan, James Tansey, Verena C. Griess
Criteria and indicator (C&I) frameworks are frequently used for assessing sustainable forest management. Despite their suitability to assess performance, less attention is given to translating them into strategic forest management planning processes and practices that are of cross-cultural compatibility. Such compatibility is particularly relevant in landscape-level plans that involve Indigenous communities, or multiple groups with various interests. Our study addresses this gap by developing targets and compatible practices that can complement C&I suitable for integrating Indigenous forest management goals and timber production interests. The process for developing C&I is informed by values expressed by four Indigenous communities in central British Columbia (BC) through close revision of traditional use studies, land use plans developed by communities, one focus group discussion, and validation of the results by community representatives. The set of targets and compatible forest management practices we propose are based on a precautionary approach and a synthesis of technical studies conducted in BC. The outcomes are suited to inform both stand- and landscape-level forest management planning and can be considered a reference system to monitor change and facilitate the resolution of multiple interests on the land, reconciling holistic Indigenous values and timber production.
Invasion compounds an ecosystem-wide loss to afforestation in the tropical grasslands of the Shola Sky Islands Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-27 M. Arasumani, Danish Khan, C.K. Vishnudas, M. Muthukumar, Milind Bunyan, V.V. Robin
Tropical montane habitats, including the Shola Sky Islands in the Western Ghats, host several threatened taxa of which, the global distributions are restricted to these mountain-tops. The rapidly increasing human footprint and the spread of invasive alien plants have already resulted in the local extinction of several taxa. Here we examine the entire Shola Sky Islands ecosystem to estimate the extent of habitat loss and to create a baseline of land use in this rapidly changing landscape. We used LANDSAT imageries from 1973, 1995 and 2017, with 840 ground truth points across the ecosystem. We find substantial landscape modification in the large high elevation plateaus (7–60%) over the last four decades while changes are muted in the other parts. The loss of grasslands to exotic trees predominates (340 km2, 23%) the modification of this landscape, and, continues today at a rapid pace. Contrary to popular belief, Shola Forests have been relatively stable, implying that most plantations were established on grasslands—traditionally classified as “unproductive wastelands”. Across the Protected Area (PA) network, Reserve Forests (RF), the least protected areas have faced the greatest loss of grasslands. Older PAs have lost relatively fewer grasslands, but the invasion from adjoining RFs is now increasing. We highlight the complexity of conservation in this landscape with three case studies of PAs with different management histories. Our study highlights the rapid loss of native Shola Grasslands, the continuing loss to invasive exotic trees, and the challenges of conserving this critical habitat with traditional modes of conservation.
Drivers of survival in a small mammal of conservation concern: An assessment using extensive genetic non-invasive sampling in fragmented farmland Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-26 António Proença-Ferreira, Clara Ferreira, Inês Leitão, Joana Paupério, Helena Sabino-Marques, Soraia Barbosa, Xavier Lambin, Paulo Célio Alves, Pedro Beja, Francisco Moreira, António Mira, Ricardo Pita
Although important to guide conservation management, detailed demographic studies on rare or elusive species inhabiting fragmented, human-dominated landscapes are often hampered by the species' low densities, and the logistic and ethical constraints in obtaining reliable information covering large areas. Genetic non-invasive sampling (gNIS) provides cost-effective access to demographic information, though its application to small mammals is still scarce. We used gNIS to infer on the demography of an endemic small mammal, the Cabrera vole (Microtus cabrerae), occurring as a spatially-structured population in a 462-ha Mediterranean farmland landscape. We intensively sampled fresh vole feces in four seasons, extracted the DNA, and performed individual identification based on genotypes built using nine microsatellites. We then estimated population size and individual survival relative to environmental variables, controlling for heterogeneity in capture probabilities using capture-mark-recapture modelling. Population size increased during the wet season and decreased during the dry season, while survival remained constant across the study period. Individuals captured along road-verges and around water-bodies survived longer than those captured near agricultural fields. The use of gNIS on a heterogeneous landscape such as our study area allowed us to demonstrate that human land-use activities affect Cabrera vole demographic parameters in Mediterranean farmland, with implications for conservation planning towards its long-term persistence. Our approach can be widely applied to other elusive small mammals of conservation concern, but for which informative demographic data are still scarce.
At what spatial scale should risk screenings of translocated freshwater fishes be undertaken - River basin district or climo-geographic designation? Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-24 Jennifer A. Dodd, Lorenzo Vilizzi, Colin W. Bean, Phil I. Davison, Gordon H. Copp
To inform aquatic conservation policy and management decisions, translocated freshwater fish species, i.e. those native to part but not all of Great Britain (GB), were assessed with the Aquatic Species Invasiveness Screening Kit (AS-ISK) at two spatial levels (River Basin District [RBD] and GB overall), the outcome scores calibrated and analysed to determine the relevance of geographical scale (GB, RBD and freshwater ecoregion) on AS-ISK outcome score rankings. The 16 species assessed received scores that showed limited among-RBD variation, with all but only one species (silver bream Blicca bjoerkna) receiving the same risk ranking across all RBDs for which they were assessed. A trend of increasing AS-ISK score with decreasing RBD latitudinal location was observed, with two species (bleak Alburnus alburnus and tench Tinca tinca) found to have significantly higher AS-ISK scores in west-coast RBDs than in RBDs to the north and east, and one species (bleak Alburnus alburnus) to have significantly higher AS-ISK scores in southern RBDs than in northern RBDs. The Water Framework Directive classification of Scotland was found to be inconsistent with the latitudinal gradients in that country's environmental conditions, which are better reflected in the distinction of northern and southern freshwater ecoregions. The ramifications of these legislative classifications for aquatic conservation are discussed.
Marine megafauna catch in southwestern Indian Ocean small-scale fisheries from landings data Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-24 Andrew J. Temple, Nina Wambiji, Chris N.S. Poonian, Narriman Jiddawi, Selina M. Stead, Jeremy J. Kiszka, Per Berggren
The measurable impacts of small-scale fisheries on coastal marine ecosystems and vulnerable megafauna species (elasmobranchs, marine mammals and sea turtles) within them are largely unknown, particularly in developing countries. This study assesses megafauna catch and composition in handline, longline, bottom-set and drift gillnet fisheries of the southwestern Indian Ocean. Observers monitored 21 landing sites across Kenya, Zanzibar and northern Madagascar for 12 months in 2016–17. Landings (n = 4666) identified 59 species, including three sea turtles, two small cetaceans and one sirenian (Dugong dugon). Primary gear threats to investigated taxa were identified as bottom-set gillnets (marine mammals, sea turtles and batoids), drift gillnets (marine mammals, batoids and sharks) and longlines (sharks). Overall, catch was dominated by small and moderately sized coastal requiem sharks (Carcharhiniformes) and whiprays (Dasyatidae). Larger coastal and oceanic elasmobranchs were also recorded in substantial numbers as were a number of deeper-water species. The diversity of catch demonstrates the potential for small-scale fisheries to have impacts across a number of ecosystems. From the observed catch rates we calculated annual regional elasmobranch landings to be 35,445 (95%CI 30,478–40,412) tonnes, 72.6% more than officially reported in 2016 and 129.2% more than the 10-year average (2006–16), constituting 2.48 (95%CI 2.20–2.66) million individuals. Productivity-Susceptibility Analyses indicate that small and moderately sized elasmobranchs are most vulnerable in the small-scale fisheries. The study demonstrates substantial underreporting of catches in small-scale fisheries and highlights the need to expand efforts globally to assess the extent and impact of small-scale fisheries on vulnerable marine species and their respective ecosystems.
Proactive conservation of high-value habitat for woodland caribou and grizzly bears in the boreal zone of British Columbia, Canada Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-20 Nobuya Suzuki, Katherine L. Parker
Unspoiled wildlands of boreal landscapes provide critical habitats for wildlife. With the increase in resource development across Canada's boreal zone, woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) are at risk of population declines. We used 4 planning scenarios with variants of these in decision-support software Marxan to allocate potential conservation priority areas for caribou and grizzly bears in boreal wildlands of the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area in northeast British Columbia, Canada. For caribou and grizzly bears across their seasonal habitats, priority areas allocated to preserve connectivity of habitat patches maintained more intact high-value habitats, with moderate opportunity cost for resource development, than those allocated under other scenarios. In winter when high-value habitats of caribou tend to coincide with resource-rich areas, priority areas allocated to preserve areas that are more vulnerable to development maintained more intact high-value habitats with higher opportunity cost (therefore greater adverse economic consequences) than those allocated in areas with lower resource potential. In growing-season (non-winter) habitats of caribou and grizzly bears, allocating priority areas toward either more vulnerable or less vulnerable areas did not substantially affect patch and landscape characteristics of conserved habitats. Priority areas intended to avoid predation risk for caribou were not effective in maintaining intact high-value habitats for caribou in these undeveloped wildlands. Conserving connectivity would best maintain most intact habitats for both species across seasons; conserving habitats most vulnerable to development also would discourage future development outside of the conserved areas in winter habitats of caribou. Findings from these conservation planning scenarios have implications globally to other areas where sensitive species are threatened by pending resource developments.
Multi-century periods since fire in an intact woodland landscape favour bird species declining in an adjacent agricultural region Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-18 Carl R. Gosper, Elizabeth Fox, Allan H. Burbidge, Michael D. Craig, Tegan K. Douglas, James A. Fitzsimons, Shapelle McNee, A.O. Nicholls, James O'Connor, Suzanne M. Prober, David M. Watson, Simon J. Watson, Colin J. Yates
Habitat modification by fire and habitat loss via anthropogenic vegetation clearance and fragmentation both impact animal populations. Yet, there has been limited investigation as to whether animals that decline under one of these types of habitat change also decline under the other, and how their cumulative impacts affect the status of species and communities. Using a ~400-year chronosequence in the world's largest extant temperate woodland in south-western Australia, we examine how time since fire affects bird community richness, reporting rates and composition, and whether taxa grouped on the basis of responses to vegetation clearance and fragmentation in an adjoining agricultural landscape are associated with either recently-burnt or long-unburnt woodlands. Consistent with substantial changes in vegetation composition and structure after fire in obligate-seeder eucalypt woodlands, woodland bird communities were strongly affected by fire. Species richness and total reporting rates increased with time since fire, and community composition changed across the entire multi-century span of the chronosequence. Woodland birds most negatively impacted by vegetation clearance and fragmentation were strongly associated with long-unburnt woodlands. In a regional south-western Australian context, where extensive vegetation clearance has substantially reduced the range and populations of many woodland bird species, the ability of remaining unfragmented woodlands to support populations of these species will be strongly contingent on appropriate fire management. Specifically, as stand-replacement fires have affected 25–30% of extant woodland over recent decades, management to limit the extent of fire in remaining long-unburnt woodlands would appear a priority for conservation of woodland bird diversity.
Collapse of a protector species drives secondary endangerment in waterbird communities Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-18 Hannu Pöysä, Esa Lammi, Silvo Pöysä, Veli-Matti Väänänen
Interactions and dependence between species can transmit the effects of species declines within and between trophic levels, resulting in secondary endangerments and, in some cases, extinctions. Many mixed-species avian breeding aggregations commonly have a protector species whose aggressive nest defense is used by other species to defend their nests. Disappearance of the protector species may have population demographic consequences on the dependent species. Aggressive nest defense behavior of small colonial gulls, such as the black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), is used by many waterbird species to gain protection against predators. We used data from 15 local waterbird communities in Finland to study long-term changes and dynamics of breeding numbers of other waterbirds as a response to long-term changes and dynamics of black-headed gull colonies. We found that breeding numbers of many species tracked long-term changes in the size of black-headed gull colonies. This was true even after controlling for a common trend in the size of the black-headed gull colony and the breeding numbers of the other species. The trend-controlled positive temporal association with black-headed gull was relatively stronger in species that nest in similar habitats of a lake as the black-headed gull, and in species that have a more critical conservation status due to drastic population decline. Our results suggest that the overall decline of black-headed gull colonies has resulted in secondary endangerment of many other species in waterbird communities.
Regulation of lead fishing weights results in mute swan population recovery Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-18 Kevin A. Wood, Martin J. Brown, Ruth L. Cromie, Geoff M. Hilton, Conor Mackenzie, Julia L. Newth, Deborah J. Pain, Christopher M. Perrins, Eileen C. Rees
Legal regulation of human activities is a key mechanism for alleviating anthropogenic impacts on wildlife populations. Conservationists frequently request the regulation of toxic substances such as lead, which can be harmful to animals even at low levels of exposure. However, without assessments of the effectiveness of legislation, such regulations may be undermined or revoked and opportunities to make amendments to improve the legislation may be missed. Here we carried out a population-level study of the effectiveness of regulating the use of lead. We show that the increase in population size of a charismatic waterbird (the mute swan Cygnus olor) in Great Britain over 39 years was best explained by the regulation of lead fishing weights, rather than by changes in food supplies, habitat quality, or winter temperature. The proportion of individuals dying of lead poisoning dropped following regulation, from 0.34 to 0.06, suggesting that higher survival rates were the demographic driver of increased population size. Legal restriction therefore succeeded in alleviating, although not eliminating, the impact of poisoning on mute swans. Restrictions on the use of toxic substances, and their release into the environment, would provide an effective conservation mechanism for reducing negative effects of human activities on wildlife populations. At a time when many policy makers prefer to rely on voluntary actions or market forces to achieve change, our study highlights that legal regulations on human activities can be an effective means of alleviating anthropogenic impacts on wildlife.
Risk and resilience: High stakes for sharks making transjurisdictional movements to use a conservation area Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-18 Simon P. Oliver, Thomas M. Grothues, Amie L. Williams, Voltaire Cerna, Medel Silvosa, Gary Cases, Matthew Reed, Simon Christopher
Oceanic sharks are vulnerable to overexploitation due to their life-history strategies, and efforts to protect them in the wild have been stalled by transjurisdictional conflicts of interest. The pelagic thresher shark (Alopias pelagicus) is one such species that visits a seamount in the Philippines where its dependable presence has catalysed a burgeoning dive tourism industry and the designation of a conservation area. Nothing is known of the range and turnover of this population, but the regularity with which these sharks interact with cleaner wrasse on the seamount provides important stability for regional businesses that lack empirical knowledge of their vulnerability. We fitted 14 pelagic thresher sharks with acoustic tags and monitored their fine scale movements for 66 days (June to mid-August 2014). Individuals were present at the seamount for 32% of their days at liberty, and 42% of the tagged sharks were still being detected there at the end of the study. Thresher sharks showed preferences for visiting specific locations on the seamount where they interact with cleaner fish, and estimates of their fidelity to these sites provided scalars for visual census. Pelagic thresher sharks moved away from the seamount after early morning visits to cleaning stations using swim speeds of 3.79 km h−1 (±SD 1.43). These movements demonstrated that they have access to the jurisdictional waters of five provincial territories when dispersing from and returning to the seamount on a diurnal basis. While the seamount offers cleaner-associated services and refuge provision for pelagic thresher sharks, their scale of movement leaves them vulnerable to fisheries that operate in the region. Natural history observations provide context and reveal bias for their application in the management and conservation of this rare and vulnerable shark species.
Host fish status of native and invasive species for the freshwater mussel Anodonta anatina (Linnaeus, 1758) Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-14 Verena Huber, Juergen Geist
The worldwide extinction of species especially affects freshwater ecosystems. Even widespread species like the European freshwater duck mussel Anodonta anatina face population declines in many countries and regions. Due to an obligate parasitic phase in its life cycle, knowledge on host fish use is essential for effective conservation of A. anatina. Therefore, in this study host suitability of ten different fish species (native and invasive to Europe) from four different fish families was tested by simultaneously infesting them with the glochidia of A. anatina. Nine out of ten fish species were identified as suitable hosts, but infestation rates, duration of metamorphosis phase as well as duration and rate of juvenile mussel excystment differed significantly between all host species. The bitterling (Rhodeus amarus) was the only fish species with no juvenile mussel excystment. Surprisingly, one of the tested invasive fish (Ctenopharyngodon idella) turned out to be the second best host for the larvae of A. anatina, suggesting that the general assumption that non-native fishes would be a threat to native mussel populations no longer holds true. Compared to the second native Anodonta species in Europe (Anodonta cygnea), this study revealed that A. anatina had higher infestation rates and rates of juvenile mussels excystment as well as a different host compatibility than A. cygnea. These findings illustrate that species-specific assessments of host suitability form an urgent basis for evidence-based conservation and restoration of freshwater mussel populations and the ecosystem services they provide.
Promoting species protection with predictive modelling: Effects of habitat, predators and climate on the occurrence of the Siberian flying squirrel Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-16 Maarit Jokinen, Ilpo Hanski, Elina Numminen, Jari Valkama, Vesa Selonen
Species distribution models (SDMs) can be used to predict species occurrence and to seek insight into the factors behind observed spatial patterns in occurrence, and thus can be a valuable tool in species conservation. In this study, we used MaxEnt software to explain the occurrence of a protected forest-dwelling species, the Siberian flying squirrel. We produce occurrence maps covering the main distribution area for the species in the European Union. Using an exceptionally extensive presence-absence dataset collected with a standardized method, we evaluated the relative role of predation pressure, climate, and amount of habitat affecting flying squirrel occurrence. We found that regional variation in mean winter temperature had relatively large predictive power for flying squirrel occurrence. In addition, the regional abundance of flying squirrels was partly explained by differences in predation pressure. The results also support the conclusion that areas with older forests and nearby agricultural areas are optimal for the species. Our study shows that multiple factors affect the species' occurrence in large spatial scales. We also conclude that climate is having a large effect on species occurrence, and thus the changing climate has to be taken into account in conservation planning. Our results help conservation managers in targeting surveys and protection measures on various spatial scales, and decision makers in focusing on the factors that drive the species' occurrence. Our results also indicate that we would need additional tools and measures in the EU for achieving a favourable conservation status of those species that occur in commercial forests.
Developing a global indicator for Aichi Target 1 by merging online data sources to measure biodiversity awareness and engagement Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-13 Matthew W. Cooper, Enrico Di Minin, Anna Hausmann, Siyu Qin, Aaron J. Schwartz, Ricardo Aleixo Correia
Due to the importance of public support in fostering positive outcomes for biodiversity, Aichi Biodiversity Target 1 aims to increase public awareness of the value of biodiversity and actions that help to conserve it. However, indicators for this critical target have historically relied on public-opinion surveys that are time-consuming, geographically restricted, and expensive. Here, we present an alternative approach based on tracking the use of biodiversity-related keywords in 31 different languages in online newspapers, social media, and internet searches to monitor Aichi Target 1 in real-time, at a global scale, and at relatively low cost. By implementing the indicator, we show global patterns associated with spatio-temporal variability in public engagement with biodiversity topics, such as a clear drop in conversations around weekends and biodiversity-related topic congruence across culturally similar countries. Highly divergent scores across platforms for each country highlight the importance of sourcing information from multiple data streams. The data behind this global indicator is visualized and publicly available at BiodiversityEngagementIndicator.com and can be used by countries party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to report on their progress towards meeting Aichi Target 1 to the Secretariat. Continued and expanded monitoring using this indicator will provide further insights for better targeting of public awareness campaigns.
High critical forest habitat thresholds of native bird communities in Afrotropical agroforestry landscapes Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-11 Denis Kupsch, Elleni Vendras, Carolina Ocampo-Ariza, Péter Batáry, Francis Njie Motombi, Kadiri Serge Bobo, Matthias Waltert
Our knowledge on the relationship between tropical forest cover and biotic communities is still limited. Understanding the relationship between forest cover and bird functional guilds may serve as a valuable tool to assess how much forest is necessary to conserve significant portions of typical forest assemblages. We sampled birds (198 species, 6883 encounters) along a full gradient of deforestation across 4000 km2 of forest-dominated landscapes in Southwest Cameroon and applied multivariate adaptive regression splines to model α-, β- and γ-richness of guilds in relation to forest cover. Overall, β- and γ-richness remained constant above 42% forest cover. However, total α-richness as well as all richness partitions of Guinea-Congo biome-restricted, large-bodied arboreal foliage gleaning, tree nesting, and frugivorous species declined when forest cover was below 74%. Moreover, ant-followers and terrestrial insectivores showed their highest diversity at zero deforestation. In contrast, open-land, granivorous, opportunistic insectivorous and widespread species strongly increased below 42% forest cover. High β-diversity at intermediate deforestation conditions indicate that the sharp decline of original forest bird diversity may only be compensated by habitat and foraging generalists, which benefit from high habitat heterogeneity. Our study implies that Afrotropical forest bird diversity decreases non-linearly with forest loss. Critical habitat thresholds estimated by us at above 70% are much higher than those previously reported and highlight the need to integrate substantial proportions of natural vegetation within wildlife friendly farming schemes.
Regional extinction risks for marine bony fishes occurring in the Persian/Arabian Gulf Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-14 Jack R. Buchanan, Gina M. Ralph, Friedhelm Krupp, Heather Harwell, Mohamed Abdallah, Ebrahim Abdulqader, Mohsen Al-Husaini, James M. Bishop, John A. Burt, John H. Choat, Bruce B. Collette, David A. Feary, Stanley A. Hartmann, Yukio Iwatsuki, Farhad Kaymaram, Helen K. Larson, Keiichi Matsuura, Hiroyuki Motomura, Kent E. Carpenter
The Persian/Arabian Gulf (hereafter, ‘the Gulf’) is an environmentally extreme sea that is being increasingly affected by climate change and anthropogenic stressors, and concern is growing about the future of marine biodiversity in the region. However, identification of species and habitats most in need of conservation is challenging as comprehensive information on species-specific threats and population statuses is lacking. Through application of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List methodology – the global accepted standard for classifying extinction risk at the species level – we evaluated the regional conservation status of 471 species of marine bony fishes in the Gulf. The best estimate of the proportion of regionally threatened marine bony fishes, based on all species for which sufficient data were available for assessment, is 8.2%; this is at least twice the proportion of other regions where such assessments have been undertaken. Primary threats include those related to fisheries and harvesting and those related to coastal development and loss of habitat, impacting 47% and 32% of marine bony fishes, respectively. Such threats are particularly acute in nearshore areas where spatial analyses indicated high species richness. The future of Gulf ecosystems, and the survival of the marine bony fishes, will depend on concerted, collaborative efforts among all Gulf States to develop efficient and effective local and regional marine conservation practices and policies, particularly for species assessed as regionally threatened.
Is habitat fragmentation bad for biodiversity? Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-31 Lenore Fahrig, Víctor Arroyo-Rodríguez, Joseph R. Bennett, Véronique Boucher-Lalonde, Eliana Cazetta, David J. Currie, Felix Eigenbrod, Adam T. Ford, Susan P. Harrison, Jochen A.G. Jaeger, Nicola Koper, Amanda E. Martin, Jean-Louis Martin, Jean Paul Metzger, Peter Morrison, Jonathan R. Rhodes, Denis A. Saunders, Daniel Simberloff, James I. Watling
In a review of landscape-scale empirical studies, Fahrig (2017a) found that ecological responses to habitat fragmentation per se (fragmentation independent of habitat amount) were usually non-significant (>70% of responses) and that 76% of significant relationships were positive, with species abundance, occurrence, richness, and other response variables increasing with habitat fragmentation per se. Fahrig concluded that to date there is no empirical evidence supporting the widespread assumption that a group of small habitat patches generally has lower ecological value than large patches of the same total area. Fletcher et al. (2018) dispute this conclusion, arguing that the literature to date indicates generally negative ecological effects of habitat fragmentation per se. They base their argument largely on extrapolation from patch-scale patterns and mechanisms (effects of patch size and isolation, and edge effects) to landscape-scale effects of habitat fragmentation. We argue that such extrapolation is unreliable because: (1) it ignores other mechanisms, especially those acting at landscape scales (e.g., increased habitat diversity, spreading of risk, landscape complementation) that can counteract effects of the documented patch-scale mechanisms; and (2) extrapolation of a small-scale mechanism to a large-scale pattern is not evidence of that pattern but, rather a prediction that must be tested at the larger scale. Such tests were the subject of Fahrig's review. We find no support for Fletcher et al.'s claim that biases in Fahrig's review would alter its conclusions. We encourage further landscape-scale empirical studies of effects of habitat fragmentation per se, and research aimed at uncovering the mechanisms that underlie positive fragmentation effects.
Progress of implementation on the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation in (2011–2020) China Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-29 Hai Ren, Haining Qin, Zhiyun Ouyang, Xiangying Wen, Xiaohua Jin, Hong Liu, Hongfang Lu, Hongxiao Liu, Ju Zhou, Yan Zeng, Paul Smith, Peter W. Jackson, Joachim Gratzfeld, Suzanne Sharrock, Haigen Xu, Zhixiang Zhang, Qinfeng Guo, Weibang Sun, Lina Zhao
Plants are essential resources for the earth and human survival. Many plant species are threatened by human disturbance and are now in danger of extinction. The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) seeks to halt the continuing loss of plant diversity and species across the globe. China endorsed the GSPC in 2002, and launched a national plant conservation strategy related to the GSPC in 2008. This paper assesses the progress of GSPC implementation in China. The results show that Targets 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7 of the GSPC were achieved in China before 2018, and substantial progress has been made toward meeting Targets 3, 8, 9, 14, and 16 by 2020. Limited progress has been made so far in reaching Targets 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 15. Although GSPC implementation has promoted the conservation and restoration of plant diversity in China, China needs to scale up and accelerate its actions related to conserving and/or restoring on both ecological region and vegetation type dimensions in the long run, including integrated in and ex situ native species recovery programs.
Spatial modelling for predicting potential wildlife distributions and human impacts in the Dja Forest Reserve, Cameroon Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-22 Migue Angel Farfán, Alisa Aliaga-Samanez, Jesus Olivero, David Williams, Jef Dupain, Zokoe Guian, John E. Fa
Protected areas (PAs) are currently the cornerstones for biodiversity conservation in many regions of the world. Within Africa's moist forest areas, however, numerous PAs are under significant threats from anthropogenic activities. Adequate technical and human resources are required to manage the wildlife within PAs satisfactorily. SMART (Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool) software has been developed to aid in fluidly displaying, managing, and reporting on ranger patrol data. These data can be analysed using spatial modelling to inform decision-making. Here we use Favourability Function modelling to generate risk maps from the data gathered on threats (fire, poaching and deforestation) and the presence of Western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) in the Dja Forest Reserve (DFR), southern Cameroon. We show that the more favourable areas for the three study species are found within the core of the DFR, particularly for elephant. Favourable areas for fires and deforestation are mostly along the periphery of the reserve, but highly favourable areas for poaching are concentrated in the middle of the reserve, tracking the favourable areas for wildlife. Models such as the ones we use here can provide valuable insights to managers to highlight vulnerable areas within protected areas and guide actions on the ground.
Do biodiversity offsets achieve No Net Loss? An evaluation of offsets in a French department Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-11 Lucie Bezombes, Christian Kerbiriou, Thomas Spiegelberger
Biodiversity offsetting is a policy approach that compensates for the ecological losses from development projects affecting biodiversity with equivalent gains through offsets, aiming at “No Net Loss” (NNL). Although offsets seem appealing in theory, several concerns have been raised about the difficulties reaching NNL in practice. While most of the discussion about offsets improvement is based on principles and strategies, we evaluated empirical evidence of offsets implemented, both from the procedure files (protected species and wetlands) and field surveys. Our objective was to evaluate whether offsets achieve NNL based on 91 procedure files in the Isère department in France. We identified that necessary data for assessing offsets gains, such as the location and offset sites' initial state, were not available in part (location) or all (initial state) procedure files investigated. We evaluated 59 offsets implemented for 22 development projects and where minimum data for monitoring offsets were available; we surveyed the presence or absence of target species and habitat from the offset site. The type of offsets (restoration, creation or maintenance of target habitat) was one of the characteristics that helped to explain both species and habitat absence, implying offset failure. Based on our analysis, we suggest three principal angles for progressing in NNL achievement: (i) collecting and publishing a set of essential information on offsets, (ii) requiring a management plan for each offset, and (iii) accumulating empirical evidence of offsets failure and success.
Exploring relationships between land use intensity, habitat heterogeneity and biodiversity to identify and monitor areas of High Nature Value farming Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-11 L.C. Maskell, M. Botham, P. Henrys, S. Jarvis, D. Maxwell, D.A. Robinson, C.S. Rowland, G. Siriwardena, S. Smart, J. Skates, E.J. Tebbs, G.M. Tordoff, B.A. Emmett
Understanding how species richness is distributed across landscapes and which variables may be used as predictors is important for spatially targeting management interventions. This study uses finely resolved data over a large geographical area to explore relationships between land-use intensity, habitat heterogeneity and species richness of multiple taxa. It aims to identify surrogate landscape metrics, valid for a range of taxa, which can be used to map and monitor High Nature Value farmland (HNV). Results show that variation in species richness is distributed along two axes: land-use intensity and habitat heterogeneity. At low intensity land-use, species rich groups include wetland plants, plant habitat indicators, upland birds and rare invertebrates, whilst richness of other species groups (farmland birds, butterflies, bees) was associated with higher land-use intensity. Habitat heterogeneity (broadleaved woodland connectivity, hedgerows, habitat diversity) was positively related to species richness of many taxa, both generalists (plants, butterflies, bees) and specialists (rare birds, woodland birds, plants, butterflies). The results were used to create maps of HNV farmland. The proportion of semi-natural vegetation is a useful metric for identifying HNV type 1. HNV type 2 (defined as a mosaic of low-intensity habitats and structural elements) is more difficult to predict from surrogate variables, due to complex relationships between biodiversity and habitat heterogeneity and inadequacies of current remotely sensed data. This approach, using fine-scaled field survey data collected at regular intervals, in conjunction with remotely sensed data offers potential for extrapolating modelled results nationally, and importantly, can be used to assess change over time.
Increasing the proportion and quality of land under agri-environment schemes promotes birds and butterflies at the landscape scale Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-11 Silvia Zingg, Eva Ritschard, Raphaël Arlettaz, Jean-Yves Humbert
The intensification of agricultural practices that Western nations have experienced after World War II has led to an alarming decline in farmland biodiversity. With the aim of stopping and even reversing this decline, agri-environment schemes (AES) have been implemented in many European countries since the 1990s. In Switzerland, farmers are required to manage at least 7% of their land in the form of biodiversity promotion areas (BPA), which are extensively managed, wildlife-friendly farmland habitats such as hay meadows and traditional orchards. We investigated how the occurrence and characteristics of these BPA influence birds and butterflies in the Swiss lowlands. Butterfly species richness and abundance increased by 22% and 60%, respectively, when the proportion of BPA in the landscape increased from 5% to 15%. Likewise, bird species richness increased, but to a lesser extent, with the proportion of BPA in the landscape. For birds, the proportion of BPA characterized by a high ecological quality played a role in promoting both priority-farmland and red-listed species. For both taxonomic groups, the amount and quality of BPA habitats contributed more to species richness than their spatial configuration, connectivity included. This study shows that AES measures implemented at the field scale have positive effects on mobile species that are noticeable at the landscape scale, and that the fraction of AES in the cultivated landscape matters more than their spatial configuration, which has strong implications for designing multi-functional agro-ecosystems.
Ground flora recovery in disused pheasant pens is limited and affected by pheasant release density Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-08 Lucy A. Capstick, Rufus B. Sage, Andrew Hoodless
The release of large numbers of juvenile pheasants into open-topped release pens in woodlands is a common part of game management in the UK. Previous research has shown this practice modifies the soil conditions and ground flora community of these release pens. However, it is not currently known if and how these changes to soil and ground flora reverse once the pens are no longer used. We compared the soil chemistry, ground flora structure and community composition of disused release pen sites in ancient semi-natural woodlands with paired control sites. Some of the changes seen within release pens in active use persisted in disused pens; soil fertility and cover of species that prefer fertile soils were higher in disused pens, whereas winter green perennials, richness of species of ancient semi-natural woodland and overall species richness were lower. Total species richness and richness of ancient semi-natural woodland plants showed signs of recovery in pens that had been disused for longer than ten years, but this recovery only occurred in pens where ≤1000 pheasants/ha had been released. Pheasant release pens are sometimes relocated within woodland to reduce disease incidence but, as the flora within disused pens does not recover quickly, this practice may cause cumulative habitat damage. We recommend that release pen relocation should be minimised and suggest other management strategies that could reduce the need to relocate pens and increase the floral recovery in disused pens, such as reducing the density of pheasants released.
Implications of the shared socioeconomic pathways for tiger (Panthera tigris) conservation Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-05 Eric W. Sanderson, Jesse Moy, Courtney Rose, Kim Fisher, Bryan Jones, Deborah Balk, Peter Clyne, Dale Miquelle, Joseph Walston
Over the last century, numbers of wild tigers (Panthera tigris) have crashed, while human populations have boomed. Here we investigate future trajectories of human population within tiger range through analysis of the shared socio-economic pathways (SSPs). These five pathways describe urban, rural and total population distributions by decade through 2100, based on plausible but contrasting scenarios of economic, education, migration, and urbanization policy. In 2010 approximately 57 million people lived in regions defined as “tiger conservation landscapes” (or TCLs); 8% of sympatric people lived in towns and cities that occupied 4% of tiger range. We show that tigers could share these same geographies with as few as 40 million (30% decline compared to 2010) or as many as 106 million people (an increase of 85%) by 2100. Those populations could be as much as 64%, or as little as 17%, urbanized, depending on the pathway. Urban areas are likely to expand, displacing between 6 and 22% of tiger's current range, depending on how urban growth is managed. Human population density thresholds compatible with tigers vary by region, from 140 persons/km2 in the Indian subcontinent, to 10 persons/km2 in the Russian Far East and northern China. SSP3, a future where nations indulge regional rivalries, would make conservation more difficult, whereas SSP1, with a focus on well-managed urbanization and education, could help relieve pressures. Tigers are a conservation-reliant species and will likely remain so through the 21st century, therefore we suggest coupling continued site-level protection with efforts to develop constituencies for conservation in Asia's burgeoning cities.
The response of wild bees to tree cover and rural land use is mediated by species' traits Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2019-01-05 Mark A. Hall, Dale G. Nimmo, Saul A. Cunningham, Kenneth Walker, Andrew F. Bennett
Worldwide, bees have an important role in ecosystem function and the provision of ecosystem services through their role as pollinators. The diversity of bee species in rural landscapes is influenced by the type of landscape features present, and by land-use and management practices. A key challenge is to understand and predict how species vary across the landscape; and the role of functional traits in determining compositional patterns. We systematically sampled wild bees in four types of landscape feature – open farmland, scattered farmland trees, roadside vegetation and streamside vegetation – in rural landscapes in southern Australia. Landscapes were selected to represent wooded or non-wooded combinations of these site types (e.g. roadside vegetation with or without trees), embedded in farmland with different land-uses (e.g. cropping, grazing). The species richness and abundance of bees was greater at sites containing little or no tree cover; and the cumulative richness of species was greater for tree-less sites than for those with trees. In contrast, species evenness was greatest in wooded site types, indicating these were less dominated by abundant generalist species. Open farmland and treeless roadsides had greater functional diversity (based on species traits) than wooded site types. Strong species trait associations were more numerous with open parts of the landscape, reflecting the greater functional diversity of open site types. These results suggest that a suite of the extant bee fauna can exploit large-scale transformation from former extensively wooded ecosystems to open agricultural landscapes. However, not all species are able to exploit modified landscapes and may disappear with further loss of wooded vegetation. Trait-based approaches provide insight into how changes in landscape pattern affect the bee fauna. Failure to adequately cater for multiple functional groups of bees across all landscape features could mean a substantial loss in species that rely on more natural cover, thus affecting ecosystem function.
Important step to understanding the CITES Trade Database: A reply to Pavitt et al. Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-24 Michal Berec, Irena Šetlíková
The CITES Trade Database aims to be the largest public dataset regarding the wildlife trade in the world, providing data for the monitoring and conservation of taxa. Nevertheless, its use is associated with complications resulting from the aggregation of confidential primary shipment records. An overview of data handling and data utilization methods is provided in light of the new non-public data. Although Pavitt et al. (2018) reported some more detailed insights into data processing, they still did not provide any way to correctly calculate the volume of trade in endangered plant and animal species.
Monitoring and evaluating the social and psychological dimensions that contribute to privately protected area program effectiveness Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-15 Matthew J. Selinske, Natasha Howard, James A. Fitzsimons, Mathew J. Hardy, Kate Smillie, James Forbes, Karen Tymms, Andrew T. Knight
Privately protected areas (PPAs) make important contributions towards global conservation goals. As with any protected area, PPAs must be monitored for effectiveness at protecting and managing biodiversity. However, the key drivers of maintaining and improving the effectiveness of PPAs are often social, particularly for conservation covenants and easements that are owned and managed by private landholders. In Australia, we surveyed 527 covenant landholders across three states (New South Wales, Tasmania, and Victoria), to provide a benchmark for monitoring and evaluation activities. We found that landholders are mainly motivated to participate in order to protect their land in perpetuity, but come to expect financial and technical assistance as a benefit of the program. While 71.1% (n = 344) reported achieving their land management goals, 44.7% (n = 242) of landholders struggle with covenant management because of age, and financial and time constraints. Covenant landholders are generally satisfied with the program (92%). A subset (8%) of landholders feels disaffected with their participation, relating to their perceived inability to personally manage the biodiversity on their land, and the lack of interaction they have with representatives of covenanting organizations. Where compliance monitoring and semi-annual technical assistance is limited, some landholders are concerned that the efficacy of the covenant is reduced. To increase effectiveness we suggest that PPA programs regularly monitor landholder satisfaction and management needs, schedule conservation actions based on landholder capacity, and utilize landholder networks to spread information and foster communities of stewardship. Additionally, given the older demographics of landholders, programs should engage in PPA successional planning.
Linking vegetation dynamics and stability in the old-growth forests of Central Eastern Europe: Implications for forest conservation and management Biol. Conserv. (IF 4.66) Pub Date : 2018-12-03 Roxana Grindean, Ioan Tanţău, Angelica Feurdean
The threats posed by current and future changes in land use and climate have recently stressed the importance of evaluating the efficiency of present conservation measures that seek to restore or protect the naturalness of the wooded landscape. In Romania, the remaining old-growth forests in national parks have been consistently degraded by commercial logging and inappropriate forestry practices. This study provides an 8800 cal BP old history of compositional changes and disturbance regimes (natural and human induced) recorded in the old-growth Picea abies forests and P. abies–Fagus sylvatica–Abies alba mixed forests from the Rodna Mountains National Park. Our results reveal moderate turnover between 8800 and 5000 cal BP when vegetation dynamics were marked by the expansion of a closed P. abies forest and moderate disturbance intensity. The most stable compositional changes were recorded between 5000 and 1750 cal BP, primarily associated with the expansion of F. sylvatica and a low disturbance regime. The last 1750 years, but in particular over the last 50 years, correspond to the highest degree of turnover as a response to increased anthropogenic disturbance. This led to the reduced extent of the old-growth forest and extension of secondary forest (Pinus, Betula, Corylus avellana and Alnus glutinosa). This pollen based reconstruction of major forest cover loss over the last fifty years is also depicted in modern satellite imagery. Our long-term record indicates that the conservation status of the forests in this region is not efficiently implemented and in the future we may lose large tracts of the remaining old-growth forests.
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