Military training areas facilitate the recolonization of wolves in Germany Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2019-02-12 Ilka Reinhardt; Gesa Kluth; Carsten Nowak; Claudia A. Szentiks; Oliver Krone; Hermann Ansorge; Thomas Mueller
Wolves (Canis lupus) are currently showing a remarkable comeback in the highly fragmented cultural landscapes of Germany. We here show that wolf numbers increased exponentially between 2000 and 2015 with an annual increase of about 36%. We demonstrate that the first territories in each newly colonized region were established over long distances from the nearest known reproducing pack on active military training areas (MTAs). We show that MTAs, rather than protected areas, served as stepping‐stones for the recolonization of Germany facilitating subsequent spreading of wolf territories in the surrounding landscape. We did not find any significant difference between MTAs and protected areas with regard to habitat. One possible reason for the importance of MTAs may be their lower anthropogenic mortality rates compared to protected and other areas. To our knowledge, this is the first documented case where MTAs facilitate the recolonization of an endangered species across large areas.
Should potential for climate change refugia be mainstreamed into the criteria for describing EBSAs? Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2019-02-11 David Edward Johnson; Ellen Lorraine Kenchington
The world's oceans are subject to the influence of climate change at all latitudes and depths. There is a growing body of literature on the responses of species to climate change, which has a strong deterministic component indicating that responses can be predicted. At the same time, advances in oceanographic data acquisition and modeling have facilitated the identification of potential climate change refugia. The Convention on Biological Diversity's “Voluntary Specific Workplan on Biodiversity in Cold‐Water Areas within the Jurisdictional Scope of the Convention” explicitly calls for the identification and protection of refugia in cold‐water areas. We propose adding “Climate Change Refugium” as an integral consideration for identification of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs). We provide a description of this as a potential eighth criterion. We then briefly discuss the pros and cons of introducing this eighth criterion, or an alternative strategy to develop guidelines that explicitly link refugia to the rationale of existing EBSA criteria, in the hope that this opinion piece will launch further discussion on this notion.
Food supplementation protects Magnificent frigatebird chicks against a fatal viral disease Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2019-02-06 Manrico Sebastiano; Marcel Eens; Kévin Pineau; Olivier Chastel; David Costantini
Outbreaks of wildlife diseases are occurring at an unprecedented rate. In French Guiana, recurrent episodes of frigatebird chicks’ mortality due to a viral disease that first appeared in 2005 have recently turned into massive mortality episodes (85–95%) of chicks. One of the suggested hypotheses behind the appearance of the disease is food limitation due to the recent decline of local shrimp fishery boats on which frigatebirds rely for opportunistic feeding. We therefore experimentally fish‐supplemented frigatebird chicks with and without clinical signs of the disease. Food supplementation protected all chicks from the appearance of clinical signs of the disease and increased survival perspectives of sick chicks. These results suggest that food shortage might decrease resistance of chicks to infectious diseases and that using a specifically tailored food supplementation regime could be a complimentary tool to protect frigatebirds and other endangered birds from disease outbreaks threatening them with extinction.
Accounting for unintended consequences of resource policy: Connecting research that addresses displacement of environmental impacts Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2019-02-06 Rebecca L. Lewison; Andrew F. Johnson; Jianbang Gan; Robin Pelc; Katie Westfall; Mark Helvey
Natural resource policies enacted to protect environmental integrity play an important role in promoting sustainability. However, when resources are shared ecologically, economically, or through a common, global interest, policies implemented to protect resource sustainability in one domain can displace, and in some cases magnify, environmental degradation to other domains. Although such displacement has been recognized as a fundamental challenge to environmental and conservation policy within some resource sectors, there has been little cross‐disciplinary and cross‐sectoral integration to address the problem. This suggests that siloed knowledge may be impeding widespread recognition of the ubiquity of displacement and the need for mitigation. Here, we connect research across multiple disciplines to promote a broader discussion and recognition of the processes and pathways that can lead to displaced impacts that countermand or undermine resource policy and outline a number of approaches that can mitigate displacement.
Are we eating the world's megafauna to extinction? Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2019-02-06 William J. Ripple; Christopher Wolf; Thomas M. Newsome; Matthew G. Betts; Gerardo Ceballos; Franck Courchamp; Matt W. Hayward; Blaire Van Valkenburgh; Arian D. Wallach; Boris Worm
Many of the world's vertebrates have experienced large population and geographic range declines due to anthropogenic threats that put them at risk of extinction. The largest vertebrates, defined as megafauna, are especially vulnerable. We analyzed how human activities are impacting the conservation status of megafauna within six classes: mammals, ray‐finned fish, cartilaginous fish, amphibians, birds, and reptiles. We identified a total of 362 extant megafauna species. We found that 70% of megafauna species with sufficient information are decreasing and 59% are threatened with extinction. Surprisingly, direct harvesting of megafauna for human consumption of meat or body parts is the largest individual threat to each of the classes examined, and a threat for 98% (159/162) of threatened species with threat data available. Therefore, minimizing the direct killing of the world's largest vertebrates is a priority conservation strategy that might save many of these iconic species and the functions and services they provide.
Quantifying habitat losses and gains made by U.S. Species Conservation Banks to improve compensation policies and avoid perverse outcomes Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2019-01-28 Laura J. Sonter; Megan Barnes; Jeffrey W. Matthews; Martine Maron
Compensation policies seek to counterbalance biodiversity losses caused by development; however, their effectiveness is rarely tested. We examined U.S. Species Conservation Banks (SCBs) in California, a compensation program initiated 30 years ago. We quantified the effect of 59 SCBs (15,350 ha) on habitat extent using statistical matching methods. SCBs averted a small, yet significant, amount of habitat loss (62 ha) between 2001 and 2011. However, unexpectedly, SCBs also averted significant habitat gains (1,424 ha). It is not possible to determine if losses averted by SCBs equaled losses caused by development for which credits were sold (because records of the latter do not exist), but estimated averted gains were 35 times greater than averted losses. To improve practice, SCBs must be designed to achieve outcomes that are additional and avoid crowding out other programs incentivizing statewide conservation goals.
An ecosystem risk assessment of temperate and tropical forests of the Americas with an outlook on future conservation strategies Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2019-01-15 José Rafael Ferrer‐Paris; Irene Zager; David A. Keith; María A. Oliveira‐Miranda; Jon Paul Rodríguez; Carmen Josse; Mario González‐Gil; Rebecca M. Miller; Carlos Zambrana‐Torrelio; Edmund Barrow
Forests of the Americas and the Caribbean are undergoing rapid change as human populations increase and land use intensifies. We applied the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) criteria and simple cost‐efficiency analyses to provide the first regional perspective on patterns of relative risk integrated across multiple threats. Based on six indicators of ecosystem distribution and function, we find that 80% of the forest types and 85% of the current forest area is potentially threatened based on RLE criteria. Twelve forest types are Critically Endangered due to past or projected future deforestation, and Tropical Dry Forests and Woodland have highest threat scores. To efficiently reduce risks to forest ecosystems at national levels, scenario analyses show that countries would need to combine large forest protection measures with focused actions, tailored to their sociopolitical context, to help restore ecological functions in a selection of threatened forest types.
Systematic planning can rapidly close the protection gap in Australian mammal havens Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2019-01-03 Jeremy Ringma; Sarah Legge; John C. Z. Woinarski; James Q. Radford; Brendan Wintle; Joss Bentley; Andrew A. Burbidge; Peter Copley; Nicholas Dexter; Chris R. Dickman; Graeme R. Gillespie; Brydie Hill; Chris N. Johnson; John Kanowski; Mike Letnic; Adrian Manning; Peter Menkhorst; Nicola Mitchell; Keith Morris; Katherine Moseby; Manda Page; Russell Palmer; Michael Bode
In the last 30 years, islands and fenced exclosures free of introduced predators (collectively, havens) have become an increasingly used option for protecting Australian mammals imperiled by predation by introduced cats (Felis catus) and foxes (Vulpes vulpes). However, Australia's network of havens is not expanding in a manner that maximizes representation of all predator‐susceptible taxa, because of continued emphasis on already‐represented taxa. Future additions to the haven network will improve representation of mammals most efficiently if they fill gaps in under‐represented predator‐susceptible taxa, particularly rodents. A systematic approach to expansion could protect at least one population of every Australian predator‐susceptible threatened mammal taxon by the addition of 12 new havens to the current network. Were the current haven network to be doubled in number in a systematic manner, it could protect three populations of every Australian predator‐susceptible threatened mammal taxon.
Mapping global human dependence on marine ecosystems Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-12-19 Elizabeth R. Selig; David G. Hole; Edward H. Allison; Katie K. Arkema; Madeleine C. McKinnon; Jingjie Chu; Alex de Sherbinin; Brendan Fisher; Louise Gallagher; Margaret B. Holland; Jane Carter Ingram; Nalini S. Rao; Roly B. Russell; Tanja Srebotnjak; Lydia C.L. Teh; Sebastian Troëng; Will R. Turner; Alexander Zvoleff
Many human populations are dependent on marine ecosystems for a range of benefits, but we understand little about where and to what degree people rely on these ecosystem services. We created a new conceptual model to map the degree of human dependence on marine ecosystems based on the magnitude of the benefit, susceptibility of people to a loss of that benefit, and the availability of alternatives. We focused on mapping nutritional, economic, and coastal protection dependence, but our model is repeatable, scalable, applicable to other ecosystems, and designed to incorporate additional services and data. Here we show that dependence was highest for Pacific and Indian Ocean island nations and several West African countries. More than 775 million people live in areas with relatively high dependence scores. By identifying where and how people are dependent on marine ecosystems, our framework can be used to design more effective large‐scale management and policy interventions.
Rise and fall of forest loss and industrial plantations in Borneo (2000–2017) Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-12-18 David L.A. Gaveau; Bruno Locatelli; Mohammad A. Salim; Husna Yaen; Pablo Pacheco; Douglas Sheil
The links between plantation expansion and deforestation in Borneo are debated. We used satellite imagery to map annual loss of old‐growth forests, expansion of industrial plantations (oil palm and pulpwood), and their overlap in Borneo from 2001 to 2017. In 17 years, forest area declined by 14% (6.04 Mha), including 3.06 Mha of forest ultimately converted into industrial plantations. Plantations expanded by 170% (6.20 Mha: 88% oil palm; 12% pulpwood). Most forests converted to plantations were cleared and planted in the same year (92%; 2.83 Mha). Annual forest loss generally increased before peaking in 2016 (0.61 Mha) and declining sharply in 2017 (0.25 Mha). After peaks in 2009 and 2012, plantation expansion and associated forest conversion have been declining in Indonesia and Malaysia. Annual plantation expansion is positively correlated with annual forest loss in both countries. The correlation vanishes when we consider plantation expansion versus forests that are cleared but not converted to plantations. The price of crude palm oil is positively correlated with plantation expansion in the following year in Indonesian (not Malaysian) Borneo. Low palm oil prices, wet conditions, and improved fire prevention all likely contributed to reduced 2017 deforestation. Oversight of company conduct requires transparent concession ownership.
Synergies between the key biodiversity area and systematic conservation planning approaches Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-12-17 Robert J Smith; Leon Bennun; Thomas M Brooks; Stuart HM Butchart; Annabelle Cuttelod; Moreno Di Marco; Simon Ferrier; Lincoln DC Fishpool; Lucas Joppa; Diego Juffe‐Bignoli; Andrew T Knight; John F Lamoreux; Penny Langhammer; Hugh P Possingham; Carlo Rondinini; Piero Visconti; James EM Watson; Stephen Woodley; Luigi Boitani; Neil D Burgess; Naamal De Silva; Nigel Dudley; Fabien Fivaz; Edward T Game; Craig Groves; Mervyn Lötter; Jennifer McGowan; Andrew J Plumptre; Anthony G Rebelo; Jon Paul Rodriguez; Carlos A de M Scaramuzza
Systematic conservation planning and Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are the two most widely used approaches for identifying important sites for biodiversity. However, there is limited advice for conservation policy makers and practitioners on when and how they should be combined. Here we provide such guidance, using insights from the recently developed Global Standard for the Identification of KBAs and the language of decision science to review and clarify their similarities and differences. We argue the two approaches are broadly similar, with both setting transparent environmental objectives and specifying actions. There is however greater contrast in the data used and actions involved, as the KBA approach uses biodiversity data alone and identifies sites for monitoring and vigilance actions at a minimum, whereas systematic conservation planning combines biodiversity and implementation‐relevant data to guide management actions. This difference means there is much scope for combining approaches, so conservation planners should use KBA data in their analyses, setting context‐specific targets for each KBA type, and planners and donors should use systematic conservation planning techniques when prioritizing between KBAs for management action. In doing so, they will benefit conservation policy, practice and research by building on the collaborations formed through the KBA Standard's development.
What drives at‐risk species richness? Environmental factors are more influential than anthropogenic factors or biological traits Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-12-13 Christine Howard; Curtis H. Flather; Philip A. Stephens
Species at risk of extinction are not uniformly distributed in space. Concentrations of threatened species may occur where threatening processes are intense, in refuges from those processes, or in areas of high species diversity. However, there have been few attempts to identify the processes that explain the distribution of at‐risk species. Here, we identified the relative importance of biological traits, environmental factors, and anthropogenic stressors in driving the spatial patterns of both total and at‐risk species richness of North American mammals and birds. Environmental factors are the predominant drivers of both total and at‐risk species richness. Strikingly, the directions of variable relationships differ substantially between models of total and at‐risk species richness. Understanding how environmental gradients differentially drive variation in total and at‐risk species richness can inform conservation action. Moreover, our approach can predict shifts in at‐risk species concentrations in response to projected environmental change and anthropogenic stressors.
Poor understanding of evolutionary theory is a barrier to effective conservation management Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-12-11 Carly N. Cook; Carla M. Sgrò
Despite increasing recognition that integrating evolutionary theory into conservation decisions can achieve better long‐term outcomes, there has been little progress adapting management strategies. A commonly hypothesized barrier to better integration is poor understanding of evolutionary biology among conservation practitioners. To assess this claim, we surveyed conservation practitioners to determine their understanding of evolutionary concepts. We found that most practitioners had a good understanding of general concepts (evolution and genetic diversity), but a much poorer understanding of other relevant concepts. These findings suggest that knowledge is limiting the ability of conservation practitioners to effectively manage evolutionary processes. Encouragingly, practitioners educated in evolutionary biology and population genetics had a better understanding, suggesting focused training is important. However, better integration of evolutionary theory will require that evolutionary biologists develop a culture of knowledge exchange, actively engaging practitioners to improve management. Otherwise, our findings suggest it is unlikely practitioners will be able to adapt their practices.
Substantial red wolf genetic ancestry persists in wild canids of southwestern Louisiana Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-12-04 Sean M. Murphy; Jennifer R. Adams; John J. Cox; Lisette P. Waits
Concerns over red wolf (Canis rufus) extinction caused by hybridization with coyotes (C. latrans) led to the capture and removal of remnant wild wolves from southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas, United States, during the 1970s. Here we show that despite decades of unmitigated hybridization, and declaration of endangered red wolves as functionally extinct in the wild, red wolf mitochondrial or nuclear DNA ancestry persists in ∼55% of contemporary wild canids sampled in southwestern Louisiana. Surprisingly, one individual had 78–100% red wolf ancestry, which is within the range for 75% red wolf, red wolf backcross, or putative red wolf, depending on estimation method. Our findings bolster support for designation of red wolves as a distinct species, demonstrate a critical need for the United States Government to consider adopting an existing but unimplemented hybrid policy, and suggest that immediate reassessment of canid management and taxonomic designation in southwestern Louisiana may be warranted.
Managing uncertainty in movement knowledge for environmental decisions Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-12-03 Annabel L. Smith; Heini Kujala; José J. Lahoz‐Monfort; Lydia K. Guja; Emma L. Burns; Ran Nathan; Erika Alacs; Philip S. Barton; Sana Bau; Don A. Driscoll; Pia E. Lentini; Alessio Mortelliti; Ross Rowe; Yvonne M. Buckley
Species’ movements affect their response to environmental change but movement knowledge is often highly uncertain. We now have well‐established methods to integrate movement knowledge into conservation practice but still lack a framework to deal with uncertainty in movement knowledge for environmental decisions. We provide a framework that distinguishes two dimensions of species’ movement that are heavily influenced by uncertainty: knowledge about movement and relevance of movement to environmental decisions. Management decisions can be informed by their position in this knowledge‐relevance space. We then outline a framework to support decisions around (1) increasing understanding of the relevance of movement knowledge, (2) increasing robustness of decisions to uncertainties and (3) improving knowledge on species’ movement. Our decision‐support framework provides guidance for managing movement‐related uncertainty in systematic conservation planning, agri‐environment schemes, habitat restoration and international biodiversity policy. It caters to different resource levels (time and funding) so that species’ movement knowledge can be more effectively integrated into environmental decisions.
Increase anti‐poaching law‐enforcement or reduce demand for wildlife products? A framework to guide strategic conservation investments Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-12-02 Matthew H. Holden; Duan Biggs; Henry Brink; Payal Bal; Jonathan Rhodes; Eve McDonald‐Madden
Donors, NGOs, and governments increasingly invest in campaigns to reduce consumer demand for wildlife products in an attempt to prevent the decline of overexploited and poached species. We provide a novel framework to aid these investment decisions based on a demand reduction campaign's return on investment compared to antipoaching law enforcement. A resulting decision rule shows that the relative effectiveness of demand reduction compared to increased enforcement depends entirely on social and economic uncertainties rather than ecological ones. Illustrative case studies on bushmeat and ivory reveal that campaigning to reduce demand may be more cost‐effective than antipoaching enforcement if demand reduction campaigns drive modest price reductions. The outputs from this framework can link targeted monitoring of wildlife product prices to management decisions that protect species threatened by harvest and trade.
Limited open access in socioecological systems: How do communities deal with environmental unpredictability? Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-11-15 Rafael Morais Chiaravalloti; Mark Dyble
Classical theory on the commons holds that rules are fundamental to sustainability. However, open access may be present in many sustainable socioecological systems. Here, we explore the interaction between environmental unpredictability and cooperation in a fishery in the Pantanal wetland, Brazil. We show that a variable annual flood pulse combined with channel blockages results in a high turnover in fishing grounds. To counter this variability, fishers openly share information about fishing areas with all community members, but are highly territorial with neighboring communities. We argue that this open access within communities but common property between communities represents a system of limited open access and, using a mathematical model, suggest that such a system is favored under conditions of moderate competition and high levels of resource unpredictability. Failing to take into account the social norms that underpin limited open access systems may undermine conservation interventions.
Reconciling pest control, nature conservation, and recreation in coniferous forests Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-11-15 Jonas Hagge; Franz Leibl; Jörg Müller; Martin Plechinger; João Gonçalo Soutinho; Simon Thorn
Protected areas are not only crucial for biodiversity and natural processes but also for recreation. Although a benign neglect strategy of dealing with natural disturbances in protected areas is beneficial for nature, public debate on avoiding increased pest population growth has intensified. We evaluated the effect of mechanical pest control measures in decreasing populations of insect pests, maintaining nontarget biodiversity, retaining high recreational value, and keeping economic costs low. Debarking and bark scratching or gouging effectively prevented infestation of felled trees by European spruce bark beetles (Ips typographus) and controlled the beetles in recently infested trees. Bark scratching or gouging retained biodiversity at natural levels, whereas debarking decreased biodiversity by 54% with higher economic costs. The public rated bark‐gouged trees more positively than debarked trees. We thus urge authorities to promote bark scratching or gouging in the control of bark beetles in protected areas instead of salvage logging and debarking.
Individual shark profiling: An innovative and environmentally responsible approach for selectively managing human fatalities Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-11-11 Eric E. G. Clua; John D. C. Linnell
Most shark‐induced human fatalities are followed by widespread and unselective culling campaigns that have limited effectiveness and may have high ecological costs for threatened species. The blanket culling strategy implicitly assumes that incident risk is directly correlated with shark density, an assumption that has yet to be demonstrated. We present the alternative hypothesis that incidents are more likely to be caused by behavioral variability among individual sharks than due to shark density. Throughout their ontogenetic development, large species of sharks opportunistically establish a diet that is rarely, if ever, inclusive of humans as a food source. We propose that, some animals with specific behaviors (including boldness) may potentially pose a higher risk than conspecifics. Under this scenario, the risk of a shark attack in a given area would relate to the presence of a limited number of high‐risk individuals rather than shark density.
An experimental translocation identifies habitat features that buffer camouflage mismatch in snowshoe hares Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-11-09 Evan C. Wilson; Amy A. Shipley; Benjamin Zuckerberg; M. Zachariah Peery; Jonathan N. Pauli
Conservation for species impacted by climate change often occurs at scales impractical for local land managers. Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) are one of the most well‐documented species declining from climate change–specifically a reduction in snowcover–yet clear management strategies have yet to emerge. To test whether camouflage mismatch is reducing hare survival we translocated 96 hares to a site recently extirpated of snowshoe hares, and monitored coat color change, mismatch with snow, habitat use, and weekly survival in winter‐spring of 2017. Hare survival was low during periods of camouflage mismatch, and mismatched hares were 3.2 × less likely to survive, but this pattern varied by habitat. We found that aspen‐alder stands >5 hectares negated the mortality costs of mismatch. We provide experimental evidence that mismatch is driving the range contraction of snowshoe hares, and identify specific habitats to buffer the consequences of climate change on this declining winter specialist.
Diverse knowledge systems reveal social–ecological dynamics that inform species conservation status Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-10-26 Lynn Chi Lee; Joe Thorley; Jane Watson; Mike Reid; Anne Katherine Salomon
Understanding changes over historical timescales is essential to gauge conservation status of a species. Modern ecological data typically neglect past magnitudes of change, which fortunately can be evaluated by bridging disparate knowledge sources. We synthesized zooarchaeological, historical, traditional, and western science knowledge to document changes in relative abundance of key species in Canada's northern abalone social–ecological system (SES) from the Holocene to present. Integrated models fit to traditional and western science data revealed 3.7% annual population decline from 1940s to 2010s for large abalone, although traditional knowledge density estimates were 9.5× higher than those derived from western science. Abalone are presently scarce compared to the mid‐1900s, but more abundant than before the early 1800s, calling their endangered status into question. Linking multiple knowledge sources can build SES understanding, facilitate power sharing, and support ecologically sustainable and socially just conservation outcomes.
Leveraging satellite technology to create true shark sanctuaries Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-10-09 Darcy Bradley; Juan Mayorga; Douglas J. McCauley; Reniel B. Cabral; Patric Douglas; Steven D. Gaines
Shark sanctuaries are an ambitious attempt to protect huge areas of ocean space to curtail overfishing of sharks. If shark sanctuaries are to succeed, effective surveillance and enforcement is urgently needed. We use a case study with a high level of illegal shark fishing within a shark sanctuary to help motivate three actionable opportunities to create truly effective shark sanctuaries by leveraging satellite technology: (1) require vessel tracking systems; (2) partner with international research organizations; and (3) ban vessels previously associated with illegal fishing from shark sanctuaries. Sustaining the level of fishing mortality observed in our case study would lead even a healthy shark population to collapse to <10% of its unfished state in fewer than five years. We outline implementations pathways and provide a roadmap to pair new and emerging satellite technologies with existing international agreements to offer new hope for shark conservation successes globally.
Harnessing marine microclimates for climate change adaptation and marine conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-10-03 C. Brock Woodson; Fiorenza Micheli; Charles Boch; Maha Al‐Najjar; Antonio Espinoza; Arturo Hernandez; Leonardo Vázquez‐Vera; Andrea Saenz‐Arroyo; Stephen G. Monismith; Jorge Torre
‐ Responses to climate change and large‐scale forcing can vary widely at local scales creating marine microclimates. ‐ Microclimates are robust even under extreme large‐scale forcing events (ENSO, climate change) potentially creating spatial refuges or ‘safe spaces’ for important species. ‐ Small/medium no‐take zones, artificial reefs, and other possible spatial management can be placed to harness local variability as an adaptation or conservation measure in the face of climate change.
The ephemerality of secondary forests in southern Costa Rica Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-09-26 J. Leighton Reid; Matthew E. Fagan; James Lucas; Joshua Slaughter; Rakan A. Zahawi
Secondary forests are increasingly recognized for conserving biodiversity and mitigating global climate change, but these and other desired outcomes can only be achieved after decades of regeneration, and secondary forests are frequently recleared before they recover to predisturbance conditions. We used a time series of aerial photographs (1947‐2014) to evaluate multidecadal persistence of secondary forests across a 320 km2 landscape in southern Costa Rica. Secondary forests had relatively short lifespans, with 50% recleared within 20 years and 85% recleared within 54 years of when they were first observed. Larger forest fragments and forests near rivers had a lower reclearance hazard, but forest persistence did not differ over time, indicating that regional forest regeneration may be generally ephemeral. Costa Rica has made an international commitment to restore 1 million ha of degraded land by 2020. Depending on how this is achieved, only half that target may remain forested by 2040.
The extirpation of species outside protected areas Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-09-21 Elizabeth H. Boakes; Richard A. Fuller; Philip J.K. McGowan
Protected areas (PAs) are fundamental to conservation efforts but they are only part of a successful conservation strategy. We examine biodiversity outside PAs in Sundaland, one of the world's most biologically degraded regions. Using the avian order Galliformes as a case study, we identify species that have not been sighted outside PAs within the last 20 years on each individual landmass (i.e., Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Bali). We estimate these species’ extirpation dates outside PAs using optimal linear estimation and species’ sighting records.
Restoring to the future: Environmental, cultural, and management trade‐offs in historical versus hybrid restoration of a highly modified ecosystem Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-09-19 Kimberly M. Burnett; Tamara Ticktin; Leah L. Bremer; Shimona A. Quazi; Cheryl Geslani; Christopher A. Wada; Natalie Kurashima; Lisa Mandle; Pua‘ala Pascua; Taina Depraetere; Dustin Wolkis; Merlin Edmonds; Thomas Giambelluca; Kim Falinski; Kawika B. Winter
With growing calls to scale up reforestation efforts worldwide, conservation managers increasingly must decide whether and how to restore highly altered ecosystems. However, empirical research on potential trade‐offs remains scarce. We use a Hawai'i watershed to demonstrate a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to identifying synergies and trade‐offs associated with maintaining an unrestored forest, versus restoration to a historical or hybrid (native and non‐native plant species) state. We focused on restoration scenarios designed by conservation managers and measured ecological, hydrologic, and cultural outcomes they identified as important metrics of success. The hybrid restoration scenario maximized potential outcomes at moderate cost, and increased two rarely measured but often critical metrics to managers and communities: cultural value and resilience to disturbance. Hybrid restoration approaches developed collaboratively can provide a viable option for scaling up restoration in island ecosystems and other contexts where invasive species pose significant challenges and/or where community support is important.
Amplifying plant disease risk through assisted migration Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-09-14 Allison B. Simler; Matthew A. Williamson; Mark W. Schwartz; David M. Rizzo
Translocation of species, populations, or genotypes beyond their historic ranges (i.e., assisted migration [AM]) is an oft‐debated climate adaptation strategy. Well‐intentioned AM actions could alter disease dynamics for target species and recipient sites, resulting in unanticipated detrimental economic and ecological impacts. Although disease risks are occasionally mentioned in AM debates, current regulations or best practices that reduce or mitigate these complex risks are generally lacking in North America. We use the Disease Triangle, a foundational framework in pathology, to illustrate pathways through which AM may impact disease emergence, to identify knowledge gaps, and to suggest best practices to reduce disease risks. We highlight empirical examples in which altering pathogen distributions, host communities, and environment have historically resulted in costly and ecologically damaging diseases in plants. Although guidelines to reduce disease risks in AM are generally lacking, policies governing endangered species, invasive species, and disease management can provide starting points for a more comprehensive policy. We use examples from the United States to identify key strengths and weaknesses that can inform regulations to reduce disease risks associated with AM. We argue that consideration of disease motivates policy development that incorporates improved risk assessments, agency coordination, and accountability mechanisms.
Prioritizing recovery funding to maximize conservation of endangered species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-09-14 Tara G. Martin; Laura Kehoe; Chrystal Mantyka‐Pringle; Iadine Chades; Scott Wilson; Robin G. Bloom; Stephen K. Davis; Ryan Fisher; Jeff Keith; Katherine Mehl; Beatriz Prieto Diaz; Mark E. Wayland; Troy I. Wellicome; Karl P. Zimmer; Paul A. Smith
The absence of a rigorous mechanism for prioritizing investment in endangered species management is a major implementation hurdle affecting recovery. Here, we present a method for prioritizing strategies for endangered species management based on the likelihood of achieving species’ recovery goals per dollar invested. We demonstrate our approach for 15 species listed under Canada's Species at Risk Act that co‐occur in Southwestern Saskatchewan. Without management, only two species have >50% probability of meeting recovery objectives; whereas, with management, 13 species exceed the >50% threshold with the implementation of just five complementary strategies at a cost of $126m over 20 years. The likelihood of meeting recovery objectives rarely exceeded 70% and two species failed to reach the >50% threshold. Our findings underscore the need to consider the cost, benefit, and feasibility of management strategies when developing recovery plans in order to prioritize implementation in a timely and cost‐effective manner.
Predicting impact to assess the efficacy of community‐based marine reserve design Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-09-04 Patrick F. Smallhorn‐West; Tom C. L. Bridge; Siola'a Malimali; Robert L. Pressey; Geoffrey P. Jones
During the planning phase the efficacy of different strategies to manage marine resources should ultimately be assessed by their potential impact, or ability to make a difference to ecological and social outcomes. While community‐based and systematic approaches to establishing marine protected areas have their strengths and weaknesses, comparisons of their effectiveness often fail to explicitly address potential impact. Here, we predict conservation impact to compare recently implemented community‐based marine reserves in Tonga to a systematic configuration specifically aimed at maximizing impact. Boosted regression tree outputs indicated that fishing pressure accounted for ∼24% of variation in target species biomass. We estimate that the community‐based approach provides 84% of the recovery potential of the configuration with the greatest potential impact. This high potential impact results from community‐based reserves being located close to villages, where fishing pressure is greatest. These results provide strong support for community‐based marine management, with short‐term benefits likely to accrue even where there is little scope for systematic reserve design.
Missing, delayed, and old: The status of ESA recovery plans Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-08-09 Jacob W. Malcom; Ya‐Wei Li
Recovery planning is an essential part of implementing the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), but conservationists and government agencies recognize challenges with the current planning process. Using data from all U.S. domestic and transboundary ESA‐listed species, we quantify the completeness, timeliness, age, and other variation among ESA recovery plans over the past 40 years. Among eligible listed taxa (n = 1,548), nearly one‐fourth lack final recovery plans; half of plans have taken >5 years to finalize after listing; half of recovery plans are more than 20 years old; and there is significant variation in planning between agencies, and among regions and taxonomic groups. These results are not unexpected given dwindling budgets and an increasing number of species requiring protection, but underscore the need for systematic improvements to recovery planning. We discuss solutions—some already underway—that may address some of the shortcomings and help improve recovery action implementation for threatened and endangered species.
Environmental governance: A practical framework to guide design, evaluation, and analysis Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-24 Nathan J. Bennett; Terre Satterfield
Governance is one of the most important factors for ensuring effective environmental management and conservation actions. Yet, there is still a relative paucity of comprehensive and practicable guidance that can be used to frame the evaluation, design, and analysis of systems of environmental governance. This conceptual review and synthesis article seeks to addresses this problem through resituating the broad body of governance literature into a practical framework for environmental governance. Our framework builds on a rich history of governance scholarship to propose that environmental governance has four general aims or objectives – to be effective, to be equitable, to be responsive, and to be robust. Each of these four objectives need to be considered simultaneously across the institutional, structural, and procedural elements of environmental governance. Through a review of the literature, we developed a set of attributes for each of these objectives and relate these to the overall capacity, functioning, and performance of environmental governance. Our aim is to provide a practical and adaptable framework that can be applied to the design, evaluation, and analysis of environmental governance in different social and political contexts, to diverse environmental problems and modes of governance, and at a range of scales.
Efficiency of species survey networks can be improved by integrating different monitoring approaches in a spatial prioritization design Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-24 Alejandra Morán‐Ordóñez; Stefano Canessa; Gerard Bota; Lluis Brotons; Sergi Herrando; Virgilio Hermoso
Public participation to monitoring programs is increasingly advocated to overcome scarcity of resources and deliver important information for policy‐making. Here, we illustrate the design of optimal monitoring networks for bird species of conservation concern in Catalonia (NE Spain), under different scenarios of combined governmental and citizen‐science monitoring approaches. In our case study, current government efforts, limited to protected areas, were insufficient to cover the whole spectrum of target species and species‐threat levels, reinforcing the assumption that citizen‐science data can greatly assist in achieving monitoring targets. However, simply carrying out both government and citizen‐science monitoring ad hoc led to inefficiency and duplication of efforts: some species were represented in excess of targets while several features were undersampled. Policy‐making should concentrate on providing an adequate platform for coordination of government and public‐participatory monitoring to minimize duplicated efforts, overcome the biases of each monitoring program and obtain the best from both.
The importance of early life experience and animal cultures in reintroductions Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-20 Claire S. Teitelbaum; Sarah J. Converse; Thomas Mueller
Even within a single population, individuals can display striking differences in behavior, with consequences for their survival and fitness. In reintroduced populations, managers often attempt to promote adaptive behaviors by controlling the early life experiences of individuals, but it remains largely unknown whether this early life training has lasting effects on behavior. We investigated the behavior of reintroduced whooping cranes (Grus americana) trained to migrate using two different methods to see whether their migration behavior remained different or converged over time. We found that the behavior of the two groups converged relatively rapidly, indicating that early life training may not produce lasting effects, especially in species that display lifelong learning and behavioral adaptation. In some cases, managers may consider continual behavioral interventions after release if desired behaviors are not present. Understanding the roles early life experience and animal cultures play in determining behavior is crucial for successful reintroduction programs.
Support for the U.S. Endangered Species Act over time and space: Controversial species do not weaken public support for protective legislation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-19 Jeremy T. Bruskotter; John A. Vucetich; Kristina M. Slagle; Ramiro Berardo; Ajay S. Singh; Robyn S. Wilson
We used data from a 2014 survey (n = 1,287) of U.S. residents and recent polls to assess how public support for the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) changed over time, and whether protecting controversial species affects support for the law. We assessed support for the ESA, trust in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and attitudes toward wolves across three regions with different experiences in conserving gray wolves through the ESA. We found: (a) ∼4 in 5 Americans support the ESA, whereas ∼1 in 10 oppose; (b) support for the ESA remained stable over the past two decades; (c) strong majorities (>68%) of individuals identifying with 8 special interest types support the ESA; and (d) no differences in support for the ESA, attitudes toward wolves, or trust in the FWS across regions. Results suggest that protecting species—even controversial predators—does not weaken support for protective legislation.
Conserving European biodiversity across realms Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-16 Sylvaine Giakoumi; Virgilio Hermoso; Silvia B. Carvalho; Vasiliki Markantonatou; Mindaugas Dagys; Takuya Iwamura; Wolfgang N. Probst; Robert J. Smith; Katherine L. Yates; Vasiliki Almpanidou; Tihana Novak; Noam Ben‐Moshe; Stelios Katsanevakis; Joachim Claudet; Marta Coll; Alan Deidun; Franz Essl; José A. García‐Charton; Carlos Jimenez; Salit Kark; Milica Mandić; Antonios D. Mazaris; Wolfgang Rabitsch; Vanessa Stelzenmüller; Elena Tricarico; Ioannis N. Vogiatzakis
Terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems are connected via multiple biophysical and ecological processes. Identifying and quantifying links among ecosystems is necessary for the uptake of integrated conservation actions across realms. Such actions are particularly important for species using habitats in more than one realm during their daily or life cycle. We reviewed information on the habitats of 2,408 species of European conservation concern and found that 30% of the species use habitats in multiple realms. Transportation and service corridors, which fragment species habitats, were identified as the most important threat impacting ∼70% of the species. We examined information on 1,567 European Union (EU) conservation projects funded over the past 25 years, to assess the adequacy of efforts toward the conservation of “multi‐realm” species at a continental scale. We discovered that less than a third of multi‐realm species benefited from projects that included conservation actions across multiple realms. To achieve the EU's conservation target of halting biodiversity loss by 2020 and effectively protect multi‐realm species, integrated conservation efforts across realms should be reinforced by: (1) recognizing the need for integrated management at a policy level, (2) revising conservation funding priorities across realms, and (3) implementing integrated land‐freshwater‐sea conservation planning and management.
Incorporating biotic interactions reveals potential climate tolerance of giant pandas Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-13 Fang Wang; Qing Zhao; William J. McShea; Melissa Songer; Qiongyu Huang; Xiaofeng Zhang; Lingguo Zhou
Many studies have overestimated species’ range shifts under climate change because they treat climate as the only determinant while ignoring biotic factors. To assess the response of giant pandas to climate change, we incorporated spatial effects in modeling bamboo distributions, which in turn was incorporated to represent giant panda–bamboo biotic interactions in predicting giant panda distribution. Our study revealed potential tolerance of giant pandas to climate change. We found significant residual spatial correlation in the bamboo models. The biotic interactions with bamboo understories and anthropogenic activities had large effects on panda distribution, which lowered the relative importance of climatic variables. Our results are fundamentally different from previous studies that used climate‐only and nonspatial approaches, which may have overestimated the effects of climate change on panda and lead to inappropriate conservation recommendations. We strongly advocate that giant panda conservation planning continues to focus on protecting bamboo forest and reducing anthropogenic interferences.
Peace in Colombia is a critical moment for Neotropical connectivity and conservation: Save the northern Andes–Amazon biodiversity bridge Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-13 Nicola Clerici; Camilo Salazar; Carolina Pardo‐Díaz; Chris D. Jiggins; James E. Richardson; Mauricio Linares
Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world that has historically and is currently experiencing extensive deforestation and habitat fragmentation. Here we show how the most extensive region acting as a natural corridor between the Colombian Andes and Amazon biogeographical regions, the Picachos–Tinigua–Sierra de la Macarena–Chiribiquete megacorridor, is being eroded by large‐scale agricultural expansion endangering the maintenance and connection of gene flow and biodiversity exchange. Several phylogenetic studies indicate that the complex dynamics between the Andean highlands and the Amazonian lowlands have strongly influenced the origin and maintenance of Neotropical biodiversity. We appeal for the attention of international conservation and governmental organizations to direct resources and promote projects focused on the preservation and sustainable management of this strategic Andes–Amazon bridge in both protected and unprotected areas. In the current postconflict era, Colombia has a unique opportunity to create a new social and economic paradigm based on long‐term sustainably developed landscapes and more equitable sharing of wealth. We believe improved management and conservation efforts for the Picachos–Tinigua–Macarena–Chiribiquete megacorridor would demonstrate a collective will in helping to achieve this goal.
When portfolio theory can help environmental investment planning to reduce climate risk to future environmental outcomes—and when it cannot Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-12 Amy W. Ando; Jennifer Fraterrigo; Glenn Guntenspergen; Aparna Howlader; Mindy Mallory; Jennifer H. Olker; Samuel Stickley
Variability among climate change scenarios produces great uncertainty in what is the best allocation of resources among investments to protect environmental goods in the future. Previous research shows Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) can help optimize environmental investment targeting to reduce outcome uncertainty with minimal loss of expected level of environmental benefits, but no work has yet identified the types of cases for which MPT is most useful. This article assembles data on 26 different conservation cases in three distinct ecological settings and develops new metrics to evaluate how well MPT can reduce uncertainty in future outcomes of a set of environmental investments. We find MPT is broadly but not universally useful and works best when multiple investments have negatively correlated outcomes across climate scenarios; a second‐best investment has expected value almost as good as the value in the best investment; or multiple investments have little uncertainty in ecological outcomes.
Predator Free 2050: A flawed conservation policy displaces higher priorities and better, evidence‐based alternatives Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-10 Wayne Linklater; Jamie Steer
New Zealand's policy to exterminate five introduced predators by 2050 is well‐meant but warrants critique and comparison against alternatives. The goal is unachievable with current or near‐future technologies and resources. Its effects on ecosystems and 26 other mammalian predators and herbivores will be complex. Some negative outcomes are likely. Predators are not always and everywhere the largest impact on biodiversity. Lower intensity predator suppression, habitat protection and restoration, and prey refugia will sometimes better support threatened biodiversity. The policy draws attention to where predators are easily killed, not where biodiversity values are greatest. Pest control operations are already contested and imposing the policy is likely to escalate those conflicts. While “high‐profile,” a focus on predator eradication obscures the fact that indigenous habitat cover and quality continues to decline. Thus, the policy is flawed and risks diverting effort and resources from higher environmental priorities and better alternatives. Biodiversity conservation policies should be guided by cost‐benefit analyses, prioritization schemes, and conservation planning in an adaptive management framework to deliver nuanced outcomes appropriate to scale‐ and site‐specific variation in biodiversity values and threats. The success of biodiversity sanctuary‐“spillover” landscapes, habitat restoration, and metapopulation management provide the foundation to build a better policy.
The area–heterogeneity tradeoff applied to spatial protection of rockfish (Sebastes spp.) species richness Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-06 Alejandro Frid; Madeleine McGreer; Katie SP Gale; Emily Rubidge; Tristan Blaine; Mike Reid; Angeleen Olson; Sandie Hankewich; Ernest Mason; Dave Rolston; Ernest Tallio
The “area–heterogeneity tradeoff” hypothesis predicts unimodal effects of habitat heterogeneity on species richness, implying that habitats with intermediate heterogeneity may be priority for spatial protection. Alternatively, if heterogeneity effects are positive, then protecting the most heterogeneous habitats may take precedence. We tested for unimodal effects of habitat heterogeneity on the species density (area‐corrected richness) of rockfishes (Sebastes spp.): long‐lived, benthic fishes vulnerable to overexploitation. Inconsistent with predictions, topographic structural complexity had a strong linear effect on species density; other heterogeneity measures had weaker, positive effects and the only unimodal effect (depth range) was weak. The clear implication is that, to protect the highest density of rockfish species, marine protected areas should include the most topographically complex substrates. Our results can also help refine and test species distribution models needed to inform spatial planning where in situ surveys are lacking. The area–heterogeneity tradeoff generates useful predictions for which support may be context‐dependent.
Impact of protected areas on poverty, extreme poverty, and inequality in Nepal Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-07-04 Bowy den Braber; Karl L. Evans; Johan A. Oldekop
Protected areas (PAs) are key for biodiversity conservation, but there are concerns that they can exacerbate poverty or unequal access to potential benefits, such as those arising from tourism. We assess how Nepalese PAs influence poverty, extreme poverty, and inequality using a multidimensional poverty index, and a quasi‐experimental design that controls for potential confounding factors in non‐random treatment allocation. We specifically investigate the role of tourism in contributing to PA impacts. Nepali PAs reduced overall poverty and extreme poverty, and crucially, did not exacerbate inequality. Benefits occurred in lowland and highland regions, and were often greater when a larger proportion of the area was protected. Spread of benefits to nearby areas outside PAs was negligible. Furthermore, older PAs performed better than more recently established ones, suggesting the existence of time lags. Although tourism was a key driver of poverty alleviation, PAs also reduced extreme poverty in areas with fewer tourists.
Risk‐sensitive planning for conserving coral reefs under rapid climate change Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-27 Hawthorne L. Beyer; Emma V. Kennedy; Maria Beger; Chaolun Allen Chen; Joshua E. Cinner; Emily S. Darling; C. Mark Eakin; Ruth D. Gates; Scott F. Heron; Nancy Knowlton; David O. Obura; Stephen R. Palumbi; Hugh P. Possingham; Marji Puotinen; Rebecca K. Runting; William J. Skirving; Mark Spalding; Kerrie A. Wilson; Sally Wood; John E. Veron; Ove Hoegh‐Guldberg
Coral reef ecosystems are seriously threatened by changing conditions in the ocean. Although many factors are implicated, climate change has emerged as a dominant and rapidly growing threat. Developing a long‐term strategic plan for the conservation of coral reefs is urgently needed yet is complicated by significant uncertainty associated with climate change impacts on coral reef ecosystems. We use Modern Portfolio Theory to identify coral reef locations globally that, in the absence of other impacts, are likely to have a heightened chance of surviving projected climate changes relative to other reefs. Long‐term planning that is robust to uncertainty in future conditions provides an objective and transparent framework for guiding conservation action and strategic investment. These locations constitute important opportunities for novel conservation investments to secure less vulnerable yet well‐connected coral reefs that may, in turn, help to repopulate degraded areas in the event that the climate has stabilized.
Collapse of farmland bird populations in an Eastern European country following its EU accession Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-27 Jiří Reif; Zdeněk Vermouzek
Eastern European countries are considered a stronghold for the continent's farmland biodiversity. The abundance of farmland birds is one important element of this biodiversity. At the end of the 20th century, member states of the European Union (EU) experienced serious population declines of farmland birds due to agricultural intensification, which was not observed in the Eastern European nonmember states. In 2004, 10 mostly Eastern European countries acceded to the EU. It is thus important to ask whether this historical step resulted in changes of agricultural production and, in turn, in farmland bird populations. Here we used annual crop yields and monitoring data on farmland bird abundance in an Eastern European new EU‐member state and showed that agricultural production intensified and farmland bird populations declined steeply after country's EU accession. These results indicate that entering EU's Common Agricultural Policy caused significant deterioration of farmland biodiversity in a once biodiversity‐rich region.
Tracking trends in the extinction risk of wild relatives of domesticated species to assess progress against global biodiversity targets Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-27 Philip J. K. McGowan; Louise Mair; Andrew Symes; James R. S. Westrip; Hannah Wheatley; Sarah Brook; James Burton; Sarah King; William J. McShea; Patricia D. Moehlman; Andrew T. Smith; Jane C. Wheeler; Stuart H. M. Butchart
Ensuring the conservation of wild relatives of domesticated animals that are important food sources for humans forms part of targets for both the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). There is, however, no indicator allowing progress toward these aims to be measured. We identified 30 domesticated mammal and bird taxa that are sources of food for humans and consider 55 mammal and 449 bird species to be their wild relatives. We developed a Red List Index for these wild relatives, which declined by 2.02% between 1988 and 2016. Currently, 15 species are Critically Endangered, indicating that the Red List Index could deteriorate sharply unless action is taken to ensure the survival of highly threatened species and the reversal of their declines. This Index can meet a range of global policy needs, including reporting on progress toward Aichi Target 13 of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and SDG Target 2.5.
Poor ecological representation by an expensive reserve system: Evaluating 35 years of marine protected area expansion Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-25 Kerstin Jantke; Kendall R. Jones; James R. Allan; Alienor L.M. Chauvenet; James E.M. Watson; Hugh P. Possingham
Global areal protection targets have driven a dramatic expansion of the marine protected area (MPA) estate. We analyzed how cost‐effective global MPA expansion has been since the inception of the first global target (set in 1982) in achieving ecoregional representation. By comparing spatial patterns of MPA expansion against optimal MPA estates using the same expansion rates, we show the current MPA estate is both expensive and ineffective. Although the number of ecoregions represented tripled and 12.7% of national waters was protected, 61% of ecoregions and 81% of countries are not 10% protected. Only 10.3% of the national waters of the world would be sufficient to protect 10% of each ecoregion if MPA growth since 1982 strategically targeted underrepresented ecoregions. Unfortunately 16.3% of national waters are required for the same representative target if systematic protection started in 2016 (an extra 3.6% on top of 12.7%). To avoid the high costs of adjusting increasingly biased MPA systems, future efforts should embrace target‐driven systematic conservation planning.
Generic names and mislabeling conceal high species diversity in global fisheries markets Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-22 Donna‐Mareè Cawthorn; Charles Baillie; Stefano Mariani
Consumers have the power to influence conservation of marine fishes by selectively purchasing sustainably harvested species. Yet, this power is hindered by vague labeling and seafood fraud, which may mask market biodiversity and lead to inadvertent consumption of threatened species. Here, we investigate the repercussions of such labeling inaccuracies for one of the world's most highly prized families of fishes‐–the snappers (Family: Lutjanidae). By DNA barcoding 300 “snapper” samples collected from six countries, we show that the lax application of this umbrella term and widespread mislabeling (40%) conceal the identities of at least 67 species from 16 families in global marketplaces, effectively lumping taxa for sale that derive from an array of disparately managed fisheries and have markedly different conservation concerns. Bringing this trade into the open should compel a revision of international labeling and traceability policies, as well as enforcement measures, which currently allow such extensive biodiversity to be consumed unknowingly.
Transboundary cooperation improves endangered species monitoring and conservation actions: A case study of the global population of Amur leopards Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-19 Anna V. Vitkalova; Limin Feng; Alexander N. Rybin; Brian D. Gerber; Dale G. Miquelle; Tianming Wang; Haitao Yang; Elena I. Shevtsova; Vladimir V. Aramilev; Jianping Ge
Political borders and natural boundaries of wildlife populations seldom coincide, often to the detriment of conservation objectives. Transnational monitoring of endangered carnivores is rare, but is necessary for accurate population monitoring and coordinated conservation policies. We investigate the benefits of collaboratively monitoring the abundance and survival of the critically endangered Amur leopard, which occurs as a single transboundary population across China and Russia. Country‐specific results overestimated abundance and were generally less precise compared to integrated monitoring estimates; the global population was similar in both years: 84 (70–108, 95% confidence interval). Uncertainty in country‐specific annual survival estimates were approximately twice the integrated estimates of 0.82 (0.69–0.91, 95% confidence limits). This collaborative effort provided a better understanding of Amur leopard population dynamics, represented a first step in building trust, and lead to cooperative agreements to coordinate conservation policies.
Giant panda distributional and habitat‐use shifts in a changing landscape Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-19 Wei Wei; Ronald R. Swaisgood; Qiang Dai; Zhisong Yang; Shibin Yuan; Megan A. Owen; Nicholas W. Pilfold; Xuyu Yang; Xiaodong Gu; Hong Zhou; Han Han; Jindong Zhang; Mingsheng Hong; Zejun Zhang
Long‐term data on populations, threats, and habitat‐use changes are fundamentally important for conservation policy and management decisions affecting species, but these data are often in short supply. Here, we analyze survey data from 57,087 plots collected in approximately three‐fourths of the giant panda's (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) distributional range during China's national surveys conducted in 1999–2003 and 2011–2014. Pandas associated preferentially with several ecological factors and avoided areas impacted by human activities, such as roads, livestock, mining, and tourism. Promise is shown by dramatic declines in logging rates, but is counterbalanced with recently emerging threats. Pandas have increasingly utilized secondary forest as these forests recovered under protective measures. Pandas have undergone a distributional shift to higher elevations, despite the elevational stability of their bamboo food source, perhaps in response to a similar upward shift in the distribution of livestock. Our findings showcase robust on‐the‐ground data from one of the largest‐scale survey efforts worldwide for an endangered species and highlight how science and policy have contributed to this remarkable success story, and help frame future management strategies.
Population models reveal unexpected patterns of local persistence despite widespread larval dispersal in a highly exploited species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-13 Lysel Garavelli; J. Wilson White; Iliana Chollett; Laurent Marcel Chérubin
Nearshore marine populations are structured in metapopulations that are connected through larval dispersal across national boundaries. One of the main challenges for effective management of these metapopulations is the need for partnerships between nations that share the same resource. By coupling large‐scale connectivity information to a dynamic population model, we analyzed the patterns of connectivity and population persistence for the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) metapopulation both within and across national boundaries. Although spiny lobster subpopulations are highly connected at the basin scale, several nations located in the northern Caribbean and ecoregional networks could persist independently of the larger basin‐wide metapopulation. Based on these results, we propose transnational neighborhoods for spiny lobster management. Our analysis suggests that the dynamics and management of those subpopulations neighborhoods are not intrinsically dependent on “upstream” connectivity even though current rates of upstream larval supply are very high.
Management strategies to minimize the dredging impacts of coastal development on fish and fisheries Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-08 Amelia S. Wenger; Christopher A. Rawson; Shaun Wilson; Stephen J. Newman; Michael J. Travers; Scott Atkinson; Nicola Browne; Douglas Clarke; Martial Depczynski; Paul L.A. Erftemeijer; Richard D. Evans; Jean‐Paul A. Hobbs; Jennifer L. McIlwain; Dianne L. McLean; Benjamin J. Saunders; Euan Harvey
Accelerating coastal development and shipping activities dictate that dredging operations will intensify, increasing potential impacts to fishes. Coastal fishes have high economic, ecological, and conservation significance and there is a need for evidence‐based, quantitative guidelines on how to mitigate the impacts of dredging activities. We assess the potential risk from dredging to coastal fish and fisheries on a global scale. We then develop quantitative guidelines for two management strategies: threshold reference values and seasonal restrictions. Globally, threatened species and nearshore fisheries occur within close proximity to ports. We find that maintaining suspended sediment concentrations below 44 mg/L (15–121 bootstrapped CI) and for less than 24 hours would protect 95% of fishes from dredging‐induced mortality. Implementation of seasonal restrictions during peak periods of reproduction and recruitment could further protect species from dredging impacts. This study details the first evidence‐based defensible approach to minimize impacts to coastal fishes from dredging activities.
Local human activities limit marine protection efficacy on Caribbean coral reefs Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-06 Adam Suchley; Lorenzo Alvarez‐Filip
Marine ecosystems globally have suffered habitat, biodiversity and function loss in response to human activity. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) can limit extractive activities and enhance ecosystem resilience, but do not directly address external stressors. We surveyed 48 sites within seven MPAs and nearby unprotected areas to evaluate drivers of coral reef condition in the Mexican Caribbean. We found that local human activity limits protection effectiveness. Coral cover was positively related to protection characteristics, but was significantly lower at sites with elevated local human activity. Furthermore, we predict ongoing coastal development will reduce coral cover despite expanded protection within a regionwide MPA if an effective integrated coastal zone management strategy is not implemented. Policy makers must acknowledge the detrimental impact of uncontrolled coastal development and apply stringent construction and wastewater regulations in addition to marine protection.
Slow treatment promotes control of harmful species by multiple agents Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-06-01 Adam Lampert; Alan Hastings; James N. Sanchirico
The management of harmful species, including invasive species, pests, parasites, and diseases, is a major, global challenge. Harmful species cause severe damage to ecosystems, biodiversity, agriculture, and human health. The control of harmful species is challenging and often requires cooperation among multiple agents, such as land‐owners, agencies, and countries. Agents may have incentives to contribute less, leaving more work for other agents, which can result in inefficient treatment. Here we present a dynamic game theory model and we show that slow treatment may promote a stable solution (Markovian Nash equilibrium) where all agents cooperate to remove the harmful species. The efficiency of this solution depends critically on the life history of the harmful species that determines the speed of optimal treatment. Furthermore, this cooperative equilibrium may coexist with other Nash equilibria, including one dictating no treatment of the harmful species, which implies that coordination among agents is critical for successful control.
Using consumer preferences to characterize the trade of wild‐collected ornamental orchids in China Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-05-31 Sophie J. Williams; Stephan W. Gale; Amy Hinsley; Jiangyun Gao; Freya A. V. St. John
Overexploitation of wildlife for trade threatens taxa globally. Interest in demand‐side approaches to address this problem has grown but understanding of how consumer preferences shape demand remains limited. To quantify the role of consumer preferences for wild orchids in China's horticultural market, we used conjoint analysis to determine which attributes are preferred by orchid owners and nonowners in two socioeconomically contrasting areas of South China. Across all respondents, price was the most important attribute followed by flower color. While Xishuangbanna participants exhibited a slight preference for wild over cultivated plants, origin (wild/cultivated) was of minimal importance. We also measured awareness of orchid import regulations. Most did not recognize the CITES logo, and knowledge of import laws was significantly lower in Hong Kong than in Xishuangbanna. Our findings suggest that trade in wild ornamental orchids in South China is supply‐driven, and strengthened regulations might be effective in reducing overexploitation.
Seagrass meadows support global fisheries production Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-05-21 Richard K.F. Unsworth; Lina Mtwana Nordlund; Leanne C. Cullen‐Unsworth
The significant role seagrass meadows play in supporting fisheries productivity and food security across the globe is not adequately reflected in the decisions made by authorities with statutory responsibility for their management. We provide a unique global analysis of three data sources to present the case for why seagrass meadows need targeted policy to recognize and protect their role in supporting fisheries production and food security. (1) Seagrass meadows provide valuable nursery habitat to over 1/5th of the world's largest 25 fisheries, including Walleye Pollock, the most landed species on the planet. (2) In complex small‐scale fisheries from around the world (poorly represented in fisheries statistics), we present evidence that many of those in proximity to seagrass are supported to a large degree by these habitats. (3) We reveal how intertidal fishing activity in seagrass is a global phenomenon, often directly supporting human livelihoods. Our study demonstrates that seagrasses should be recognized and managed to maintain and maximize their role in global fisheries production. The chasm that exists between coastal habitat conservation and fisheries management needs to be filled to maximize the chances of seagrass meadows supporting fisheries, so that they can continue to support human wellbeing.
The elephant (head) in the room: A critical look at trophy hunting Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-05-09 Chelsea Batavia; Michael Paul Nelson; Chris T. Darimont; Paul C. Paquet; William J. Ripple; Arian D. Wallach
Trophy hunting has occupied a prominent position in recent scholarly literature and popular media. In the scientific conservation literature, researchers are generally supportive of or sympathetic to its usage as a source of monetary support for conservation. Although authors at times acknowledge that trophy hunting faces strong opposition from many members of the public, often for unspecified reasons associated with ethics, neither the nature nor the implications of these ethical concerns have been substantively addressed. We identify the central act of wildlife “trophy” taking as a potential source of ethical discomfort and public opposition. We highlight that trophy hunting entails a hunter paying a fee to kill an animal and claim its body or body parts as a trophy of conquest. Situating this practice in a Western cultural narrative of chauvinism, colonialism, and anthropocentrism, we argue trophy hunting is morally inappropriate. We suggest alternative strategies for conservation and community development should be explored and decisively ruled out as viable sources of support before the conservation community endorses trophy hunting. If wildlife conservation is broadly and inescapably dependent on the institution of trophy hunting, conservationists should accept the practice only with a due appreciation of tragedy, and proper remorse.
The major barriers to evidence‐informed conservation policy and possible solutions Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-05-08 David C. Rose; William J. Sutherland; Tatsuya Amano; Juan P. González‐Varo; Rebecca J. Robertson; Benno I. Simmons; Hannah S. Wauchope; Eszter Kovacs; América Paz Durán; Alice B. M. Vadrot; Weiling Wu; Maria P. Dias; Martina M. I. Di Fonzo; Sarah Ivory; Lucia Norris; Matheus Henrique Nunes; Tobias Ochieng Nyumba; Noa Steiner; Juliet Vickery; Nibedita Mukherjee
Conservation policy decisions can suffer from a lack of evidence, hindering effective decision‐making. In nature conservation, studies investigating why policy is often not evidence‐informed have tended to focus on Western democracies, with relatively small samples. To understand global variation and challenges better, we established a global survey aimed at identifying top barriers and solutions to the use of conservation science in policy. This obtained the views of 758 people in policy, practice, and research positions from 68 countries across six languages. Here we show that, contrary to popular belief, there is agreement between groups about how to incorporate conservation science into policy, and there is thus room for optimism. Barriers related to the low priority of conservation were considered to be important, while mainstreaming conservation was proposed as a key solution. Therefore, priorities should focus on convincing the public of the importance of conservation as an issue, which will then influence policy‐makers to adopt pro‐environmental long‐term policies.
Predicting the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances on marine populations Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-05-07 Jacob Nabe‐Nielsen; Floris M van Beest; Volker Grimm; Richard M Sibly; Jonas Teilmann; Paul M Thompson
Marine ecosystems are increasingly exposed to anthropogenic disturbances that cause animals to change behavior and move away from potential foraging grounds. Here we present a process‐based modeling framework for assessing population consequences of such sub‐lethal behavioral effects. It builds directly on how disturbances influence animal movements, foraging and energetics, and is therefore applicable to a wide range of species. To demonstrate the model we assess the impact of wind farm construction noise on the North Sea harbor porpoise population. Subsequently, we demonstrate how the model can be used to minimize population impacts of disturbances through spatial planning. Population models that build on the fundamental processes that determine animal fitness have a high predictive power in novel environments, making them ideal for marine management.
The use, and usefulness, of spatial conservation prioritizations Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-05-03 Samuel P. Sinclair; E.J. Milner‐Gulland; Robert J. Smith; Emma J. McIntosh; Hugh P. Possingham; Ans Vercammen; Andrew T. Knight
Spatial conservation prioritization is used globally to guide decision making with the aim of delivering the best conservation gain per unit investment. However, despite many publications on the topic, the extent to which this approach is used by decision makers has been unclear. To investigate the degree to which prioritization has been adopted by practitioners to guide conservation implementation, we conducted an online survey, collecting data on the approaches used to develop prioritizations and the reported extent of translation to on‐the‐ground action. Using a cluster analysis, we identified two categories of prioritizations, those developed to advance the field (42% of responses) and those intended for implementation (58% of responses). Respondents reported 74% of the prioritizations intended for implementation had translated to on‐the‐ground action. Additionally, we identified strong collaboration between academics and practitioners in prioritization development, suggesting a bridging of the theory‐practice gap. We recommend continued collaboration and research into the effectiveness of prioritizations in delivering conservation impacts.
Participation in planning and social networks increase social monitoring in community‐based conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-04-27 Steven M. Alexander; Graham Epstein; Örjan Bodin; Derek Armitage; Donovan Campbell
Biodiversity conservation is often limited by inadequate investments in monitoring and enforcement. However, monitoring and enforcement problems may be overcome by encouraging resource users to develop, endorse, and subsequently enforce conservation regulations. In this article, we draw upon the literature on common‐pool resources and social networks to assess the impacts of participation and network ties on the decisions of fishers to voluntarily report rule violations in two Jamaican marine reserves. Data was collected using questionnaires administered through personal interviews with fishers (n = 277). The results suggest that local fishers are more likely to report illegal fishing if they had participated in conservation planning and if they are directly linked to community‐based wardens in information sharing networks. This research extends well‐established findings regarding the role and impacts of participation on biodiversity conservation by highlighting the importance of synergies between participation and social networks for voluntary monitoring of conservation regulations.
Wicked conflict: Using wicked problem thinking for holistic management of conservation conflict Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.279) Pub Date : 2018-04-24 Tom H.E. Mason; Chris R.J. Pollard; Deepthi Chimalakonda; Angela M. Guerrero; Catherine Kerr‐Smith; Sergio A.G. Milheiras; Michaela Roberts; Paul R. Ngafack; Nils Bunnefeld
Conservation conflict is widespread, damaging, and has proved difficult to manage using conventional conservation approaches. Conflicts are often “wicked problems,” lacking clear solutions due to divergent values of stakeholders, and being embedded within wickedly complex environments. Drawing on the concept of wicked environmental problems could lead to management strategies better suited to tackling conflict. However, it is unclear whether managers are embracing ideas from the wicked problems concept. There is currently a lack of guidance for applying strategies to tackle particular wicked problems, such as conservation conflict. We explored the suitability of wicked problems‐inspired management, using eight contemporary conflict case studies. Conservation conflict was managed predominantly using conventional approaches suited to tackling single objectives in simple environments, rather than balancing competing objectives in complex environments. To deal with different characteristics of wickedness, we recommend that managers develop strategies combining distributed decision‐making, diverse opinions, pattern‐based predictions, trade‐off‐based objectives, and reporting of failures. Recent advances in conservation conflict research have focused on improving interactions among stakeholders. We believe that such stakeholder‐focused approaches would dovetail with the whole‐system focus of a wicked problems framework, allowing conservationists to move toward a holistic strategy for managing conservation conflict.
Some contents have been Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.
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