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Biodiversity and Conservation
Journal Prestige (SJR): 1.243
Citation Impact (citeScore): 3
Number of Followers: 220  

  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Print) 0960-3115 - ISSN (Online) 1572-9710
Published by Springer-Verlag Homepage  [2562 journals]
  • Cryopreservation enables long-term conservation of critically endangered
           species Rubus humulifolius

    • Abstract: Ex situ storage plays an important role in the conservation of plant biodiversity. Cryopreservation at ultra-low temperatures (−  196 °C) is the only long-term ex situ preservation method for plant species that cannot be stored in seed banks. In the present study, we developed a cryopreservation protocol for micropropagated Rubus humulifolius (Rosaceae) plants representing currently critically endangered population of the species in Finland. Abscisic acid (ABA) has been found to increase the freezing tolerance of several plant species. Thus, we studied the effect of a 10-day pretreatment with 0, 2 or 4 mg/l ABA in comparison to freshly dissected buds. We also studied how the duration of in vitro subculture affects cryopreservation result. The ABA pretreatment had divergent effect on control and cryopreserved buds: the regeneration of non-cryopreserved control buds increased from 51% to 70%, 90% or 87% while the regeneration of cryopreserved buds decreased from 52% to 35%, 6% or 9% after 0, 2 or 4 mg/l ABA pre-treatments, respectively. Buds from plants subcultured for 1 month had 63% survival, which, however, decreased to 29% or nil% after 2 or 4 months subculture. The regenerated plants were successfully transferred from in vitro to in vivo conditions in common garden. Growing in garden is needed for future restoration of the species in wild. Cryostorage and other ex situ conservation actions carried out in botanical gardens may be of increasing importance as a tool to maintain plant biodiversity in the future.
      PubDate: 2019-11-13
       
  • Anthropogenic disturbances alter the conservation value of karst dolines

    • Abstract: Dolines are depressions in karst landscapes that are of high value for conservation, providing habitats and supporting species not found in the surrounding landscape. This is due to their high microhabitat diversity and ability to decouple microclimate from regional climate changes, making them potential refugia for biodiversity. Nevertheless, local anthropogenic disturbances have had considerable impact on the species composition and vegetation structure of many dolines. Here we investigate the conservation value of dolines in three European karst areas, where different levels and types of anthropogenic disturbances have been shaping the vegetation for centuries, using the number of plant species that are cool-adapted, moist-adapted and of high conservation importance (i.e. vulnerable species) as indicators. We found that anthropogenic disturbances generally have a negative impact, reducing the number of vulnerable species supported by dolines. However, more cool-adapted and moist-adapted species were found in some dolines planted with non-native Picea abies than in less disturbed dolines, indicating that anthropogenic disturbances can also have positive consequences for biodiversity. We conclude that anthropogenic disturbances alter the capacity of dolines to support vulnerable species, and that this will impact survival of species in landscapes under global warming. In this context, the effects of various disturbances on species composition and diversity need to carefully considered to determine the best conservation and/or management options.
      PubDate: 2019-11-09
       
  • Correction to: Large-scale habitat model reveals a key role of large trees
           and protected areas in the metapopulation survival of the saproxylic
           specialist Cucujus cinnaberinus

    • Abstract: We present here a revised version of Fig. 1 from our paper as it lacked some information used for the species distribution modeling as the original might be found misleading by some readers. This omission did not influence the results of our modeling process, for which the full set of observations was used. It does not therefore compromise our conclusions, or affect the other figures and tables we presented.
      PubDate: 2019-11-04
       
  • Assessing the effects of land use on biodiversity in the world’s
           drylands and Mediterranean environments

    • Abstract: Biodiversity models make an important contribution to our understanding of global biodiversity changes. The effects of different land uses vary across ecosystem types, yet most broad-scale models have failed to account for this variation. The effects of land use may be different in systems characterized by low water availability because of the unusual conditions within these systems. Drylands are expanding, currently occupying over 40% of the terrestrial land, while Mediterranean systems are highly endangered biodiversity hotspots. However, the impact of land use on biodiversity in these biomes is yet to be assessed. Using a database of local biodiversity surveys, we assess the effects of land use on biodiversity in the world’s drylands and Mediterranean ecosystems. We compare the average species richness, total abundance, species diversity, ecological dominance, endemism rates, and compositional turnover across different land uses. In drylands, there was a strong turnover in species composition in disturbed land uses compared with undisturbed natural habitat (primary vegetation), but other measures of biodiversity did not respond significantly. However, it is important to note that the sample size for drylands was very low, a gap which should be filled promptly. Mediterranean environments showed a very high sensitivity of biodiversity to land uses. In this biome, even habitat recovering after past disturbance (secondary vegetation) had substantially reduced biodiversity and altered community composition compared with primary vegetation. In an effort to maintain original biodiversity and the ecosystem functions it supports within Mediterranean biomes, conservation measures should therefore prioritize the preservation of remaining primary vegetation.
      PubDate: 2019-11-02
       
  • Impact of Fraxinus excelsior dieback on biota of ash-associated lichen
           epiphytes at the landscape and community level

    • Abstract: The landscape-scale extinction of a tree species may have a negative impact on diversity of associated epiphytic species. We used ordination and hierarchical clustering methods to assess landscape and the community level effects of reduction in the abundance of European ash Fraxinus excelsior, caused by ash dieback, on the associated epiphytic lichen biota in Białowieża Forest (Poland)—the best preserved forest complex in Central Europe. At the landscape level ash decline impact on the biota of ash-associated epiphytic lichens was weak, due to the high diversity of tree species, which may serve as potential alternative hosts. At this level, oak and hornbeam are the most important alternative hosts, assuring the maintenance of ash-associated epiphytic lichens. Lime, alder, and hazel appeared to be less important but still may serve as substitute phorophytes to approximately 2/3 of the ash-associated lichen biota. About 90% of epiphytic biota are likely to survive on the landscape scale. However, at the community level of alder-ash floodplain forest, where ash was dominant, about 50% of ash-associated epiphytic lichen species are threatened by ash dieback. Our results highlight the importance of a spatial scale in conservation biology. Protection of large forest areas with rich diversity of phorophyte trees increases chances of survival of the associated epiphytic organisms.
      PubDate: 2019-10-31
       
  • Extinction risk and conservation gaps for Aloe (Asphodelaceae) in the Horn
           of Africa

    • Abstract: Identification of conservation priorities is essential for conservation planning, especially as the biodiversity crisis develops. We aimed to support conservation prioritisation by addressing knowledge gaps for the genus Aloe in the Horn of Africa. Specifically, we developed a dataset of herbarium voucher specimens and occurrence data to estimate geographic distribution of 88 species of Aloe and used this to estimate extinction risk and establish the major threats to Aloe in this region. The resulting assessments, each published on the IUCN Red List, show that 39% of the species are threatened with extinction, and the principal threats are the expansion and intensification of crop farming and livestock farming, gathering of plants, and unintentional effects of logging and wood harvesting. We review ex situ conservation in botanic gardens and seed banks, revealing gaps in coverage and urgent priorities for collection, with 25 threatened Aloe species currently unrepresented in seed banks. Protected areas in the region offer limited coverage of Aloe distributions and the most recently designated protected areas are increasingly in regions that do not overlap with Aloe distributions. However, we show with a simple optimisation approach that even a modest increase in protected area of 824 square kilometres would allow representation of all Aloe species, although further data are needed to test the area required to ensure long-term persistence (resilience) of Aloe species.
      PubDate: 2019-10-23
       
  • Factors driving Arabian gazelles ( Gazella arabica ) in Israel to
           extinction: time series analysis of population size and juvenile survival
           in an unexploited population

    • Abstract: Wild populations of Arabian gazelles (Gazella arabica) were once common on the Arabian Peninsula, but today disappeared from large parts of their former range. In Israel only a small population of currently 30 individuals survived, although it was—and still is—well protected from illegal hunting and habitat destruction. In our study we aimed to identify the factors influencing the population growth of G. arabica in Israel over the last two decades (1995–2017). We tested the impact of five environmental variables including annual mean maximum temperature, rainfall, the availability of two major food plants, competition with sympatric dorcas gazelle (G. dorcas) and predation (mainly by wolves) on two dependent variables relating to population viability (population size, percentage fawn survival) using a retrospective time series analysis. After testing for autocorrelations, two generalized least squares (GLS) models with autocorrelations at 3 and 6 years [GLS-AR(3, 6)] were identified as the best models to explain environmental effects on populations size. Wolf encounter rate had a significant negative effect on G. arabica population size, while G. dorcas population size had a significant positive effect, suggesting that wolf predation shapes the population size of both gazelle species. For percentage fawn survival, model residuals did not reveal any significant autocorrelation and the best fit GLS-AR(0) model retained only wolf encounter rate and mean annual maximal temperature as significant predictors. This result suggests a strong impact of wolf predation and increasing temperatures on the fawn survival of Arabian gazelles. Changed rainfall patterns, food availability and competition between gazelle species had no impact on fawn survival.
      PubDate: 2019-10-21
       
  • Integrating habitat- and species-based perspectives for wetland
           conservation in lowland agricultural landscapes

    • Abstract: Wetlands are among the most endangered ecosystems worldwide with multiple direct and indirect stressors, especially in human-altered areas like intensive agricultural landscapes. Conservation management and efforts often focus on species diversity and charismatic taxa, but scarcely consider habitats. By focusing on a complex formed by 107 permanent wetlands at 18 Natura 2000 sites in the Emilia-Romagna region (northern Italy), the patterns of habitats of conservation concern were investigated and the concordance with threatened species patterns was analysed. Wetlands were characterised in terms of morphology, connectivity, land use and management as drivers of assemblage and richness patterns of habitats. Our results showed a strong concordance between the distribution and richness patterns of both habitats and threatened taxa (birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, invertebrates, and plants). Thus, habitats seem an effective proxy of species patterns. The variables related with perimeter, environmental heterogeneity and presence of water bodies were the most important ones associated with habitat richness patterns. The presence of aquatic systems (measured as the percentage of wetland area occupied by an aquatic surface) and their position in the hydrographic network were associated mostly with habitats distribution. Low richness wetlands (in habitat terms) were not complementary as no new habitat types were supported. The results stressed the relevance of wetlands with wide water body perimeters composed of diverse systems as being key for biodiversity conservation in a simplified agricultural matrix. Integrating habitat- and species-based perspectives seems a promising field and may provide a rapid assessment tool to acquire effective information for wetlands conservation and assessment.
      PubDate: 2019-10-17
       
  • Assessing agri-environmental schemes for semi-natural grasslands during a
           5-year period: can we see positive effects for vascular plants and
           pollinators'

    • Abstract: An important function of agri-environmental schemes (AES) is to change management of pastures to better conserve biodiversity. However, the effects of most AES on biodiversity are poorly understood, especially when it comes to effects of AES management over time. The main aim of this study is to investigate if the species richness and abundance of grassland specialists of vascular plants and two important insect pollinator groups (bumblebees and butterflies) differ over time (5 years) in pastures with AES management (two value levels; general values and special values) and pastures without AES management. We also investigate if local vegetation characteristics and landscape composition relate to species richness in semi-natural grasslands. Using data from more than 400 sites we found that species richness of vascular plants (grassland specialists) was higher in pastures with AES management (for special and general values) compared to those without AES, which implies that these schemes do have value of the conservation of plant diversity. However, species richness and abundance of butterflies (grassland specialists) and bumblebees (all species) did not differ significantly among the three AES categories. We found no evidence that the type of AES management caused any changes in species richness of plants, butterflies or bumblebees during the 5 year period of our investigation. It appears that AES management that encourages uniform and minimum levels of grazing can have both positive and negative effects on biodiversity. For example, pollinators may benefit from a lower grazing intensity that could increase flower richness and heterogeneity in vegetation height. However, low grazing intensity may lead to increased cover of trees and shrubs, which can have negative effects for both insect pollinators and vascular plants. The effects of landscape composition were weak and only species richness of bumble bees were associated with landscape composition. Designing management regimes to maintain suitably heterogeneous vegetation layer, and continued long-term monitoring of biodiversity will be critical for safeguarding culturally and functionally important semi-natural grasslands.
      PubDate: 2019-10-16
       
  • Principal threats to the conservation of freshwater habitats in the
           continental biogeographical region of Central Europe

    • Abstract: In this paper, we discuss the threats to freshwater habitats that are highly important to the European Community in the Continental Biogeographical Region of Europe, specifically in Poland. The study covers nine freshwater habitat types distinguished in Natura 2000, Annex I of the Habitats Directive, which is a network of nature protection areas in the territory: standing water bodies (3110, 3130, 3140, 3150, and 3160) and running water (3260, 3220, 3240, and 3270), occurring in 806 Special Areas of Conservation in Poland. Of the 72,673 km2 total area of freshwater habitat covered by Natura 2000 in Poland, only 25.70% was classified, from the period 2006‒2018, as favourable status, whereas 68.72% was classified as unfavourable inadequate or unfavourable bad status. Based on a multivariate analysis, we found that significant differences in the conservation status of freshwater habitats resulted from a variety of threats, pressures, and activities, among which the most significant are urbanization and residential and commercial development; transportation and service corridors; decreased and unstable water resources; fishing and harvesting of aquatic resources; agricultural pollution; improper management and use of the agricultural catchment and forest catchment; changes in biocenotic evolution, invasive species succession, and more intense touristic exploration. The changes in conservation status of habitats 3110, 3130, 3140, 3160, and 3260 are also associated with climate change. Taking into account the threats identified, a list of recommended practices for the freshwater habitat types is presented, to be considered in habitat conservation programmes.
      PubDate: 2019-10-15
       
  • Evidence of a further emerging threat to lion conservation; targeted
           poaching for body parts

    • Abstract: The African lion, Panthera leo, has, like many of the world’s megafauna, become threatened with extinction over the past century. Loss of habitat and prey, persecution in retaliation of livestock depredation, by-catch by bushmeat poachers and unsustainable trophy hunting are all documented anthropogenic caused threats to lion conservation. Here we present data that indicate the emergence of a further threat to lion conservation: the targeted poaching of lions for body parts. We present lion abundance and mortality data from field surveys in southern Africa between 2011 and 2018 of a resident lion population. The targeted poaching of lions for body parts accounted for 35% of known human caused mortalities across the landscape and 61% of mortalities within Limpopo National Park with a clear increase in this pressure in 2014. Retaliatory killing for livestock conflict accounted for 51% of total mortalities, however in 48% of conflict cases body parts were also removed, suggesting that a demand for body parts may incentivize conflict related killing of lions. The use of poison was the most common means of killing lions and was recorded in 61% of mortalities. Teeth and claws were the body parts harvested most often from illegally killed animals in the study area, with an increase from 2014 onwards. This pressure threatens the viability of the species in our study area and the success of current conservation initiatives. We suggest that the results of this study be viewed as a warning to the global conservation community to be vigilant of the impact that illegal wildlife trade can have on the conservation of lions, just as a similar pressure has already had on other big cat populations.
      PubDate: 2019-10-15
       
  • Erosion of phylogenetic diversity in Neotropical bat assemblages: findings
           from a whole-ecosystem fragmentation experiment

    • Abstract: The traditional focus on taxonomic diversity metrics for investigating species responses to habitat loss and fragmentation has limited our understanding of how biodiversity is impacted by habitat modification. This is particularly true for taxonomic groups such as bats which exhibit species-specific responses. Here, we investigate phylogenetic alpha and beta diversity of Neotropical bat assemblages across two environmental gradients, one in habitat quality and one in habitat amount. We surveyed bats in 39 sites located across a whole-ecosystem fragmentation experiment in the Brazilian Amazon, representing a gradient of habitat quality (interior-edge-matrix, hereafter IEM) in both continuous forest and forest fragments of different sizes (1, 10, and 100 ha; forest size gradient). For each habitat category, we quantified alpha and beta phylogenetic diversity, then used linear mixed-effects models and cluster analysis to explore how forest area and IEM gradient affect phylogenetic diversity. We found that the secondary forest matrix harboured significantly lower total evolutionary history compared to the fragment interiors, especially the matrix near the 1 ha fragments, containing bat assemblages with more closely related species. Forest fragments ≥ 10 ha had levels of phylogenetic richness similar to continuous forest, suggesting that large fragments retain considerable levels of evolutionary history. The edge and matrix adjacent to large fragments tend to have closely related lineages nonetheless, suggesting phylogenetic homogenization in these IEM gradient categories. Thus, despite the high mobility of bats, fragmentation still induces considerable levels of erosion of phylogenetic diversity, suggesting that the full amount of evolutionary history might not be able to persist in present-day human-modified landscapes.
      PubDate: 2019-10-14
       
  • Global large herbivore conservation and international law

    • Abstract: Large wild herbivore species are important to ecosystems and human societies, but many of them are threatened and in decline. International wildlife treaties have a role to play in arresting and reversing these declines. This paper provides a global overview and analysis of relevant legal instruments and their roles regarding the conservation of the 73 largest terrestrial herbivores, i.e., those with a body mass of ≥ 100 kg. Outcomes reveal both significant positive contributions and shortcomings of the Ramsar Wetlands Convention, the World Heritage Convention, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the Convention on Migratory Species and its subsidiary instruments, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and a range of regional and bilateral treaties. Maximizing the potential of these treaties, and attaining their objectives regarding the conservation and restoration of large herbivores, requires substantial increases in funding and political will. Even before such game-changing increases occur, however, it remains worthwhile to seek and use the many opportunities that exist within the current international legal framework for enhancing the conservation of the world’s largest herbivores.
      PubDate: 2019-09-25
       
  • Large-scale habitat model reveals a key role of large trees and protected
           areas in the metapopulation survival of the saproxylic specialist Cucujus
           cinnaberinus

    • Abstract: Deforestation for agricultural purposes and logging over centuries has resulted in a significant loss of forest cover and the deep structural and functional simplification of persistent European woodlands, which has led to a large-scale decline in biodiversity. Despite recent reforestation efforts in many regions of Europe, populations of numerous forest species remain unrecovered. Due to the loss of ecological continuity and the simplification of the ecosystem structure and functionality, the value of secondary forests in sustaining habitat specialists is being questioned. Here, we build a large-scale habitat suitability model to predict the current potential of forests to host populations of the flagship European saproxylic beetle Cucujus cinnaberinus. Our maximum entropy model revealed that the distribution of suitable habitats strongly corresponds to the occurrence of large and well-preserved forest complexes that are characterized by an ecological continuity of the stands. Among the analysed environmental variables, the mean tree diameter and distance to protected areas were the most important suitable habitat contributors. The optimum habitats were identified almost exclusively within some parts of the Carpathians and the northeastern part of the country, particularly in the Białowieża Forest, which include the best preserved European forests. Although a large number of small habitat patches was revealed across the country, these patches were highly scattered and had low predicted suitability. This study demonstrates that most woodlands are unsuitable for C. cinnaberinus, which points to the limited value of secondary forests for habitat specialists. Our findings emphasize the importance of large and intact forests with undisrupted ecological continuity as key areas for the persistence of the rare saproxylic beetle, which provokes questions about the effectiveness of reforestation as a tool for the conservation of forest habitat specialists.
      PubDate: 2019-09-18
       
  • Funding for nature conservation: a study of public finance networks at
           World Wide Fund for nature (WWF)

    • Abstract: One of the greatest challenges in nature conservation is funding. In the pursuit of new financing sources critical to fight biodiversity and ecosystem loss, nature conservation organisations increasingly aim to create networks between states, markets and civil society. Using Manuel Castells’ network theory and World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) as a case study, this article aims at understanding how large conservation NGOs utilise networking in their pursuit for funding. Apart from increasing income by attracting public funds from governments and aid agencies, around 2010 WWF’s public sector finance strategy expanded to influencing and leveraging finance—both public and private—using public funds. During WWF’s engagement with private sector financing, paradoxically its public sector financing grew at the average rate of 7.5% per year. Our network analysis shows that WWF has continuously reworked and renegotiated its position in order to stay connected to the ‘space of flows’. WWF and other large conservation organisations have to be in the right networks, speak the right language, and connect to relevant social, informational and political flows to stay relevant and connected to substantial flows of funding.
      PubDate: 2019-08-28
       
  • From ecological knowledge to conservation policy: a case study on green
           tree retention and continuous-cover forestry in Sweden

    • Abstract: The extent to which scientific knowledge translates into practice is a pervasive question. We analysed to what extent and how ecological scientists gave input to policy for two approaches advocated for promoting forest biodiversity in production forests in Sweden: green-tree retention (GTR) and continuous-cover forestry (CCF). GTR was introduced into forest policy in the 1970s and became widely implemented in the 1990s. Ecological scientists took part in the policy process by providing expert opinions, educational activities and as lobbyists, long before research confirming the positive effects of GTR on biodiversity was produced. In contrast, CCF was essentially banned in forest legislation in 1979. In the 1990s, policy implicitly opened up for CCF implementation, but CCF still remains largely a rare silvicultural outlier. Scientific publications addressing CCF appeared earlier than GTR studies, but with less focus on the effects on biodiversity. Ecological scientists promoted CCF in certain areas, but knowledge from other disciplines and other socio-political factors appear to have been more important than ecological arguments in the case of CCF. The wide uptake of GTR was enhanced by its consistency with the silvicultural knowledge and normative values that forest managers had adopted for almost a century, whereas CCF challenged those ideas. Public pressure and institutional requirements were also key to GTR implementation but were not in place for CCF. Thus, scientific ecological knowledge may play an important role for policy uptake and development, but knowledge from other research disciplines and socio-political factors are also important.
      PubDate: 2019-08-26
       
  • Competing discourses of the forest shape forest owners’ ideas about
           nature and biodiversity conservation

    • Abstract: Competing discourses of the forest guide forest-owners’ ideas about the proper forest use and about the need to conserve biodiversity. In this paper, we examine how five predefined forest discourses (re)produced by Finnish forest owners treat nature and biodiversity conservation. Our critical discourse analysis combines qualitative content analysis with quantitative multivariate methods (NMDS). The data consists of in-depth interviews with 24 Finnish forest-owners. The five forest discourses formed a gradient from an absence of nature issues to a profound ecological pondering with deep affection and responsibility for nature. The discourses in between these two ends of the gradient contained narration on personal experiences but lacked the moral responsibility and deep theorizing typical of the nature-oriented discourse. The nature-oriented discourse proposed forest uses where the needs of nature were raised to a determining role whereas the other four discourses adhered to the standard economy-driven forest management paradigm. Both nature and the forest-owners with a strong relationship with nature appeared marginalised in the prevailing order of the forest discourses. The discoursal conditions that we evidenced did not favour biodiversity conservation among forest-owners. The results thus call for active forest policy that aims to transform the prevailing order of the discourses, but also tries to overcome the discoursal hinders for biodiversity conservation within the prevailing order.
      PubDate: 2019-08-17
       
  • Opinions of citizen scientists on open access to UK butterfly and moth
           occurrence data

    • Abstract: Citizen science plays an increasingly important role in biodiversity research and conservation, enabling large volumes of data to be gathered across extensive spatial scales in a cost-effective manner. Open access increases the utility of such data, informing land-use decisions that may affect species persistence, enhancing transparency and encouraging proliferation of research applications. However, open access provision of recent, fine-scale spatial information on the locations of species may also prompt legitimate concerns among contributors regarding possible unintended negative conservation impacts, violations of privacy and commercial exploitation of volunteer-gathered data. Here we canvas the attitudes towards open access of contributors (104 regional co-ordinators and 510 recorders) of species occurrence records to two of the largest citizen science biodiversity recording schemes, the UK’s Butterflies for the New Millennium project and National Moth Recording Scheme. We find that while the majority of participants expressed support for open access in principle, most were more cautious in practice, preferring to limit the spatial resolution of records, particularly of threatened species, and restrict commercial reuse of data. In addition, citizen scientists’ opinions differed between UK countries, taxonomic groups and the level of involvement volunteers had in the schemes. In order to maintain successful and democratic citizen science schemes, organisers, funders and data users must understand and respect participants’ expectations and aspirations regarding open data while seeking to optimise data use for scientific and societal benefits.
      PubDate: 2019-07-29
       
  • Genetic diversity and connectivity in fragmented populations of Rhinanthus
           minor in two regions with contrasting land-use

    • Abstract: Knowledge of genetic diversity and connectivity within and between populations of specialist meadow plants is crucial to developing effective conservation strategies at the landscape-scale. This study investigated levels of genetic diversity within, and gene flow between populations of a key annual species, Rhinanthus minor in protected meadows and landscape matrix sites in two contrasting regions. Possible barriers to gene flow were also analysed. Leaf material from 714 individuals in an extensively managed upland region and an intensively managed lowland region of the UK was genotyped using microsatellite markers. Genetic diversity was similar in the two regions (He = 0.48 and 0.44). FST values indicated population differentiation in both regions but the estimate was higher in the lowland (FST = 0.28) than in the upland region (FST = 0.19); evidence of global structure was revealed in a spatial principal components analysis but a maximum likelihood population effects model did not identify significant predictors of population differentiation after testing the effects of Euclidean geographic distance, land cover and elevation. Conservation strategies should aim to maintain large populations in meadows to enhance genetic diversity. At the same time the focus should be on existing and additional species-rich grassland fragments, particularly in areas of intensive land-use, if genetic connectivity is to be retained.
      PubDate: 2019-07-24
       
  • The impact of salvage logging on herb layer species composition and plant
           community recovery in Białowieża Forest

    • Abstract: Białowieża Forest is one of the closest to pristine forest ecosystems in temperate vegetation zone in European Lowland, which is still being transformed by forest management. We investigated the effects of salvage logging of spruce stands killed by bark beetle on the recovery process and the biodiversity of the herb layer in the early stages of vegetation development after felling, on the habitat of mixed deciduous, oak-lime-hornbeam forest (Tilio-Carpinetum). We tested: (i) to what extent salvage logging modifies the plant species richness and diversity compared to sites left intact; (ii) whether clear-felling leads to an increase in diversity of vascular plants; and (iii) which ecological groups of plants benefit, and which are hindered by disturbance, depending on age and size of the clear-felled site. Salvage harvesting executed between 2012 and 2016 led to an increase in overall plant diversity. However, the winners were the species of open habitats, promoted by soil disturbance, whereas the number and cover of ancient forest indicator species decreased in comparison to unlogged forests. Both trends were significantly related to the increasing size of clear-felled sites, and developed right after logging. A comparison of the species composition of the disturbed (logged and unlogged) sites with undisturbed forest with stands unaffected by infestation, treated as control plots revealed the great potential of the affected sites for spontaneous recovery towards the oak-lime-hornbeam forest community, despite 50–90 years of spruce-dominated stand cover. We conclude that continuous deterioration of the forest habitats via clearcutting of stands affected by insect outbreak, followed by tree planting, substantially reduces the chances of successful, natural regeneration towards deciduous, structurally complex and diverse forests.
      PubDate: 2019-06-15
       
 
 
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