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Biodiversity and Conservation
Journal Prestige (SJR): 1.243
Citation Impact (citeScore): 3
Number of Followers: 212  

  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Print) 0960-3115 - ISSN (Online) 1572-9710
Published by Springer-Verlag Homepage  [2351 journals]
  • Assessing vulnerability of forest ecosystem in the Indian Western
           Himalayan region using trends of net primary productivity

    • Abstract: The Himalayan ecosystem is one of the sensitive and fragile ecosystems with rich biodiversity that provides major ecosystem services. The study was conducted to measure the extent of vulnerability across forested grids of Uttarakhand—one of the States of Indian Western Himalayan (IWH) region. The forests of the state are exposed to various anthropogenic and natural climatic pressures, thus making them vulnerable. In this paper, we demonstrate how to map vulnerability of forest ecosystem by analyzing variability and trends of net primary productivity (NPP). The vulnerability of the forest ecosystem was evaluated through trends of sensitivity and adaptability of NPP. The sensitivity of a system was considered as the response degree of the system to climatic variability whereas adaptability was considered as the ability to maintain, recover or improve its structure in the face of climatic stresses. In our study, NPP was considered as the receptor of shock and stresses of climatic variability and human disturbances. We discuss the method and results with reference to productivity changes under the influence of changing climate for the forested landscape of a mountainous region. The results have been summarized to rank vulnerability at the level of administrative boundary of governance, i.e. district. Average value of vulnerability for all NPP pixels of forests grids in a district was used to compute the vulnerability at district level. The study will help forest managers in decision making for efficiently allocating resources and to prioritize management options in the identified regions to improve productivity in coming times.
      PubDate: 2019-07-01
  • Diversity loss in grasslands due to the increasing dominance of alien and
           native competitive herbs

    • Abstract: The increasing dominance of competitive plant species may reduce species richness of plant communities. Yet, species richness may depend on spatial scale and the alien versus native status of the dominant species. To explore the dominance effects of alien versus native species on species richness, we sampled semi-natural grasslands in southwestern Poland. We established 100 m2 squares at different grassland sites, and in two opposite corners we placed two series of five nested plots (0.001, 0.01, 0.1, 1 and 10 m2), in which we recorded all vascular plant species. Next, we selected squares with a strongly dominant plant in one corner (high-dominance series) and with no strong dominant in the opposite corner (low-dominance series). The number of species per plot and the slopes of the species–area curves fitted to each nested-plot series were used to assess whether the alien vs. native status of the dominant species influences species-richness pattern across scales. We found a significantly lower number of species in the high-dominance series than in the low-dominance series, regardless of the alien versus native status of the dominant species. The slopes of the species–area curves indicated that the rate of species accumulation with increasing area was faster in the high-dominance series than in the low-dominance series; however, this pattern did not depend on the alien vs. native status of the dominants. Our study confirms that increasing dominance is linked to a decline in species richness, but reveals that alien dominants do not have a stronger impact than native dominants.
      PubDate: 2019-06-17
  • Protected area conflicts: a state-of-the-art review and a proposed
           integrated conceptual framework for reclaiming the role of geography

    • Abstract: Despite the recent paradigmatic shift in conservation science, protected areas (PAs), which are associated with seminal conservation strategies, remain a key tool for achieving biodiversity conservation. Nevertheless, PAs’ effectiveness as conservation measures is undermined by conflicts arising within their socio-ecological systems. Potential reasons for the negative impact of the conflicts include the tendency of researchers to emphasise managerial or behavioural aspects of conservation conflicts, while neglecting to develop theoretical foundations for conflict analysis. We aimed to critically review existing conceptual frameworks applied within the broadly defined field of conservation conflicts and to develop a new more comprehensive framework that better reflects contemporary identified challenges within nature conservation. We particularly proposed and emphasised the integration of a geographical perspective within existing interdisciplinary approaches for the application to PA settings. We systemised and unified conflict-related terminology, assessed the contributions and limitations of existing frameworks and identified critical gaps in the field. These gaps are: inadequate recognition of the spatial aspects of conflict analysis, a lack of consistency between individual-level and community-level frameworks and a lack of systematic linkages among the main structural attributes of conflicts, such as determinants, interests or types of conflicts. We systematically distinguished 26 conflict-related terms, including: conflict frames, images, orientations, factors, categories, issues, potential, or intensity. Our framework covers three major conflict components (determinants, dimensions, levels) and foregrounds the socio-psychological and spatial characteristics of PA conflicts, while enabling systemisation of existing conservation conflict typologies.
      PubDate: 2019-06-12
  • The effect of cyanobacterial blooms on bio- and functional diversity of
           zooplankton communities

    • Abstract: Global biodiversity decline is believed to be caused by high anthropopressure. Particularly vulnerable habitats are freshwater ecosystems, which are hotspots of biodiversity. The threat to these ecosystems are cyanobacterial blooms, which tend to proliferate in the face of climate changes. Cyanobacteria development and dominance affect the whole food web, especially the zooplankton community. We used three classical biodiversity indexes (species richness, Simpson’s Diversity Index and Shannon Diversity Index) and three functional diversity indexes (functional richness, functional evenness and functional divergence) to study the impact of cyanobacterial bloom on the zooplankton community. The study was conducted in water bodies with a different period of bloom duration (short-lasting blooms vs. long-lasting blooms) in order to determine the impact of the proliferated blooms on the aquatic ecosystems. Use of functional diversity indexes allowed for identifying changes that can be overlooked by classical biodiversity indexes. We conclude that cyanobacterial bloom involves modifications of functional trait space of studied communities and, in consequence, functioning of aquatic ecosystems.
      PubDate: 2019-06-01
  • Temporal gamma-diversity meets spatial alpha-diversity in dynamically
           varying ecosystems

    • Abstract: Community measures collected at a single instance or over a short temporal period rarely provide a complete accounting of biological diversity. The gap between such “snapshot” measures of diversity and actual diversity can be especially large in systems that undergo great temporal variation in environmental conditions. To adequately quantify diversity in these temporally varying ecosystems, individual measures of diversity collected throughout the range of environmental variation, i.e., temporal alpha-diversity measures, must be combined to obtain temporal gamma-diversity. Such a time-integrated gamma-diversity measure will be a much closer approximation of a site’s true alpha-diversity and provide a measure better comparable to spatial alpha-diversity measures of sites with lower temporal variation for which a single or a few “snapshot” measures may suffice. We used aquatic-macroinvertebrate community-composition data collected over a 24-year period from a complex of 16 prairie-pothole wetlands to explore the rate that taxa accumulate over time at sites with differing degrees of temporal variation. Our results show that the rate of taxa accumulation over time, i.e., the slope of the species–time relationship, is steeper for wetlands with ponds that frequently dry compared to those with more-permanent ponds. Additionally, we found that a logarithmic function better fit species accumulation data for seasonally ponded wetlands whereas a power function better fit accumulations for permanently and semi-permanently ponded wetlands. Thus, interpretations of ecological diversity measures, and conservation decisions that rely on these interpretations, can be biased if temporal variations in community composition are not adequately represented.
      PubDate: 2019-06-01
  • Patterns in island endemic forest-dependent bird research: the Caribbean
           as a case-study

    • Abstract: Unequal patterns in research effort can result in inaccurate assessments of species extinction risk or ineffective management. A group of notable conservation concern are tropical island endemic birds, many of which are also forest-dependent, which increases their vulnerability to extinction. Yet, island bird species have received limited research attention compared to their continental congeners, despite this taxon being globally regarded as well-studied. We used the insular Caribbean, a globally important endemism hotspot with high rates of deforestation, to explore research bias of island and regional endemic forest-dependent birds. A review of the published literature (n = 992) found no significant increase in the number of studies over the search period. Research effort was significantly higher among species with threatened status, long generation time, wide habitat breadth and low to intermediate elevational distributions. Among family groups, the Psittacidae received the highest research effort, while the Cuculidae were the most underrepresented family (30-fold higher and six-fold less than expected, respectively). We found geographic biases in effort, with Jamaica having six-fold less and Puerto Rico eight times more research than expected for their level of endemism. These patterns likely reflect individual interests and limited capacity and funding, typical of Small Island Developing States. With over 50% of species in this review having declining population trends, we recommend prioritizing research that emphasises conservation- and management-relevant data across underrepresented families and islands, by fostering greater collaboration between researchers, practitioners and the existing local amateur ornithological community.
      PubDate: 2019-05-04
  • Factors associated with co-occurrence of large carnivores in a
           human-dominated landscape

    • Abstract: We investigated the factors facilitating co-occurrence of two large carnivores, tigers (Panthera tigris) and common leopards (Panthera pardus), within a human-dominated landscape. We estimated their density and population size using camera-trap photographs and examined spatial segregation of habitats, temporal activity pattern, and diets in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. A Bayesian spatially-explicit capture-recapture model estimated densities of 3.2–4.6 (3.94 ± 0.37) tigers and 2.6–4.1 (3.31 ± 0.4) leopards per 100 km2 with abundance of 70–102 tigers and 66–105 leopards. Tigers occupied the prime habitats (grasslands and riverine forests) in alluvial floodplains of the Park whereas leopards appeared in Sal forests and marginal areas where livestock are present. Both tigers and leopards showed crepuscular activity patterns with a high overlap but tigers were less active during the day compared to leopards. Leopards’ activity in the day increased in the presence of tigers. Tiger and leopard diet overlapped considerably (90%). Compared to leopards, tigers consumed a higher proportion of the large prey and a smaller proportion of livestock. Our study demonstrates that sympatric large carnivores can coexist in high densities in prey rich areas that contain a mosaics of habitats. To increase the resilience and size of the Chitwan carnivore population, strategies are needed to increase prey biomass and prevent livestock depredation in adjacent forests. Long-term monitoring is also required to obtain a detailed understanding of the interaction between the large carnivores and their effects on local communities living in forest fringes within the landscape.
      PubDate: 2019-05-01
  • Elephants never forget, should art museums remember too' Historic
           ivory collections as ambassadors for conservation education

    • Abstract: Ivory in art museum collections has been a contentious topic during recent years, with some parties calling for its destruction. But analysis of media reactions to the parallel strategy of burning modern ivory stockpiles may offer insight to the likely effectiveness of that course of action in museums: such burns have seemingly fallen short in sending a clear and enduring message to the intended demographics—be this consumers, dealers, poachers or traffickers. This prompts us to suggest an alternative to the destruction of museum ivory: that art museums with ivory collections take on the challenge and responsibility of imparting powerful conservation messages. This article explores the potential of ivory artworks as educational ambassadors, as well as the international reach of museums to target demographics in key ivory consumer regions such as South East Asia, and the ethical obligations of museums with ivory collections to participate in conservation education. In placing a useful lens on these currently controversial artworks, museum ivory would be endowed with a new critical relevance as educational ambassadors for contemporary conservation issues, simultaneously offering justification for the preservation and display of these historic artworks that many museums are presently reluctant to exhibit. In highlighting the potential of museum ivory as a vehicle for conservation education we highlight the need for heightened holistic collaboration across disciplines to ensure that conservation messages reach diverse audiences in novel and impactful ways.
      PubDate: 2019-05-01
  • Long-term experimental management in Swedish mixed oak-rich forests has a
           positive effect on saproxylic beetles after 10¬†years

    • Abstract: Secondary succession in protected oak-rich temperate forests reduces variation in habitats and leads to denser, shadier sites. Long-term experimental studies of the effects of conservation management alternatives are needed for such forests. Here we present a rare follow-up study of the response of beetles (a highly diverse taxon with many red listed species) to conservation thinning, an action that could favour biodiversity. We previously harvested about 25% of the tree and shrub basal area in a treatment plot, and no trees and shrubs in a nearby matched minimal intervention plot, in each of eight oak-rich (Quercus robur and/or petrea) forest reserves. After two seasons, thinning had led to an increased number of species of both herbivorous and saproxylic beetles. In the present study, we examined the 10-year response of the beetle groups at the same sites. For herbivorous beetles, the initial positive effect of thinning on the number of species had disappeared after 10 years, presumably because of regrowth. In contrast, saproxylic beetles showed a further positive response after 10 years, increasing in the number of species by a third compared to before thinning. We found no change in species composition of either group due to the thinning, but many saproxylics were unique to thinning plots. Overall, our results suggest that in mixed oak-rich forests, saproxylic beetles seem to benefit from conservation-oriented thinning for at least 10 years.
      PubDate: 2019-05-01
  • Understanding the effects of biotic and abiotic factors on sources of
           aquatic environmental DNA

    • Abstract: Analysis of environmental DNA (eDNA) offers an unprecedented ability to accurately survey biodiversity from aquatic ecosystems. Although eDNA methods have been applied to myriad taxa, scientists are now moving away from proof-of-concept work, ultimately evaluating the limits and opportunities of this technology to detect and quantify abundance across organisms and environments. Important considerations enabling such methodology to be used for aquatic conservation contexts includes understanding both the effects of (1) the amount of eDNA released from focal taxa—sources, and (2) the removal of eDNA in the environment—sinks. I review publications on aquatic macroorganism eDNA that have evaluated or considered the effect of sources on signal detection (or quantification) and find few studies acknowledge, and fewer still evaluate, the impact of eDNA production on genomic signal recovery. In this review, I encourage readers to carefully consider source dynamics, and using previously published literature, dissect what roles biotic (e.g. life-history traits, species interactions including stressors) and abiotic (e.g. temperature, salinity) factors likely play in eDNA deposition and recovery, and how this impacts detection, abundance, biomass estimation, and ultimately informed signal interpretation. I further explore the physical sources of eDNA and propose other methods (spatial and temporal) and markers to assist in identifying eDNA origins in aquatic systems. Understanding how these parameters influence variation in eDNA sources will allow for a more comprehensive survey tool, and potentially give insights into environment-population responses.
      PubDate: 2019-04-01
  • Predicting hotspots for threatened plant species in boreal peatlands

    • Abstract: Understanding the spatial patterns of species distribution and predicting suitable habitats for threatened species are central themes in land use management and planning. In this study, we examined the geographic distribution of threatened mire plant species and identified their national hotspots, i.e. areas with high amounts of suitable habitats for threatened mire plant species. We also determined the main environmental correlates related to the distribution patterns of these species. The specific aims were to: (1) identify the environmental variables that control the distribution of threatened peatland species in a boreal aapa mire zone, Finland; and (2) to identify the richness patterns and hotspots of threatened species. Our results showed that the combination of individual species models offers a useful tool for identifying landscape-scale richness patterns for threatened plant species. The modeling performance was high across the modelled species, and the richness patterns generated by single models coincide with the expected richness pattern based on expert knowledge. The method is therefore a powerful tool for basic biodiversity applications. In cases where reliable models for species occurrences and hotspots can be produced, these models can play a significant role in land-use planning and help managers to meet different conservation challenges.
      PubDate: 2019-04-01
  • Managing plant genetic resources using low and ultra-low temperature
           storage: a case study of tomato

    • Abstract: Ex situ preservation of plant genetic resources is essential. Tomato is one of the most important vegetable crops on the market. However, the genetic diversity of the clade is limited and suffering from genetic erosion phenomenon. Genebanks experience alleles loss on regeneration of small samples, genetic drift, and somaclonal variation in in vitro cultures. Therefore, the development of more efficient ex situ preservation protocols is required. Storage of accessions at low temperatures allows for the reduction of cell metabolic activity and medium or even long-term preservation. Working and active collections of tomato seeds can be stored at + 5 °C, at reduced humidity. Medium-term storage of seeds and pollen can be performed at freezing temperatures (− 20 °C or − 80 °C). This, however, is highly limited as it requires special freezers and can affect the fecundity of the specimens. As for long-term storage, cryopreservation in liquid nitrogen (− 196 °C to c.a. − 140 °C) is also effective. Over time, several cryopreservation techniques have been successfully applied with tomato pollen, seeds and shoot tips, including: slow cooling (not common anymore), desiccation, encapsulation-dehydration, droplet-vitrification and V-cryo-plate. Despite those studies reported high survival and no morphological variation of cryopreservation-recovered shoots, some differences between cryopreserved and non-cryopreserved samples, revealed by biochemical, ultrastructural and molecular analyses, were observed. The intensity of those alternations was depending on the cell type, cultivar or plant generation. In the future, more attention could be focused on cryoprotection of embryogenic tissues and application of novel cryopreservation techniques, e.g. vacuum infiltration vitrification.
      PubDate: 2019-04-01
  • Long-term survival and successful conservation' Low genetic diversity
           but no evidence for reduced reproductive success at the north-westernmost
           range edge of Poa badensis (Poaceae) in Central Europe

    • Abstract: Many steppe species reach their (north)westernmost distribution limit in western Central Europe. This also applies to Poa badensis, a rare steppe plant of calcareous rock/sand vegetation. To explore potential differences in reproductive success and genetic composition of peripheral populations, we analysed the absolute (north)westernmost occurrences in Western Germany and populations at the western margin (Eastern Austria) and the centre (Central Hungary) of the Pannonicum, representing a part of the continuous range. Specifically, we discuss the genetic and reproductive constitution of the (north)westernmost exclave and draw conclusions on the species’ biogeographical and conservation history in this region. Therefore, we used two independent molecular marker systems (AFLPs, cpDNA sequences) and a set of performance parameters. Overall, lowest regional genetic diversity was found in Western Germany, which is mainly a result of the specific history of two populations. However, this low genetic diversity was not accompanied by reduced reproductive success. The Eastern Austrian populations showed reduced genetic diversity and predominantly reduced performance, interpreted as a consequence of small population sizes. Central Hungarian populations showed the overall highest genetic diversity and comparatively high performance values. We observed high admixture and haplotype sharing between Austrian and Hungarian populations, indicating gene flow among these regions. In contrast, we interpreted the increased population differentiation within, and the clear distinctiveness of the German exclave as a long-term isolation of these (north)westernmost occurrences. Our results, overall, prove the good constitution of these populations and, together with their particular biogeographical history, highlight their conservation value.
      PubDate: 2019-04-01
  • Carpooling with ecologists, geographers and taxonomists: perceptions from
           conducting environmental research in tropical regions

    • Abstract: Greater than 80% of species on Earth are awaiting formal description, and simultaneously, many of these species unknown to science are becoming extinct. Here we highlight the importance and benefits of collaborating and working in interdisciplinary research groups, to improve quality and efficiency of both ecological and taxonomic research. The aim of this paper is to share and critique two methods used when conducting environmental field research in taxonomically data-poor parts of the world, such as Borneo. Through discussions with geographers, ecologists and taxonomists these two methods are evaluated. We conclude with a suggested solution to push taxonomic knowledge barriers by creating inter-disciplinary communities of researchers who work together to improve taxonomic identifications.
      PubDate: 2019-03-01
  • Using IUCN criteria to perform rapid assessments of at-risk taxa

    • Abstract: The IUCN Red List criteria are a globally accepted method of assessing species extinction risk, and countries around the world are adapting these criteria for domestic use. First, we compared trends in IUCN Red List criteria used in threatened plant species listings in Australia and globally. Second, using the state of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, as a study region, we conducted two complementary analyses: (1) An assessment of ~ 5000 currently unlisted NSW plant species against the thresholds for the geographic range criterion (Criterion B) to identify species which may require full assessment; and (2) A rapid assessment of currently listed threatened plant species, applying the IUCN Red List Critically Endangered thresholds for all criteria, to identify species likely to be at the highest risk of extinction from further decline. Impacts on these species could be considered to be “serious and irreversible impacts” (SAII). Geographic range size was the most common criterion used in Australia and globally for plant listings. Our assessment of unlisted NSW plant species revealed 92 species (75 endemic to NSW) met the geographic range thresholds for Critically Endangered. Our rapid assessments of currently listed NSW threatened plant species identified 53.5% as having an extremely high risk of extinction should further decline occur. Of these, most were flagged under Criterion B (88.8%). Geographic range and the other IUCN Red List criteria thresholds for Critically Endangered provide a useful framework to identify species at an extremely high risk of extinction from ongoing decline.
      PubDate: 2019-03-01
  • Incorporating knowledge uncertainty into species distribution modelling

    • Abstract: Monitoring progress towards global goals and biodiversity targets require reliable descriptions of species distributions over time and space. Current gaps in accessible information on species distributions urges the need for integrating all available data and knowledge sources, and intensifying cooperations to more effectively support global environmental governance. For many areas and species groups, experts can constitute a valuable source of information to fill the gaps by offering their knowledge on species-environment interactions. However, expert knowledge is always subject to uncertainty, and incorporating that into species distribution mapping poses a challenge. We propose the use of the dempster–shafer theory of evidence (DST) as a novel approach in this field to extract expert knowledge, to incorporate the associated uncertainty into the procedure, and to produce reliable species distribution maps. We applied DST to model the distribution of two species of eagle in Spain. We invited experts to fill in an online questionnaire and express their beliefs on the habitat of the species by assigning probability values for given environmental variables, along with their confidence in expressing the beliefs. We then calculated evidential functions, and combined them using Dempster’s rules of combination to map the species distribution based on the experts’ knowledge. We evaluated the performances of our proposed approach using the atlas of Spanish breeding birds as an independent test dataset, and further compared the results with the outcome of an ensemble of conventional SDMs. Purely based on expert knowledge, the DST approach yielded similar results as the data driven SDMs ensemble. Our proposed approach offers a strong and practical alternative for species distribution modelling when species occurrence data are not accessible, or reliable, or both. The particular strengths of the proposed approach are that it explicitly accounts for and aggregates knowledge uncertainty, and it capitalizes on the range of data sources usually considered by an expert.
      PubDate: 2019-03-01
  • Climate and land-cover change alter bumblebee species richness and
           community composition in subalpine areas

    • Abstract: Climate and land-use change are recognised as the two main drivers of the ongoing reorganisation of Earth’s biodiversity, but understanding precisely their role in shaping species’ distributions and communities remains challenging. In mountainous regions, we typically observe an uphill shift of species’ altitudinal ranges caused by increasing temperatures, but it is difficult to predict how this process interacts with land-use change. Here, we replicated an inventory of bumblebees that took place in the 1960s in Norway. Focusing on subalpine areas, we reported changes in species richness and community temperature index (CTI), a measure of the relative proportion of warm- and cold-adapted species, at low and high altitude. Using aerial photographs and meteorological data, we tested the relationship between climate and land-cover changes and changes in species richness and CTI. We observed an overall increase in CTI consistent with a gradual species turnover driven by climate change. There was on average an increase in species richness at high altitudes, while low-altitudes communities tended to become less species-rich. Moreover, we observed a negative correlation between species richness and temperature and precipitation trends, suggesting a detrimental effect of climate change. Thanks to the replication of an historical inventory, we were able to show evidence for an effect of climate, and possibly land-cover, change on subalpine bumblebee assemblages. These results can contribute to a better understanding of the processes driving biodiversity changes in subalpine areas in a context of global climate and landscape changes.
      PubDate: 2019-03-01
  • Peatland vegetation change and establishment of re-introduced Sphagnum
           moss after prescribed burning

    • Abstract: Fire, including prescribed burning, is common on peatlands globally and can affect vegetation, including peat-forming Sphagnum mosses, and affect ecosystem services. We monitored vegetation in different burn-age categories at three UK peatland sites over a 19-month period. Half of the plots had Sphagnum fragments added and their survival was assessed. Changes in vegetation composition over time, and associations between vegetation composition, site and burn-age category were investigated. Plots in the most recently burned category were likely to have more bare peat, a thinner moss layer and lower vascular plant strata. Graminoid cover initially increased after burning but was low after 10 + years. Dwarf shrub cover increased after burning and remained high after 10 + years. At the most Sphagnum-rich site, a high proportion of existing Sphagnum cover was bleached one year after burning, but recovery occurred during the study period. Sphagnum re-introduction success decreased over the study period in the most recent and intermediate burn-age categories at the most Sphagnum-poor site. These results show that burning rotation length is an important factor in determining site-level vegetation composition on burned sites. More frequent burning will result in a greater proportion of land in the early post-burning stages, potentially resulting in a thinner moss layer, more bare peat and less healthy Sphagnum, with potential consequences for carbon balance. No evidence was found to support the use of burning as a tool to increase existing Sphagnum or promote Sphagnum re-establishment success.
      PubDate: 2019-03-01
  • Partitioning species and environmental diversity in fragmented landscapes:
           do the alpha, beta and gamma components match'

    • Abstract: To understand patterns of alpha, beta and gamma diversities in fragmented landscapes we need to explore the three scale components in relation to potential drivers in a scale-dependent manner. Often, the drivers themselves can be partitioned to alpha, beta and gamma diversities. Thus, one can hypothesize that the scale-components of species diversity and drivers’ diversity match, i.e., that species alpha diversity is mainly explained by drivers’ alpha diversity, beta by beta and gamma by gamma. Here, we explore this ‘scale-matching’ hypothesis for spiders in two fragmented agricultural landscapes. In each landscape, we sampled spiders and their potential prey in 12 patches. Then, we sub-sampled pseudo-landscapes in which we calculated spider alpha, beta and gamma diversities using multiplicative diversity-partitioning. Next, we used variance partitioning analysis to explore the relative contribution of eleven explanatory variables from five thematic groups (sampling intensity, area, connectivity, habitat diversity and prey diversity), while further partitioning the habitat and prey diversities to their corresponding alpha, beta and gamma diversities. We found considerable evidence for scale-matching, with spiders’ alpha and beta diversities explained mostly by the corresponding alpha and beta diversities (respectively) of prey and/or habitat. We further found a strong effect of connectivity on spider beta diversity, but not on alpha and gamma diversities. For spiders gamma diversity, a cross-scale effect was observed. Our results suggest that multiple drivers from multiple scales interact in structuring patterns of spider alpha, beta and gamma diversities in agro-ecosystems, yet the strongest effects are of those drivers that match in scale.
      PubDate: 2019-03-01
  • Increased dispositional optimism in conservation professionals

    • Abstract: Optimism in conservation, and its potential impact on conservation practice, has been the focus of considerable recent attention. Dispositional optimism is the tendency to have positive expectations for the future, and previous research on optimism has focused particularly on the relationship between optimism and positive health outcomes. This research has concluded that optimism is generally a positive trait that can help people address problems, and set and achieve their goals. These characteristics may also be beneficial in conservation contexts. Using the revised Life Orientation Test, we measure dispositional optimism in conservation professionals to assess whether they are more or less optimistic than individuals who do not work in conservation, and whether there are differences in dispositional optimism between conservation professionals. We find that conservation professionals in the UK are more optimistic than a comparator sample of UK residents. Within conservation professionals, we do not find differences in dispositional optimism with age, gender, country of residence, employer, employment status, whether an individual thinks of themselves as a conservation biologist, or years working in conservation. We find weak evidence for lower dispositional optimism in conservation professionals working in Europe, Africa and South America. The most commonly expressed motivation for working in conservation was a feeling of love or connection, but we found no relationship between motivations and dispositional optimism. We did find that conservation professionals with higher dispositional optimism were more likely to be optimistic about the future of conservation, although no more likely to be optimistic about three specific conservation issues. Greater optimism in conservation professionals has important implications for conservation practice—optimists could benefit the success of the projects they work on, and benefit from the resilience that optimism provides, in a difficult sector where success is uncertain.
      PubDate: 2019-02-01
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