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Biological Conservation
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  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0006-3207
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3161 journals]
  • The effect of construction activity on internationally important waterfowl
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Kim Wallis, David Hill, Max Wade, Miranda Cooper, Darren Frost, Stewart Thompson Large-scale construction activity associated with the enlargement of Abberton Reservoir in Essex, England was calculated, mapped and subsequently modelled to examine the effect of disturbance on four Special Protection Area designated dabbling waterfowl species, Anas strepera (Gadwall), A. clypeata (Shoveler), A. crecca (Teal) and A. penelope (Wigeon). The distribution of each species was compared with levels of construction disturbance and environmental variables using Hurdle Model analysis and spatial referencing.Numbers of all four species varied throughout the study period with significant increases observed across the reservoir during the four year construction period. Findings show that the most important environmental variable was shallow water with increases in this area of habitat as a result of planned enhancement measures being of particular benefit to Gadwall, Shoveler and Teal. Numbers of Wigeon were especially variable across the site during construction and were displaced from the Main Section during the most disturbing shoreline works, behaviour we attribute to the loss of suitable grazing habitat during the construction process.While results show some disturbance responses, maintenance of site integrity for all four species is attributed to the overall size of the reservoir complex (4.75 km2) and the phased construction programme which reduced the extent and impact of disturbance. Research presented here provides evidence for a sensitive and science based approach to better deliver conservation and development requirements. The monitoring prior to (2006–2009) and during the construction phase (2010−2013) has enabled the much needed, but often lacking, evidence-based reporting on construction disturbance effects and associated mitigation measures.
  • A palaeontological perspective on the proposal to reintroduce Tasmanian
           devils to mainland Australia to suppress invasive predators
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Michael C. Westaway, Gilbert Price, Tony Miscamble, Jane McDonald, Jonathon Cramb, Jeremy Ringma, Rainer Grün, Darryl Jones, Mark Collard The diversity of Australia's mammalian fauna has decreased markedly since European colonisation. Species in the small-to-medium body size range have been particularly badly affected. Feral cats and foxes have played a central role in this decline and consequently strategies for reducing their numbers are being evaluated. One such strategy is the reintroduction to the mainland of the Tasmanian devil, Sarcophilus harrisii. Here, we provide a palaeontological perspective on this proposal. We begin by collating published records of devil remains in Quaternary deposits. These data show that the range of devils once spanned all the main ecological zones in Australia. This indicates that they are capable of coping with a wide range of climatic and environmental conditions, and suggests that they could conceivably be reintroduced much more widely than has been thought possible hitherto. Subsequently, we examine fossils and coprolites from two sites in the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area. These specimens not only support the suggestion that devils have wide ecological tolerances, but also suggest that devils can coexist with native small-to-medium species over long periods of time, which addresses one of the major concerns about the proposed reintroduction. We believe these two sets of palaeontological observations add substantial weight to the idea of reintroducing devils to the mainland as a way of suppressing cat and fox numbers.
  • Prioritizing restoration of fragmented landscapes for wildlife
           conservation: A graph-theoretic approach
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Denys Yemshanov, Robert G. Haight, Frank H. Koch, Marc-André Parisien, Tom Swystun, Quinn Barber, A. Cole Burton, Salimur Choudhury, Ning Liu Anthropogenic disturbances fragmenting wildlife habitat greatly contribute to extinction risk for many species. In western Canada, four decades of oil and gas exploration have created a network of seismic lines, which are linear disturbances where seismic equipment operates. Seismic lines cause habitat fragmentation and increase predator access to intact forest, leading to declines of some wildlife populations, particularly the threatened woodland caribou, Rangifer tarandus caribou. Restoration of forests within seismic lines is an important activity to reduce habitat fragmentation and recovery caribou. We present an optimization model with the objective of guiding landscape restoration strategies that maximize the area of connected habitat for a caribou population in a fragmented landscape. We use our model to find optimal strategies for seismic line restoration in the Cold Lake Area of Alberta, Canada, a 6726-km2 expanse of boreal forest that represents prime caribou habitat. We formulate mixed integer programming models that depict the landscape as a network of interconnected habitat patches. We develop and compare formulations that emphasize the population's local or long-distance access to habitat. Optimal restoration involves a mix of two strategies: the first establishes short-distance connections between forest patches with large areas of intact habitat and the second establishes corridors between areas with known species locations and large amounts of suitable habitat. Our approach reveals the trade-offs between these strategies and finds the optimal restoration solutions under a limited budget. The approach is generalizable and applicable to other regions and species sensitive to changes in landscape-level habitat connectivity.
  • What explains variation in the strength of behavioral responses to
           predation risk' A standardized test with large carnivore and ungulate
           guilds in three ecosystems
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Scott Creel, Matt Becker, Egil Dröge, Jassiel M'soka, Wigganson Matandiko, Eli Rosenblatt, Thandiwe Mweetwa, Henry Mwape, Milan Vinks, Ben Goodheart, Johnathan Merkle, Teddy Mukula, Daan Smit, Carolyn Sanguinetti, Chase Dart, David Christianson, Paul Schuette If access to food is affected by the risk of predation, then the number of individuals killed by predators is an incomplete measure of the limiting effect of predation. Nonetheless, it is often assumed that the costs of antipredator responses (risk effects) are either small enough to be ignored or positively correlated with direct predation, and thus unlikely to alter inferences based on predation rates. These assumptions are rarely tested. Here we studied five large carnivores and ten prey species in three Zambian ecosystems to test relationships between direct predation, antipredator vigilance and trade-offs with foraging. The presence of a predator caused vigilance to increase by a factor of 2.4, with substantial variation among prey species in the strength of this response. This was associated with a 28% decrease in the proportion of individuals foraging, a trade-off that was consistent across species. We detected no correlation between direct predation and the strength of antipredator responses, which undermines the gambit of ignoring risk effects. The strength of antipredator responses was uncorrelated with broad attributes of predators and environments, but was correlated with attributes of prey. Responses were stronger for small species and for browsers/mixed feeders relative to grazers. It has previously been noted that small ungulates face higher rates of direct predation. Building on this inference, our results suggest that carnivore loss/restoration will also have stronger behaviorally-mediated effects on small ungulates, particularly browsers and mixed feeders. If such species increase their representation where carnivores are depleted, then cascading effects on vegetation would be expected.
  • Designing studies of predation risk for improved inference in
           carnivore-ungulate systems
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Laura R. Prugh, Kelly J. Sivy, Peter J. Mahoney, Taylor R. Ganz, Mark A. Ditmer, Madelon van de Kerk, Sophie L. Gilbert, Robert A. Montgomery Quantifying both the lethal and non-lethal (or “risk”) effects of predation has emerged as a major research focus in carnivore-ungulate systems. While numerous studies have examined predation risk and risk effects in recent decades, a lack of standardization in approaches has impeded progress in the field. We provide an overview of five major study design considerations involved in assessing predation risk and responses of prey in carnivore-ungulate systems, highlighting how different design choices can impact the strength and scope of inference. First, we stress the importance of distinguishing measures of predation risk (probability of being killed) from measures of risk effects (costs of antipredator behaviors in response to risk). Second, we recommend explicit consideration of spatial and temporal scales using a standardized framework to facilitate cross-study comparisons. Third, ungulates use visual, auditory, and olfactory sensory pathways to evaluate predation risk. Experiments that manipulate signals of risk (e.g., auditory playbacks or application of predator scent) can be powerful approaches, but the dosages and types of cues need to be carefully considered. Fourth, ungulates usually face threats from multiple predators simultaneously, and we highlight the potential for remote cameras and structural equation modeling to help address this challenge. Fifth, emerging technologies may substantially improve our ability to assess risk. We discuss several promising technologies, such as animal-borne video, unmanned aerial vehicles, and physiological sensors. We conclude with general recommendations for study design, which may improve the utility of predation risk research for the conservation and management of carnivore-ungulate systems.
  • Habituation, sensitization, or consistent behavioral responses' Brown
           bear responses after repeated approaches by humans on foot
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Andrés Ordiz, Gro Kvelprud Moen, Solve Sæbø, Nina Stenset, Jon E. Swenson, Ole-Gunnar Støen Several large carnivore populations are increasing in human-dominated landscapes, but this good conservation news includes management challenges. Because of existing fear and negative human attitudes towards carnivores and potential carnivore habituation to people, better knowledge on carnivore behavior is needed to favor human-carnivore coexistence. We performed up to 8 experimental, repeated approaches on 29 radio-collared brown bears (Ursus arctos) in Sweden (195 approaches) to test if bears always avoided people or showed sign of habituation or sensitization. Bears consistently avoided the approaching humans. The proportion of bears that stayed or moved away from their initial site and their flight initiation distances did not increase or decrease with increasing number of encounters, and the bears' daily movement pattern changed consistently after each approach. Bears that moved away did so immediately, followed by a reduced movement afterwards. Bears moved less during daytime for the next three days after an approach, compared to their movement pattern before the approaches started. The initial reaction was consistent after consecutive approaches, whereas the decrease in movement in the following hours and middays was less clear after the first three consecutive approaches. The number of carnivore-human encounters may increase in human-dominated landscapes when carnivore numbers increase, but our results suggest that this should not be interpreted as an increased risk of aggressive behavior. We detected no change in the natural response of the bears, i.e., avoiding people, at the level of disturbance we created. This is a positive message for humans, but altered daily activity patterns can have negative effects on the disturbed animals, which also deserves attention.
  • Do substitute species help or hinder endangered species management'
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Erica Henry, Elizabeth Brammer-Robbins, Erik Aschehoug, Nick Haddad Substitute species (common species used to represent endangered species) are used to evaluate a range of conservation strategies globally. However, the effectiveness of this approach has not been empirically evaluated. We leveraged a large-scale habitat restoration experiment to test the validity of the substitute species concept. We selected a common butterfly, Satyrodes appalachia, that is on first inspection as near a substitute as possible - it is closely related to, overlaps in distribution, habitat requirements, host use, and life history with Neonympha mitchellii francisci, an endangered butterfly. We integrated small-scale measures of behavior, habitat preference, and demography of both species in our test, demonstrating that subtle differences between two species cause the substitute relationship to fail. Despite nearly identical habitat requirements, we found the endangered butterfly used different host plants, had higher larval survival in restored sites, and was found in more open habitat than the common butterfly. These differences added up to differences in abundances; the endangered species was more abundant than the common species in restored sites, the opposite was true in un-restored sites. Management decisions based on unvalidated substitute species run the risk of doing more harm than good for endangered species conservation. Instead, using experiments to evaluate a target species' response to management will result in effective recovery strategies.
  • Future fire scenarios: Predicting the effect of fire management strategies
           on the trajectory of high-quality habitat for threatened species
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Jemima Connell, Simon J. Watson, Rick S. Taylor, Sarah C. Avitabile, Natasha Schedvin, Kathryn Schneider, Michael F. Clarke Prescribed (or “planned”) burning is used by land managers to reduce fuel-loads in order to mitigate the spread of wildfire, thereby protecting life and property, and to promote environmental heterogeneity to enhance biodiversity. Globally, many fire management agencies focus on increasing extent and frequency of prescribed burning. There is a need to assess how high levels of prescribed burning may affect the long-term, landscape-level persistence of ecological communities. We forward projected management scenarios over 21 years to explore how the operationally realistic implementation of four different prescribed burn targets, covering 5, 3, 1.5 and 0% of a large reserve per annum (p.a.) might affect provision and removal of fire-mediated habitat of 11 rare and threatened bird species. Sustained implementation of high targets (5 and 3% p.a.) homogenised the landscape toward young vegetation, substantially reducing highly suitable habitat for species requiring intermediate (20–60 years post-fire) and older (60+ years) age classes. In contrast, no prescribed burning generated insufficient habitat for species with early (
  • Conservation value of moist evergreen Afromontane forest sites with
           different management and history in southwestern Ethiopia
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Girma Shumi, Patrícia Rodrigues, Jannik Schultner, Ine Dorresteijn, Jan Hanspach, Kristoffer Hylander, Feyera Senbeta, Joern Fischer Tropical forest ecosystems harbor high biodiversity, but they have suffered from ongoing human-induced degradation. We investigated the conservation value of moist evergreen Afromontane forest sites across gradients of site-level disturbance, landscape context and forest history in southwestern Ethiopia. We surveyed woody plants at 108 randomly selected sites and grouped them into forest specialist, pioneer, and generalist species. First, we investigated if coffee dominance, current distance from the forest edge, forest history, heat load and altitude structured the variation in species composition using constrained correspondence analysis. Second, we modelled species richness in response to the same explanatory variables. Our findings show that woody plant community composition was significantly structured by altitude, forest history, coffee dominance and current distance from forest edge. Specifically, (1) total species richness and forest specialist species richness were affected by coffee management intensity; (2) forest specialist species richness increased, while pioneer species decreased with increasing distance from the forest edge; and (3) forest specialist species richness was lower in secondary forest compared to in primary forest. These findings show that coffee management intensity, landscape context and forest history in combination influence local and landscape level biodiversity. We suggest conservation strategies that foster the maintenance of large undisturbed forest sites and that prioritize local species in managed and regenerating forests. Creation of a biosphere reserve and shade coffee certification could be useful to benefit both effective conservation and people's livelihoods.
  • Richness, diversity, and factors influencing occupancy of mammal
           communities across human-modified landscapes in Colombia
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Valeria Boron, Nicolas J. Deere, Panteleimon Xofis, Andres Link, Andres Quiñones-Guerrero, Esteban Payan, Joseph Tzanopoulos As human-modified landscapes are increasing in the tropics, it becomes critical to understand how they affect mammal communities to reconcile conservation and development. We combined land cover information and camera-trapping data to explore the effects of agricultural expansion on mammals in the Magdalena river valley of Colombia. We estimated species diversity, evenness, and dominance across two agricultural landscapes, modified by cattle ranching and oil palm cultivation. We further assessed which variables influence species- and community-level occupancy using multi-species occupancy models. Results highlight that modified landscapes display lower species richness, diversity and evenness, and higher dominance than more pristine sites. Residual forest cover and distance to water had significant effect on community occupancy (positive and negative respectively). Forests were particularly important for pumas, ocelots, lowland pacas, Central American agoutis, and crab-eating raccoons while wetlands had a positive effect on jaguars, the apex predator in the region. The influence of anthropogenic pressure was not clearly evident, though pastures were not valuable habitats for any mammal species, as they had a negative, yet not significant, effect on species and community occupancy. In light of rapidly expanding agriculture across the tropics, our findings highlight species-specific responses to disturbance that can inform land use planning and conservation policies. We stress the conservation value of forest and wetland habitat to mammal occupancy in heterogeneous ecosystems. Moreover, our results demonstrate that oil palm and crop expansion should target existing pastures, which displayed limited conservation value for Neotropical mammals but occupy vast swathes of land across Latin America.
  • Careful considerations are required when analysing mammal citizen science
           data – A response to Massimino et al
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 February 2019Source: Biological ConservationAuthor(s): Philip M. Wheeler, Alastair I. Ward, Graham C. Smith, Simon Croft, Silviu O. Petrovan
  • Combining behavioural and LiDAR data to reveal relationships between
           canopy structure and orangutan nest site selection in disturbed forests
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Andrew B. Davies, Felicity Oram, Marc Ancrenaz, Gregory P. Asner Primary tropical forests are becoming increasingly disturbed and fragmented, making it critically important to understand the conservation value of degraded forests. Many populations of even the largest and most iconic species are now found outside of primary habitats, and the long-term survival of these and many other species depends on appropriate management of degraded areas, whether protected or not. However, for conservation in degraded habitats to be successful, an adequate understanding of the minimal ecological requirements necessary for species persistence within them is required. We combined ground and helicopter nest surveys of critically endangered Bornean orangutans with high-resolution measurements of forest canopy structure from airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to understand orangutan nest site selection across multiple spatial scales in degraded forests of the Lower Kinabatangan region, Malaysian Borneo. We found orangutans to be selective when choosing nest sites, with nests more likely to be observed in canopies of tall and uniform height and closer to full canopy gaps, which was consistent across spatial scales and orangutan age and sex classes. These sites likely offer orangutans an improved vantage point and/or shelter from wind and rain. In contrast, no discernible relationships between nest site selection and canopy complexity, or nest abundance and landscape forest structure or aboveground carbon density were recorded. Our findings suggest that although orangutans do nest across a range of forest conditions, their optimum requirement for nesting strongly depends on forest patches with sufficient tall canopy of uniform height. These results serve to inform degraded forest conservation strategies across Borneo, particularly where orangutans are a focal species.
  • Opportunities and barriers for endangered species conservation using
           payments for ecosystem services
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Aaron M. Lien, Colleen Ulibarri, Wendy Vanasco, George B. Ruyle, Scott Bonar, Laura López-Hoffman Endangered species laws seek to prevent extinction by outlawing actions that may cause harm or lead to extinction. In doing so, these laws are sometimes criticized for limiting management flexibility and subjecting landowners to regulatory burdens. One proposed solution to this challenge is development of payment for ecosystem service (PES) programs. These programs provide an economic incentive to conserve endangered species by compensating landowners for the costs of conservation or forgoing other profitable uses of land and resources. To assess the utility of PES as a means of overcoming opposition to endangered species regulations, we surveyed ranch operators in Arizona and New Mexico facing new regulations related to endangered jaguars (Panthera onca). Our findings suggest that PES cannot overcome the perceived burdens of species protection regulations and are unlikely to increase collaboration between landowners and government agencies. PES approaches are only likely to succeed where there is strong fit between institutional design and resource manager preferences. In the context of endangered species, PES proponents must pay particular attention to institutional arrangements that reduce concerns about regulatory risk. To this end, to effectively meet endangered species conservation goals, we recommend: 1) framing PES programs as voluntary conservation incentives, 2) focusing incentives on healthy ecosystems rather than a single species, and 3) using private funding to support incentives. Under these circumstances, PES may be an effective endangered species conservation tool.
  • Analysing mammal citizen science data – A response to Wheeler et al.
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 8 February 2019Source: Biological ConservationAuthor(s): Dario Massimino, Sarah J. Harris, Simon Gillings
  • Why we must question the militarisation of conservation
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Rosaleen Duffy, Francis Massé, Emile Smidt, Esther Marijnen, Bram Büscher, Judith Verweijen, Maano Ramutsindela, Trishant Simlai, Laure Joanny, Elizabeth Lunstrum Concerns about poaching and trafficking have led conservationists to seek urgent responses to tackle the impact on wildlife. One possible solution is the militarisation of conservation, which holds potentially far-reaching consequences. It is important to engage critically with the militarisation of conservation, including identifying and reflecting on the problems it produces for wildlife, for people living with wildlife and for those tasked with implementing militarised strategies. This Perspectives piece is a first step towards synthesising the main themes in emerging critiques of militarised conservation. We identify five major themes: first, the importance of understanding how poaching is defined; second, understanding the ways that local communities experience militarised conservation; third, the experiences of rangers; fourth, how the militarisation of conservation can contribute to violence where conservation operates in the context of armed conflict; and finally how it fits in with and reflects wider political economic dynamics. Ultimately, we suggest that failure to engage more critically with militarisation risks making things worse for the people involved and lead to poor conservation outcomes in the long run.
  • Human- and risk-mediated browsing pressure by sympatric antelope in an
           African savanna
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Tobias O. Otieno, Jacob R. Goheen, Paul W. Webala, Albert Mwangi, Isaac M. Osuga, Adam T. Ford Human activity shapes landscape heterogeneity, which can influence where and how species interact. In African savannas, human-mediated changes to woody cover affect perceptions of risk and foraging decisions by large herbivores. Through cafeteria-style feeding trials, we presented two common, browsing ungulates (Guenther's dik-dik [Madoqua guentheri] and impala [Aepyceros melampus]) with branches from four tree species that varied in their relative investment in mechanical and chemical defenses. We conducted trials in habitats that were perceived as risky to either dik-dik (i.e., open habitat) or impala (i.e., bushland habitat). We found that dik-dik preferred to eat thorny trees low in tannin content within bushland habitats, while the larger-bodied impala preferred tannin-rich but thorn-less branches within open habitats. Risk-induced habitat use homogenized browsing pressure in the lower canopy, but increased heterogeneity in browsing pressure in the upper canopy. In addition, plant defenses neutralized the effects of risk, and foraging height on browsing pressure. Our results demonstrate how foraging experiments—typically the basis for field studies on species coexistence—can be extended to make inferences about consumer-resource dynamics in human-modified landscapes.
  • Ramifying effects of the risk of predation on African multi-predator,
           multi-prey large-mammal assemblages and the conservation implications
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Norman Owen-Smith Impacts of predators on prey populations are incurred not only through mortality inflicted, but also from how the risk of mortality affects the behaviour, spatial distribution and resource access of potential prey species. This risk is governed by exposure to predators and vulnerability following encounters. Behavioural responses to reduce risks have ramifying consequences for habitat partitioning, regional distributions and local impacts of herbivores on vegetation. These consequences are reviewed for carnivore-ungulate assemblages in African savanna ecosystems. Vigilance serves multiple functions, including locating food and maintaining group cohesion as well as detecting predators. Prey responses depend on whether predators hunt by ambush or pursuit and whether they are mainly diurnally or nocturnally active. Ungulates can lower their vulnerability by restricting time spent foraging at night and avoid places providing cover for lurking carnivores. Risks of predation can have a stronger influence on spatial partitioning among large grazers than distinctions in resource use. Only species above some threshold size have distributions indifferent to tree and grass cover. Observed mortality rates are constrained by recruitment potential. Spatiotemporal variation in risk may regulate populations and limit regional abundance. Herbivores confined to secure habitat may generate local brown-green-black world mosaics. Less common prey species of greatest conservation concern are most susceptible to having their habitat security breached by changes in predation risk. Studies establishing baseline responses of ungulates to the risk of predation need to be augmented by investigations focussed on extreme situations.
  • Pothole wetlands provide reservoir habitat for native bees in prairie
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Jess L. Vickruck, Lincoln R. Best, Michael P. Gavin, James H. Devries, Paul Galpern The act of converting prairie grassland to agricultural farmland has negative implications for pollinator communities. In the Prairie Pothole Region, wetland remnants are a common feature in intensively cultivated landscapes. These wetlands are typically small and often left embedded in the cropland matrix and may act as the only semi-natural feature in a radius of several hundred metres. To quantify the role that these in-field wetlands play in supporting native pollinators, we sampled bees at three distances from the wetland margin into the surrounding cropland (0 m, 25 m and 75 m) across the season in three field types (canola, cereal and perennial grassland). We used Bayesian multilevel models to test the hypothesis that native bees are using infield wetlands as habitat for nesting and foraging. Native bee abundance and diversity decreased further away from the margin of wetlands in both canola and cereal fields, while it increased in wetlands located in perennial grassland. Community composition did not change further away from wetlands, which may be because the foraging range of most species was within the sampling distance of the study. These results suggest that wetlands play an important role in providing critical resources for native pollinators, and encouraging farmers not to drain or plow through these wetlands will have beneficial impacts for native pollinators in the area. Maintaining in-field wetlands may have additional pollination benefits for farmers growing crops such as canola, which is known to benefit from insect visitors.
  • Implications of flood disturbance for conservation and management of giant
           panda habitat in human-modified landscapes
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Eric I. Ameca, Qiang Dai, Yonggang Nie, Xiaodong Gu, Fuwen Wei As certain extreme weather events are becoming frequent and intense, conservationists must identify areas across species' ranges recurrently affected, especially with regard to threatened species. Focusing on the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and historical flood frequency distribution, we determined overlaps between panda distribution affected by floods and nature reserves. We also examined the correspondence between areas subject to high flood exposure densities, areas with high panda habitat use, and areas that exhibit high human density. Of the 67 reserves established for giant panda conservation 7 included areas with the highest flood exposure densities while having a mean exposure ranging between 20 and 75%. In Sichuan province up to 32% of areas of high habitat use were subject to low flood density, and 10% overlapped with areas subject to high flood density. We also found that 40% of the total area with high human density was subject to a high flood density. Our findings indicate that high frequency of flooding is affecting areas of nature reserves where people are rather than areas which pandas are using more intensively. In areas occupied by pandas, strategies should remain focus on mitigating habitat degradation and fragmentation caused by human activities that can also reduce habitat resilience to floods. Management aimed at reducing vulnerability and enhancing resilience in flood-prone areas is warranted if we are to prevent negative indirect impacts on panda habitat driven by human responses to increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events in the coming decades.
  • The genetically engineered American chestnut tree as opportunity for
           reciprocal restoration in Haudenosaunee communities
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): S. Kathleen Barnhill-Dilling, Jason A. Delborne As genetic engineering becomes a part of the toolkit for the conservation and restoration of biodiversity, a broad range of social science frameworks are required to understand how different groups of people perceive these emerging technologies. Reciprocal restoration is one such framework that offers Indigenous-specific perspective on new applications of genetic engineering for conservation and restoration. The restoration plan for the American chestnut tree includes the potential wild release of a genetically engineered tree in close proximity to the sovereign Haudenosaunee communities of Central and Upstate New York. This paper uses reciprocal restoration as a framework for evaluating if a restoration project that uses a genetically engineered species could support broader cultural restoration efforts in these communities. Results are complex, but suggest that reciprocal restoration may be possible if certain foundational dimensions – such as kincentric relationships and spiritual responsibilities – are attended to. Reciprocal restoration also offers insight for future cases where Indigenous perspectives on the use of genetic engineering for conservation and restoration are important dimensions of broader governance considerations.
  • Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, Kris A.G. Wyckhuys Biodiversity of insects is threatened worldwide. Here, we present a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports of insect declines from across the globe, and systematically assess the underlying drivers. Our work reveals dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world's insect species over the next few decades. In terrestrial ecosystems, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera and dung beetles (Coleoptera) appear to be the taxa most affected, whereas four major aquatic taxa (Odonata, Plecoptera, Trichoptera and Ephemeroptera) have already lost a considerable proportion of species. Affected insect groups not only include specialists that occupy particular ecological niches, but also many common and generalist species. Concurrently, the abundance of a small number of species is increasing; these are all adaptable, generalist species that are occupying the vacant niches left by the ones declining. Among aquatic insects, habitat and dietary generalists, and pollutant-tolerant species are replacing the large biodiversity losses experienced in waters within agricultural and urban settings. The main drivers of species declines appear to be in order of importance: i) habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanisation; ii) pollution, mainly that by synthetic pesticides and fertilisers; iii) biological factors, including pathogens and introduced species; and iv) climate change. The latter factor is particularly important in tropical regions, but only affects a minority of species in colder climes and mountain settings of temperate zones. A rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends, allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide. In addition, effective remediation technologies should be applied to clean polluted waters in both agricultural and urban environments.
  • Global congruence between cuckoo species richness and biodiversity
    • Abstract: Publication date: April 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 232Author(s): Federico Morelli, Yanina Benedetti, David Moravec, Leszek Jerzak, Piotr Tryjanowski, Wei Liang, Anders Pape Møller Considering loss of biodiversity a global threat, cost-effective tools for monitoring spatial distribution of species are relevant for conservation planning. The aims of this study were (a) to compare the global pattern of species richness in Cuculidae with species richness of birds, amphibians and mammals; (b) whether it is spatially congruent with hotspot areas of biodiversity at a global scale; and (c) whether the distribution of night light intensity reflecting human population density is associated with cuckoo species richness. We mapped the global distribution of all cuckoo species, classified as parasitic or non-parasitic species. Species richness was calculated at a fixed spatial scale for: Cuculidae, amphibians, birds and mammals. We applied Generalized Linear Mixed Models in order to explore the associations between species richness of each group of animals, night light intensity and hotspots of biodiversity areas at a global scale.Worldwide patterns of species richness of parasitic and non-parasitic cuckoos reflected species richness of birds, amphibians and mammals. In addition, and importantly, species richness of cuckoos was spatially congruent with hotspot areas of biodiversity across the world. Finally, night light intensity was slightly positively associated with species richness of parasitic cuckoos. Our findings confirmed that cuckoos constitute an important surrogate of high species richness of different animal taxa at a global scale: It is easy to learn how to identify cuckoos, whereas other species of birds, mammals or amphibians can only be identified by specialists. Our findings also suggest that other parasitic cuckoo species can be used as a biodiversity surrogate in a similar way as the common cuckoo in Eurasia.
  • Social identity shapes support for management of wildlife and pests
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Lily M. van Eeden, Thomas M. Newsome, Mathew S. Crowther, Christopher R. Dickman, Jeremy Bruskotter Public attitudes are important in shaping wildlife management decisions. However, publics are not homogeneous, and conflicting perceptions and attitudes often create barriers to achieving conservation outcomes. Here we use a social identity approach to analyze public acceptance of different options for managing four animals in Australia (kangaroos, wild horses, dingoes, and red foxes). We conducted an online survey (N = 793) of adult residents of Australia. Analyses indicate 11.4% of respondents strongly identified as animal rights activists, 19.0% as wildlife conservationists, and 19.2% as farmers. Using the Potential for Conflict Index and permutational multivariate analysis of variance, we found that on average, all identity groups supported nonlethal management for all species and reintroduction or maintenance of dingoes to suppress kangaroos and red foxes. All identity groups except farmers were generally unsupportive of lethal control, but there was less consensus among responses within groups compared with support for nonlethal methods. Results suggest that policies which prioritize nonlethal management over lethal control (where effective) will be less controversial than those that use lethal management. Likewise, incorporating predator conservation into ecosystem restoration seems well supported across constituencies typically interested in wildlife conservation.
  • Two species, one snare: Analysing snare usage and the impacts of tiger
           poaching on a non-target species, the Malayan tapir
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Kassandra Campbell, Deborah Martyr, Dian Risdianto, Christofer J. Clemente The illegal trade in tiger bones and body parts is crippling the remaining populations of tigers worldwide, but what effect does this trade have on other wildlife that get caught in the cross fire' The Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus) is the only species of tapir found outside of South America, yet little is known of this subspecies despite its large size. Aside from habitat loss and an encroaching human population, effects of wildlife trade are taking their toll on this endangered species. In Sumatra Indonesia, tigers and tapirs are known to share habitat, potentially leaving tapirs vulnerable to fall victim to snare entrapment. This study looks at correlations between tiger and tapir indices as well as active tiger snares within Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia over a four-year period. Data was provided by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Fauna and Flora International, and this study investigated the frequency, and spatial relationships between all three variables. Across the study period, tiger snares increased significantly in numbers and spatial extent, indicating increased illegal poaching in KSNP. Areas with high frequencies of tiger evidence also showed high frequencies of tapir evidence, but while tiger frequency remained consistent, tapirs displayed a decreasing trend. Spatially, tiger evidence moved further away from snare and tapir locations over time, indicating tigers, (while being the target species) may display a greater response to poaching threats than tapirs. Tapir mortality was significantly correlated with the number of snares per kilometre surveyed, further supporting a negative impact from snares on tapirs. This study recommends long-term analysis to accurately determine the current population of Malayan tapirs in Sumatra and identify population trends. Identifying Sumatra's tapir population and recovery in response to poaching and habitat loss threats, must be determined to accurately inform conservation management actions of Sumatra's National Parks, and halt the decline of this illusive species.
  • Spatial knowledge deficiencies drive taxonomic and geographic selectivity
           in data deficiency
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 January 2019Source: Biological ConservationAuthor(s): Lina Zhao, Yuchang Yang, Huiyuan Liu, Zhangjian Shan, Dan Xie, Zheping Xu, Jinya Li The uncertain threat status of species inevitably influences their focus on conservation. Just as in extinction risk, the non-randomness phenomenon related to uncertainty (also referred to as selectivity), which is a certain character cluster in some groupings, also exists in data deficiency of species' knowledge. In order to illustrate this kind of non-random phenomenon and explain the uncertainties it caused, we performed a hypergeometric test on taxonomic and geographic groupings of China's spermatophyte species and quantified two factors— frequency of collections and spatial accessibility— to indicate the primary causes of spatial knowledge deficiencies. We found that selectivity in data deficiency exists both taxonomically and geographically. Fifteen of the families were more deficient than expected, which included 30.0% of species and 56.3% ranked data deficient (DD). Among these, eight families were statistically highly significant with p 
  • The role of den quality in giant panda conservation
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 23 January 2019Source: Biological ConservationAuthor(s): Wei Wei, Ronald R. Swaisgood, Megan A. Owen, Nicholas W. Pilfold, Han Han, Mingsheng Hong, Hong Zhou, Fuwen Wei, Yonggang Nie, Zejun Zhang Small features in ecological systems are often underrepresented in conservation monitoring, management and policy. Tree cavities and other forms of refuge play disproportionately large ecological roles due to their importance for shelter and rearing vulnerable offspring. Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) cubs are highly altricial, and dependent on dens. In Fengtongzai—a reserve with cavity-containing old growth forest—we measured 19 structural and microhabitat variables in potential tree dens. We also established data loggers in rock cavities in Foping Nature Reserve (which due to logging does not contain old growth) and tree cavities in Fengtongzai to monitor temperature and humidity inside and outside dens to evaluate microclimatic buffering. Fengtongzai pandas selected tree dens that were better concealed, with large interiors and entrances but smaller entrance to interior ratios. Microclimate inside dens differed dramatically from ambient conditions outside: in cold weather dens were warmer, in hot weather dens were cooler, dens were less humid and dens had more stable microclimates. Dens used by maternal pandas were warmer, drier and less variable than tree and rock cavities that were not used. Tree dens showed better capacity to buffer against extremes of temperature and humidity than did cave dens. Our findings have important conservation implications, including the value of den sites and the need for better monitoring and management. Specifically, management practices that preserve large old trees may increase carrying capacity and any experimentation with artificial dens as a conservation intervention should reference our findings on structural and microclimatic characteristics of preferred den sites.
  • Chasing the light: Positive bias in camera-based surveys of groundfish
           examined as risk-foraging trade-offs
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Alejandro Frid, Madeleine McGreer, Twyla Frid Unbiased survey data are important for understanding the effects of fisheries and environmental change on fish communities. We applied predation risk and life history theories to examine how parallel laser beams, which provide a scale for estimating transect width and the sizes of fish and habitat features, might bias groundfish counts during visual surveys conducted with a towed video camera. The laser beams project forward as “dots” onto the benthos, and species differ in their propensity to chase them. We hypothesized that fish perceive the laser dots as potential food and the camera, which lags behind the dots while moving forward, as a generalized threat. Analyses accounted for species primary diet and tested the prediction that shorter-lived species are more likely to chase the laser dots than longer-lived species, but these differences should weaken in the perceived safety of larger groups. Consistent with our predictions, the probability that fish would chase the laser dots decreased with the maximum age of species and increased with group size, although these effects were independent of each other. Also, chase probabilities were ≈20 to 25 times greater for species known to include benthic mobile prey in their diet than for species that feed primarily on pelagic, sessile or low-mobility prey. Our results suggest that risk-foraging trade-offs are inherent to fish behaviors that might bias surveys counts. While further insight into species differences is still needed, we illustrate how group size- and species-specific chase probabilities can generate bias correction factors to improve surveys counts.
  • An experimental test of a compensatory nest predation model following
           lethal control of an overabundant native species
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Richard Beggs, Jennifer Pierson, Ayesha I.T. Tulloch, Wade Blanchard, Martin J. Westgate, David Lindenmayer Culling of overabundant and invasive species to manage their ecological impacts on target species is widely practised but outcomes are unpredictable and monitoring of effectiveness often poor. Culling must improve ecosystem function, so clear, measurable goals, such as improved breeding potential of target species, are necessary. Many overabundant and invasive species are also nest predators and nest predation is the principal cause of breeding failure of many birds of conservation concern. It is important for managers to know the likely effects on nest predation when culling one species among a suite of nest predatory species.We tested the effect of culling a hyperaggressive, overabundant bird and known nesting disruptor, the noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala), on artificial nest predation rates in remnant eucalypt woodlands in a highly fragmented agricultural landscape of eastern Australia. Culling of noisy miners is already practised to manage this key threatening process, but evidence of improved breeding outcomes for target species is lacking.We found no significant change in artificial nest predation rates following the treatment, despite a 28% reduction in noisy miner abundance in treatment compared to control sites. We identified five other nest predatory bird species, the noisy miner being responsible for 18.3% of total predation.Our findings suggest a compensatory nest predation model, which is problematic for management. It means that, where culling is done with a view to improving breeding potential of target species by reducing nest predation, removing one nest predatory species may not result in a commensurate reduction in nest predation.Graphical abstractUnlabelled Image
  • An ecosystem-based risk assessment for California fisheries co-developed
           by scientists, managers, and stakeholders
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Jameal F. Samhouri, Errin Ramanujam, Joseph J. Bizzarro, Hayley Carter, Kelly Sayce, Sara Shen The intensive harvest of wild populations for food can pose a risk to food security and to conservation goals. While ecosystem approaches to management offer a potential means to balance those risks, they require a method of assessment that is commensurate across multiple objectives. A major challenge is conducting these assessments in a way that considers the priorities and knowledge of stakeholders. In this study, we co-developed an ecological risk assessment (ERA) for fisheries in California (USA) with scientists, managers, and stakeholders. This ERA was intended to meet the requirements of existing policy mandates in the state of California and provide a systematic, efficient, and transparent approach to prioritize fisheries for additional management actions, including the development of fisheries management plans fully compliant with California laws. We assessed the relative risk posed to target species, bycatch, and habitats from nine state-managed fisheries and found risk to target species was not necessarily similar to risks to bycatch and habitat groups. In addition, no single fishery consistently presented the greatest risk for all bycatch or habitat groups. However, considered in combination, the greatest risk for target species, bycatch groups, and habitats emerged from two commercial fisheries for California halibut. The participatory process used to generate these results offers the potential to increase stakeholders' trust in the assessment and therefore its application in management. We suggest that adopting similar processes in other management contexts and jurisdictions will advance progress toward ecosystem-based fisheries management that simultaneously satisfies fisheries, conservation, and relationship-building objectives.
  • The importance of spatiotemporal fish population dynamics in barrier
           mitigation planning
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Christina Ioannidou, Jesse R. O’Hanley In this study, we propose a novel framework combining spatially explicit population viability analysis and optimization for prioritizing fish passage barrier mitigation decisions. Our model aims to maximize the equilibrium population size, or alternatively minimize the extinction risk, of a target fish species subject to a budget on the total cost of barrier mitigation. A case study involving a wild coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) population from the Tillamook basin, Oregon, USA is used to illustrate the benefits of our approach. We consider two different spawning adult dispersal patterns, river and reach level homing, as well as straying. Under density dependent population growth, we find that homing behavior type has a significant effect on barrier mitigation decisions. In particular, with reach homing, our model produces virtually the same population sizes as a more traditional barrier prioritization procedure designed to maximize accessible habitat. With river homing, however, we find that it is not necessary to remove all barriers in order to maximize equilibrium population size. Indeed, a stochastic version of our model reveals that removing all barriers actually results in a marginal increase in quasi-extinction risk. We hypothesize that this is due to a population thinning effect of barriers, resulting in a surplus of recruits in areas of low spawner density. Our findings highlights the importance of considering spatiotemporal fish population dynamics in river connectivity restoration planning. By adding greater biological realism, models such as ours can help conservation managers to more strategically allocate limited resources, resulting in both cost savings and improved population status for a focal species.
  • Holidays' Not for all. Eagles have larger home ranges on holidays as a
           consequence of human disturbance
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Arturo M. Perona, Vicente Urios, Pascual López-López Human-wildlife conflicts are the object of raising concern in conservation biology. People living in urban areas are rapidly increasing worldwide and consequently the temporal pattern of occupation of natural areas for recreation is changing as well, resulting in an ever-increasing concentration of people during weekends and holidays. This is particularly evident in affluent societies, where more recreationists visit natural areas on holidays and weekends, causing disturbance to wildlife in the so-called “weekend effect”. Here, we tested the response to disturbance of 30 Bonelli's eagles tracked by high-frequency GPS/GSM telemetry. We analysed daily home-range size, a measure of changing behaviour that integrates their vital requirements, throughout the annual cycle, considering three different levels (95%, 75% and 50% kernel density estimators). Our results showed that eagles made a higher ranging effort on weekends and holidays throughout the annual cycle. This was particularly evident during the non-breeding period, when larger home-ranges were observed. Higher ranging effort can lead to conservation problems such as extra energy expenditure, hunting interference, and eventually nest and/or territory abandonment, decreasing eagles' fitness. Measures aimed at reducing human-wildlife conflicts including spatio-temporal limitation of leisure activities particularly during the most critical periods (i.e., incubation, chick rearing) are urgently needed. Finally, where possible, high quality information of animal movement should be incorporated into conservation plans in order to delineate efficient spatially-explicit management measures.
  • Converting arable land into flowering fields changes functional and
           phylogenetic community structure in ground beetles
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): D. Baulechner, T. Diekötter, V. Wolters, F. Jauker Agri-environmental schemes aim to promote biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. However, knowledge about the impact of these measures on diversity components beyond species richness, especially for non-target species and their ecological functions, is still very poor. Here, we investigated the response of ground beetle communities to the conversion of arable land into flowering fields, which are primarily installed to counteract pollinator loss in agricultural landscapes. We are focusing on the relationship between biodiversity components and the evolutionary relationship among functional groups.Land-use conversion from arable land to flowering fields has changed the phylogenetic community composition of ground beetles towards a phylogenetically clustered community. This is due to an increase in closely related medium-sized herbivorous species and a decrease in evolutionarily distinct small carnivorous species. Phylogenetic clustering did not result in a reduction of functional richness, but it increased the number of unique trait combinations of species within the local communities. This suggests a low ecological redundancy among herbivorous species. Because species richness, functional richness and phylogenetic diversity were unaffected by conversion, phylogenetic community structuring was predominantly driven by species turnover rather than by numerical changes.Flowering fields can act as refuges for herbivorous carabids that potentially affect the surrounding agricultural landscape by providing important ecosystem services such as weed control. To understand the impact of habitat transformation on carabid biodiversity, it was more informative to relate response traits to phylogenic and functional diversity than to use single diversity measures such as species richness. This conclusion might also apply to many other taxa.
  • Climate change, grazing, and collecting accelerate habitat contraction in
           an endangered primate
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Xumao Zhao, Baoping Ren, Dayong Li, Paul A. Garber, Pingfen Zhu, Zuofu Xiang, Cyril C. Grueter, Zhijin Liu, Ming Li Correlational models are widely used to predict changes in species' distribution, but generally have failed to address the comprehensive effects of anthropogenic activities, climate change, habitat connectivity and gene flow on wildlife sustainability. Here, we used integrated approaches (MAXENT model, circuit model and genetic analysis) to assess and predict the effects of climate change and anthropogenic activities on the distribution, habitat connectivity, and genetic diversity of an endangered primate, Rhinopithecus bieti, from 2000 to 2050. We created six scenarios: climatic factors only (scenario-a), anthropogenic activities only (scenario-b), climatic factors and anthropogenic activities (scenario-c), plus three additional scenarios that included climatic factors and anthropogenic activities but controlled for individual anthropogenic activities (scenario-d: grazing, scenario-e: collecting, and scenario-f: grazing and collecting). The results indicate that areas of suitable habitat for R. bieti are expected to decline by 8.0%–22.4% from 2000 to 2050, with the collection of local forest products and the grazing of domesticated cattle as the primary drivers of landscape fragmentation and range contraction. If these anthropogenic activities are strictly controlled, however, the area of suitable habitat is predicted to increase by10.4%–14.3%. We also found that habitats vulnerable to human disturbance were principally located in areas of low habitat connectivity resulting in limited migration opportunities and increased loss of genetic diversity among R. bieti living in these isolated subpopulations. Thus, we suggest that effective management policies to protect this species include prohibiting both livestock grazing and the collecting of forest products. Although our study focuses on a single primate species, the conservation modeling approaches we presented have wide applicability to a broad range of threatened mammalian and avian taxa that currently inhabit a limited geographic range and are affected by anthropogenic activities (e.g. collecting, grazing, hunting), loss of habitat connectivity, reduced genetic diversity, and the effects of climate change.
  • Research priorities for freshwater mussel conservation assessment
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Noé Ferreira-Rodríguez, Yoshihiro B. Akiyama, Olga V. Aksenova, Rafael Araujo, M. Christopher Barnhart, Yulia V. Bespalaya, Arthur E. Bogan, Ivan N. Bolotov, Prem B. Budha, Cristhian Clavijo, Susan J. Clearwater, Gustavo Darrigran, Van Tu Do, Karel Douda, Elsa Froufe, Clemens Gumpinger, Lennart Henrikson, Chris L. Humphrey, Nathan A. Johnson, Olga Klishko Freshwater mussels are declining globally, and effective conservation requires prioritizing research and actions to identify and mitigate threats impacting mussel species. Conservation priorities vary widely, ranging from preventing imminent extinction to maintaining abundant populations. Here, we develop a portfolio of priority research topics for freshwater mussel conservation assessment. To address these topics, we group research priorities into two categories: intrinsic or extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors are indicators of organismal or population status, while extrinsic factors encompass environmental variables and threats. An understanding of intrinsic factors is useful in monitoring, and of extrinsic factors are important to understand ongoing and potential impacts on conservation status. This dual approach can guide conservation status assessments prior to the establishment of priority species and implementation of conservation management actions.
  • An evidence-based approach to specifying survey effort in ecological
           assessments of bat activity
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Suzanne M. Richardson, Paul R. Lintott, David J. Hosken, Fiona Mathews Robust ecological assessments are fundamental for effective wildlife conservation. Owing to the high legal protection of bats, surveys are frequently required as part of ecological assessments. Yet there is uncertainty about the amount of survey effort that should be deployed to facilitate bat protection. Bat activity can be extremely variable, and capturing periods of high activity can be as important as estimating parameters such as the median activity level. However the frequency and intensity of surveys required to capture the required information is unknown. Here we assessed the probability that acoustic surveys of differing durations would detect periods of high activity within a focal site and the importance of a site relative to others in a regional or national context. We randomly subsampled from 660 nights of activity data collected from 33 wind farm sites across Britain. The minimum surveying effort required to classify bat activity accurately varied between species and was dependent on weather conditions. We found that the survey periods required to give reasonable certainty in assessing risk exceeded those currently recommended in Europe. The approach of using bat activity accumulation curves, as described here, is transferrable to other situations where determining surveying effort and risk is necessary to ensure that ecological assessments provide a robust evidence base, whilst minimising the time and expense of surveys.
  • How does habitat fragmentation affect biodiversity' A controversial
           question at the core of conservation biology
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 17 January 2019Source: Biological ConservationAuthor(s): Abraham J. Miller-Rushing, Richard B. Primack, Vincent Devictor, Richard T. Corlett, Graeme S. Cumming, Rafael Loyola, Bea Maas, Liba Pejchar
  • Do biodiversity offsets achieve No Net Loss' An evaluation of offsets
           in a French department
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Lucie Bezombes, Christian Kerbiriou, Thomas Spiegelberger Biodiversity offsetting is a policy approach that compensates for the ecological losses from development projects affecting biodiversity with equivalent gains through offsets, aiming at “No Net Loss” (NNL). Although offsets seem appealing in theory, several concerns have been raised about the difficulties reaching NNL in practice. While most of the discussion about offsets improvement is based on principles and strategies, we evaluated empirical evidence of offsets implemented, both from the procedure files (protected species and wetlands) and field surveys. Our objective was to evaluate whether offsets achieve NNL based on 91 procedure files in the Isère department in France. We identified that necessary data for assessing offsets gains, such as the location and offset sites' initial state, were not available in part (location) or all (initial state) procedure files investigated. We evaluated 59 offsets implemented for 22 development projects and where minimum data for monitoring offsets were available; we surveyed the presence or absence of target species and habitat from the offset site. The type of offsets (restoration, creation or maintenance of target habitat) was one of the characteristics that helped to explain both species and habitat absence, implying offset failure. Based on our analysis, we suggest three principal angles for progressing in NNL achievement: (i) collecting and publishing a set of essential information on offsets, (ii) requiring a management plan for each offset, and (iii) accumulating empirical evidence of offsets failure and success.
  • Exploring relationships between land use intensity, habitat heterogeneity
           and biodiversity to identify and monitor areas of High Nature Value
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): L.C. Maskell, M. Botham, P. Henrys, S. Jarvis, D. Maxwell, D.A. Robinson, C.S. Rowland, G. Siriwardena, S. Smart, J. Skates, E.J. Tebbs, G.M. Tordoff, B.A. Emmett Understanding how species richness is distributed across landscapes and which variables may be used as predictors is important for spatially targeting management interventions. This study uses finely resolved data over a large geographical area to explore relationships between land-use intensity, habitat heterogeneity and species richness of multiple taxa. It aims to identify surrogate landscape metrics, valid for a range of taxa, which can be used to map and monitor High Nature Value farmland (HNV).Results show that variation in species richness is distributed along two axes: land-use intensity and habitat heterogeneity. At low intensity land-use, species rich groups include wetland plants, plant habitat indicators, upland birds and rare invertebrates, whilst richness of other species groups (farmland birds, butterflies, bees) was associated with higher land-use intensity. Habitat heterogeneity (broadleaved woodland connectivity, hedgerows, habitat diversity) was positively related to species richness of many taxa, both generalists (plants, butterflies, bees) and specialists (rare birds, woodland birds, plants, butterflies).The results were used to create maps of HNV farmland. The proportion of semi-natural vegetation is a useful metric for identifying HNV type 1. HNV type 2 (defined as a mosaic of low-intensity habitats and structural elements) is more difficult to predict from surrogate variables, due to complex relationships between biodiversity and habitat heterogeneity and inadequacies of current remotely sensed data.This approach, using fine-scaled field survey data collected at regular intervals, in conjunction with remotely sensed data offers potential for extrapolating modelled results nationally, and importantly, can be used to assess change over time.
  • Does nature experience matter' Why not to care too much about the link
           between nature experience and valuing nature
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Stijn Neuteleers, Glenn Deliège
  • Increasing the proportion and quality of land under agri-environment
           schemes promotes birds and butterflies at the landscape scale
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Silvia Zingg, Eva Ritschard, Raphaël Arlettaz, Jean-Yves Humbert The intensification of agricultural practices that Western nations have experienced after World War II has led to an alarming decline in farmland biodiversity. With the aim of stopping and even reversing this decline, agri-environment schemes (AES) have been implemented in many European countries since the 1990s. In Switzerland, farmers are required to manage at least 7% of their land in the form of biodiversity promotion areas (BPA), which are extensively managed, wildlife-friendly farmland habitats such as hay meadows and traditional orchards. We investigated how the occurrence and characteristics of these BPA influence birds and butterflies in the Swiss lowlands. Butterfly species richness and abundance increased by 22% and 60%, respectively, when the proportion of BPA in the landscape increased from 5% to 15%. Likewise, bird species richness increased, but to a lesser extent, with the proportion of BPA in the landscape. For birds, the proportion of BPA characterized by a high ecological quality played a role in promoting both priority-farmland and red-listed species. For both taxonomic groups, the amount and quality of BPA habitats contributed more to species richness than their spatial configuration, connectivity included. This study shows that AES measures implemented at the field scale have positive effects on mobile species that are noticeable at the landscape scale, and that the fraction of AES in the cultivated landscape matters more than their spatial configuration, which has strong implications for designing multi-functional agro-ecosystems.
  • Ground flora recovery in disused pheasant pens is limited and affected by
           pheasant release density
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 8 January 2019Source: Biological ConservationAuthor(s): Lucy A. Capstick, Rufus B. Sage, Andrew Hoodless The release of large numbers of juvenile pheasants into open-topped release pens in woodlands is a common part of game management in the UK. Previous research has shown this practice modifies the soil conditions and ground flora community of these release pens. However, it is not currently known if and how these changes to soil and ground flora reverse once the pens are no longer used. We compared the soil chemistry, ground flora structure and community composition of disused release pen sites in ancient semi-natural woodlands with paired control sites. Some of the changes seen within release pens in active use persisted in disused pens; soil fertility and cover of species that prefer fertile soils were higher in disused pens, whereas winter green perennials, richness of species of ancient semi-natural woodland and overall species richness were lower. Total species richness and richness of ancient semi-natural woodland plants showed signs of recovery in pens that had been disused for longer than ten years, but this recovery only occurred in pens where ≤1000 pheasants/ha had been released. Pheasant release pens are sometimes relocated within woodland to reduce disease incidence but, as the flora within disused pens does not recover quickly, this practice may cause cumulative habitat damage. We recommend that release pen relocation should be minimised and suggest other management strategies that could reduce the need to relocate pens and increase the floral recovery in disused pens, such as reducing the density of pheasants released.
  • Implications of the shared socioeconomic pathways for tiger (Panthera
    ) conservation
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Eric W. Sanderson, Jesse Moy, Courtney Rose, Kim Fisher, Bryan Jones, Deborah Balk, Peter Clyne, Dale Miquelle, Joseph Walston Over the last century, numbers of wild tigers (Panthera tigris) have crashed, while human populations have boomed. Here we investigate future trajectories of human population within tiger range through analysis of the shared socio-economic pathways (SSPs). These five pathways describe urban, rural and total population distributions by decade through 2100, based on plausible but contrasting scenarios of economic, education, migration, and urbanization policy. In 2010 approximately 57 million people lived in regions defined as “tiger conservation landscapes” (or TCLs); 8% of sympatric people lived in towns and cities that occupied 4% of tiger range. We show that tigers could share these same geographies with as few as 40 million (30% decline compared to 2010) or as many as 106 million people (an increase of 85%) by 2100. Those populations could be as much as 64%, or as little as 17%, urbanized, depending on the pathway. Urban areas are likely to expand, displacing between 6 and 22% of tiger's current range, depending on how urban growth is managed. Human population density thresholds compatible with tigers vary by region, from 140 persons/km2 in the Indian subcontinent, to 10 persons/km2 in the Russian Far East and northern China. SSP3, a future where nations indulge regional rivalries, would make conservation more difficult, whereas SSP1, with a focus on well-managed urbanization and education, could help relieve pressures. Tigers are a conservation-reliant species and will likely remain so through the 21st century, therefore we suggest coupling continued site-level protection with efforts to develop constituencies for conservation in Asia's burgeoning cities.
  • The response of wild bees to tree cover and rural land use is mediated by
           species' traits
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2019Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 231Author(s): Mark A. Hall, Dale G. Nimmo, Saul A. Cunningham, Kenneth Walker, Andrew F. Bennett Worldwide, bees have an important role in ecosystem function and the provision of ecosystem services through their role as pollinators. The diversity of bee species in rural landscapes is influenced by the type of landscape features present, and by land-use and management practices. A key challenge is to understand and predict how species vary across the landscape; and the role of functional traits in determining compositional patterns. We systematically sampled wild bees in four types of landscape feature – open farmland, scattered farmland trees, roadside vegetation and streamside vegetation – in rural landscapes in southern Australia. Landscapes were selected to represent wooded or non-wooded combinations of these site types (e.g. roadside vegetation with or without trees), embedded in farmland with different land-uses (e.g. cropping, grazing). The species richness and abundance of bees was greater at sites containing little or no tree cover; and the cumulative richness of species was greater for tree-less sites than for those with trees. In contrast, species evenness was greatest in wooded site types, indicating these were less dominated by abundant generalist species. Open farmland and treeless roadsides had greater functional diversity (based on species traits) than wooded site types. Strong species trait associations were more numerous with open parts of the landscape, reflecting the greater functional diversity of open site types. These results suggest that a suite of the extant bee fauna can exploit large-scale transformation from former extensively wooded ecosystems to open agricultural landscapes. However, not all species are able to exploit modified landscapes and may disappear with further loss of wooded vegetation. Trait-based approaches provide insight into how changes in landscape pattern affect the bee fauna. Failure to adequately cater for multiple functional groups of bees across all landscape features could mean a substantial loss in species that rely on more natural cover, thus affecting ecosystem function.
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