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Biological Conservation
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  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0006-3207 - ISSN (Online) 0006-3207
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3206 journals]
  • Using local ecological knowledge to improve large terrestrial mammal
           surveys, build local capacity and increase conservation opportunities
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 February 2020Source: Biological ConservationAuthor(s): Micaela Camino, Jeffrey Thompson, Laura Andrade, Sara Cortez, Silvia D. Matteucci, Mariana AltrichterField information is essential for developing conservation actions, but standard methods for surveying wildlife are often inefficient in large, remote areas. Without efficient methods, surveying is difficult or even impossible. Consequently, some of the most threatened species and regions remain un- or under-surveyed, e.g. South American Chaco. Survey methods based on local ecological knowledge (LEK-methods) could be useful for surveying these areas and species. However, LEK-methods may be inaccurate and are rarely evaluated or compared to standard-methods. This is the first large-scale study evaluating the performance of two LEK-methods, and comparing it with the performance of standard-methods, for detecting three species of large terrestrial mammals. We used a locally-based survey (LBS) and interviews as LEK-methods, and transect and camera trapping as standard survey methods. We estimated the probability of detecting each species with each method, of having false-presences and their cost. We also quantitatively analysed the ability of LBS to build local capacity, focusing on conservation, research and working skills. We found that compared to standard-methods, LEK-methods increase detection probabilities of three species while providing accurate information. LBSs are more expensive than interviews but improve local capacities, raising the chances of successful implementation of community-based conservation programmes. Interviews are optimal for rapid assessments and can be useful for wildlife monitoring. Before using LEK-methods, we recommend pilot studies to determine estimators´ variability. Overall, this study shows that LEK-based methods can be efficient and accurate for detecting large mammals in remote areas. Furthermore, LEK-methods can help develop legitimate conservation initiatives.Graphical abstractThe probability of detecting a species depends on the species characteristics and on the methods used in the survey. For three species with different biological and ecological characteristics -white-lipped, collared or chacoan peccaries (Tayassu pecari, Pecari tajacu and Parachoerus wagneri)-, locally-based surveys provided the highest detection probabilities. The probability of detecting these species with the locally-based survey and interviews to hunters are higher than with standard-methods. The season (rainy/dry) was differentiated when estimating white-lipped peccary's detection probabilities because this factor had a significant effect on estimations.Unlabelled Image
  • Responses of a wild ungulate assemblage to anthropogenic influences in
           Manas National Park, India
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 243Author(s): Dipankar Lahkar, M. Firoz Ahmed, Ramie H. Begum, Sunit Kumar Das, Abishek HariharAbstractLarge carnivores have experienced significant global range contractions and recovering their populations is often contingent on increasing prey abundances. In Manas National Park (MNP), following nearly two decades of ethnopolitical conflict, studies document that populations of both prey and predators were depressed. Here we assess the status of wild ungulates in a section of MNP (Bansbari-Bhuyanpara) that has remained conflict-free for over a decade. For seven ungulate species, we estimate species-specific densities using distance-based sampling, assess species-specific space-use patterns in relation to habitat variables within an occupancy framework and examine patterns of temporal activity in relation to times when people access the park for resources. Further, by comparing temporal activity patterns of ungulates between MNP, a site where local communities access the park for resources, and Kaziranga National Park, where human use of the park is minimal, we examine if species activity is altered in response to human presence. We estimate that currently Bansbari-Bhuyanpara ranges of MNP support 42.66 (34.16–51.16) individual ungulates/km2. Our results highlight that current patterns of human access within the park affect both spatial and temporal behaviour of these species. Although we estimate a relatively high recovery potential for tigers in MNP given current prey densities, we suggest that further ungulate population recoveries could be supported in the park. With several ungulate species experiencing range-wide declines, efforts to minimize non-lethal human disturbances on these species also need to be considered to ensure that predator-prey systems remain intact.
  • It's in the news: Characterising Indonesia's wild bird trade network from
           media-reported seizure incidents
    • Abstract: Publication date: March 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 243Author(s): Karlina Indraswari, Rachel S. Friedman, Richard Noske, Chris R. Shepherd, Duan Biggs, Connie Susilawati, Clevo WilsonAbstractDevising strategic conservation plans to curb Indonesia's wild bird trade is pivotal to protect species. However, limited understanding of nation-wide trade network patterns could hinder this urgently necessary action. Currently, available information either have restricted geographical scope or is focused on trans-national analysis, limiting understanding of domestic-level nation-wide spatial movement and patterns of traded birds. In this paper, we use media-reported local seizures to understand patterns in a domestic-level wild bird trade network. Indonesia's bird trade network involved 18 countries (including Indonesia), all 34 provinces, and 132,945 confiscated birds from 157 species. Songbirds (Passeriformes) (83.8% of all birds) dominated the trade, with the highest number of birds in demand for songbird competitions and listed as of conservation concern in the IUCN Red List. The most important region and the main transit point was Jakarta, the most important source of birds was Lampung and the most important destination for birds was West Java. Malaysia was the most important international source of songbirds (mostly smuggled into Indonesia), while the Philippines was the main international destination for the smuggling of Parrots and Cockatoos. Seizures mostly occur near transit and destination regions, and fewer near source regions. Despite the identified patterns, it is likely a small portion of the actual size of Indonesia's bird trade. This paper provided a low-cost approach for a rapid wildlife trade network analysis and could be easily used to identify trade patterns of other taxa in other countries.
  • Solutions for humanity on how to conserve insects
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 February 2020Source: Biological ConservationAuthor(s): Michael J. Samways, Philip S. Barton, Klaus Birkhofer, Filipe Chichorro, Charl Deacon, Thomas Fartmann, Caroline S. Fukushima, René Gaigher, Jan C. Habel, Caspar A. Hallmann, Matthew J. Hill, Axel Hochkirch, Lauri Kaila, Mackenzie L. Kwak, Dirk Maes, Stefano Mammola, Jorge A. Noriega, Alexander B. Orfinger, Fernando Pedraza, James S. PrykeAbstractThe fate of humans and insects intertwine, especially through the medium of plants. Global environmental change, including land transformation and contamination, is causing concerning insect diversity loss, articulated in the companion review Scientists' warning to humanity on insect extinctions. Yet, despite a sound philosophical foundation, recognized ethical values, and scientific evidence, globally we are performing poorly at instigating effective insect conservation. As insects are a major component of the tapestry of life, insect conservation would do well to integrate better with overall biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation. This also involves popularizing insects, especially through use of iconic species, through more media coverage, and more inclusive education. Insect conservationists need to liaise better with decision makers, stakeholders, and land managers, especially at the conceptually familiar scale of the landscape. Enough evidence is now available, and synthesized here, which illustrates that multiple strategies work at local levels towards saving insects. We now need to expand these locally-crafted strategies globally. Tangible actions include ensuring maintenance of biotic complexity, especially through improving temporal and spatial heterogeneity, functional connectivity, and metapopulation dynamics, while maintaining unique habitats, across landscape mosaics, as well as instigating better communication. Key is to have more expansive sustainable agriculture and forestry, improved regulation and prevention of environmental risks, and greater recognition of protected areas alongside agro-ecology in novel landscapes. Future-proofing insect diversity is now critical, with the benefits far reaching, including continued provision of valuable ecosystem services and the conservation of a rich and impressive component of Earth's biodiversity.
  • Scientists' warning to humanity on insect extinctions
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 February 2020Source: Biological ConservationAuthor(s): Pedro Cardoso, Philip S. Barton, Klaus Birkhofer, Filipe Chichorro, Charl Deacon, Thomas Fartmann, Caroline S. Fukushima, René Gaigher, Jan C. Habel, Caspar A. Hallmann, Matthew J. Hill, Axel Hochkirch, Mackenzie L. Kwak, Stefano Mammola, Jorge Ari Noriega, Alexander B. Orfinger, Fernando Pedraza, James S. Pryke, Fabio O. Roque, Josef SetteleAbstractHere we build on the manifesto ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity, issued by the Alliance of World Scientists. As a group of conservation biologists deeply concerned about the decline of insect populations, we here review what we know about the drivers of insect extinctions, their consequences, and how extinctions can negatively impact humanity.We are causing insect extinctions by driving habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, use of polluting and harmful substances, the spread of invasive species, global climate change, direct overexploitation, and co-extinction of species dependent on other species.With insect extinctions, we lose much more than species. We lose abundance and biomass of insects, diversity across space and time with consequent homogenization, large parts of the tree of life, unique ecological functions and traits, and fundamental parts of extensive networks of biotic interactions. Such losses lead to the decline of key ecosystem services on which humanity depends. From pollination and decomposition, to being resources for new medicines, habitat quality indication and many others, insects provide essential and irreplaceable services. We appeal for urgent action to close key knowledge gaps and curb insect extinctions. An investment in research programs that generate local, regional and global strategies that counter this trend is essential. Solutions are available and implementable, but urgent action is needed now to match our intentions.
  • Formerly managed forest reserves complement integrative management for
           biodiversity conservation in temperate European forests
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Jan Leidinger, Wolfgang W. Weisser, Sebastian Kienlein, Markus Blaschke, Kirsten Jung, Johanna Kozak, Anton Fischer, Reinhard Mosandl, Barbara Michler, Michael Ehrhardt, Anna Zech, Dennis Saler, Malte Graner, Sebastian SeiboldAbstractIn Central Europe, the predominant conservation strategy in forests is integrative management, seeking to balance economic interests with conservation goals. This is complemented by unmanaged strict forest reserves, most often small and with a history of forest management. Whether and how such reserves contribute to conservation when the surrounding forest is under progressive integrative management remains unclear.We compared forest structure and biodiversity of several taxa between formerly managed forest reserves and stands under progressive integrative management in beech and beech-oak forests. Alpha diversity was higher in reserves for birds and bats and higher in managed stands for plants and beetles, with no significant differences for fungi. Community composition differed between reserves and managed stands for plants, wood-decomposing fungi, beetles and birds. Reserves had 17 indicator species, including three red-listed species, and managed stands had 34, including one red-listed species. Diversity metrics differed between reserves and managed stands for both beech and beech-oak forests.Our results indicate that progressive integrative management and reserves, even when located in formerly managed stands, are complementary approaches benefitting different taxa and hosting partly different communities. Higher numbers of plants and beetles in managed stands were associated with higher light availability, as reserves in our study were undisturbed mature stands characterized by low light availability and low deadwood volumes. To benefit light and deadwood demanding species, new reserves should include early or late successional stands. If this is not feasible, restoration measures prior to designation or where possible under current protection status should be discussed.
  • The ghost fruits of Madagascar: Identifying dysfunctional seed dispersal
           in Madagascar's endemic flora
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Aurélie Albert-Daviaud, Sven Buerki, Guy E. Onjalalaina, Sarah Perillo, Romer Rabarijaona, Onja H. Razafindratsima, Hiroki Sato, Kim Valenta, Patricia C. Wright, Wolfgang StuppyAbstractMadagascar lost a large number of large-bodied animal species during the Holocene. Many of them played important roles as seed dispersers. In the case of the largest-seeded species, giant lemurs or elephant birds may have been the sole dispersers because no extant frugivore has a gape size large enough to ingest those seeds. These plant species now show all the hallmarks of anachronistic species. The consequences of dispersal gaps caused by megafaunal extinctions are exacerbated by the continuing decline of the range distribution of extant dispersers, particularly lemurs. In this paper, we identify dispersal gaps in Madagascar and highlight dysfunctional seed dispersal – systems in which plants have lost animal mutualists. We obtained data on seed dispersal, traits and distribution of plants and frugivores in Madagascar from the literature, online databases, and using herbarium specimens. We estimated the number of potential dispersers for each endemic endozoochorous plant species, by comparing the seed size of each plant species to the size of the largest seed that each frugivore can swallow whole. We estimated the number of available lemur dispersers by matching the distribution of plant species to the distribution of potential dispersers. We found that, out of the 3018 studied endozoochorous plant species, two species have experienced the complete extinction of their main dispersers while 487 species suffer from the local extinction of their suitable dispersers. A limited number of dispersers could be one of the main reasons why most of these plant species are now on the edge of extinction.
  • Compassionate conservation deserves a morally serious rather than
           dismissive response - Reply to Callen et al. 2020
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Simon Coghlan, Adam P.A. Cardilini
  • Large-scale assessment of genetic diversity and population connectivity of
           Amazonian jaguars (Panthera onca) provides a baseline for their
           conservation and monitoring in fragmented landscapes
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Gustavo Lorenzana, Laura Heidtmann, Taiana Haag, Emiliano Ramalho, Guilherme Dias, Tomas Hrbek, Izeni Farias, Eduardo EizirikAbstractJaguar population genetics has so far not been investigated on a broad scale in the Amazon rainforest, which constitutes the largest remaining block of continuous habitat for the species. Given its size, it serves not only as a stronghold but also as a reference for jaguar conservation genetics, against which fragmented landscapes can be compared. We assessed genetic diversity and population structure of Amazonian jaguars using 11 microsatellite loci and performed comparative analyses incorporating available data from two other South American biomes (Pantanal and Atlantic Forest) in which the species has faced different amounts of habitat loss and fragmentation. Using the largest genetic data set assembled to date for jaguars (n = 190), we observed that all diversity indices were consistently higher for the Amazonian population, with no genetic subdivision detected in that region, indicating large-scale connectivity across>3000 km. In contrast, we corroborate the inference of anthropic-driven genetic structure and bottlenecks for two Atlantic Forest populations. Our results indicate that the Amazon is a critically important stronghold for jaguars, comprising a highly diverse, panmictic population that allows a glimpse into the patterns of genetic connectivity that characterized this species prior to human intervention. In contrast, the Atlantic Forest populations jointly still retain considerable levels of genetic diversity, but this is currently partitioned among isolated fragments that are increasingly subjected to heavy anthropic disturbance. These results have important implications for jaguar conservation planning, highlighting the critical condition of Atlantic Forest populations and providing a genetic baseline to which they can be compared.
  • The diverse motivations of citizen scientists: Does conservation emphasis
           grow as volunteer participation progresses'
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Lincoln R. Larson, Caren B. Cooper, Sara Futch, Devyani Singh, Nathan J. Shipley, Kathy Dale, Geoffrey S. LeBaron, John Y. TakekawaAbstractCitizen science has proven to be a valuable tool for biodiversity conservation. However, to maximize the conservation benefits of citizen science programs, researchers and practitioners would gain from a better understanding of project volunteers and what drives them to participate. We examined the diverse motivations of volunteers (n = 3041) participating in Audubon's Christmas Bird Count, one of the world's oldest ecological monitoring citizen (or community) science projects. Principal axis factor analysis along a 16-item scale revealed six distinct intrinsic and extrinsic motivational constructs: science and conservation, outdoor recreation and discovery, commitment and tradition, social interaction, classic birding, and personal accomplishment. Most participants reported multiple motivations, but 40% indicated contribution to science and conservation was their primary reason for initially engaging with the project. As project participation continued, science and conservation-related motives became even more important (with 55% listing as primary continuing motivation). Regression analyses showed motivational orientations varied by socio-demographic attributes and levels/type of project participation. For example, social interaction and tradition were more important to aspiring project leaders than casual observers. Results highlight insights into deepening project engagement and recruiting and retaining citizen scientists. Adapted and applied across different contexts, our instrument and motivational constructs could help to facilitate volunteer management and enhance citizen science's capacity to advance biodiversity conservation goals.
  • Experimental forest fragmentation alters Amazonian mixed-species flocks
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Cameron L. Rutt, Karl Mokross, Michael D. Kaller, Philip C StoufferAbstractHabitat fragmentation has been associated with myriad negative effects for forest-dependent birds in the Neotropics. However, the vast majority of negative effects have been inferred from comparisons of pre-existing fragments with separate control sites. Such comparisons confound area loss with isolation and ignore effects of patchy distributions and local habitat heterogeneity. To directly test the effects of fragmentation on Amazonian mixed-species flocks—a complex and diverse species interaction network—we observed birds before and after re-isolation of three 10-ha fragments at the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project in central Amazonia. Following initial isolation in the 1980s, these fragments have been surrounded by a matrix of developing second growth that was cut again in 2013–2014 (re-isolation). Simultaneously, we also followed three control flocks in primary forest that bordered tall secondary forest. We quantified species richness and attendance, home range size, proportional use of edge and second growth, and space use for fragment and control flocks before and after re-isolation. Following re-isolation, one flock disappeared entirely and half of the obligate flock-followers either vanished or decreased attendance rates. Home ranges of fragment flocks shrunk, and movements were confined by newly created hard edges. These results provide direct experimental evidence that isolation leads to the deterioration and collapse of flocks in forest fragments, affecting both direct metrics and emergent properties of a complex social network. This study also provides retrospective insight into the value of adjacent second growth habitat as immigration corridors for birds in mixed-species flocks.
  • Secrets of snakes: The science beyond the myths. David Steen
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Steve A. Johnson
  • How can we mitigate against increasing biophobia among children during the
           extinction of experience'
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Masashi Soga, Maldwyn J. Evans, Takahiro Yamanoi, Yuya Fukano, Kazuaki Tsuchiya, Tomoyo F. Koyanagi, Tadashi KanaiAbstractThe ‘extinction of experience’ – the loss of direct interactions between people and nature – has the potential to increase negative attitudes towards nature (‘biophobia’). Increased biophobia has implications for biodiversity conservation, because it may lead to a reduced motivation to protect wild animals and their habitats. If biophobia among today's children is carried into adulthood, it may negatively affect future biodiversity conservation policy and outcomes. We conducted a large-scale questionnaire survey of schoolchildren in Japan, exploring several factors influencing their levels of biophobia (dislike, disgust, fear, and perceived danger) towards common invertebrates. Children's level of biophobia was negatively associated with their frequency of nature experiences and knowledge of invertebrates. It was positively associated with family members' biophobia and the degree of urbanisation surrounding the children's school. Our results suggest that the extinction of experience is likely to increase biophobia in children in the future. However, our findings also suggest that other factors can be used as counterbalances against its negative effects.
  • Implications of heathland management for ant species composition and
           diversity – Is heathland management causing biotic homogenization'
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Rikke Reisner Hansen, Knud Erik Nielsen, Joachim Offenberg, Christian Damgaard, David Bille Byriel, Inger Kappel Schmidt, Peter Borgen Sørensen, Christian Kjær, Morten Tune StrandbergAbstractMaintaining heathland ecosystems in an early successional stage is a major aim of most management regimes, such as harvesting, burning or grazing. However, how these types of management affect important ecosystem engineers such as ants, are poorly understood. We registered the density of ant colonies in managed plots (harvested, burned and grazed) and plots with long succession (so forth unmanaged) across six different dry lowland heath sites. With these data, we investigated how composition and richness varied across management regimes and elucidated the direct effects of management from the indirect effects of environmental covariates. Ant species richness was significantly lower in managed plots compared to unmanaged plots. Harvest and grazing regimes were associated with the lowest richness, while intermediate richness was registered in burned plots. Smallest variation in species composition was found in the harvested, followed by grazed, burned and unmanaged heathlands. There was an overall negative association between abundances of organic mound forming species and all types of management, while non-mound forming species where negatively affected by grazing. In addition, Non- and organic mound forming species were indirectly affected through decreasing vegetation complexity. Only ants with mineral mounds benefitted from grazing and burning, but not from harvesting. To promote ant richness and abundance, we propose to downscale the frequency and intensity of management, as well as designating certain parts of the heathland area for later successional vegetation stages.
  • Choice of baseline affects historical population trends in hunted mammals
           of North America
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Amy C. Collins, Monika Böhm, Ben CollenAbstractEstablishing historical baselines of species' populations is important for contextualising present-day population trends, identifying significant anthropogenic threats, and preventing a cultural phenomenon known as ‘shifting baseline syndrome’. However, our knowledge of historical baselines is limited by a lack of direct observation data on species abundance pre-1970. We present historical data of species-specific fur harvests from the Canadian government and Hudson's Bay Company as a proxy for estimating species abundance over multiple centuries. Using stochastic stock reduction analysis originally developed for marine species, we model historical population trends for eight mammals, and assess population trends based on two different baseline years: 1850 and 1970. Results show that population declines are significantly greater when using an 1850 baseline, as opposed to a 1970 baseline, and for four species, the population trend shifted from a population increase to a decrease. Overall, the median population change of the eight species changed from a 15% decline for 1850, to a 4% increase for 1970. This study shows the utility of harvest data for deriving population baselines for hunted terrestrial mammals which can be used in addition to other historical data such as local ecological knowledge. Results highlight the need for developing historically relevant population baselines in order to track abundances over time in threatened species and common species alike, to better inform species conservation programs, wildlife management plans and biodiversity indicators.
  • Evaluating habitat suitability and connectivity for a recolonizing large
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Heather Hemmingmoore, Malin Aronsson, Mikael Åkesson, Jens Persson, Henrik AndrénAbstractThe conservation of wide-ranging species presents challenges in a world of intensified human land use, forcing animals to occupy and recolonize human-modified landscapes. Although identifying suitable habitat and ensuring connectivity are important in supporting natural recolonization, these actions are rarely validated due to difficulties in monitoring such events. In Sweden, the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is now recolonizing its former range, after centuries of persecution. We investigated resource selection based on telemetry data from 108 lynx monitored over 20 years. We assessed the differences between the established population in central Sweden and the recolonizing population in southern Sweden, and between established and dispersing individuals. We found that models based on central Sweden successfully identified core habitat patches for establishment in southern Sweden, validated after recolonization. We also found that lynx selected for higher habitat suitability during the recolonization phase, and that dispersing individuals were less selective than established lynx. Using cost-distance analysis, we assessed connectivity between central and southern Sweden, and found that landscape permeability was higher when based on dispersing lynx compared to established lynx. Altogether, our findings suggest that when landscapes are sufficiently similar between source and recolonization areas, resource selection information from an established population can be useful for managers seeking to facilitate recolonization of wide-ranging species. We recommend more frequent use of validation during and after recolonization events, to improve our common understanding of habitat suitability and connectivity modeling, and therefore to enable more active management of recolonization events.
  • Diverse public perceptions of species' status and management align with
           conflicting conservation frameworks
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Lily M. van Eeden, Thomas M. Newsome, Mathew S. Crowther, Christopher R. Dickman, Jeremy BruskotterAbstractJustification for lethal control in conservation is often presumed to be shaped by human attitudes toward different species and whether these species are regarded as native or introduced to a particular system. Conservation researchers and practitioners attitudes often differ in this regard, so different conservation frameworks have evolved such as traditional compositionalist conservation, ‘new’ functionalist conservation, and compassionate conservation. Yet, there is limited research on how the public perceives and values native versus introduced species and thus how public perceptions align with these different and somewhat conflicting definitions of conservation. We conducted an online public survey (N = 811) in Australia to explore how perceptions of species are related to each other and to the approval of lethal control. We focused on native kangaroos, the long-established dingo, and more recently introduced red foxes and wild horses. Perceptions of species' ‘nativeness’ varied and did not always align with policy definitions or reality, with 18.4% and 17.9% considering horses and foxes, respectively, to be native to Australia. The perception that a species was not native and was a pest were linked, and correlated positively with approval for lethal control. The results reveal the conflicting perceptions of conservation among conservationists, the public, and policy definitions. This highlights the difficulty of developing a set of agreed upon conservation goals which would help promote conservation practices supported by stakeholder values.
  • Precipitous decline of white-lipped peccary populations in Mesoamerica
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Daniel Thornton, Rafael Reyna, Lucy Perera-Romero, Jeremy Radachowsky, Mircea G. Hidalgo-Mihart, Rony Garcia, Roan McNab, Lee Mcloughlin, Rebecca Foster, Bart Harmsen, José F. Moreira-Ramírez, Fabricio Diaz-Santos, Christopher Jordan, Roberto Salom-Pérez, Ninon Meyer, Franklin Castañeda, Fausto Antonio Elvir Valle, Gabriela Ponce Santizo, Ronit Amit, Stephanny Arroyo-ArceAbstractLarge mammalian herbivores are experiencing population reductions and range declines. However, we lack regional knowledge of population status for many herbivores, particularly in developing countries. Addressing this knowledge gap is key to implementing tailored conservation strategies for species whose population declines are highly variable across their range. White-lipped peccaries (Tayassu pecari) are important ecosystem engineers in Neotropical forests and are highly sensitive to human disturbance. Despite maintaining a wide distributional range, white-lipped peccaries are experiencing substantial population declines in some portions of their range. We examined the regional distribution and population status of the species in Mesoamerica. We used a combination of techniques, including expert-based mapping and assessment of population status, and data-driven distribution modelling techniques to determine the status and range limits of white-lipped peccaries. Our analysis revealed declining and highly isolated populations of peccaries across Mesoamerica, with a range reduction of 87% from historic distribution and 63% from current IUCN range estimates for the region. White-lipped peccary distribution is affected by indices of human influence and forest cover, and more restricted than other sympatric large herbivores, with their largest populations confined to transboundary reserves. To conserve white-lipped peccaries in Mesoamerica, transboundary efforts will be needed that focus on both forest conservation and hunting management, increased cross-border coordination, and reconsideration of country and regional conservation priorities. Our methodology to detail regional white-lipped peccary status could be employed on other poorly-known large mammals.
  • Pesticides: The most threat to the conservation of the Andean condor
           (Vultur gryphus)
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Rayen Estrada Pacheco, N. Luis Jácome, Vanesa Astore, Carlos E. Borghi, Carlos I. Piña
  • Prolonged gray wolf endangered species act listing fluctuation and
           policymaker response in the United States
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): David Ross Price Martin
  • Identification of animal individuals using deep learning: A case study of
           giant panda
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Jin Hou, Yuxin He, Hongbo Yang, Thomas Connor, Jie Gao, Yujun Wang, Yichao Zeng, Jindong Zhang, Jinyan Huang, Bochuan Zheng, Shiqiang ZhouAbstractGiant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is an iconic species of conservation. However, long-term monitoring of wild giant pandas has been a challenge, largely due to the lack of appropriate method for the identification of target panda individuals. Although there are some traditional methods, such as distance-bamboo stem fragments methods, molecular biological method, and manual visual identification, they all have some limitations that can restrict their application. Therefore, it is urgent to explore a reliable and efficient approach to identify giant panda individuals. Here, we applied the deep learning technology and developed a novel face-identification model based on convolutional neural network to identify giant panda individuals. The model was able to identify 95% of giant panda individuals in the validation dataset. In all simulated field situations where the quality of photo data was degraded, the model still accurately identified more than 90% of panda individuals. The identification accuracy of our model is robust to brightness, small rotation, and cleanness of photos, although large rotation angle (>20°) of photos has significant influence on the identification accuracy of the model (P 
  • Rapid condition monitoring of an endangered marine vertebrate using
           precise, non-invasive morphometrics
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Jarrod C. Hodgson, Dirk Holman, Aleks Terauds, Lian Pin Koh, Simon D. GoldsworthyUnderstanding causes of population change is critical for conservation. Quantifying these causes can be difficult, especially for hard to sample animals like marine vertebrates (e.g. pinnipeds). One solution is to investigate spatiotemporal differences in a species' body condition by measuring body size and mass. Collecting traditional morphological measurements is risky and labour intensive, making less invasive and more efficient techniques desirable. Using Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea) of known size and mass as a case study, we tested the suitability of using drone-derived photogrammetry to estimate morphological measurements and assess body condition. Drone-derived measurements were precise and without bias. Animal mass was highly correlated with the 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional measurements of simplified area and volume, explaining>77% and>84% (all P  0.99). Using each measurement as a proxy for mass, we calculated body condition indices for each class by standardising the variables by animal length. Photogrammetric indices ranked individuals comparably to those generated from ground-collected data (rs = 0.77–1, depending on age-sex class). Our technique provides a workflow for the non-invasive collection of morphometric data to quantify animal condition, which is transferrable to other pinniped species with species-specific calibration. It will also facilitate the efficient collection of morphometric data of vertebrates from remotely sensed imagery.Graphical abstractUnlabelled Image
  • Rallying citizen knowledge to assess wildlife occurrence and habitat
           suitability in anthropogenic landscapes
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Élie Pédarros, Tabitha Coetzee, Hervé Fritz, Chloé GuerboisAbstractTransforming conservation science and practice calls for rallying people's interest in biodiversity while evaluating the response of biodiversity to anthropogenic transformations. Anthropogenic landscapes are critical as they encompass most of the available spaces for living species and shape evolutionary forces for wildlife in the Anthropocene.We propose a methodology to assess wildlife distribution and habitat suitability in such landscapes based-on local knowledge. With increasing human population and habitat degradation, human-baboon conflicts are exacerbating throughout the Western Cape, South Africa. During participatory mapping workshops, we collected baboon sightings and indices of landscape use by participants to control observer bias to model baboon occurrence using presence-only models (with MaxEnt). We considered different biases associated with citizen data in the modelling process and conducted field validations. Sightings redundancy allows identifying core and extended baboons distribution ranges. We found that the distances to protected areas and wildlife corridors were the main determinants of baboon occurrence while land-cover had little influence. This later result underlies baboons behavioural flexibility in coping with land-use change. Overall, our results are consistent with studies using GPS collars in similar environments.Beyond generating meaningful information to understand wildlife distribution in anthropogenic landscape with a low-cost, fast and non-invasive approach, our methodology allowed local stakeholders to share insights about human-baboon coexistence. Well-designed participatory and collaborative methodologies are critical in conservation programmes, we discuss the role of developing such participatory mapping and modelling approaches to not only produce relevant information when resources are limited but also to unravel local solutions for conservation.
  • Modelling cetacean morbillivirus outbreaks in an endangered killer whale
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Michael N. Weiss, Daniel W. Franks, Kenneth C. Balcomb, David K. Ellifrit, Matthew J. Silk, Michael A. Cant, Darren P. CroftAbstractThe emergence of novel diseases represents a major hurdle for the recovery of endangered populations, and in some cases may even present the threat of extinction. In recent years, epizootics of infectious diseases have emerged as a major threat to marine mammal populations, particularly group-living odontocetes. However, little research has explored the potential consequences of novel pathogens in endangered cetacean populations. Here, we present the first study predicting the spread of infectious disease over the social network of an entire free-ranging cetacean population, the southern resident killer whale community (SRKW). Utilizing 5 years of detailed data on close contacts between individuals, we build a fine-scale social network describing potential transmission pathways in this population. We then simulate the spread of cetacean morbillivirus (CeMV) over this network. Our analysis suggests that the SRKW population is highly vulnerable to CeMV. The majority of simulations resulted in unusual mortality events (UMEs), with mortality rates predicted to be at least twice the recorded maximum annual mortality. We find only limited evidence that this population's social structure inhibits disease spread. Vaccination is not likely to be an efficient strategy for reducing the likelihood of UMEs, with over 40 vaccinated individuals (>50% of the population) required to reduce the likelihood of UMEs below 5%. This analysis highlights the importance of modelling efforts in designing strategies to mitigate disease, and suggests that populations with strong social preferences and distinct social units may still be highly vulnerable to disease outbreaks.
  • Habitat area and connectivity support cavity-nesting bees in vineyards
           more than organic management
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Deniz Uzman, Annette Reineke, Martin H. Entling, Ilona LeyerAbstractThe expansion and intensification of agriculture are the main causes of current insect declines. Pollinators like cavity-nesting bees can be limited by reduced nesting and feeding opportunities in farmland. As insects constitute the bulk of terrestrial biodiversity and fulfill important ecological functions, there is an urgent need to identify ways to combine agricultural land use and insect conservation. Perennial crops like grapevine can provide permanent habitats for numerous beneficial organisms including various pollinators. With their dominating character in viticultural areas and>7 million ha covered by vines globally, their potential to contribute to nature conservation should be more widely considered. We compared effects of organic management, inter-row vegetation characteristics and landscape parameters on the abundance and species richness of cavity-nesting bees in Central German vineyards. In a paired study design, we assessed cavity-nesting bees in 15 pairs of organically and conventionally managed vineyards along a gradient of landscape complexity. We found that organic management, even though it enhanced flower availability in the vineyards, was only partially beneficial for cavity-nesting bee abundance. Abundance and species richness were enhanced by either semi-natural habitat area or proximity of woody elements like hedges or forest remnants, most likely due to the nesting demands of this particular group of pollinators. We conclude that vineyards can help to sustain cavity-nesting bee abundance, given that landscapes are managed accordingly. We recommend maintaining or establishing woody elements between vineyards, which is likely to also benefit additional groups of organisms such as breeding birds in viticultural landscapes.
  • Does forest restoration assist the recovery of threatened species' A
           study of cloud forest amphibian communities
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): J.M. Díaz-García, F. López-Barrera, T. Toledo-Aceves, E. Andresen, E. PinedaAbstractForest restoration may support recovery and conservation of biodiversity. However, the response of biodiversity to forest restoration is likely to vary depending on the restoration strategy used and taxa considered. Our goal was to assess the recovery of amphibians, a highly threatened biological group, in three cloud forests under different restoration strategies. We compared different measures of species diversity in cattle pasture, 13-year-old forest under passive restoration (P13), 23-year-old forest under passive restoration (P23), 23-year-old forest under active restoration (A23) and mature cloud forest in Mexico. We sampled amphibians in 45 plots and measured landscape and habitat variables to assess their influence on amphibian recovery. We found a total of 13 amphibian species, of which 23% are in the Vulnerable (VU) category of the IUCN Red List and 15% are Critically Endangered (CR). All forests under restoration recovered amphibian species richness and composition, including that of the threatened species, but abundance differed among restoration strategies. Abundance of VU and CR species was higher in A23 than in P13 and P23, but that of CR species was highest in cloud forest. Responses to forest restoration differed among taxa; recovery of salamanders was lower than that of anurans. Proximity to water bodies, as well as high canopy and leaf litter cover, had a strong positive influence on amphibian recovery. Our results indicate that recovery of threatened biodiversity could be promoted through forest restoration, particularly active restoration, and highlight the essential role of mature forest in the maintenance and recovery of amphibian communities.
  • Reduce or redirect' Which social marketing interventions could
           influence demand for traditional medicines'
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Tom P. Moorhouse, Peter G.R. Coals, Neil C. D'Cruze, David W. MacdonaldAbstractThe global trade in wildlife is a threat to species conservation and animal welfare. A key driver is demand for traditional medicines (TMs). We present an initial experimental survey of demand reduction and demand redirection interventions aimed at changing the behaviour of TM consumers in China and Vietnam. Treatment respondents (n = 1600) were shown TM products, with messages outlining their conservation, welfare or human health impacts, and asked their intention to buy these products in the future. Control respondents (n = 400) were shown nothing. All respondents were then shown a ‘herbal’ (plant-based) substitute, and asked how likely they would be to buy it. Respondents were finally shown a list of TMs and asked to select those they would buy.Of treatment respondents 62.7% stated they would stop buying TMs, but when later offered a list of TMs, 52.2% selected at least one to buy. Frequent buyers exhibited a smaller treatment response than occasional buyers (56.4% versus 67.1%, said they would stop buying), and a larger gap between this and their later decision to buy TMs (a 32.8% versus 14.0% difference). With respect to herbal substitutes, 88.9% of regular buyers selected high purchase likelihoods, compared with 73.5% of occasional purchasers, proportions unaffected by experimental group.Information campaigns may have a limited effect in reducing demand, particularly among frequent users of TMs. Frequent purchasers, however, exhibited the greatest enthusiasm for herbal substitutes. Future approaches to protect wildlife should test the effectiveness of working with TM practitioners to redirect demand onto alternative, non-animal TM ingredients.
  • Reducing nest predation of ground-nesting birds through conditioned food
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Jorge Tobajas, Esther Descalzo, Rafael Mateo, Pablo FerrerasAbstractPopulations of many ground-nesting bird species have declined substantially due to several factors, and predation can be a leading contributor to these declines. As a method for reducing the nest predation on ground-nesting birds, we tested whether conditioned food aversion (CFA) can reduce red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa) nest predation by red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). With a before-after control-impact design we deployed 1329 artificial nests in two different habitats in Central Spain using thiram as an aversive. Artificial nests were monitored by camera traps to identify the red fox individuals during the predation events. 26 foxes were GPS-tagged to monitor their spatial movements and feeding behavior. Partridge density and productivity were monitored to assess the thiram treatment effect on partridge population. Thiram treatment decreased artificial nest predation by foxes in both study sites by 26.8–50.1%, but this was compensated by an increased predation by other predators, possibly enhanced by the availability of our artificial nests. 78% of identified foxes that ingested thiram-treated eggs, stopped nest predation after treatment. Foxes maintained stable territories during the whole study period. Partridge productivity was 132–677% higher in thiram-treatment areas than in control areas, and partridge density after treatment increased more in thiram-treated areas (193–292%) than in control areas (1.8–99%). Our study shows that CFA reduced ground nest predation by foxes, and had a positive effect on the partridge population despite the compensatory predation. This method could be used as a non-lethal tool for conservation of endangered ground-nesting bird species.
  • A comprehensive assessment of diversity loss in a well-documented tropical
           insect fauna: Almost half of Singapore's butterfly species extirpated in
           160 years
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Meryl Theng, Wan F.A. Jusoh, Anuj Jain, Blanca Huertas, David J.X. Tan, Hui Zhen Tan, Nadiah P. Kristensen, Rudolf Meier, Ryan A. ChisholmAbstractInsects as a group are suffering rapid declines in many parts of the world but are also poorly studied relative to vertebrate taxa. Comprehensive assessments of insect declines must account for both detected and undetected species. We studied extirpations among butterflies, a particularly well-known insect group, in the highly developed and biologically well-surveyed island city-state of Singapore. Building on existing butterfly species lists, we collated museum and naturalist records over the last two centuries and used statistical models to estimate the total extirpation rate since the first major collections in 1854. In addition, we compiled a set of traits for each butterfly species and explored how they relate to species discovery and extirpation. With a database of 413 native species, 132 (32%) of which are recorded as extirpated in Singapore, we used a statistical model to infer that, in addition, 104 unknown species (95% CI 60–162) were likely extirpated before they were ever discovered, suggesting a total extirpation rate of 46% (41–51%). In the trait analyses, we found that butterfly species that were discovered later were weakly associated with rarer larval host plants and smaller wingspans, while species that persisted for longer were weakly associated with higher larval host plant abundance and lower forest-dependence. This exercise is one of the first to offer a holistic estimate of extirpations for a group of insects by accounting for undetected extirpations. It suggests that extirpations among insects, specifically in the tropics, may be higher than naïve estimates based only on known records.
  • A stitch in time – Synergistic impacts to platypus metapopulation
           extinction risk
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Gilad Bino, Richard T. Kingsford, Brendan A. WintleAbstractThe unique platypus is currently listed as ‘Near-Threatened’ under the IUCN Red List based on observed population declines and local extinctions, though significant uncertainty exists about its current distribution and abundance. We did the first population viability analysis across its entire range, using distribution and metapopulation data and models that integrate key threatening processes. We quantified the individual and synergistic impacts of water resource development, land clearing and invasive species on population viability of the platypus. Under current climate and threats, platypus abundance and metapopulation occupancy were predicted to respectively decline by 47%–66% and 22%–32% over 50 years. This would cause extinction of local populations across about 40% of the range. Under climate change projections (2070), increased extreme drought frequencies and duration were predicted to further expose platypuses to increased local extinctions, reducing abundance and metapopulation occupancy by 51–73% and 36–56% within 50 years respectively. Predicted estimates of key threatening processes on platypus populations strongly suggested increased risk of extinction, including listing as ‘Vulnerable’, under IUCN criterion A. This adds to the increasing evidence of decline and local extinction of platypus populations. There is an urgent need to implement national conservation efforts for this unique mammal by increasing surveys, tracking trends, mitigating threats and improving management of platypus habitat in rivers.
  • Using multiple palaeoecological indicators to guide biodiversity
           conservation in tropical dry islands: The case of São Nicolau, Cabo Verde
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Alvaro Castilla-Beltrán, Ivani Duarte, Lea de Nascimento, José María Fernández-Palacios, Maria Romeiras, Robert J. Whittaker, Margarita Jambrina-Enríquez, Carolina Mallol, Andrew B. Cundy, Mary Edwards, Sandra NoguéTropical dry islands are currently facing major challenges derived from anthropogenic and climatic pressures. However, their trajectories of environmental change, which could provide relevant information applicable to biodiversity conservation, remain understudied. This is mainly due to poor micro-fossil preservation and irregular sediment deposition. Multi-proxy palaeoecological analyses spanning decades to 1000s of years can add perspective as to how vegetation, fungal communities, and the fauna responded to previous natural and anthropogenic disturbances. In São Nicolau, Cabo Verde, we used palaeoecological methods to analyse a highland soil profile (1000 m asl) dated to 5900 cal yr BP. We analysed how vegetation (abundances in pollen of native and introduced species, and leaf wax n-alkanes), ferns and fungal communities (abundance of non-pollen palynomorphs) varied over time in relation to fire (charcoal concentration) and erosion regimes (grain sizes and elemental composition). Between 5000 and 400 cal yr BP the highlands held native woody taxa such as Euphorbia tuckeyana, Dracaena draco subsp. caboverdeana, and Ficus, taxa that can be used for future reforestation programmes. From 400 cal yr BP to the present day, replacement of native taxa by introduced and cultivated taxa (Pinus, Eucalyptus, Asystasia, Opuntia) has occurred. Vegetation burning and grazing caused loss of vegetation and erosion, acting as conjoined drivers of scrubland degradation. This dataset helps to set historically contextualised restoration goals such as the re-introduction of native species, monitoring of recently introduced species and control of free grazing. This can serve as a model system for the conservation of tropical dry islands' biodiversity.Graphical abstractUnlabelled Image
  • Effects of grazing intensity, habitat area and connectivity on snail-shell
           nesting bees
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Sebastian Hopfenmüller, Andrea Holzschuh, Ingolf Steffan-DewenterAbstractThe effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on wild bee populations are still not fully understood. Availability of resources, parasitism and habitat connectivity might influence population sizes of bees. Whereas floral resources for wild bees have been considered in research and conservation, nesting resources have been largely neglected as these are challenging to investigate. Snail shells are the exclusive nesting cavities for several Osmia species and provide a good - but so far unused - tool to study factors driving bee population dynamics. We investigated the effects of habitat area, connectivity and management of semi-natural grasslands on populations of snail-shell nesting bees. On 23 calcareous grasslands, we monitored snail shell colonization by providing empty snail shells as nesting resources, and recorded flower-visitor interactions.Five snail-shell nesting Osmia species were found on the grasslands, which made almost a quarter of recorded bee flower visits. Three species colonized the offered snail shells with high variation between study sites, Osmia species, and snail shell size. Habitat area had a positive effect on the population size of the habitat specialist Osmia aurulenta, whereas the more generalist species Osmia bicolor was positively influenced by habitat connectivity. Destruction rates of snail shells increased with sheep grazing intensity, leading to an estimated loss of more than a third of all bee nests. We conclude that large and connected habitats benefit bee populations in fragmented landscapes, while conservation management regimes should take into account potential negative effects of grazing on specific nesting resources of specialized bee species.
  • Challenges for leveraging citizen science to support statistically robust
           monitoring programs
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2020Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 242Author(s): Emily L. Weiser, Jay E. Diffendorfer, Laura Lopez-Hoffman, Darius Semmens, Wayne E. ThogmartinAbstractLarge samples and long time series are often needed for effective broad-scale monitoring of status and trends in wild populations. Obtaining those sample sizes can be more feasible when volunteers contribute to the dataset, but volunteer-selected sites are not always representative of a population. Previous work to account for biased site selection has relied on knowledge of covariates to explain differences between site types, but such knowledge is often unavailable. For cases where relevant covariates have not been defined, we used a simulation study to identify the consequences of including non-probabilistically selected sites (NP sites) in addition to sites selected from a probability-based design (P sites), test modeling frameworks that might correct for biases, and evaluate whether those frameworks could allow NP sites to reduce the sampling requirement for P sites and potentially reduce costs of monitoring. We informed the simulation with pilot data from surveys of monarch butterflies and their obligate larval host plant, milkweed. We found strong biases in NP sites versus P sites in density and trends of monarchs and milkweed. Modeling frameworks that accounted for site type with a group effect or that strongly downweighted NP sites successfully produced unbiased estimates. However, sampling more NP sites typically did not improve accuracy or precision, and adding NP sites sometimes required also adding P sites to prevent biases. Further work on novel modeling frameworks would be useful to allow citizen-science data to contribute useful information to conservation.
School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK
Tel: +00 44 (0)131 4513762

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