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Nature Conservation
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  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Print) 1314-6947 - ISSN (Online) 1314-3301
Published by Pensoft Homepage  [58 journals]
  • Vegetation changes at oligotrophic grasslands managed for a
           declining butterfly

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 52: 23-46
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.52.90452
      Authors : Přemysl Tájek, Aleš Tenčík, Martin Konvička, Václav John : A selection of sites occupied by the EU-protected marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) in western Czech Republic were subjected to a vegetation survey 15 years ago and again recently. In the 66 time-replicated 25 m2 plots from 12 sites, representing the diversity of E. aurinia-occupied oligotrophic grasslands in the Slavkovský les Protected Landscape Area (and covering a fifth of the currently-occupied Czech sites), we recorded quantitative representation of vascular plants and mosses. We analysed the data using multivariate ordinations, asking how the vegetation changed between the surveys, how was it affected by the conservation management applied and how it affected occupancy by the butterfly larval nests; the vegetation patterns were interpreted using Ellenberg’s plant indicator values. Between the two surveys, the overall representation of the larval host plant, Succisa pratensis, did not change; tree and herbs layers (both grasses and forbs) increased and the moss layer decreased. Across surveys, the main driver of vascular plants’ species composition was moisture, followed by soil reaction and nitrogen, whereas in mosses, nitrogen was the main factor. The main change between the surveys was the increase of nitrogen accompanied by decreased light, probably due to increase of competitively strong plants. Butterfly occupancy declined at sites with high soil moisture and increased at sites with higher soil reaction. Mowing of moist nitrogen-rich sites, but not drier nitrogen-poor sites, increased occupancy, illustrating the need for context-dependent interventions. All the evidence thus shows that E. aurinia prefers drier, warmer and less acidic conditions within the generally moist acidic grasslands and that ongoing eutrophication represents a potential problem in the future. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 23 Mar 2023 18:16:18 +020
  • Evaluating resampled and fused Sentinel-2 data and machine-learning
           algorithms for mangrove mapping in the northern coast of Qeshm island,

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 52: 1-22
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.52.89639
      Authors : Ali Reza Soffianian, Neda Bihamta Toosi, Ali Asgarian, Hervé Regnauld, Sima Fakheran, Lars T. Waser : Mangrove forests, as an essential component of the coastal zones in tropical and subtropical areas, provide a wide range of goods and ecosystem services that play a vital role in ecology. Mangroves are globally threatened, disappearing, and degraded. Consequently, knowledge on mangroves distribution and change is important for effective conservation and making protection policies. Developing remote sensing data and classification methods have proven to be suitable tools for mapping mangrove forests over a regional scale. Here, we scrutinized and compared the performance of pixel-based and object-based methods under Support Vector Machine (SVM) and Random Forest (RF) algorithms in mapping a mangrove ecosystem into four main classes (Mangrove tree, mudflat, water, and sand spit) using resampled and fused Sentinel-2 images. Additionally, landscape metrics were used to identify the differences between spatial patterns obtained from different classification methods. Results showed that pixel-based classifications were influenced heavily by the effect of salt and pepper noise, whereas in object-based classifications, boundaries of land use land cover (LULC) polygons were smoother and visually more appealing. Object-based classifications, with an excellent level of kappa, distinguished mudflat and sand spit from each other and from mangrove better than the pixel-based classifications which obtained a fair-to-good level of kappa. RF and SVM performed differently under comparable circumstances. The results of landscape metrics comparison presented that the classification methods can be affected on quantifying area and size metrics. Although the results supported the idea that fused Sentinel images may provide better results in mangrove LULC classification, further research needs to develop and evaluate various image fusion approaches to make use of all Sentinel’s fine resolution images. Our results on the mapping of mangrove ecosystems can contribute to the improvement of management and conservation strategies for these ecosystems being impacted by human activities. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Mon, 20 Mar 2023 10:49:33 +020
  • Local perception of the current state and threat factors of a
           critically endangered species, Celtis toka (Forssk.) Hepper & J.R.I. Wood,
           in Burkina Faso: implications for species conservation

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 51: 189-225
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.51.96255
      Authors : Zaïnabou Dabré, Issouf Zerbo, Blandine Marie Ivette Nacoulma, Dodiomon Soro, Adjima Thiombiano : Celtis toka, the only species of the genus Celtis (family Cannabaceae) encountered in the flora of Burkina Faso, is critically endangered in the country. To engage the public for the future conservation and domestication of the species, knowledge of the factors threatening Celtis toka survival is necessary. Thus, the study objective was to identify the perceptions of local people concerning the current state and conservation strategies of Celtis toka in Burkina Faso. To investigate potential solutions to the threats posed to Celtis toka, we randomly surveyed 405 consenting participants using a selected semi-structured interview. Moreover, field observations were performed to assess the threat drivers cited by local people of the Sudanian and Sudano-Sahelian climatic zones. Descriptive analyses (relative frequency and fidelity level) and generalized linear models (GLMs) were used to highlight the impact of sociodemographic factors and climate zones on the current state, threat drivers, and potential solutions. The chi-square test was used to assess whether to plant C. toka. GLM analyses revealed that local knowledge about the current state, threat factors and potential solution to the threat as related to natural stand varied significantly according to ethnolinguistic group (P < 0.000), sex (P = 0.01) and age (P = 0.01). Rural people had varying perceptions of the current state of C. toka. Sixty-eight percent reported a decrease in population, ten percent reported scarcity, and five percent reported extinction. The views of local people were that the factors affecting C. toka were pruning (25%), climate change (14%), deforestation (10%), ageing (10%), debarking (9%), and agriculture (7%). Potential solutions included planting (45%), conservation of C. toka and its habitat (27%), sustainable use of Celtis toka (14%), promotion of education and awareness about Celtis toka (10%) and tree/crop association (5%). The study concluded that the ethnobotanical knowledge of Celtis toka may play an important role in its conservation and domestication in Burkina Faso. Furthermore, its incorporation into reforestation and restoration programs is critical to species survival. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Wed, 15 Mar 2023 16:56:02 +020
  • Changes in suitable habitat for the critically endangered Northern
           white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys) in the Western Nghe An
           Biosphere Reserve, Vietnam: Implication for conservation

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 51: 167-188
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.51.90373
      Authors : Khoa Van Phung, Dung Van Tran, Hai Thanh Dong, Vinh Quang Luu, Van Bac Bui, Thinh Tien Vu : Several recent studies have highlighted that change in land use and land cover (LULC) is the main threat causing the decline and extinction of certain species. Gibbons (Hylobatidae) could be excellent examples, on account of their potential for extinction in the near future under the effects of LULC changes due to their particular ecological traits. This study aims to model the current suitable habitat of the Northern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys (Ogilby, 1840)) in the Western Nghe An Biosphere Reserve (BR), Vietnam and assess the changes in its suitable habitat following the changes in LULC from 1990 to 2020. The maximum entropy approach (MaxEnt) was used to predict the suitable habitat of the gibbon using its occurrence localities and environmental predictors. The model analysis showed that the “Distance to Agriculture” variable had the strongest impact on the gibbons’ suitable habitat. Our results predicted the present suitable habitat of the gibbon species at approximately 4,022.42 km2 (30.95% of the overall BR area) in three spatially separated areas inside the Western Nghe An BR. Furthermore, the suitable habitat areas of the gibbon in 1990, 2000, and 2010 were projected at roughly 4,347.68 km2, 4,324.97 km2, and 2,750.21 km2, respectively, following a decreasing trend from 1990 to 2010, but a gradual increase between 2010 and 2020. The suitable habitat of the gibbon inside three core protected areas (Pu Mat National Park, Pu Huong, and Pu Hoat Nature Reserves) showed a continually increasing trend from 1990 to 2020. Our results highlighted the influence of LULC changes and the role of the protected area network in gibbon conservation. The information from the study provides a quantitative baseline for the future conservation of the critically endangered gibbon in the Western Nghe An BR. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 21 Feb 2023 19:27:17 +020
  • Using drone imagery to obtain population data of colony-nesting
           seabirds to support Canada’s transition to the global Key Biodiversity
           Areas program

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 51: 155-166
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.51.96366
      Authors : Lindsay A. R. Lalach, David W. Bradley, Douglas F. Bertram, Louise K. Blight : Identifying of global or national biodiversity ‘hotspots’ has proven important for focusing and prioritizing conservation efforts worldwide. Canada has nearly 600 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) identified by quantitative criteria to help guide avian conservation and management. Marine IBAs capture critical waterbird habitats such as nesting colonies, foraging sites, and staging areas. However, due to their remote locations, many lack recent population counts. Canada has begun transitioning IBAs into the global Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) program; KBAs identify areas that are important for the persistence of biodiversity and encompass a wider scope of unique, rare, or vulnerable taxa. Assessing whether IBAs qualify as KBAs requires current data – as will future efforts to manage these biologically important sites. We conducted a pilot study in the Chain Islets and Great Chain Island IBA, in British Columbia, to assess the effectiveness of using drones to census surface-nesting seabirds in an IBA context. This IBA was originally designated for supporting a globally significant breeding colony of Glaucous-winged Gulls (Larus glaucescens). Total nest counts derived from orthomosaic imagery (1012 nesting pairs) show that this site now falls below the Global and National IBA designation criterion threshold, a finding consistent with regional declines in the species. Our trial successfully demonstrates a flexible and low cost approach to obtaining population data at an ecologically sensitive KBA site. We explore how drones will be a useful tool to assess and monitor species and habitats within remote, data-deficient IBAs, particularly during the transition to KBAs. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Wed, 15 Feb 2023 09:51:43 +020
  • The trail less traveled: Envisioning a new approach to identifying key
           food resources for threatened Hawaiian arboreal snails

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 51: 137-153
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.51.94952
      Authors : Wallace M. Meyer III, Kenneth A. Hayes, Norine W. Yeung, Edward J. Crane III, Alexandra Turvey, Claire LeBlanc, Andre R. O. Cavalcanti : Our understanding of Hawaiian arboreal snails’ diets remains rudimentary, hindering the development of effective conservation strategies. To identify important food resources, we tested the hypothesis that epiphytic microbial assemblages differ on plant species preferred and avoided by snails at Mt. Kaala Natural Area Reserve, where snail plant preferences are known from previous studies. Comparing microbial assemblages on plants that snails both prefer and avoid was identified as a potentially key step to moving research away from characterizing which microbes snails encounter, towards testing if microbial assemblages are driving snail plant preferences. We found that fungal and bacterial assemblages differed between plant species preferred and avoided by snails, indicating that Hawaiian arboreal snails may be selecting plants based on their epiphytic microbial assemblages. Previous microbes thought to be important, Cladosporium spp., propagated in captive rearing facilities, and Botryosphaeria spp., preferred fungi in a feeding experiment, were both rare and had similar abundances on preferred and avoided plant species in Mt. Kaala. Our approach, conducting preference studies before isolating microbes, is key to identifying arboreal snail food resources and improves our ability to identify microbes that form the foundation of Hawaiian arboreal snails’ diet. If we can identify important food resources, it greatly expands our ability to: (1) assess and monitor habitat quality, (2) make informed restoration recommendations, and (3) improve rearing efforts for highly endangered captive reared populations. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 10 Feb 2023 10:06:29 +020
  • Numerous uncertainties in the multifaceted global trade in frogs’
           legs with the EU as the major consumer

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 51: 71-135
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.51.93868
      Authors : Mark Auliya, Sandra Altherr, Charlotte Nithart, Alice Hughes, David Bickford : The commercial trade in frogs and their body parts is global, dynamic and occurs in extremely large volumes (in the thousands of tonnes/yr or billions of frogs/yr). The European Union (EU) remains the single largest importer of frogs’ legs, with most frogs still caught from the wild. Amongst the many drivers of species extinction or population decline (e.g. due to habitat loss, climate change, disease etc.), overexploitation is becoming increasingly more prominent. Due to global declines and extinctions, new attention is being focused on these markets, in part to try to ensure sustainability. While the trade is plagued by daunting realities of data deficiency and uncertainty and the conflicts of commercial interests associated with these data, it is clear is that EU countries are most responsible for the largest portion of the international trade in frogs’ legs of wild species. Over decades of exploitation, the EU imports have contributed to a decline in wild frog populations in an increasing number of supplying countries, such as India and Bangladesh, as well as Indonesia, Turkey and Albania more recently. However, there have been no concerted attempts by the EU and present export countries to ensure sustainability of this trade. Further work is needed to validate species identities, secure data on wild frog populations, establish reasonable monitored harvest/export quotas and disease surveillance and ensure data integrity, quality and security standards for frog farms. Herein, we call upon those countries and their representative governments to assume responsibility for the sustainability of the trade. The EU should take immediate action to channel all imports through a single centralised database and list sensitive species in the Annexes of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulation. Further, listing in CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) can enforce international trade restrictions. More joint efforts are needed to improve regional monitoring schemes before the commercial trade causes irreversible extinctions of populations and species of frogs. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Wed, 8 Feb 2023 15:00:50 +0200
  • Important plant areas (IPAs) in the Fergana Valley (Central Asia): The
           Bozbu-Too-Ungortepa massif

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 51: 13-70
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.51.94477
      Authors : Komiljon Sh. Tojibaev, Farkhod I. Karimov, Hushbaht R. Hoshimov, Rustam Gulomov, Georgy A. Lazkov, Chang-Gee Jang, Hee-Young Gil, Ju-Eun Jang, Avazbek R. Batoshov, Abdulla Iskandarov, Hyeok Jae Choi : This paper discusses identifying Important Plant Areas (IPAs) in one of the most densely populated regions of Central Asia—the Fergana valley. The recognition of IPA sites is an attempt to introduce new ways of conserving local plant diversity with a high concentration of endemic species in Central Asia, where conservation methods of the former Soviet Union still prevail. The research revealed the current state and geography of many rare species and enriched the flora of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan with several rare species. The second IPA is the transboundary territory of the Fergana valley, uniting the southern spurs of the Chatkal range and the Ungortepa-BozbuToo massif. We documented the distribution of 62 species in the IPAs under the sub-criteria of Plantlife International. Our study aimed at continuing studies on the IPAs in this region, addressing specific conservation challenges, such as conserving national endemics and endangered species that grow outside protected areas and GIS mapping of endemic species. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Mon, 30 Jan 2023 17:41:01 +020
  • Reencounter with the past: occurrence of sei whale (Balaenoptera
           borealis) in an old hunting area in the south-eastern Pacific Ocean

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 51: 1-12
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.51.95690
      Authors : Andrea Cisterna-Concha, Camila Calderón-Quirgas, Fernanda Silva-Andrades, Richard Muñoz, Heraldo V. Norambuena : The sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) was intensively exploited throughout its range, with about 110.000 individuals hunted by pelagic fleets in Antarctic waters between 1960 and 1970. In addition, basic information on its distribution, migratory routes, and feeding grounds in the southeastern Pacific, has been poorly documented. In the case of Chile, recent information consists mainly of accidental records. This research presents the first sei whale photo-identification catalog for south-central Chile. From November 2019 to January 2020, 88 individuals were recorded from land-based and boat surveys at Caleta Chome. Of these, 12 individuals were photo-identified through scars or distinctive notches in the dorsal fins. The peak of sightings occurred during December 2019; two individuals were sighted on more than one occasion. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 26 Jan 2023 16:56:57 +020
  • First insight into freshwater fish assemblages in the western part of
           the Endau-Rompin landscape, Malaysia

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 50: 265-281
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.50.86090
      Authors : Munian Kaviarasu, Farah Farhana Ramli, Lokman Mohd Ilham Norhakim, Nursyuhada Othman, Nur Aina Amira Mahyuddin, Hidayah Haris, Nur Hartini Sariyati, Mohd Faudzir Najmuddin, Salim Aman, Salman Faris Zaharin, Muhammad Abu Bakar Abdul-Latiff : In Malaysia, our knowledge of freshwater ecosystem and its aquatic inhabitants, particularly freshwater fish, remains inadequate, even in protected regions. It is essential to understand the composition of freshwater fish, their distribution along river gradients, and their interactions between environmental variables to develop and strategize effective conservation and management plans. Consequently, an investigation into freshwater fish assemblages in three rivers draining off from the western part of Endau-Rompin Landscape was conducted in 12 established substations. Sampling sessions were conducted from September to December 2021 in the Labis district of Johor, using multiple sampling methods along 200 meters for each substation. The environmental variables were measured using water quality parameters. A total of 66 species were collected. The family Cyprinidae presented the highest species diversity (17 species), constituting 52% of total capture. Crossocheilus obscurus was the most dominant species, and the highest species richness was recorded in the Segamat River (45 species), followed by Juaseh (36 species) and Labis River (34 species). It was discerned that the composition of fish varied between the substations. The knowledge presented here is the first documentation on the freshwater fish from these rivers. It would serve as a baseline information for key authorities and stakeholders to conserve the biodiversity inhabiting freshwater ecosystems in Malaysia. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 16 Dec 2022 15:16:46 +020
  • The unregulated nature of the commercial captive predator industry in
           South Africa: Insights gained using the PAIA process

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 50: 227-264
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.50.85108
      Authors : Louise de Waal, Catherine Jakins, Stephanie E. Klarmann, Jennah Green, Neil D’Cruze : South Africa has allowed the commercial captive breeding and trade of African lions (Panthera leo) and other large felids since the 1990s. However, publicly available information to quantify the extent and nature of this industry, as well as insight into the diversity of relevant provincial nature conservation statutes, are lacking. Our study reviewed the provincial regulations that govern the captive predator industry in South Africa and used the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to obtain records held by the nine provincial departments regulating the captive breeding, keeping, and trade of large felids. The information obtained through the PAIA process was highly inconsistent across provincial borders, demonstrated the absence of standard operating procedures, and highlighted the convoluted and decentralised permitting systems. The research postulates that varying and sometimes conflicting provincial regulations can lead to further exploitation of legal loopholes and unregulated growth of the industry. In addition, provincial resources are inadequate for authorities to carry out their fundamental mandates of nature conservation. Although the PAIA process was challenging, the information received provided valuable insight into the unregulated nature of this industry and demonstrated major concerns in addressing the necessary challenges associated with animal welfare. Furthermore, with more than half of the PAIA requests either refused, rejected or ignored, the true magnitude and nature of South Africa’s commercial captive predator industry cannot be accurately quantified. The evidence from this study supports the notion of transitioning away from the commercial captive predator breeding industry, as intended by the South African government. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Mon, 5 Dec 2022 15:54:07 +0200
  • The extent and nature of the commercial captive lion industry in the
           Free State province, South Africa

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 50: 203-225
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.50.85292
      Authors : Sarah Heinrich, Lalita Gomez, Jennah Green, Louise de Waal, Catherine Jakins, Neil D'Cruze : The captive breeding of wildlife for commercial purposes is a controversial issue. In South Africa, the farming of African lions (Panthera leo) for commercial trade emerged in the early 1990s, partly as a conservation measure to reduce the decline in wild lion numbers while meeting increasing wildlife trade demands. In May 2021, the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE) announced plans to end the captive breeding of lions, keeping of lions in captivity, and the use of captive lions, their parts and derivatives for commercial trade. Here, we examined the commercial captive lion industry from 2017 to 2020 in the Free State province, the heart of the lion breeding industry. We document the extent of the industry and highlight a number of key management issues. Of particular concern were issues with microchip numbers, which are used to follow each registered lion from birth to death through the system and to avoid laundering of wild caught and/or non-registered lions. Of the 4,823 unique microchips that were identified, at least 11% could not be followed through the system. Additionally, a minimum of 199 microchip numbers may have been reused by permit holders, either on captivity, euthanasia, or transport permits, indicating potential non-compliance with the Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations. We highlight further areas of concern that warrant additional attention for these types of activities that may cause management issues during the transition period and which may also be relevant for the keeping, breeding, and trading of other TOPS regulated species in South Africa, particularly big cat species. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 22 Nov 2022 18:22:27 +020
  • The direct and indirect effects of damming on the Hippopotamus
           amphibius population abundance and distribution at Bui National Park,

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 50: 175-201
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.50.87411
      Authors : Godfred Bempah, Martin Kobby Grant, Changhu Lu, Amaël Borzée : Landscape changes resulting from human activities have resulted in range restrictions and substantial reductions in population sizes of most animals. The construction of hydroelectric dams has the same effect on species, but the study of their impact on semi-aquatic megafauna species is limited. We examined the response of a Hippopotamus amphibius population to the inundation of their habitat after the construction of a hydroelectric dam in Bui National Park, Ghana. We conducted an abundance and distribution survey of H. amphibius and compared the population size from our results with a pre-dam construction survey to determine changes in the abundance and distribution of the species within the focal area. Furthermore, we conducted a landscape analysis to estimate land cover before and after the dam construction and determined if the changes in land cover were related to the changes in population of H. amphibius. Finally, we conducted selected interviews to understand additional threats to the species perceived by the local population, as indirect effects of the dam construction. Contrary to our original hypothesis on an increase in the abundance of H. amphibius in the medium term (within a decade) through population recovery after the disturbances caused by the construction of the dam, we found lower numbers of H. amphibius after the dam construction, compared to the pre-dam results. The results indicated a reduced abundance from 209 H. amphibius individuals in 2003 to 64 H. amphibius individuals in 2021. Some individuals may have migrated to areas outside the reserve during damming when their habitat was disturbed. The amount of land covered by water increased from 0.41% before damming to 19.01% after damming, which flooded the resting and grazing sites of the H. amphibius. We conclude that the abundance and distribution of H. amphibius significantly and negatively decreased after the construction of the dam at the Bui National Park. We tentatively relate this decrease to the species’ semi aquatic ecology and sensitivity to changes in both the terrestrial and aquatic environment. The activities of human settlement encroachment such as poaching, as well as associated land cover changes, affected the stability of the H. amphibius population. However, as the species can survive in the medium to long term when effective management plans are implemented, we recommend H. amphibius to be given high conservation priorities by enhancing strict laws for habitat protection. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 15 Nov 2022 18:10:35 +020
  • A literature-based database of the natural heritage, the ecological
           status and tourism-related impacts in show caves worldwide

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 50: 159-174
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.50.80505
      Authors : Elena Piano, Giuseppe Nicolosi, Stefano Mammola, Valentina Balestra, Benedetta Baroni, Rossana Bellopede, Elena Cumino, Nicola Muzzulini, Anna Piquet, Marco Isaia : The touristic use of caves causes multiple environmental alterations to the subterranean ecosystem, having potential effects on all components, from the atmosphere to lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Setting a baseline on the current knowledge of the ecological status of world show caves is pivotal to implement monitoring and management programs aiming at their conservation. However, information on this topic is scattered throughout several publications, making it difficult to access data and ultimately delaying advances towards a sustainable touristic use of show caves. We provide a literature-based dataset relative to the knowledge on the ecological status of 265 show caves worldwide. Data were collated from 289 papers selected through a systematic literature survey of an initial set of more than 1,000 scientific papers. We made the compiled information available through two complementary datasets, reporting: (i) references of the selected papers and (ii) 44 fields relative to the main characteristics of show caves investigated in literature. These fields encompass information about geographic locations, cave general characteristics, natural heritage, and the specific environmental components—and related environmental parameters—investigated in each of the considered study. Such a dataset improves our accessibility to the basic information provided by literature on the ecological status of show caves, also pointing out some literature gaps that should be addressed by future research. By making these data freely available and re-usable, we hope to stimulate research in the field of cave tourism, cave conservation, and cave-based ecology. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 10 Nov 2022 10:00:46 +020
  • Potential climatic and elevational range shifts in the Italian narrow

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 50: 145-157
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.50.91265
      Authors : Lorenzo Peruzzi, David Dolci, Alessandro Chiarucci : The Webb’s hyacinth (Bellevalia webbiana Parl., Asparagaceae) is an Italian narrow endemic species, listed as Endangered (EN A2c) in the IUCN Global Red List of Threatened Species. The range of this bulbous perennial herb is restricted to two disjunct areas of Central Italy, separated by the mountain ridge of Northern Apennine. To evaluate the impact of climate change on this species, we used Ecological Niche Modelling (ENM) to predict future potential distribution under different scenarios, through Maximum entropy algorithm. The estimated potential distribution highlights the vulnerability of Webb’s hyacinth to the effects of climate change. The current potential Area Of Occupancy (AOO) (992 2×2 km cells) is forecast to dramatically decrease in the range 2041–2100, under the scenarios SSP3-7.0 (2070 = –249, 2100 = –682) and SSP5-8.5 (2070 = –372, 2100 = –948). In all future scenarios, the predicted potential distribution shifts towards higher elevations, located in the two main areas in which the species currently occurs. This could imply a loss of the current genetic differentiation documented at the population level. To overcome these problems, in addition to assisted colonization, an ex situ conservation programme should be planned. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 8 Nov 2022 11:23:59 +0200
  • Dogs, not wolves, most likely to have caused the death of a British
           tourist in northern Greece

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 50: 115-143
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.50.81915
      Authors : Yorgos Iliopoulos, Christos Astaras, Eirini Chatzimichail : Wolf (Canis lupus) populations have recovered and expanded across many parts of the world thanks to conservation efforts, including improved legal status and restoration of their prey. Concurrently, public concerns regarding the risk of wolf attacks on humans and livestock are increasing as wolves occupy human-dominated landscapes. We examined a unique case in Europe allegedly involving wolves in the death of a female British tourist, aged 64, in northern Greece in September 2017. This incident received extensive international media attention and yet many fundamental details of the case area are lacking, including whether local livestock guarding dogs played a role. To assist in resolving the case, we conducted an extensive literature review which documented 13 criteria linked to the risk of either a wolf and/or a dog attacking a human. We also conducted a camera trap survey (October to December 2017) soon after the fatal attack to calculate the activity overlap among humans, dogs and wolves. Sufficient data were available for assessing 11 of the 13 criteria. For the remaining two, the required data were either not analysed (i.e. canid DNA collected from the attack site), not appropriately collected (i.e. DNA from the mouths of suspected dogs) or were collected, but misinterpreted (i.e. the post-consumption patterns of the victim’s corpse). Via this combination of evidence, we conclude that this case involved a fatal dog attack. This assertion is supported by evidence such as the: a) high dog-human activity overlap at the attack site which peaked during the attack time as opposed to near zero wolf-human activity overlap at the same time, b) presence of a large pack of unsupervised dogs, c) high ratio of male dogs in the dog pack, d) close vicinity of the attack site to dog owner’s property and e) previous documented aggression of these dogs towards humans. The consumption patterns, time scale and location of the victim’s remains indicate a posthumous consumption of the corpse possibly by the same dogs and/or by wild scavengers including wolves. A multidisciplinary approach, such as this one, in the assessment of putative wildlife attacks on humans can reduce misidentifications of the responsible species by forensic authorities and, therefore, prevent unfounded decrease in public tolerance for large carnivores. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 20 Oct 2022 15:25:19 +030
  • Seeking serpents: Ball python trade in Benin, West Africa

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 50: 85-114
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.50.86352
      Authors : Christian Toudonou, Angie Elwin, Johannes Penner, Emma Coulthard, John Norrey, David Megson, Mark-Oliver Rödel, Brice Sinsin, Lauren A. Harrington, Mark Auliya, Neil D’Cruze : Ball pythons are traded as bushmeat, leather and belief-based medicine in West Africa, and specimens are exported in large numbers for the exotic pet trade. Here, we focused on understanding the purpose and socio-economic context of this trade in Benin through interviews with 44 actors involved in the trade of this species. We provided a snapshot of trade dynamics during a period when hunters are not predominantly actively involved in supplying eggs, neonates and gravid females for ranching and export as exotic pets. Our findings revealed that hunters and traders were largely focused on supplying the bushmeat and medicine markets in West Africa during this time. We estimated that the 21 collectors engaged in hunting in our study collectively hunt between 576 and 5,083 ball pythons from the wild each year. Collection rates reported by some suggests that they could earn more than 15,000 USD from ball python sales in bushmeat markets annually. Ball pythons hunted in Benin were mainly sold to local customers as “bushmeat” (53%) or for belief-based uses (39%) (including “fetish”, “medicinal products” and “voodoo”). However, cross-border trade with neighboring countries of Togo, Nigeria, and Ghana (or even further) also occurred. Although profitable for some, the scale of this practice, together with the widely reported decline in ball python populations in Benin, raises concern about the sustainability and long-term economic viability of this type of large-scale commercial wildlife trade in West Africa, especially as it occurs alongside extensive ranching practices to support the exotic pet trade. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 14 Oct 2022 15:31:27 +030
  • The drums of war are beating louder: Media coverage of brown bears
           in Romania

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 50: 65-84
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.50.86019
      Authors : Andra Claudia Neagu, Steluta Manolache, Laurentiu Rozylowicz : The increasing demand for resources to meet the needs of our society has transformed the environment and increased the likelihood of human-wildlife interactions. Romania has the highest density of brown bears in Europe, with more than 7000 individuals populating the Carpathian Mountains and neighboring areas. The large brown bear population in Romania inhabits ever-increasing human-dominated landscapes, which frequently results in conflict with humans. The means and frequency by which the media communicates information to the readership influence the public perception of human-wildlife conflicts. This research is intended to contribute to the existing knowledge on human-brown bear coexistence in Romania by (1) exploring how the Romanian media depicts human-brown bear interactions in terms of the main themes discussed, framing of issues (emotions and key messages), and likely impacts on public perception; (2) analyzing the changes in reporting on human brown-bear interactions following the transition of the legal status of the brown bear from game to strictly protected species; and (3) investigating suggested policy and management solutions. The results indicate that news stories related to brown bears became common in Romanian mass media after 2016, when a provisional one-year ban on culling was instated, after which it increased abruptly in 2021, following the whistleblowing of an alleged trophy hunting event. The focus on human-bear interaction and hunting/poaching themes has not changed; however, the position of the media toward brown bears has become increasingly negative, even when presenting news stories covering human-bear interactions that incur no harm. To facilitate human-brown bear coexistence in Romania, scientists and practitioners should communicate with media representatives and provide a supplementary context for news stories. Evidence-informed news can help authorities better understand conflicts and create bottom-up pathways toward an optimistic future for brown bears and Romanian society. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 11 Oct 2022 14:14:54 +030
  • Plant species diversity and composition in limestone forests of the
           Vietnamese Cat Ba National Park

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 50: 23-64
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.50.86490
      Authors : Van Vien Pham, Christian Ammer, Peter Annighöfer, Steffi Heinrichs : Plant species diversity and composition play crucial roles in many ecosystem services and are largely influenced by environmental conditions, as well as natural and/or anthropogenic disturbances. However, our knowledge of the drivers of plant species diversity and composition in the limestone forests of Vietnam, a hotspot of biodiversity, is limited. To fill this knowledge gap, we surveyed plant species in the Cat Ba National Park (CBNP), located on a limestone archipelago. We hypothesised that: (1) topography, accessibility and spatial isolation drive the diversity and composition of plant communities in the CBNP and that (2) isolated areas contribute to high floristic regional diversity by supporting unique species assemblages. We expected high tree species diversity within the tropical limestone forests of the CBNP, but also that: (3) the abundance of non-tree species negatively affects tree regeneration diversity and abundance. Data were obtained from 90 random sample plots (500 m2) and 450 sub-sample plots (25 m2) in three areas of the CBNP. We differentiated four different plant species communities and found a total of 302 species belonging to 112 families. Tree species contributed 50% to total species richness. The distribution of different plant communities in the CBNP was driven mainly by topography; that is, the percentage of rock surface and slope and concomitant differences in soil depth. Contrary to our expectations, isolated areas did not contribute greatly to the CBNP’s plant species diversity. It seems that isolated areas and, as in our case, rough topography, may act as natural barriers to seed dispersal, creating an environmental filter for tree species. Across the CBNP, there was no effect of non-tree species on tree species regeneration, but regeneration patterns differed between communities. In species-rich communities growing under favourable site conditions (e.g. low rock surface and slope), greater coverage by non-tree species had an increasingly negative effect on tree species richness and abundance in the regeneration layer. The opposite was observed in communities growing under harsh site conditions. We conclude that plant species diversity in the CBNP is high, particularly in easily accessible lowland areas where tree species contribute greatly to biodiversity. However, here, non-tree species can even restrict tree regeneration. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Mon, 12 Sep 2022 10:46:00 +030
  • Distribution and conservation status of threatened endemic amphibians
           within the Aspromonte mountain region, a hotspot of Mediterranean

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 50: 1-22
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.50.86002
      Authors : Giuseppe Martino, Andrea Chiocchio, Antonino Siclari, Daniele Canestrelli : Amphibian biodiversity loss in recent years has exceeded that of all other groups of vertebrates. In this context, biodiversity hotspots represent priority targets for conservation in amphibian populations. However, little information is available on the distribution and conservation status of amphibian species within most biodiversity hotspots. Here, we characterized the distribution and conservation status of four threatened endemic amphibians (Bombina pachypus, Salamandra salamandra gigliolii, Salamandrina terdigitata, and Rana italica) in the Aspromonte Mountain region, a biodiversity hotspot in southern Italy where the conservation status of amphibians is almost unexplored. We conducted an intensive field survey of 507 potential breeding sites spanning over 2,326 km2. We found that all four species were widespread in the study area. We observed 337 species occurrences: 63 for S. s. gigliolii, 29 for S. terdigitata, 84 for B. pachypus, and 161 for R. italica. Species distribution analysis revealed that S. s. gigliolii and R. italica populations had an extended and homogenous distribution. Conversely, S. terdigitata showed a dispersed pattern, with long distances among breeding sites, and B. pachypus an aggregated pattern, associated with the availability of suitable artificial habitats. On the other hand, we reported a decrease in B. pachypus occurrence in its natural habitats, which reflects a negative trend of its populations. Overall, our results provide an encouraging framework for the conservation of amphibian populations in this area, but highlight the low coverage of threatened amphibian populations in protected areas, highlighting the need for a reassessment of conservation policies and spatial conservation planning for the Aspromonte region. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Mon, 12 Sep 2022 09:46:46 +030
  • Ecology and conservation of the Dutch ground beetle fauna – Lessons
           from 66 years of pitfall trapping

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 49: 189-192
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.49.89861
      Authors : Lucija Šerić Jelaska : HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 9 Aug 2022 16:21:20 +0300
  • An overview of reviews of conservation flagships: evaluating
           fundraising ability and surrogate power

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 49: 153-188
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.49.81219
      Authors : Piia Lundberg, Anni Arponen : The main role of flagship species in biodiversity conservation is to raise awareness and funds for conservation. Because of their marketing role, flagship species are often selected based on other than biodiversity related criteria, such as species charisma or aesthetic appeal. Nonetheless, funds raised through flagship species are often used to protect the species itself, making it important to evaluate the effectiveness of flagship species as conservation tools: For example, could superior fundraising ability outweigh the low biodiversity surrogate power of a flagship, justifying this ambivalent role in conservation' To assess flagship effectiveness from this dual perspective, we must synthesize evidence on a) the fundraising potential of flagship species vs. other conservation targets, such as ecosystems or biodiversity, and b) the biodiversity surrogate power of potential flagship taxa. We approached this broad topic through an overview of reviews on both subtopics. We found no evidence that charismatic flagship species were superior fundraisers over other conservation targets. In addition, studies evaluating the biodiversity surrogacy power of different taxa had mainly resulted in mixed findings, contesting the overall usefulness of the concept in conservation. The variability of study setups and methods made comparisons between studies difficult, highlighting the need to standardize future research (e.g., standardizing explanatory variables). Further possible reasons for lack of conclusive evidence on fundraising potential are the dominance of factors other than flagship identity (e.g., scope and conservation status) and differences in donor preferences. We recommend Environmental NGOs to develop and diversify their fundraising strategies based on best available knowledge, and rely less on mere species charisma. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Mon, 1 Aug 2022 10:04:20 +0300
  • Biogeographic assessment of Gorgonian-associated bacteria with
           antipathogenic Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Karimunjawa Marine
           National Park, Java Sea, Indonesia

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 49: 137-151
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.49.84825
      Authors : Agus Sabdono, Endang Sri Lestari, Mada Triandala Sibero : Gorgonian corals of Karimunjawa are impacted by anthropogenic activities, such as increasingly high mariculture intensity with consequent eutrophication, overfishing, tourism, sewage, and other pollutant discharges, which result in changes in the microbial community structure. In this study, bacterial communities associated with six species of Gorgonian, Viminella sp., Ellisella sp., Antipathes sp., Melithaea sp., Astrogorgia sp., and Junceella sp. from both the Marine Protected Area (MPA) and non-Marine Protected Area (non-MPA) zones were screened for their antipathogenic potential against Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) pathogens. The selected bacterial isolates were identified and compared for their abundance and diversity between the two zones. A total of 156 bacterial strains were assayed for their prospective antipathogenic compounds against seven UTI pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Streptococcus saptophyticus, Acinetobacter baumannii, Klebsiella pneumonia, and Candida albicans. The results showed that 17 of 92 (18.48%) and 6 of 64 (9.37%) bacterial isolates from MPA and non-MPA, respectively, exhibited antimicrobial activity in at least one of the UTI pathogens. By analyzing the gene of 16S rRNA, it was discovered that the 17 isolates of MPA were associated with phyla Actinobacteria, Firmicutes and Proteobacteria, including Streptomyces zhaozhoue, Nocardiopsis salina, Micrococcus endophyticus, Brevibacterium casei, Micrococcus yunnanensis, Saccharopolyspora coralli, Bacillus paramycoides, Virgibacillus salarius, Oceanobacillus iheyensis, and Vibrio alginolyticus. In contrast, only six selected isolates of non-MPA were associated with the phyla Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria, including Nocardiopsis salina, Micrococcus yunnanensis, and Acinetobacter soli. The Diversity Index (H’), Species Richness (S), and Relative Abundance of the MPA zone were higher than those of non-MPA. These results demonstrated that Gorgonian octocoral species in the MPA region harbour varied bacteria and we propose that many Gorgonian-associated bacteria have the prospective for advancing broad-spectrum antibiotics. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 14:43:58 +030
  • Cerrado Rupestre is not Campo Rupestre: The unknown and threatened
           savannah on rocky outcrops

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 49: 131-136
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.49.89237
      Authors : Cássio Cardoso Pereira, Geraldo Wilson Fernandes : Not applicable for letter HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 21 Jul 2022 20:59:30 +030
  • Maps of area of habitat for Italian amphibians and reptiles

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 49: 117-129
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.49.82931
      Authors : Dario Nania, Maria Lumbierres, Gentile Francesco Ficetola, Mattia Falaschi, Michela Pacifici, Carlo Rondinini : Planning conservation actions requires detailed information on species’ geographic distribution. Species distribution data are most needed in areas hosting unique or endangered biodiversity. Italy is one of the European countries with the highest levels of herpetological diversity and endemism and is home to several threatened species of amphibians and reptiles. Information on the distribution of species’ habitats can help identify sites where the species is most likely to thrive, as viable populations depend on it. Area of Habitat (AOH) maps reveal the distribution of the habitat available to the species within their geographic range. We produced high resolution, freely accessible global area of habitat maps for 60 species of reptiles and amphibians distributed in Italy, which represent 60% of all Italian amphibian and reptile species. We validated a total of 44 AOH maps through a presence-only based evaluation method, with 86% of these maps showing a performance better than expected by chance. AOH maps can be used as a reference for conservation planning, as well as to investigate macroecological patterns of Italian herpetofauna. Furthermore, AOH maps can help monitoring habitat loss, which is known to be a major threat to many reptile and amphibian species in Europe. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 15 Jul 2022 17:09:59 +030
  • Assessment of the threat status of the amphibians in Vietnam -
           Implementation of the One Plan Approach

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 49: 77-116
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.49.82145
      Authors : Marie Krzikowski, Truong Q. Nguyen, Cuong T. Pham, Dennis Rödder, Anna Rauhaus, Minh D. Le, Thomas Ziegler : The current decline in global biodiversity is most evident in amphibians with 41% percent of all species worldwide classified as threatened with extinction. Hence, a major challenge in amphibian conservation is the high number of threatened species, leading to a common approach of identifying priority species and regions for conservation efforts. As a part of one of 36 globally designated biodiversity hotspots, Vietnam is considered to be of particular importance for conservation action. To improve amphibian conservation in Vietnam, this study provides an updated species list and assesses their threat status by compiling data from a variety of sources. Furthermore, a Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) analysis was conducted to determine the representation of extant amphibians from Vietnam in zoos worldwide. The batrachofauna of Vietnam is characterized by a high level of species richness and local endemism as well as a high rate of new discoveries, with more than half of the endemic species reported exclusively from their type locality, making them especially vulnerable to extinction. Up to 18% of all amphibians extant in Vietnam and 28% of endemic species are classified as threatened with extinction by the IUCN. In many cases, the IUCN Red List status is either missing or outdated, highlighting the urgent need of action. Around 14% of endemic amphibian species have been recorded exclusively from unprotected areas, suggesting prioritization for further research and conservation measures. The continuing decline in many species remains an unresolved problem. As a guide for future research and conservation measures, a list of the top 57 species was compiled. In addition, according to the ZIMS analysis, only 8% of threatened and 3% of endemic amphibian taxa from Vietnam are currently kept in zoos worldwide, and a richness analysis revealed that the highest density of husbandries is found in Europe and North America. To achieve maximum outcome for the conservation of threatened species, this study recommends a general shift by zoos towards maintaining species in greater need of captive assurance populations and breeding programs to support integrative strategies that combine in situ and ex situ conservation efforts following the IUCN’s One Plan Approach. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Mon, 4 Jul 2022 10:43:39 +0300
  • Identifying key risks to the achievement of protected area system

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 49: 53-75
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.49.83759
      Authors : Reece Alberts, Francois Retief, Claudine Roos, Dirk Cilliers, Willem Lubbe : Protected area systems are designed in law and policy towards achieving certain policy objectives. These systems rely on legal frameworks that determine how countries designate, declare and manage their protected areas. To date, little research has been conducted on the risks faced by protected area systems. To this end, this paper aims to identify the key risks for protected area systems achieving their objectives. This is achieved through the application of Theory of Change (ToC), which is internationally recognised as the preferred method to identify underlying assumptions and risks within policy and legal frameworks. We achieve this aim through a case study analysis of the South African protected area system as embedded in law and policy. The application of the ToC method identified 25 underlying assumptions and risks which are central to the protected area system achieving its objectives. Understanding these risks allows for a better understanding of the potential failure of the system and how to avoid it. The paper then explores and discusses the identified risks in terms of existing literature and concludes by making recommendations related to further research for the identified risks. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 30 Jun 2022 23:51:14 +030
  • Transdisciplinary deficit in large carnivore conservation funding
           in Europe

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 49: 31-52
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.49.81469
      Authors : Cristian-Remus Papp, Ben C. Scheele, László Rákosy, Tibor Hartel : Achieving coexistence between humans and large carnivores in human-shaped landscapes is a complex challenge. Addressing this challenge requires the revaluation of the approaches academia uses to foster carnivore conservation and human-large carnivore coexistence. In this forum paper, we provide a brief overview of the three archetypical approaches of knowledge generation for large carnivore conservation in human dominated landscapes (disciplinary, interdisciplinary and emerging transdisciplinary approaches) and highlight the need for more explicit consideration of transdisciplinarity in large carnivore conservation funding. We refer to transdisciplinary deficit (TDD) for those situations when the context allows the implementation of transdisciplinarity but research and practice remains disciplinary or interdisciplinary. We identify drivers of this TDD and provide a brief overview of current and past conservation funding programmes at the European level in terms of their capacity to promote transdisciplinary approaches for large carnivore conservation. We show that current funding programmes favour sectorial and disciplinary approaches, resulting in low transdisciplinary substance in large carnivore conservation projects. TDD can be overcome by transforming the character of public funding towards multi-stakeholder collaboration, designing and nurturing effective communities of practice, and reducing co-financing rates for large, integrated projects. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 30 Jun 2022 23:50:25 +030
  • Important plant areas (IPAs) in the Fergana Valley (Central Asia): The
           badlands of the northern foothills

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 49: 1-30
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.49.84834
      Authors : Komiljon Sh. Tojibaev, Farkhod I. Karimov, Hushbaht R. Hoshimov, Chang-Gee Jang, Nu-Ree Na, Min-Su Park, Kae-Sun Chang, Hee-Young Gil, Shukherdorj Baasanmunkh, Hyeok Jae Choi : Here, we aimed to identify important plant areas (IPAs) in the Fergana Valley, one of the most densely human-populated regions in Central Asia with a diverse array of endemic and endangered species. The IPA programme in FV aims to identify and protect a global network of plant conservation sites. We conducted a field survey from 2018 to 2021 to re-identify specimens collected from Fergana Valley and stored at the National Herbarium of Uzbekistan (TASH). An analysis of the floristic, geobotanical and collected data allowed for the identification of the badlands in the northern foothills (Chap tract and surrounding areas) as an IPA site. We modified the interpretation of criterion A for IPAs to suit the circumstances of Mountainous Central Asia and documented the distribution of 29 species in the IPAs under these sub-criteria. To our knowledge, this is the first study to identify an IPA in Uzbekistan and provide geographic coordinates with locations for the herbarium specimens used to create the IPA set for Central Asia. Our study provides a foundation for applying future IPAs in this region, addressing specific conservation challenges, such as conserving rare and endangered species that grow outside protected areas and GIS mapping of endemic species. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 24 Jun 2022 18:41:14 +030
  • Spatial and temporal dynamics of habitat quality in response to
           socioeconomic and landscape patterns in the context of urbanization: A
           case in Zhengzhou City, China

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 48: 185-212
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.48.85179
      Authors : Mengqi Zhao, Yuan Tian, Nalin Dong, Yongge Hu, Guohang Tian, Yakai Lei : With the rapid development of urbanization, the habitat quality (HQ) in urban areas has been eroded. This phenomenon is destroying the balance of ecosystems, triggering the reduction of biodiversity and the decay of ecosystem service functions. The study of the relationship between urbanization and HQ in Zhengzhou City is beneficial for the reference of sustainable urban ecological planning and management. Based on landscape classification data and socioeconomic data for three years, this study analyzes the spatial correlations between socioeconomic and landscape pattern factors and HQ, compares the dynamic changes in the explanatory power of different factors, and explores the joint effects between multiple factors. The results show that: (1) The overall value of HQ index in Zhengzhou City decreased by .10 during 2000–2020, mainly occurring in suburban areas, with a small amount of HQ improvement occurring in the core areas of ecological protection, such as mountains and river channels. (2) The spatial autocorrelation of all influencing factors with HQ increased during this period, while the negative impact from socio-economic sources was stronger than the positive impact from landscape patterns. (3) Intensive human activities lead to a single habitat type, which reduces HQ; rich landscape types and complex landscape composition can enhance HQ. Improving the connectivity of blue-green landscapes helps to attenuate the negative effects of urbanization on HQ. (4) Changes of HQ in the study area and the development of multi-factor effects on HQ are driven by the Zhengzhou Metropolitan Area Plan. Urban development policies and management can build idyllic complexes at the edge of urban development, preserving pristine blue-green patches to avoid their homogenized distribution and thus slowing the decline of HQ. The above results provide new ideas for the development of sustainable urban ecology. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 23 Jun 2022 16:51:32 +030
  • Natura 2000-sites: Legal requirements for agricultural and
           forestry land-use

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 48: 161-184
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.48.77899
      Authors : Stefan Möckel : The agricultural and forestry use of land does not only mark large parts of the European Union, but also a significant share of land within the European ecological network Natura 2000. Member States, therefore, try to exempt as far as possible these land uses from the protection regime of Natura 2000-sites. However, at the same time, Member States latest reports on habitats and wild species of Community importance indicate that, in particular, the intensification of agriculture and forestry in recent decades has made it more difficult to improve conservation statuses or even worsened them. Hence, the aim of this article is to examine in detail the extent to which the protection regime of Article 6(2 and 3) Habitats Directive is applicable to land-use in agriculture and forestry. In this context, of particular relevance is the question of when the use of land in agriculture and forestry or individual management measures within and near Natura 2000-sites are projects for which an appropriate assessment is necessary before implementation; and which, in the case that significant adverse effects to a site cannot be ruled out, are permitted only under the reasons for exemption given in Article 6(4) Habitats Directive. The analysis includes the case law of the European Court of Justice, as well as decisions of the German Federal Constitutional Court and the German Federal Administrative Court. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 9 Jun 2022 12:56:17 +0300
  • What shapes the mammal species poaching in protected areas: biophysical
           or anthropogenic factors' A case study in Pendjari Biosphere Reserve

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 48: 149-160
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.48.68243
      Authors : Finagnon Galvius Degbelo, Chabi Adéyèmi Marc Sylvestre Djagoun, Sêwanoudé Scholastique Mireille Toyi, Elie A. Padonou, Méryas Kouton, Nathan Gichohi, Philip Muruthi, Brice Sinsin : Understanding what shapes the mammal species poaching in protected areas is critical to developing targeted management strategies for reducing poaching. We collected the data for poaching incidents on the GPS coordinates from 2011 to 2017 to map poaching incidents in the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve. Poaching incidents were then related to environmental and anthropogenic variables using regression analyses. The study shows that poaching is more concentrated along the main river in the Pendjari National Park. Only nearest distance to the main river significantly predicted the location of high poaching incidents. These results could be used as the starting point by the park managers when planning the anti-poaching activities. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Wed, 25 May 2022 13:13:40 +030
  • Potential for informal guardianship in community-based wildlife crime
           prevention: Insights from Vietnam

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 48: 123-147
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.48.81635
      Authors : Julie Viollaz, Jessica Bell Rizzolo, Barney Long, Cao Tien Trung, Josh Kempinski, Benjamin M. Rawson, Danielle Reynald, Hoang Xuan Quang, Nguyen Ngoc Hien, Cao Tien Dung, Hoang Thuong Huyen, Nguyen Thi Thuy Dung, Meredith L. Gore : The notion that indigenous people and local communities can effectively prevent conservation crime rests upon the assumption that they are informal guardians of natural resources. Although informal guardianship is a concept typically applied to “traditional” crimes, urban contexts, and the global North, it has great potential to be combined with formal guardianship (such as ranger patrols) to better protect wildlife, incentivize community participation in conservation, and address the limitations of formal enforcement in the global South. Proactive crime prevention is especially important for illegal snare hunting, a practice that has led to pernicious defaunation and which has proved difficult to control due to its broad scope. This paper uses interview data with community members in protected areas in Viet Nam where illegal snare hunting is commonplace to 1) analyze the conditions for informal guardianship in the study locations; 2) explore how community members can become more effective informal guardians; and 3) examine how formal and informal guardianship mechanisms can be linked to maximize deterrence and limit displacement of illegal snaring. Results indicate that conditions for informal guardianship exist but that respondent willingness to intervene depends upon the location, offender activity, and type of offender (outsider versus community member). While respondents generated numerous strategies for wildlife crime prevention, they also listed crime displacement mechanism offenders used to avoid detection. We discuss how informal guardianship can be integrated with formal guardianship into an overall model of situational crime prevention to protect wildlife and incentivize community-led deterrence of illegal snaring. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 19 May 2022 12:05:51 +030
  • Harvest quotas, free markets and the sustainable trade in pythons

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 48: 99-121
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.48.80988
      Authors : Vincent Nijman : Assessing the sustainability of the harvest of animals can be done by obtaining data from processing facilities and establishing that vital attributes of the harvested animals (e.g., size, age structure, sex ratio) do not change over time. This model works if the traders operate in a free market without any regulations on what can be harvested, processed or exported, and when harvest methods and harvest areas do not change between assessment periods. Several studies assessed the harvest effects on blood pythons (Python brongersmai) in North Sumatra, Indonesia seemingly under a free market scenario, with some concluding that trade was sustainable and the others hinting at an overharvest. Indonesia has established harvest and export quotas and, internationally, trade in blood pythons is regulated through CITES, and the blood python trade clearly does not operate in a free market. Data suggest that the three (or four) slaughterhouses included in these studies processed ~27,000 blood pythons a year against a quota of 18,000. There is a risk that data from traders alone purporting to show that harvest is sustainable will lead to an increase of quotas or an abandonment of quotas altogether. There is no conclusive data to support that the harvest of blood pythons in North Sumatra is sustainable but there is sufficient evidence to suggest that a substantial part of this trade is illegal. Likewise, at a global level there are clear indications of misdeclared, underreported and illegal trade involving 10,000 s of blood pythons. While important biological information can be obtained from harvested animals, to assess whether harvest is sustainable there is no substitute for monitoring wild populations. After decades of international trade in blood pythons from Indonesia, during which at least half a million blood pythons were exported, it is all the more urgent that systematic monitoring of wild populations commences. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Wed, 11 May 2022 16:41:26 +030
  • Strict laws fail to deter illegal trade of China’s largest and most
           endangered freshwater turtle

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 48: 95-97
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.48.84287
      Authors : Shijia Hu, Tien Ming Lee, Hai-Tao Shi : In May 2021, a number of people were arrested for the illegal poaching and trade of one of the most endangered freshwater turtle species in China. The large female Pelochelys cantorii individual was poached from a strict protected area, sold, and was publicly advertised on social media despite being a Class I protected species (no trade allowed) for over 30 years and in a country with one of the strictest penalties for IWT worldwide. We discuss and call for more conservation efforts to prevent the illegal poaching and trade of this threatened species. We argue that unless China meets the urgent conservation needs of this iconic species, the impending extinction of this species cannot be reversed. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 21 Apr 2022 11:00:01 +030
  • A rare shrub species as flagship for conserving desert steppe in
           arid Inner Mongolia

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 48: 83-93
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.48.79902
      Authors : Hongxiao Yang, Changhui Xu, Jianmin Chu, Jiawei Chen, Honghao Gan, Zhenfeng Zhou : The rare species Amygdalus pedunculata Pall. (Rosaceae) in arid northern China is endangered to the point of extinction. Determined to save it, the local government of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region encouraged the herdsmen to limit grazing activities. Here, we are testing if this species could be considered as a conspicuous flagship for restoring and conserving wind-sensitive arid lands as desert steppe in northern China. We examined statistically the growing states and environmental roles of A. pedunculata populations under the comparative conditions of free and limited grazing in winter since the year 2001. This species was observed to play a critical role in preventing wind erosion and stabilising the lands, as was indicated by the formation of micro-dunes under the shrubs. This role can be attributed mainly to the crown diameters or cover from the shrubs. Under the grazing limitation condition, accompanying species and plants around the shrubs increased significantly. Regardless of free or limited grazing conditions, the shrubs were not observed to inhibit the occurrence or growth of other plants. The grazing limitation over a period of 20 years has caused the effective revival of the rare A. pedunculata species, with statistically larger and taller A. pedunculata individuals than under the free grazing condition, as well as a slightly higher population density and total crown cover. The grazing limitation policy for saving A. pedunculata is believed to be effective and the rare A. pedunculata shrub is a conspicuous flagship for helping to conserve wind-sensitive desert steppe in terms of ecosystem integrity and authenticity. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Wed, 20 Apr 2022 09:47:03 +030
  • Not only range, but quality: human influence and protected areas within
           the distribution of mammal species subject to use in the Department of
           Cundinamarca, Colombia

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 48: 57-81
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.48.77722
      Authors : Lizeth Aguirre Sierra, Diego A. Zárrate-Charry, Leonardo Lemus-Mejía, Jessica Morales-Perdomo, José F. González-Maya : Mammal conservation in transformed landscapes depends heavily on the role of protected areas, especially for species used by local communities both within and around these areas. We evaluated the level of representation and the magnitude of the influence of humans, via human footprint, across the range of mammals used by local communities in the Department of Cundinamarca, Colombia. We emphasised the differences of the human influence at a department scale and inside Protected Areas (PA). The definition of species used by local communities refers to using a resource for its economic, religious and/or traditional value. Specifically, we addressed whether there is a difference between the magnitude of human influence inside and outside the PAs and if the impact is greater on threatened species, species with greater or lesser representation or according to their use. We found 43 species subject to use in our analysis, with low values of representation when compared with global targets (X̄ ± CD = 10.69% ± 4.99) and with high values of vulnerability, based on the mean value of the Spatial Human Footprint Index (HSFI) (57 ± 2.74). We found a difference of 10.72 points between the average HSFI of the Department and that of the PAs (X̄ ± CD = 10.73 ± 5.98%). This shows that the status of each species’ habitats is less impacted by human activities within PAs and that the conservation areas for all species depend largely on their presence in largely transformed landscapes. Although this seems an expected outcome, the Department of Cundinamarca is one of the less represented on PAs at a national level and has suffered from severe fragmentation; thus, our results highlight the need for improving and expanding the current PA system as most species, especially those subject to use, will depend on their existence for their conservation on the long run. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 7 Apr 2022 09:40:24 +0300
  • Environmental citizen science in Greece: perceptions and attitudes
           of key actors

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 48: 31-56
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.48.79936
      Authors : Chrysostomos Galanos, Ioannis N. Vogiatzakis : Citizen Science (CS), the voluntary participation of lay people in scientific work, is well-established in the fields of nature conservation and biodiversity monitoring due to its potential to create large environmental datasets. This study aims to understand the familiarity, perceptions and attitudes towards CS of the key environmental actors in Greece. The target group consisted of employees and/or representatives of Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (ENGOs), scientists and civil servants related to nature conservation. Quantitative data were collected using an electronic questionnaire, 178 fully completed questionnaires and subsequently eight semi-structured interviews with experts were conducted. Descriptive statistics were used to measure the familiarity and attitude of the actors, as well as the obstacles to the development of CS in Greece. We used Cronbach’s test to measure the reliability of the used Likert scale and Kruskal-Wallis non-parametric test to identify significant differences amongst the three groups of actors. Qualitative data were analysed following a Thematic Analysis methodology. The results show that ca. 40% of the key actors are familiar with the terms and CS practice while over 65% with the concept. The general attitude of the actors towards CS is positive although concerns about data quality collected were highlighted. “Lack of cooperation culture”, “Ignorance of the existence of the phenomenon” and “Lack of know-how” emerged as the most important obstacles to CS development in Greece. Although CS is present in Greece, it is not visible enough. The main reasons are that relevant projects employ different terms, are under-represented in the formal literature and include limited, if at all, project dissemination. There are significant differences regarding familiarity and the attitude towards CS between actors, but also similarities concerning the main obstacles. The study sets a baseline which can be employed to improve and further expand Environmental Citizen Science (ECS) in Greece. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 7 Apr 2022 09:35:48 +0300
  • Temporal and spatial changes of biodiversity in Caverns of Heaven and
           Places of Blessing, Zhejiang Province, China from 1990 to 2020

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 48: 1-29
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.48.76273
      Authors : Yuanna Zhu, Hexian Jin, Le Zhong : Caverns of Heaven and Places of Blessing (CHPB) are the earliest Ecological Reserve in China, but in recent years, due to the accelerated process of urbanization and weak protection, the Chinese traditional ecological reserve represented by CHPB has been damaged to a certain extent. How to accurately measure the dynamic changes of ecological value in existing ecological protection and construct is an initial topic of CHPB protection. To understand the temporal and spatial changes characteristics of biodiversity in CHPB, this paper selects three-time nodes in 1990, 2005, and 2020, and takes CHPB in Zhejiang Province as an example, comprehensive three influencing factors: habitat quality, landscape pattern, and nighttime-light. To provide a relevant theoretical basis for the protection of CHPB, this paper quantitatively analyzes the changes of ecological environment and biodiversity in recent 30 years. The results showed that from 1990 to 2020, the biodiversity of CHPB in Zhejiang Province showed a positive change, the decline in Caverns of Heaven overall area slowed down, and the core area rebounded. The spatial distribution change of biodiversity is highly consistent with the land-use changes. The low value regions of biodiversity are mainly concentrated in the regions with intensive human activities, and the area decreases with the expansion of construction land. The core areas are primary areas with high biodiversity and overlap with nature reserves, natural parks, Scenic and Historic Interest Area, and other protected areas. In a word, CHPB still plays a vital role in ecological and environmental protection. In the future development, we should still pay attention to its biodiversity protection, and give full play to its role in ecological and environmental protection, and realize the contemporary application of CHPB’s traditional ecological knowledge. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 5 Apr 2022 14:40:26 +0300
  • Preliminary results on the bird protection effectiveness of animal
           deflectors on railway overhead lines based on electrical current

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 317-333
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.70704
      Authors : Stefan Kornhuber, Hans-Peter Pampel, Jana Görlich, Marion Leiblein-Wild, Christoph Jöckle : In contrast to other transportation systems, railway systems feature special characteristics, which may cause specific hazards to birds. Among other things, there is the risk of electrocutions resulting from short circuits. To protect the birds and minimize these short circuit events, the DB Netz AG has installed so-called animal deflectors on the insulators of the overhead lines. Since this effort, the number of short-circuit events in the respective sections has decreased, according to DB Netz AG. The principal mechanism of action of the animal deflectors is based on mechanical defense, combined with electrostatic discharge on contact. Although the number of short circuit events has been reduced by using animal deflectors, the detailed function of the animal deflector in different environmental conditions has not been investigated up to now. This research project aims to determine whether, and to what extent, the use of animal deflectors in retrofitting overhead lines may contribute to bird protection and which currents can be measured at retrofitted insulators under different environmental conditions. Hence the current should be measured when using animal deflectors on railway overhead lines for different isolator states and body resistances (5 kΩ, 3 kΩ, 1kΩ, 0.5 kΩ). The results show an influence of measured current depending on the insulator state. Our preliminary results indicate that the use of an animal deflector (KTA) to the tested polymeric insulator and pollution severity can be recommended, since, based on the investigations, no danger to small birds and small animals can be identified. However, the use of the animal deflector (KTA) for the tested porcelain insulator and pollution severity should not be recommended as they showed high animal hazards during pollution and fog conditions. However, these results cannot be transferred to other different insulator types and pollution severities. Investigating the electrical current to the type of insulator used and the expected pollution severity is recommended. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:17 +020
  • A test of wildlife warning reflectors as a way to reduce risk of
           wildlife-train collisions

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 303-316
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.73052
      Authors : Karolina D. Jasińska, Joanna Babińska-Werka, Dagny Krauze-Gryz : Looking for an effective method to reduce risk of animal-train collisions, we tested the system of wildlife warning reflectors, a method usually used on roads. The research was conducted in central Poland, along a 2.1 km stretch of the E65 railway line near Warsaw, during eight months, in the years 2010–2011. For six months of a test period, the reflectors were uncovered (active) and, for the next two months of the control period, they were covered (non-active). Digital cameras were used to register animal reactions to trains 24-hours per day. We compared the probability of escape (escape = 1; no reaction = 0) from an oncoming train during test and control periods of the research, in different parts of a day (i.e. day vs. night) and compared escape time of roe deer between day and night and with reflectors covered and uncovered. Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and brown hare (Lepus europaeus) were observed most often (702 observations in total). The status of reflectors (covered/uncovered) did not influence the probability of animals’ escape from an oncoming train. The only factors that affected the probability of escape were animal species and time of a day. Of the three species, roe deer was most likely to escape from an oncoming train (89% of probability at day and 52% during night, pooled data for covered and uncovered reflectors). Timing of roe deer escape from an oncoming train did not differ between day (6.4 seconds) and night, with either reflectors covered (7.5 seconds) or uncovered (4.6 seconds). The results indicated that wildlife warning reflectors were not effective to modify animal behaviour and to reduce risk of animal-train collisions. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:16 +020
  • Implementing wildlife fences along highways at the appropriate spatial
           scale: A case study of reducing road mortality of Florida Key deer

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 283-302
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.72321
      Authors : Marcel P. Huijser, James S. Begley : Florida Key deer mortality data (1966–2017) showed that about 75% of all reported deer mortalities were related to collisions with vehicles. In 2001–2002, the eastern section of US Hwy 1 on Big Pine Key (Florida, USA) was mitigated with a wildlife fence, 2 underpasses, and 4 deer guards. After mitigation, the number of reported Key deer road mortalities reduced substantially in the mitigated section, but this was negated by an increase in collisions along the unmitigated section of US Hwy 1 on Big Pine Key, both in absolute numbers and expressed as a percentage of the total deer population size. The data also showed that the increase in Key deer collisions along the unmitigated highway section on the island could not be explained through an increase in Key deer population size, or by a potential increase in traffic volume. The overall Key deer road mortality along US Hwy 1 was not reduced but was moved from the mitigated section to the nearby unmitigated section. Thus, there was no net benefit of the fence in reducing collisions. After mitigation, a significant hotspot of Key deer-vehicle collisions appeared at the western fence-end, and additional hotspots occurred further west along the unmitigated highway. Exploratory spatial analyses led us to reject the unmitigated highway section on Big Pine Key as a suitable control for a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) analysis into the effectiveness of the mitigation measures in reducing deer-vehicle collisions. Instead, we selected highway sections west and east of Big Pine Key as a control. The BACI analysis showed that the wildlife fence and associated mitigation measures were highly effective (95%) in reducing deer-vehicle collisions along the mitigated highway section. Nonetheless, in order to reduce the overall number of deer-vehicle collisions along US Hwy 1, the entire highway section on Big Pine Key would need to be mitigated. However, further mitigation is complicated because of the many buildings and access roads for businesses and residences. This case study illustrates that while fences and associated measures can be very effective in reducing collisions, wildlife fences that are too short may result in an increase in collisions in nearby unmitigated road sections, especially near fence-ends. Therefore it is important to carefully consider the appropriate spatial scale over which highway mitigation measures are implemented and evaluated. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:15 +020
  • Effectiveness of wire netting fences to prevent animal access to road
           infrastructures: an experimental study on small mammals and amphibians

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 271-281
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.71472
      Authors : Antonin Conan, Julie Fleitz, Lorène Garnier, Meven Le Brishoual, Yves Handrich, Jonathan Jumeau : Transport infrastructures, such as highways, disrupt animal migrations and cause roadkill. To mitigate the latter problem, fences have been built but their effectiveness has rarely been tested under controlled conditions. Here, we tested the effectiveness of the most commonly used fence in France and probably in Europe (wire netting fence) to block animals. We tested the wire netting fence, with and without a structural modification (i.e. an overhang), with three small mammalian species (the European hamster: Cricetus cricetus Linnaeus, 1758; the common vole: Microtus arvalis Pallas, 1778 & the wood mouse: Apodemus sylvaticus Linnaeus, 1758) and two amphibian species (the marsh frog: Pelophylax ridibundus Pallas, 1771 & the European green toad: Bufotes viridis Laurenti, 1768). During testing, all small vertebrate species tested were placed into an arena, from which they could only escape by crossing the wire netting fence. Without an overhang, almost all adult individuals of all tested species were able to climb over a 30 to 40 cm high wire netting fence. Furthermore, the addition of an 8 cm long overhang at the top of the fence stopped the amphibian species tested but not the most agile mammalian species, such as the hamster and the wood mouse. Based on these results, we do not support the construction of wire netting fences along roads as a measure to stop small animals from crossing. We recommend the use of more effective and durable fences, which, in addition, can be associated with wildlife passages to reconnect isolated populations. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:14 +020
  • Co-use of existing crossing structures along roads by wildlife and
           humans: Wishful thinking'

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 235-270
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.73060
      Authors : Kendra Warnock-Juteau, Valérie Bolduc, Daniella LoScerbo, Michelle Anderson, Caroline Daguet, Jochen A. G. Jaeger : This study assesses existing human-purpose underpasses below an unfenced high-traffic 4-lane highway in the Appalachian region of Quebec, Canada, as potential crossing structures for native mammal species. Eight underpasses of three types (five water culverts with minimum height and width of 1.8 m, one low-use gravel road byway, and two railroad underpasses) were continuously monitored by motion-detection infrared camera traps for time periods spanning up to 778 days (September 2016 to November 2018). We asked how the ratios of successful crossings through the structures (termed full crossings) and aversions to the structures (termed aversions) differed between species and we explored the influence of human activity levels on the use of these structures by wildlife. All monitored crossing structures had low human observations (with averages of less than 35 human activities per day). Our results provide evidence that 21 species of mammals in the study area successfully crossed through at least one of the eight observed underpasses on a minimum of one occasion. Some species were observed crossing through some of the underpasses on a regular basis, namely raccoon, red fox, and white-tailed deer. We propose a classification of mammal species into five human co-use classes (no or low co-use to very high co-use) to explore the relationship between mammal use of the structures and human presence. We found that humans and mammals were observed sharing passages for the four mammal species identified as tolerant of human co-use (high and very high co-use classes), but co-use was observed to be limited or not occurring for most other species. The strengths of this study include the length of time during which monitoring took place, as well as the placement of four cameras at each structure (two facing inward and two facing outward) to determine whether individuals successfully crossed through the structures or displayed avoidance behaviour. The results suggest select species of mammals show some co-use with humans at existing underpasses. The activity patterns of mammals documented over the two-year study can assist with future estimates of highway permeability. Further, measurements of human and mammal co-use have species-specific implications for retrofitting existing structures and constructing wildlife fences and purpose-built wildlife passages. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:13 +020
  • Sensitivity mapping informs mitigation of bird mortality by collision
           with high-voltage power lines

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 215-233
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.73710
      Authors : Jean-Yves Paquet, Kristijn Swinnen, Antoine Derouaux, Koen Devos, Dominique Verbelen : Mapping the relative risk of impact on nature by a human infrastructure at a landscape scale (“sensitivity mapping”) is an essential tool for minimising the future impact of new development or for prioritising mitigation of existing impacts. High-voltage power lines (“transmission lines”) are known to increase bird mortality by collision. Here we present a method to derive a high resolution map of relative risk of transmission line impacts across one entire country, Belgium, from existing bird distribution data. First, all the bird species observed in Belgium were systematically assessed using literature and casualty records to select those to be included in the sensitivity map. Species were selected on the basis of their intrinsic susceptibility to collision and the conservation relevance of avoiding additional mortality for that species in Belgium. Each of the selected species was included in one or several spatial layer constructed from existing data, emerging from citizen science bird monitoring schemes. The resulting 17 layers were then combined into one final sensitivity map, where a “risk score” estimates the relative collision risk across Belgium at a 1×1 km resolution. This risk score is relatively robust to the subtraction of any of the 17 layers. The map identifies areas where building new transmission lines would create high risk of collision and, if overlapped with existing power lines, helps to prioritise spans where mitigation measures should be placed. Wetlands and river valleys stand out as the most potentially dangerous areas for collision with transmission lines. This sensitivity map could be regularly updated with new bird data or adapted to other countries where similar bird data are available. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:12 +020
  • Are several small wildlife crossing structures better than a single
           large' Arguments from the perspective of large wildlife conservation

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 197-213
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.67979
      Authors : Jan Olof Helldin : Crossing structures for large wildlife are increasingly being constructed at major roads and railways in many countries and current guidelines for wildlife mitigation at linear infrastructures tend to advocate for large crossing structures sited at major movement corridors for the target species. The concept of movement corridors has, however, been challenged and pinching animal movements into bottlenecks entails risks. In this paper, I address the SLOSS dilemma of road ecology, i.e. the discussion whether a Single Large Or Several Small crossing structures along a linear barrier would produce the most benefit for wildlife, using the case of crossing structures for large wildlife in Sweden. I point out risks, ecological as well as practical, with investing in one large crossing structure and list a number of situations where it may be more beneficial to distribute the conservation efforts in the landscape by constructing several smaller crossing structures; for example, when the ecological knowledge is insufficient, when animal interactions are expected to be significant, when the landscape changes over time or when future human development cannot be controlled. I argue that such situations are often what infrastructure planning faces and that the default strategy, therefore, should be to distribute, rather than to concentrate passage opportunities along major transport infrastructures. I suggest that distributing passage opportunities over several smaller crossing structures would convey a risk diversification and that this strategy could facilitate the planning of wildlife mitigation. What to choose would however depend on, inter alia, landscape composition and ecology and on relationships amongst target species. A single large structure should be selected where it is likely that it can serve a large proportion of target animals and where the long-term functionality of the crossing structure can be guaranteed. New research is needed to support trade-offs between size and number of crossing structures. Cost-effectiveness analyses of wildlife crossing structures are currently rare and need to be further explored. Camera trapping and video surveillance of crossing structures provide opportunities to analyse details concerning, for example, any individual biases according to sex, age, status and grouping and any antagonism between species and individuals. Wildlife ecology research needs to better address questions posed by road and railway planning regarding the importance of specific movement routes and movement distances. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:11 +020
  • The effect of habitat reduction by roads on space use and movement
           patterns of an endangered species, the Cabrera vole Microtus cabrerae

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 177-196
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.71864
      Authors : Nelson Fernandes, Eduardo M. Ferreira, Ricardo Pita, António Mira, Sara M. Santos : Roads are among the most widespread signs of man’s presence around the globe. From simple low traffic trails to wide and highly used highways, roads have a wide array of effects on wildlife. In the present study, we tested how habitat reduction by roads may affect the space use and movement patterns of the Cabrera vole (Microtus cabrerae), a near-threatened Iberian endemism, often living on road verges. A total of 16 voles were successfully radio-tracked in two habitat patches with different size and proximity to roads. Results showed that individuals from the smaller patch (Verge patch) had smaller and less complex home-ranges than those from the larger patch (Meadow patch). Movement patterns were significantly influenced by the day period but only in individuals from the Verge patch. There was evidence of a barrier effect in both habitat patches, being this effect much more noticeable in the verge population. Overall, this study shows that space use and movement patterns of Cabrera voles near roads may be affected by the degree of habitat reduction imposed by these infrastructures. This suggests that species space use and movement patterns at fine-scale should be accounted for in road planning, even for species that may benefit from road verge habitats as refuges. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:10 +020
  • Assessing behaviour states of a forest carnivore in a road-dominated
           landscape using Hidden Markov Models

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 155-175
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.72781
      Authors : Eduardo M. Ferreira, Francesco Valerio, Denis Medinas, Nelson Fernandes, João Craveiro, Pedro Costa, João Paulo Silva, Carlos Carrapato, António Mira, Sara M. Santos : Anthropogenic infrastructures and land-use changes are major threats to animal movements across heterogeneous landscapes. Yet, the behavioural consequences of such constraints remain poorly understood. We investigated the relationship between the behaviour of the Common genet (Genetta genetta) and road proximity, within a dominant mixed forest-agricultural landscape in southern Portugal, fragmented by roads. Specifically, we aimed to: (i) identify and characterise the behavioural states displayed by genets and related movement patterns; and (ii) understand how behavioural states are influenced by proximity to main paved roads and landscape features. We used a multivariate Hidden Markov Model (HMM) to characterise the fine-scale movements (10-min fixes GPS) of seven genets tracked during 187 nights (mean 27 days per individual) during the period 2016–2019, using distance to major paved roads and landscape features as predictors. Our findings indicated that genet’s movement patterns were composed of three basic behavioural states, classified as “resting” (short step-lengths [mean = 10.6 m] and highly tortuous), “foraging” (intermediate step-lengths [mean = 46.1 m] and with a wide range in turning angle) and “travelling” (longer step-lengths [mean = 113.7 m] and mainly linear movements). Within the genet’s main activity-period (17.00 h-08.00 h), the movement model predicts that genets spend 36.7% of their time travelling, 35.4% foraging and 28.0% resting. The probability of genets displaying the travelling state was highest in areas far away from roads (> 500 m), whereas foraging and resting states were more likely in areas relatively close to roads (up to 500 m). Landscape features also had a pronounced effect on behaviour state occurrence. More specifically, travelling was most likely to occur in areas with lower forest edge density and close to riparian habitats, while foraging was more likely to occur in areas with higher forest edge density and far away from riparian habitats. The results suggest that, although roads represent a behavioural barrier to the movement of genets, they also take advantage of road proximity as foraging areas. Our study demonstrates that the HMM approach is useful for disentangling movement behaviour and understanding how animals respond to roadsides and fragmented habitats. We emphasise that road-engaged stakeholders need to consider movement behaviour of genets when targeting management practices to maximise road permeability for wildlife. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:09 +020
  • ‘Animals under wheels’: Wildlife roadkill data collection by citizen
           scientists as a part of their nature recording activities

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 121-153
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.72970
      Authors : Kristijn R. R. Swinnen, Annelies Jacobs, Katja Claus, Sanne Ruyts, Diemer Vercayie, Jorg Lambrechts, Marc Herremans : ‘Animals under wheels’ is a citizen science driven project that has collected almost 90,000 roadkill records from Flanders, Belgium, mainly between 2008 and 2020. However, until now, the platform and results have never been presented comprehensively to the scientific community and we highlight strengths and challenges of this system. Data collection occurred using the subsite www.dierenonderdewielen.be (‘animals under wheels’) or the multi-purpose biodiversity platform observation.org and the apps, allowing the registration of roadkill and living organisms alike. We recorded 4,314 citizen scientists who contributed with at least a single roadkill record (207-1,314 active users per year). Non-roadkill records were registered by 85% of these users and the median time between registration of the first and last record was over 6 years, indicating a very high volunteer retention. Based on photographs presented with the roadkill records (n = 7,687), volunteer users correctly identified 98.2% of the species. Vertebrates represent 99% of all roadkill records. Over 145,000 km of transects were monitored, resulting in 1,726 mammal and 2,041 bird victims. Carcass encounter rates and composition of the top 10 detected species list was dependent on monitoring speed. Roadkill data collected during transects only represented 6% of all roadkill data available in the dataset. The remaining 60,478 bird and mammal roadkill records were opportunistically collected. The top species list, based on the opportunistically collected roadkill data, is clearly biased towards larger, enigmatic species. Although indirect evidence showed an increase in search effort for roadkill from 2010-2020, the number of roadkill records did not increase, indicating that roadkills are diminishing. Mitigation measures preventing roadkill could have had an effect on this, but decrease in population densities was likely to (partially) influence this result. As a case study, the mammal roadkill data were explored. We used linear regressions for the 17 most registered mammal species, determining per species if the relative proportion per year changed significantly between 2010 and 2020 (1 significant decrease, 7 significant increases). We investigated the seasonal patterns in roadkill for the 17 mammal species, and patterns per species were consistent over the years, although restrictions on human movement, due to COVID-19, influenced the seasonal pattern for some species in 2020. In conclusion, citizen scientists are a very valuable asset in investigating wildlife roadkill. While we present the results from Flanders, the platform and apps are freely available for projects anywhere in the world. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:08 +020
  • Exploring 15 years of brown bear (Ursus arctos)-vehicle collisions in
           northwestern Greece

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 105-119
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.71348
      Authors : Maria Psaralexi, Maria Lazarina, Yorgos Mertzanis, Danai-Eleni Michaelidou, Stefanos Sgardelis : Road networks provide several benefits to human societies; however, they are also one of the major drivers of fragmentation and habitat degradation. Their negative effects include wildlife-vehicle collisions which are associated with increased barrier effects, restricted gene flow, and increased local extinction risk. Large carnivores, such as the brown bear (Ursus arctos), are vulnerable to road mortality while they also put human safety at risk in every collision. We recorded approximately 100 bear-vehicle collisions during the last 15 years (2005–2020) in northwestern Greece and identified common aspects for collisions, i.e., spatial, or temporal segregation of collision events, road features, and age or sex of the involved animals. We recorded collisions in both the core distribution area of brown bears, as well as at the periphery, where few individuals, mostly males, disperse. According to our findings, there are four collision hotspots which include ca. 60% of total collisions. Bear-vehicle collisions occurred mostly in periods of increased animal mobility, under poor light conditions and low visibility. In most cases, we deem that a collision was unavoidable at the time of animal detection, because the driver could not have reacted in time to avoid it. Appropriate fencing, in combination with the retention of safe passages for the animals, can minimize collisions. Therefore, such mitigation measures, wildlife warning signs and other collision prevention systems, such as animal detection systems, should be adopted to decrease the number of bear-vehicle collisions and improve road safety. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:07 +020
  • Speed thrills but kills: A case study on seasonal variation in roadkill
           mortality on National highway 715 (new) in Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong
           Landscape, Assam, India

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 87-104
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.73036
      Authors : Somoyita Sur, Prasanta Kumar Saikia, Malabika Kakati Saikia : Animal-vehicle collision on the roads is a major cause of mortality of a wide range of animal taxa both within and around protected areas. This study has been conducted in the National Highway 715 (new) covering a continuous stretch of 64 km that passes through Kaziranga National Park (KNP) of Assam (India). The area falls between the boundary of KNP on its north and North Karbi Anglong Wildlife sanctuary on the south. The survey concentrated on the mortality study of four groups of vertebrates viz., amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals resulting from collisions with vehicles from October 2016 through September, 2017. A total of 6036 individual roadkills were registered, belonging to 53 species, 23 other taxa and 30 families of vertebrates, with herpetofauna being the most affected group followed by birds and mammals. The study evaluated seasonal variation in the overall roadkill pattern with highest mortality in the monsoon season 38.27% (n = 2310) and with peak casualties starting with the onset of rainfall (February and March) and during monsoons (July and August). The amphibian mortality was also found to be highest during the monsoon with 43.28% (n = 1575) of kills, as compared to the other three groups. NH-715 (new), therefore serves as a challenging passage for the animals, forming a major barrier for the faunal component of the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape. This study thus tried to reflect the often overlooked issue of roads and highways in terms of direct mortality of animals due to traffic and thereby can be helpful in understanding the seriousness of the situation and identifying prospective measures to be taken for sustainable coexistence of both animals and human. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:06 +020
  • Do the roadkills of different mammal species respond the same way to
           habitat and matrix'

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 65-85
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.73010
      Authors : Douglas William Cirino, Artur Lupinetti-Cunha, Carlos Henrique Freitas, Simone Rodrigues de Freitas : While road network expansion connects human settlements between themselves, it also leads to deforestation and land use changes, reducing the connectivity between natural habitat patches, and increasing roadkill risk. More than 30% of registered mammal roadkills in Brazil are concentrated in four species: Cerdocyon thous (crab-eating fox); Euphractus sexcinctus (six-banded armadillo); Tamandua tetradactyla (collared anteater) and Myrmecophaga tridactyla (giant anteater), the latter being categorized as vulnerable by IUCN redlist. Our aim was to understand how these animals’ roadkills could be related to the land use proportions on landscapes all over the Brazilian territory, and investigate if the roadkill patterns differ among species. We collected secondary data on mammal roadkills (N = 2698) from several studies in different regions of Brazil. Using MapBiomas’ data on land use and land cover, we extracted landscape composition around each roadkill sample. Through the proportion of land use and land cover in the area of influence where the roadkill occurred, we built binomial GLM models and selected the best ones by Akaike Information Criteria. For crab-eating fox and the six-banded armadillo, the best models include matrix coverage resulting in increased roadkill risk, while both anteaters’ species have a habitat and a matrix component in their best models, with an interaction between the variables. These four species seem to be roadkilled in different landscape arrangements, but in all scenarios, anthropic areas had an important influence over the models. For habitat-dependent and more sensible species, such as Tamandua tetradactyla and Myrmecophaga tridactyla, the amount of matrix influencing the roadkill risk depends on habitat availability in the landscape. It changes the strength and direction of the effect according to the proportion of natural areas in the region, while with generalist species such as Cerdocyon thous and Euphractus sexcinctus, the quantity of human-modified coverage increases the risk. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:05 +020
  • Rapid linear transport infrastructure development in the Carpathians: A
           major threat to the integrity of ecological connectivity for large

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 35-63
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.71807
      Authors : Cristian-Remus Papp, Ivo Dostál, Václav Hlaváč, Gavril Marius Berchi, Dušan Romportl : The development of sustainable transport is a key challenge in societies where there is an accelerated need for socio-economic development. This is the case for seven countries from central and south-eastern Europe that share the Carpathian Mountains. The challenge of developing sustainable transport requires transdisciplinary, or at least cross-sectoral cooperation, between the transport development and nature conservation sectors. Such cooperation is not in the culture of the Carpathian countries, which together host some of the most remarkable biodiversity values in Europe, including the largest populations of brown bear, grey wolf and Eurasian lynx. The overall length of motorways in these countries more than quintupled in the last 30 years and the rapid expansion of Linear Transport Infrastructure (LTI) continues at exacerbating rates. The rich biodiversity habitats are being fragmented and the concept of ecological connectivity is poorly understood and implemented by the national authorities. Ecological networks for large carnivores are not defined nor officially recognised in the Carpathian countries, with little exceptions. The legislation is not consistent across the strands of ecological connectivity and is not harmonised between the countries to effectively support transnational conservation efforts. Thus, the critical intersections between planned or even existing LTI and ecological corridors for large carnivores cannot be identified, in most cases leading to increasing habitat fragmentation and isolation of wildlife populations in the region. We summarised all this key context-related information for the Carpathians in relation to LTI development and ecological connectivity. To counteract this trend in the Carpathian ecoregion, we propose a set of recommendations to: improve and harmonise the legislation; develop and endorse methodologies for designating ecological corridors; address the cumulative impact on ecological connectivity; define other threats on landscape permeability; improve stakeholder engagement, cooperation and communication; develop comprehensive and transparent biodiversity and transport databases; monitor wildlife and transport for implementing most appropriate mitigation measures and strategies; build capacity to address the issue of sustainable transportation; and foster transnational cooperation and dialogue. Bringing these elements together will support the design of ecological networks in a way that considers the needs and location of both current and future habitats and contribute to efforts to address the climate crisis. These specific recommendations are relevant also for other areas of the world facing similar problems as the Carpathians. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:04 +020
  • Germany’s federal waterways – A linear infrastructure network for
           nature and transport

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 15-33
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.70732
      Authors : Volker Steege, Dirk Engelbart, Nicole T. Hädicke, Kai Schäfer, Jennifer K. Wey : Major rivers are unique linear structures because they serve different purposes simultaneously: A habitat and dispersal route for flora and fauna as well as a navigation route, the site for recreational and economic activities and a source for drinking water and irrigation. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that waterways must be developed in an environmentally and economically sustainable and socially responsible manner. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) and its specialised agencies – the Waterways and Shipping Administration of the German Federal Government (WSV), the Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG) and the Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute (BAW) – are aiming to achieve this goal by integrating environmental issues into the development and maintenance of waterways. This paper aims to fill the gap on the one hand between scientific analyses of ecological freshwater status and proposals for its improvement, and, on the other hand, bringing this knowledge into practical realisation. Recent activities at the German federal waterways are exemplarily reviewed on the basis of applied research projects, local projects, political programmes and progressive legislation. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:03 +020
  • Promoting ecological solutions for sustainable infrastructure

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 9-13
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.81621
      Authors : Anders Sjölund, Yannick Autret, Marita Boettcher, Julie de Bouville, Lazaros E. Georgiadis, Elke Hahn, Agnès Hallosserie, Adam Hofland, Jean-François Lesigne, Antonio Mira, Charlotte Navarro, Carme Rosell, Tony Sangwine, Andreas Seiler, Paul Wagner : Linear infrastructure networks such as roads, railways, navigation and irrigation canals, and power lines have grown exponentially since the mid-20th century. Most of these networks built before the 1990s have a significant impact on the environment. While there is no doubt that humanity needs infrastructure to ensure safe, secure and sufficient access to food, water and energy, it is essential to prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystems which are also at the basis of the provision of such fundamental services. Those complex, interconnected issues cannot be tackled without research and innovation, both in the fields of biodiversity and of infrastructure.IENE (Infrastructure Ecology Network Europe) was set up in 1996 to meet this need. Its mission is to promote the exchange of knowledge, experience and best practice in safe and sustainable pan-European transport infrastructure. With a status of an association today, this independent network has more than 400 members consisting of researchers, engineers, decision makers and infrastructure operators. IENE functions as an international and interdisciplinary forum. It supports cross-border cooperation in research, mitigation, planning, design, construction and maintenance in the field of biodiversity and transport infrastructure.Every two years, IENE organises an international conference to present cutting-edge research, identify pressing issues and problems, discuss effective solutions and map out future activities in the field of transport ecology and infrastructure. We are very glad to present you in this special issue some of the best scientific outcomes of the IENE 2020 conference, hoping that it will contribute to further breakthroughs in science and uptake in policy-making and practices on the ground. We commend the organising team of the University of Evora, Portugal, for their excellent programming of the conference and for having gathered exceptional scientists on the topic of biodiversity and infrastructure. They managed to host a high-quality event, despite the many adjustments that had to be done because of the covid-19, including postponing the conference to January 2021 and holding it entirely online.The topic of IENE conference 2020 was “Linear Infrastructure Networks with Ecological Solutions” and the motto was “working together”. This means that every stakeholder has a role to play, and that biodiversity should be considered at all governance scales and during all phases of the set-up of infrastructure. The papers selected here are of particular interest to follow the path set forth in the conference’s final declaration, that is included in this issue. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:02 +020
  • Ecological Solutions for Linear Infrastructure Networks: The key to
           green infrastructure development

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 47: 1-8
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.47.81795
      Authors : Sara Santos, Clara Grilo, Fraser Shilling, Manisha Bhardwaj, Cristian Remus Papp : HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 25 Mar 2022 15:00:01 +020
  • Drivers of snow leopard poaching and trade in Pakistan and
           implications for management

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 46: 49-62
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.46.76036
      Authors : Jaffar Ud Din, Fathul Bari, Hussain Ali, Ejaz ur Rehman, Durriyyah Sharifah Hasan Adli, Nurul Ashikin Abdullah, Yusoff Norma-Rashid, Muhammad Kabir, Shoaib Hameed, Doost Ali Nawaz, Muhammad Ali Nawaz : The snow leopard is one of the highly valued species from high-altitude mountain ecosystems of Central and Southeast Asia, including Pakistan. This keystone species is facing a myriad of conventional and emerging threats, including poaching and trade, that are poorly documented in Pakistan. To understand the dynamics and drivers of the poaching and trading of snow leopards in Pakistan, we investigated the issue in depth through a multifaceted survey in the snow leopard range of the country. We recorded 101 snow leopard poaching incidences from 11 districts during 2005–2017. The reported poaching incidences varied spatially (x̄ = 9 ± 2.6 [95% Cl: 3–15]) and temporally (x̄ = 7.8 ± 1.09) and accounted for 2–4% annual population loss (n = 200–420) in a period of 13 years. Poaching and trade together constituted 89% of the total incidence reported and animals were mostly shot (66%), poisoned (12%), snared (12%) and captured (4%), respectively. Only a fraction (3%) of the incidences were reported to the relevant law enforcement agencies. Trade routes included large cities and neighbouring countries, even the Middle East and Europe. The average base and end prices for each item were 245 ± 36 USD and 1,736 ± 520 USD, respectively, while maximum monetary fines set as per the law were 275 USD. Our results establish the need for developing multi-stakeholder coordination mechanisms at regional, national and international levels and information sharing to curb this menace. Improving the existing laws and surveillance system, while taking the local communities onboard, will further help to this end. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 1 Mar 2022 09:48:32 +0200
  • Online trade as a serious additional threat to the Critically
           Endangered silvery pigeon Columba argentina in Indonesia

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 46: 41-48
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.46.80064
      Authors : Simon Bruslund, Boyd Leupen, Chris R. Shepherd, S. Sunny Nelson : The elusive and Critically Endangered silvery pigeon Columba argentina is only found on small offshore islands in western Indonesia and Malaysia. Historically, trade records have suggested that, in addition to habitat degradation and invasive predators, commercial exploitation could be a threat to the species. The current study confirms this to be the case, with a relatively high volume of silvery pigeons found offered for sale on social media platforms in Indonesia between October and December 2021. The trade numbers (at least 10 individuals) observed within this short period exceeded 20% of the global silvery pigeon population according to the latest Red List assessment, suggesting that actual population numbers may be larger than previously thought but also confirming that trade poses a considerable threat. Some of the recorded posts were in new areas within the species’ presumed range, further suggesting that the population may be slightly larger than hitherto assessed. The reported trade observations are reason for grave concern, particularly given the potential interest of international collectors which could further drive demand and increase prices. Due to the locations of the observed online trade we recommend timely field surveys to confirm the species’ presence and current status, particularly in the Riau-Lingga island group, as well as the development of a species conservation action plan to catalyse local and regional efforts to tackle the current illegal trade and work towards the regulation of international trade. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 22 Feb 2022 10:19:25 +020
  • Conservation biology meets medical science

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 46: 39-40
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.46.79204
      Authors : Dirk S. Schmeller : In my letter I refer to publications around syndemics, and link them up to other health concepts, calling for a stronger link between medical, social and environmental sciences to advance the global management of pandemic threats. Calling for close collaboration of ecological and conservation sciences with medical sciences is very timely. This letter will raise awareness that concepts like EcoHealth, OneHealth and medical terms such as Syndemics are largely overlapping and that only a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach will move our understanding forward on the inextricable link of human health and environmental health. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 1 Feb 2022 10:45:30 +0200
  • Dissecting the illegal pangolin trade in China: An insight from
           seizures data reports

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 46: 17-38
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.45.57962
      Authors : James Kehinde Omifolaji, Alice C. Hughes, Abubakar Sadiq Ibrahim, Jinfeng Zhou, Siyuan Zhang, Emmanuel Tersea Ikyaagba, Xiaofeng Luan : Wildlife trafficking poses a major threat to global biodiversity. Species such as pangolins are particularly vulnerable and trade continues almost unabated despite numerous interventions aimed at eradicating illegal wildlife trade. Despite restrictions on the pangolin trade, thousands of pangolins continue to be intercepted annually. We focused on China because of the recent delisting of pangolins from the Chinese pharmacopeia, and their removal from healthcare insurance, despite deeply ingrained traditions of having pangolins for ethno-medicinal use. We collated pangolin interception data from public online media seizure reports to characterize the pangolin trade within China, and found that a total of 326 independent seizures equivalent to 143,130 pangolins (31,676 individuals and 222,908 kg of scale) were reported in 26 provinces. Pangolin domestic seizures are greatest in the southern cities of Dehong, Fangchenggang, and Guangzhou. Also, we found 17 countries within the global pangolins range which were the major source of the pangolin shipments to China. The number of arrests and convictions was much lower than the number of pangolin incidents reported. Our results show a significant increase in the volume of scales and number of live pangolin seizures after amended endangered species law came into effect in 2018, and recorded the highest number of individual pangolin interceptions. China has shown increasing wildlife seizures over time, owing partly to emergent trends in the international wildlife trade as well as increasing global demand for ethnomedicine. The future eradication of illegal wildlife trade in China is dependent not only on stringent border control and offender prosecution but also the; removal of other threatened species from the pharmacopeia and healthcare insurance which includes wildlife derivatives. Furthermore, our work highlights importance of current policy intervention to combat the pangolin trade within China, and the need for further interventions both within China and in export countries. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 14 Jan 2022 11:03:29 +020
  • Comparison of methods to estimate the size of Indian pangolin (Manis
           crassicaudata) scale seizures using species-specific conversion parameters

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 46: 1-16
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.46.71109
      Authors : Hirusha Randimal Algewatta, Priyan Perera : The absence of robust species-specific methods to estimate the number of animals in seizures of pangolin scales is a major barrier to effective law enforcement. Therefore, studies focused on developing methods to establish accurate conversion parameters are a priority. This study proposes improved methods to estimate the number of pangolins in the illegal trade to inform law-enforcing authorities. Based on the observations of 25 specimens, Indian pangolins were on average found to possess 511 scales. Three morph-types of scales were identified: broad rhombic (n=411), elongated kite shape (n=69), and folded scales (n=31). The mean dry weight of the three-scale morph-types was 7.5 g, 4.9 g, and 6.2 g. Based on the average frequency and mean dry weight of each scale morph type, the species-specific dry weight of scales for Indian pangolins was 3.6 kg. Accordingly, we propose new and improved methods based on scale morph-type frequencies and species-specific dry weight of scales to estimate the number of Indian pangolins from quantities of scales. Their accuracy was compared with current methods, and the improved methods were found to be more accurate. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Mon, 10 Jan 2022 11:00:46 +020
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