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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]
  • Does a flashing artificial light have more or conversely less impacts
           on animals than a continuous one' A systematic review

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 54: 149-177
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.54.102614
      Authors : Alix Lafitte, Romain Sordello, Marc Legrand, Virginie Nicolas, Gaël Obein, Yorick Reyjol : Background: Light pollution has been increasingly recognised as a threat to biodiversity, especially with the current expansion of public lighting. Although the impacts of light intensity, spectral composition and temporality are more often studied, another component of light, its flicker frequency, has been largely overlooked. However, flashing light could also have impacts on biodiversity, and especially on animal behaviour and physiology. Objective: This systematic review aimed at identifying the reported physiological and behavioural impacts of flashing light on animals when compared to continuous light. Methods: We followed the standards recommended by the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE) in order to achieve a comprehensive, transparent and replicable systematic review. Citations were primarily extracted from three literature databases and were then screened for relevance successively on their titles, abstracts and full-texts. Retained studies were finally critically appraised to assess their validity and all relevant data were extracted. Only studies which compared a flashing light to a continuous one were included. Results: At first, we found 19,730 citations. Screening and critical appraisal resulted in 32 accepted articles corresponding to 54 accepted observations—one observation corresponding to one species and one outcome. We collated data on four main taxa: Aves (the most studied one), Actinopterygii, Insecta and Mammalia as well as on plankton. Conclusions: The impacts of flashing light are currently critically understudied and varied between species and many light specificities (e.g. frequency, wavelength, intensity). Therefore, no definitive conclusions could be drawn for now. Thus, research on flashing light should be pressingly carried out in order to better mitigate the impacts of Artificial Light at Night (ALAN) on wildlife. In the meantime, we would recommend precautionary principles to be applied: flashing lighting should be limited when not deemed essential and flicker frequencies managed to prevent animals from experiencing any potential harm from flashing light. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 7 Dec 2023 12:06:15 +0200
  • Exploring life-history traits of an endangered plant (Vicia biennis L.)
           to support the conservation of marginal populations

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 54: 121-147
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.54.105606
      Authors : Anett Endrédi, Ármin Sőth, Dóra Ércz, Balázs Deák, Orsolya Valkó, János György Nagy : We aimed to investigate the reproduction-related traits of Vicia biennis L., an endangered and poorly known wetland species in its western marginal populations (in Hungary), and discuss the conservational and ecological implications. We measured the mass, viability, and physical dormancy of half-year-old seeds in five in-situ collected seed lots, while potential seed longevity (i.e., seed bank type) was estimated from repeatedly germinating subsamples from four ex-situ collected seed lots for 3–8 years. Plant survival, flowering, and seed production were studied in different light-, irrigation-, and competition conditions in a botanical garden experiment. We found that 1) half-year-old seeds have a high germination capacity (78–100%), 2) and high level of physical dormancy (72–100%) in all examined Hungarian populations, and 3) the seeds can preserve their germination capacity for more than five years, although their viability sharply decreases, probably falling below 10% within ten years, when they are stored at room temperature. The results of the botanical garden experiment suggested that 1) the species is annual, not biennial; 2) it shows strong sensitivity to precipitation and low competitiveness for water; and 3) it can produce hundreds of seeds even in suboptimal (dry or shady) conditions. Although the species was found to be well-adapted to a temporally heterogeneous environment, its future vulnerability can increase depending on the duration of dry seasons. Further investigation of genetic diversity and soil seed bank is needed to estimate the actual vulnerability of the species while strengthening the populations through seed sowing, and additional vegetation control in the habitats is suggested. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 7 Dec 2023 12:04:39 +0200
  • Spatial distribution of sand dunes along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast:
           inventory, UAS mapping and new discoveries

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 54: 81-120
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.54.105507
      Authors : Bogdan Prodanov, Lyubomir Dimitrov, Iliyan Kotsev, Radoslava Bekova, Todor Lambev : Coastal sand dunes are amongst the world’s most sensitive and dynamic landforms. Unfortunately, during the last thirty years, heavy anthropogenic alterations have been observed, encompassing the greater part of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast (BBSC), which has changed the land-sea interactions significantly. As a consequence, the depositional coast has shrunk to 131 km or 25% of the aggregate Bulgarian Black Sea shoreline length. Although our research reveals that 86% of BBSC dunes are included in the Natura 2000 network of protected sites established under the Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC 1992), they are often heavily modified, subjected to environmental vandalism and destroyed due to mismanagement or lack of accurate information and prevention. These facts were the main reason for carrying out an inventory of the Bulgarian Black Sea coastal dune systems in 2021-2022. Our research aimed to identify all dune systems/sand dunes, update their spatial distribution and classify the observed coastal sand dunes landforms along the BBSC. The article demonstrates a successful methodology for combining unmanned aerial systems (UAS), Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetry, in situ sediment sampling, video imaging and verification and GNSS-RTK ground control points for coastal mapping. As of June 2022, over 97% of the Bulgarian shoreline has been surveyed with this technique, excluding military areas and national security sites. Based on the acquired data, as of 2021, the shoreline length was estimated to be 518.7 km at a scale 1:5000. The integrated UAS approach includes using Digital surface models (DSM), raster orthophotomosaics (OM) and 3D models, based on SfM photogrammetry to analyse the coastal topography, detect dune forms and update their spatial distribution. Throughout the inventory, 46 beach-dune systems were identified along the BBSC, which were divided into 62 dune sectors. The area of coastal dune systems was estimated at 988.21 ha (0.0089% of Bulgaria) and a total length of 73 km (14% of the shoreline). A comprehensive geomorphological analysis of the relationships between landforms morphology, aeolian and morphodynamic processes, vegetation density and type was the basis for the coastal dune landforms (CDLs) or dune systems to be classified into primary (312 ha; 32%) and secondary (676 ha; 68%). Additionally, the CDLs were classified according to Natura 2000 habitats: fixed (grey) dunes (546.27 ha; 55.28%), wooded dunes (222.61 ha; 22.53%), shifting (white) dunes (150.30 ha; 15.21%), embryonic dunes (68.3 ha; 6.91%) and humid dune slacks (0.94 ha; 0.09%). The highest positioned CDLs on the Balkan Peninsula were registered at perched Sozopol Sand Dunes (61 m a.s.l.) and cliff-top dunes at Arkutino (50.2 m a.s.l.). The multi-temporal analysis of photogrammetric DSMs and raster OMs showed the permanent loss of five dune systems in the Pomorie-Burgas-Rosenets coastal sector. The accrued UAS data approach allowed us to identify and map eight dune systems for the first time: Zlatni Pyasatsi (Panorama), Asparuhovo (Varna), Byala, Atanasovska Kosa, Central Beach (Burgas), Chernomorets, Kavatsite (partly) and Rezovo-Kastrich. A high anthropogenic footprint was registered on 50.7 ha (5.1%) of the entire dune surface. In the final stage of the study, human interventions that caused degradation and permanent loss of dunes (12 ha) over the last 15 years along the BBSC were shown. The main causes for dune degradation along BBSC have been documented, such as massive tourism development after the socialist period, road construction, recreational pressure exerted on the dunes, human trampling, lack of designated footpaths in areas with fixed and mobile dunes, off-road vehicles and parking lots (especially at camping sites), dumping of garbage and anthropogenic marine litter on the sand dunes etc. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 5 Dec 2023 15:31:45 +0200
  • Effects of anthropogenic and environmental stressors on the current
           status of red mullet (Mullus barbatus L., 1758) populations inhabiting the
           Bulgarian Black Sea waters

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 54: 55-79
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.54.103758
      Authors : Ivelina Zlateva, Violin Raykov, Albena Alexandrova, Petya Ivanova, Nesho Chipev, Kremena Stefanova, Nina Dzhembekova, Valentina Doncheva, Violeta Slabakova, Elitsa Stefanova, Svetlana Mihova, Nadezhda Valcheva, Ognyana Hristova, Boryana Dzhurova, Dimitar Dimitrov, Almira Georgieva, Elina Tsvetanova, Madlena Andreeva, Ivan Popov, Mariya Yankova, Yordan Raev, Konstantin Petrov : The red mullet (Mullus barbatus Linnaeus, 1758) is a keynote species for the Bulgarian Black Sea ecosystem and fisheries; nevertheless, existing knowledge on population status is very scarce. The present study was intended to assess the health status and adaptive potential of M. barbatus populations inhabiting the Bulgarian waters of the Black Sea. Our findings revealed that populations of M. barbatus are exposed to a variety of anthropogenic and environmental stressors. The species’ status was assessed using representative genetic, morphological, biochemical and chemical biomarkers from specimens obtained in the research area’s northern and southern regions. Based on mtDNA markers, genetic analysis revealed low haplotype and nucleotide diversity, typically observed in overexploited or “threatened” populations. Examining the morphology of the specimens revealed no discernible pattern of differentiation. Except for aluminium and chrome, metal and PAH concentrations in fish were below the regulatory thresholds. The specimens from the southern region ingested more microplastics than those from the northern region. The majority of specimens collected from the southern region also exhibited elevated levels of oxidative stress and decreased antioxidant defence, which can be interpreted as an early indication that they had reached the limits of their adaptive potential. Further research on the composite effects of the stressogenic environment on the Black Sea biota are critically needed, as well as the introduction of new indicators and thresholds at molecular and cellular levels for adequate monitoring of both the ecological state of the marine environment and its biota. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 5 Dec 2023 10:22:16 +0200
  • A baseline assessment of anthropogenic macrolitter on dunes along the

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 54: 13-54
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.54.111350
      Authors : Bogdan Prodanov, Radoslava Bekova : Beach-dune systems are among the most dynamic and sensitive elements of coastal ecosystems in the world. They represent an intersection between human activities, flora, fauna and economic interests in tourism. The Bulgarian Black Sea shoreline spans 518.7 km and comprises 131 km (25%) of the depositional coast, including beaches and 46 dune systems. Over the past three decades, heavy anthropogenic impacts have been observed, significantly altering the cleanliness of the beach-dune systems along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast (BBSC). The research initially began as an initial assessment of macrolitter on dunes (MLD) using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). However, due to concerning data obtained in the first year, it transitioned into a mid-term monitoring program conducted between 2018 and 2022. The baseline assessment is based on a visual census, UAS mapping and manual image screening procedure in a GIS environment for litter mapping in 40 areas of litter monitoring (ALMs) along the Bulgarian Coast. Throughout the five-year monitoring period, the most abundant type of MLD was “Artificial polymer materials,” accounting for 83.4% of the total number, followed by “Paper/Cardboard” (6.2%), “Glass/Ceramics” (2.8%), “Metal” (2.8%), “Processed/Worked wood” (1.83%), “Rubber” (1.29%), and “Cloth/Textile” (1.17%). Generally, 95% of the total litter amount was assessed from Land-based sources and 5% from Sea-based sources. The COVID-19 pandemic indirectly affected the cleanliness of the Bulgarian dunes due to restrictions on foreign travel, which increased the domestic tourist pressure on the Bulgarian beaches, resulting in a more significant amount of waste accumulating on the beaches and dunes. The abundance experienced an increase of 39% between 2018 and 2021. A similar upward trend (+41%) was observed in the density of macrolitter on the dunes. Based on visual census data, the average density was estimated to be 0.54 ± 0.35 items/m2. The spatial distribution of MLD is a complex combination of anthropogenic impact and wind processes that affect various eco-geomorphological elements of the beach-dune system. The embryonic dunes retained only 16% of the total items (Dav: 0.32 ± 0.12 items/m2). The highest litter density was registered on the foredunes (Dav: 0.71 ± 0.21 items/m2; 28% of total items). The backdunes contained the highest litter abundance, accounting for 55% in larger areas (Dav:0.59 items/m2). Density litter maps established that dune vegetation acted as a natural trap, retaining 40% more macrolitter compared to areas without dune plants. A Clean Dune Index (CDI) was developed to evaluate the cleanliness of Bulgarian dunes. Based on aggregated CDI data for 2018–2022, the cleanliness of the dunes along the Bulgarian Coast was categorised as “moderate” (CDIav:10.89). Dune systems near the most visited resorts were classified as “extremely dirty”, with the highest CDI values recorded at Kavatsite (27.22), Nessebar – South (25.01), Bolata (24.69), Asparuhovo - Varna (24.33) and Slanchev bryag (24.09). On the other hand, the dune systems at Ropotamo and Lipite were rated with the lowest CDI – 0.95 and 1.2. Dunes are sensitive habitats and require minimal anthropogenic impact, which requires the intensification of the use of high-resolution remote sensing methods for litter mapping. The quality of the presented data and the results obtained outline drones as a future primary tool for beach and dune surveys. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 5 Dec 2023 10:09:02 +0200
  • Morphological and genetic characteristics of garfish Belone belone (L.,
           1760) (Belonidae, Teleostei) population from the southern Bulgarian Black
           Sea coast

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 54: 1-12
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.54.113071
      Authors : Maria Yankova, Violin Raykov, Petya Ivanova, Nina Dzhembekova, Cemal Turan, Yordan Raev : This study was conducted to investigate genetic and some morphometric and meristic characteristics of garfish Belone belone from Nesebar in the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Twelve morphometric characters were measured, and six meristic characters were counted for each individual. Based on both sexes’ morphological and meristic analyses, no statistically significant sexual differences were observed. Additionally, DNA barcoding was done. The fragment of the cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene of mitochondrial DNA was sequenced to supplement the species identification and population diversity study. Two haplotypes were found out of 39 sequences, indicating a low level of haplotype diversity (0.146±0.072). Nucleotide diversity was also found to be low (0.00023±0.00011). The Nesebar population of B. belone requires conservation efforts, due to the highly decreased mtDNA genetic diversity. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 5 Dec 2023 10:03:31 +0200
  • Small reserve but high diversity: butterfly community across an
           altitudinal gradient in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 321-340
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.113052
      Authors : Andrêsa G. Andrade, Cássio Cardoso Pereira, Vinícius F. Sperandei, Tatiana Cornelissen : The present study aimed to describe the composition of the butterfly community in relation to the altitudinal gradient in the Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural (RPPN) Alto-Montana, Serra da Mantiqueira, Minas Gerais, Brazil, and to provide a list of species for the area. We collected samples in the RPPN Alto-Montana along an altitudinal gradient from 1400 to 2100 m, between the dry and rainy seasons of 2018 and 2019. During this period, the sampling method utilizing Van-Someren Rydon traps totaled 3,936 hours and the effort using sweep nets totaled 246 hours. A total of 1,253 butterflies distributed across 124 species and six families of diurnal butterflies were observed (Hesperiidae, Lycaenidae, Nymphalidae, Papilionidae, Pieridae, and Riodinidae). Nymphalidae was the most representative family, followed by Hesperiidae, Pieridade, Lycaenidae, Papilionidae and Riodinidae. Moreover, we recorded 37 species with only one individual (singletons) and 20 species with only two individuals (doubletons), totalling 57 species, which corresponds to 46% of all sampled richness. The rarefaction curve did not reveal a tendency toward stabilization. However, the indices showed slightly higher values for the 124 species sampled. The analysis performed using the Bootstrap estimator predicted a total of 143.22 species (± 10.87 SE), with a further 19 additional species than observed. Chao 1 predicted 153.42 (± 11.82 SE), and Jackknife 1 predicted 164.00 (± 16.29 SE) species, with 29 and 40 additional species than the observed, respectively. Our study contributes to the knowledge of butterfly biodiversity in Serra da Mantiqueira and reveals a high species richness for the RPPN Alto Montana, especially considering the relatively small area. In addition, our study provides the first inventory of butterflies for the RPPN Alto Montana, thus supporting further studies investigating the butterfly richness in the Serra da Mantiqueira region. Finally, our findings of endemic, rare, and endangered butterfly species highlight the relevance of further conservation strategies to be considered for the Protected Area’s Management Plan. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Wed, 29 Nov 2023 17:53:41 +020
  • Corrigendum: Using drone imagery to obtain population data of
           colony-nesting seabirds to support Canada’s transition to the global Key
           Biodiversity Areas program. Nature Conservation 51: 155–166. doi:

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 319-320
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.113548
      Authors : Lindsay A. R. Lalach, David W. Bradley, Douglas F. Bertram, Louise K. Blight : HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Mon, 20 Nov 2023 10:18:12 +020
  • Distribution, conservation assessment and management perspectives of
           Chilean micro-snails of the family Charopidae

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 297-317
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.100631
      Authors : Gonzalo A. Collado, Nataly Flores, Marcela A. Vidal, Cristian Torres-Díaz, Moisés A. Valladares : The biodiversity of molluscs is highly threatened in marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems worldwide. This research aimed at studying the distribution and conservation status of eight poorly-known micro-snails of the genera Stephacharopa and Stephadiscus in Chile. We performed a comprehensive review of literature and databases to determine the occurrences of the species, which were mapped on vector layers containing protected areas and human development infrastructure to find potential threats. Conservation status assessment was performed following the criteria and tools implemented by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and NatureServe. We also conducted species distribution models, based on maximum entropy, to identify areas that should be prioritised for conservation. Two species meet the criteria for IUCN listing as Critically Endangered (CR), four Endangered (EN), one Vulnerable (Vu) and one Least Concern (LC). This classification is rather coincident with equivalent categories obtained under the NatureServe standard, in which two species were ranked as Critically Imperiled (N1), five Imperiled (N2) and one Vulnerable (N3). We found that Stephacharopa paposensis is the most at-risk species, with only one occurrence not included in a protected area, followed by Stephadiscus stuardoi, with two occurrences, one of them within a protected area. Stephadiscus lyratus was the species with the greatest geographic range, accounting for 17 occurrences, seven matching a protected area. We found wider potential ranges in modelled species that may be useful for prioritising conservation measures. Considering distributional data, protected areas and more than 20 plausible threats identified, we propose potential in situ and ex situ conservation actions to protect these neglected micro-snails. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Wed, 25 Oct 2023 15:48:30 +030
  • Analysis of the effects of habitat characteristics, human disturbance
           and prey on felids presence using long-term community monitoring

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 279-295
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.104135
      Authors : J. Roberto Sosa-López, Nydia Nicté Díaz Bernal, Eugenio Padilla, Miguel Briones-Salas : Predator species are essential for ecosystems as they maintain the ecological integrity of the habitat. Particularly, felids populations have declined globally due to their sensitivity to habitat disturbances. Nevertheless, in Mexico, there are areas protected by indigenous communities to preserve a portion of their territory, benefiting multiple species, including felids. Although the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas of Mexico sponsors a long-term national-wide communal monitoring programme using camera traps, there is not a systematic analysis of the information generated by the programme. We assessed the occurrence of three felids species known to occur in a Zapotec indigenous community conservation area in Oaxaca, Mexico. Specifically, we evaluated how habitat characteristics, human disturbance and prey influence felids’ occurrence across the protected area. None of the variables explained better than the null model the proportion of sites used by Pumas (Puma concolor). Bobcats and Margays favour areas with medium-sized prey. Our study shows the importance of community-based monitoring and information systems (CBMIS) for identifying communal reserve characteristics that contribute to the occupation of carnivores. Further, our results also suggest that management should consider the habitat requirements of felids´ prey. By understanding wildlife habitat use, communal authorities could improve sustainable forest management within the reserves. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 17 Oct 2023 15:20:02 +030
  • Hydrological regime and forest development have indirect effects on
           soil fauna feeding activity in Central European hardwood floodplain

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 257-278
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.106260
      Authors : Nicole Scheunemann, David J. Russell : Soil fauna act as regulators of decomposition processes via their feeding activity, thereby playing an important role in regulating carbon cycling and sequestration. Hardwood floodplain forests are critically endangered habitats, but strongly contribute to carbon sequestration in Central Europe. In the present study, within a floodplain forest-development programme, we investigated the feeding activity of soil fauna via the Bait Lamina test in hardwood floodplain forests of the middle Elbe River in Germany in sites with different hydrological regimes and forest-development stages, with neighbouring grassland sites for comparison. While statistically significant differences in overall feeding activity between general hydrological regimes or forest development stages were not found, decreases in feeding activity with soil depth were strongly modulated by these factors, indicating more unfavourable conditions for soil fauna at increasing soil depth due to, e.g., anoxic conditions in floodplains of tributaries or low soil moisture content below the shallow rooting zone of grasslands. Registered effects of soil texture on soil fauna feeding activity were dependent on forest-tree density, and combined effects indicate that soil-fauna feeding activity varies with soil temperature during spring, but with soil moisture in early autumn. In conclusion, our results highlight the importance of the current abiotic conditions on soil-fauna feeding activities in floodplain forests, i.e. soil temperature, moisture and ground water level. Hydrological regime and forest development have a strong impact on the effect of these conditions, indirectly affecting soil fauna feeding activity and highlighting the multifactorial influence on soil fauna functional activity to be considered in floodplain-forest restoration programs. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 29 Sep 2023 16:15:03 +030
  • An analysis of the inter-state similarity of the herpetofaunas of
           Mexican states

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 223-256
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.106732
      Authors : Julio A. Lemos-Espinal, Geoffrey R. Smith : Mexico is a megadiverse country with high amphibian and reptile richness. Understanding how Mexico’s herpetofauna is shared among Mexican states can contribute to developing conservation plans by figuring out which states may need to coordinate conservation actions. We generated species lists for the herpetofauna for all Mexican states, and used hierarchical clustering analyses to identify clusters of states on the basis of amphibian and reptile species separately. We also calculated pair-wise Jaccard distances for all Mexican states for amphibians, reptiles, and physiographic provinces and estimated the length of shared borders between states and the geographic (straight-line) distance between the centroids of pairs of states. We used these data to explore potential drivers of the cluster analysis results. Our cluster analysis for amphibians identified five clusters with nine subclusters, and for reptiles, resulted in four clusters with six subclusters. In general, the clusters for Mexican amphibians and reptiles have a similar composition of states. However, for amphibians, the states of Veracruz and Puebla form a cluster separate from a large cluster of northeastern Mexican states, whereas in reptiles Veracruz and Puebla cluster with northeastern Mexican states. Jaccard distances of amphibians and reptiles were highly, positively correlated. Both amphibian and reptile Jaccard distances were positively correlated with the physiographic provinces’ Jaccard distance and shared border length and negatively correlated with the distance between centroids. Taken together, our results suggest that the pattern of the sharing of herpetofaunal species among Mexican states is a consequence of the states’ proximity. Such a pattern is consistent with the underlying driver being the similarity of physiographic provinces (i.e., habitats and ecosystems) of these states (i.e., geographic proximity likely reflects, at least in large part, ecological similarity). Our results suggest clusters of states that should coordinate the conservation and management of their herpetofaunas. For example, clusters of states in southern Mexico share a high number of threatened amphibian species and clusters of states in northern Mexico share a high number of threatened reptile species. Oaxaca is also a state that has a unique herpetofauna and a high number of threatened species of both amphibians and reptiles. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Mon, 25 Sep 2023 18:32:40 +030
  • Conserving the threatened woody vegetation on dune slopes: Monitoring
           the decline and designing adaptive strategies for restoration

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 165-182
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.106406
      Authors : Amin U. Khan, Asad Abbas, Faiza Sharif, Asma Mansoor, Zafar Siddiq : The southern tip of the Thal desert in Pakistan harbors the remnants of the original tropical thorn forest, amounting to two percent, which covered the province of Punjab a hundred years ago. In the past three decades, there has been a progressive decline in woody species cover on dunes, which is directly related to the increase in population in the surrounding area. Stabilized and destabilized dunes were subjectively selected followed by quantification of cover and diversity of woody species on the top and lower slopes. Dunes closely resembling the overall cover were grouped to suggest corresponding restoration measures. The results suggest that trends of decrease in cover and diversity of woody species were evident in the upper slopes of some stabilized dunes having less than 50% cover. The destabilized dunes with less than 20% cover are highly vulnerable to erosion. A general trend observed among dunes was that with a decrease in the cover of upper slopes, there is a decrease in the cover on lower slopes. The number of destabilized dunes is increasing without effective restoration measures against the prevailing trends of disturbances. Ranking dunes on the basis of cover could help in proposing simple restoration measures as a first step towards developing an understanding of designing adaptive strategies to restore the woody cover. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 5 Sep 2023 16:11:15 +0300
  • Assessment of the threat status of reptile species from Vietnam -
           Implementation of the One Plan Approach to Conservation

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 183-221
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.106923
      Authors : Lilli Stenger, Anke Große Hovest, Truong Quang Nguyen, Cuong The Pham, Anna Rauhaus, Minh Duc Le, Dennis Rödder, Thomas Ziegler : Since the world is currently in the midst of a major biodiversity crisis, scientists have assigned high conservation priority to 36 biodiversity hotspots around the world. As part of one of the leading hotspots in terms of species richness and local endemism, Vietnam is considered a country with high conservation priority. The reptile fauna of Vietnam is known for its high level of diversity and an outstanding number of endemic species. Vietnamese reptiles are highly threatened due to habitat loss and overharvesting for domestic and international trade, traditional medicine and food, making them a group of great conservation concern. As a baseline for improved reptile conservation in Vietnam, we conducted a conservation assessment of Vietnamese reptile species by evaluating data from a variety of sources. Our study results show that approximately 32.9% (n = 159) of the total reptile species (n = 484) present in Vietnam are endemic to the country, of which more than half are only known from their type locality and about one-third restricted to a particular subregion, making the species particularly vulnerable to threats. Furthermore, 33.5% (n = 53) of 158 endemic taxa included in the protected area analysis have not yet been recorded from any protected area. Among all 418 Vietnamese reptile species listed on the IUCN Red List, 17.7% (n = 74) are threatened with extinction, 46.0% (n = 34) of the total 74 threatened species are endemic to Vietnam. The fact that 135 species are either listed as DD or have not yet been evaluated by the IUCN highlights the urgency of further research. Moreover, only very few species are protected by national or international legislation, and further assessments are needed to protect reptiles of particular concern. A Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) analysis revealed that 22.5% (n = 109) of all reptiles occurring in Vietnam and only 6.3% (n = 10) of the endemic Vietnamese reptiles are currently kept in zoos worldwide. Although 60.8% (n = 45) of the threatened reptiles (n = 74) from Vietnam are currently held in zoos, only 23.5 (n = 8) of the endemic threatened species (n = 34) are held there. Following the IUCN CPSG`s One Plan Approach to Conservation, it is therefore recommended to increase the number of threatened and endemic species in breeding stations and zoos to maintain assurance populations, suitable for restocking measures. Despite ongoing efforts in Vietnam, further conservation measures are required. We therefore also identify areas of highest reptile diversity and with the largest number of threatened species and provide a list of 50 most threatened species (10% of total species) as a guide for further research and conservation action in Vietnam. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 5 Sep 2023 10:32:53 +0300
  • Has climate change hijacked the environmental agenda'

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 157-164
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.110961
      Authors : Cássio Cardoso Pereira, Daniel Negreiros, Milton Barbosa, Fernando Figueiredo Goulart, Rodrigo de Loyola Dias, Maria Clara Melillo, Flávio Camarota, Mariana Antunes Pimenta, Marina Cruz, Geraldo Wilson Fernandes : Since the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), decision-makers have realised that periodic assessments were needed to closely monitor climate change. Studies on it became widespread and include the science of greenhouse gas emissions, the composition of these gases and the extent to which humans have been responsible for climate change. In this sense, the United Nations summit has made significant progress since the Rio Conference (Eco 92), with the creation of the Conference of the Parties (COPs). However, governments should not solely focus on curbing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. In a society with broad and deep environmental problems, governments, the private sector and non-governmental organisations’ (NGOs) efforts should include biodiversity conservation in their agenda. Solving a single problem, the climate crisis is honourable and urgently needed, but to constrain our ever-increasing land-use footprints on the planet needs the tackling of another equally challenging problem, the loss of biodiversity. The destruction of ecosystems undermines nature’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and protect against extreme weather, thus accelerating climate change and increasing our vulnerability to it. Therefore, tackling environmental challenges means more than building electric cars, investing in “clean” energy and imposing fines on those who burn forests. To save the environment, scientists, industry, policy-makers and the wider society urgently need to look at other aspects of ecosystem conservation and restoration in the same way they look at the climate agenda. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 5 Sep 2023 08:50:12 +0300
  • Dynamic change of habitat quality and its key driving factors in
           Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 125-155
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.102810
      Authors : Ding Wang, Haiguang Hao, Hao Liu, Lihui Sun, Yuyang Li : Habitat quality reflects the level of biodiversity, and habitat maintenance functions are related to human well-being and ecosystem stability. Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is a typical ecologically fragile region in Western China with complex human-nature relationships. Maintaining good habitat is not only a fundamental requirement for biodiversity conservation but also a necessary path for sustainable regional development. In this study, we assessed and analysed the spatial and temporal patterns and changes in habitat quality in Ningxia from 2000 to 2020, and explored the driving factors of habitat quality using a geographically weighted regression (GWR) model. The results indicated: (1) The overall habitat quality level in Ningxia was low to intermediate, with an upwards and then downwards trend during the past 20 years, showing a small change in overall magnitude. (2) The high- and higher-level habitat quality patches in Ningxia were mainly distributed in areas with high vegetation cover, such as the Helan Mountain and Liupan Mountain. The patches of moderate-level habitat quality mainly included cultivated land, while the low- and lower-level patches were mainly distributed in areas subjected to more frequent human activities, such as cultivated land and construction land. (3) The spatial and temporal distribution patterns and changes in habitat quality in Ningxia from 2000 to 2020 were mainly influenced by fractional vegetation cover (FVC), soil moisture content (SMC), proportion of construction land area (PCL), and proportion of cultivated land area (CLP). Among them, FVC and SMC were positive driving factors, and PCL and CLP were negative driving factors. The results support that increasing vegetation cover and reducing anthropogenic disturbance to natural habitats are important measures to maintain fragile habitats and that key ecological function areas such as nature reserves are crucial for habitat quality protection in ecologically fragile areas. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Wed, 16 Aug 2023 18:14:44 +030
  • Performance of SNP markers for parentage analysis in the Italian Alpine
           brown bear using non-invasive samples

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 105-123
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.86739
      Authors : Patrizia Giangregorio, Nadia Mucci, Anita J. Norman, Luca Pedrotti, Stefano Filacorda, Paolo Molinari, Göran Spong, Francesca Davoli : Determination of parentage provides valuable information for the conservation of wild populations, for instance, by allowing the monitoring of breeding success and inbreeding. Between 1999 and 2002, nine brown bears (Ursus arctos) were translocated to augment the remnant population of a few surviving individuals in the Italian Alps, but only part of them reproduced, with a higher inbreeding risk occurrence in the long-time. Currently, in the Alpine population, parentage tests are assessed through the analysis of 15 microsatellite loci (STRs), but the reduction of genetic variability in future generations will need the use of additional informative markers. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been proven to be useful and reliable in individual identification and family reconstruction; moreover, they can perform well on low-quality samples. In this study, we analysed 51 SNPs to generate a SNP multilocus genotype dataset of 54 Alpine brown bears (Ursus arctos) and compared its performance in parentage analysis with the validated STR dataset. We found that SNPs alone are not sufficient to determine parentage relationships, but the combination of SNPs and STRs provided unambiguous parentage assignments. The combined panel also performed better than STRs when true parents were not present in the dataset and, consequently, showed higher values of assignment probabilities. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Thu, 10 Aug 2023 16:22:39 +030
  • Hope is the last thing lost: Colombian captive-bred population of the
           critically endangered Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius) is a
           genetic reservoir that could help to save the species from extinction

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 85-103
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.104000
      Authors : Ana M. Saldarriaga-Gómez, María Cristina Ardila-Robayo, Federico Medem, Mario Vargas-Ramírez : A purpose of ex-situ populations is the preservation of genetic variation, but this is a challenging task since genetic diversity is commonly lost through each generation, and so the establishment of management guidelines should be a high priority. Fifty years ago, the National University of Colombia began a breeding program in the Roberto Franco Tropical Station (in Villavicencio, Meta) to conserve the critically endangered Orinoco crocodile Crocodylus intermedius. Despite the large number of individuals raised and kept in captivity, the Station has not been able to release individuals due to a lack of a complete genetic characterization that could determine whether the population is genetically viable. In this study we used a panel of 17 microsatellite loci to overcome this problem. We estimated from the founder animals and the live crocodiles the inbreeding, heterozygosities, the number of alleles, and their richness, and frequencies to understand the effects of managing a captive breeding program without considering genetic profiles. Our results revealed that the living population maintains much of its founder diversity with high levels of heterozygosity and low overall inbreeding, making it suitable for maintaining captive breeding and for implementing wild releases. We estimated the individual genetic diversity of the living crocodiles, as well as their relationships. This information, combined with the size, sex, and location, allowed us to propose combinations and to restructure the breeding groups. We demonstrated that molecular data could be used to improve the management of ex-situ conservation programs well beyond what could be achieved with pedigree information alone. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Mon, 24 Jul 2023 10:27:08 +030
  • Coastal beaver, Chinook, coho, chum salmon and trout response to
           nearshore changes resulting from diking and large-scale dam removals:
           synergistic ecosystem engineering and restoration in the coastal zone

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 61-83
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.85421
      Authors : J. Anne Shaffer, Dave Parks, Katrina Campbell, Anna Moragne, Bligh Hueske, Pamela Adams, Jenise M. Bauman : In this paper we assess long-term trends and habitat changes to understand the relationships between coastal beaver (Castor canadensis), salmon, shoreline alterations, large-scale dam removals and nearshore ecological restoration. From this work we conclude that the removal of two large scale dams in the Elwha River has benefited beaver use of the coastal zone through water quality changes that allow beaver to re-establish high-quality zones and the expansion of riparian zones that provide extensive new food resources to beaver. However, the lower river hydrodynamic processes continue to be disrupted by a 200-meter earthen dike installed by local government and landowners for flood protection in the Elwha coastal zone in the 1960’s. The dike acts as a driver of lower river geomorphology and has resulted in the formation of a large and persistent lateral bar along the lower river channel. Associated disrupted hydrodynamics are causing a critical coastal zone of the unimpounded lower river side channels to fill in. This channel habitat has decreased by 23%, with an annual average shrinkage rate of 13%, from pre-dam removal size, resulting in a decrease in both quality and quantity of nursery function for juvenile wild fish in a coastal zone that was historically documented to be the highest functioning for endangered juvenile salmon and trout. Inversely, physical changes including improved water quality in the adjacent impounded west side channel and continued expansion of riparian vegetation along the west delta lateral bar benefitted coastal beaver that recolonized the west delta after dam removals. The newly colonized coastal beaver may provide ecological engineering services to offset side channel loss as well as promote continued fish access. However recreational use was found to negatively impact beaver use of the area. We therefore recommend a series of additional ecosystem restoration actions that incorporate beaver as an ecosystem restoration component of the coastal zone. These actions include a public outreach program to encourage passive recreation measures to prevent negative impacts to beaver, and legacy, ecosystem scale restoration projects that reconnect the hydrodynamics of the west delta to complete Elwha ecosystem restoration. Together, these steps, if implemented, will result in a synergistic ecosystem restoration throughout the watershed to the benefit of the coastal ecosystem, including both beaver and salmon, as intended by the large-scale dam removal project. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Tue, 18 Jul 2023 18:07:55 +030
  • First exhaustive distribution and habitat modelling of Morimus asper
           (Sulzer, 1776) sensu lato (Coleoptera, Cerambycidae) in Bulgaria

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 39-59
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.104243
      Authors : Rumyana Kostova, Rostislav Bekchiev, Georgi Popgeorgiev, Yurii V. Kornilev : Although Morimus asper, in particular the ssp. funereus, is considered as widespread throughout Bulgaria, a current national mapping of the species is missing. Thus, here we present the first exhaustive study on the distribution of M. asper in Bulgaria. Our research combined 967 georeferenced presence records from scientific publications, from the museum collection of the National Museum of Natural History-BAS, as well as authors’ and citizen scientists’ field observations. An Ecological Niche Model (ENM) was generated using software MaxEnt to identify the potential distribution of the species based on niche suitability. The potentially suitable area for the species was 26% of Bulgaria (29 059 km2). The main predictor variables in M. asper’s ENM assessed by а Jackknife test were the distance to mixed Fagus-Carpinus forests, the mean forest age, the mean tree height, the maximal temperature during the hottest month and the altitude. The percentage contribution to the model of the first two variables was also the largest – respectively 40% and 11%. The remaining variables contributed less than 10% each. Furthermore, we recommend some changes to the current species monitoring methodology to the National Biodiversity Monitoring System. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 7 Jul 2023 11:20:13 +0300
  • Effect of ecological restoration on topsoil phosphorus following
           afforestation on abandoned ponds in northern Chaohu Lake, China

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 1-16
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.97873
      Authors : Gang Li, Shengming Dong, Hao Wang, Yanmei Guan, Patrick Tyler Deja, Wei Nie : Afforestation is an approach for ecological restoration. Soil total phosphorus is one of the important ecological and evolutionary elements for carbon cycles and plant growth following afforestation. However, studies on soil total phosphorus of afforestation on abandoned ponds with different slopes are still lacking. Soil total phosphorus and other soil properties from afforestation sites with different slopes were investigated. Soil total phosphorus, total nitrogen, bulk density, soil water contents and pH of poplar (Populus spp.) plantation sites (Slope 1) with a steep slope and pond cypress (Taxodium spp.) plantation sites (Slope 2) with a flat slope were determined. Soil total nitrogen stocks, soil total phosphorus stocks and the ratio of soil total nitrogen to total phosphorus (N:P) were calculated. Results showed that soil bulk density, soil water content, total phosphorus, total phosphorus stocks and total nitrogen stocks of three soil layers at Slope 1 were significantly lower than those of Slope 2. N:P of Slope 1 was significantly higher, but no significant difference of total nitrogen and pH were found between the two sampling sites. Soil bulk density, soil water content and total nitrogen had significant positive relationships with both total phosphorus and total phosphorus stocks. No obvious correlation was found between pH and total phosphorus or total phosphorus stocks. Redundancy analysis (RDA analysis) suggested that soil water content and bulk density had the most important individual effect on total phosphorus and total phosphorus stocks with values at 59.3% and 59.5%, respectively. It is recommended that afforestation on a flat or gentle slope rather than on a steep gradient could be helpful for accumulation of soil total phosphorus and phosphorus stocks and could decrease the risk of soil phosphorus loss, when afforestation is used for ecological restoration. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 16 Jun 2023 14:41:56 +030
  • Promoting private forests for biodiversity conservation and ecosystems
           restoration in the Sahel region

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 53: 17-38
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.53.99313
      Authors : Karafa Bognini, Loyapin Bondé, Sié Sylvestre Da, Abisha Mapendembe, Roch Yao Gnabeli : Private forests have the potential to mitigate biodiversity loss and improve community livelihoods. However, information on the socio-ecological factors that drive their establishment and long-term management are limited. This study aimed to narrow this gap by assessing the potential of privately-owned forests in conserving biodiversity and supporting the livelihoods of communities in northern Burkina Faso. Floristic data were collected within 26 plots (900 m2 each) equally distributed between private Gourga forest, established in 1980) and its adjacent communal areas. Sixty-three (63) private landowners were interviewed in order to underpin their motivations and associated traditional knowledge and a stakeholder’s workshop was conducted to develop conservation models for private forests and participatory implementation roadmap. Findings revealed that species richness was 132 in the Gourga forest and 85 in the communal areas, highlighting the importance of private forest in species conservation. Local communities recognized the provisioning (36.46%), regulating (28.46%) and supporting (22.48%) of ecosystem services provided by the Gourga forest as motivating factors. The main barriers to their establishment and management include lack of financial resources (35%), scarce lands (26%) and human pressures (8%). The implementation of private forests will need to be supported by the enactment of a secure land tenure policy, as well as payment for ecosystem services (PES) policies, incentivizing locals. We suggest decision makers mainstream privately-owned lands into national conservation strategies and design incentives policies to motivate local communities’ engagement. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Fri, 16 Jun 2023 14:15:23 +030
  • The scale of the problem: understanding the demand for medicinal
           pangolin products in China

    • Abstract: Nature Conservation 52: 47-61
      DOI : 10.3897/natureconservation.52.95916
      Authors : Yifu Wang, Samuel T. Turvey, Nigel Leader-Williams : Wildlife conservationists are increasingly concerned about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) due to the demands it places on many threatened species. In particular, pangolin populations in both Asia and Africa have experienced drastic declines driven by illegal trade. However, few studies have attempted to determine the level of this demand for traded species. In this study, we use social science approaches to investigate the pangolin scale trade within China, based upon interviews with informants from hospitals and pharmaceutical shops in two Chinese provinces (Henan and Hainan). Doctors from 41 hospitals and shop owners or shop assistants from 134 pharmaceutical shops were interviewed between October 2016 and April 2017. We show that pangolin scales are under heavy demand and products are available in 34% of the shops and 66% of the hospitals included in this study. Sale quantities were found to vary substantially amongst sellers and no significant factors were found to correlate with sale quantity. Moreover, quantities of products traded by permitted legal sellers are estimated to greatly exceed the supply capacity of legal sources. There is an urgent need to reduce demand from TCM on pangolin scales and revise the current legal pangolin scale trade system. We also highlight the importance of incorporating the TCM sector into combating illegal wildlife trade and species conservation beyond pangolins. HTML XML PDF
      PubDate: Mon, 3 Apr 2023 15:17:32 +0300
  • 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
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