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Biological Conservation
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  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0006-3207
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3162 journals]
  • How reliable are your data' Verifying species identification of
           road-killed mammals recorded by road maintenance personnel in São Paulo
           State, Brazil
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 225Author(s): Fernanda D. Abra, Marcel P. Huijser, Camylla S. Pereira, Katia M.P.M.B. Ferraz Across the world, many wildlife studies rely on data collected by volunteers. Roadkill studies often rely on data collected by non-experts including road maintenance personnel and volunteers, but data quality control is rarely applied. We investigated whether maintenance personnel correctly identified the species of road-killed mammals along toll roads in São Paulo State, Brazil. We investigated 3222 images of road-killed animals and compared the original species descriptions by road maintenance personnel (non-experts) with our identification (experts). We also presented images of alive and road-killed mammals to road maintenance personnel (n = 179) and asked them to describe the species. We found that road maintenance personnel typically correctly identified certain common, large, or highly recognizable species. However, rare or rarely seen species, species that resemble other species (e.g. small wild canids and felids), or species that are not highly recognizable were often misidentified, ambiguously described, or not identified at all. We also found that the ability of road maintenance personnel to correctly identify the most common road-killed small wild canids and felids is dependent on the context. When similar species are rare, road maintenance personnel typically correctly identifies the most common road-killed small wild canids and felids. However, common small canids and felids are not reliably identified if similar species are more abundant. To improve the reliability of species identification by non-experts, we recommend training in species identification, including images with a scale to accompany all roadkill records, and verification of the roadkill records and associated images for selected species by experts.
       
  • A micro-spatial analysis of opportunities for IUU fishing in 23 Western
           African countries
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 225Author(s): Gohar A. Petrossian
       
  • Implementing a new approach to effective conservation of genetic
           diversity, with ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in the UK as a case study
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 225Author(s): Sean Hoban, Simon Kallow, Clare Trivedi Gene conservation programs help safeguard species and tangibly benefit ecological restoration, agriculture, forestry, and horticulture. Here we describe a new method for deciding which and how many populations and individuals to conserve ex situ, and we demonstrate the method by evaluating collections of European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) for an ongoing seed-banking project, the UK National Tree Seed Project (NTSP). The method uses simulations and geographic distribution data, and does not require (but can utilize) genetic data. We estimate that NTSP collections have captured>90% of all alleles and of locally common alleles. We identified optimal sampling solutions at large and small spatial scales, and for northern isolated vs. southern core populations. We also quantified genetic “points of diminishing returns” with a more precise method than previous studies. This analysis revealed that (for European ash, for a goal of capturing one copy of each allele) an optimal “stopping point” is approximately 35 populations, 10 to 30 trees per population, and 30 seeds per tree. Overall, we conclude that the NTSP protocol of random sampling of at least 15 trees per population from two populations per seed zone is effective. We demonstrated how collectors can adjust the number of populations, individuals and seeds sampled using the concept of “genetic equivalence”, allowing projects to accommodate practical or ecological constraints. Lastly we showed that for a conservation goal of 50 allele copies rather than one copy, a much larger sampling effort is needed (>150 populations). This new approach can be tailored to any species. It is applicable to any seed collection seeking to capture genetic diversity, as well as in situ gene conservation approaches. We emphasize that the ability to quantitatively estimate the outcome of gene conservation activities can help design, justify, or evaluate future programs.
       
  • Impacts of selective logging management on butterflies in the Amazon
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 225Author(s): Gabriela Montejo-Kovacevich, Matthew G. Hethcoat, Felix K.S. Lim, Charles J. Marsh, Dayana Bonfantti, Carlos A. Peres, David P. Edwards Selective logging for timber production affects vast areas across the tropics, yet we lack detailed understanding of the impacts of logging intensity on biodiversity. These impacts can be studied at two levels: the impacts of logging intensity on overall diversity and community composition; and how logging intensity affects individual species' abundance-logging yield relationships. The latter underpins whether land-sharing logging (i.e. low intensity throughout) or land-sparing logging (i.e. high intensity with retention of some primary forest) is the optimal strategy. We examine both levels to determine the impacts of local-scale logging intensity on butterflies in Rondônia, Brazil, the global epicenter of butterfly alpha-diversity. Overall butterfly abundance was highest at intermediate logging intensity, whereas species richness increased after logging but was not affected by logging intensity, and that species composition increasingly changed from the primary community composition at higher logging intensities. Using individual species' abundance-yield curves, we then simulated species responses to a suite of logging strategies, ranging from total sharing to total sparing. Logging simulations predicted that more butterfly species would benefit from low-intensity land-sharing logging, having higher abundances than under land-sharing scenarios. However, some butterfly clades benefited disproportionally from the retention of primary forest within land-sparing logging concessions. Butterflies overall may benefit from intermediate logging strategies that promote a combination of low and high intensity logged areas, with some protected primary forest.
       
  • All the Boats on the Ocean, Carmel Finley. University of Chicago Press,
           Chicago (2017), (ISBN 978-0-226-4437-9)
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): David Johns
       
  • Quantifying impacts of oil palm expansion on Colombia's threatened
           biodiversity
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Natalia Ocampo-Peñuela, John Garcia-Ulloa, Jaboury Ghazoul, Andres Etter Large-scale conversion of forest to oil palm has precipitated severe environmental impacts in the lowlands of Malaysia and Indonesia. It is a major conservation priority to ensure that projected expansion of oil palm in Africa and Latin America does not lead to analogous environmental devastation in these mega-diverse places. In an effort to minimize negative impacts from a species conservation perspective, we present a framework for spatial planning that accommodates inevitable oil palm expansion into regions of high biodiversity. Using megadiverse Colombia as an example, we investigated current and projected impacts of oil palm on threatened vertebrates (birds, mammals, and amphibians). We highlight a few areas where expansion would be detrimental to threatened fauna and should be avoided, but generally, there is minimal overlap between suitable areas for oil palm production and threatened vertebrate distributions. Our analysis demonstrates that there is room for oil palm to expand in Colombia without incurring severe conservation risks for threatened vertebrates, so long as it avoids a few high-priority areas such as la Serranía de la Macarena, the Andes-Amazon transition, the Darién, and the Tumaco forests. By applying this approach to other countries facing imminent oil palm expansion, it may be possible to meet a growing commodity demand without severely exacerbating the biodiversity crisis.
       
  • Automated monitoring for birds in flight: Proof of concept with eagles at
           a wind power facility
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Christopher J.W. McClure, Luke Martinson, Taber D. Allison Automated surveys for wildlife have the potential to improve data collection while averting mortality of animals. Collisions of eagles at wind power facilities are particularly of concern and therefore an automated system that could detect birds, determine if they are eagles, and track their movement, might aid in curtailing wind turbines before collisions occur. Here, we use human observers and photographs to test the ability of a camera-based monitoring system, called IdentiFlight, to detect, classify, and track birds. IdentiFlight detected 96% of the bird flights detected by observers and detected 562% more birds than did observers. The discrepancy between observers and IdentiFlight seemed to be because the ability of observers to detect birds declined sharply by distance and toward the west. We reviewed photographs taken by IdentiFlight and determined that IdentiFlight misclassified nine of 149 eagles as non-eagles for a false negative rate of 6%, and 287 of 1013 non-eagles as eagles for a false positive rate of 28%. The median distance at classification for birds classified as eagles was 793 m and the median time from detection till classification was 0.4 s. Collectively, our results suggest that automated cameras can be effective means of detecting birds in flight and identifying eagles.
       
  • Illegal hunting as a major driver of the source-sink dynamics of a
           reintroduced lynx population in Central Europe
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): M. Heurich, J. Schultze-Naumburg, N. Piacenza, N. Magg, J. Červený, T. Engleder, M. Herdtfelder, M. Sladova, S. Kramer-Schadt Large carnivores, such as wolves and lynx, are strictly protected by law in most European countries. However, they are still vulnerable due to habitat loss and illegal hunting. The Bohemian Forest Ecosystem lynx population is exemplary as a reintroduced carnivore population in Central Europe. The population expanded rapidly after the reintroduction (phase I) but then declined and stagnated at a low population size (phase II). There is some evidence that illegal hunting might have caused this development, but reliable data on the intensity of illegal hunting is lacking, and hence long-term consequences for the population cannot be assessed. We used a spatially-explicit individual-based dispersal and population model to inversely fit mortality probabilities to long-term monitoring data; the model integrated both chance observations and telemetry data, and discriminated between baseline mortality, road mortality and added unknown mortality. During phase I, the estimated added unknown mortality ranged between 3 and 4%, with an extinction rate 
       
  • Importance of dam-free tributaries for conserving fish biodiversity in
           Neotropical reservoirs
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Hugo Marques, João Henrique Pinheiro Dias, Gilmar Perbiche-Neves, Elaine Antoniassi Luiz Kashiwaqui, Igor Paiva Ramos Dams change the hydrological dynamics, patterns of biological production and distribution of organisms in space and time. In contrast, tributary rivers can function as source areas in reservoirs, since they harbor spawning and early development grounds for native fish species. Here, we analyze a time series of the first 14 years after the impoundment of the Porto Primavera Reservoir, a large reservoir with free tributaries in southeastern Brazil. To evaluate the impact of damming on the fish assemblage, we evaluated the abundance (catch per unit effort, CPUE) and α (species richness and Shannon-Wiener index) and β (Sørensen dissimilarity and turnover) diversity of four sites distributed along the reservoir. Overall, there was no decreasing trend in the α diversity and no increasing trend in the β diversity relative to the initial year or among the sites over time. Despite the expected disturbance in the fish assemblage at the lacustrine site, the sites located near the tributary mouths presented resistant fish assemblages, compensating the results of the overall assessment. We attribute this unusual variation in the ecological attributes to source-sink demographic dynamics, with the undammed tributaries as the source and the reservoir as the sink for native species. We highlight that the presence of these rivers minimized the expected trend towards biotic homogenization, and the preservation of the tributaries is imperative since they contribute to diversity maintenance in areas that are already impacted by damming. The inclusion of this agenda in environmental management programs and new impoundment plans will allow a balance between the demand for electricity production and the conservation of fish diversity.
       
  • Cross-taxonomic surrogates for biodiversity conservation in human-modified
           landscapes – A multi-taxa approach
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Ding Li Yong, Philip S. Barton, Karen Ikin, Maldwyn John Evans, Mason Crane, Sachiko Okada, Saul A. Cunningham, David B. Lindenmayer Cross-taxonomic surrogates are often used in conservation planning because inventorying large suites of taxa is either not feasible or too costly. However, cross-taxonomic surrogates are seldom tested rigorously using both correlational and representation-based approaches at the spatial scales at which conservation management occurs. Here, we evaluated the effectiveness of five ecologically contrasting taxa (birds, herpetofauna, wild bees, beetles, trees) as cross-taxonomic surrogates in native woodland patches within a heavily modified, farming and plantation-dominated landscape. We first compared species richness and compositional heterogeneity across taxa before testing for cross-taxonomic congruence using a correlative approach. We then quantified how well each taxon incidentally represented other taxa in their best patch sets, and the costs of doing so using a complementarity-based approach. We found significant pairwise associations between some taxa (birds, bees), but no single taxon was strongly correlated with all other taxa. Woodland patch sets prioritised for beetles represented other taxa best, followed by birds, but were the costliest and required the largest amount of woodland. This contrasted with patch sets prioritised for wild bees or herpetofauna, which achieved higher representation of other taxa at lower costs. Our study highlighted the influence of taxon-specific patterns of diversity and heterogeneity on how remnant vegetation patches should be prioritised for conservation, a consideration not immediately obvious in correlative analyses of surrogacy. Second, taxa that are not the most speciose (e.g. wild bees) can be efficient surrogates, achieving higher incidental representation for other taxa at lower costs. Thus, while species-rich taxa are ideal as surrogates for prioritising conservation, conservation planners should not overlook the potential of less speciose taxa such as bees, while considering the cost-effectiveness of surveying multiple different taxa.
       
  • Predicting spatial factors associated with cattle depredations by the
           Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) with recommendations for depredation
           risk modeling
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Reza Goljani Amirkhiz, Jennifer K. Frey, James W. Cain, Stewart W. Breck, David L. Bergman AimPredation on livestock is one of the primary concerns for Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) recovery because it causes economic losses and negative attitudes toward wolves. Our objectives were to develop a spatial risk model of cattle depredation by Mexican wolves in the USA portion of their recovery area to help reduce the potential for future depredations.LocationArizona and New Mexico, USA.MethodsWe used a presence-only maximum entropy modeling approach (Maxent) to develop a risk model based on confirmed depredation incidents on public lands. In addition to landscape and human variables, we developed a model for annual livestock density using linear regression analysis of Animal Unit Month (AUM), and models for abundance of elk (Cervus canadensis), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginiana) using Maxent, to include them as biotic variables in the risk model. We followed current recommendations for controlling model complexity and other sources of bias.ResultsThe primary factors associated with increased risk of depredation by Mexican wolf were higher canopy cover variation and higher relative abundance of elk. Additional factors with increased risk but smaller effect were gentle and open terrain, and greater distances from roads and developed areas.Main conclusionsThe risk map revealed areas with relatively high potential for cattle depredations that can inform future expansion of Mexican wolf distribution (e.g., by avoiding hotspots) and prioritize areas for depredation risk mitigation including the implementation of active non-lethal methods in depredation hotspots. We suggest that livestock be better protected in or moved from potential hotspots, especially during periods when they are vulnerable to depredation (e.g. calving season). Our approach to create natural prey and livestock abundance variables can facilitate the process of spatial risk modeling when limitations in availability of abundance data are a challenge, especially in large-scale studies.Graphical abstractUnlabelled Image
       
  • The return of giant otter to the Baniwa Landscape: A multi-scale approach
           to species recovery in the middle Içana River, Northwest Amazonia, Brazil
           
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): N.C. Pimenta, A.L.S. Gonçalves, G.H. Shepard, V.W. Macedo, A.P.A. Barnett Commercial hunting for the 20th century international fur trade was responsible for the collapse of giant otter populations throughout Amazonia. Some thirty years after the wildlife trade was outlawed, giant otter populations have begun to show signs of recovery. The Baniwa indigenous people from the Upper Rio Negro region of Brazil have witnessed the recovery of otter populations in areas where they had been wiped out by hunting. To evaluate the giant otter recovery process, we identified local and landscape variables contributing to the reestablishment of the species throughout Baniwa territory. We conducted transect sampling in lakes and streams in search of direct and indirect signs of giant otter occurrence. During surveys, we recorded three local variables, and through radar and satellite image, obtained six landscape variables in buffers of 250 m, 500 m and 1000 m. Using generalized linear models we identified the 250 m buffer as the most suitable scale within which to study giant otter habitat use. Connectivity between shallow and elongated waterbodies were the most reliable landscape indicators of otter population presence on the middle Içana River. Our results highlight the importance of small and connected water bodies to species recovery, a fact that should be taken into consideration in the creation of protected areas and local resource management plans. With this study we hope to contribute to the advancement of giant otter conservation strategies, as well as to an increased role for indigenous people in managing their territory and resources towards more effective biodiversity conservation.
       
  • Marine protected areas show low overlap with projected distributions of
           seabird populations in Britain and Ireland
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Emma Jane Critchley, W. James Grecian, Adam Kane, Mark J. Jessopp, John L. Quinn Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an important tool for the conservation of seabirds. However, mapping seabird distributions using at-sea surveys or tracking data to inform the designation of MPAs is costly and time-consuming, particularly for far-ranging pelagic species. Here we explore the potential for using predictive distribution models to examine the effectiveness of current MPAs for the conservation of seabirds, using Britain and Ireland as a case study. A distance-weighted foraging radius approach was used to project distributions at sea for an entire seabird community during the breeding season, identifying hotspots of highest density and species richness. The percentage overlap between distributions at sea and MPAs was calculated at the level of individual species, family group, foraging range group (coastal or pelagic foragers), and conservation status. On average, 32.5% of coastal populations and 13.2% of pelagic populations overlapped with MPAs indicating that pelagic species, many of which are threatened, are likely to have significantly less coverage from protected areas. We suggest that a foraging radius approach provides a pragmatic and rapid method of assessing overlap with MPA networks for central place foragers. It can also act as an initial tool to identify important areas for potential designation. This would be particularly useful for regions throughout the world with limited data on seabird distributions at sea and limited resources to collect this data. Future assessment for marine conservation management should account for the disparity between coastal and pelagic foraging species to ensure that wider-ranging seabirds are afforded adequate levels of protection.
       
  • You are what you eat: Examining the effects of provisioning tourism on
           shark diets
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Kátya G. Abrantes, Juerg M. Brunnschweiler, Adam Barnett Wildlife tourism is a growing industry, with significant conservation and socio-economic benefits. Concerns have however been raised about the possible impacts of this industry on the long-term behaviour, health and fitness of the animal species tourists come to see (the target species), particularly when those species are regularly fed to improve the tourism experience. Information on the contribution of food rewards to the diet of the target species at feeding sites is critical to assess the dependency on handouts and to identify possible health/fitness problems that might be associated, if handouts become the main part of animals' diets. Here, we use stable isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) to evaluate the importance of handouts for a marine predator, the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), at a feeding site (Fiji) where shark feeds occur 5 days/week and sharks (up to 75 individuals/dive) are fed ~200 kg of tuna heads/day. There was no evidence of incorporation of food provided, even for individuals that regularly consume food rewards. Results, when combined with those from previous studies on bull shark movements and feeding rates at our study site, show that current levels of provisioning likely have no long-term impacts on bull shark diet or behaviour. This study also demonstrates the applicability of stable isotope analysis to assess and monitor the contribution of food rewards to wildlife, and highlights the benefits of using multi-sources of information to gain a holistic understanding of the effects of provisioning predators.
       
  • Conservation priorities to protect vertebrate endemics from global urban
           expansion
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Robert I. McDonald, Burak Güneralp, Chun-Wei Huang, Karen C. Seto, Mingde You Earth is undergoing unprecedented urban growth, with urban areas forecasted to increase by 120 million ha from 2000 to 2030, impacting natural habitat. However, to date it is unclear where conservation investments can best mitigate biodiversity loss due to urban expansion into natural habitat. Here we combine spatially-explicit global forecasts of urban expansion, information on terrestrial vertebrate endemism, and data on current land cover and protected areas to define conservation priorities. Globally, 13% of endemics are in ecoregions under high threat from urban expansion. Biodiversity losses are highly spatially concentrated, with 78% of endemics threatened by urban growth occurring in just 30 priority ecoregions (4% of all ecoregions). Natural habitat protection of 4.1–8.0 million ha,
       
  • The conservation implications of mixed-species flocking in terrestrial
           birds, a globally-distributed species interaction network
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Fasheng Zou, Harrison Jones, Gabriel J. Colorado Z., Demeng Jiang, Tien-Ming Lee, Ari Martínez, Kathryn Sieving, Min Zhang, Qiang Zhang, Eben Goodale Conservation biologists now view species interaction networks as systems that should be targets of conservation, but there are few actual cases in which networks have formed the basis for management strategies. Terrestrial mixed-species bird flocks (hereafter, TMSF) represent one such potential system: they form throughout the world, and in most cases have an asymmetric organization in which one or a few species play ‘nuclear’ roles, being particularly important for flock formation or maintenance. A quantitative study on the distribution of TMSF and how they respond to anthropogenic disturbance (AD) is still, however, needed. We surveyed 201 publications on terrestrial TMSF worldwide, finding that 19% of the world's bird species participate in them, including 158 threatened species, with tropical species dominating these lists. Of 31 TMSF studies that investigated AD, 22 showed significant declines in some metric, with TMSF in more impacted areas including 1/4 fewer species, and 1/3 fewer individuals. In 13/15 studies, TMSF were more sensitive to AD than the overall bird community. We conceptualize the reasons behind this response: first, AD directly influences drivers of flocking (predation, foraging), and second, AD produces changes in community composition that affect TMSF, such as when the extirpation or reduction of nuclear species affects other species' participation. We rank nuclear species globally by their consistency of leadership and number of followers, suggesting that these species' interactive roles be considered as part of their conservation value, and further that conserving TMSF provides an efficient mechanism to ensure the protection of many species simultaneously.
       
  • Using metapopulation models to assess species conservation–ecosystem
           restoration trade-offs
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Connor M. Wood, Sheila A. Whitmore, R.J. Gutiérrez, Sarah C. Sawyer, John J. Keane, M. Zachariah Peery Ecological restoration is needed to counter global-scale ecosystem degradation, but can conflict with endangered species conservation when restoration impacts habitat quality. In such cases, prioritizing long-vacant patches for restoration is an intuitively appealing strategy for minimizing the effects on endangered species. Metapopulation models grounded in empirical data potentially provide a rigorous framework for developing theoretical “patch vacancy thresholds” (i.e., duration of vacancy required before implementing restoration) and assessing the implications of such criteria for restoration objectives. We develop such a model for spotted owls (Strix occidentalis), which embody the species–ecosystem dilemma given their preference for closed-canopy forests that are also susceptible to severe fire and drought and hence the center of debates about forest restoration intended to reduce fire and drought risk. We leveraged a>20-year territory occupancy dataset to parameterize a Stochastic Patch Occupancy Model (SPOM) to assess relative risk to a metapopulation of owls in California under alternative conservation guidelines, including a range of vacancy thresholds. Territories with greater amounts of owl habitat were more likely to be recolonized and less likely to go extinct. Importantly, the probability of a vacant owl territory becoming recolonized declined as length of vacancy increased; territories vacant for 1 and 10 years had annual recolonization probabilities of 0.34 and 0.06, respectively. Based on our SPOM, projected territory occupancy rates declined as the vacancy threshold decreased and as habitat within territories was impacted by restoration. However, more liberal territory vacancy thresholds were projected to increase the proportion of territories (and thus landscape) that could be restored and that restored conditions could be maintained with repeated treatments. Reintroducing natural disturbance regimes, which eliminated the need for repeated treatments, was projected to reduce risk to owls, particularly with relaxed vacancy thresholds. We provide a simple, yet novel, metapopulation framework for quantifying how alternative conservation guidelines might impact owl occupancy and influence forest restoration guidelines. Similar analyses could facilitate restoration efforts in other systems by more explicitly quantifying tradeoffs between species–ecosystem objectives.
       
  • Can existing assessment tools be used to track equity in protected area
           management under Aichi Target 11'
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Celine Moreaux, Noelia Zafra-Calvo, Nanna G. Vansteelant, Sylvia Wicander, Neil D. Burgess Aichi Target 11 (AT11) includes the commitment of 194 governments to equitably manage protected areas (PAs) by 2020. Here we evaluate whether existing PA Management Effectiveness (PAME) and social and governance assessment tools can be used to determine if AT11 meets equity goals. We find that PAME assessment conditions are insufficiently inclusive of relevant actors and do not satisfactorily allow for a diversity of perspectives to be expressed and accounted for, both of which are essential for equitable PA management. Furthermore, none of the analysed PAME tools fully cover multidimensional equity and thus they are inadequate for assessing progress towards equitable management in PAs. The available social and governance PA assessment tools stipulate more inclusive and participatory conditions within their guidelines, and the IUCN Governance Guidelines comprehensively capture equity dimensions in PA management, but results are not comparable across sites. We conclude that available assessment tools do not provide a reliable way to track equity in PAs at global scale. The IUCN Governance Guidelines could be adjusted to achieve this goal, providing that the information collected is made globally comparable, while ensuring transparency, accountability and room for contestation, including by communities whose livelihoods are directly implicated. Ultimately, developing and deploying globally comparable measures to evaluate equity is problematic, as the process of gathering comparable data inevitably obscures information that is highly relevant to resolving equity issues at local scales. This challenge must be met, however, if nations are to achieve and report on their success at meeting AT11 by 2020.
       
  • Mind over matter: Perceptions behind the impact of jaguars on human
           livelihoods
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Silvio Marchini, David W. Macdonald In an investigation of perceptions of the conflicts between people and jaguars on the Amazon deforestation frontier and Pantanal, Brazil, we explored how perceptions of the impact of jaguars on livestock and on human safety vary with experience of jaguars (including reported livestock loss), region, place of residence, attitudes towards jaguars, knowledge of the species, and perceptions of changes in jaguar abundance and the regional economic situation. Livestock loss and threat to human safety were not the only predictors of the perceived conflict with jaguars. Livestock loss acted in combination with attitudes, knowledge and perceptions of the economic situation to determine how people perceive the impact jaguars have on their livelihoods. Attitudes and knowledge were influenced by age, gender and whether respondents lived in urban or rural areas. An experiment in which respondents were shown photographs of dead livestock, and asked to ascribe the cause of death, revealed an interaction between attitudes and knowledge: of respondents whose knowledge of the species was low, those with negative attitudes towards jaguars assigned a larger number of photographs to jaguar depredation. Our evidence suggests that attitudes and knowledge can affect the conclusions a rancher draws from finding the carcass of a cow, or even from noticing that a cow is missing. The owners of smaller holdings believed that depredation was more serious on neighboring properties than on their own, which suggests that their perceptions of conflict with jaguars were shaped primarily by what is heard from other people, and not by personal experience.
       
  • Physiological and immunological responses of birds and mammals to forest
           degradation: A meta-analysis
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Simone Messina, David P. Edwards, Marcel Eens, David Costantini Dramatic changes in species composition have been found following selective logging and forest fragmentation. The different responses of bird species to these disturbances suggest that some species are more sensitive to environmental changes than others. Recent studies have suggested that the chances of species to adapt to new environments may be mediated by their stress physiology and immunity. We reviewed and performed a meta-analysis of studies that compared physiological and immunological endpoints of bird and mammal species between degraded (logged and fragmented) forests and undisturbed forests. We found that stress hormones and immunity markers show consistent changes in response to habitat degradation in birds and mammals. Higher physiological and immunological responses were found in those animals living in forests that were subjected to clear-cutting. Furthermore, we found that birds and species belonging to IUCN ‘Threatened’ categories exhibited significantly larger effect size estimates than mammals and ‘Least Concern’ species, respectively. Our meta-analysis revealed that changes in the production of stress hormones and in some immune traits are a significant consequence of forest disturbance. Physiology and immunity might be two important mediators of the adaptiveness of a given species to changing forests.
       
  • Red Listing plants under full national responsibility: Extinction risk and
           threats in the vascular flora endemic to Italy
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Simone Orsenigo, Chiara Montagnani, Giuseppe Fenu, Domenico Gargano, Lorenzo Peruzzi, Thomas Abeli, Alessandro Alessandrini, Gianluigi Bacchetta, Fabrizio Bartolucci, Maurizio Bovio, Cristian Brullo, Salvatore Brullo, Angelino Carta, Miris Castello, Donatella Cogoni, Fabio Conti, Gianniantonio Domina, Bruno Foggi, Matilde Gennai, Daniela Gigante Taxa endemic to a country are key elements for setting national conservation priorities and for driving conservation strategies, since their persistence is entirely dependent on national policy. We applied the IUCN Red List categories to all Italian endemic vascular plants (1340 taxa) to assess their current risk of extinction and to highlight their major threats. Our results revealed that six taxa are already extinct and that 22.4% (300 taxa) are threatened with extinction, while 18.4% (247; especially belonging to apomictic groups) have been categorized as Data Deficient. Italian endemic vascular plants are primarily threatened by natural habitat modification due to agriculture, residential and tourism development. Taxa occurring in coastal areas and lowlands, where anthropogenic impacts and habitat destruction are concentrated, display the greatest population decline and extinction. The national network of protected areas could be considered effective in protecting endemic-rich areas (ERAs) and endemic taxa, but ineffective in protecting narrow endemic-rich areas (NERAs), accordingly changes to the existing network may increase the effectiveness of protection. For the first time in the Mediterranean Basin biodiversity hotspot, we present a comprehensive extinction assessment for endemic plants under the full responsibility of a single country. This would provide an important step towards the prioritization and conservation of threatened endemic flora at Italian, European, and Mediterranean level. A successful conservation strategy of the Italian endemic vascular flora should implement the protected area system, solve some taxonomical criticism in poorly known genera, and should rely on monitoring threatened species, and on developing species-specific action plans.
       
  • Assessing threats of non-native species to native freshwater biodiversity:
           Conservation priorities for the United States
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Stephanie Panlasigui, Amy J.S. Davis, Michael J. Mangiante, John A. Darling Non-native species pose one of the greatest threats to native biodiversity, and can have severe negative impacts in freshwater ecosystems. Identifying regions of spatial overlap between high freshwater biodiversity and high invasion pressure may thus better inform the prioritization of freshwater conservation efforts. We employ geospatial analysis of species distribution data to investigate the potential threat of non-native species to aquatic animal taxa across the continental United States. We mapped non-native aquatic plant and animal species richness and cumulative invasion pressure to estimate overall negative impact associated with species introductions. These distributions were compared to distributions of native aquatic animal taxa derived from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) database. To identify hotspots of native biodiversity we mapped total species richness, number of threatened and endangered species, and a community index of species rarity calculated at the watershed scale. An overall priority index allowed identification of watersheds experiencing high pressure from non-native species and also exhibiting high native biodiversity conservation value. While priority regions are roughly consistent with previously reported prioritization maps for the US, we also recognize novel priority areas characterized by moderate-to-high native diversity but extremely high invasion pressure. We further compared priority areas with existing conservation protections as well as projected future threats associated with land use change. Our findings suggest that many regions of elevated freshwater biodiversity value are compromised by high invasion pressure, and are poorly safeguarded by existing conservation mechanisms and are likely to experience significant additional stresses in the future.
       
  • Compounding effects of human development and a natural food shortage on a
           black bear population along a human development-wildland interface
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Jared S. Laufenberg, Heather E. Johnson, Paul F. Doherty, Stewart W. Breck Human development and climate change are two stressors that threaten numerous wildlife populations, and their combined effects are likely to be most pronounced along the human development-wildland interface where changes in both natural and anthropogenic conditions interact to affect wildlife. To better understand the compounding influence of these stressors, we investigated the effects of a climate-induced natural food shortage on the dynamics of a black bear population in the vicinity of Durango, Colorado. We integrated 4 years of DNA-based capture-mark-recapture data with GPS-based telemetry data to evaluate the combined effects of human development and the food shortage on the abundance, population growth rate, and spatial distribution of female black bears. We documented a 57% decline in female bear abundance immediately following the natural food shortage coinciding with an increase in human-caused bear mortality (e.g., vehicle collisions, harvest and lethal removals) primarily in developed areas. We also detected a change in the spatial distribution of female bears with fewer bears occurring near human development in years immediately following the food shortage, likely as a consequence of high mortality near human infrastructure during the food shortage. Given expected future increases in human development and climate-induced food shortages, we expect that bear dynamics may be increasingly influenced by human-caused mortality, which will be difficult to detect with current management practices. To ensure long-term sustainability of bear populations, we recommend that wildlife agencies invest in monitoring programs that can accurately track bear populations, incorporate non-harvest human-caused mortality into management models, and work to reduce human-caused mortality, particularly in years with natural food shortages.
       
  • Landscape resistance influences effective dispersal of endangered golden
           lion tamarins within the Atlantic Forest
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Andreia Magro Moraes, Carlos R. Ruiz-Miranda, Pedro M. Galetti Jr., Bernardo Brandão Niebuhr, Brenda R. Alexandre, Renata L. Muylaert, Adriana D. Grativol, John W. Ribeiro, Arystene N. Ferreira, Milton Cezar Ribeiro Habitat fragmentation threatens tropical rainforests, which can significantly hinder dispersal in species such as arboreal primates. For conservation actions to be effective there must be an understanding of how landscape structure and biological traits shape dispersal. We assessed the effects of landscape, sex and population management (reintroductions and translocations) on gene flow of Leontopithecus rosalia, an endangered arboreal primate living in highly fragmented forests of Brazil. We genotyped 201 individuals using 14 microsatellite loci to answer three questions: (1) How far does L. rosalia disperse' (2) Is dispersal sex-biased' (3) What are the relative contributions of population management, distance, roads and landscape resistance to genetic kinship' We hypothesized that (1) gene flow decrease between more distant sites; (2) males disperse more than females; and (3) management and land-cover resistance (i.e. landscape resistance) are the variables that most influence genetic kinship. We found positive spatial population-structure up to 8 km. The spatial structure was similar between females and males suggesting that they equally contribute to gene flow. Management and landscape resistance best explained genetic kinship, showing that different land-cover types affect the dispersal at different degrees of landscape permeability. We advocate that maintaining more permeable landscapes is essential to ensure dispersal and gene flow of arboreal mammals. Conservation measures in tropical rainforests must take into account not only the habitat amount, but also the degree at which each land use – roads, urban areas, agriculture, pasture, isolated trees, and stepping stones – facilitates or impedes the species dispersal.
       
  • A quantitative framework for evaluating the impact of biodiversity offset
           policies
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): I. Peterson, M. Maron, A. Moillanen, S. Bekessy, A. Gordon We propose an impact evaluation framework for biodiversity offsetting that can be used to determine the impacts attributable to developments and their associated offsets under a range of assumptions. This framework is used in conjunction with two hypothetical models of the offsetting process to illustrate a number of issues that can arise when conducting impact evaluations of biodiversity offsetting, where the ‘intervention’ comprises a development and its associated offsets. We establish that including gains due to avoided losses (i.e. development that would have otherwise happened) in the intervention impact calculation results in a reduction in the offset requirements per unit of development. This occurs regardless of whether the biodiversity at the development or offset sites is declining, stable, or improving. We also show how including gains due to avoided loss requires the consideration of offsets that might otherwise have occurred. These ‘avoided offsets’ increase the offset requirements per unit of development regardless of the background site dynamics. Finally, we examine offsetting as part of a larger, spatially strategic scheme and show that when the development and offset regions are separated, including avoided loss in the impact calculations can result in a situation where the development impact goes to zero and a system that attains ‘net gain’ regardless of the development and offsetting activities. The proposed framework can be used to inform offset policy by providing a transparent and logical methodology for the determining the offset requirements for the impacts attributed to development.
       
  • Scale-dependent effects of Gypsophila paniculata invasion and management
           on plant and soil nematode community diversity and heterogeneity
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Matthew L. Reid, Sarah M. Emery Invasion by exotic plant species has led to concerns of homogenization of biotic communities. Where plant invasion occurs, heterogeneity in plant community composition can decrease, even when other diversity responses are minimal. Homogenization of soil communities may also result from exotic plant invasion, though responses of soil communities to plant invasion are relatively understudied. In a long-term study underway since 2007, we examined effects of invasion and subsequent management of Gypsophila paniculata, a large invasive forb on Lake Michigan sand dunes, on aboveground plant community diversity and heterogeneity and belowground nematode community diversity and heterogeneity using Bray-Curtis and Jaccard dissimilarity measures. While invasion and management had only minor effects on plant and nematode richness and Shannon diversity, we found that invasion reduced plant and nematode community heterogeneity while management of the invasive species increased heterogeneity at smaller spatial scales. However, at larger spatial scales, neither invasion nor management had any effect on plant or nematode community heterogeneity. Overall this indicates that this invasion had the effect of homogenizing local communities, while landscape-level heterogeneity was unaffected. Reduced heterogeneity, particularly belowground, could have effects on plant community dynamics, since plant-soil interactions can contribute to continued invasion. Including the study of the soil community will enhance our understanding of community responses during exotic plant invasion and management.
       
  • ‘Foresting’ the grassland: Historical management legacies in
           forest-grassland mosaics in southern India, and lessons for the
           conservation of tropical grassy biomes
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Atul Arvind Joshi, Mahesh Sankaran, Jayashree Ratnam Colonial encounters with tropical ecosystems were primarily driven by profit-oriented management practices; witness the extensive network of timber and forestry practices that were set up across colonial India. In contrast, the colonial engagement with the montane forest-grassland mosaics of the higher reaches of the Western Ghats in southern India was marked by intensive investment in vegetation management by colonial foresters that yielded no profits. In this archival study, we trace the history of extensive vegetation transformation in this landscape from the early nineteenth to the early twentieth century. We show how the misperception that the grasslands within this mosaic must have resulted from tree felling, fire-setting and buffalo grazing by indigenous communities led colonial foresters into a century-long effort at ‘foresting’ the grasslands, primarily through large-scale planting of exotic tree species. These efforts persisted despite economic losses and ecological evidence that native tree seedlings planted in the grasslands repeatedly failed to establish. These policies continued unabated into the late twentieth century in newly independent India. Today, the once picturesque landscapes of these ancient forest-grassland mosaics are diminished by large-scale plantations of exotic species. Some of these species have become invasive and pose significant threats to the remnant natural grasslands. While this historical narrative is set in the forest-grassland mosaics of southern India, it finds striking parallels in the current day, with grasslands and savannas globally threatened by the misperception that they are ‘degraded ecosystems’ that can be ‘forested’ or converted to other ‘productive’ land uses. We suggest that this case history portends the potential fates of many of earth's threatened tropical grasslands and savannas.
       
  • Informing network management using fuzzy cognitive maps
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Christopher M. Baker, Matthew H. Holden, Michaela Plein, Michael A. McCarthy, Hugh P. Possingham Modern conservation requires robust predictions about how management will affect an ecosystem and its species. The large uncertainties about the type and strength of interactions make model predictions particularly unreliable. In this paper, we show how fuzzy cognitive maps can produce robust predictions in complex and uncertain ecosystems. The use of fuzzy cognitive maps has been increasing markedly, but there are two critical issues with the approach: translation of expert knowledge into the FCM is often done incorrectly; and sensitivity analyses are rarely conducted. Translating expert knowledge is a constant challenge for ecological modellers, often because experts know about the behaviour of a system, but modellers need to know model parameters, which subsequently lead to system behaviour. We describe how to correctly incorporate expert knowledge into FCMs, and we describe how to appropriately conduct uncertainty and sensitivity analysis. We illustrate this process with a previously published network for feral cat and black rat control on Christmas Island. Perverse indirect effects of conservation management are a key concern, and methods to help us make informed decisions are required. Fuzzy cognitive maps are a promising approach for this, but it requires the methodological improvements that we present here.
       
  • What is the reality of wildlife trade volume' CITES Trade Database
           limitations
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Michal Berec, Lucie Vršecká, Irena Šetlíková Five selected forms (claws, skins, skulls, teeth, and trophies) of American black bear (Ursus americanus) were used to demonstrate how variable the volume of total international trade can be based on different approaches. Records from the comparative tabulations of the CITES Trade Database were presented in three ways: (1) identical data from both the exporter and the importer (4%), (2) traded volume reported by the exporter and importer differed (21%), and (3) traded volume reported either by exporter or importer only (75%). Six types of calculations were used to assess the total trade volume of selected American black bear forms. Proportional deviances of alternatively calculated traded volumes from their respective maxima significantly differed between individual calculations. However, these deviances were consistent between forms. The average difference between maximum and minimum calculated traded volume was 63 ± 23%. The most striking difference was found in trophies, where this difference represented 108,269 trophies in absolute terms. Specific changes to improve the usability of the CITES Trade Database are recommended and include the following: (1) combining the permit number with export and import reports to allow unmistakable identification of the entire trade flow, (2) unambiguous specification of the method of calculating volumes of both gross and net trade tabulations in the database guide, (3) better specification and avoidance of possible confusion of terms (forms), and (4) prohibition of automatically assigning value to empty fields.
       
  • Accounting for habitat structural complexity improves the assessment of
           performance in no-take marine reserves
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Matthew J. Rees, Nathan A. Knott, Joseph Neilson, Michelle Linklater, Ian Osterloh, Alan Jordan, Andrew R. Davis Seascape variability may confound assessments on the effectiveness of no-take marine reserves (NTMRs) in conserving biodiversity. In most cases baseline data are lacking, resulting in evaluations of NTMR effectiveness being Control Impact (CI) assessments. Even with independent replicate areas among management zones, this approach can make it difficult to detect zone effects if seascape attributes, such as habitat structural complexity varies among experimental areas. To determine the importance of structural complexity in evaluations of NTMR effectiveness we performed assessments on the abundance of a targeted fish, yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi), in the Lord Howe Island Marine Park (LHIMP). We compared assessments which did and did not account for structural complexity, quantified using high resolution multibeam bathymetry. Despite almost 3 times more S. lalandi in NTMRs, the traditional CI assessment explained only 3% of the variation in the abundance of S. lalandi and revealed no clear effect of protection. Incorporating structural complexity into the assessment increased the deviance explained to 65% and uncovered an important interaction between zone and structural complexity. Greater abundances of S. lalandi were detected in NTMRs compared to fished zones but only on highly complex reefs. By accounting for structural complexity, we demonstrate that the precision and accuracy of NTMR assessments can be improved, leading to a better understanding of ecological change in response to this conservation strategy. Consequently, where marine park zones vary greatly in structural complexity, we strongly advocate for quantifying and accounting for such variability in assessments of NTMR performance.
       
  • Intensity-dependent impact of sport climbing on vascular plants and land
           snails on limestone cliffs
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Dénes Schmera, Hans-Peter Rusterholz, Anette Baur, Bruno Baur Limestone cliffs in the Jura Mountains harbour species-rich plant and animal communities including rare species. Sport climbing has recently increased in popularity in this habitat and several studies have reported damage to cliff biodiversity. However, so far how damage levels vary with climbing intensity has not been investigated. We evaluated the effects of climbing intensity on the diversity of vascular plants and land snails in 35 limestone cliff sectors in the Northern Swiss Jura Mountains. Mixed-effects models were used to examine whether species richness of plants and land snails differ between cliff sectors with low and high climbing intensity and unclimbed cliff sectors (controls) taking into account potential influences of cliff characteristics (aspect, cliff height, rock microtopography). At the cliff base, the best fit model revealed that plant species richness was affected by climbing intensity and cliff aspect. Plant species richness was reduced by 12.2% and 13.1%, respectively, in cliff sectors with low and high climbing intensity compared to unclimbed cliff sectors. On the cliff face, plant species richness was only influenced by climbing intensity (species richness reduction by 24.3% and 28.1%). Combining data from cliff base, face and plateau, the best fit model revealed that land snail species richness was only affected by climbing intensity (species richness reduction by 2.0% and 13.7%). In both organism groups, species composition was increasingly altered by increasing climbing intensity. Our study provides evidence that even low climbing intensity reduces cliff biodiversity and that damage becomes more pronounced with increasing climbing intensity.
       
  • Do United States protected areas effectively conserve forest tree rarity
           and evolutionary distinctiveness'
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Kevin M. Potter Because forest tree species face serious threats including insect and disease epidemics, climate change, and forest fragmentation and conversion, prioritizing species and forests for conservation is an essential management goal. This paper describes a species prioritization approach that incorporates both the rarity of species, because of the increased vulnerability associated with rare species, and their evolutionary distinctiveness (ED), a measure of evolutionary originality. Rarity and ED scores, and scores for the two combined, were calculated for 352 North American forest tree species. A weak but significant phylogenetic signal was associated with species rarity. The scores were used to weight species importance values on approximately 130,000 forest inventory plots across the conterminous United States. The resulting plot-level estimates of conservation value were employed to identify geographic hotspots of forests with high conservation value, and to assess whether forests with protected status effectively conserve rarity and ED. Rarity hotspots were detected in California, the Southwest, central Texas, and Florida. Hotspots of ED included locations along the Pacific Coast, in the Northern Rockies, and in scattered eastern locations. Protected forest areas across the United States effectively conserve ED, but not rarity. In fact, rarity was lowest in areas with the highest protection, and highest in areas with no or unknown protected status. Multiple-use protected areas had higher ED, but not rarity, than restricted-use protected areas. Protected area effectiveness varied across the country. Such spatially explicit assessment approaches can help determine which forests to target for monitoring efforts and pro-active management activities.
       
  • Multi-species occupancy modelling of mammal and ground bird communities in
           rangeland in the Karoo: A case for dryland systems globally
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Marine Drouilly, Allan Clark, M. Justin O'Riain The transition from natural habitat to agricultural land use is widely regarded as one of the leading drivers of biodiversity loss. Despite this, most wildlife still lives outside protected areas on private agricultural land, particularly on rangeland used for livestock grazing. Understanding which species persist and which decline in agricultural landscapes is important for global biodiversity monitoring, management and conservation. In this study, we used hierarchical multi-species occupancy modelling to estimate terrestrial vertebrate (body mass > 0.5 kg) richness in the Karoo, a semi-arid region of South Africa. We evaluated species-specific responses to different anthropogenic and environmental variables in rangeland and a nearby protected area of similar size. We grouped mammal species according to trophic guild and body size and compared their occurrence between areas. In total we detected 42 species over 4035 6-day pooled trap nights across 322 sites. Community species richness was not significantly different between the two types of land use and decreased with increasing elevation in the protected area. Human disturbance did not affect individual species occupancy in either area. Carnivores, omnivores and medium-sized species occupancy probabilities were similar between the two areas but were higher for herbivores and large species in the protected area and for insectivores and small species in rangeland. Our results reveal that drylands in the South African Karoo region, including rangeland used for small-livestock farming, support a diverse community of terrestrial vertebrates. Private landowners are thus important custodians of key components of indigenous biodiversity outside of protected areas, especially in low-lying areas.
       
  • Adaptive management of ecological systems under partial observability
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Milad Memarzadeh, Carl Boettiger Adaptive management has a long history in ecology and conservation. Uncertainty in both the state of a system and the model defining its dynamics are fundamental challenges in adaptive management of complex ecological systems. Traditional approaches in conservation biology often ignore one or both sources of uncertainty due to the computational complexity involved. Here, we show that underestimating the role of uncertainty in both model estimation and decision-making results in aggressive decision rules which can potentially lead to the dramatic decline and possible collapse of a population, species, or ecosystem. We propose an approximate solution to adaptive management of ecological systems under both model and state uncertainties that is computationally feasible and applicable to complex management problems and provide a software for detailed implementation of our method, http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1161521. We apply the proposed method in a marine ecosystem management context and show that by learning from historical data and arrival of new observations, decision makers can adapt their policies to avoid decline in the population and reach a sustainable population stability.
       
  • Distribution modelling and multi-scale landscape connectivity highlight
           important areas for the conservation of savannah elephants
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Daniel Zacarias, Rafael Loyola Habitat connectivity is the milestone towards species' long-term persistence, especially considering impacts of climate change and human activities. Here, we examined the potential implications of climate change and human pressure on connectivity among habitat patches, aiming to identify priority areas and potential corridors for elephant conservation. We used an ensemble modelling approach to evaluate the potential climatic distribution of the savannah elephants Loxodonta africana through time. We considered different climatic scenarios and used current potential climatic suitability and human pressure to evaluate habitat quality for the species. In addition, we used habitat quality and the centroids of elephant patches to evaluate habitat connectivity considering four progressive dispersal distances (100 km, 200 km, 300 km, 400 km). Elephant response to climate change has been conservative through time with overall slight improvement in climatic suitability in southern and eastern Africa and reduction in western Africa and northern portions of central Africa. Habitat quality followed the distribution of currently suitable areas for the species. We found three major areas with high density of least-cost paths in southern, eastern and western Africa, identifying them as potential areas for increasing the connectivity of elephant populations.
       
  • Vagrants as vanguards of range shifts in a dynamic world
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Robert A. Davis, David M. Watson The recent capture and removal to captivity of the first Nicobar Pigeon in Australia on the basis of biosecurity concerns, provides a compelling opportunity to examine how we manage species that naturally disperse to new territories. With the spectre of increasing climate change there is an increasing recognition of the need for species to expand or shift their ranges as part of natural adaptation. The occurrence of vagrants is a natural phenomenon that may be increasing as a result of climate change and other disturbances, but self-introduced organisms are known world-wide in multiple taxa. Although most vagrants are short-lived and of little lasting ecological consequence, some represent the forerunners of climate adaptation—individuals best placed to found new populations beyond their previous range. In contrast to invasive species for which policies and legislative instruments are commonplace (including watch lists of the world's worst invaders), policy makers have failed to consider the inherent dynamism of distributional ranges and the important role of vagrants as first responders to environmental change. The application of ad-hoc policies considering individual vagrants as a biosecurity risk is ill-informed, ecologically indefensible, and potentially counter-productive. We articulate the need for a new framework to consider vagrants as climate refugees and challenge conservation managers and on-ground practitioners to take active roles in determining how they are both viewed and managed.
       
  • Ask not what nature can do for you: A critique of ecosystem services as a
           communication strategy
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): S.A. Bekessy, M.C. Runge, A.M. Kusmanoff, D.A. Keith, B.A. Wintle Given the urgent need to raise public awareness on biodiversity issues, we review the effectiveness of “ecosystem services” as a frame for promoting biodiversity conservation. Since its inception as a communications tool in the 1970s, the concept of ecosystem services has become pervasive in biodiversity policy. While the goal of securing ecosystem services is absolutely legitimate, we argue that it has had limited success as a vehicle for securing public interest and support for nature, which is crucial to securing long-term social mandates for protection. Emerging evidence suggests that focusing on ecosystem services rather than the intrinsic value of nature is unlikely to be effective in bolstering public support for nature conservation. Theory to guide effective communication about nature is urgently needed. In the mean-time, communicators should reflect on their objectives and intended audience and revisit the way nature is framed to ensure maximum resonance.
       
  • Evaluating the efficacy of predator removal in a conflict-prone world
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Robert J. Lennox, Austin J. Gallagher, Euan G. Ritchie, Steven J. Cooke Predators shape ecosystem structure and function through their direct and indirect effects on prey, which permeate through ecological communities. Predators are often perceived as competitors or threats to human values or well-being. This conflict has persisted for centuries, often resulting in predator removal (i.e. killing) via targeted culling, trapping, poisoning, and/or public hunts. Predator removal persists as a management strategy but requires scientific evaluation to assess the impacts of these actions, and to develop a way forward in a world where human-predator conflict may intensify due to predator reintroduction and rewilding, alongside an expanding human population. We reviewed literature investigating predator removal and focused on identifying instances of successes and failures. We found that predator removal was generally intended to protect domestic animals from depredation, to preserve prey species, or to mitigate risks of direct human conflict, corresponding to being conducted in farmland, wild land, or urban areas. Because of the different motivations for predator removal, there was no consistent definition of what success entailed so we developed one with which to assess studies we reviewed. Research tended to be retrospective and correlative and there were few controlled experimental approaches that evaluated whether predator removal met our definition of success, making formal meta-analysis impossible. Predator removal appeared to only be effective for the short-term, failing in the absence of sustained predator suppression. This means predator removal was typically an ineffective and costly approach to conflicts between humans and predators. Management must consider the role of the predator within the ecosystem and the potential consequences of removal on competitors and prey. Simulations or models can be generated to predict responses prior to removing predators. We also suggest that alternatives to predator removal be further developed and researched. Ultimately, humans must coexist with predators and learning how best to do so may resolve many conflicts.
       
  • Using phylogeography to define conservation priorities: The case of narrow
           endemic plants in the Mediterranean Basin hotspot
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Frédéric Médail, Alex Baumel Rare and vulnerable narrow endemic species represent distinct evolutionary units emerging from various temporal processes, and the preservation of such species is a key issue in biological conservation. Phylogeography has proven to be a relevant tool for distinguishing evolutionary units within species resulting from contrasted biogeographical events, and it can be leveraged to obtain historical and evolutionary perspectives. Yet, despite its usefulness, it is curiously underutilized in plant conservation genetics. Here we provide a comprehensive review of the available case studies on the structure of genetic diversity in the Mediterranean narrow endemic plants (MNEs) of the Mediterranean Basin hotspot. The use of genetic diversity structure for phylogeographical inference and for defining conservation units was examined in eighty-four studies dealing with eighty-three distinct taxa, most of which are perennial herbs occupying a narrow ecological niche. In addition, some 91.5% of the analyzed MNEs are located in the north-western part of the Mediterranean region, and this results in a geographical coverage that is heavily biased. Half of the studied species have moderate to high genetic diversity, and genetic differentiation is geographically structured in 56% of the case studies, indicating that MNEs are not “evolutionary dead-ends,” but rather represent species that have a strong evolutionary legacy. Taken at face value, this would imply conservation planning at the population level. However, it was only a minority of the studies that used these genetic structures to define conservation units. The main insight of the present review is that phylogeography is generally overlooked in conservation genetics. In fact, the design of conservation units has not often been the main goal of these studies, which more commonly is simply to enhance the scope of genetic diversity analyses of rare plants. Nevertheless, the strong phylogeographic structure revealed by several studies of MNEs underlines the relevance of phylogeography. We argue that comparative phylogeography across several co-occurring taxa could greatly improve the proactive conservation planning for threatened endemic plants within biodiversity hotspots.
       
  • Approaching human-animal relationships from multiple angles: A synthetic
           perspective
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Alejandra Echeverri, Daniel S. Karp, Robin Naidoo, Jiaying Zhao, Kai M.A. Chan
       
  • Reply to Hedrick et al.: The role of genetic rescue in Mexican wolf
           recovery
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Eric A. Odell, James R. Heffelfinger, Steven S. Rosenstock, Chad J. Bishop, Stewart Liley, Alejandro González-Bernal, Julián A. Velasco, Enrique Martínez-Meyer
       
  • Genetic rescue, not genetic swamping, is important for Mexican wolves
    • Abstract: Publication date: August 2018Source: Biological Conservation, Volume 224Author(s): Philip Hedrick, Robert Wayne, Richard Fredrickson
       
 
 
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