04 October 2018

Combined impacts of deforestation and wildlife trade on tropical biodiversity are severely underestimated

Figure 2

Abstract: "Tropical forest diversity is simultaneously threatened by habitat loss and exploitation for wildlife trade. Quantitative conservation assessments have previously considered these threats separately, yet their impacts frequently act together. We integrate forest extent maps in 2000 and 2015 with a method of quantifying exploitation pressure based upon a species’ commercial value and forest accessibility. We do so for 308 forest-dependent bird species, of which 77 are commercially traded, in the Southeast Asian biodiversity hotspot of Sundaland. We find 89% (274) of species experienced average habitat losses of 16% and estimate exploitation led to mean population declines of 37%. Assessing the combined impacts of deforestation and exploitation indicates the average losses of exploited species are much higher (54%), nearly doubling the regionally endemic species (from 27 to 51) threatened with extinction that should be IUCN Red Listed. Combined assessment of major threats is vital to accurately quantify biodiversity loss."

Read More: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-06579-2

31 August 2018

Past and future global transformation of terrestrial ecosystems under climate change

Abstract: "Impacts of global climate change on terrestrial ecosystems are imperfectly constrained by ecosystem models and direct observations. Pervasive ecosystem transformations occurred in response to warming and associated climatic changes during the last glacial-to-interglacial transition, which was comparable in magnitude to warming projected for the next century under high-emission scenarios. We reviewed 594 published paleoecological records to examine compositional and structural changes in terrestrial vegetation since the last glacial period and to project the magnitudes of ecosystem transformations under alternative future emission scenarios. Our results indicate that terrestrial ecosystems are highly sensitive to temperature change and suggest that, without major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, terrestrial ecosystems worldwide are at risk of major transformation, with accompanying disruption of ecosystem services and impacts on biodiversity."

Read More:http://science.sciencemag.org.ezproxy2.library.colostate.edu/content/361/6405/920

Will protecting half the Earth save biodiversity? Depends which half

Abstract: "Researchers say it’s important to not be seduced by the idea of protecting areas simply because they’re big and politically easier to protect, but instead to prioritize areas because they’re special and/or have key species in them. The study also revealed a surprising trend: existing protected areas around the world are good at covering at least some of the range of most of the world’s birds, mammals and amphibians."

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/2018/08/will-protecting-half-the-earth-save-biodiversity-depends-which-half/

17 August 2018

Counting tigers on smartphones

Forest officials conduct a training exercise in M-STrIPES.

Abstract: "India’s 2018 national tiger estimation will use an Android-based mobile application to streamline collection of field data on tigers and prey, add photos and GPS coordinates, record poaching and human-wildlife conflict, and reduce error in data entry. The M-STrIPES app uploads field data automatically to a remote central server for rapid analysis or stores the data on the user’s mobile phone until internet access is available. The app has been tested successfully in a few tiger reserves, made more user friendly, and is now being rolled out on a national scale, but can it help resolve discrepancies in survey results?"

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/wildtech/2017/12/counting-tigers-on-smartphones/

India's Tiger Population on the Rise, But Still Has Long Way to Go

A sleepy-looking male tiger in India's Ranthambhore National Park.

Read More: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/tiger-population-improves-but-still-need-to-go-a-long-way/articleshow/65354348.cms

24 July 2018

Southeast Asian deforestation more extensive than thought, study finds

Cropland expansion along topographical frontiers in the 21st century in Nan, Thailand, a hilly and mountainous province located in the north of the country. a, The RapidEye (5 m resolution) satellite land-cover maps in 2017, showing areas of settlements, forest, rice, other crops, and water. The data were produced by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), obtained from KASIKORN Foundation in Thailand. b, An aerial view of formerly forested land converted to croplands in the highlands, obtained from Google Earth (CNES/Airbus, image date: 2 February 2014). c, Photograph of general area of b from August 2016.

Abstract: "Researchers analyzed a suite of satellite imagery products and found much greater deforestation than expected since 2000 in the highlands of Southeast Asia. Much of the 82,000 square kilometers (31,700 square miles) they estimate to have been developed into croplands in the region’s highlands reflects previously undocumented conversion of forest, including primary and protected forests, to agriculture. Through a sample-based verification process, the authors found that 93 percent of the pixels from areas allocated to areas of net forest loss by the authors’ model were confirmed as net forest loss, and 99 percent of the pixels delineated as other areas were accurately labelled as non-net forest loss. The findings contrast with previous assumptions about land-cover trends currently used in projections of global climate change and future environmental conditions in Southeast Asia."

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/wildtech/2018/07/southeast-asian-deforestation-more-extensive-than-thought-study-finds/

Study finds elephants plant trees, play big role in forest structure

Related image

Abstract: "Many large animals – collectively called “megafauna” – eat the fruit of Platymitra macrocarpa trees, including Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), sambar deer (Rusa unicolor), bears and gibbons. When researchers examined the fruit consumption, seed dispersal, and seed germination trends of P macrocarpa, they discovered that elephants were responsible for the lion’s share of successful seedling germination – 37 percent – despite consuming only 3 percent of available fruit. They also noticed a decline in P macrocarpa, which they say may be due to extirpated rhinos or reductions in local elephant populations. They say their results highlight the important role large herbivores play in forest structure, and that losses of these animals might significantly change tree composition and even a forest’s ability to store carbon."

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/2018/07/study-finds-elephants-plant-trees-play-big-role-in-forest-structure/