10 February 2019

Effects of Roads on Giant Panda distribution: A mountain Range Scale Evaluation

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Abstract: "Few studies have focused on the mountain ranges scale effects of roads on wildlife. This lack of data could lead to an underestimation of the negative impact of roads on animal populations. We analyzed a dataset that included 74.4% of the giant panda population and covered 78.7% of the global giant panda habitat to estimate road-effect zones for major roads, and to investigate how these major roads influenced the distribution of giant pandas on a mountain range spatial scale. We found that the density of giant panda signs was significantly decreased by proximity to major roads. The effect zone reached 5,000 m from national roads and 1,500 m from provincial roads. Structural equation model analysis revealed that the strongest negative impact of major roads on giant pandas was via the reduction of nearby forest cover. The results should provide a better understanding of the impact of anthropogenic infrastructure and regional economic development on wildlife, thus providing a basis for conservation policy decisions. We suggest that the environmental impact assessment of proposed roadways or further researches on road ecological effects should expand to a larger scale and consider the possible habitat degradation caused by road access."

Read More: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-37447-0

Effects of Land Cover Change on Great Ape Distribution

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Abstract: "Understanding the effects of land cover change on wildlife distribution is very important for resource management and conservation planning. This paper aimed at detecting the effects of land cover change on great apes distribution at the Lobéké National Park and its bounded forest management units (FMUs). Data on great ape nests were collected in the field for the years 2001 and 2014 through distance sampling with line transects. Landsat TM images of South-East Cameroon for the years 2001 and 2014 were acquired from earth explorer and corrected atmospherically for proper visualization. An area of interest comprising the Lobéké National Park and its FMUs was extracted for classification and change detection. A comparison in great apes nest distribution and change per land cover change category was done for both years through point pattern analysis, whereas a time series analysis of the detected land cover change impacts on great apes nest distribution for a period of 13 years was modeled using logistic growth and regression equations in Vensim 7.2. The results could illustrate that, as land cover changes from one cover type in 2001 to another in 2014, increases or decreases in great apes nests were observed within each changed area."

Read More: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-36225-2

Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature

Scarce copper butterflies.

Abstract: "The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review. More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century. The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. They are “essential” for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients."

Read More: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature? CMP=fb_gu&fbclid=IwAR0FEhFw6nUoAaKfirO7TEKlmz8XC8yNC6Ax8ep9TCr1FoNxlqeUYCkohS0

18 January 2019

A sociological approach to global biodiversity loss (commentary)

Abstract: "The connections between social processes and environmental processes that generate biodiversity loss are very unclear compared to climate change, or even other environmental problems like oil spills or the clear-cutting of forests. In our recent article published in the journal Social Currents, we show that, because of these difficulties, the global crisis of anthropogenic biodiversity loss should, first and foremost, be explained historically. This means paying attention to how large scale social processes, for instance the increasing commodification of global agriculture or changes in international banking, interact with large scale environmental processes, for example the entire size of a species’ habitat. Overall, we believe that sociology can become an important contributor to research on biodiversity loss. For this to happen, however, it should be based on analysis of how broad social and environmental structures contribute to biodiversity loss, as well as the ways in which actual species extinctions are dependent upon a specific historical context."

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/01/a-sociological-approach-to-global-biodiversity-loss-commentary/

The case for forests’ prominent role in holding off climate change

Abstract: "The authors of a new report argue that investment in forests as a climate change mitigation strategy is just as important as addressing emissions from the energy sector. Despite the recognized potential contributions of forests to slowing the warming of the earth, they aren’t typically seen as a permanent solution to climate change. The authors of the report contend that provisions in the Paris rulebook, approved at the UN climate conference in Poland, are designed to hold countries responsible for changes to their forests so that such ‘reversals’ won’t go unaccounted for."

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/01/the-case-for-forests-prominent-role-in-holding-off-climate-change/

Species diversity as a surrogate for conservation of phylogenetic and functional diversity in terrestrial vertebrates across the Americas

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Abstract: "Preserving the evolutionary history and ecological functions that different species embody, in addition to species themselves, is a growing concern for conservation. Recent studies warn that conservation priority regions identified using species diversity differ from those based on phylogenetic or functional diversity. However, spatial mismatches in conservation priority regions need not indicate low surrogacy among these dimensions in conservation planning. Here, we use data for 10,213 terrestrial vertebrate species across the Americas to evaluate surrogacy; that is, the proportion of phylogenetic or functional diversity represented in conservation plans targeting species. We find that most conservation plans targeting species diversity also represent phylogenetic and functional diversity well, despite spatial mismatches in the priority regions identified by each plan. However, not all phylogenetic and functional diversity is represented within species-based plans, with the highest-surrogacy conservation strategy depending on the proportion of land area included in plans. Our results indicate that targeting species diversity could be sufficient to preserve much of the phylogenetic and functional dimensions of biodiversity in terrestrial vertebrates of the Americas. Incorporating phylogenetic and functional data in broad-scale conservation planning may not always be necessary, especially when the cost of doing so is high."

Read More: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0744-7

24 November 2018

Map pinpoints ‘last chance’ locations of endangered species

Abstract: "A new assessment updates the last known ranges for nearly 1,500 species of animals and plants at 853 locations around the world. The three-year effort is aimed at helping scientists, governments and conservationists identify the threats that could lead to the extinction of these species and find ways to address them. Governments are already using this information to identify target areas for conservation to protect the last remaining habitats of threatened species. Nearly half of the sites identified lack formal protection, despite many of them having been flagged as important more than a decade ago."

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/2018/11/map-pinpoints-last-chance-locations-of-endangered-speciesnearly-half-are-unprotected/