21 April 2019

Thermal-imaging system to estimate wildlife populations

Abstract: "A research team hailed a breakthrough in their imaging system’s ability to detect and identify orangutans in tropical rainforest. They now plan for computer algorithms to report back what a thermal camera has seen in real time. The researchers believe the system could also be used to spot poachers targeting rare species."

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/04/lift-off-for-thermal-imaging-system-to-estimate-wildlife-populations/

A composite measure of habitat loss for entire assemblages of species

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Abstract: "Habitat destruction is among the greatest threats facing biodiversity, affecting common and threatened species alike. However, metrics for communicating its impacts typically overlook the non‐threatened component of assemblages. This risks the loss of habitat for species that comprise the majority of assemblages going unreported. Here, we adapt a widely‐used measure for summarizing researcher output (the h index) to provide the first metric describing natural habitat loss for entire assemblages, inclusive of threatened and non‐threatened species. For each of 447 Australian native terrestrial bird species, information on their association with broad vegetation groups was combined with distributional range maps to identify the difference between the estimated pre‐European and current extents of potential habitat. From this, we calculated the ‘Loss Index’ (LI), which reveals that 30% of native birds have each lost at least 30% of their potential natural habitat—an LI of 30. At the sub‐continental scale, the LI ranges from 15 in arid Australia to 61 in the highly transformed south‐east of the country. Further, different subcomponents of the assemblage have different LI values; for example, Australia's parrots ( n=52 species) have an LI of 38, while raptors ( n=32 species) have an LI of 25. The LI is simple to calculate, and can be determined using readily available spatial information on species distributions, habitat associations and human impacts on natural land cover. This metric, including the curves that are used to deduce it, could complement other biodiversity indices by being used for regional and global biodiversity assessments, comparing the status of natural habitat extent for assemblages within and among nations, monitoring changes through time, and forecasting future changes to guide strategic land use planning. The LI is an intuitive tool with which to summarise and communicate how human actions affect whole assemblages, and not just those that species identified as threatened."

Read More: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cobi.13331

Sixty years of tracking conservation progress using the World Database on Protected Areas

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Abstract: "The world’s protected area network is constantly changing, and the dynamics of this network are tracked using the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). This database evolved from a list of protected areas first mandated by the United Nations in 1959, and it now informs the key indicators that track progress toward area-based conservation targets. In this capacity, the WDPA illuminates the role of protected areas in advancing a range of international objectives and agreements, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite ongoing challenges in maintaining such a complex global dataset, the WDPA is continuously improving and taking advantage of new technology, making it widely applicable to diverse users, including those in sectors far from its original intended audience. In the future, the WDPA will expand to include areas that contribute to conservation and sustainable use outside of formal protected areas, and will increasingly link to other key global datasets. These innovations in the way the WDPA is managed and used will deliver vital knowledge to support a sustainable future for biodiversity and people globally."

Read More: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-019-0869-3