ResearchPad - conservation-science https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Adaptive genetic diversity and evidence of population genetic structure in the endangered Sierra Madre Sparrow (<i>Xenospiza baileyi</i>)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11235 The magnitude and distribution of genetic diversity through space and time can provide useful information relating to evolutionary potential and conservation status in threatened species. In assessing genetic diversity in species that are of conservation concern, several studies have focused on the use of Toll-like receptors (TLRs). TLRs are innate immune genes related to pathogen resistance, and polymorphisms may reflect not only levels of functional diversity, but may also be used to assess genetic diversity within and among populations. Here, we combined four potentially adaptive markers (TLRs) with one mitochondrial (COI) marker to evaluate genetic variation in the endangered Sierra Madre Sparrow (Xenospiza baileyi). This species offers an ideal model to investigate population and evolutionary genetic processes that may be occurring in a habitat restricted endangered species with disjunct populations (Mexico City and Durango), the census sizes of which differ by an order of magnitude. TLRs diversity in the Sierra Madre Sparrow was relatively high, which was not expected given its two small, geographically isolated populations. Genetic diversity was different (but not significantly so) between the two populations, with less diversity seen in the smaller Durango population. Population genetic structure between populations was due to isolation and different selective forces acting on different TLRs; population structure was also evident in COI. Reduction of genetic diversity in COI was observed over 20 years in the Durango population, a result likely caused by habitat loss, a factor which may be the main cause of diversity decline generally. Our results provide information related to the ways in which adaptive variation can be altered by demographic changes due to human-mediated habitat alterations. Furthermore, our findings may help to guide conservation schemes for both populations and their restricted habitat.

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<![CDATA[Sustainability management of short-lived freshwater fish in human-altered ecosystems should focus on adult survival]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7859 Fish populations globally are susceptible to endangerment through exploitation and habitat loss. We present theoretical simulations to explore how reduced adult survival (age truncation) might affect short-lived freshwater fish species in human-altered contemporary environments. Our simulations evaluate two hypothetical "average fish" and five example fish species of age 1 or age 2 maturity. From a population equilibrium baseline representing a natural, unaltered environment we impose systematic reductions in adult survival and quantify how age truncation affects the causes of variation in population growth rate. We estimate the relative contributions to population growth rate arising from simulated temporal variation in age-specific vital rates and population structure. At equilibrium and irrespective of example species, population structure (first adult age class) and survival probability of the first two adult age classes are the most important determinants of population growth. As adult survival decreases, the first reproductive age class becomes increasingly important to variation in population growth. All simulated examples show the same general pattern of change with age truncation as known for exploited, longer-lived fish species in marine and freshwater environments. This implies age truncation is a general potential concern for fish biodiversity across life history strategies and ecosystems. Managers of short-lived, freshwater fishes in contemporary environments often focus on supporting reproduction to ensure population persistence. However, a strong focus on water management to support reproduction may reduce adult survival. Sustainability management needs a focus on mitigating adult mortality in human-altered ecosystems. A watershed spatial extent embracing land and water uses may be necessary to identify and mitigate causes of age truncation in freshwater species. Achieving higher adult survival will require paradigm transformations in society and government about water management priorities.

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<![CDATA[Mechanism to prevent the abuse of IPv6 fragmentation in OpenFlow networks]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7717 OpenFlow makes a network highly flexible and fast-evolving by separating control and data planes. The control plane thus becomes responsive to changes in topology and load balancing requirements. OpenFlow also offers a new approach to handle security threats accurately and responsively. Therefore, it is used as an innovative firewall that acts as a first-hop security to protect networks against malicious users. However, the firewall provided by OpenFlow suffers from Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6) fragmentation, which can be used to bypass the OpenFlow firewall. The OpenFlow firewall cannot identify the message payload unless the switch implements IPv6 fragment reassembly. This study tests the IPv6 fragmented packets that can evade the OpenFlow firewall, and proposes a new mechanism to guard against attacks carried out by malicious users to exploit IPv6 fragmentation loophole in OpenFlow networks. The proposed mechanism is evaluated in a simulated environment by using six scenarios, and results exhibit that the proposed mechanism effectively fixes the loophole and successfully prevents the abuse of IPv6 fragmentation in OpenFlow networks.

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<![CDATA[The genetic diversity and population structure of Sophora alopecuroides (Faboideae) as determined by microsatellite markers developed from transcriptome]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N8ed88142-6689-430c-b82a-b033b4ff58ac

Sophora alopecuroides (Faboideae) is an endemic species, mainly distributed in northwest China. However, the limited molecular markers range for this species hinders breeding and genetic studies. A total of 20,324 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were identified from 118,197 assembled transcripts and 18 highly polymorphic SSR markers were used to explore the genetic diversity and population structure of S. alopecuroides from 23 different geographical populations. A relatively low genetic diversity was found in S. alopecuroides based on mean values of the number of effective alleles (Ne = 1.81), expected heterozygosity (He = 0.39) and observed heterozygosity (Ho = 0.55). The results of AMOVA indicated higher levels of variation within populations than between populations. Bayesian-based cluster analysis, principal coordinates analysis and Neighbor-Joining phylogeny analysis roughly divided all genotypes into four major groups with some admixtures. Meanwhile, geographic barriers would have restricted gene flow between the northern and southern regions (separated by Tianshan Mountains), wherein the two relatively ancestral and independent clusters of S. alopecuroides occur. History trade and migration along the Silk Road would together have promoted the spread of S. alopecuroides from the western to the eastern regions of the northwest plateau in China, resulting in the current genetic diversity and population structure. The transcriptomic SSR markers provide a valuable resource for understanding the genetic diversity and population structure of S. alopecuroides, and will assist effective conservation management.

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<![CDATA[A moral panic over cats]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N2c73f91c-a7e2-449f-8064-0cdc172033c4

Abstract

Some conservationists believe that free‐ranging cats pose an enormous risk to biodiversity and public health and therefore should be eliminated from the landscape by any means necessary. They further claim that those who question the science or ethics behind their arguments are science deniers (merchants of doubt) seeking to mislead the public. As much as we share a commitment to conservation of biodiversity and wild nature, we believe these ideas are wrong and fuel an unwarranted moral panic over cats. Those who question the ecological or epidemiological status of cats are not science deniers, and it is a false analogy to compare them with corporate and right‐wing special interests that perpetrate disinformation campaigns over issues, such as smoking and climate change. There are good conservation and public‐health reasons and evidence to be skeptical that free‐ranging cats constitute a disaster for biodiversity and human health in all circumstances. Further, there are significant and largely unaddressed ethical and policy issues (e.g., the ethics and efficacy of lethal management) relative to how people ought to value and coexist with cats and native wildlife. Society is better served by a collaborative approach to produce better scientific and ethical knowledge about free‐ranging cats.

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<![CDATA[Latent influence networks in global environmental politics]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8acc3cd5eed0c48498f26a

International environmental treaties are the key means by which states overcome collective action problems and make specific commitments to address environmental issues. However, systematically assessing states’ influence in promoting global environmental protection has proven difficult. Analyzing newly compiled data with a purpose-built statistical model, we provide a novel measurement of state influence within the scope of environmental politics and find strong influences among states and treaties. Specifically, we report evidence that states are less likely to ratify when states within their region ratify, and results suggesting that countries positively influence other countries at similar levels of economic development. By examining several prominent treaties, we illustrate the complex nature of influence: a single act of ratification can dramatically reshape global environmental politics. More generally, our findings and approach provide an innovative means to understand the evolution and complexity of international environmental protection.

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<![CDATA[Roads and livelihood activity choices in the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem, Tanzania]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8c1940d5eed0c484b4d270

Road development is occurring at an unprecedented rate in important conservation areas in tropical countries with limited understanding of how local people will adjust their livelihood activities in response. We use a discrete choice experiment to explore the effect of road development on respondents ex-ante preferences for changes in livelihood activities—crop and livestock production, hunting and trading bushmeat, and business and wage employment—under different incentives—provision of loans, livestock and crop extension services–in scenarios with reduced travel time to nearest district town in the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem in Tanzania. We test four hypotheses about the effects of roads with opposing implication for conservation. Hypothesis 1 predicts that increased market access will lead to intensification of crop and livestock production activities (achieved through extension services and loans), and Hypothesis 2 that market access will facilitate the development of non-farm Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) providing new livelihood opportunities (e.g. business income and wage employment)–both reducing environmental pressure. Hypotheis 3 on the other hand predicts that improved market access will lead to extensification and expansion of crop and livestock production activities, while Hypotheis 4 suggests that it will encourage exploitation of environmental goods (here in the form of hunting and trading bushmeat and illegal grazing inside protected areas)–both increasing environmental pressure. We find increasing preferences for more cropland and more cattle as travel time to market is reduced but no preference for increased allocation of household members to hunting and trading bushmeat supporting hypothesis 3 while contradicting hypothesis 4. However, second-order effects might support hypothesis 4 as we find aversion towards decreasing effort invested in hunting and trading bushmeat. Preferences for increased cropland and livestock may furthermore interact to increase land use change and illegal grazing inside protected areas. Crop extension services had a negative modifying effect on preferences for more cropland (supporting hypothesis 1) while livestock extension services had a positive modifying effect on preferences for more cattle (contradicting hypothesis 1). Providing loans had a negative modifying effect on preferences for increasing cropland and number of cattle. Marginal rates of substitution suggest that 950,000 TSH borrowed at a 10% interest rate will reduce preferences for more cropland and cattle by 11.8 and 38.4% respectively. Crop extension services reduce preferences for more cropland by 27% whereas livestock extension services increase preferences for more cattle by 104%. Contradicting Hypothesis 2, we found no preference for increasing the number of households members engaged in business and wage employment in response to reduced travel time. Targeted efforts to increase the educational level as well as entrepreneurship skills in the GSE could promote engagement in the labour market and development of business enterprises diverting focus from traditional activities such as farming and livestock production and hence reducing pressure on the ecosystem.

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<![CDATA[A season for all things: Phenological imprints in Wikipedia usage and their relevance to conservation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c882408d5eed0c4846395ce

Phenology plays an important role in many human–nature interactions, but these seasonal patterns are often overlooked in conservation. Here, we provide the first broad exploration of seasonal patterns of interest in nature across many species and cultures. Using data from Wikipedia, a large online encyclopedia, we analyzed 2.33 billion pageviews to articles for 31,751 species across 245 languages. We show that seasonality plays an important role in how and when people interact with plants and animals online. In total, over 25% of species in our data set exhibited a seasonal pattern in at least one of their language-edition pages, and seasonality is significantly more prevalent in pages for plants and animals than it is in a random selection of Wikipedia articles. Pageview seasonality varies across taxonomic clades in ways that reflect observable patterns in phenology, with groups such as insects and flowering plants having higher seasonality than mammals. Differences between Wikipedia language editions are significant; pages in languages spoken at higher latitudes exhibit greater seasonality overall, and species seldom show the same pattern across multiple language editions. These results have relevance to conservation policy formulation and to improving our understanding of what drives human interest in biodiversity.

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<![CDATA[Factors affecting Dupont´s lark distribution and range regression in Spain]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c70676ad5eed0c4847c6fdd

In this work, we analyse factors explaining the distribution and range regression of Dupont’s lark in Spain, the only European country in which this threatened alaudid is present. Dupont’s lark is an extremely elusive and scarce species, distributed across a reduced and strongly fragmented range, showing a metapopulational structure with unknown dispersive and connective mechanisms. We used maximum entropy modelling (Maxent) on nearly 15,000 Dupont’s lark observations (1985–2015) to assess the probability of presence at a 1 km resolution across its European range. Moreover, we tested the probability of extinction by comparing pre- and post-2000 observations by means of a GLM over a subset of cells with presence-absence data. We obtained strong model fitting (AUC = 0.919), in which species occurrence was explained by low values of plant productivity (NDVI), climate (high temperature range and medium annual precipitation), land use (increasing with sclerophyllous scrubland), flat topography and human disturbance (associated with low human population density). The species also tolerates dry farming, but not other farm types or forest cover. The probability map identified two main regions known as the species' core areas: the steppes of the Iberian System and the Ebro Valley. The North Plateau is characterised by a dispersed structure of small and very fragmented patches of suitable habitat, while a succession of discontinuous probability patches form an Eastern Corridor connecting the central core areas to the southernmost populations. Finally, the model identified small and isolated patches of high probability of presence along the eastern coastline. The species tends to occur in the best available areas but, at the same time, the model revealed a large area of suitable but unoccupied habitat. Our results correct the previous estimation of occupation area from 1,480 to 1,010.78 km2, a reduction of 26.22%. The current distribution of Dupont’s lark is almost completely covered by Important Bird Areas (IBAs), highlighting their importance for bird conservation, but only 44.89% is included in Natura 2000 Special Protection Areas (SPAs). A comparison of pre- and post-2000 periods revealed a range contraction of 44%. Probability of extinction increased with higher temperature range and lower annual precipitation, and with decreases in population density, which suggests that this species is extremely vulnerable to both climate change and rural abandonment, due to its dependence on traditional grazing. These results suggest the need for a re-evaluation of the conservation status of Dupont’s lark in Spain. They urge the preservation of not only current extant populations, but also the unoccupied suitable areas that could be critical for metapopulation structure, and the development of policies addressing the preservation of traditional grazing.

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<![CDATA[Identifying species threatened with local extinction in tropical reef fisheries using historical reconstruction of species occurrence]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dca12d5eed0c48452a736

Identifying the species that are at risk of local extinction in highly diverse ecosystems is a big challenge for conservation science. Assessments of species status are costly and difficult to implement in developing countries with diverse ecosystems due to a lack of species-specific surveys, species-specific data, and other resources. Numerous techniques are devised to determine the threat status of species based on the availability of data and budgetary limits. On this basis, we developed a framework that compared occurrence data of historically exploited reef species in Kenya from existing disparate data sources. Occurrence data from archaeological remains (750-1500CE) was compared with occurrence data of these species catch assessments, and underwater surveys (1991-2014CE). This comparison indicated that only 67 species were exploited over a 750 year period, 750-1500CE, whereas 185 species were landed between 1995 and 2014CE. The first step of our framework identified 23 reef species as threatened with local extinction. The second step of the framework further evaluated the possibility of local extinction with Bayesian extinction analyses using occurrence data from naturalists’ species list with the existing occurrence data sources. The Bayesian extinction analysis reduced the number of reef species threatened with local extinction from 23 to 15. We compared our findings with three methods used for assessing extinction risk. Commonly used extinction risk methods varied in their ability to identify reef species that we identified as threatened with local extinction by our comparative and Bayesian method. For example, 12 of the 15 threatened species that we identified using our framework were listed as either least concern, unevaluated, or data deficient in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature red list. Piscivores and macro-invertivores were the only functional groups found to be locally extinct. Comparing occurrence data from disparate sources revealed a large number of historically exploited reef species that are possibly locally extinct. Our framework addressed biases such as uncertainty in priors, sightings and survey effort, when estimating the probability of local extinction. Our inexpensive method showed the value and potential for disparate data to fill knowledge gaps that exist in species extinction assessments.

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<![CDATA[Potential risk of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans in Mexico]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6c759ad5eed0c4843cff09

The recent decline in populations of European salamanders caused by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) has generated worldwide concern, as it is a major threat to amphibians. Evaluation of the areas most suitable for the establishment of Bsal combined with analysis of the distribution of salamander species could be used to generate and implement biosecurity measures and protect biodiversity at sites with high salamander diversity. In this study, we identified the areas most suitable for the establishment of Bsal in Mexico. Mexico has the second-highest salamander species diversity in the world; thus, we identified areas moderately to highly suitable for the establishment of Bsal with high salamander diversity as potential hotspots for surveillance. Central and Southern Mexico were identified as high-risk zones, with 13 hotspots where 30% of Mexican salamander species occur, including range-restricted species and endangered species. We propose that these hotspots should be thoroughly monitored for the presence of Bsal to prevent the spread of the pathogen if it is introduced to the country.

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<![CDATA[Oil palm plantations in Peninsular Malaysia: Determinants and constraints on expansion]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c76fde3d5eed0c484e5afe5

Agricultural expansion is one of the leading causes of deforestation in the tropics and in Southeast Asia it is predominantly driven by large-scale production for international trade. Peninsular Malaysia has a long history of plantation agriculture and has been a predominantly resource-based economy where expanding plantations like those of oil palm continue to replace natural forests. Habitat loss from deforestation and expanding plantations threatens Malaysian biodiversity. Expanding industrial plantations have also been responsible for drainage and conversions of peatland forests resulting in release of large amounts of carbon dioxide. The demand for palm oil is expected to increase further and result in greater pressures on tropical forests. Given Malaysia’s high biophysical suitability for oil palm cultivation, it is important to understand patterns of oil palm expansion to better predict forest areas that are vulnerable to future expansion. We study natural forest conversion to industrial oil palm in Peninsular Malaysia between 1988 and 2012 to identify determinants of recent oil palm expansion using logistic regression and hierarchical partitioning. Using maps of recent conversions and remaining forests, we characterize agro-environmental suitability and accessibility for the past and future conversions. We find that accessibility to previously existing plantations is the strongest determinant of oil palm expansion and is significant throughout the study period. Almost all (> 99%) of the forest loss between 1988 and 2012 that has been converted to industrial oil palm plantations is within 1 km from oil palm plantations that have been established earlier. Although most forest conversions to industrial oil palm have been in areas of high biophysical suitability, there has been an increase in converted area in regions with low oil palm suitability since 2006. We find that reduced suitability does not necessarily restrict conversions to industrial oil palm in the region; however, lack of access to established plantations does.

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<![CDATA[Incorporating environmental costs of ecosystem service loss in political decision making: A synthesis of monetary values for Germany]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dca3ad5eed0c48452a911

Germany faces on-going degradation and biodiversity loss. As a consequence, goods and services provided by biodiversity for human well-being, so-called ecosystem services, are being lost. The associated economic costs and benefits are often unknown. To fill this gap, we conducted a literature review and developed a database of monetary values for the changes in ecosystem services that result from ecosystem change in Germany. In total, 109 monetary valuation studies of regulating and cultural ecosystem services were identified, with the majority focusing on forests and wetlands. In collaboration with valuation experts and the German Federal Environment Agency—Umweltbundesamt (UBA), we defined a set of criteria that economic valuation studies should meet in order to qualify for being used in decision making on national policies. Only 6 out of 109 valuation studies (5.5%) fulfilled the quality criteria for informing such decisions. Overall, monetary information on regulating and cultural ecosystem services is scattered and scarce compared to information on provisioning services, which is accounted for in detail in national statistics. This imbalance in information likely contributes to the distortion in land-use policies, giving preference to maximizing provisioning services in agricultural production and forestry, while neglecting the societal relevance of regulating and cultural services. Decision makers have to rely on only a few cost estimates that are scientifically robust, while being pragmatic to include also vague estimates in cases where data is lacking. The transferability of the monetary values included in our database depends on the biophysical and socio-economic site conditions as well as the decision context of the intended application. Case specific adjustments following guidance for benefit transfer are recommended. Given the lack of applicable studies, we call for more decision-relevant economic assessments. Even in cases where monetary estimates are available, we suggest decision makers to consider also other benefit information available to capture the multiple values ecosystems provide to humans.

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<![CDATA[Plant-soil feedbacks promote coexistence and resilience in multi-species communities]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6b26b6d5eed0c484289eef

Both ecological theory and empirical evidence suggest that negative frequency dependent feedbacks structure plant communities, but integration of these findings has been limited. Here we develop a generic model of frequency dependent feedback to analyze coexistence and invasibility in random theoretical and real communities for which frequency dependence through plant-soil feedbacks (PSFs) was determined empirically. We investigated community stability and invasibility by means of mechanistic analysis of invasion conditions and numerical simulations. We found that communities fall along a spectrum of coexistence types ranging from strict pair-wise negative feedback to strict intransitive networks. Intermediate community structures characterized by partial intransitivity may feature “keystone competitors” which disproportionately influence community stability. Real communities were characterized by stronger negative feedback and higher robustness to species loss than randomly assembled communities. Partial intransitivity became increasingly likely in more diverse communities. The results presented here theoretically explain why more diverse communities are characterized by stronger negative frequency dependent feedbacks, a pattern previously encountered in observational studies. Natural communities are more likely to be maintained by strict negative plant-soil feedback than expected by chance, but our results also show that community stability often depends on partial intransitivity. These results suggest that plant-soil feedbacks can facilitate coexistence in multi-species communities, but that these feedbacks may also initiate cascading effects on community diversity following from single-species loss.

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<![CDATA[Regional and global shifts in crop diversity through the Anthropocene]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c648ceed5eed0c484c81b0f

The Anthropocene epoch is partly defined by anthropogenic spread of crops beyond their centres of origin. At global scales, evidence indicates that species-level taxonomic diversity of crops being cultivated on large-scale agricultural lands has increased linearly over the past 50 years. Yet environmental and socio-economic differences support expectations that temporal changes in crop diversity vary across regions. Ecological theory also suggests that changes in crop taxonomic diversity may not necessarily reflect changes in the evolutionary diversity of crops. We used data from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to assess changes in crop taxonomic- and phylogenetic diversity across 22 subcontinental-scale regions from 1961–2014. We document certain broad consistencies across nearly all regions: i) little change in crop diversity from 1961 through to the late 1970s; followed by ii) a 10-year period of sharp diversification through the early 1980s; followed by iii) a “levelling-off” of crop diversification beginning in the early 1990s. However, the specific onset and duration of these distinct periods differs significantly across regions and are unrelated to agricultural expansion, indicating that unique policy or environmental conditions influence the crops being grown within a given region. Additionally, while the 1970s and 1980s are defined by region-scale increases in crop diversity this period marks the increasing dominance of a small number of crop species and lineages; a trend resulting in detectable increases in the similarity of crops being grown across regions. Broad similarities in the species-level taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity of crops being grown across regions, primarily at large industrial scales captured by FAO data, represent a unique feature of the Anthropocene epoch. Yet nuanced asymmetries in regional-scale trends suggest that environmental and socio-economic factors play a key role in shaping observed macro-ecological changes in the plant diversity on agricultural lands.

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<![CDATA[Genetic diversity and population structure of Miscanthus lutarioriparius, an endemic plant of China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5df329d5eed0c484580de8

Miscanthus lutarioriparius is a native perennial Miscanthus species of China, which is currently used as raw material of papermaking and bioenergy crop. It also has been considered as a promising eco-bioindustrial plant, which can offer raw material and gene for the biomass industry. However, lack of germplasm resources and genetic diversity information of M. lutarioriparius have become the bottleneck that prevents the stable and further development of the biomass industry. In the present study, genetic diversity of 153 M. lutarioriparius individuals nine populations was studied using 27 Start Codon Targeted (SCoT) markers. High polymorphic bands (97.67%), polymorphic information content (0.26) and allele number (1.88) showed SCoT as a reliable marker system for genetic analysis in M. lutarioriparius. At the species, the percentage of polymorphic loci [PPL] was 97.2%, Nei’s gene diversity [H] was 0.36, Shannon index [I] was 0.54 and Expected Heterozygosity [He] was 0.56. Genetic variation within populations (84.91%) was higher than among populations (15.09%) based on analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA). Moderate level of genetic differentiation was found in M. lutarioriparius populations (Fst = 0.15), which is further confirmed by STRUCTURE, principal coordinates analysis (PCoA) and an unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean (UPGMA) analysis that could reveal a clear separation between groups of the north and south of Yangtze River. The gene flow of the populations within the respective south and north of Yangtze River area was higher, but lower between the areas. There was no obvious correlation between genetic distance and geographic distance. The breeding systems, geographical isolation and fragmented habitat of M. lutarioriparius may be due to the high level of genetic diversity, moderate genetic differentiation, and the population, structure. The study further suggests some measure for conservation of genetic resources and provides the genetic basis for improving the efficiency of breeding based on the results of diversity analysis.

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<![CDATA[Discourses mapped by Q-method show governance constraints motivate landscape approaches in Indonesia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5ca2f1d5eed0c48441ee11

Interpreting discourses among implementers of what is termed a “landscape approach” enables us to learn from their experience to improve conservation and development outcomes. We use Q-methodology to explore the perspectives of a group of experts in the landscape approach, both from academic and implementation fields, on what hinderances are in place to the realisation of achieving sustainable landscape management in Indonesia. The results show that, at a generic level, “corruption” and “lack of transparency and accountability” rank as the greatest constraints on landscape functionality. Biophysical factors, such as topography and climate change, rank as the least constraining factors. When participants considered a landscape with which they were most familiar, the results changed: the rapid change of regulations, limited local human capacity and inaccessible data on economic risks increased, while the inadequacy of democratic institutions, “overlapping laws” and “corruption” decreased. The difference indicates some fine-tuning of generic perceptions to the local context and may also reflect different views on what is achievable for landscape approach practitioners. Overall, approximately 55% of variance is accounted for by five discourse factors for each trial. Four overlapped and two discourses were discrete enough to merit different discourse labels. We labelled the discourses (1) social exclusionists, (2) state view, (3) community view, (4) integrationists, (5) democrats, and (6) neoliberals. Each discourse contains elements actionable at the landscape scale, as well as exogenous issues that originate at national and global scales. Actionable elements that could contribute to improving governance included trust building, clarified resource rights and responsibilities, and inclusive representation in management. The landscape sustainability discourses studied here suggests that landscape approach “learners” must focus on ways to remedy poor governance if they are to achieve sustainability and multi-functionality.

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<![CDATA[Modelling potential habitat for snow leopards (Panthera uncia) in Ladakh, India]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59febcd5eed0c484135369

The snow leopard Panthera uncia is an elusive species inhabiting some of the most remote and inaccessible tracts of Central and South Asia. It is difficult to determine its distribution and density pattern, which are crucial for developing conservation strategies. Several techniques for species detection combining camera traps with remote sensing and geographic information systems have been developed to model the habitat of such cryptic and low-density species in challenging terrains. Utilising presence-only data from camera traps and direct observations, alongside six environmental variables (elevation, aspect, ruggedness, distance to water, land cover, and prey habitat suitability), we assessed snow leopard habitat suitability across Ladakh in northern India. This is the first study to model snow leopard distribution both in India and utilising direct observation data. Results suggested that elevation and ruggedness are the two most influential environmental variables for snow leopard habitat suitability, with highly suitable habitat having an elevation range of 2,800 m to 4,600 m and ruggedness of 450 m to 1,800 m. Our habitat suitability map estimated approximately 12% of Ladakh's geographical area (c. 90,000 km2) as highly suitable and 18% as medium suitability. We found that 62.5% of recorded livestock depredation along with over half of all livestock corrals (54%) and homestays (58%) occurred within highly suitable snow leopard habitat. Our habitat suitability model can be used to assist in allocation of conservation resources by targeting construction of livestock corrals to areas of high habitat suitability and promoting ecotourism programs in villages in highly suitable snow leopard habitat.

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<![CDATA[Assessment and prediction of spatial patterns of human-elephant conflicts in changing land cover scenarios of a human-dominated landscape in North Bengal]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5df349d5eed0c48458109f

It is of utmost importance to research on the spatial patterns of human-wildlife conflicts to understand the underlying mechanism of such interactions, i.e. major land use changes and prominent ecological drivers. In the north eastern part of India there has been a disparity between nature, economic development and fragmentation of wildlife habitats leading to intense conflicts between humans and Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in recent times. Both the elephant and human population have increased in the past few decades with large tracts of forests converted to commercial tea plantations, army camps and human settlements. We analyzed data maintained by the wildlife department on human deaths and injuries caused by elephant attacks between 2006–2016 to understand spatial and temporal patterns of human-elephant conflict, frequency and distribution. The average annual number of human deaths and injuries to elephant attacks between 2006 to 2016 was estimated to be 212 (SE 103) with the highest number of such incidents recorded in 2010–2011. Based on a grid based design of 5 km2 and 25 km2 resolution, the main spatial predictors of human-elephant conflicts identified through Maxent presence only models are annual mean precipitation, altitude, distance from protected area, area under forests, tea plantations and agriculture. Major land use changes were assessed for this region from 2008 to 2018 using satellite imageries in Arc GIS and a predicted imagery of 2028 was prepared using Idrisi Selva. Based on the 2018 imagery it was found that forest area had increased by 446 km2 within 10 years (2008–2018) and the annual rate of change was 12%. Area under agriculture had reduced by 128 km2 with an annual (-) rate of change of 2.5%. Area under tea plantation declined by 307 km2 with an annual (-) rate of change of 12% whereas area under human settlements increased by 61 km2 with an annual (-) rate of change of 44%. Hotspots of human-elephant conflicts were identified in an east west direction primarily around protected areas, tea plantations and along major riverine corridors. During informal interactions with farmers, tea estate labors it was revealed that local community members chased and harassed elephants from agriculture fields, human settlements under the influence of alcohol and thus were primary victims of fatal interactions. Our analytical approach can be replicated for other species in sites with similar issues of human-wildlife conflicts. The hotspot maps of conflict risk will help in developing appropriate mitigation strategies such as setting up early warning systems, restoration of wildlife corridors especially along dry river beds, using deterrents and barriers for vulnerable. Awareness about alcohol related incidents and basic biology of elephants should be organized regularly involving non-governmental organizations targeting the marginalized farmers and tea estate workers.

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<![CDATA[Measuring popularity of ecological topics in a temporal dynamical knowledge network]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b5243d5eed0c4842bc58d

As interdisciplinary branches of ecology are developing rapidly in the 21st century, contents of ecological researches have become more abundant than ever before. Along with the exponential growth of number of published literatures, it is more and more difficult for ecologists to get a clear picture of their discipline. Nevertheless, the era of big data has brought us massive information of well documented historical literature and various techniques of data processing, which greatly facilitates the implementation of bibliometric analysis on ecology. Frequency has long been used as the primary metric in keyword analysis to detect ecological hotspots, however, this method could be somewhat biased. In our study, we have suggested a method called PAFit to measure keyword popularity, which considered ecology-related topics in a large temporal dynamical knowledge network, and found out the popularity of ecological topics follows the “rich get richer” and “fit get richer” mechanism. Feasibility of network analysis and its superiority over simply using frequency had been explored and justified, and PAFit was testified by its outstanding performance of prediction on the growth of frequency and degree. In addition, our research also encourages ecologists to consider their domain knowledge in a large dynamical network, and be ready to participate in interdisciplinary collaborations when necessary.

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