In the Greek island of Rhodes, the oldest inhabited medieval town in Europe, and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, we put ourselves into work. Our objective was to experience a real life scenario in the selection of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA). We went trough theoretical and practical exercises to identify sites in Greece contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity. With the input from external scientists specialized in different taxonomic groups and KBA experts, we followed the Global Standard for the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas. This document highlights a resulting effort of more than 30 years in identifying important sites for different taxonomic, ecological and thematic subsets of biodiversity.
The process started with a scoping analysis to compile a list of species in Greece that could trigger the species-based criteria for potential KBAs. Quality data of the species and region of interest are necessary to verify that the proposed species comply with the relevant thresholds. KBA identification and delineation is done by overlaying spatial data of the species with existing conservation sites (e.g. Protected areas) or management units.
After official submission of a proposed area, the KBA secretariat coordinates the process to confirm species’ presence at the site, refine delineation to yield manageable boundaries, and if the threshold is met, finally confirm the site as a new KBA.
Carlo Rondinini gave a public talk (in Italian) on SDG 15 “Life on Land” at Teatro Grande in Brescia, near Milan, on January 21. The talk was introduced by Prof. Roberta Pedrazzani and is part of a series of talks organized by the University of Brescia.
The session started with a presentation on IPCC 1.5°C report, and continued with an overview of the predicted impact of global climate change on the extinction risk of mammals and plants, and the risk of spread of alien species. Many students and academics joined the event and engaged in discussions with the speakers, before heading off to the Students Ride for Climate event and other activities organised by Sapienza University.
Marsya C. Sibarani, Moreno Di Marco, Carlo Rondinini, Salit Kark
Conservation organisations and governments often use charismatic megafauna as surrogates to represent broader biodiversity. While these species are primarily selected as “flagships” for marketing campaigns, it is important to evaluate their surrogacy potential, i.e., the extent to which their protection benefits other biodiversity elements. Four charismatic megafauna species are used as surrogates in the megadiverse island of Sumatra: the Sumatran tiger Panthera tigris sumatrae, Sumatran elephant Elephas maximus sumatranus, Sumatran orangutan Pongo abelii and Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis. We examined how well each of these species performed in representing the distribution of all co‐occurring terrestrial mammal species on the island, and the priority areas for the conservation of three facets of mammalian biodiversity (taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional).
We used habitat suitability models to represent the distribution of 184 terrestrial mammal species, 160 phylogenetic groups and 74 functional trait groups. We then identified priority conservation areas using the spatial prioritisation software Zonation.
We found that the habitat overlaps between each of the four charismatic species and the other mammal species varied, ranging from a mean of 52% (SD = 27%) for the tiger to 2% (SD = 2%) for the rhino. Combining the four species together only improved the representation levels marginally compared to only using the tiger. Among the four charismatic megafauna species, the extent of suitable habitat of Sumatran tiger covered the highest proportion of priority conservation areas. The Sumatran tiger also outperformed most of other mammal species with similar range sizes.
We found that some of the top‐ranked conservation areas for taxonomic (28%), phylogenetic (8%) and functional diversity (19%) did not overlap with any of the charismatic species’ suitable habitat.
Synthesis and applications. Wide‐ranging charismatic species can represent broader mammalian biodiversity, but they may miss some key areas with high biodiversity importance. We suggest that a combination of systematic spatial prioritisation and surrogacy analyses are important in order to determine the allocation of conservation resources in biodiversity‐rich areas such as Sumatra, where an expansion of the protected area network is required.
Moreno Di Marco won a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship with the project PROTECTNICHE. The project, presented by the researcher of the Department of Biology and Biotechnology at Sapienza Università di Roma in collaboration with Dr Carlo Rondinini, aims at disentangling the impacts of humans, climate change, and life history on the climatic niches of terrestrial mammals. The goal is to inform a conservation strategy for preventing future species declines. The extinction of species is the most alarming consequence of global biodiversity decline, with potential dramatic effects on our economy and well-being. The current rate of climate change is predicted to further increase extinction risk, hence there is urgent need to anticipate species decline rather than reacting to it. The breadth of a species’ niche – the set of environmental conditions in which the species can persist – is the key ecological trait that allows adaptation to environmental change, but is often ignored in conservation planning applications. This is a research area of primary interest in Europe, given the European Commission has recognised that business opportunities from investing in biodiversity conservation could be worth US$ 2-6 trillion by 2050 (source Sapienza)
Luca Santini, Stuart H.M. Butchart, Carlo Rondinini, Ana Benítez‐López, Jelle P. Hilbers, Aafke Schipper, Mirza Cengic, Joseph A. Tobias, Mark A.J. Huijbregts
The IUCN Red List categories and criteria are the most widely used framework for assessing the relative extinction risk of species. The criteria are based on quantitative thresholds relating to the size, trends and structure of species’ distributions and populations. However, data on these parameters are sparse and uncertain for many species and unavailable for others, potentially leading to their misclassification, or classification as Data Deficient.
Here we propose an approach combining data on land‐cover change and species‐specific habitat preferences, population abundance and dispersal distance to estimate key parameters (extent of occurrence, maximum area of occupancy, population size and trend, and degree of fragmentation) and hence IUCN Red List categories.
We demonstrate the applicability of our approach for non‐pelagic birds and terrestrial mammals globally (∼15,000 species), generating predictions fairly consistent with published Red List assessments, but more optimistic overall. We predict 4.2% of species (467 birds and 143 mammals) to be more threatened than currently assessed, and 20.2% of Data Deficient species (10 birds and 114 mammals) to be at risk of extinction. However, incorporating the habitat fragmentation sub‐criterion reduced these predictions 1.5‐2.3% and 6.4‐14.9% (depending on the quantitative definition of fragmentation) of threatened and Data Deficient species respectively, highlighting the need for improved guidance to Red List assessors on applying this aspect of the Red List criteria.
Our approach can be used to complement traditional methods of estimating parameters for Red List assessments. Furthermore, it can readily provide an early warning system to identify species potentially warranting changes in their extinction risk category based on periodic updates of land cover information. Given that our method relies on optimistic assumptions about species distribution and abundance, all species predicted to be more at risk than currently evaluated should be prioritized for reassessment.
Dr. Mauro Lucherini from Universidad Nacional del Sur (Bahia Blanca, Argentina) and the IUCN Cat Specialist Group will give a seminar about carnivores conservation in Argentina at the Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Biology and Biotechnology “Charles Darwin”, Viale dell’Università 32, Aula Seminari, April 18, 9:30am.
Michela Pacifici, Fabio Attorre, Stefano Martellos, Ferdinand Bego, Michele De Sanctis, Petrit Hoda, MarjolMeço, Carlo Rondinini, Enerit Saçdanaku, Elson Salihaj, Edoardo Scepi, Lulëzim Shuka, Andrea Ghiurghi
Recently, the Albanian Government started the process to join the European Union. This process also involves matching the EU parameters in protecting its biodiversity. In order to support the Albanian authorities, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Directorate for Development Cooperation (DGCS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) joined efforts in the project “Institutional Support to the Albanian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Water Administration for Sustainable Biodiversity Conservation and Use in Protected Areas”. This project aims at identifying priority needs in safeguarding ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation. Another project funded by the EU – “Strengthening capacity in National Nature Protection – preparation for Natura 2000 network” – started in 2015 with the aim to raise awareness for assisting local and national Albanian institutions to better exploit the potential of protected areas. One of the main issues encountered during these projects was the need for a national biodiversity data repository. The Biodiversity National Network of Albania (BioNNA) has been created to aggregate occurrence records of plants and animals and aims at becoming the most relevant source of information for biodiversity data as far as Albania is concerned. In this paper, the authors detail structure and data of BioNNA, including the process of data gathering and aggregation, taxonomic coverage, software details and WebGIS development. BioNNA is a milestone on the path towards Albania’s inclusion in the EU and has also a relevant potential social relevance for improving people’s awareness on the importance of biodiversity in the country.
Ferdinand Bego, Enerit Saçdanaku, Michela Pacifici, Carlo Rondinini
Altitudinal distribution of STM species and frequency of occurrence records by altitude in Albania.
In this paper we report new records for at least 23 species of small terrestrial mammals (STM) of Albania collected during the field work campaigns organized in the framework of the project “Strengthening capacity in National Nature Protection – preparation for Natura 2000 network” (NaturAL) in Albania during the summer and autumn of 2016 and 2017. Data on small mammals were primarily collected through Sherman live-trapping campaigns in six high priority protected areas of Albania: Korab-Koritnik, Bredhi i Hotovës, Tomorri, Llogara-Karaburun, Divjakë-Karavasta, Liqeni i Shkodrës (Skadar lake), Lëpushë-Vermosh. Other data were obtained by analysis of owl pellets or by direct observation of individuals (dead or alive) in the field. For 21 species Erinaceus roumanicus, Neomys anomalus, Crocidura suaveolens, Crocidura leucodon, Suncus etruscus, Talpa stankovici/caeca, Myocastor coypus, Sciurus vulgaris, Glis glis, Dryomys nitedula, Muscardinus avellanarius, Microtus levis/arvalis, Microtus subterraneus, Microtus thomasi, Microtus felteni, Myodes glareolus, Apodemus sylvaticus, Apodemus flavicollis, Apodemus epimelas, Mus musculus, Mus macedonicus we provide additional records and review their distribution, while the presence of two new species of shrews (Sorex araneus and Sorex minutus) for Albania is reported for the first time. A comprehensive review of the published and unpublished distribution records of STM species of the country is made. Based on previous and recent records an updated checklist and distribution maps of the species are produced and presented in the supplements of this paper.