Assessing the umbrella value of a range-wide conservation network for jaguars

Daniel Thornton, Kathy Zeller, Carlo Rondinini, Luigi Boitani, Kevin Crooks, Christopher Burdett, Alan Rabinowitz and Howard Quigley.

Umbrella species are employed as conservation short-cuts for the design of reserves or reserve networks. However, empirical data on the effectiveness of umbrellas is equivocal, which has prevented more widespread application of this conservation strategy. We perform a novel, large-scale evaluation of umbrella species by assessing the potential umbrella value of a jaguar (Panthera onca) conservation network (consisting of viable populations and corridors) that extends from Mexico to Argentina. Using species richness, habitat quality, and fragmentation indices of ~1500 co-occurring mammal species, we show that jaguar populations and corridors overlap a substantial amount and percentage of high-quality habitat for co-occurring mammals and that the jaguar network performs better than random networks in protecting high-quality, interior habitat. Significantly, the effectiveness of the jaguar network as an umbrella would not have been noticeable had we focused on species richness as our sole metric of umbrella utility. Substantial inter-order variability existed, indicating the need for complementary conservation strategies for certain groups of mammals. We offer several reasons for the positive result we document, including the large spatial scale of our analysis and our focus on multiple metrics of umbrella effectiveness. Taken together, our results demonstrate that a regional, single-species conservation strategy can serve as an effective umbrella for the larger community and should help conserve viable populations and connectivity for a suite of co-occurring mammals. Current and future range-wide planning exercises for other large predators may therefore have important umbrella benefits.

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A map of the jaguar conservation network for the Americas. The network consists of Jaguar Conservation Units (JCUs; in black), which maintain viable populations of jaguars, and jaguar corridors (in gray), linking the JCUs.

 

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Toward quantification of the impact of 21st‐century deforestation on the extinction risk of terrestrial vertebrates

Łukasz Tracewski, Stuart H.M. Butchart, Moreno Di Marco, Gentile F. Ficetola, Carlo Rondinini, Andy Symes, Hannah Wheatley, Alison E. Beresford, and Graeme M. Buchanan

Conservation actions need to be prioritised, often taking into account species’ extinction risk. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List provides an accepted objective framework for the assessment of extinction risk, but field data to apply the IUCN Red List criteria are often limited. Information collected through remote sensing can inform these assessments, and forests are perhaps the best-studied habitat type for use in this approach. Using an open-access 30 m resolution map of tree cover and its change between 2000 and 2012, the extent of forest cover and loss within the distributions of 11,186 forest-dependent amphibians, birds and mammals worldwide was assessed. Sixteen species have experienced sufficiently high rates of forest loss to be considered at elevated extinction risk under Red List criterion A, owing to inferred rapid population declines. This number would increase to 23 if data deficient species (i.e., those with insufficient information previously to apply the Red List criteria) were included. Some 484 species (855 if data deficient species are included) may be considered at elevated extinction risk under Red List criterion B2, owing to restricted areas of occupancy resulting from little forest cover remaining within their ranges. This would increase the proportion of species of conservation concern by 32.8% for amphibians, 15.1% for birds and 24.7% for mammals. Central America, the Northern Andes, Madagascar, the Eastern Arc forests in Africa and the islands of South-East Asia are hotspots for these species. The analyses illustrate the utility of satellite imagery for global extinction risk assessment and measurement of progress towards international environmental agreement targets. We highlight areas for which subsequent analyses could be performed on satellite image data in order to improve our knowledge of extinction risk of species.

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Number of species potentially qualifying for a higher International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List threat category: (a) amphibians, (b) birds, (c) mammals, and (d) all species combined. Data deficient species are excluded.

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Analysing biodiversity and conservation knowledge products to support regional environmental assessments

Thomas M. Brooks, H. Resit Akçakaya, Neil D. Burgess, Stuart H.M. Butchart, Craig Hilton-Taylor, Michael Hoffmann, Diego Juffe-Bignoli, Naomi Kingston, Brian MacSharry, Mike Parr, Laurence Perianin, Eugenie C. Regan, Ana S.L. Rodrigues, Carlo Rondinini, Yara Shennan-Farpon & Bruce E. Young.

Two processes for regional environmental assessment are currently underway: the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) and Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Both face constraints of data, time, capacity, and resources. To support these assessments, we disaggregate three global knowledge products according to their regions and subregions. These products are: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Key Biodiversity Areas (specifically Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas [IBAs], and Alliance for Zero Extinction [AZE] sites), and Protected Planet. We present fourteen Data citations: numbers of species occurring and percentages threatened; numbers of endemics and percentages threatened; downscaled Red List Indices for mammals, birds, and amphibians; numbers, mean sizes, and percentage coverages of IBAs and AZE sites; percentage coverage of land and sea by protected areas; and trends in percentages of IBAs and AZE sites wholly covered by protected areas. These data will inform the regional/subregional assessment chapters on the status of biodiversity, drivers of its decline, and institutional responses, and greatly facilitate comparability and consistency between the different regional/subregional assessments.

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Proportion of species, by Red List Category, in comprehensively assessed groups on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Version 2015-2) occurring in each IPBES region (a) and subregion (b); and proportion of endemic species, by Red List Category, in comprehensively assessed groups on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Version 2015-2) occurring in each IPBES region (c) and subregion (d). The vertical red lines show the best estimate for the proportion of extant species considered threatened (CR, EN and VU) if Data Deficient species are Threatened in the same proportion as data-sufficient species. The numbers to the right of each bar represent the total number of species assessed and in parentheses the best estimate of the percentage threatened. CR, critically endangered; DD, data deficient; EN, endangered; EW, extinct in the wild; EX, extinct; LC, least concern; NT, near threatened; VU, vulnerable.

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Connectivity of the global network of protected areas

Luca Santini, Santiago Saura & Carlo Rondinini.

Aim
Millennia of human activity have drastically shaped the Earth’s surface confining wildlife in ever more rare and sparse habitat fragments. Within the strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020, Aichi Target 11 aims at the expansion of the current protected area (PA) system and the maintenance and improvement of its connectivity. This study aims at providing the first overview of the functionality of the PA networks across the six continents at different dispersal distances relevant for terrestrial mammals.

Location
Global.

Methods
We used a graph theory approach to assess the connectivity of PA networks of different continents across a wide range of dispersal distances. We assessed the connectivity of country-level PA networks, the connectivity of con- tinental PA networks and the contribution of country-level PA networks to continental connectivity.
Results National and continental networks are characterized by very different spatial arrangements that translate into different levels of connectivity, ranging from networks where the reachable area is mostly determined by structural connectivity within PAs (e.g. Africa) to networks where connectivity mostly depends on animal dispersal among PAs (e.g. Europe). PA size correlates positively with connectivity for all species, followed by PA number; dispersal contributes less and positively interacts with number of PAs.

Main conclusions
Continental networks perform worse than national networks. Transboundary connectivity is often weak and should be improved, especially for countries that are important in promoting continental connectivity. Increasing PA coverage and size is a good strategy to improve multispecies connectivity.

figure-1-percentage-of-reachable-area-ecanorm-for-the-protected-area-networks-within

Percentage of reachable area (ECAnorm) for the protected area networks within world countries. (a) represents ECAnorm for the lowest dispersal distance considered (177 m). (b) represents the difference in ECAnorm between the lowest and the maximum dispersal distance considered (99.58 km), thus indicating the sensitivity to dispersal distance of each country’s network.

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Massive participation of the GMA lab to the ICCB congress 2015 in Montpellier

logo_iccb-eccb2015This year the ICCB (27th International Congress for Conservation Biology; 4th European Congress for Conservation Biology) was held in Montpellier, France (2-6 August 2015). GMA lab members participated organizing a symposium, presenting 5 oral interventions and 3 posters!

Michela Pacifici presented as one of the finalist of the student award!

Symposium

Di Marco & Rondinini – Advances on human pressure quantification and biodiversity monitoring under global change

Oral interventions

Santini, Cornulier, Bullock, Palmer, White, Bocedi, Hodgson, Rondinini, Travis – modeling spread rate in terrestrial mammals and the ability to track a shifting climate: a trait space approach

Baisero & Rondinini – the influence of protected area selection criteria on measures of conservation effort

Pacifici, Visconti, Watson, Rondinini – Ecological and biological characteristics explain the response of species to recent climatic changes

Di Marco, Collen, Rondinini, Mace – Historical drivers of extinction risk: using past evidence to direct future monitoring

Rondinini – Challanges for combining indicators, models and scenarios of human pressure and biodiversity response into a coherent story

Posters

Di Marco & Santini – Human pressures predict species’ geographic range size better than biological traits

Santini, Saura, Rondinini – connectivity of the global network of protected areas

Rondinini, Visconti – Decline of european large mammals under global change scenarios

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Historical drivers of extinction risk: using past evidence to direct future monitoring

Di Marco, M., Collen, B., Rondinini, C., & Mace, G. M. (2015). Historical drivers of extinction risk: using past evidence to direct future monitoring. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282, 20150928.

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Global commitments to halt biodiversity decline mean that it is essential to monitor species’ extinction risk. However, the work required to assess extinction risk is intensive. We demonstrate an alternative approach to monitoring extinction risk, based on the response of species to external conditions. Using retrospective International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List assessments, we classify transitions in the extinction risk of 497 mammalian carnivores and ungulates between 1975 and 2013. Species that moved to lower Red List categories, or remained Least Concern, were classified as ‘lower risk’; species that stayed in a threatened category, or moved to a higher category of risk, were classified as ‘higher risk’. Twenty-four predictor variables were used to predict transitions, including intrinsic traits (species biology) and external conditions (human pressure, distribution state and conservation interventions). The model correctly classified up to 90% of all transitions and revealed complex interactions between variables, such as protected areas (PAs) versus human impact. The most important predictors were: past extinction risk, PA extent, geographical range size, body size, taxonomic family and human impact. Our results suggest that monitoring a targeted set of metrics would efficiently identify species facing a higher risk, and could guide the allocation of resources between monitoring species’ extinction risk and monitoring external conditions.

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Fire policy optimization to maximize suitable habitat for locally rare species under different climatic conditions: A case study of antelopes in the Kruger National Park

Pacifici M., Visconti P., Scepi E., Hausmann A., Attorre F., Grant R. & Rondinini C. (2015). Fire policy optimization to maximize suitable habitat for locally rare species under different climatic conditions: A case study of antelopes in the Kruger National Park.

Biological Conservation, 191, 313-321. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2015.07.021

Figure3

Fire is a key ecosystem driver in savannahs and it can have large impacts on species distribution and density. A re-examination of fire management in Kruger National Park is currently under review with the objective to maintain natural ecosystem dynamics and favour tourists’ ability to observe animals. We used data on location, intensity and frequency of fires and census data on three species considered as rare and of conservation concern in the park, tsessebe, roan and sable antelope to estimate the relationship between fire occurrence and species occurrence and density. We also investigated the impacts of different environmental predictors on antelope populations. The model predictors that most affected the density and presence of antelopes were mean fire return period, the type of geological substrate and the presence of water-points. We then used our models to evaluate different fire management scenarios and make recommendations for an optimal fire management strategy for the conservation of these rare antelopes. We also tested our scenarios under different precipitation conditions, in order to investigate the likely response of species to climate change. Roan antelope is the most sensitive species to climatic variations, while sable seems to be the most resilient. The approach described here can also be used to improve the conservation of locally rare species in other regions and habitats.

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Synergies and trade-offs in achieving global biodiversity targets

Di Marco, M., Butchart, S. H. M., Visconti, P., Buchanan, G. M., Ficetola, G. F. and Rondinini, C. (2015), Synergies and trade-offs in achieving global biodiversity targets. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12559

Fig.1NEW_V1After their failure to achieve a significant reduction in the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, world governments adopted 20 new ambitious Aichi biodiversity targets to be met by 2020. Efforts to achieve one particular target can contribute to achieving others, but different targets may sometimes require conflicting solutions. Consequently, lack of strategic thinking might result, once again, in a failure to achieve global commitments to biodiversity conservation. We illustrate this dilemma by focusing on Aichi Target 11. This target requires an expansion of terrestrial protected area coverage, which could also contribute to reducing the loss of natural habitats (Target 5), reducing human-induced species decline and extinction (Target 12), and maintaining global carbon stocks (Target 15). We considered the potential impact of expanding protected areas to mitigate global deforestation and the consequences for the distribution of suitable habitat for >10,000 species of forest vertebrates (amphibians, birds, and mammals). We first identified places where deforestation might have the highest impact on remaining forests and then identified places where deforestation might have the highest impact on forest vertebrates (considering aggregate suitable habitat for species). Expanding protected areas toward locations with the highest deforestation rates (Target 5) or the highest potential loss of aggregate species’ suitable habitat (Target 12) resulted in partially different protected area network configurations (overlapping with each other by about 73%). Moreover, the latter approach contributed to safeguarding about 30% more global carbon stocks than the former. Further investigation of synergies and trade-offs between targets would shed light on these and other complex interactions, such as the interaction between reducing overexploitation of natural resources (Targets 6, 7), controlling invasive alien species (Target 9), and preventing extinctions of native species (Target 12). Synergies between targets must be identified and secured soon and trade-offs must be minimized before the options for co-benefits are reduced by human pressures.

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Synergies and trade-offs in achieving global biodiversity targets

Moreno Di Marco, Stuart H. M. Butchart, Piero Visconti, Graeme M. Buchanan, Gentile F. Ficetola and Carlo Rondinini.

Following their failure to achieve a significant reduction in the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, world governments adopted 20 new ambitious Aichi biodiversity targets to be met by 2020.There is growing recognition that efforts to achieve one particular biodiversity target can contribute to achieving others, yet little attention is given to the fact that different targets may require conflicting solutions. Consequently, there is a risk that lack of strategic thinking might result, once again, in a failure to achieve governmental commitments to biodiversity conservation. We illustrate this dilemma by focusing on Aichi Target 11. This requires an expansion of terrestrial protected area coverage, which could also contribute to reducing the loss of natural habitats (Target 5), reducing human-induced species decline and extinction (Target 12), and maintaining global carbon stocks (Target 15). We consider the potential impact of expanding protected areas to mitigate global deforestation and the consequences for the distribution of suitable habitat for >10000 species of forest vertebrates (amphibians, birds and mammals). We found that expanding protected areas toward locations with the highest deforestation rates (Target 5) or the highest potential loss of aggregate species’ suitable habitat (Target 12) would result in partially different protected area network configurations (overlapping with each other by ca. 73%). Moreover, the latter approach would contribute to safeguarding ca. 30% more global carbon stocks (measures as tons/ha) than the former. Further investigation of synergies and trade-offs between targets would shed light on these and other complex interactions, such as the interaction between reducing overexploitation of natural resources (Targets 6, 7), controlling invasive alien species (Target 9) and preventing extinctions of native species (Target 12). Synergies between targets must be identified and secured soon and trade-offs must be minimized, before the options for co-benefits are reduced by human pressures.

figure-1-current-protected-areas-and-areas-with-highest-deforestation-impact-the-maps

Current protected areas and areas with highest deforestation impact. The maps represent: (a) current extension of the protected area network; (b) areas of synergy, i.e. places where highest forest loss correspond to highest habitat loss aggregated across species; (c) areas of forest trade-off, where highest forest loss is expected, but not highest loss of aggregate species habitat; (d) areas of species trade-off, where highest loss of aggregate species habitat is expected, but not highest forest loss. See Supporting Information for a color version of the map.

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Assessing species vulnerability to climate change

Michela Pacifici, Wendy B. Foden, Piero Visconti, James E. M. Watson, Stuart H.M. Butchart, Kit M. Kovacs, Brett R. Scheffers, David G. Hole, Tara G. Martin, H. Resit Akçakaya, Richard T. Corlett, Brian Huntley, David Bickford, Jamie A. Carr, Ary A. Hoffmann, Guy F. Midgley, Paul Pearce-Kelly, Richard G. Pearson, Stephen E. Williams, Stephen G. Willis, Bruce Young and Carlo Rondinini

Nature Climate change 5,215–224(2015). doi:10.1038/nclimate2448

Immagine

The effects of climate change on biodiversity are increasingly well documented, and many methods have been developed to assess species’ vulnerability to climatic changes, both ongoing and projected in the coming decades. To minimize global biodiversity losses, conservationists need to identify those species that are likely to be most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In this Review, we summarize different currencies used for assessing species’ climate change vulnerability. We describe three main approaches used to derive these currencies (correlative, mechanistic and trait-based), and their associated data requirements, spatial and temporal scales of application and modelling methods. We identify strengths and weaknesses of the approaches and highlight the sources of uncertainty inherent in each method that limit projection reliability. Finally, we provide guidance for conservation practitioners in selecting the most appropriate approach(es) for their planning needs and highlight priority areas for further assessments.

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