Today GMA Lab joined the Global Strike for Climate, by organising an open-air seminar on the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. The event took place in the courtyard of the Zoology Institute at Sapienza University, featuring presentations from Carlo Rondinini, Moreno Di Marco, Michela Pacifici (Michela was on video during maternity leave!), and Dino Biancolini.
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.
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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)
We are delighted to welcome 4 very bright young researchers as PhD fellows!
They are all part of the Innovative Training Network (ITN-ETN) project, Inspire4 Nature, funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.
Prabhat Raj Dahal – Project “Advancing quantitative analyses for IUCN Red List assessments of species’ risk of extinction”
Ivon Cuadros Casanova Project “How will halting biodiversity loss affect the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals?”
Maria Lumbierres Project “Where will further Key Biodiversity Areas be identified? A modelling approach to focus efforts”
Carmen Soria Project “Projected effect of global change on species’ change in extinction risk”
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.
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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.
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Ben G. Holt, Gabriel C. Costa, Caterina Penone, Jean-Philippe Lessard, Thomas M. Brooks, Ana D. Davidson, S. Blair Hedges, Volker C. Radeloff, Carsten Rahbek, Carlo Rondinini, Catherine H. Graham
To evaluate how environment and evolutionary history interact to influence global patterns of mammal trait diversity (a combination of 14 morphological and life-history traits). We calculated patterns of spatial turnover for mammalian traits and phylogenetic lineages using the mean nearest taxon distance. We then used a variance partitioning approach to establish the relative contribution of trait conservatism, ecological adaptation and clade specific ecological preferences on global trait turnover.
Global patterns of (a) phylogenetic turnover and (b) trait turnover across mammalian assemblages within 2° grid cells, as well as
(c) environmental conditions across the same grid cells. “Turnover” refers to differences in species assemblages due to changes in composition
(i.e. composition of phylogenetic lineages or phenotypic traits). Plots on the right of turnover maps show the results of NMDS ordinations on
matrices of pairwise turnover comparisons between global grid cell assemblages for each of the two biodiversity dimensions, which attempt to
show variation within these matrices as accurately as possible within two-dimensional space. Stress values for the NMDS ordinations are 0.20
and 0.24 for phylogenetic turnover and trait turnover, respectively; which reflect the amount of error in the correlation between pairwise
distances in the original distance matrix and those calculated from the NMDS plot. The environmental data ordination is based on the first two
principal components (associated with 55.2% and 23.8% of the total environmental variation, respectively) produced by a principal component
analysis. All ordination points are plotted within the HCL colour space shown in the bottom left inset, and these colours are then transposed
onto the maps. Therefore, locations on the maps with similar colours are similar with regard to the focal variable (i.e. phylogenetic turnover,
trait turnover or environmental conditions) and the locations with more distinct colours are more distinct in respect of this variable
We provide a global scale analysis of trait turnover across mammalian terrestrial assemblages, which demonstrates that phylogenetic turnover by itself does not predict trait turnover better than random expectations. Conversely, trait turnover is consistently more strongly associated with environmental variation than predicted by our null models. The influence of clade-specific ecological preferences, reflected by the shared component of phylogenetic turnover and environmental variation, was considerably higher than expectations. Although global patterns of trait turnover are dependent on the trait under consideration, there is a consistent association between trait turnover and environmental predictive variables, regardless of the trait considered.
Our results suggest that changes in phylogenetic composition are not always coupled with changes in trait composition on a global scale and that environmental conditions are strongly associated with patterns of trait composition across species assemblages, both within and across phylogenetic clades.
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