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.
Read full publication
Go to database
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.
Read full publication
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.
Read full publication.
Michela Pacifici, Piero Visconti and Carlo Rondinini
Maps of projected negatively impacted species by grid cell in the RCP8.5 scenario.
As rates of global warming increase rapidly, identifying species at risk of decline due to climate impacts and the factors affecting this risk have become key challenges in ecology and conservation biology. Here we present a framework for assessing three components of climate-related risk for species: vulnerability, exposure and hazard. We used the relationship between the observed response of species to climate change and a set of intrinsic traits (e.g., weaning age) and extrinsic factors (e.g., precipitation seasonality within a species geographic range) to predict, respectively, the vulnerability and exposure of all data-sufficient terrestrial non-volant mammals (3953 species). Combining this information with hazard (the magnitude of projected climate change within a species geographic range) we identified global hotspots of species at risk from climate change that includes the western Amazon basin, south-western Kenya, north-eastern Tanzania, north-eastern South Africa, Yunnan province in China, and mountain chains in Papua-New Guinea. Our framework identifies priority areas for monitoring climate change effects on species and directing climate mitigation actions for biodiversity.
Read full publication
Fernanda T. Bruma, Catherine H. Graham, Gabriel C. Costa, S. Blair Hedges, Caterina Penone, Volker C. Radeloff, Carlo Rondinini, Rafael Loyola, and Ana D. Davidsonc
Conservation priorities that are based on species distribution, endemism, and vulnerability may underrepresent biologically unique species as well as their functional roles and evolutionary histories. To ensure that priorities are biologically comprehensive, multiple dimensions of diversity must be considered. Further, understanding how the different dimensions relate to one another spatially is important for conservation prioritization, but the relationship remains poorly understood. Here, we use spatial conservation planning to (i) identify and compare priority regions for global mammal conservation across three key dimensions of biodiversity—taxonomic, phylogenetic, and traits—and (ii) determine the overlap of these regions with the locations of threatened species and existing protected areas. We show that priority areas for mammal conservation exhibit low overlap across the three dimensions, highlighting the need for an integrative approach for biodiversity conservation. Additionally, currently protected areas poorly represent the three dimensions of mammalian biodiversity. We identify areas of high conservation priority among and across the dimensions that should receive special attention for expanding the global protected area network. These high-priority areas, combined with areas of high priority for other taxonomic groups and with social, economic, and political considerations, provide a biological foundation for future conservation planning efforts.Conservation priorities that are based on species distribution, endemism, and vulnerability may underrepresent biologically unique species as well as their functional roles and evolutionary histories. To ensure that priorities are biologically comprehensive, multiple dimensions of diversity must be considered. Further, understanding how the different dimensions relate to one another spatially is important for conservation prioritization, but the relationship remains poorly understood. Here, we use spatial conservation planning to (i) identify and compare priority regions for global mammal conservation across three key dimensions of biodiversity—taxonomic, phylogenetic, and traits—and (ii) determine the overlap of these regions with the locations of threatened species and existing protected areas. We show that priority areas for mammal conservation exhibit low overlap across the three dimensions, highlighting the need for an integrative approach for biodiversity conservation. Additionally, currently protected areas poorly represent the three dimensions of mammalian biodiversity. We identify areas of high conservation priority among and across the dimensions that should receive special attention for expanding the global protected area network. These high-priority areas, combined with areas of high priority for other taxonomic groups and with social, economic, and political considerations, provide a biological foundation for future conservation planning efforts.
Read full publication.
Kevin R. Crooks, Christopher L. Burdett, David M. Theobald, Sarah R. B. King, Moreno Di Marco, Carlo Rondinini, and Luigi Boitani
Although habitat fragmentation is often assumed to be a primary driver of extinction, global patterns of fragmentation and its relationship to extinction risk have not been consistently quantified for any major animal taxon. We developed high-resolution habitat fragmentation models and used phylogenetic comparative methods to quantify the effects of habitat fragmentation on the world’s terrestrial mammals, including 4,018 species across 26 taxonomic Orders. Results demonstrate that species with more fragmentation are at greater risk of extinction, even after accounting for the effects of key macroecological predictors, such as body size and geographic range size. Species with higher fragmentation had smaller ranges and a lower proportion of high-suitability habitat within their range, and most high-suitability habitat occurred outside of protected areas, further elevating extinction risk. Our models provide a quantitative evaluation of extinction risk assessments for species, allow for identification of emerging threats in species not classified as threatened, and provide maps of global hotspots of fragmentation for the world’s terrestrial mammals. Quantification of habitat fragmentation will help guide threat assessment and strategic priorities for global mammal conservation.
Degree of habitat fragmentation for the world’s terrestrial mammals.
(A) Degree of habitat fragmentation as indexed by the fragmentation metric,
measuring the amount of core (i.e., interior) habitat, and (B) degree of an-
thropogenic habitat fragmentation
Read full publication.
Luca Santini, Manuela González-Suárez, Carlo Rondinini and Moreno Di Marco
Human activities have led to hundreds of species extinctions and have narrowed the distribution of many of the remaining species. These changes influence our understanding of global macroecological patterns, but their effects have been rarely explored. One of these patterns, the Bergmann’s rule, has been largely investigated in macroecology, but often under the assumption that observed patterns reflect “natural” processes. We assessed the extent to which humans have re-shaped the observable patterns of body mass distribution in terrestrial mammals, and how this has altered the macroecological baseline.
Median mammalian body size in 1×1 degree cells around the world.
Using a comprehensive set of ecological, climatic and anthropogenic variables, we tested several alternative hypotheses to explain the body mass pattern observed in terrestrial mammals’ assemblages at a one-degree resolution. We then explored how model predictions and the Bergmann’s latitudinal pattern are affected by the inclusion of human impact variables and identified areas where predicted body mass differs from the expected due to human impact.
Our model suggests that median and maximum body mass predicted in grid cells would be higher, and skewness in local mass distributions reduced, if human impacts were minimal, especially in areas that are highly accessible to humans and where natural land cover has been converted for human activities.
Predicted changes in mammalian body sizes globally. Left panel is change in median and right panel change in maximum values.
Our study provides evidence of the pervasive effects of anthropogenic impact on nature and shows human-induced distortion of global macroecological patterns. This extends the notion of “shifting baseline”, suggesting that when the first macroecological investigations started, our understanding of global geographic patterns was based on a situation which was already compromised. While in the short term human impact is causing species decline and extinction, in the long term, it is causing a broad re-shaping of animal communities with yet unpredicted ecological implications.
Read full publication.