- Scaling laws predict global microbial diversity — … predict that there are up to 1 trillion microbial species on Earth. These estimates are much greater than previously predicted and emphasise the wealth of microbial biodiversity that remains to be explored on our planet …
- Environmental filtering explains variation in plant diversity along resource gradients — … new evidence to challenge the prevailing theory that resource competition regulates plant diversity along resource gradients …
- The natural history of the South Hills crossbill in relation to its impending extinction — … describes an amazing odyssey, starting with a recent discovery of a new vertebrate species … followed by evidence to show that the species has experienced an 80% decline in its population size in less than ten years due to warming climatic conditions …
- Improvements in ecosystem services from investments in natural capital — … introduces the first national ecosystem assessment in China, with many important discoveries …
- How variation between individuals affects species coexistence — … [the authors] show mathematically that within-population variation in some general situations may have negative effects on the coexistence of two competing species …
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Tags: Anthropocene, bees, biodiversity, carbon, carbon storage, China, climate change, climatic debt, community ecology, competition, coral reefs, decline, defauntation, deforestation, ecosystem services, ecosystems, extinction, Fertiliser, forests, microbes, microbial diversity, mutualism, neonicotinoids, nutrient loading, nutrients, plant diversity, pollination, Soil, species loss, Species richness, sustainability, time series
Categories : conservation
Another year, another arbitrary retrospective list – but I’m still going to do it. Based on the popularity of last year’s retrospective list of influential conservation papers as assessed through F1000 Prime, here are 20 conservation papers published in 2014 that impressed the Faculty members.
Once again for copyright reasons, I can’t give the whole text but I’ve given the links to the F1000 assessments (if you’re a subscriber) and of course, to the papers themselves. I did not order these based on any particular criterion.
- Assemblage time series reveal biodiversity change but not systematic loss – This substitution of taxa, rather than a systematic loss of diversity at local scales, provides strong evidence for the development of novel ecosystem compositions in ecosystems across the globe, with important implications for management and changes in the delivery of ecosystem goods and services ...
- Social equity matters in payments for ecosystem services – … attempts to govern ecosystem service provision with efficiency-based PES schemes risk failure if they fail to consider these [social equity] feedbacks …
- Tropical forests in the Anthropocene – … review deforestation, climate change, defaunation and other processes driving forest change … they also discuss interactions between these processes and the considerable heterogeneity the severity of the different processes …
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Tags: Anthropocene, assemblage, biodiversity, carbon, climate change, coral reefs, decline, deforestation, disease, ecosystem services, ecosystems, extinction, fishing, forests, grazing, payments for ecosystem services, rays, resilience, sharks, species loss
Categories : conservation
I don’t often respond to many comments on this blog unless they are really, really good questions (and if I think I have the answers). Even rarer is devoting an entire post to answering a question. The other day, I received a real cracker, and so I think it deserves a highlighted response.
I am an Indian who lived in Germany for quite a long period. Now, if I am not grossly mistaken, once upon a time Germany and other west european countries had large tracts of “real” forests with bears, wolves, foxes and other animals (both carnivore and herbivore). Bear has completely disappeared from these countries with the advent of industrialization. A few wolves have been kept in more or less artificially created forests. Foxes, deer and hares, fortunately, do still exist. My question is, how come these countries are still so well off – not only from the point of view of economy but also from the angle of public health despite the loss of large tracts of natural forests? Or is it that modern science and a health conscious society can compensate the loss of biodiversity.
“Well”, I thought to myself, “Bloody good question”.
I have come across this genre of question before, but usually under more hostile circumstances when an overtly right-wing respondent (hell, let’s call a spade a spade – a ‘completely selfish arsehole’) has challenged me on the ‘value of nature’ logic (I’m not for a moment suggesting that P. Basu is this sort of person; on the contrary, he politely asked an extremely important question that requires an answer). The comeback generally goes something like this: “If biodiversity is so important, why aren’t super-developed countries wallowing in economic and social ruin because they’ve degraded their own life-support systems? Clearly you must be wrong, Sir.”
There have been discussions in the ecological and sustainability literature that have attempted to answer this, but I’ll give it a shot here for the benefit of CB.com readers. Read the rest of this entry »
Comments : 11 Comments »
Tags: biodiversity, biowealth, decline, Economics, ecosystem services, society
Categories : agriculture, anthropocene, Asia, Australia, biodiversity, Central America, China, conservation, decline, deforestation, disease, economics, ecosystem services, environmental policy, extinction, extinction debt, food, habitat loss, health, human overpopulation, pollution, poverty, South America, tropical
This interesting review has just come out in Science, and because I was given a heads-up about it, I decided to do a F1000 recommendation. That’s more or less what follows, with some additional thoughts.
Ripple and colleagues can perhaps be excused for stating what might appear to many ‘in the biz’ to be blatantly obvious, but their in-depth review of the status of the world’s carnivores is a comprehensive overview of this essential guild’s worldwide plight. It not only represents an excellent teaching tool, the review elegantly summarises the current status of these essential ecosystem engineers.
The world’s 245 terrestrial carnivores might seem to be ecologically redundant to the informed given their natural rarity, low densities and cryptic behaviour, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Ecologists have only within the last decade or so revealed the essential ecosystem functions of these species (see former posts on CB.com here, here and here). The review focuses on the largest and most well-studied species, but the trends likely apply across most of the order. Read the rest of this entry »
Comments : 6 Comments »
Tags: Carnivora, carnivore, decline, ecological function, Ecosystem Service, mesopredator release, Predation, threatened species
Categories : cat, climate change, conservation, conservation biology, decline, deforestation, ecology, ecosystem function, extinction, habitat loss, harvest, invasive species, livestock, mammal, synergies
On the continuing theme of the demise of laws designed to protect Australian biodiversity (see here, here and here), I’m reproducing our latest Nature Correspondence on the issue. I know this might be slightly dodgy to do so, but given that it’s only a Correspondence, I don’t think I’ll get in too much trouble. Besides, it’s too important an issue to hide away behind paywalls.
Policy and legislative changes by Australia’s state governments are eroding the vital protection of the country’s unique biodiversity.
Reserves are being opened up to ecologically disruptive activities, such as grazing by domestic livestock, logging, mining, recreational hunting and fishing, and commercial development. Protected habitats on private and leasehold land are imperilled too. Queensland and Victoria, for example, are relaxing hard-won laws that limit vegetation clearance on private land, further accelerating the loss of regional biodiversity.
Collectively, these actions increase the pressure on biodiversity conservation in protected areas, many of which are already showing biodiversity loss (for example, the Kakadu National Park in northern Australia). Ecological connectivity is being lost, which will hamper the dispersal of species and their ability to respond to climate-change effects. Read the rest of this entry »
Comments : 4 Comments »
Tags: Australia, biodiversity, decline, laws, national parks
Categories : Australia, conservation, conservation biology, environmental policy, exploitation, habitat loss, management, marine protected area, protected area
I’ve covered this sad state of affairs and one of Australia’s more notable biodiversity embarrassments over the last year (see Shocking continued loss of Australian mammals and Can we solve Australia’s mammal extinction crisis?), and now the most empirical demonstration of this is now published.
The biodiversity guru of Australia’s tropical north, John Woinarksi, has just published the definitive demonstration of the magnitude of mammal declines in Kakadu National Park (Australia’s largest national park, World Heritage Area, emblem of ‘co-management’ and supposed biodiversity and cultural jewel in Australia’s conservation crown). According to Woinarski and colleagues, most of those qualifiers are rubbish.
The paper published in Wildlife Research is entitled Monitoring indicates rapid and severe decline of native small mammals in Kakadu National Park, northern Australia and it concludes:
The native mammal fauna of Kakadu National Park is in rapid and severe decline. The cause(s) of this decline are not entirely clear, and may vary among species. The most plausible causes are too frequent fire, predation by feral cats and invasion by cane toads (affecting particularly one native mammal species).
I’ve done quite a bit of work in Kakadu myself, and the one thing that hits you every time you travel through it is the lack of visible wildlife. Sure, you’ll see horses, pigs and buffalo, as well as cane toads and cats, but getting a glimpse of anything native, from Conilurus to Varanus, and you’d consider yourself extremely lucky.
We’ve written a lot about the feral animal problem in Kakadu and even developed software tools to assist in density-reduction programmes. It doesn’t appear that anyone is listening.
Another gob-smacking vista you’ll get when travelling through Kakadu any time from April to December is that it’s either been burnt, actively burning or targeted for burning. They burn the shit out of the place every year. No wonder the native mammals are having such a hard time.
Combine all this with the dysfunctional management arrangement, and you cease to have a National Park. Kakadu is now a lifeless shell that does precious little for conservation of biodiversity (and 3 of the 5 criteria it had to satisfy to become a World Heritage Area are specifically related to natural resource ‘values’). I say, delist Kakadu now and let’s stop fooling ourselves.
Ok, back from the rant. Woinarski and others superimposed a mammal monitoring programme over top a fire-regime experiment for vegetation. Although they couldn’t sample every plot every season, they staggered the sampling to cover the area as best they could over the 13 years of monitoring (1996-2009). What they observed was staggering. Read the rest of this entry »
Comments : 14 Comments »
Tags: biodiversity, conservation, decline, Kakadu National Park, mammals
Categories : Australia, biodiversity, conservation, environmental policy, fire, invasive species, mammal, modelling, monitoring, protected area, reserve, tropical