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Open access

Mark Nelson

Abstract

The Biosphere 2 project, a 1.2 hectare materially-closed mini-biosphere that supported teams of biospherian crews from 1991-1994 provides a host of ecological and human-biosphere lessons relevant to our global biospheric challenges. Because of its high visibility through worldwide media coverage, the project advanced public understanding of what a biosphere is and the roles that humans can constructively play in keeping ecosystems and atmosphere healthy. The present paper reviews the fairly recent scientific understanding of our global biosphere and some of the intriguing results from Biosphere 2. It also examines some of the reasons that Biosphere 2 aroused controversy because of narrow definitions and expectations of how science is to be conducted. The cooperation between engineers and ecologists and the requirement to design a technosphere for Biosphere 2 that supported the life inside without harming it has enormous relevance to what is required in our global home. There was an unexpected and profound connection that the ‘biospherian’ crew inside Biosphere 2 felt to their living biosphere. Biosphere 2 also demonstrated new kinds of roles that can be played by people aware of a biosphere as their life support system.

Open access

Dirk Spennemann

Abstract

Aided by their transplantability as adult plants, Phoenix canariensis and Washingtonia robusta palms have a long history as ornamental feature trees in urban settings. With their plentiful production of carbo-hydrate reach drupes, palms have become a major food source for the grey-headed flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) during late autumn and early winter. This paper reviews the consumption of Phoenix canariensis and Washingtonia robusta drupes based on the field observations and a morphological and metric analysis of spat-out remains (‘ejecta’). Based on a review of the mastication mechanics of fruit consumption, the paper demonstrates that P. poliocephalus can be ruled out as a disperser of the invasive Phoenix canariensis, but must be considered for the dispersal of Washingtonia robusta.

Open access

Mikołaj Kaczmarski and Krzysztof Kolenda

Abstract

Overharvesting and trade in amphibian populations is one of the causes of their global decline. Online trade not only encourages the exploitation of an increasing number of rare and endangered amphibian species from all over the world but also influences the spread of invasive species. The aim of our research was to investigate the amphibian pet trade conducted in online stores and portals in Poland and determine its potential impact on native species. Between November 2013 and October 2014, we regularly (on a monthly basis) checked sale offers on the websites of the 18 biggest pet shops in the country specialised in exotic animals, on a nationwide auction portal and on three exotic pet fan portals. During the study, we reported 486 offers of 112 amphibian species in online stores and on portals. Most of the offers involved one of the four families of amphibians: poison dart frogs (Dendrobatidae), tree frogs (Hylidae), true toads (Bufonidae) and true salamanders (Salamandridae). Our data show increased interest in amphibians as pets in Poland. At least half of the offered species are possible hosts for the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. However, only one species, the American bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus (Shaw, 1802), appears to be a potential invasive species. To summarise, the species offered in Poland that are characterised as threatened are predominantly those that are relatively easy to breed and that are popular as pets. Further studies are required to investigate the real threat to wild amphibian populations caused by the pet trade

Open access

Lachlan C. Fetterplace, John W. Turnbull, Nathan A. Knott and Natasha A. Hardy

Abstract

The accepted geographic range of a species is related to both opportunity and effort in sampling that range. In deepwater ecosystems where human access is limited, the geographic ranges of many marine species are likely to be underestimated. A chance recording from baited cameras deployed on deep uncharted reef revealed an eastern blue devil fish (Paraplesiops bleekeri) at a depth of 51 m and more than 2 km further down the continental shelf slope than previously observed. This is the first verifiable observation of eastern blue devil fish, a protected and endemic southeastern Australian temperate reef species, at depths greater than the typically accepted depth range of 30 m. Knowledge on the ecology of this and many other reef species is indeed often limited to shallow coastal reefs, which are easily accessible by divers and researchers. Suitable habitat for many reef species appears to exist on deeper offshore reefs but is likely being overlooked due to the logistics of conducting research on these often uncharted habitats. On the basis of our observation at a depth of 51 m and observations by recreational fishers catching eastern blue devil fishes on deep offshore reefs, we suggest that the current depth range of eastern blue devil fish is being underestimated at 30 m. We also observed several common reef species well outside of their accepted depth range. Notably, immaculate damsel (Mecaenichthys immaculatus), red morwong (Cheilodactylus fuscus), mado (Atypichthys strigatus), white-ear (Parma microlepis) and silver sweep (Scorpis lineolata) were abundant and recorded in a number of locations at up to a depth of at least 55 m. This underestimation of depth potentially represents a large area of deep offshore reefs and micro-habitats out on the continental shelf that could contribute to the resilience of eastern blue devil fish to extinction risk and contribute to the resilience of many reef species to climate change

Open access

Joacim Näslund, David Berger and Jörgen I. Johnsson

Abstract

This paper presents a study investigating performance of brown trout fry, with different behavioural characteristics, in environments differing in food predictability. Based on previous experimental findings, we hypothesised that more active individuals would be favoured by a predictable environment, as compared to an unpredictable environment, as a consequence of being more aggressive and likely to dominate the best feeding stations. This hypothesis was not supported, as more active individuals instead tended to perform better, in terms of growth and survival, in unpredictable environments. However, this effect may stem from initial size differences, as more active fish also tended to be larger. In predictable environments, no trends between activity (or size) and performance were detected. Dominant individuals could be identified based on lighter body colouration in 9 out of 10 rearing tanks, but dominance appeared not to be related to activity score. The results highlight a potential advantage of more active and/or larger fry in unpredictable environments, while performance in predictable environments is likely depending on other phenotypic characteristics. Our general experimental approach can be useful for further developments in the investigation of performance of different ethotypes of brown trout fry.

Open access

Sateesh Suthari and Vatsavaya S. Raju

Abstract

It is important to understand the tree species composition, abundance, species diversity and stratification in tropical dry deciduous forests that are under threat. A quadrat study was attempted in the dry deciduous forests along the ecological gradients in the Godavari Valley of northern Telangana, India. The study records the presence of 110 flowering plant taxa belonging to 82 genera and 37 families in 120 sampled plots, and there was enumeration of 15,192 individuals of ≥10 cm girth at breast height. Tectona grandis (teak) is the principal forest cover component in the region, which often formed pure stands in Adilabad and, to some extent, in Nizamabad districts. Further down to the Warangal district, teak was gradually replaced by Terminalia alata. Twenty tree species were found dominant at one place to the other, and the top 10 dominant taxa have shared nearly 41% of the total density of the forest cover. The tree relative density ranged from 0.007% to 20.84%. The values of Importance Value Index were between 0.245 (12 spp. including some exotics) and 32.6 (teak). These baseline data help to know the change detection along the gradients in the tropical forest ecosystem of a major river valley in the region and the drivers of change

Open access

Bishnu Prasad Bhattarai and Pavel Kindlmann

Abstract

We studied the impact of human disturbances on the habitat and prey preference of tiger by walking along transects in different sites of the Chitwan National Park, Nepal. The study found that tiger mostly preferred successional forests, grasslands and floodplains while avoiding the Shorea forests. Tiger strongly preferred prey abundant areas and strongly avoided the human disturbed areas. The prey preference of tiger obtained through scat analysis showed the highest preference of medium sized prey and less preference of large sized prey while avoidance of small, very small sized prey and domestic mammals. Tiger utilized higher numbers of domestic prey in the areas where there was high disturbance and less abundance of wild prey. The low preference of large sized prey and high preference of medium sized prey might be due to the low availability of large prey (e.g., sambar, gaur) and comparatively high availability of medium sized prey (e.g., chital, wild boar) in this area. For the effective use of habitat and prey, a predator like tiger needs considerable behavioural plasticity with the lonely wilderness. The regular disturbances caused by human activities could invite a dramatic change in the behavior of such predators which consequently increases conflict with people and declines in prey population. Hence, the habitat and prey preference of tiger not only depends on prey abundance but also depends on the degree of habitat disturbances in the human dominated landscapes like Chitwan. Proper management of parks by delineating the core areas as the prohibited zone and having only the buffer zone area as the free access zone for the local people to accommodate their daily needs, could help minimize the human disturbance in this park.

Open access

Yanina Benedetti

Abstract

Background. Since the High Nature Value (HNV) concept was defined in the early 1990s, several studies on HNV farmland has been increasing over the past 30 years in Europe, highlighting the interest by scientific community of HNV farming systems supporting biodiversity conservation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the trends and main gaps on HNV farmland peer-reviewed publications in order to contribute to the effectiveness of future research in this field. Methods. Searches were conducted using the databases Web of SciencesTM and Scopus in order to identify only peer-reviewed articles on HNV farmland, published prior to July 2017. The inclusion and exclusion criteria were developed a priori. Data as year, country, type of document, subject area, taxa studied and biodiversity metrics assessed were extracted and explored in order to analyse the spatial and temporal distribution of the concept, including the main topics addressed in HNV farmland literature. Results. After screening 308 original articles, 90 were selected for this review. HNV farmland studies involved several disciplines, mainly biodiversity and conservation and environmental sciences and ecology. Most peer-reviewed articles focused on HNV farming were conducted in Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal. The main studied taxa were plants and birds. Taxonomic diversity was the biodiversity metric more often used to assess the biodiversity status on HNV farmland areas. A positive correlation was found between HNV farmland area and HNV farmland studies conducted in respective countries. Discussion. The HNV farmland research subject is a relative novel approach, and this systematic review provides a comprehensive overview about the main topics in the HNV farmland peer-reviewed literature contributing to highlight the main gaps and provide some considerations in order to assist the performance of HNV farming systems and conservation policies, addressed to sustain high levels of biodiversity.

Open access

Mahmoud S. Adam, Awatief F. Hifney, Mustafa A. Fawzy and Arwa A. Al-Badaani

Abstract

A qualitative and quantitative study on epiphytic microalgae was carried out seasonally from November 2015 to August 2016 to follow up their community structures on aquatic macrophytes related to some physico-chemical properties of two polluted and unpolluted water bodies at Assiut, Egypt. A total of 169 species related to 64 genera of epiphytic microalgae were recorded. The most dominant algal group was Bacillariophyceae (43.2%), followed by Chlorophyceae (34.91%), Cyanophyceae (20.71%) and Euglenophyceae (1.18%). The total number of epiphytic algae fluctuated between 11.1 × 104 ind.g-1 plant dry wt. on Phragmites australis in summer at Nazlet Abdellah (polluted site) and 10.02 × 107 ind.g-1 plant dry wt. on Myriophyllum spicatum in winter at El-Wasta (unpolluted site). Some epiphytic microalgae were dominant as Pseudanabaena limnetica, Calothrix braunii, Scenedesmus acutus, and Ulnaria ulna. Others were specific on certain macrophytes as Aphanocapsa thermalis and Ulothrix sp., which grow on Phragmites australis, while Synechocystis minuscula attached itself on Myriophyllum spicatum. Analysis of PERMANOVA showed that the most important factors that induced the variation in epiphytic microalgae were the temporal variation and host plant. Water temperature, pH, nitrate, chloride, phosphate and total dissolved salts were the highest abiotic factors correlated with the variation in composition of epiphytic microalgae.

Open access

Lucas M. Leveau, Jukka Jokimäki and Marja-Liisa Kaisanlahti-Jokimäki

Abstract

Recent studies showed contrasting results about the homogenising force of urbanisation on bird community composition at large and regional scales. We studied whether urbanisation promotes the homogenisation of wintering bird communities and if this varies when comparing towns located within a specific region and towns located in two different biomes of two countries. We used both similarity indices based on the presence/absence data and the abundance data in comparing communities. Processes governing bird community dissimilarity between urbanisation levels were examined with the partitioning of Sörensen index in species turnover and nestedness. We made bird surveys in town centres and suburban habitats of three cities located in the Pampean region of Argentina and in the boreal region of Finland using a single-visit study plot method. Rarefacted species richness did not differ amongst the town centres between the countries, but it was higher in the suburban areas of Argentina than in Finland. At the country-level comparison, we found a higher similarity amongst the town centres than amongst the suburban areas; whereas at the regional comparison, similarity between town centres was comparable to the similarity between suburban areas. The use of an abundance-based index produced a higher similarity between town centre communities of both countries than when using a presence-based index. The dissimilarity between habitats in Argentina was related to nestedness and to species turnover in Finland. Our results indicate that urban-based biotic homogenisation of bird communities is dependent on the scale used, being more evident when comparing cities of different biomes where the same and abundant bird species, such as sparrows and doves, dominate. At the regional scale, quite a high beta-diversity can still be found within urban habitats. Processes of community dissimilarity between urban habitats may differ according to the regional pool of species, being more related to nestedness toward the tropics.