Monitoring opencast mine restorations using Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) imagery

Padró J.-C., Carabassa V., Balagué J., Brotons L., Alcañiz J.M., Pons X. (2019) Monitoring opencast mine restorations using Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) imagery. Science of the Total Environment. 657: 1602-1614.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.12.156

Resum:

Open-pit mine is still an unavoidable activity but can become unsustainable without the restoration of degraded sites. Monitoring the restoration after extractive activities is a legal requirement for mine companies and public administrations in many countries, involving financial provisions for environmental liabilities. The objective of this contribution is to present a rigorous, low-cost and easy-to-use application of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for supporting opencast mining and restoration monitoring, complementing the inspections with very high (

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Rural abandoned landscapes and bird assemblages: winners and losers in the rewilding of a marginal mountain area (NW Spain)

Regos A., Dominguez J., Gil-Tena A., Brotons L., Ninyerola M., Pons X. (2014) Rural abandoned landscapes and bird assemblages: winners and losers in the rewilding of a marginal mountain area (NW Spain). Regional Environmental Change. : 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1007/s10113-014-0740-7

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In many regions of Europe, large-scale socio-economic changes have led to the abandonment of rural activities and a gradual takeover of natural vegetation. It is important to assess the relative positive and negative effects of land abandonment on particular areas where the low-intensity farming is no longer socially or economically viable in order to quantify the potential conservation costs and benefits of a rewilding as a land-use management policy. During the period 2000–2010, we studied the land-use/land-cover changes in an abandoned mountain landscape (Galicia, NW Spain) and evaluated the effects on breeding bird occurrence and distribution. For this purpose, we analysed remotely sensed data-derived maps in combination with data obtained from bird censuses carried out in 2000 and 2010 at both landscape and census plot scale. The results revealed a gradient of change from bare ground and open shrubland to closed shrubland and woodland. Thirteen shrubland and forest bird species showed a significant increase (including species of conservation concern such as Turtle Dove, Dartford Warbler and Western Bonelli’s Warbler), while four ecotone and open-habitat species (e.g. Red-backed Shrike) showed a significant negative trend. In conclusion, rewilding appears to have overall positive effects on biodiversity and should be considered by policy makers as alternative land-use strategy in marginal mountain areas, particularly if they have been historically affected by wildfires. Fire management aimed at favouring the creation of small burned areas in progressively closed landscapes derived from rewilding may be a complementary alternative to maintain open habitats in these areas.

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Modelling invasive alien species distributions from digital biodiversity atlases. Model upscaling as a means of reconciling data at different scales

Marcer A., Pino J., Pons X., Brotons L. (2012) Modelling invasive alien species distributions from digital biodiversity atlases. Model upscaling as a means of reconciling data at different scales. Diversity and Distributions. 18: 1177-1189.
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Doi: 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2012.00911.x

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Aim: There is a wealth of information on species occurrences in biodiversity data banks, albeit presence-only, biased and scarce at fine resolutions. Moreover, fine-resolution species maps are required in biodiversity conservation. New techniques for dealing with this kind of data have been reported to perform well. These fine-resolution maps would be more robust if they could explain data at coarser resolutions at which species distributions are well represented. We present a new methodology for testing this hypothesis and apply it to invasive alien species (IAS). Location: Catalonia, Spain. Methods: We used species presence records from the Biodiversity data bank of Catalonia to model the distribution of ten IAS which, according to some recent studies, achieve their maximum distribution in the study area. To overcome problems inherent with the data, we prepared different correction treatments: three for dealing with bias and five for autocorrelation. We used the MaxEnt algorithm to generate models at 1-km resolution for each species and treatment. Acceptable models were upscaled to 10 km and validated against independent 10 km occurrence data. Results: Of a total of 150 models, 20 gave acceptable results at 1-km resolution and 12 passed the cross-scale validation test. No apparent pattern emerged, which could serve as a guide on modelling. Only four species gave models that also explained the distribution at the coarser scale. Main conclusions: Although some techniques may apparently deliver good distribution maps for species with scarce and biased data, they need to be taken with caution. When good independent data at a coarser scale are available, cross-scale validation can help to produce more reliable and robust maps. When no independent data are available for validation, however, new data gathering field surveys may be the only option if reliable fine-scale resolution maps are needed. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Reassessing global change research priorities in mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems: How far have we come and where do we go from here?

Doblas-Miranda E., Martinez-Vilalta J., Lloret F., Alvarez A., Avila A., Bonet F.J., Brotons L., Castro J., Curiel Yuste J., Diaz M., Ferrandis P., Garcia-Hurtado E., Iriondo J.M., Keenan T.F., Latron J., Llusia J., Loepfe L., Mayol M., More G., Moya D., Penuelas J., Pons X., Poyatos R., Sardans J., Sus O., Vallejo V.R., Vayreda J., Retana J. (0) Reassessing global change research priorities in mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems: How far have we come and where do we go from here?. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 24: 25-43.
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Doi: 10.1111/geb.12224

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Aim: Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems serve as reference laboratories for the investigation of global change because of their transitional climate, the high spatiotemporal variability of their environmental conditions, a rich and unique biodiversity and a wide range of socio-economic conditions. As scientific development and environmental pressures increase, it is increasingly necessary to evaluate recent progress and to challenge research priorities in the face of global change. Location: Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems. Methods: This article revisits the research priorities proposed in a 1998 assessment. Results: A new set of research priorities is proposed: (1) to establish the role of the landscape mosaic on fire-spread; (2) to further research the combined effect of different drivers on pest expansion; (3) to address the interaction between drivers of global change and recent forest management practices; (4) to obtain more realistic information on the impacts of global change and ecosystem services; (5) to assess forest mortality events associated with climatic extremes; (6) to focus global change research on identifying and managing vulnerable areas; (7) to use the functional traits concept to study resilience after disturbance; (8) to study the relationship between genotypic and phenotypic diversity as a source of forest resilience; (9) to understand the balance between C storage and water resources; (10) to analyse the interplay between landscape-scale processes and biodiversity conservation; (11) to refine models by including interactions between drivers and socio-economic contexts; (12) to understand forest-atmosphere feedbacks; (13) to represent key mechanisms linking plant hydraulics with landscape hydrology. Main conclusions: (1) The interactive nature of different global change drivers remains poorly understood. (2) There is a critical need for the rapid development of regional- and global-scale models that are more tightly connected with large-scale experiments, data networks and management practice. (3) More attention should be directed to drought-related forest decline and the current relevance of historical land use.

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