The use of scenarios and models to evaluate the future of nature values and ecosystem services in Mediterranean forests

Morán-Ordóñez A., Roces-Díaz J.V., Otsu K., Ameztegui A., Coll L., Lefevre F., Retana J., Brotons L. (2019) The use of scenarios and models to evaluate the future of nature values and ecosystem services in Mediterranean forests. Regional Environmental Change. 19: 415-428.
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Doi: 10.1007/s10113-018-1408-5

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Science and society are increasingly interested in predicting the effects of global change and socio-economic development on natural systems, to ensure maintenance of both ecosystems and human well-being. The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has identified the combination of ecological modelling and scenario forecasting as key to improving our understanding of those effects, by evaluating the relationships and feedbacks between direct and indirect drivers of change, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. Using as case study the forests of the Mediterranean basin (complex socio-ecological systems of high social and conservation value), we reviewed the literature to assess (1) what are the modelling approaches most commonly used to predict the condition and trends of biodiversity and ecosystem services under future scenarios of global change, (2) what are the drivers of change considered in future scenarios and at what scales, and (3) what are the nature and ecosystem service indicators most commonly evaluated. Our review shows that forecasting studies make relatively little use of modelling approaches accounting for actual ecological processes and feedbacks between different socio-ecological sectors; predictions are generally made on the basis of a single (mainly climate) or a few drivers of change. In general, there is a bias in the set of nature and ecosystem service indicators assessed. In particular, cultural services and human well-being are greatly underrepresented in the literature. We argue that these shortfalls hamper our capacity to make the best use of predictive tools to inform decision-making in the context of global change. © 2018, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.

Llegeix més

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

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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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Open access solutions for biodiversity journals: Do not replace one problem with another

Peterson A.T., Anderson R.P., Beger M., Bolliger J., Brotons L., Burridge C.P., Cobos M.E., Cuervo-Robayo A.P., Di Minin E., Diez J., Elith J., Embling C.B., Escobar L.E., Essl F., Feeley K.J., Hawkes L., Jiménez-García D., Jimenez L., Green D.M., Knop E., Kühn I., Lahoz-Monfort J.J., Lira-Noriega A., Lobo J.M., Loyola R., Mac Nally R., Machado-Stredel F., Martínez-Meyer E., McCarthy M., Merow C., Nori J., Nuñez-Penichet C., Osorio-Olvera L., Pyšek P., Rejmánek M., Ricciardi A., Robertson M., Rojas Soto O., Romero-Alvarez D., Roura-Pascual N., Santini L., Schoeman D.S., Schröder B., Soberon J., Strubbe D., Thuiller W., Traveset A., Treml E.A., Václavík T., Varela S., Watson J.E.M., Wiersma Y., Wintle B., Yanez-Arenas C., Zurell D. (2019) Open access solutions for biodiversity journals: Do not replace one problem with another. Diversity and Distributions. 25: 5-8.
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Doi: 10.1111/ddi.12885

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[No abstract available]

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Bird community response in mountain pine forests of the Pyrenees managed under a shelterwood system

Ameztegui, A., Gil-Tena, A., Faus, J., Piqué, M., Brotons, L., Camprodon, J. (2018) Bird community response in mountain pine forests of the Pyrenees managed under a shelterwood system. Forest Ecology and Management. 407: 95-105.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2017.09.002

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Synoptic weather conditions and changing fire regimes in a Mediterranean environment

Duane, A., Brotons, L. (2018) Synoptic weather conditions and changing fire regimes in a Mediterranean environment. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 253-254: 190-202.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2018.02.014

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Landscape configurational heterogeneity by small-scale agriculture, not crop diversity, maintains pollinators and plant reproduction in western Europe

Hass A.L., Kormann U.G., Tscharntke T., Clough Y., Baillod A.B., Sirami C., Fahrig L., Martin J.-L., Baudry J., Bertrand C., Bosch J., Brotons L., Bure F., Georges R., Giralt D., Marcos-García M.Á., Ricarte A., Siriwardena G., Batáry P. (2018) Landscape configurational heterogeneity by small-scale agriculture, not crop diversity, maintains pollinators and plant reproduction in western Europe. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 285: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2242

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Agricultural intensification is one of the main causes for the current biodiversity crisis. While reversing habitat loss on agricultural land is challenging, increasing the farmland configurational heterogeneity (higher field border density) and farmland compositional heterogeneity (higher crop diversity) has been proposed to counteract some habitat loss. Here, we tested whether increased farmland configurational and compositional heterogeneity promote wild pollinators and plant reproduction in 229 landscapes located in four major western European agricultural regions. High-field border density consistently increased wild bee abundance and seed set of radish (Raphanus sativus), probably through enhanced connectivity. In particular, we demonstrate the importance of crop-crop borders for pollinator movement as an additional experiment showed higher transfer of a pollen analogue along crop-crop borders than across fields or along semi-natural crop borders. By contrast, high crop diversity reduced bee abundance, probably due to an increase of crop types with particularly intensive management. This highlights the importance of crop identity when higher crop diversity is promoted. Our results show that small-scale agricultural systems can boost pollinators and plant reproduction. Agri-environmental policies should therefore aim to halt and reverse the current trend of increasing field sizes and to reduce the amount of crop types with particularly intensive management. © 2018 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

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Assessing the role of Natura 2000 at maintaining dynamic landscapes in Europe over the last two decades: implications for conservation

Hermoso V., Morán-Ordóñez A., Brotons L. (2018) Assessing the role of Natura 2000 at maintaining dynamic landscapes in Europe over the last two decades: implications for conservation. Landscape Ecology. 33: 1447-1460.
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Doi: 10.1007/s10980-018-0683-3

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Context: The Natura 2000 aims to promote the persistence of biodiversity and traditional uses. European landscapes have, however, undergone large transformations in the past decades, mainly associated with the abandonment of less productive lands concentration of intensive agriculture. These changes could pose management challenges and new opportunities to the achievement of the network´s goals. Objective: Evaluate changes in land cover within Natura 2000 in the last two decades. Methods: We use different Corine Land Cover datasets to construct transition matrices of land uses for measuring changes for each Natura 2000 site. We also explore the role of different drivers in observed changes and assess the impacts of these changes in the structure of landscape. Results: Landscape has been highly dynamic within Natura 2000 in the last two decades with more than 20% undergoing land cover changes. The most systematic transitions involved both, succession processes towards naturalisation in older and more abrupt protected areas (PAs) and anthropization in less steep and more recently designated PAs. Changes across land cover categories had also significant effects on the landscape configuration towards a higher homogenisation. Conclusions: Two different strategies would be needed to enhance the role of Natura 2000, (i) tighter control to ensure anthropization, mainly intensive agriculture, does not compromise conservation goals within PAs and (ii) tackle more effectively the ecological and socio-economic effects of abandonment in less productive areas to halt loss of key habitats. On the other hand, changes in composition and structure of landscape open new conservation opportunities derived from enhanced connectivity. © 2018, Springer Nature B.V.

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Spatial prioritisation of EU's LIFE-Nature programme to strengthen the conservation impact of Natura 2000

Hermoso V., Villero D., Clavero M., Brotons L. (2018) Spatial prioritisation of EU's LIFE-Nature programme to strengthen the conservation impact of Natura 2000. Journal of Applied Ecology. 55: 1575-1582.
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Doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.13116

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Despite advances in conservation efforts within Europe during recent decades, assessments highlight a need for adequate financing mechanisms to support the Natura 2000 network, the centrepiece of the EU's Biodiversity Strategy. Besides the need for greater investment (currently only covering a fifth of the estimated cost of the network), better planning for this investment could help better achieve conservation goals. We demonstrate a method that could be used to identify priority Natura 2000 sites, and species therein, that could guide investment in the future. We first used the lists of key species associated with each Natura 2000 site to map the distribution of all priority species covered by the Birds and Habitats Directives. We then used Marxan software to prioritise allocation of conservation funds among all Natura 2000 sites, while trying to mimic the observed conservation effort implemented under the LIFE programme, the main financial tool of the EU's Biodiversity Strategy, in the period 1992–2013. Some Natura 2000 sites show exceptional value, holding species that either do not, or only very rarely, occur elsewhere in the network. These priority sites were concentrated mainly on islands and in the south western, eastern and northern extremes of Europe's mainland, thus reflecting patterns in species richness and endemism. We found a poor relationship between the priorities identified here and the way funds had been distributed in previous LIFE-Nature programmes. Policy implications. We propose that prioritisation exercises like the one shown here could be used to inform a top-down EU regulation mechanism by providing lists of site and species priorities that better reflect European conservation needs. These recommendations, performed at continental scale, could then help guide LIFE project proposals from the Member States and fill the current gap in the coverage of priority species. This top-down control mechanism could be integrated in the current system of budget distribution, rather than replacing it completely, to enhance the efficiency of conservation investment in the EU and achievement of continental goals. © 2018 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology © 2018 British Ecological Society

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Efficiency of species survey networks can be improved by integrating different monitoring approaches in a spatial prioritization design

Morán-Ordóñez A., Canessa S., Bota G., Brotons L., Herrando S., Hermoso V. (2018) Efficiency of species survey networks can be improved by integrating different monitoring approaches in a spatial prioritization design. Conservation Letters. 11: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1111/conl.12591

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Public participation to monitoring programs is increasingly advocated to overcome scarcity of resources and deliver important information for policy-making. Here, we illustrate the design of optimal monitoring networks for bird species of conservation concern in Catalonia (NE Spain), under different scenarios of combined governmental and citizen-science monitoring approaches. In our case study, current government efforts, limited to protected areas, were insufficient to cover the whole spectrum of target species and species-threat levels, reinforcing the assumption that citizen-science data can greatly assist in achieving monitoring targets. However, simply carrying out both government and citizen-science monitoring ad hoc led to inefficiency and duplication of efforts: some species were represented in excess of targets while several features were undersampled. Policy-making should concentrate on providing an adequate platform for coordination of government and public-participatory monitoring to minimize duplicated efforts, overcome the biases of each monitoring program and obtain the best from both. © 2018 The Authors. Conservation Letters published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Llegeix més

Calibrating the severity of forest defoliation by pine processionary moth with landsat and UAV imagery

Otsu K., Pla M., Vayreda J., Brotons L. (2018) Calibrating the severity of forest defoliation by pine processionary moth with landsat and UAV imagery. Sensors (Switzerland). 18: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.3390/s18103278

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The pine processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa Dennis and Schiff.), one of the major defoliating insects in Mediterranean forests, has become an increasing threat to the forest health of the region over the past two decades. After a recent outbreak of T. pityocampa in Catalonia, Spain, we attempted to estimate the damage severity by capturing the maximum defoliation period over winter between pre-outbreak and post-outbreak images. The difference in vegetation index (dVI) derived from Landsat 8 was used as the change detection indicator and was further calibrated with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) imagery. Regression models between predicted dVIs and observed defoliation degrees by UAV were compared among five selected dVIs for the coefficient of determination. Our results found the highest R-squared value (0.815) using Moisture Stress Index (MSI), with an overall accuracy of 72%, as a promising approach for estimating the severity of defoliation in affected areas where ground-truth data is limited. We concluded with the high potential of using UAVs as an alternative method to obtain ground-truth data for cost-effectively monitoring forest health. In future studies, combining UAV images with satellite data may be considered to validate model predictions of the forest condition for developing ecosystem service tools. © 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

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