Designing a network of green infrastructure to enhance the conservation value of protected areas and maintain ecosystem services

Lanzas M., Hermoso V., de-Miguel S., Bota G., Brotons L. (2019) Designing a network of green infrastructure to enhance the conservation value of protected areas and maintain ecosystem services. Science of the Total Environment. 651: 541-550.
Enlace
Doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.09.164

Resumen:

There is a growing demand for holistic landscape planning to enhance sustainable use of ecosystem services (ESS) and maintenance of the biodiversity that supports them. In this context, the EU is developing policy to regulate the maintenance of ESS and enhance connectivity among protected areas (PAs). This is known as the network of Green Infrastructure (GI). However, there is not a working framework defined to plan the spatial design of such network of GI. Here, we use the software Marxan with Zones, to prioritize the spatial distribution of different management zones that accommodate the needs of a network of GI. These zones included a conservation zone, mainly devoted to protecting biodiversity, a GI zone, that aimed at connecting PAs and maintaining regulating and cultural ESS; and a management zone devoted to exploiting provisioning ESS. We performed four planning scenarios that distribute the targets for ESS and biodiversity in different ways across management zones. We also conducted a sensitivity analysis by increasing ESS targets to explore trade-offs that may occur when managing together biodiversity and ESS. We use Catalonia (northeastern Spain) as a case study. We found that the representation of ESS could be achieved for intermediate targets in all scenarios. There was, however, a threshold on these targets over which trade-offs appeared between maintaining regulating and cultural ESS and biodiversity versus getting access to provisioning ESS. These “thresholds values” were displaced towards higher ESS targets when we moved from more strict to more flexible planning scenarios (i.e., scenarios that allowed mixing representation of objectives for biodiversity and ESS within the same zone). This methodological approach could help design a framework to integrate biodiversity and ESS management in holistic plans and decision making and, at the same time, meeting European mandates concerning the design of GI networks, or similar needs elsewhere. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.

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Declining population trends of European mountain birds

Lehikoinen A., Brotons L., Calladine J., Campedelli T., Escandell V., Flousek J., Grueneberg C., Haas F., Harris S., Herrando S., Husby M., Jiguet F., Kålås J.A., Lindström Å., Lorrillière R., Molina B., Pladevall C., Calvi G., Sattler T., Schmid H., Sirkiä P.M., Teufelbauer N., Trautmann S. (2019) Declining population trends of European mountain birds. Global Change Biology. 25: 577-588.
Enlace
Doi: 10.1111/gcb.14522

Resumen:

Mountain areas often hold special species communities, and they are high on the list of conservation concern. Global warming and changes in human land use, such as grazing pressure and afforestation, have been suggested to be major threats for biodiversity in the mountain areas, affecting species abundance and causing distribution shifts towards mountaintops. Population shifts towards poles and mountaintops have been documented in several areas, indicating that climate change is one of the key drivers of species’ distribution changes. Despite the high conservation concern, relatively little is known about the population trends of species in mountain areas due to low accessibility and difficult working conditions. Thanks to the recent improvement of bird monitoring schemes around Europe, we can here report a first account of population trends of 44 bird species from four major European mountain regions: Fennoscandia, UK upland, south-western (Iberia) and south-central mountains (Alps), covering 12 countries. Overall, the mountain bird species declined significantly (−7%) during 2002–2014, which is similar to the declining rate in common birds in Europe during the same period. Mountain specialists showed a significant −10% decline in population numbers. The slope for mountain generalists was also negative, but not significantly so. The slopes of specialists and generalists did not differ from each other. Fennoscandian and Iberian populations were on average declining, while in United Kingdom and Alps, trends were nonsignificant. Temperature change or migratory behaviour was not significantly associated with regional population trends of species. Alpine habitats are highly vulnerable to climate change, and this is certainly one of the main drivers of mountain bird population trends. However, observed declines can also be partly linked with local land use practices. More efforts should be undertaken to identify the causes of decline and to increase conservation efforts for these populations. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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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.
Enlace
Doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.12.156

Resumen:

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.
Enlace
Doi: 10.1111/ddi.12885

Resumen:

[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.
Enlace
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.
Enlace
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.
Enlace
Doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2242

Resumen:

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.
Enlace
Doi: 10.1007/s10980-018-0683-3

Resumen:

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.
Enlace
Doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.13116

Resumen:

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.
Enlace
Doi: 10.1111/conl.12591

Resumen:

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.

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