Urban development versus wetland loss in a coastal Latin American city: Lessons for sustainable land use planning

Rojas C., Munizaga J., Rojas O., Martínez C., Pino J. (2019) Urban development versus wetland loss in a coastal Latin American city: Lessons for sustainable land use planning. Land Use Policy. 80: 47-56.
Link
Doi: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.09.036

Abstract:

Urbanization is a primary cause of wetland loss in coastal metropolitan regions. Therefore, it challenges the preservation of biodiversity and the provision of key ecosystem services for urban settlements. These services include leisure and recreation, climate and water regulation, water purification, and especially alleviation of natural hazards. Tsunami flood mitigation is a particularly valuable regulating service provided by these wetlands, as recently evidenced during the 2010 tsunami that hit the central coast of Chile. The Concepción Metropolitan Area (CMA), located on the central coast of Chile, has experienced noticeable wetland loss in recent decades. Our study focused on the Rocuant-Andalién wetland, which has been particularly affected by urbanization. This wetland strongly contributes to flood control, and has provided effective protection against the CMA's latest tsunamis (1835 and 2010). Based on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), we have quantified urban growth over the wetland, both executed and projected under the Metropolitan Urban Plan of Concepción (MUPC). Recent loss in wetland area by urban growth has been quantified using land use and cover change (LUCC) maps from 2004 to 2014, obtained from the classification of Landsat images. Prospective changes (considering the complete MUPC deployment) have been inferred by combining the MUPC with the 2014 land cover map. In addition, we quantified the observed effect and planned urban growth on the wetland protected area, geoforms and potential flooding based on the area affected by the last Tsunami. Results show that urban areas have increased by 28% between 2004 and 2014, while future increase is expected to reach 238%. In contrast, wetland area has decreased by 10% from 2004 to 2014 and is expected to decrease by up to 32 %. Thus, the MUPC is not contributing to the mitigation of wetland loss nor the preservation of its biodiversity and ecosystem services. Implications for coastal planning are discussed. © 2018

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Policy-driven monitoring and evaluation: Does it support adaptive management of socio-ecological systems?

Waylen K.A., Blackstock K.L., van Hulst F.J., Damian C., Horváth F., Johnson R.K., Kanka R., Külvik M., Macleod C.J.A., Meissner K., Oprina-Pavelescu M.M., Pino J., Primmer E., Rîșnoveanu G., Šatalová B., Silander J., Špulerová J., Suškevičs M., Van Uytvanck J. (2019) Policy-driven monitoring and evaluation: Does it support adaptive management of socio-ecological systems?. Science of the Total Environment. 662: 373-384.
Link
Doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.12.462

Abstract:

Inadequate Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is often thought to hinder adaptive management of socio-ecological systems. A key influence on environmental management practices are environmental policies: however, their consequences for M&E practices have not been well-examined. We examine three policy areas - the Water Framework Directive, the Natura 2000 Directives, and the Agri-Environment Schemes of the Common Agricultural Policy - whose statutory requirements influence how the environment is managed and monitored across Europe. We use a comparative approach to examine what is monitored, how monitoring is carried out, and how results are used to update management, based on publicly available documentation across nine regional and national cases. The requirements and guidelines of these policies have provided significant impetus for monitoring: however, we find this policy-driven M&E usually does not match the ideals of what is needed to inform adaptive management. There is a tendency to focus on understanding state and trends rather than tracking the effect of interventions; a focus on specific biotic and abiotic indicators at the expense of understanding system functions and processes, especially social components; and limited attention to how context affects systems, though this is sometimes considered via secondary data. The resulting data are sometimes publicly-accessible, but it is rarely clear if and how these influence decisions at any level, whether this be in the original policy itself or at the level of measures such as site management plans. Adjustments to policy-driven M&E could better enable learning for adaptive management, by reconsidering what supports a balanced understanding of socio-ecological systems and decision-making. Useful strategies include making more use of secondary data, and more transparency in data-sharing and decision-making. Several countries and policy areas already offer useful examples. Such changes are essential given the influence of policy, and the urgency of enabling adaptive management to safeguard socio-ecological systems. © 2019 The Authors

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Do asynchronies in extinction debt affect the structure of trophic networks? A case study of antagonistic butterfly larvae–plant networks

Guardiola M., Stefanescu C., Rod F., Pino J. (2018) Do asynchronies in extinction debt affect the structure of trophic networks? A case study of antagonistic butterfly larvae–plant networks. Oikos. 127: 803-813.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/oik.04536

Abstract:

Habitat loss and fragmentation affect species richness in fragmented habitats and can lead to immediate or time-delayed species extinctions. Asynchronies in extinction and extinction debt between interacting species may have severe effects on ecological networks. However, these effects remain largely unknown. We evaluated the effects of habitat patch and landscape changes on antagonistic butterfly larvae–plant trophic networks in Mediterranean grasslands in which previous studies had shown the existence of extinction debt in plants but not in butterflies. We sampled current species richness of habitat-specialist and generalist butterflies and vascular plants in 26 grasslands. We assessed the direct effects of historical and current patch and landscape characteristics on species richness and on butterfly larvae–plant trophic network metrics and robustness. Although positive species- and interactions–area relationships were found in all networks, structure and robustness was only affected by patch and landscape changes in networks involving the subset of butterfly specialists. Larger patches had more species (butterflies and host plants) and interactions but also more compartments, which decreased network connectance but increased network stability. Moreover, most likely due to the rescue effect, patch connectivity increased host-plant species (but not butterfly) richness and total links, and network robustness in specialist networks. On the other hand, patch area loss decreased robustness in specialist butterfly larvae–plant networks and made them more prone to collapse against host plant extinctions. Finally, in all butterfly larvae–plant networks we also detected a past patch and landscape effect on network asymmetry, which indicates that there were different extinction rates and extinction debts for butterflies and host plants. We conclude that asynchronies in extinction and extinction debt in butterfly–plant networks provoked by patch and landscape changes caused changes in species richness and network links in all networks, as well as changes in network structure and robustness in specialist networks. © 2017 The Authors

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Influence of clay licks on the diversity and structure of an Amazonian forest

Molina E., Espelta J.M., Pino J., Bagaria G., Armenteras D. (2018) Influence of clay licks on the diversity and structure of an Amazonian forest. Biotropica. 50: 740-749.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/btp.12568

Abstract:

The spatial heterogeneity of resource availability is a major driver of biodiversity patterns. Some environmental conditions and resources are characterized by large-scale patterns of variation within the landscape. Clumped local discontinuities or discrete elements also increase spatial heterogeneity, promoting local ‘biodiversity hot spots’ by modifying habitat characteristics and promoting plant–animal interactions. Clay licks are faunal attractors owing to their role in the nutritional ecology of the user species; nevertheless, the effect of their presence on the surrounding vegetation has been poorly quantified. Here, we use data from 100 × 10 m transects and evaluate the effects of the presence of clay licks on forest diversity and structure at local and landscape scales. In clay lick areas, there was a higher abundance of certain species, which helps to homogenize species composition between localities counteracting the natural distance-decay of compositional similarity between transects without clay lick influence (controls). Compared to control sites, clay lick′s forests had higher palm densities, shorter but more variable individuals in the canopy and understory, a thinner canopy layer, and denser herbaceous and ground level covers. These differences were found along the whole length of transects in both sampled areas types. These results reveal that the presence of discrete elements (i.e., clay licks) may help to explain the compositional and structural heterogeneity of Amazonian forests influencing ecological processes such as seed dispersal and trampling. These considerations may be relevant for other biomes where clay licks are present and give weight to their inclusion in conservation initiatives in tropical forests. © 2018 The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation

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Learning and the transformative potential of citizen science

Bela G., Peltola T., Young J.C., Balázs B., Arpin I., Pataki G., Hauck J., Kelemen E., Kopperoinen L., Van Herzele A., Keune H., Hecker S., Suškevičs M., Roy H.E., Itkonen P., Külvik M., László M., Basnou C., Pino J., Bonn A. (2016) Learning and the transformative potential of citizen science. Conservation Biology. : 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/cobi.12762

Abstract:

The number of collaborative initiatives between scientists and volunteers (i.e., citizen science) is increasing across many research fields. The promise of societal transformation together with scientific breakthroughs contributes to the current popularity of citizen science (CS) in the policy domain. We examined the transformative capacity of citizen science in particular learning through environmental CS as conservation tool. We reviewed the CS and social-learning literature and examined 14 conservation projects across Europe that involved collaborative CS. We also developed a template that can be used to explore learning arrangements (i.e., learning events and materials) in CS projects and to explain how the desired outcomes can be achieved through CS learning. We found that recent studies aiming to define CS for analytical purposes often fail to improve the conceptual clarity of CS; CS programs may have transformative potential, especially for the development of individual skills, but such transformation is not necessarily occurring at the organizational and institutional levels; empirical evidence on simple learning outcomes, but the assertion of transformative effects of CS learning is often based on assumptions rather than empirical observation; and it is unanimous that learning in CS is considered important, but in practice it often goes unreported or unevaluated. In conclusion, we point to the need for reliable and transparent measurement of transformative effects for democratization of knowledge production. © 2016, Society for Conservation Biology.

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General declines in Mediterranean butterflies over the last two decades are modulated by species traits

Melero Y., Stefanescu C., Pino J. (2016) General declines in Mediterranean butterflies over the last two decades are modulated by species traits. Biological Conservation. 201: 336-342.
Link
Doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.07.029

Abstract:

Species' responses to environmental changes are highly idiosyncratic and context-dependent. Although intrinsic traits (i.e. those that define species niches) may play a key role, little empirical evidence exists regarding their relationship to demographic responses. We used data for 66 butterfly species representing five ecological and two life-history traits to study the effect these factors have on population growth rates and variations in populations. Using a novel methodological approach, we provide here improved estimates of population change. Our results reveal declines in 70% and increases in 23% of the studied species, clear evidence of more serious population declines in Catalan butterflies than those that have previously been reported. Declines were associated with species' degree of habitat specialisation and the number of generations. For all species, fluctuations were greater within than between years and, on average, the latter was 1.5 times greater. Our results indicated that habitat specialists and multivoltine species are more likely to suffer severe annual fluctuations in population abundance; and that multivoltine species and extreme larval specialists had the most marked fluctuations within seasons. We also found higher resilience to environmental changes in generalist species, which is concordant with biotic homogenisation in disturbed communities. However, among the declining species there were also many generalists, which indicates a potential general reduction in this group that goes beyond faunal homogenisation. Given butterflies are biodiversity indicators, these patterns are a possible reflection of an overall impoverishment in biodiversity. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd

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Assessing coexisting plant extinction debt and colonization credit in a grassland–forest change gradient

Bagaria G., Helm A., Rodà F., Pino J. (2015) Assessing coexisting plant extinction debt and colonization credit in a grassland–forest change gradient. Oecologia. 179: 823-834.
Link
Doi: 10.1007/s00442-015-3377-4

Abstract:

Changes in species richness along the ecological succession gradient may be strongly determined by coexisting extinction debts of species from the original habitats and colonization credits of those from the replacing habitats. The magnitude of these processes and their causes remain largely unknown. We explored the extinction debt and colonization credit for grassland and forest specialist plants, respectively, and the local and landscape factors associated to the richness of these species groups in a 50-year process of forest encroachment into semi-natural Mediterranean grasslands. A set of sampling plots of persistent grasslands and forests and their transitional habitat (wooded grasslands) was selected within fixed-area sites distributed across the landscape. Our results confirm the extinction debt and suggest colonization credit (according to observed trends and model predictions) in wooded grasslands when compared to persistent forests, despite wooded grasslands and persistent forests having similar tree cover. Grassland connectivity and solar radiation had opposing effects on the richness of both grassland and forest specialists, and it is possible that the availability of seed sources from old forests may have accelerate the payment of colonization credit in the wooded grasslands. These results suggest that extinction debt and colonization credit have driven species turnover during the 50 years of forest encroachment, but at different rates, and that local and landscape factors have opposing effects on these two phenomena. They also highlight the importance of documenting biodiversity time lags following habitat change when they are still in progress in order to timely and adequately manage habitats of high conservation value such as the grasslands studied here. © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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Examining the role of landscape structure and dynamics in alien plant invasion from urban Mediterranean coastal habitats

Basnou C., Iguzquiza J., Pino J. (2015) Examining the role of landscape structure and dynamics in alien plant invasion from urban Mediterranean coastal habitats. Landscape and Urban Planning. 136: 156-164.
Link
Doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.12.001

Abstract:

This paper aims to disentangle the effects of both current landscape structure and recent land use-change on alien plant invasion in urban Mediterranean coastal habitats. Patches of four habitat types (rock outcrops, sand dunes, scrublands and forests) of different sizes and surrounding landscape compositions were selected along the coast of the Metropolitan Region of Barcelona (NE Spain). Attributes of habitat patches, historical (1956) and current landscape composition around them, land-cover changes (1956-2005) and other environmental and geographic factors within these patches were obtained. The association of these attributes with alien plant richness, abundance and composition was investigated using GLM and CCA. Alien species richness was mostly explained by patch size and shape and built-up area proportion from 1956 and 2005 in a 50. m buffer around patches. Alien species abundance was mostly related to patch shape, temperature, rainfall, land-cover changes within patches and cropland cover of 1956 in a 50. m buffer around patches. Alien species composition was primary related to habitat type, temperature, land-cover changes within patches and the composition of the surrounding landscape. Results suggest that landscape factors affect alien species richness and abundance differently, which are indicative of species colonization and spread, respectively. Landscape history positively affects both colonization and spread, with evidence for a colonization credit related with past urban cover, and the association between recent patch dynamics and present aliens spread. Results highlight the importance of including landscape structure and dynamics in the management of plant invasions in coastal Mediterranean habitats, especially in metropolitan regions. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

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Of niche differentiation, dispersal ability and historical legacies: What drives woody community assembly in recent Mediterranean forests?

Basnou C., Vicente P., Espelta J.M., Pino J. (2015) Of niche differentiation, dispersal ability and historical legacies: What drives woody community assembly in recent Mediterranean forests?. Oikos. : 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/oik.02534

Abstract:

Community assembly rules have been extensively studied, but its association with regional environmental variation and land use history remains largely unexplored. Land use history might be especially important in Mediterranean forests, considering their historical deforestation and recent afforestation. Using forest inventories and historical (1956) and recent (2000) land cover maps, we explored the following hypotheses: 1) woody species assembly is driven by environmental factors, but also by historical landscape attributes; 2) recent forests exhibit lower woody species richness than pre-existing due to the existence of colonization credits; 3) these credits are modulated by species' life-forms and dispersal mechanisms. We examined the association of forest historical type (pre-existing versus recent) with total species richness and that of diverse life-forms and dispersal groups, also considering the effects of current environment and past landscape factors. When accounting for these effects, no significant differences in woody species richness were found between forest historical types except for vertebrate-dispersed species. Species richness of this group was affected by the interaction of forest historical type with distance to coast and rainfall: vertebrate-dispersed species richness increased with rainfall and distance to the coast in recent forests, while it was higher in dryer sites in pre-existing forests. In addition, forest historical types showed differences in woody species composition associated to diverse environmental and past landscape factors. In view of these results we can conclude that: 1) community assembly in terms of species richness is fast enough to exhaust most colonization credit in recent Mediterranean forests except for vertebrate-dispersed species; 2) for these species, colonization credit is affected by the interplay of forest history and a set of proxies of niche and landscape constraints of species dispersal and establishment; 3) woody species assemblage is mostly shaped by the species' ecological niches in these forests. © 2015 The Authors.

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Interactions between transplants of Phragmites australis and Juncus acutus in Mediterranean coastal marshes: The modulating role of environmental gradients

Batriu E., Ninot J.M., Pino J. (2015) Interactions between transplants of Phragmites australis and Juncus acutus in Mediterranean coastal marshes: The modulating role of environmental gradients. Aquatic Botany. 124: 29-38.
Link
Doi: 10.1016/j.aquabot.2015.03.003

Abstract:

Interactions between two coastal marsh plants (Phragmites australis and Juncus acutus) were investigated along three natural gradients of salinity, water table and soil texture, variously combined in a microtidal Mediterranean coastal marsh. Our aim was to clarify to what extent plant interactions explain the occurrence of stands of both species, since they are not solely due to their tolerance to environmental conditions. We used a replacement series design of field transplants. Mortality and relative yield index of aerial biomass were analyzed to assess the outcome of interactions using Generalized Linear Mixed Models. Results show that mortality was entirely driven by natural gradients. Specifically, higher salinity and soil clay contents increased mortality in both species, whereas high water table increased survival only in P. australis. Growth was controlled by plant interactions and by natural gradients. According to these results P. australis can suppress J. acutus in waterlogged and non-saline conditions. Where water table is deeper, J. acutus can suppress P. australis along a wide range of saline conditions. In the driest situations both species exhibited mutual interference and, in some cases, P. australis can again suppress J. acutus. Facilitation occurred along the salinity gradient in situations that correspond to low, medium or high stress for the beneficiary species, pointing that exceptions to the stress gradient hypothesis may occur in systems including multiple stress gradients. Our results suggest that competitive interactions and environmental gradients are not fully responsible for plant distribution in microtidal coastal marshes. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

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