412 research outputs found

    Wildlife harvest and consumption in Amazonia's urbanized wilderness

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    Urbanization of forested wilderness could threaten biodiversity if expanding cities drive demand for wildlife as food. We examined the scale and drivers of urban wildlife consumption in the forested pre-frontier of Brazilian Amazonia, defined as municipalities (n = 73) with over 90% of their original forest cover still intact. A representative survey of two pre-frontier cities indicated that virtually all urban households consume wildlife, including fish (99%), bush-meat (mammals and birds) (79%), chelonians (48%) and caimans (28%) – alarming evidence of an under-reported wild-meat crisis in the heart of Amazonia. We also report rapid growth of cities and inadequate resources to deter illegal consumption in this urbanized wilderness covering 1.86 million square kilometres. We evaluate relevant policy levers and conclude that poverty-alleviation programs may accelerate a long-term transition from consumption of wildlife as an economical source of protein for the poor to luxury food for the wealthy. We argue that innovative environmental governance could limit wildlife consumption to only harvest-tolerant species. Researchers and policy-makers should engage with policies and ideas that promote poverty alleviation and supply poor city-dwellers with affordable alternatives to eating wildlife

    The value of trophic interactions for ecosystem function:Dung beetle communities influence seed burial and seedling recruitment in tropical forests

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    Anthropogenic activities are causing species extinctions, raising concerns about the consequences of changing biological communities for ecosystem functioning. To address this, we investigated how dung beetle communities influence seed burial and seedling recruitment in the Brazilian Amazon. First, we conducted a burial and retrieval experiment using seed mimics. We found that dung beetle biomass had a stronger positive effect on the burial of large than small beads, suggesting that anthropogenic reductions in large-bodied beetles will have the greatest effect on the secondary dispersal of large-seeded plant species. Second, we established mesocosm experiments in which dung beetle communities buried Myrciaria dubia seeds to examine plant emergence and survival. Contrary to expectations, we found that beetle diversity and biomass negatively influenced seedling emergence, but positively affected the survival of seedlings that emerged. Finally, we conducted germination trials to establish the optimum burial depth of experimental seeds, revealing a negative relationship between burial depth and seedling emergence success. Our results provide novel evidence that seed burial by dung beetles may be detrimental for the emergence of some seed species. However, we also detected positive impacts of beetle activity on seedling recruitment, which are probably because of their influence on soil properties. Overall, this study provides new evidence that anthropogenic impacts on dung beetle communities could influence the structure of tropical forests; in particular, their capacity to regenerate and continue to provide valuable functions and services. </jats:p

    Challenges of governing second-growth forests:a case study from the Brazilian Amazonian State of Para

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    Despite the growing ecological and social importance of second-growth and regenerating forests across much of the world, significant inconsistencies remain in the legal framework governing these forests in many tropical countries and elsewhere. Such inconsistencies and uncertainties undermine attempts to improve both the transparency and sustainability of management regimes. Here, we present a case-study overview of some of the main challenges facing the governance of second-growth forests and the forest restoration process in the Brazilian Amazon, with a focus on the state of Pará, which is both the most populous state in the Amazon and the state with the highest rates of deforestation in recent years. First, we briefly review the history of environmental governance in Brazil that has led to the current system of legislation governing second-growth forests and the forest restoration process in Pará. Next, we draw on this review to examine the kinds of legislative and operational impediments that stand in the way of the development and implementation of a more effective governance system. In particular, we highlight problems created by significant ambiguities in legal terminology and inconsistencies in guidance given across different levels of government. We also outline some persistent problems with the implementation of legal guidance, including the need to understand local biophysical factors in order to guide an effective restoration program, as well as difficulties presented by access to technical assistance, institutional support and financial resources for the establishment and monitoring of both existing secondary forests and newly regenerating areas of forest. Whilst we focus here on a Brazilian case study, we suggest that these kinds of impediments to the good governance of second-growth forests are commonplace and require more concerted attention from researchers, managers and policy makers

    Quantifying responses of dung beetles to fire disturbance in tropical forests:the importance of trapping method and seasonality

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    Understanding how biodiversity responds to environmental changes is essential to provide the evidence-base that underpins conservation initiatives. The present study provides a standardized comparison between unbaited flight intercept traps (FIT) and baited pitfall traps (BPT) for sampling dung beetles. We examine the effectiveness of the two to assess fire disturbance effects and how trap performance is affected by seasonality. The study was carried out in a transitional forest between Cerrado (Brazilian Savanna) and Amazon Forest. Dung beetles were collected during one wet and one dry sampling season. The two methods sampled different portions of the local beetle assemblage. Both FIT and BPT were sensitive to fire disturbance during the wet season, but only BPT detected community differences during the dry season. Both traps showed similar correlation with environmental factors. Our results indicate that seasonality had a stronger effect than trap type, with BPT more effective and robust under low population numbers, and FIT more sensitive to fine scale heterogeneity patterns. This study shows the strengths and weaknesses of two commonly used methodologies for sampling dung beetles in tropical forests, as well as highlighting the importance of seasonality in shaping the results obtained by both sampling strategies

    Can REDD+ help the conservation of restricted-range island species?:insights from the endemism hotspot of São Tomé

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    REDD+ aims to offset greenhouse gas emissions through “Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation”. Some authors suggest that REDD+ can bring additional benefits for biodiversity, namely for the conservation of extinction-prone restricted-range species. Here, we assess this claim, using São Tomé Island (Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe) as a case study. We quantified the abundance of bird and tree species, and calculated the aboveground carbon stocks across a gradient of land-use intensity. We found a strong spatial congruence between carbon and the presence and abundance of endemic species, supporting the potential of REDD+ to protect these taxa. We then assessed if REDD+ could help protect the forests of São Tomé and Príncipe. To do so, we used OSIRIS simulations to predict country-level deforestation under two different REDD+ designs. These simulations showed that REDD+ could promote the loss of forests in São Tomé and Príncipe through leakage. This happened even when additional payments for biodiversity were included in the simulations, and despite São Tomé and Príncipe having the fourth highest carbon stocks per land area and the second highest biodiversity values according to the OSIRIS database. These results show weaknesses of OSIRIS as a planning tool, and demonstrate that the benefits that REDD+ might bring for biodiversity are strongly dependent on its careful implementation. We recommend that payment for ecosystem services programmes such as REDD+ develop safeguards to ensure that biodiversity co-benefits are met and perverse outcomes are avoided across all tropical countries. In particular, we advise specific safeguards regarding the conservation of extinction-prone groups, such as island restricted-range species

    Integrated landscape approaches to managing social and environmental issues in the tropics: learning from the past to guide the future

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    Poverty, food insecurity, climate change and biodiversity loss continue to persist as the primary environmental and social challenges faced by the global community. As such, there is a growing acknowledgement that conventional sectorial approaches to addressing often inter-connected social, environmental, economic and political challenges are proving insufficient. An alternative is to focus on integrated solutions at landscape scales or ‘landscape approaches’. The appeal of landscape approaches has resulted in the production of a significant body of literature in recent decades, yet confusion over terminology, application and utility persists. Focusing on the tropics, we systematically reviewed the literature to: (i) disentangle the historical development and theory behind the framework of the landscape approach and how it has progressed into its current iteration, (ii) establish lessons learned from previous land management strategies, (iii) determine the barriers that currently restrict implementation of the landscape approach and (iv) provide recommendations for how the landscape approach can contribute towards the fulfilment of the goals of international policy processes. This review suggests that, despite some barriers to implementation, a landscape approach has considerable potential to meet social and environmental objectives at local scales while aiding national commitments to addressing ongoing global challenges

    Do space-for-time assessments underestimate the impacts of logging on tropical biodiversity? An Amazonian case study using dung beetles

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    Summary Human alteration of the global environment is leading to a pervasive loss of biodiversity. Most studies evaluating human impacts on biodiversity occur after the disturbance has taken place using spatially distinct sites to determine the undisturbed reference condition. This approach is known as a space‐for‐time (SFT) substitution. However, SFT substitution could be underestimating biodiversity loss if spatial controls fail to provide adequate inferences about pre‐disturbance conditions. We compare the SFT substitution with a before–after control–impact (BACI) approach by assessing dung beetles before and after a logging exploration in the Brazilian Amazon. We sampled 34 logging management units, of which 29 were selectively logged with different intensities after our first collection. We used dung beetle species richness, species composition and biomass as our biodiversity response metrics and the gradient of selective logging intensity as our explanatory metric. Only the BACI approach consistently demonstrated the negative impacts of logging intensification on all dung beetle community metrics. Moreover, the BACI approach explained significantly more of the variance in all the relationships and it doubled the estimates of species loss along the gradient of logging intensity when compared to SFT. Synthesis and applications. Our results suggest that space‐for‐time (SFT) substitution may greatly underestimate the consequences on local species diversity and community turnover. These results have important implications for researchers investigating human impacts on biodiversity. Incentivizing before–after control–impact (BACI) approaches will require longer‐term funding to gather the data and stronger links between researchers and landowners. However, BACI approaches are accompanied by many logistical constraints, making the continued use of SFT studies inevitable in many cases. We highlight that non‐significant results and weak effects should be viewed with caution. </jats:p
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