602 research outputs found

    The Effects of Wildfire on Mortality and Resources for an Arboreal Marsupial: Resilience to Fire Events but Susceptibility to Fire Regime Change

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    BACKGROUND: Big environmental disturbances have big ecological effects, yet these are not always what we might expect. Understanding the proximate effects of major disturbances, such as severe wildfires, on individuals, populations and habitats will be essential for understanding how predicted future increases in the frequency of such disturbances will affect ecosystems. However, researchers rarely have access to data from immediately before and after such events. Here we report on the effects of a severe and extensive forest wildfire on mortality, reproductive output and availability of key shelter resources for an arboreal marsupial. We also investigated the behavioural response of individuals to changed shelter resource availability in the post-fire environment. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We fitted proximity-logging radiotransmitters to mountain brushtail possums (Trichosurus cunninghami) before, during and after the 2009 wildfires in Victoria, Australia. Surprisingly, we detected no mortality associated with the fire, and despite a significant post-fire decrease in the proportion of females carrying pouch young in the burnt area, there was no short-term post-fire population decline. The major consequence of this fire for mountain brushtail possums was the loss of over 80% of hollow-bearing trees. The types of trees preferred as shelter sites (highly decayed dead standing trees) were those most likely to collapse after fire. Individuals adapted to resource decline by being more flexible in resource selection after the fire, but not by increased resource sharing. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Despite short-term demographic resilience and behavioural adaptation following this fire, the major loss of decayed hollow trees suggests the increased frequency of stand-replacing wildfires predicted under climate change will pose major challenges for shelter resource availability for hollow-dependent fauna. Hollow-bearing trees are typically biological legacies of previous forest generations in post-fire regrowth forests but will cease to be recruited to future regrowth forests if the interval between severe fires becomes too rapid for hollow formation

    Salvage logging effects on regulating ecosystem services and fuel loads

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    We thank several authors who generously provided data for this meta-analysis (WebPanel 2). ABL acknowledges the support of mobility grants from Universidad de Alcalá and Spanish Ministry of Education, postdoctoral fellowships from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and Project AS2013/MAE-2719 “REMEDINAL-3” from the Government of Madrid. The data underlying this paper are available through an institutional repository (http://hdl.handle.net/10481/62260).Salvage logging, or logging after natural disturbances such as wildfires, insect outbreaks, and windstorms, is carried out to recover some of a forest’s natural and/or economic capital. However, trade-offs between management objectives and a lack of consensus on the ecological consequences of salvage logging impair science-based decision making on the management of forests after natural disturbances. We conducted a global meta-analysis of the impacts of salvage logging on regulating ecosystem services and on fuel loads, as a frequent post-disturbance objective is preventing subsequent wildfires that could be fueled by the accumulation of dead trunks and branches. Salvage logging affected ecosystem services in a moderately negative way, regardless of disturbance type and severity, time elapsed since salvage logging, intensity of salvage logging, and the group of regulating ecosystem services being considered. However, prolonging the time between natural disturbance and salvage logging mitigated negative effects on regulating ecosystem services. Salvage logging had no overall effect on surface fuels; rather, different fuel types responded differently depending on the time elapsed since salvage logging. Delaying salvage logging by ~2–4 years may reduce negative ecological impacts without affecting surface fuel loads.Project AS2013/MAE-2719 “REMEDINAL-3” from the Government of Madri

    Monitoring frequency influences the analysis of resting behaviour in a forest carnivore

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    Resting sites are key structures for many mammalian species, which can affect reproduction, survival, population density, and even species persistence in human-modified landscapes. As a consequence, an increasing number of studies has estimated patterns of resting site use by mammals, as well as the processes underlying these patterns, though the impact of sampling design on such estimates remain poorly understood. Here we address this issue empirically, based on data from 21 common genets radiotracked during 28 months in Mediterranean forest landscapes. Daily radiotracking data was thinned to simulate every other day and weekly monitoring frequencies, and then used to evaluate the impact of sampling regime on estimates of resting site use. Results showed that lower monitoring frequencies were associated with major underestimates of the average number of resting sites per animal, and of site reuse rates and sharing frequency, though no effect was detected on the percentage use of resting site types. Monitoring frequency also had a major impact on estimates of environmental effects on resting site selection, with decreasing monitoring frequencies resulting in higher model uncertainty and reduced power to identify significant explanatory variables. Our results suggest that variation in monitoring frequency may have had a strong impact on intra- and interspecific differences in resting site use patterns detected in previous studies. Given the errors and uncertainties associated with low monitoring frequencies, we recommend that daily or at least every other day monitoring should be used whenever possible in studies estimating resting site use patterns by mammals

    Mapping species distributions: A comparison of skilled naturalist and lay citizen science recording

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    To assess the ability of traditional biological recording schemes and lay citizen science approaches to gather data on species distributions and changes therein, we examined bumblebee records from the UK’s national repository (National Biodiversity Network) and from BeeWatch. The two recording approaches revealed similar relative abundances of bumblebee species but different geographical distributions. For the widespread common carder (Bombus pascuorum), traditional recording scheme data were patchy, both spatially and temporally, reflecting active record centre rather than species distribution. Lay citizen science records displayed more extensive geographic coverage, reflecting human population density, thus offering better opportunities to account for recording effort. For the rapidly spreading tree bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum), both recording approaches revealed similar distributions due to a dedicated mapping project which overcame the patchy nature of naturalist records. We recommend, where possible, complementing skilled naturalist recording with lay citizen science programmes to obtain a nation-wide capability, and stress the need for timely uploading of data to the national repository

    Analysis of ecological thresholds in a temperate forest undergoing dieback.

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    Positive feedbacks in drivers of degradation can cause threshold responses in natural ecosystems. Though threshold responses have received much attention in studies of aquatic ecosystems, they have been neglected in terrestrial systems, such as forests, where the long time-scales required for monitoring have impeded research. In this study we explored the role of positive feedbacks in a temperate forest that has been monitored for 50 years and is undergoing dieback, largely as a result of death of the canopy dominant species (Fagus sylvatica, beech). Statistical analyses showed strong non-linear losses in basal area for some plots, while others showed relatively gradual change. Beech seedling density was positively related to canopy openness, but a similar relationship was not observed for saplings, suggesting a feedback whereby mortality in areas with high canopy openness was elevated. We combined this observation with empirical data on size- and growth-mediated mortality of trees to produce an individual-based model of forest dynamics. We used this model to simulate changes in the structure of the forest over 100 years under scenarios with different juvenile and mature mortality probabilities, as well as a positive feedback between seedling and mature tree mortality. This model produced declines in forest basal area when critical juvenile and mature mortality probabilities were exceeded. Feedbacks in juvenile mortality caused a greater reduction in basal area relative to scenarios with no feedback. Non-linear, concave declines of basal area occurred only when mature tree mortality was 3-5 times higher than rates observed in the field. Our results indicate that the longevity of trees may help to buffer forests against environmental change and that the maintenance of old, large trees may aid the resilience of forest stands. In addition, our work suggests that dieback of forests may be avoidable providing pressures on mature and juvenile trees do not pass critical thresholds

    Ecological Implications of Extreme Events: Footprints of the 2010 Earthquake along the Chilean Coast

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    Deciphering ecological effects of major catastrophic events such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, storms and fires, requires rapid interdisciplinary efforts often hampered by a lack of pre-event data. Using results of intertidal surveys conducted shortly before and immediately after Chile's 2010 Mw 8.8 earthquake along the entire rupture zone (ca. 34–38°S), we provide the first quantification of earthquake and tsunami effects on sandy beach ecosystems. Our study incorporated anthropogenic coastal development as a key design factor. Ecological responses of beach ecosystems were strongly affected by the magnitude of land-level change. Subsidence along the northern rupture segment combined with tsunami-associated disturbance and drowned beaches. In contrast, along the co-seismically uplifted southern rupture, beaches widened and flattened increasing habitat availability. Post-event changes in abundance and distribution of mobile intertidal invertebrates were not uniform, varying with land-level change, tsunami height and coastal development. On beaches where subsidence occurred, intertidal zones and their associated species disappeared. On some beaches, uplift of rocky sub-tidal substrate eliminated low intertidal sand beach habitat for ecologically important species. On others, unexpected interactions of uplift with man-made coastal armouring included restoration of upper and mid-intertidal habitat seaward of armouring followed by rapid colonization of mobile crustaceans typical of these zones formerly excluded by constraints imposed by the armouring structures. Responses of coastal ecosystems to major earthquakes appear to vary strongly with land-level change, the mobility of the biota and shore type. Our results show that interactions of extreme events with human-altered shorelines can produce surprising ecological outcomes, and suggest these complex responses to landscape alteration can leave lasting footprints in coastal ecosystems

    Garden and landscape-scale correlates of moths of differing conservation status: significant effects of urbanization and habitat diversity

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    Moths are abundant and ubiquitous in vegetated terrestrial environments and are pollinators, important herbivores of wild plants, and food for birds, bats and rodents. In recent years, many once abundant and widespread species have shown sharp declines that have been cited by some as indicative of a widespread insect biodiversity crisis. Likely causes of these declines include agricultural intensification, light pollution, climate change, and urbanization; however, the real underlying cause(s) is still open to conjecture. We used data collected from the citizen science Garden Moth Scheme (GMS) to explore the spatial association between the abundance of 195 widespread British species of moth, and garden habitat and landscape features, to see if spatial habitat and landscape associations varied for species of differing conservation status. We found that associations with habitat and landscape composition were species-specific, but that there were consistent trends in species richness and total moth abundance. Gardens with more diverse and extensive microhabitats were associated with higher species richness and moth abundance; gardens near to the coast were associated with higher richness and moth abundance; and gardens in more urbanized locations were associated with lower species richness and moth abundance. The same trends were also found for species classified as increasing, declining and vulnerable under IUCN (World Conservation Union) criteria

    Greening China naturally

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    Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2011. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Springer for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 40 (2011): 828-831, doi:10.1007/s13280-011-0150-8.China leads the world in afforestation, and is one of the few countries whose forested area is increasing. However, this massive ‘‘greening’’ effort has been less effective than expected; afforestation has sometimes produced unintended environmental, ecological, and socioeconomic consequences, and has failed to achieve the desired ecological benefits. Where afforestation has succeeded, the approach was tailored to local environmental conditions. Using the right plant species or species composition for the site and considering alternatives such as grassland restoration have been important success factors. To expand this success, government policy should shift from a forest-based approach to a results-based approach. In addition, long-term monitoring must be implemented to provide the data needed to develop a cost-effective, scientifically informed restoration policy.This work was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (HJ2010-3) and the CAS/ SAFEA International Partnership Program for Creative Research Teams of ‘‘Ecosystem Processes and Services’’

    Is the PANSS used correctly? a systematic review

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    <p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>The PANSS (Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale) is one of the most important rating instruments for patients with schizophrenia. Nevertheless, there is a long and ongoing debate in the psychiatric community regarding its mathematical properties.</p> <p>All 30 items range from 1 to 7 leading to a minimum total score of 30, implying that the PANSS is an interval scale. For such interval scales straightforward calculation of relative changes is not appropriate. To calculate outcome criteria based on a percent change as, e.g., the widely accepted response criterion, the scale has to be transformed into a ratio scale beforehand. Recent publications have already pointed out the pitfall that ignoring the scale level (interval vs. ratio scale) leads to a set of mathematical problems, potentially resulting in erroneous results concerning the efficacy of the treatment.</p> <p>Methods</p> <p>A Pubmed search based on the PRISMA statement of the highest-ranked psychiatric journals (search terms "PANSS" and "response") was carried out. All articles containing percent changes were included and methods of percent change calculation were analysed.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>This systematic literature research shows that the majority of authors (62%) actually appear to use incorrect calculations. In most instances the method of calculation was not described in the manuscript.</p> <p>Conclusions</p> <p>These alarming results underline the need for standardized procedures for PANSS calculations.</p
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