80 research outputs found

    Drivers of wood mouse body condition in Mediterranean agroforestry landscapes

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    Agriculture and pastureland for cattle grazing are common land uses in Mediterranean landscapes. These activities significantly alter the habitat conditions, affecting the body conditions of wild communities, especially those with low vagility, such as small mammals. We aimed to evaluate how cattle grazing and the habitat composition affected the body condition of the wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus in a southern Mediterranean agroforestry system using the Scale Mass Index (SMI) as an indicator of individuals condition. To assess variation in body condition, wood mice were live-trapped in a gradient of grazed sites with different stocking intensities, as well in sites excluded to grazing at different time periods (1998, 2004, and 2008). Wood mice body conditions were influenced by both microhabitat and macrohabitat drivers, with sex-biased patterns, while for the females, only the shrub species had an influence (a microhabitat variable); for the males, both the shrub species and the undercover density (and specifically their interaction) were the important drivers (microhabitat and macrohabitat variables). Unexpectedly, the physical condition variation detected between periods was not directly proportional to the exclusion period, but rather, a certain degree of similarity was found between the different sites (sites excluded since 2004 paired with grazed sites). These results suggest that the presence of food and shelter are determinants to the wood mouse’s physical condition: for females, securing food sources enhance the body condition, while for males, the degree of cover, and consequently refuge against predators, seems to be determinant. These results reinforce the need for sustainable landscape management to assure the maintenance of habitat heterogeneity.info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersio

    Role of local communities in the social network of the protected area management

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    Biodiversity conservation traditionally necessitates setting aside land, which frequently impacts local communities. Although progress has been made on how to optimize this process, conflict frequently emerges when conservation and community goals are at odds. Improving communication and community inclusiveness in decision-making processes is strongly recommended to achieve livelihood goals and conservation outcomes. We used social network analysis to understand how local communities are embedded within the structure and dynamics of stakeholder interactions in Quirimbas National Park (Mozambique). We detected a network of limited cooperation that lacks bidirectional communication, displaying low average knowledge transfer but high bonding across stakeholder groups with similar perceptions. Local communities only interact with the district government and they have a passive voice in the system. A more inclusive network structure is needed so that conservation and community livelihood goals can be achieved.info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersio

    One rule does not fit it all: patterns and drivers of stakeholders perspectives of the endangered Iberian wolf

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    Public attitudes are vital for the successful implementation of management strategies and conservation programs. However, contradictory interests among different stakeholders can create important setbacks, creating barriers to achieve conservation goals. The endangered Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus) occupies now only 20 % of its historical distribution area, in Portugal, and its reduction was mostly due to direct human persecution. Here, we assessed locals’ attitudes towards the Iberian wolf in northeast Portugal, in a region where humans and wolves coexist for centuries. A total of 323 questionnaires from three different interest groups (general public, livestock owners and hunters) were analysed. We tested the differences in attitude and fear level patterns between the different groups and assessed what socio-demographic factors could be influencing the detected patterns. We found that general attitude towards this carnivore was neutral to positive, probably owing to the low levels of livestock predation and long coexistence with local populations. However, most drivers differed among stakeholders groups. Education, knowledge, and level of fear were strong predictors explaining attitudes towards this endangered species. We stress the importance of assessing attitudes patterns and identifying the socio-psychological factors as necessary tools to facilitate the development of targeted tolerance-promoting strategies. Among other instruments, increasing locals’ tolerance toward the Iberian wolf can be achieved by target education interventions, where the stakeholders can actively take part in discussions to accommodate their needs and expectation, rather than be listeners of the implemented programs.info:eu-repo/semantics/acceptedVersio

    Sett Use, Density and Breeding Phenology of Badgers in Mediterranean Agro-Sylvo-Pastoral Systems

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    Carnivores social organization varies widely, from strongly social to solitary predators. European badgers are facultative social carnivores that also shows a geographical variation in social structure. These patterns derive mainly from central/west European regions, with an underrepresentation of Mediterranean populations that face different conservation challenges, especially regarding group composition, sett use patterns and breeding phenology. We addressed these traits topics for a population inhabiting a Portuguese agro-silvo-pastoral system. Based on monthly monitoring of 34 setts and continuous camera-trapping surveys of 12, we showed that setts surrounded by diversified vegetation and located in sandy sites are more used, a pattern probably linked to food availability and ease of sett excavation and maintenance, respectively. Badgers followed a general pattern regarding group size (2‚Äď4 adults), but showed an intermediate population density (0.49‚Äď0.73 badgers/km2), with values higher than those estimated for other Mediterranean environments, but lower than for central-western populations. This, together with the breeding (November/January) and cub emergence (1.8 cubs/sett; March/April) periods, indicates an ecological adaptation to the landscape context, where human-related resources and mild environmental conditions allow badger to reach higher densities than in many southern populations, and to reproduce earlier than their northern counterparts.Understanding carnivores social structure variation is pivotal for properly addressing conservation challenges and solutions. The European badgers is a social carnivore for which most of the available information regarding how this species is socially organized derives from central west populations. This article describes the group composition, den use patterns and breeding phenology of a Mediterranean population of badgers. We showed that badger live in low density, in relatively small groups, composed by 2‚Äď4 adult animals and ca. 2 cubs, born in winter. These patterns, representing a variation of what was described for other populations, show that badgers take advantage of the landscape context, where human-related resources and mild environmental conditions allow badger to reach higher densities than in many southern populations, and to reproduce earlier than their northern counterparts.info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersio

    Niche differentiation mechanisms among canopy frugivores and zoochoric trees in the northeastern extreme of the Amazon

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    Frugivores and zoocoric trees represent an important proportion of tropical rainforest biodiversity. As niche differences favor species coexistence, we aimed to evaluate morphological and temporal niche segregation mechanisms among zoochoric trees and canopy frugivores in a tropical rainforest in the northeastern extreme of the Brazilian Amazon. We tested the effects of fruit morphology, tree size, frugivore body size and time of day on fruit consumption. We recorded the frugivore species that fed on 72 trees (44 species, 22 genera) and whether these frugivores swallowed the seeds. We monitored trees only once from 07:00 to 17:00 h between January and September 2017. We observed fruit consumption in 20 of the 72 trees. Seventy-three frugivore individuals from 22 species visited the trees. Heavier fruits were consumed by larger frugivores, while seed size was inversely correlated with frugivore size. Narrower fruits and fruits with smaller seeds had greater probability of having their seeds ingested, and larger frugivores were more prone to ingest seeds. Trees bearing fruits with smaller seeds were visited by a greater number of frugivores. Taxonomic groups differed in the time of arrival at fruiting trees. None of the evaluated variables (fruit weight and size, and seed size) affected the richness of frugivores that visited the trees. We concluded that, in the studied forest, fruit morphology (weight, size and seed size) is a niche segregation mechanism among zoochoric trees, while body size and time of day are niche segregation mechanisms among frugivores.info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersio

    Science-based solutions to foster connectivity of wolf populations are limited by available data

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    European wolf populations are currently exposed to distinct sources of anthropogenic disturbance and mortality that can cause dispersal limitations and lead to isolation. The identification of factors that act as complete or partial barriers to movement, dispersal, or gene flow contribute to foster connectivity between populations. We reviewed the existing literature (N=32) on wolf population barriers to 1) identify main barriers to connectivity; 2) outline different methodologies; and 3) highlight knowledge gaps. Based on the reviewed studies that empirically tested barrier occurrence (N=14), we compiled data on wolf population structure, anthropogenic disturbance, land cover, ecological factors, geographical features, and prey availability, and tested them as predictors to explain barrier occurrence at continental scale. We report few studies directly addressing this subject for one of the most emblematic and thoroughly studied species, inhabiting one of the most modified landscapes in the world. Albeit our analysis suggested that anthropogenic features are the main drivers of barrier occurrence, we highlight that the absence of standardised data limits our understanding of this subject. Long-term, intensive monitoring programs, explicit hypothesis-driven research using empirical methodologies, and the integration of information on databases for collaborative science are needed to increase the conservation and management relevance of future scientific outcomes on this topic.info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersio

    Brown bear feeding habits in a poor mast year where supplemental feeding occurs

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    The diet of free-ranging bears is an important dimension regarding their ecology, affecting their behavior, population structure, and relation with humans. In Croatia, there has been no recent study on the natural food habits of brown bears (Ursus arctos) or the influence of artificial feeding sites on their diet. During 2017, we collected 53 brown bear stomachs from bears in 2 regions of Croatia‚ÄĒ Gorski Kotar and Lika‚ÄĒto assess their diet. Plants‚ÄĒAllium ursinum, the Poaceae family, Cornus mas, berries (i.e., Prunus avium, Rubus plicatus), beechnuts (Fagus spp.)‚ÄĒand various plant parts (i.e., dry leaves, buds, conifer needles, and twigs), as well as mushrooms, made up 80% of the percentage of the volume (%V) of all consumed items. Corn (Zea mays) from the feeding sites made up 37% of the bears‚Äô diet (%V), whereas 20% (%V) was meat and 14% (%V) was pome fruits. Scavenged or preyed animal species, such as wild boar (Sus scrofa), horse (Equus caballus), domestic pig (S. scrofa domesticus), cattle (Bos taurus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), and small mammals comprised >66% of %FO (frequency of occurrence), but only 20% of %V. Our results showed that food resources (i.e., livestock such as horses, cattle, and pigs, and corn) found at supplemental feeding sites were more frequently chosen by bears than natural food in 2017, a year characterized by almost no beechnut crop. The results showed that subadult bears obtained most food from feeding sites. These 2 patterns suggested that bears may focus on artificial feeding sites to find food in years when natural food sources are depleted, although this should be tested using diet and food availability data collected from several years.info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersio

    Effect of anthropic disturbances on the activity pattern of two generalist mesocarnivores inhabiting Mediterranean forestry plantations

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    Humans have been altering the Mediterranean landscapes for millennia. To diminish the probability of encounters with domestic animals, humans and their activities, many species adjust their behavior to become more nocturnal. Even habitat-generalist species, such as red fox and stone marten that are somehow tolerant to environmental changes, might be affected by anthropic disturbances. Nevertheless, only a small number of studies were implemented in Iberia targeting these mesocarnivores’ activity patterns, and fewer have assessed the temporal ecology of these species in Eucalyptus plantations, the current main forest cover in Portugal. Based on camera traps, we aimed to analyze: 1) the temporal and spatio-temporal activity patterns of red fox and stone marten; and 2) how they are affected by distinct human disturbances (i.e., humans, livestock, dogs, plantations, and hunting). Foxes presented a higher crepuscular activity, while martens were entirely nocturnal, suggesting some avoidance behavior. Both mesocarnivores showed a higher overlap with dogs’ activity than with humans or livestock. Foxes’ activity patterns vary between seasons and habitats but were not influenced by the hunting period. Results suggest that both mesocarnivores, besides setting apart their activity from humans related disturbances, also show a tendency to temporally avoid each other. While the increase of nocturnality may indicate an anthropic disturbance impact, a reduction of activity overlap between mesocarnivores may be a strategy to reduce competition. These results may help support the sustainable management of landscapes by highlighting critical periods where activity overlaps may occur, and thus the anthropic impacts on wildlife are higher.info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersio

    Livelihood vulnerability increases human‚Äďwildlife interactions

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    Human‚Äďwildlife interactions (HWIs) occur in many rural African communities, with potential impacts on livelihood vulnerability. High livelihood vulnerability may force communities to employ strategies that increase the risk of negative HWIs, yet the extent to which HWIs drive or are driven by vulnerability is unclear. We hypothesized that more vulnerable households are more likely to be exposed to wildlife and experience negative interactions. To test this hypothesis, we calculated the Livelihood Vulnerability Index (LVI) of rural households in and around Quirimbas National Park (north-eastern Mozambique) and assessed whether there is a link between livelihood vulnerability and HWIs. We found a two-way association between LVI and HWIs, with more vulnerable households indeed taking greater risks and encountering wildlife when fetching water from rivers, whereas less vulnerable households tended not to employ strategies likely to increase wildlife encounters. We also observed that HWIs exert a strong effect on livelihood vulnerability, suggesting that HWIs should be included as an exposure factor in vulnerability assessments for rural households. We recommend that livelihood strategies and community vulnerability should be considered when designing HWI mitigation schemes and implementing conservation measures.info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersio

    Livelihood vulnerability increases human‚Äďwildlife interactions

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    Human‚Äďwildlife interactions (HWIs) occur in many rural African communities, with potential impacts on livelihood vulnerability. High livelihood vulnerability may force communities to employ strategies that increase the risk of negative HWIs, yet the extent to which HWIs drive or are driven by vulnerability is unclear. We hypothesized that more vulnerable households are more likely to be exposed to wildlife and experience negative interactions. To test this hypothesis, we calculated the Livelihood Vulnerability Index (LVI) of rural households in and around Quirimbas National Park (north-eastern Mozambique) and assessed whether there is a link between livelihood vulnerability and HWIs. We found a two-way association between LVI and HWIs, with more vulnerable households indeed taking greater risks and encountering wildlife when fetching water from rivers, whereas less vulnerable households tended not to employ strategies likely to increase wildlife encounters. We also observed that HWIs exert a strong effect on livelihood vulnerability, suggesting that HWIs should be included as an exposure factor in vulnerability assessments for rural households. We recommend that livelihood strategies and community vulnerability should be considered when designing HWI mitigation schemes and implementing conservation measures.info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersio
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