2017 Conference - Talk abstracts

For PowerPoint copies of the talk presentations, please contact the presenter directly.

Download the entire 2017 Book of Abstracts here.

Governance of Malagasy forests

Mijasoa Andriamarovololona
Faculty of Social Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1081, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Madagascar, a global conservation priority is also known as the land of ancestors. Adopting a ‘landscape biography’ perspective to the complex human-environment, I analysed how the competing claims on Malagasy forest are legitimised and what might be the consequences. While conservationists’ use of a mix of arguments, from coercive measures, use of local cultural concepts and incentives, works now, it might be unsustainable. The human-environment system, once set in motion by conservation interventions, continues moving and conservationists should not be deceived by apparent/present success in the physical and anticipate evolution by also looking at the cultural and institutional environment.

 

15 years of managing human-elephant conflict in Sumatra

Ardiantiono
Wildlife Conservation Society-Indonesia Program (WCS-IP), Bogor 16151, Indonesia
Coauthors: Sugiyo, Agus Santo, William Marthy, and Fahrul Amama

Since 2002, WCS-IP and local communities have been developing various methods to reduce human-elephant conflict in form of crop raiding around Way Kambas National Park, Indonesia. Evaluation on these methods implementation is crucial to assess the effectiveness of each technique to deter elephant from entering crop areas. Here, we evaluated eight intervention methods implemented around WKNP including: 1)tin-can fences, 2)tripwire-triggered fences, 3)trenches, 4)barbed-wire fences, 5)beehive fences, 6)chilli fences and dung fires, 7)rolling drums, and 8)community-based guarding. The description, implementation, advantages, and disadvantages of these methods are discussed. We also provided the recommendation for future implementation to manage conflict in WKNP.

 

Understanding tiger population dynamics

Shikha Bisht
Wildlife Institute of India, Chandrabani, Dehradun-248001,Uttarakhand, India

Understanding ecological mechanisms that permit high tiger density would be of help in recovering tiger numbers. Besides, spatio-temporal dynamics of high density tiger population can refine our understanding of tiger ecology. We camera trapped 500 km2 area in Corbett Tiger Reserve( 2010-2015) under open Capture Recapture and analyzed photo-capture histories of tigers to estimate population parameters. Tiger numbers remained constant at ecological carrying capacity but with high individual turnover. Annual survival probability was 0.63 (SE 0.04) for males and 0.84 (SE 0.07) for females. High reproductive potential and individual turnover makes Corbett  "tiger nursery" for high conservation priority Terai landscape.

 

Hierarchical threat assessment of a Mauritius endemic

Prishnee Bissessur
Department of Biosciences, Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius, Réduit, Mauritius

Over 10,000 island endemic plants worldwide are estimated to be highly threatened with extinction. Roussea simplex, a threatened Mauritius endemic once common, makes an interesting model to investigate threats to insular plants. Using the literature coupled with observational and manipulative experiments, the species’ ecology was studied to inform its conservation management. The plant interacts with various competitors, predators, nectar robbers with spatio-temporally varying impacts. Previous studies identified threats mainly novel to the scientific literature that weakly unravelled more important threats now identified. Conservation management should rest on a complete and hierarchized documentation of threats to maximise returns of conservation efforts.

 

Roads and habitat use by the Endangered Baird’s Tapir

Esteban Brenes-Mora
Nai Conservation, San José, Costa Rica

Roads directly impact wildlife by affecting population dynamics, ecology, gene flow, and increasing mortality. Using detection/non-detection camera trap survey dataset, we elucidated factors affecting Baird’s Tapir habitat use across a forest complex bisected by the Panamerican Highway. Habitat use was modelled using fine scale covariates and analytical techniques to account for spatial autocorrelation. We also investigated the relationship between road kills and road architecture. Tapir’s habitat use was higher when closer to water bodies, inside protected areas and forest covered areas. Tapirs do not appear to change their habitat use near roads, meaning that their frequent use of forests along roads may make them more susceptible to collisions with cars. We found a correlation between high tapir habitat use areas and historical road-kills. Additionally, we found that most road-kills happened in straight segments of the road where forest is less than 5m away from the asphalt. Our findings are valuable for road development planning, specially to optimize the site selection of mitigation structures and predicting how this species will use the habitat when is fragmented by roads.

 

 Do freshwater protected areas conserve Lake Tanganyika's cichlids?

Adam Britton
University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK

Freshwater ecosystems contain a disproportionately high amount of global biodiversity as well as being hotspots of endangerment. However, there are a lack of freshwater protected areas (FPAs), and our understanding of how freshwater communities respond to human impact remains poor. We consider how the species diversity of Lake Tanganyika (LT) cichlid fishes is affected by a gradient of human disturbance. We find a trend of decreasing species diversity as human disturbance increases, and conclude FPAs can be successful in the conservation of LT cichlid diversity, and recommend the designation of more FPAs globally to alleviate the decline of freshwater biodiversity.

 

A new home for Asiatic lions?

Stotra Chakrabarti
Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India

Reintroducing Asiatic lions, restricted to a single-population, at alternative sites is essential to ensure against extinction of the species. However, the long-proposed reintroduction-programme at the selected site is shrouded in conservation politics. Consequently, we explored the potential of a second-home for lions in their former range. Camera-trapping and distance-sampling were done to estimate abundances of predator and prey at the site. Perceptions of local-communities regarding reintroduction were quantified through questionnaires. Soft release of few lions concurrent with incentive-driven voluntary-resettlement of pastoralists from the site, restocking prey-base and compensating conflicts would be the ideal strategy to reinstate a second lion population.

 

Social impacts of protected areas in Nepal

Bowy den Braber
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK

PAs aim to safeguard biodiversity by limiting anthropogenic activities, leading to potential negative impacts on people’s livelihoods. Conversely, PAs can safeguard ecosystem services that communities depend on, and generate sources of income through ecotourism. Currently, assessments tend to focus on small-sample case studies that do not provide clear causal links because they are unable to account for confounding factors (e.g., many PAs are located in agricultural unsuitable areas). We use regression and matching analysis to generate quantitative estimates of the social impact of PAs. A greater understanding of PA impacts will be crucial in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Medium-sized mammals in cacao agroforests

Aluane Silva Ferreira
State University of Santa Cruz, UESC. Ilhéus-Itabuna highway, 16 km, Salobrinho, Ilhéus, Bahia, Brazil 45662-000

Traditional cacao agroforests (cabrucas) are wildlife-friendly systems that conciliate production and conservation. The aim of our study was to analyze the importance of native forest remnants for medium-sized mammal conservation in a landscape majorly composed by cabrucas. We used camera-traps to record midium-sized mammals in 15 cabrucas at different distances from forest remnants (120 - 3000 m). Cabrucas hold several mammal species independently of presence of native habitat in sampling site surroundings. However, mammal assemblages lack some forest specialists and game species, and agroforests at greater distance to native forest are more likely to be used by one generalist species.

 

Crop pollination and semi-natural habitats

Thijs Fijen
Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation, Wageningen University & Research, Droevendaalsesteeg 3a, 6708 PB, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Biodiversity can deliver important ecosystem services such as pollinating crops. We have studied how wild pollinators contribute to leek-seed production in five female lines, and what the influence of semi-natural habitat is in providing these wild pollinators. We found female line-specific responses of plant-size, bumblebee-visitation rate and species richness on seed set and quality. Larger surfaces of semi-natural habitat in the landscape increased pollinator species richness and abundance in the fields. This suggests that the conservation of semi-natural habitat is important for delivering stable pollination services in agricultural crops by providing large numbers of crop pollinators.

 

Deep reef refuges in Cozumel, Mexico

Erika Gress
Conservation Leadership Programme. Quintana Roo, Mexico 77710

We conducted the first characterisation of Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems (MCEs; reefs 30–150 m deep) around Cozumel, Mexico comparing inside and outside the National Marine Park (MPA). We found positive MPA effects on hard coral cover, reef fish biomass and large-bodied fish on shallow reefs, but little difference based on protection status on MCEs. Our results suggest MCEs act as natural refuges for threatened species when compared to shallow reefs. Generally, however we found that large-bodied fish were depleted regardless of protection status or depth. Our results support more holistic reef management approaches, integrating MCEs into MPA management plans.

 

Livestock predation by Ethiopian wolves

Gebeyehu Rskay Kassa
Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme, PO Box 215, Robe, Bale, Ethiopia

Human-predator conflict is a major threat to conservation efforts. This study combines diet analyses (47 scat samples) with 157 questionnaires to local communities to assess whether attitudes towards the endangered Ethiopian wolf are rooted on perceived or real impacts in a highly threatened population (~20 wolves). I explored how attitudes related to perceived or real losses, and conducted meta-analyses of Ethiopian wolf conflicts across Ethiopia. Wolves remain specialized predators of rodents, yet most people (61%) reported negative attitudes due to livestock predation. Low levels of predation are impacting poor pastoralists across the wolves range, leading to negative attitudes towards conservation.

 

Rediscovery of the Travancore bush frog

Rajkumar Kundhippadath
Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Thrissur, Kerala, India. 680 653

Species are declared extinct or lost sometimes without robust survey effort in suitable habitats. The lack of information on microhabitat and ecology in species description was the major issue. The southern Western Ghats endemic Travancore Bush frog is one such example. It was declared extinct in 2004. Later the species recorded from ten locations. The macro-habitat specificity could be the reason why the species was not detected previously. The IUCN Red List is integral to setting species-level conservation priorities. This study could be used as a model for newly rediscovered and potentially highly threatened species.

 

Managing Ranunculus for salmonid conservation

Jessica Marsh
School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Campus, London E1 4NS

Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) numbers have declined by up to 70% in the last 20 years. To address this decline, salmon populations have been managed to maximise the number of juveniles migrating to sea from natal freshwater sites. My research aim is to understand how freshwater habitat, notably cover of Ranunculus (a dominant chalk stream macrophyte), affects salmon and trout (salmonid) densities so that habitat can be managed to maximise their numbers. Initial findings suggest that young-of-the-year salmonid density increased with increasing Ranunculus cover, highlighting the potential application of Ranunculus management as a tool for enhancing salmon populations.

 

The effects of disturbance on Tanzanian forest mammals

Emanuel Henry Martin
College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka, P.O. Box 3031, Moshi, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

There is a lack of systematic data to assess the effects of anthropogenic activities on spatio-temporal patterns of abundance for forest mammals. We conducted systematic camera trapping surveys for six years from 2009 to 2014 in Mwanihana forest in Udzungwa Mountains.  Sixty camera traps were set for 30 days yearly during the dry season. We compared the effects of poaching and firewood collections on species’ relative abundance. We showed that firewood collection impacted negatively on species’ relative abundance as well as poaching. Efforts to curb poaching activities should be intensified alongside providing environmental education to the locals.

 

The effects of changes in herding practices in the South Gobi

Tserennadmid Mijiddorj
The National University of Mongolia, Baga Toirog, Ulaanbaatar 14200 Mongolia

This study aimed to assess how changes in herding practices affected depredation rates from snow leopards and wolves in the South Gobi, Mongolia. Questionnaire surveys carried out to assess changes in pastoral practices and livestock depredation over one year. Herders were more likely to lose livestock to snow leopards if they did not change pastures between seasons (AICc summed weight 0.91). Whereas herders were more likely to lose livestock to wolves if they left their livestock unattended when they travelled to the nearby community center (AICc summed weight = 1). We make recommendations on how to minimize human-wildlife conflicts by improving livestock husbandry management.

 

Using Wikipedia to quantify cultural interest in species

John C. Mittermeier
School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY

Modern conservation operates at the nexus of biological and social influences.  While the importance of social and cultural factors is often mentioned, defining, measure and comparing these factors remains a significant challenge. Here I describe a novel method to quantify the cultural interest in different species using Wikipedia—a large, open-access online encyclopaedia.  Using metrics such as page views and page length, I compare which species generate the greatest cultural interest and investigate what biological, geographic and cultural factors might drive that interest.

 

Human-amphibian conflict in India

Sethu Parvathy
Conservation Research Group, St.Albert's College, Banerji Road, Cochin, Kerala, India

An age-old myth of amphibians consuming cardamom has resulted in culling of amphibians at plantations across Western Ghats. Questionnaire surveys were conducted to understand the prevalence of the myth and associated perceptions. Time-activity budget surveys and diet analyses were conducted to determine whether amphibians consumed cardamom. The myth was widespread at small sized plantations amongst workers even though amphibians did not consume cardamom. The plantation community perceived high economic loss due to this, which led to reduced interest for amphibian conservation. These plantations harbour numerous critically endangered amphibians and targeting this myth is key to their conservation outside protected areas.

 

Does recovery of ecosystems equal recovery of ecosystem services?

Sarai Pouso
AZTI Tecnalia. Marine Research Division. Herrera Kaia, Portualdea z/g. 20110 Pasaia, Gipuzkoa (Spain)   

In 25 years, Nerbioi estuary shifted from degraded status to near-recovered status. Biotic and abiotic data show ecological improvement, but is still unclear if the delivery of cultural ecosystem services (i.e. recreational fishing) has improved. A questionnaire was used to study fishers’ perceptions and compare with ecological data. Results show a positive correlation between ecological spatial recovery and the expansion of recreational fishing to the inner part of the estuary. However, fishers´ perceptions do not always correspond with demonstrated recovery. This study concludes that a better functioning environment has the potential to deliver ecosystem services and to improve human well-being.

 

Spatial patterns of poaching in the Serengeti

Alfan A. Rija
Department of Biology, University of York, York YO10 5DD

Illegal activities threaten species in protected areas (PAs) globally, but little information exists to improve anti-poaching activities. We walked 880 km of transect in the Serengeti ecosystem, Tanzania, and used Bayesian hierarchical models to investigate the spatial distribution and drivers of poaching. Different classes of poaching showed varying distribution patterns across different PAs. Illegal activities varied at local and landscape scales and were influenced by different ecological and habitat characteristics. We estimate a few hundred thousand wire snares may be set in Serengeti and demonstrate the usefulness of our novel method for improving conservation monitoring and crime detection in PAs.

 

Conservation action across ecosystem boundaries

Michaela Roberts
University of St Andrews Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, St Andrews, Fife, UK

Impacts of environmental degradation and restoration are rarely confined to discrete biomes, therefore the separation of conservation management and funding into single realms reduces conservation efficiency. We investigate the potential gains to coral reef restoration through management of the terrestrial grazing on Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands. We used reported costs of previous grazer control programs to estimate costs of each strategy, and choice experiments with reef users to estimate willingness to pay for improvements predicted to arise through management options. Cost curves indicated invasive grazer exclosures to be most cost-effective, with costs within the potential funds raised by system users.

 

Clouded leopard distribution in Malaysia

Daniel Gomes da Rocha
Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Recanati-Kaplan Centre, University of Oxford Tubney House, Abingdon Road, Abingdon, OX13 5QL, Oxfordshire, UK

Malaysia experiences one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, placing heavy pressures on forest carnivores. Yet, little is known about how the vulnerable clouded leopard responds to habitat changes. We used fine scale variables and the largest detection/non-detection dataset known for the species to investigate its occupancy on Peninsular Malaysia. We identified that elevation, forest cover, forest fragmentation are influential to clouded leopard occupancy. Using these findings, we modelled the species distribution across the whole Peninsular Malaysia and identified priority core areas and examined planned linkages suitability for the conservation of clouded leopard in a human dominated landscape.

 

Neotropical bats in a recovering forest landscape

Ricardo Rocha
Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (University of Lisbon); Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (National Institute for Amazonian Research and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute); Metapopulation Research Centre (University of Helsinki)

Ecological restoration of fragmented landscapes is of the utmost importance for tropical biodiversity conservation. We sampled bats ~15 and ~30 years after forest clearing at a large-scale Amazonian fragmentation experiment to assess how species responded to the regeneration of the second growth matrix. Whereas negligible and negative effects were found for the occupancy and abundance of generalists, specialists, which are of primary conservation concern, greatly benefited from secondary forest maturation. Our findings emphasize that although conservation of old-growth forest should always be prioritized, protection of advanced-stage secondary forests should be incentivized as it brings considerable benefits to global conservation efforts.

 

Microclimates in logged tropical forest

Rebecca A. Senior
Department Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK

Habitat degradation by selective logging is extensive across the tropics. Even at high logging intensities these forests retain high biodiversity, but it is not clear if this will remain true under projected climate warming. Within unlogged, primary tropical forest, mobile species can avoid climatic extremes by moving locally into more suitable microclimates. Using thermal imaging cameras and temperature loggers we characterised spatiotemporal variation in surface temperature and air temperature, in unlogged and intensively logged forests of Borneo. We ask whether the two forest types are equally capable of buffering future warming through provisioning of favourable microclimates for forest interior species.

 

Socio-economic costs of producing food

Anca Serban-Damerell
University of Cambridge, Department of Geography, Downing Place, Cambridge CB2 3EN

Can food security be guaranteed for all, while also shrinking agriculture's environmental footprint? Some argue that an important component for achieving this balance will require a landscape where the land for nature and agriculture are segregated (land-sparing), while others argue that integration of the two (land-sharing) is a better option. Assessments of land-sharing, land-sparing have largely failed to assess the broader socio-economic impacts of their implementation. Using role-playing games and agent-based model three land-sharing land-sparing scenarios were tested in rural India and assessed for their comparative merits. Benefits were reported under both strategies but with different implications for local livelihoods.

 

Using online data to track Thailand's illegal rosewood trade

Penthai Siriwat
Oxford Brookes University, Headington Road, Gipsy Lane, Oxford OX3 0BP

We use seizure data via online news reports to explore the Siamese rosewood (Dalbergia cochinchinensis) trade in Thailand. From January 2014 to April 2016, 835 independent seizure reports were collected. We find spatial patterns concentrated in provinces in the north-east and eastern region, covering 37 of 76 provinces across Thailand. Domestic legislation was found to be sub-par to international standards in regulating rosewood timber trade. Additionally, CITES penalties are also unenforced in the Mekong region. Importantly, we demonstrate that online media-sourced seizure data is a viable and beneficial source to study and monitor illegal wildlife trade in real-time.

 

The persistence of illegal sturgeon fishing

Linas Svolkinas
School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom

Over the last 20 years, the populations of two genera of Caspian sturgeons (Acipenser and Huso), belonging to six species, have experienced a steep decline. Overfishing, habitat loss due to impoundment, pollution and urban development, illegal fishing, IWT and invasive species have been listed among the main threats to the conservation of sturgeon. New qualitative evidence collected in the field, shows in which ways old practices of fishing of sturgeon successfully adopt to anti-poaching measures and, in the foreseeable future, will not likely to go away.

 

Supporting conservation: the role of flagship species and identifiable victims

Laura Thomas-Walters
DICE, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, England, CT27NZ

Psychological insights into human behaviour can have enormous applied value for promoting charitable giving, but the application of these insights to conservation appeals featuring nonhuman animals has scarcely been explored. We used a modified Dictator Game to experimentally investigate how (1) identifiable versus statistical beneficiaries and (2) flagship versus non flagship species affect donations to a conservation charity. Unexpectedly, subjects did not donate more when presented with single identifiable beneficiaries rather than groups of beneficiaries. Flagship species, on the other hand, increased donation amounts relative to appeals featuring non flagship species. Our results yield important and practically applicable insights for conservation organisations.

 

Cranes and crops in the South Africa's Western Cape

Julia van Velden
Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town,  Private Bag X3, Rondebosch, 7701, Cape Town, South Africa

The Western Cape population of Blue Cranes (Anthropoides paradiseus) is of great importance as the largest population throughout its range. However, this population is strongly associated with agricultural lands, and therefore may come into conflict with farmers who perceive them as damaging to crops. We investigated the viability of this population in 3 ways: exploring farmer attitudes towards cranes using interviews, generating estimates of survival, and exploring movement patterns using a long-term dataset of marked individuals. Our results highlight the need for location-specific solutions to crop-damage by cranes, and contribute to the understanding of basic demographics for this vulnerable species.

 

South China's changing turtle trade

Weiling Wu
MPhil in Conservation Leadership, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, David Attenborough Building, Cambridge, UK.

The open sales of endangered freshwater turtle and tortoise in south China have been decreasing over years in terms of quantity and species diversity. However, there are alarming trends underneath:  the popularization of keeping turtle as pet, the concomitant online trading of rare species, and the controversial flourish of turtle farming industry.  The trends place new threats to global turtle species, and challenge China’s wildlife protection law and its enforcement. While the new Chinese wildlife law opened new opportunities to address the well-hidden trade of protected turtle species, its enforcement and impact on the ground remain to be seen.

 

Predicting bat collisions at wind farms

Aleksandra Zarzycka
Helmholtz Zentrum für Umweltforschung, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany

West Pomerania is  the leading region in wind energy production in Poland and further development can be expected. Location of the new wind farms should be carefully selected to reduce negative environmental impacts such as collisions of bats with turbines. We used spatial statistical methods (ENFA and MADIFA) to identify geographical variables associated with collision probability. We based the analysis on collision records from the region and compared the results with data from German state Brandenburg. To improve prediction power BRT modeling was introduced. We created collision probability maps as a possible tool in future planning of wind farms.

 

Changes in China’s forests since 2000

Di Zhang
Center for Nature and Society, Peking University, China

In 2014, we interpreted the Global Forest Watch (GFW) dataset and compared the results with other datasets, including the National Forest Inventory, ChinaCover and GlobeLand30. Results show that GFW dataset has reliable accuracy, but different from other datasets, GFW identified a net forest loss of 37,551–42,031 km2 in China during 2000–2010. Furthermore, by the end of 2013, there was an overall forest loss of 1,200 km2 among 407 national nature reserves. In 2016, we carried out a ground verification work among NNRs with the most forest loss and tried to understand the driving factors behind.

 

 

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