Friday, 28 November 2014

Tools for exploring habitat suitability for biodiversity under scenarios of rapid land use change.

A new article published in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment used scenario development based on changes in key socioeconomic drivers together with resource-based habitat suitability models to develop plausible visions of future pathways of agricultural land use and evaluate their potential consequences on conservation of target species. Analyses focused on three steppe bird species in a protected Natura 2000 area, located in the Iberian Peninsula. Our results showed that changes in land use composition under different scenarios can have important effects on habitat suitability, but that the size of those effects would vary depending on species-specific requirements and spatial distribution of land use changes.

Laura Cardador, Miquel De Cáceres, David Giralt, Gerard Bota, Núria Aquilué, Beatriz Arroyo, François Mougeot, Carlos Cantero-Martínez, Lourdes Viladomiu, Jordi Rosell, Fabián Casas, Alba Estrada, Jorge Álvaro-Fuentes, Lluís Brotons (2015).  Tools for exploring habitat suitability for steppe birds under land use change scenarios. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 200: 119-125.

En català or click here for more info!

Friday, 21 November 2014

New article: Woodland bird response to landscape connectivity in an agriculture-dominated landscape

In a new study published in the journal Community Ecology, Assu Gil-Tena and co-workers  have assessed the role of landscape connectivity in woodland bird species richness, abundance, and community similarity in north-east Brittany (north-west France). Over the last 30 years, ecological networks have been deployed to reduce global biodiversity loss by enhancing landscape connectivity. Bird species dwelling in woodland habitats that are embedded in agriculture-dominated landscapes are expected to be particularly sensitive to the loss of connectivity. In this study, an exhaustive woodland selection protocol was carried out to minimize the effects of woodland size on the response variables. Connectivity of the woodland and forest network in the study area was evaluated using graph-theory, accounting for matrix permeability, and a characteristic median natal dispersal distance at the community level based on the bird species pool recorded in the sampled woodlands. Information-theoretic model selection, controlling for woodland size in all the cases, depicted the response of woodland birds at the community level to the connectivity of agriculture-dominated landscapes. On average, the sampled woodlands (n = 25) contained 15.5 ± 2.4 bird species, with an abundance of 25.1 ± 3.9, and had highly similar bird communities (species composition and proportion); eight species represented 57% of total abundance and were present in at least 22 woodlands. The performance of models improved when using effective, rather than Euclidean, interpatch distances in the connectivity assessment. Landscape connectivity was only significantly related to similarity of proportional species composition. Large woodlands contained communities with more similar species proportions in an inhospitable agricultural landscape matrix than in a more permeable one. Woodland size was the most relevant factor determining species abundance, indicating that the bird population sizes are primarily proportional to the local habitat availability. Connectivity in relation to landscape matrix permeability did not seem to induce the flow of woodland-dependent bird species that are dominant in the community but rather of matrix-dwelling bird species that are less dependent on woodland patch area. In conclusion, both habitat conservation and restoration (i.e., amount and quality), in combination with permeable landscape structures (such as heterogeneous land cover mosaics), are advocated for community level conservation strategies.

Gil-Tena, A., Nabucet, J., Mony, C., Abadie, J., Saura, S., Butet, A., Burel, F., Ernoult, A. 2014. Woodland bird response to landscape connectivity in an agriculture-dominated landscape: a functional community approach. Community Ecology, 15(2): 256-268.

En català or click here for more info!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

New article: Species Distribution Models and Impact Factor Growth in Environmental Journals

In this work, we evaluate the impact of species distribution models (SDMs) on the current status of environmental and ecological journals by asking the question to which degree development of SDMs in the literature is related to recent changes in the impact factors of ecological journals. The results indicate a positive relationship between the number of SDM related articles published in a journal and its impact factor (IF) growth during the period 2000–09. The hypothesis evaluated states that research fronts are likely to attract research attention and potentially drive citation patterns, with journals concentrating papers related to the research front receiving more attention and benefiting from faster increases in their impact on the ecological literature.

However, the percentage of SDM related papers in a journal was strongly and positively associated with the percentage of papers on climate change and statistical issues. The results support the hypothesis that global change science has been critical in the development of SDMs and that interest in climate change research in particular, rather than the usage of SDM per se, appears as an important factor behind journal IF increases in ecology and environmental sciences. Finally, our results on SDM application in global change science support the view that scientific interest rather than methodological fashion appears to be the major driver of research attraction in the scientific literature.

Brotons L (2014) Species Distribution Models and Impact Factor Growth in Environmental Journals: Methodological Fashion or the Attraction of Global Change Science. PLoS ONE 9(11): e111996. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111996.

En català or click here for more info!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

ECOLAND creates the “Biodiversity Information Facility” BIF

Captura de pantalla 2014-09-16 a les 19.47.19

ECOLAND creates a new facility for biodiversity research: the Biodiversity Information Facility (BIF).

BIF is devoted to organize and standardize available biodiversity data (species distribution, monitoring, natural history traits, amongst others), and related ecological factors (environmental information and human pressure descriptors). These structured information should facilitate the access of the best available information in decision making processes, when dealing with specific questions in hot conservation problems and when developing ecological research on species responses and ecosystem dynamics in a rapidly changing world.

Thus, the new facility is strongly oriented at making biodiversity information more relevant and accessible to policymakers, managers, researchers and other users from governmental and non-governmental organizations. Key products include the design and development of primary biodiversity information systems shaped in data forms, maps and web servers, but especially applications based on data integration and analysis using complex methodologies from ecological research.

Examples include using models to inform conservation policies, designing conservation priorities in protected areas, and combining biodiversity forecasts and indicators to assess global change impacts.

En català or click here for more info!

New article: Reassessing global change research priorities in Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems:

In a new article summarising findings from the CONSOLIDER-MONTES project, researchers involved in this project revisit the research priorities proposed in 1998 to unravel the challenges that global changes induce in Mediterranean systems.

Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems serve as reference laboratories for the investigation of global change because of their transitional climate, the high spatiotemporal variability of their environmental conditions, a rich and unique biodiversity and a wide range of socio-economic conditions. As scientific development and environmental pressures increase, it is increasingly necessary to evaluate recent progress and to challenge research priorities in the face of global change.

A of research priorities is proposed: (1) to establish the role of the landscape mosaic on fire-spread; (2) to further research the combined effect of different drivers on pest expansion; (3) to address the interaction between drivers of global change and recent forest management practices; (4) to obtain more realistic information on the impacts of global change and ecosystem services; (5) to assess forest mortality events associated with climatic extremes; (6) to focus global change research on identifying and managing vulnerable areas; (7) to use the functional traits concept to study resilience after disturbance; (8) to study the relationship between genotypic and phenotypic diversity as a source of forest resilience; (9) to understand the balance between C storage and water resources; (10) to analyse the interplay between landscape-scale processes and biodiversity conservation; (11) to refine models by including interactions between drivers and socio-economic contexts; (12) to understand forest–atmosphere feedbacks; (13) to represent key mechanisms linking plant hydraulics with landscape hydrology.

Main conclusions (1) The interactive nature of different global change drivers remains poorly understood. (2) There is a critical need for the rapid development of regional- and global-scale models that are more tightly connected with large-scale experiments, data networks and management practice. (3) More attention should be directed to drought-related forest decline and the current relevance of historical land use.

Doblas-Miranda, E, J. Martínez-Vilalta, F. Lloret, A. Álvarez, A. Ávila, F. J. Bonet, L. Brotons, J. Castro, J. Curiel Yuste, M. Díaz, P. Ferrandis, E. García-Hurtado, J. M. Iriondo, T. F. Keenan, J. Latron, J. Llusià, L. Loepfe, M. Mayol, G.Moré, D.Moya, J. Peñuelas, X. Pons,
R. Poyatos, J. Sardans, O. Sus, V. R. Vallejo, J. Vayreda & J. Retana. 2014. Reassessing global change research priorities in mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems: how far have we come and where do we go from here? Glob. Ecol. & Biog, in press.

En català or click here for more info!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Candidat a beca FI 2015 per a desenvolupar un projecte de modelització de la vegetació al CTFC

Es busca candidat per a sol·licitar una beca de doctorat de Formació d’Investigadors (FI-DGR 2015) per a la realització d’una tesi doctoral sobre la predicció dels potencials efectes del canvi global sobre l’estructura i composició dels boscos a Catalunya, dins del grup de biodiversitat i ecologia del paisatge (http://biodiversitylandscapeecologylab.blogspot.com/).


Els boscos Mediterranis són el resultat de l’acció de processos ecològics (creixement, competència, mortalitat, dispersió, establiment…) en els que intervenen tant atributs de les plantes como factors del anomenat canvi global (increment de la sequera, canvis en el règim d’incendis, abandonament rural…). Un dels reptes actuals de l’ecologia terrestre és ser capaços de fer prediccions quantitatives i espacialment explícites sobre els possibles canvis futurs en els boscos. L’objectiu del projecte de tesis que proposem és el d’explorar les possibles conseqüències del canvi climàtic sobre els boscos de Catalunya. Concretament, ens interessa estudiar els possibles efectes de l’increment de la sequera estival sobre la composició i estructura dels boscos, derivats d’un augment de la mortalitat per estrès hídric i un major impacte dels incendis forestals. La consecució de la tesi implica l’aplicació d’un model de simulació de la dinàmica forestal a escala regional (que s’està desenvolupant en col·laboració entre el CTFC, el CREAF i el CIDE-CSIC) que representa la vegetació de cada cel·la com a un conjunt de cohorts de plantes de diferents espècies llenyoses i simula la dinàmica del bosc (http://sites.google.com/site/medfireproject/).

Requeriments:
• Llicenciats o graduats en Biologia, Ciències Ambientals o Enginyeria forestal.
• Bona qualificació acadèmica.
• Complir s requisits de la convocatòria FI (consultar
http://www10.gencat.cat/agaur_web/generados/catala/home/recurs/doc/fi_2015_dogc.pdf).
• Es valorarà especialment coneixements d’estadística, programació en entorn R, sistemes d’informació geogràfica, teledetecció i ecologia forestal.

Lloc de treball:
Centre Tecnològic Forestal de Catalunya, a Solsona (Lleida).

Contacte:
Les persones interessades poden contactar amb Miquel De Cáceres
(miquelcaceres@gmail.com) abans del 7 de setembre, adjuntant CV, una breu descripció dels interessos de recerca (màx. 1 pàgina) i la nota mitjana de l’expedient.

En català or click here for more info!

Monday, 12 May 2014

New Article: Indicators of the impact of land use changes using large-scale bird surveys: Land abandonment in a Mediterranean region

imageIn a new article recently published in Ecological Indicators, we developed a methodology to generate indicators capable to track the impact of land use changes in biodiversity using data from large scale monitoring projects. In particular we applied the proposed methodology to generate indicators to assess the impact that land abandonment has had in birds in Catalonia (NE Iberian Peninsula).

Generating sound indicators of biodiversity impact has been identified as a critical step towards our understanding of how global change components are affecting the environment across the globe. Land abandonment is recognized as a major component of global change in the Mediterranean basin, however, we lack adequate, quantitative, indicators of its impact on biodiversity. An appealing approach to develop biodiversity indicators is the use of large-scale bird monitoring projects, an important source of information that is already available in many countries. In this study we develop a method to quantify the impact of the two main processes associated with land abandonment in the Mediterranean region, namely the abandonment of farmland, which produces a shift from cultivated land to open natural habitats, and the encroachment by vegetation usually associated with reductions in livestock grazing and wood harvesting practices.

We used data from bird atlas and monitoring schemes in Catalonia (north-east Iberian Peninsula) to characterize species’ population response to these processes by means of detecting quantitative changes in relative abundances along a gradient ranging from habitats not affected by a given driving force to those that arise as a consequence of such force. We then generated multi-species indicators of the impact of these land use changes using these specific population responses to calibrate the relative contribution of each species in the composite index. The temporal patterns depicted by the two indicators in the period 2002–2011 show that vegetation encroachment did have a significant impact on bird communities, whereas any noticeable effect of farmland abandonment on bird populations was observed. The methodology proposed here could be employed to develop indicators capable to track biological impacts of land use change on an annual basis and inform decision-makers about the rate of increase or decrease on wildlife populations.

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Nou article: Indicadors de l’impacte dels canvis en els usos del sòl utilitzant el monitoratge dels ocells a gran escala: l’abandonament de la terra en una regió mediterrània

En un nou article recentment publicat a la revista Ecological Indicators, hem desenvolupat una metodologia que, a partir de les dades de projectes de monitoratge a gran escala, genera indicadors que poden avaluar l'impacte que els canvis soferts en els usos del sòl produeixen en la biodiversitat. En particular, hem aplicat aquesta metodologia per avaluar l'impacte que l'abandonament de terres agrícoles i forestals ha tingut en els ocells a Catalunya en la darrera dècada. Els resultats d’aquest treball quantifiquen l’impacte significatiu que ha tingut el creixement progressiu de la vegetació als sistemes naturals del nostre país. Per contra, aquest treball no mostra un efecte significatiu de l’abandonament de l’activitat pròpiament agrícola.

Herrando, S, Anton, M, Sardà-Palomera, F., Bota, G., Gregory, R.D., Brotons, L. (2014). Indicators of the impact of land use changes using large-scale birdsurveys: Land abandonment in a Mediterranean region. Ecological Indicators 45 (2014) 235–244. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.04.011

En català or click here for more info!

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