Diversity2015, 7(1), 60-73; doi:10.3390/d7010060 - published 6 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Socotra Cormorants (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis) are regionally endemic seabirds with restricted distribution. To better understand their nest selection, we assessed vegetation and soil elements in their nesting areas at Siniya Island of United Arab Emirates. Field sampling was done from three areas (2011 nesting area, 2012 nesting area and control area) in February and March in 2013. Sampling consisted of vegetation assessment in the field and close-range photography. Ground cover within quadrats was classified into the percent of (1) living cover, (2) dead cover, (3) droppings, (4) bare ground and (5) other. Soil samples were analyzed for thirteen elements. Multivariate stepwise discriminant analysis was performed to determine the importance of the attributes on nest sites. The contribution of Function 1 to the discriminant model was estimated to be 77.4%, whereas Function 2 contributed 22.6% to the discriminant model (P ≤ 0:05). Sites could not be classified adequately using ground cover alone; however, discriminant analysis using soil attributes could better distinguish sites. We noted that Fe and Mn had high discriminant ability in Function 1, whereas Al and Cr showed high discriminant roles for Function 2. The contribution of Function 1 to the model, using soil attributes, was estimated to be 90.7% (P ≤ 0:05). The combination of ground cover and soil attributes did not improve discrimination of nest sites. Furthermore, some soil variables (Ca, Na, Cd and Cr) were much higher than normal levels in soil, indicating high transport of marine nutrients to nesting sites, which could detrimentally affect surrounding vegetation.
Diversity2015, 7(1), 36-59; doi:10.3390/d7010036 - published 16 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: It is crucial to define and quantify possible impacts of climate change on wildlife in order to be able to pre-adapt management strategies for nature conservation. Thus, it is necessary to assess which species might be affected by climatic changes, especially at the regional scale. We present a novel approach to estimate possible climate change induced turnovers in bird communities and apply this method to Lüneburg Heath, a region in northern Germany. By comparing species pools of future climatically analogous regions situated in France with the Lüneburg Heath species pool, we detected possible trends for alterations within the regional bird community in the course of climate change. These analyses showed that the majority of bird species in Lüneburg Heath will probably be able to tolerate the projected future climate conditions, but that bird species richness, in general, may decline. Species that might leave the community were often significantly associated with inland wetland habitats, but the proportion of inland wetlands within the regions had a significant influence on the magnitude of this effect. Our results suggest that conservation efforts in wetlands have to be strengthened in light of climate change because many species are, in principle, able to tolerate future climate conditions if sufficient habitat is available.
Diversity2015, 7(1), 16-35; doi:10.3390/d7010016 - published 9 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Lotic environments contain a disproportionate amount of biodiversity given their relatively small proportion of the worldwide landscape. We conducted a systematic literature search of research directed towards understanding factors that influence biodiversity in lotic habitats, published in 31 major ecological and freshwater science journals from 1981 to 2014. Our goal was to characterize emergent themes in research successes and identify important areas in need of study. We show an overwhelming taxonomic bias favoring studies of macroinvertebrates and fish, and a paucity in studies of other important groups such as bacteria and fungi. While most studies assessed habitat variables that affect diversity at a local scale, there has been a recent push to investigate regional drivers of beta and gamma diversity. Several factors were consistently found to be important drivers of diversity including local habitat type, hydrologic variables, disturbance, and stream morphometry. Others such as nutrients and chemical variables showed mixed support. Species interactions, dispersal, and evolutionary processes were rarely considered but show promise as fruitful areas for future study. We suggest that researchers should give increased attention to diversity drivers at different scales as well as take advantage of new molecular techniques to address questions regarding organismal diversity in streams.
Diversity2015, 7(1), 3-15; doi:10.3390/d7010003 - published 9 January 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Desert springs, which harbor diverse and endemic invertebrate assemblages, are often used as refuge habitats for protected fish species. Additionally, many of these springs have been colonized by invasive fish species. However, the potential impacts of recently established fish populations on invertebrate communities in desert springs have been relatively unexplored. We conducted a mesocosm experiment to assess the impact of both protected and invasive fish on community structure of spring-dwelling invertebrates focusing on zooplankton. Experimental populations of spring zooplankton communities were established and randomly assigned to one of three treatments, (1) invasive western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis); (2) endangered Mohave tui chub (Siphateles bicolor mohavensis); and (3) fishless control. Final populations of zooplankton and fish were sampled, sorted, identified and counted. The treatment differences of zooplankton communities were analyzed by comparing the densities of six major zooplankton taxa. Further, we performed nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) to visualize the patterns of zooplankton community assemblages. Four zooplankton taxa, crustacean nauplii, cladocera, calanoid and cyclopoid copepods had significantly lower densities in fish treatments compared to fishless control. Overall, invasive mosquitofish caused a 78.8% reduction in zooplankton density, while Mohave tui chub caused a 65.1% reduction. Both protected and invasive fish had similar effects on zooplankton except for cladocerans where tui chub caused a 60% reduction in density, whereas mosquitofish virtually eliminated cladocerans. The presence of fish also had a significant effect on zooplankton community structure due to population declines and local extirpations presumably due to fish predation. This work shows that conservation-translocations undertaken to conserve protected fish species may impact spring-dwelling invertebrate communities, and such impacts are similar to impacts due to colonization by invasive fish species.
Diversity2014, 6(4), 844-854; doi:10.3390/d6040844 - published 18 December 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: There have been few assessments of the performance of alternative resistance surfaces, and little is known about how connectivity modeling approaches differ in their ability to predict organism movements. In this paper, we evaluate the performance of four connectivity modeling approaches applied to two resistance surfaces in predicting the locations of highway crossings by American black bears in the northern Rocky Mountains, USA. We found that a resistance surface derived directly from movement data greatly outperformed a resistance surface produced from analysis of genetic differentiation, despite their heuristic similarities. Our analysis also suggested differences in the performance of different connectivity modeling approaches. Factorial least cost paths appeared to slightly outperform other methods on the movement-derived resistance surface, but had very poor performance on the resistance surface obtained from multi-model landscape genetic analysis. Cumulative resistant kernels appeared to offer the best combination of high predictive performance and sensitivity to differences in resistance surface parameterization. Our analysis highlights that even when two resistance surfaces include the same variables and have a high spatial correlation of resistance values, they may perform very differently in predicting animal movement and population connectivity.