Special Issue "Biodiversity Loss & Habitat Fragmentation"

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A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2015)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Mario A. Pagnotta

Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Forestali (DAFNE), Department of Agricultural and Forestry scieNcEs, Tuscia University, Via S. C. de Lellis, snc 01100 Viterbo, Italy
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Interests: plant population genetics; plant evolution and domestication; in situ and ex situ conservation of plant germplasm; molecular characterization; molecular markers; molecular evolution; plant breeding

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Convention on the Biological Diversity and the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy define biodiversity as the variety of life and its processes. The main concern of several International Conventions is to limit biodiversity reduction, especially the number of species lost. However, the conservation is highly linked with the habitat conservation and the habitat fragmentation.

The species have different habitat requirement. Moreover some species are cosmopolite, well adapted to several habitats, some other are endemic, developed on specific isolated habitat such as islands. The more specific and localized is the habitat requirement, the greater the vulnerability of species to be lost.

The habitat fragmentation is one of the reasons of habitat loss, which is under evaluation, yet not recognized. The fragmented habitat is a tiny “island” that can at best maintain a very small population. Environmental fluctuations, disease, and other factors make such small isolates highly vulnerable to extinction. Moreover, small population and genetic drift are other important causes of biodiversity loss in this tiny “island”. In addition, there are species that require a large habitat area, such as a grizzly bear, which will not survive if the area is too small. Finally, small fragmented habitats have a strong border effect, i.e. are strongly affected by their surroundings, in terms of climate, dispersing species, etc.

In this Diversity’s special issue titled “Biodiversity Loss & Habitat Fragmented”, we would like increase knowledge on the above mention aspects, publishing papers on the biodiversity loss, habitat fragmentation and genetic drift, as well as contributions focusing on the aspect connected with these such as reserve management, statistical methods and tools used.

Prof. Dr. Mario A. Pagnotta
Guest Editor

Submission

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Keywords

  • biodiversity loss
  • biodiversity conservation
  • biodiversity reduction
  • in-situ and ex-situ conservation
  • habitat fragmentation
  • genetic drift
  • reserve management
  • endangered species

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Drastic Population Size Change in Two Populations of the Golden-Striped Salamander over a Forty-Year Period—Are Eucalypt Plantations to Blame?
Diversity 2015, 7(3), 270-294; doi:10.3390/d7030270
Received: 3 April 2015 / Revised: 20 July 2015 / Accepted: 21 July 2015 / Published: 30 July 2015
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Abstract
Over the last half century the Iberian peninsula has seen the large scale planting of exotic gum trees (Eucalyptus sp.) therewith reducing space for native wildlife. An additional effect of the gum tree plantations may be the lowering of the water table
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Over the last half century the Iberian peninsula has seen the large scale planting of exotic gum trees (Eucalyptus sp.) therewith reducing space for native wildlife. An additional effect of the gum tree plantations may be the lowering of the water table in adjacent streams, to which amphibian species with a larval niche in the running sections of small streams would be especially susceptible. In northwestern Iberia that niche is occupied by the Golden-striped salamander, Chioglossa lusitanica. I here report on the demographic trends of two C. lusitanica populations over a forty-year period, in two areas of one mountain range near Porto in northwestern Portugal. In both areas advantage was taken of the migration pattern of C. lusitanica to sites for aestivation and breeding in summer and fall. The area of the Silveirinhos brook was transformed in a plantation of gum trees shortly after the research started, while the area of Poço do Inferno remained virtually unaffected. At Silveirinhos the adult C. lusitanica population declined by one or two orders of magnitude, from ca. 1500 individuals to less than 50 at present. Demographic models that operate under a uniform larval mortality yielded population sizes that are compatible with field observations, including the late onset of the decline at 14 or more years after the planting of the gum trees and the near-extinction at year 32. An alternative reason for the relatively recent population collapse of C. lusitanica may have been disease, but no sick individuals or corpses have become available for clinical investigation. Conversely, the control population at Poço do Inferno increased in size by a factor of five or more. These data support the hypothesis that gum tree plantations have a strong negative effect on C. lusitanica. The population size increase at Poço do Inferno is probably attributable to the installation of wastewater treatment in the adjacent town of Valongo, with a discharge in the Simão river and closely connected to Poço do Inferno. This result suggests that the Simão river contributes to the Poço do Inferno population and that medium-large streams may constitute prime C. lusitanica habitat. Larval mortalities estimated for stable and declining populations are remarkable close (0.69 and 0.73, respectively), but dissimilar to the larval mortality at ca. 0.51 of an increasing population such as at Poço do Inferno. Suggestions for further research include (i) the continued monitoring of the Silveirinhos population with inspections at 5–10 year intervals, and (ii) checking for the persistence of C. lusitanica populations in and around gum tree plantations where the species was reported decades ago. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Loss & Habitat Fragmentation)
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Open AccessArticle Lack of Population Genetic Structuring in Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) in a Fragmented Landscape
Diversity 2015, 7(3), 295-306; doi:10.3390/d7030295
Received: 12 May 2015 / Revised: 22 July 2015 / Accepted: 24 July 2015 / Published: 30 July 2015
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Abstract
Habitat fragmentation can promote patches of small and isolated populations, gene flow disruption between those populations, and reduction of local and total genetic variation. As a consequence, these small populations may go extinct in the long-term. The ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), originally
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Habitat fragmentation can promote patches of small and isolated populations, gene flow disruption between those populations, and reduction of local and total genetic variation. As a consequence, these small populations may go extinct in the long-term. The ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), originally distributed from Texas to southern Brazil and northern Argentina, has been impacted by habitat fragmentation throughout much of its range. To test whether habitat fragmentation has already induced genetic differentiation in an area where this process has been documented for a larger felid (jaguars), we analyzed molecular variation in ocelots inhabiting two Atlantic Forest fragments, Morro do Diabo (MD) and Iguaçu Region (IR). Analyses using nine microsatellites revealed mean observed and expected heterozygosity of 0.68 and 0.70, respectively. The MD sampled population showed evidence of a genetic bottleneck under two mutational models (TPM = 0.03711 and SMM = 0.04883). Estimates of genetic structure (FST = 0.027; best fit of k = 1 with STRUCTURE) revealed no meaningful differentiation between these populations. Thus, our results indicate that the ocelot populations sampled in these fragments are still not significantly different genetically, a pattern that strongly contrasts with that previously observed in jaguars for the same comparisons. This observation is likely due to a combination of two factors: (i) larger effective population size of ocelots (relative to jaguars) in each fragment, implying a slower effect of drift-induced differentiation; and (ii) potentially some remaining permeability of the anthropogenic matrix for ocelots, as opposed to the observed lack of permeability for jaguars. The persistence of ocelot gene flow between these areas must be prioritized in long-term conservation planning on behalf of these felids. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Loss & Habitat Fragmentation)
Open AccessArticle Biodiversity Loss and the Ecological Footprint of Trade
Diversity 2015, 7(2), 170-191; doi:10.3390/d7020170
Received: 26 March 2015 / Revised: 2 June 2015 / Accepted: 2 June 2015 / Published: 9 June 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1852 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Human pressure on ecosystems is among the major drivers of biodiversity loss. As biodiversity plays a key role in supporting the human enterprise, its decline puts the well-being of human societies at risk. Halting biodiversity loss is therefore a key policy priority, as
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Human pressure on ecosystems is among the major drivers of biodiversity loss. As biodiversity plays a key role in supporting the human enterprise, its decline puts the well-being of human societies at risk. Halting biodiversity loss is therefore a key policy priority, as reflected in the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets under strategic goal A. The Ecological Footprint has become a widely used metric for natural capital and ecosystem accounting, and is frequently cited in the sustainability debate, where it is often used for tracking human-induced pressures on ecosystems and biodiversity. Given its potential role as an indirect metric for biodiversity-related policies, this paper breaks down the Ecological Footprint into its components and analyzes resource and ecosystem service flows at an international level. We discuss its usefulness in tracking the underlying drivers of habitat impacts and biodiversity loss. We find that: China is a major net importer of all biomass biocapacity components; the largest net exporters of forest biocapacity are not low-income countries; a very high proportion of the Ecological Footprint of fishing grounds is traded internationally; Singapore and at least three Middle East countries are almost wholly reliant on net imports for the cropland biocapacity they consume. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Loss & Habitat Fragmentation)
Open AccessArticle Why Did the Bear Cross the Road? Comparing the Performance of Multiple Resistance Surfaces and Connectivity Modeling Methods
Diversity 2014, 6(4), 844-854; doi:10.3390/d6040844
Received: 7 November 2014 / Revised: 8 December 2014 / Accepted: 15 December 2014 / Published: 18 December 2014
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (1260 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
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
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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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Loss & Habitat Fragmentation)
Open AccessArticle Land and Forest Degradation inside Protected Areas in Latin America
Diversity 2013, 5(4), 779-795; doi:10.3390/d5040779
Received: 8 August 2013 / Revised: 15 October 2013 / Accepted: 5 November 2013 / Published: 13 November 2013
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (720 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Using six years of remote sensing data, we estimated land and forest degradation inside 1788 protected areas across 19 countries in Latin America. From 2004–2009, the rate of land and forest degradation increased by 250% inside the protected areas, and the land and
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Using six years of remote sensing data, we estimated land and forest degradation inside 1788 protected areas across 19 countries in Latin America. From 2004–2009, the rate of land and forest degradation increased by 250% inside the protected areas, and the land and forest degradation totaled 1,097,618 hectares. Of the protected areas in our dataset, 45% had land and forest degradation. There were relatively large variations by major habitat type, with flooded grasslands/savannas and moist broadleaf forest protected areas having the highest rates of degradation. We found no association between a country’s rate of land and forest degradation inside protected areas and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, GDP growth, or rural population density. We found significant, but weak, associations between the rate of land and forest degradation inside protected areas and a country’s protected area system funding, the size of the protected area, and one International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category. Our results suggest a high degree of heterogeneity in the variables impacting land and forest degradation inside protected areas in Latin America, but that the targeting of protected area investments on a continental scale is plausible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Loss & Habitat Fragmentation)
Open AccessArticle Loss of European Dry Heaths in NW Spain: A Case Study
Diversity 2013, 5(3), 557-580; doi:10.3390/d5030557
Received: 13 May 2013 / Revised: 21 June 2013 / Accepted: 16 July 2013 / Published: 2 August 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2295 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Natural habitats are continuing to deteriorate in Europe with an increasing number of wild species which are also seriously threatened. Consequently, a coherent European ecological network (Natura 2000) for conservation of natural habitats and the wild fauna and flora (Council Directive 92/43/EEC) was
[...] Read more.
Natural habitats are continuing to deteriorate in Europe with an increasing number of wild species which are also seriously threatened. Consequently, a coherent European ecological network (Natura 2000) for conservation of natural habitats and the wild fauna and flora (Council Directive 92/43/EEC) was created. Even so, there is currently no standardized methodology for surveillance and assessment of habitats, a lack that it is particularly problematic for those habitats occupying large areas (heathlands, forests, dunes, wetlands) and which require a great deal of effort to be monitored. In this paper we evaluate the changes affecting the European dry heaths (Nat-2000 4030) from the SCI Os Ancares–O Courel (Galicia, NW Spain) during the past decade. High-resolution aerial imagery analyses and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) were used. Losses of more than 7,000 ha (20.3%) of European dry heaths were computed during the 2003–2011 period in the SCI Os Ancares–O Courel, and also an increase of the degree of fragmentation was demonstrated for this habitat. Paradoxically, major impacts (afforestations, pasturelands) were financed by agri-environmental funds from the EU. Rather than promote biodiversity, these activities have provoked serious damages in this habitat of community interest, which is in complete opposition to the objectives of protection involved in the declaration of the SCI Os Ancares–O Courel. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Loss & Habitat Fragmentation)
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Open AccessArticle Linking Spatio-Temporal Land Cover Change to Biodiversity Conservation in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal
Diversity 2013, 5(2), 335-351; doi:10.3390/d5020335
Received: 4 February 2013 / Revised: 3 April 2013 / Accepted: 15 April 2013 / Published: 2 May 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (1645 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Land cover change has been one of the major drivers of change leading to an alteration of critical habitats for many of the threatened species worldwide. Species with a narrow range and specialized habitats such as wetland ecosystems are at higher risk. The
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Land cover change has been one of the major drivers of change leading to an alteration of critical habitats for many of the threatened species worldwide. Species with a narrow range and specialized habitats such as wetland ecosystems are at higher risk. The present paper describes spatial and temporal land use and cover change over the period of last 34 years (1976–2010) in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (KTWR), Nepal. High spatial resolution Indian Remote-Sensing Satellite (IRS) Linear Imaging and Self Scanning Sensor (LISS-4) from 2005 and medium spatial resolution Landsat Multispectral Scanner (MSS) from 1976; Thematic Mapper (TM) from 1989; Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) from 1999 and TM from 2010 were used to generate a land use/land cover map and change analysis. Acquired IRS LISS-4 and Landsat image was orthorectified into Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM), Zone 45 based on generated digital terrain model (DTM) from a topographic map and Ground Control Point (GCP) from the field. After rectifying all the images, eCognition developer software was used for object-based image analysis (OBIA). The change in the land cover and land use types were compared with the potential habitat of twenty globally significant species present in the reserve. The habitat information was collected from the literature and a map was prepared based on ‘presence’ data, habits and habitats used to identify their distribution pattern. The analysis revealed that the KTWR has gone through significant changes in land cover and ecosystems over the last 34 years due to the change in river course and anthropogenic pressure leading to direct change in habitats of the species. Forests have been reduced by 94% from their original state whereas the grassland has increased by 79% from its original state. On the basis of total land cover, forests, river and stream, swamp and marshes decreased by 16%, 14% and 3% respectively over the last 34 years whereas the grassland has increased by 45%. These ecosystems are also an important habitat for the majority of the species, which is resulting in habitat loss. Notably, the wetland ecosystems (marshes/swamps and river/streams), being one of the most important habitat for many globally threatened species, have changed by more than 30% from their original state in 1976. Based on the analysis, recommendations for management interventions were made. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Loss & Habitat Fragmentation)
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