The Response of Wildlife Populations and Communities to Global Change

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2021) | Viewed by 11564

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Biology and Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal
Interests: population and ecosystem dynamics; wildlife management and conservation; global changes; citizen science; host–parasite interactions; ecological modelling; cartography and geographic information systems

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Guest Editor
cE3c—Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
Interests: mammalian ecology, behavior and conservation, with a special interest in carnivores; ecological strategies involved in carnivores’ adaptation to changing environments; role of agriculture landscapes in conservation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

The distribution and abundance of wildlife populations and the structure and composition of wildlife communities are driven by a myriad of biotic and abiotic factors that act synergistically. The ecological requirements of each species, the temporal variation in resource availability, the changes in landscape composition and the environmental stochasticity are among the key agents that influence wildlife through time and space. Disentangling and understanding the relative contribution of each factor in a multicausal world is a challenging endeavor for ecologists. Probably, questions of whether global changes may disrupt natural populations and communities cannot lead to simple and definitive answers. However, such assessments are increasingly relevant to: 1) evaluate the exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity of wildlife populations and communities to human-induced environmental changes; 2) understand how these changes dilute or strengthen the effects of natural sources of environmental variation; and 3) forecast how induced changes in wildlife populations and communities impact biodiversity conservation, ecological networks and ecosystem services. For this Special Issue, we welcome the submission of original research papers that improve our understanding of how wildlife populations and/or communities cope with environmental change, both natural and human-induced. Field studies and review articles that aim to synthetise evidence on this research topic are within the scope of this Special Issue. We encourage and challenge authors to highlight their contribution’s relevance to local and global conservation and management issues.

Dr. João Luís Oliveira Carvalho
Dr. Luís Miguel Rosalino
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • climate variations
  • population and community structure
  • exotic species
  • habitat fragmentation
  • land-use change
  • spatial and temporal ecology
  • trophic cascades.

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

19 pages, 2548 KiB  
Article
Patterns and Drivers of Rodent Abundance across a South African Multi-Use Landscape
by Beatriz C. Afonso, Lourens H. Swanepoel, Beatriz P. Rosa, Tiago A. Marques, Luís M. Rosalino, Margarida Santos-Reis and Gonçalo Curveira-Santos
Animals 2021, 11(9), 2618; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092618 - 7 Sep 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4225
Abstract
South Africa’s decentralized approach to conservation entails that wildlife outside formally protected areas inhabit complex multi-use landscapes, where private wildlife business (ecotourism and/or hunting) co-exist in a human-dominated landscape matrix. Under decentralized conservation, wildlife is perceived to benefit from increased amount of available [...] Read more.
South Africa’s decentralized approach to conservation entails that wildlife outside formally protected areas inhabit complex multi-use landscapes, where private wildlife business (ecotourism and/or hunting) co-exist in a human-dominated landscape matrix. Under decentralized conservation, wildlife is perceived to benefit from increased amount of available habitat, however it is crucial to understand how distinct management priorities and associated landscape modifications impact noncharismatic taxa, such as small mammals. We conducted extensive ink-tracking-tunnel surveys to estimate heterogeneity in rodent distribution and investigate the effect of different environmental factors on abundance patterns of two size-based rodent groups (small- and medium-sized species), across three adjacent management contexts in NE KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: a private ecotourism game reserve, mixed farms and traditional communal areas (consisting of small clusters of houses interspersed with grazing areas and seminatural vegetation). Our hypotheses were formulated regarding the (1) area typology, (2) vegetation structure, (3) ungulate pressure and (4) human disturbance. Using a boosted-regression-tree approach, we found considerable differences between rodent groups’ abundance and distribution, and the underlying environmental factors. The mean relative abundance of medium-sized species did not differ across the three management contexts, but small species mean relative abundance was higher in the game reserves, confirming an influence of the area typology on their abundance. Variation in rodent relative abundance was negatively correlated with human disturbance and ungulate presence. Rodent abundance seems to be influenced by environmental gradients that are directly linked to varying management priorities across land uses, meaning that these communities might not benefit uniformly by the increased amount of habitat promoted by the commercial wildlife industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Response of Wildlife Populations and Communities to Global Change)
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23 pages, 2989 KiB  
Article
Chronological Trends and Mercury Bioaccumulation in an Aquatic Semiarid Ecosystem under a Global Climate Change Scenario in the Northeastern Coast of Brazil
by Fernando Morgado, Ruy M. A. L. Santos, Daniela Sampaio, Luiz Drude de Lacerda, Amadeu M. V. M. Soares, Hugo C. Vieira and Sizenando Abreu
Animals 2021, 11(8), 2402; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082402 - 13 Aug 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3229
Abstract
Due to global warming, in the northeastern semiarid coastal regions of Brazil, regional and global drivers are responsible for decreasing continental runoff and increasing estuarine water residence time, which promotes a greater mobilization of bioavailable mercury (Hg) and allows increasing fluxes and/or bioavailability [...] Read more.
Due to global warming, in the northeastern semiarid coastal regions of Brazil, regional and global drivers are responsible for decreasing continental runoff and increasing estuarine water residence time, which promotes a greater mobilization of bioavailable mercury (Hg) and allows increasing fluxes and/or bioavailability of this toxic trace element and an acceleration of biogeochemical transformation of Hg. In this work, an application of dendrochemistry analysis (annular tree rings analysis) was developed for the reconstruction of the historical pattern of mercury contamination in a contaminated area, quantifying chronological Hg contamination trends in a tropical semiarid ecosystem (Ceará River Estuary, northeastern coast of Brazil) through registration of mercury concentration on growth rings in specimens of Rhizophora mangle L. and using the assessment in sediments as a support for the comparison of profiles of contamination. The comparison with sediments from the same place lends credibility to this type of analysis, as well as the relationship to the historical profile of contamination in the region, when compared with local data about industries and ecological situation of sampling sites. In order to evaluate the consequences of the described increase in Hg bioavailability and bioaccumulation in aquatic biota, and to assess the biological significance of Hg concentrations in sediments to fish and wildlife, muscle and liver from a bioindicator fish species, S. testudineus, were also analyzed. The results of this work reinforce the indicators previously described in the semiarid NE region of Brazil, which showed that global climate change and some anthropogenic factors are key drivers of Hg exposure and biomagnification for wildlife and humans. Considering the Hg concentration present in the top layers of sediment (~20 cm around 15 to 20 years) with the outer layers in the tree ring cores and in the sediment’s cores from Pacoti estuary and the Ceará estuary, overall the data indicate an increase in mercury in recent years in the Hg surface sediments, especially associated with the fine sediment fraction, mainly due to the increased capacity of small particles to adsorb Hg. There was revealed a positive and significant correlation (p < 0.05) between Hg trends in sediments and Hg trends in annular tree rings. This shared Hg pattern reflects local environmental conditions. The Hg concentration values in S. testudineus from both study areas are not restrictive to human consumption, being below the legislated European limit for Hg in foodstuffs. The results from S. testudineus muscles analysis suggest a significant and linear increase in Hg burden with increasing fish length, indicating that the specimens are accumulating Hg as they grow. The results from both rivers show an increase in BSAF with fish growth. The [Hg] liver/[Hg] muscles ratio >1, which indicates that the S. testudineus from both study areas are experiencing an increase in Hg bioavailability. Possible climate-induced shifts in these aquatic systems processes are inducing a greater mobilization of bioavailable Hg, which could allow an acceleration of the biogeochemical transformation of Hg. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Response of Wildlife Populations and Communities to Global Change)
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15 pages, 10965 KiB  
Article
Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy Analysis to Predict Diet Composition of a Mountain Ungulate Species
by Laia Jarque-Bascuñana, Jordi Bartolomé, Emmanuel Serrano, Johan Espunyes, Mathieu Garel, Juan Antonio Calleja Alarcón, Jorge Ramón López-Olvera and Elena Albanell
Animals 2021, 11(5), 1449; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051449 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2615
Abstract
The diet composition of ungulates is important to understand not only their impact on vegetation, but also to understand the consequences of natural and human-driven environmental changes on the foraging behavior of these mammals. In this work, we evaluated the use of near [...] Read more.
The diet composition of ungulates is important to understand not only their impact on vegetation, but also to understand the consequences of natural and human-driven environmental changes on the foraging behavior of these mammals. In this work, we evaluated the use of near infrared reflectance spectroscopy analysis (NIRS), a quick, economic and non-destructive method, to assess the diet composition of the Pyrenean chamois Rupicapra pyrenaica pyrenaica. Fecal samples (n = 192) were collected from two chamois populations in the French and Spanish Pyrenees. Diet composition was initially assessed by fecal cuticle microhistological analysis (CMA) and categorized into four functional groups, namely: woody, herbaceous, graminoid and Fabaceae plants. Regressions of modified partial least squares and several combinations of scattering correction and derivative treatments were tested. The results showed that models based on the second derivative processing obtained the higher determination coefficient for woody, herbaceous and graminoid plants (R2CAL, coefficient of determination in calibration, ranged from 0.86 to 0.91). The Fabaceae group, however, was predicted with lower accuracy (R2CAL = 0.71). Even though an agreement between NIRS and CMA methods was confirmed by a Bland–Altman analysis, confidence limits of agreement differed by up to 25%. Our results support the viability of fecal NIRS analysis to study spatial and temporal variations of the Pyrenean chamois’ diets in summer and winter when differences in the consumption of woody and annual plants are the greatest. This new use for the NIRS technique would be useful to assess the consequences of global change on the feeding behavior of this mountain ungulate and also in other ungulate counterparts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Response of Wildlife Populations and Communities to Global Change)
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