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Slow sink rate in floated-demersal longline and implications for seabird bycatch risk

Bycatch of birds in longline fisheries is a global conservation issue, with between 160,000–320,000 seabirds killed each year, primarily through being caught and drowned as they attempt to snatch baits off hooks as they are set. This conservation issue has received significant recognition in southern hemisphere longline fisheries over the past several decades, largely due to the impact on highly charismatic and highly threatened birds, notably Albatrosses. As a result, the use of effective mitigation measures has been subject to fisheries regulations to reduce seabird bycatch from longliners in a number of national jurisdictions and in several Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RMFOs). While mitigation measures have been mandated in a number of north Pacific longline fisheries, this is largely not the case in north Atlantic longline fisheries. This includes vessels using floated-demersal longlines in the North-East Atlantic longline fishery targeting European Hake Merluccius merluccius, in which high levels of seabird bycatch are estimated. In this paper, we analysed the sinking speed of a floated-demersal longline used to target European Hake in the offshore waters of Scotland, to determine potential bycatch risks to seabirds. We deployed Time Depth Recorder devices at different points of the gear. We assessed how this gear performed in comparison to the best practice minimum sink rate of 0.3 m/s recommended by the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) to limit bird access to baited hooks. We found that the average sinking speed of the floated-demersal longline was substantially slower than the ACAP recommendation, between two and nine times slower in non-weighted parts of the gear down to 10m water depth. Our work also found that the sink rate is particularly slow in the top 2m of the water column, increasing with depth and stabilizing at depths over 10m, presumably a consequence of propeller wash behind the vessel. We calculated that the distance astern of the vessel for hooks to sink beyond susceptible seabirds’ reach largely exceeds optimum coverage of best practice design Bird Scaring Lines (100 m). Our results indicate that hooks from floated-demersal longlines are therefore readily open to seabird attacks, and as a result, present a clear bycatch risk. Research is needed to adapt existing mitigation measures to floated-longlines and to develop novel mitigation approaches to improve the sink rate of the gear without impacting target fish catch.

Date
28 April 2022
RSPB Authors
Ian Cleasby
Authors
Rouxel, Yann Crawford, Rory Buratti, Juan Pablo Forti Cleasby, Ian R
Published in
PloS one
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Examining diversity of terrestrial mammal communities across forest reserves in Sabah, Borneo

Tropical forest reserves have conservation value for terrestrial mammals and are threatened by anthropogenic pressures, especially conversion to other land-use types. To assess mammalian biodiversity of forest reserves in Sabah, Borneo, we used camera trapping data to estimate species richness, beta diversity, phylogenetic and functional diversity in nine forest reserves with different management classifications and backgrounds. Multiregional multispecies occupancy models (MSOM) were used to differentiate species occupancy in the reserves, and the estimates were transformed into biodiversity metrics. We found a significant difference in mammal composition within each forest reserve, with various functional and phylogenetic clustering or dispersion levels indicated by the standard effect of mean pairwise distances (SES MPD). Redundancy analysis (RDA) was used for both the observed data and MSOM estimates, modeling numerous environmental covariates and the forest reserves as random effects, finding that the forest reserve random effects were mainly responsible for structuring the mammal communities. Deramakot Forest Reserve was found to have overall high species richness, phylogenetic and functional diversity compared to other reserves. This reserve has been particularly successful at sustainable forest management and long-term forest certification, highlighting long-term conservation gains of sustainability programs for terrestrial mammalian diversity. Conversely, several reserves showed lower diversity scores overall than IUCN presumed extant species lists, highlighting local defaunation while still retaining high profile (critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable) species. This study highlights the fragility of terrestrial mammal assemblages in forest reserves across the state and the need for mitigation, refaunation, and an integrated approach to forest management and biodiversity conservation to allow for comprehensive sustainable management programs to ensure long-term conservation.

Date
20 April 2022
RSPB Authors
Dr Penny Gardner
Authors
Bohnett, Eve Goossens, Benoit Bakar, Mohd Soffian Abu Abidin, Tommy Rowel Lim, Hong-Ye Hulse, David Ahmad, Bilal Hoctor, Thomas Gardner, Penny
Published in
Biodiversity and Conservation
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Bird populations most exposed to climate change are less sensitive to climatic variation

The phenology of many species shows strong sensitivity to climate change; however, with few large scale intra-specific studies it is unclear how such sensitivity varies over a species’ range. We document large intra-specific variation in phenological sensitivity to temperature using laying date information from 67 populations of two co-familial European songbirds, the great tit (Parus major) and blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), covering a large part of their breeding range. Populations inhabiting deciduous habitats showed stronger phenological sensitivity than those in evergreen and mixed habitats. However, populations with higher sensitivity tended to have experienced less rapid change in climate over the past decades, such that populations with high phenological sensitivity will not necessarily exhibit the strongest phenological advancement. Our results show that to effectively assess the impact of climate change on phenology across a species’ range it will be necessary to account for intra-specific variation in phenological sensitivity, climate change exposure, and the ecological characteristics of a population.

Date
19 April 2022
RSPB Authors
Dr Malcolm Burgess
Authors
Bailey, Liam D van de Pol, Martijn Adriaensen, Frank Arct, Aneta Barba, Emilio Bellamy, Paul E Bonamour, Suzanne Bouvier, Jean-Charles Burgess, Malcolm D Charmantier, Anne Cusimano, Camillo Doligez, Blandine Drobniak, Szymon M Dubiec, Anna Eens, Marcel Eeva, Tapio Ferns, Peter N Goodenough, Anne E Hartley, Ian R Hinsley, Shelley A Ivankina, Elena Juškaitis, Rimvydas Kempenaers, Bart Kerimov, Anvar B Lavigne, Claire Leivits, Agu Mainwaring, Mark C Matthysen, Erik Nilsson, Jan-Åke Orell, Markku Rytkönen, Seppo Senar, Juan Carlos Sheldon, Ben C Sorace, Alberto Stenning, Martyn J Török, János Oers, Kees van Vatka, Emma Vriend, Stefan JG Visser, Marcel E
Published in
Nature Communications
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Bird populations most exposed to climate change are less sensitive to climatic variation

The phenology of many species shows strong sensitivity to climate change; however, with few large scale intra-specific studies it is unclear how such sensitivity varies over a species’ range. We document large intra-specific variation in phenological sensitivity to temperature using laying date information from 67 populations of two co-familial European songbirds, the great tit (Parus major) and blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), covering a large part of their breeding range. Populations inhabiting deciduous habitats showed stronger phenological sensitivity than those in evergreen and mixed habitats. However, populations with higher sensitivity tended to have experienced less rapid change in climate over the past decades, such that populations with high phenological sensitivity will not necessarily exhibit the strongest phenological advancement. Our results show that to effectively assess the impact of climate change on phenology across a species’ range it will be necessary to account for intra-specific variation in phenological sensitivity, climate change exposure, and the ecological characteristics of a population.

Date
19 April 2022
RSPB Authors
Dr Malcolm Burgess
Authors
Bailey, Liam D van de Pol, Martijn Adriaensen, Frank Arct, Aneta Barba, Emilio Bellamy, Paul E Bonamour, Suzanne Bouvier, Jean-Charles Burgess, Malcolm D Charmantier, Anne Cusimano, Camillo Doligez, Blandine Drobniak, Szymon M Dubiec, Anna Eens, Marcel Eeva, Tapio Ferns, Peter N Goodenough, Anne E Hartley, Ian R Hinsley, Shelley A Ivankina, Elena Juškaitis, Rimvydas Kempenaers, Bart Kerimov, Anvar B Lavigne, Claire Leivits, Agu Mainwaring, Mark C Matthysen, Erik Nilsson, Jan-Åke Orell, Markku Rytkönen, Seppo Senar, Juan Carlos Sheldon, Ben C Sorace, Alberto Stenning, Martyn J Török, János van Oers, Kees Vatka, Emma Vriend, Stefan JG Visser, Marcel E
Published in
Nature Communications
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Commentary: Not All Vulture Feeding Stations are Supplementary—Proposed Terminology for Carcass Provisioning with Reference to Management Goals and Food Sources

Although vulture feeding stations are a widely used tool for vulture conservation in many regions worldwide, there has been some confusion about their functions and this is reflected in the range of terminology used. The origin of food supply at provisioning sites (both for in situ and ex situ situations) and the goals of feeding station managers (ranging from purely conservation of vultures to the necessity for carcass disposal) are two key aspects that are often neglected. We review the definitions and nomenclature for the provision of predictable anthropogenic food for vultures and vultures' role in sanitation in the landscape. We propose that “supplementary feeding stations for vultures” (SFSV) defines a particular case and this term should only be applied when a station has vulture conservation goals and a food supply coming from outside of the landscape (ex situ). We introduce the term “recycling station with vultures” (RSV) for cases when the goal is the elimination of carcasses and the food is sourced in situ (natural, NRSV) or ex situ (supplementary food, SRSV). This clarification of goals and terminology for feeding stations worldwide could have important consequences for the understanding and assessment of vulture conservation and management actions, among researchers and conservationists and also importantly among stakeholders and wider society.

Date
01 March 2022
Authors
Duriez, Olivier Andevski, Jovan Bowden, Christopher GR Camiña-Cardenal, Alvaro Frey, Hans Genero, Fulvio Hatzofe, Ohad Llopis-Dell, Alex Néouze, Raphaël Phipps, Louis
Published in
Journal of Raptor Research
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A framework for climate change adaptation indicators for the natural environment

Impacts of climate change on natural and human systems will become increasingly severe as the magnitude of climate change increases. Climate change adaptation interventions to address current and projected impacts are thus paramount. Yet, evidence on their effectiveness remains limited, highlighting the need for appropriate ecological indicators to measure progress of climate change adaptation for the natural environment. We outline conceptual, analytical, and practical challenges in developing such indicators, before proposing a framework with three process-based and two results-based indicator types to track progress in adapting to climate change. We emphasize the importance of dynamic assessment and modification over time, as new adaptation targets are set and/or as intervention actions are monitored and evaluated. Our framework and proposed indicators are flexible and widely applicable across species, habitats, and monitoring programmes, and could be accommodated within existing national or international frameworks to enable the evaluation of both large-scale policy instruments and local management interventions. We conclude by suggesting further work required to develop these indicators fully, and hope this will stimulate the use of ecological indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of policy interventions for the adaptation of the natural environment across the globe.

Date
24 February 2022
RSPB Authors
Prof Richard Gregory
Authors
Pearce-Higgins, JW Antão, LH Bates, RE Bowgen, KM Bradshaw, Catherine D Duffield, SJ Ffoulkes, Charles Franco, AMA Geschke, J Gregory, RD Harley, MJ Hodgson, JA Jenkins, RLM Kapos, V Maltby, KMM Watts, O Willis, SG Morecroft, MD
Published in
Ecological indicators
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A quantitative global review of species population monitoring

Species monitoring, defined here as the repeated, systematic collection of data to detect long-term changes in the populations of wild species, is a vital component of conservation practice and policy. We created a database of nearly 1200 schemes, ranging in start date from 1800 to 2018, to review spatial, temporal, taxonomic, and methodological patterns in global species monitoring. We identified monitoring schemes through standardized web searches, an online survey of stakeholders, in-depth national searches in a sample of countries, and a review of global biodiversity databases. We estimated the total global number of monitoring schemes operating at 3300–15,000. Since 2000, there has been a sharp increase in the number of new schemes being initiated in lower- and middle-income countries and in megadiverse countries, but a decrease in high-income countries. The total number of monitoring schemes in a country and its per capita gross domestic product were strongly, positively correlated. Schemes that were active in 2018 had been running for an average of 21 years in high-income countries, compared with 13 years in middle-income countries and 10 years in low-income countries. In high-income countries, over one-half of monitoring schemes received government funding, but this was less than one-quarter in low-income countries. Data collection was undertaken partly or wholly by volunteers in 37% of schemes, and such schemes covered significantly more sites and species than those undertaken by professionals alone. Birds were by far the most widely monitored taxonomic group, accounting for around half of all schemes, but this bias declined over time. Monitoring in most taxonomic groups remains sparse and uncoordinated, and most of the data generated are elusive and unlikely to feed into wider biodiversity conservation processes. These shortcomings could be addressed by, for example, creating an open global meta-database of biodiversity monitoring schemes and enhancing capacity for species monitoring in countries with high biodiversity.

Date
17 February 2022
RSPB Authors
Prof Richard Gregory
Authors
Moussy, Caroline Burfield, Ian J Stephenson, PJ Newton, Arabella FE Butchart, Stuart HM Sutherland, William J Gregory, Richard D McRae, Louise Bubb, Philip Roesler, Ignacio
Published in
Conservation Biology
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Assessing bycatch risk from gillnet fisheries for three species of diving seabird in the UK

Incidental mortality (bycatch) in fisheries represents a threat to marine vertebrates. Research has predominantly focussed on bycatch in longline fisheries, but bycatch from gillnet fisheries is of increasing concern. To address this concern, we combined comprehensive biologging data sets and multiple sources of fishing effort data to assess the spatial overlap of 3 diving seabird species during the breeding season (common guillemot Uria aalge, razorbill Alca torda and European shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis) with UK gillnet fisheries. Species distribution models based on birds’ diving behaviour identified areas of elevated bycatch risk where high levels of diving activity and fishing effort coincided. In addition, we identified times of day and water depths where diving activity, and hence bycatch risk, may be concentrated. Bycatch risk hotspots for all 3 species were identified along the north-east coast of England. Risk hotspots were also identified along the Pembrokeshire coast for both auk species and along the Cornish coast for shag. Lack of fishing effort data for smaller vessels made it difficult to assess seabird-fishery overlap in Scottish waters. Across species, diving activity was lower at night. For razorbill and guillemot, dive depth tended to increase at sunrise and decrease after sunset. For shag, dive depth showed no diel pattern but was associated with water depth. Our findings should assist in targeting spatio-temporal measures and designing deterrent devices to reduce bycatch. However, scarcity of data on the behaviour of gillnet fishers at comparable spatio-temporal resolution as seabird movement data remains a constraint to fully understanding seabird-fisheries interactions.

Date
17 February 2022
RSPB Authors
Ian Cleasby, Linda Wilson, Dr Ellie Owen, Dr Mark Bolton
Authors
Cleasby, Ian R Wilson, Linda J Crawford, Rory Owen, Ellie Rouxel, Yann Bolton, Mark
Published in
Marine Ecology Progress Series
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Winter colony attendance by adult Southern Giant Petrels Macronectes giganteus: implications for rodent eradications

Southern Giant Petrels Macronectes giganteus are partial migrants, but the proportion of adult males and females that visit the colony on Gough Island during winter is poorly defined. A better understanding of winter colony attendance is important to predict the possible impact of non-target mortality during restoration efforts involving poison baiting to eradicate introduced mammals. We repeatedly checked the individual identity of all giant petrels attending the largest breeding colony on Gough Island for rings during April-May 2021. Although the maximum number of individually identifiable ringed adults in a single check was 202, overall, 353 ringed adults were recorded, including almost 90% of the individuals that bred in 2020. Males were more likely to be present than females, but the ratio of males to females decreased from the end of April (3.24:1) to the latter half of May (1.25:1). Many birds were paired with their previous breeding partners by the end of May, despite egg laying not starting until late August. Our observations indicate that most adult Southern Giant Petrels are present at their breeding colonies on Gough Island 3-4 months before breeding, and are thus potentially susceptible to non-target poisoning during mammal eradication operations.

Date
10 February 2022
RSPB Authors
Dr Steffen Oppel
Authors
Ryan, Peter G Oppel, Steffen
Published in
Marine Ornithology
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An assessment of relative habitat use as a metric for species’ habitat association and degree of specialization

In order to understand species’ sensitivity to habitat change, we must correctly determine if a species is associated with a habitat or not, and if it is associated, its degree of specialization for that habitat. However, definitions of species’ habitat association and specialization are often static, categorical classifications that coarsely define species as either habitat specialists or generalists and can fail to account for potential temporal or spatial differences in association or specialization. In contrast, quantitative metrics can provide a more nuanced assessment, defining species’ habitat associations and specialization along a continuous scale and accommodate for temporal or spatial variation, but these approaches are less widely used. Here we explore relative habitat use (RHU) as a metric for quantifying species’ association with and degree of specialization for different habitat types. RHU determines the extent of a species’ association with a given habitat by comparing its abundance in that habitat relative to its mean abundance across all other habitats. Using monitoring data for breeding birds across Europe from 1998 to 2017; we calculate RHU scores for 246 species for five habitat types and compared them to the literature-based classifications of their association with and specialization for each of these habitats. We also explored the temporal variation in species’ RHU scores for each habitat and assessed how this varied according to association and degree of specialization. In general, species’ RHU and literature-derived classifications were well aligned, as RHU scores for a given habitat increased in line with reported association and specialization. In addition, temporal variation in RHU scores were influenced by association and degree of specialization, with lower scores for those associated with, and those more specialized to, a given habitat. As a continuous metric, RHU allows a detailed assessment of species’ association with and degree of specialization for different habitats that can be tailored to specific temporal and/or spatial requirements. It has the potential to be a valuable tool for identifying indicator species and in supporting the design, implementation and monitoring of conservation management actions.

Date
01 February 2022
RSPB Authors
Prof Richard Gregory
Authors
O'Reilly, Enya Gregory, Richard D Aunins, Ainars Brotons, Lluís Chodkiewicz, Tomasz Escandell, Virginia Foppen, Ruud PB Gamero, Anna Herrando, Sergi Jiguet, Frédéric
Published in
Ecological Indicators
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