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Contrasting phylogeographic pattern among Eudyptes penguins around the Southern Ocean

Since at least the middle-Miocene, the Antarctic Polar Front (APF) and the Subtropical Front (STF) appear to have been the main drivers of diversification of marine biota in the Southern Ocean. However, highly migratory marine birds and mammals challenge this paradigm and the importance of...

Date
01 November 2019
RSPB Authors
Dr Antje Steinfurth
Authors
Frugone, M.J., Lowther, A., Noll, D., Ramos, B., Pistorius, P., Dantas, G.P.M., Petry, M.V., Bonadonna, F., Steinfurth, A., Polanowski, A., Raya Rey, A., Lois, N.A., Puetz, K., Trathan, P., Wienecke, B., Poulin, E. & Vianna, J.A.
Published in
Scientfic Reports 8
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The State of Nature 2019

The State of Nature report 2019 presents an overview of how wildlife is faring in the UK and its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. Additionally, it assesses the pressures that are acting on nature, and the responses being made, collectively, to counter these pressures

Date
07 October 2019
RSPB Authors
Dr Daniel Hayhow, Dr Mark Eaton, Dr Fiona Burns, Andrew Stanbury, Will Kirby, Dr Joelene Hughes
Authors
Hayhow, Daniel Eaton, Mark Burns, Fiona Stanbury, Andrew Kirby, Will Bailey, Neil Beckmann, Björn C. Bedford, Jacob Boersch-Supan, Philipp Coomber, Frazer Dennis, Emily Dolman, Sarah Dunn, Euan Hall, Jonathan Harrower, Colin Hatfield, Jack Hawley, Jenny Haysom, Karen Hughes, Joelene Symes, Nigel
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Spatial and temporal variability in migration of a soaring raptor across three continents

Disentangling individual- and population-level variation in migratory movements is necessary for understanding migration at the species level. However, very few studies have analyzed these patterns across large portions of species' distributions. We compiled a large telemetry dataset on the globally endangered Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus (94 individuals, 188 completed migratory journeys), tracked across ~70% of the species' global range, to analyze spatial and temporal variability of migratory movements within and among individuals and populations. We found high migratory connectivity at large spatial scales (i.e., different subpopulations showed little overlap in wintering areas), but very diffuse migratory connectivity within subpopulations, with wintering ranges up to 4,000 km apart for birds breeding in the same region and each subpopulation visiting up to 28 countries (44 in total). Additionally, Egyptian Vultures exhibited a high level of variability at the subpopulation level and flexibility at the individual level in basic migration parameters. Subpopulations differed significantly in travel distance and straightness of migratory movements, while differences in migration speed and duration differed as much between seasons and among individuals within subpopulations as between subpopulations. The total distances of the migrations completed by individuals from the Balkans and Caucasus were up to twice as long and less direct than those in Western Europe, and consequently were longer in duration, despite faster migration speeds. These differences appear to be largely attributable to more numerous and wider geographic barriers (water bodies) along the eastern flyway. We also found that adult spring migrations to Western Europe and the Balkans were longer and slower than fall migrations. We encourage further research to assess the underlying mechanisms for these differences and the extent to which environmental change could affect Egyptian Vulture movement ecology and population trends.

Date
10 September 2019
RSPB Authors
Dr Steffen Oppel
Authors
Phipps, W Louis López-López, Pascual Buechley, Evan Oppel, Steffen Álvarez, Ernesto Arkumarev, Volen Bekmansurov, Rinur Berger-Tal, Oded Bermejo, Ana Bounas, Anastasios
Published in
Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7: 323
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Foraging plasticity of breeding Northern Rockhopper Penguins, Eudyptes moseleyi, in response to changing energy requirements

During the breeding season, seabirds must balance the changing demands of self- and off-spring provisioning with the constraints imposed by central-place foraging. Recently, it was shown that Northern Rockhopper Penguins at Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean switch diet from lower to higher trophic level prey throughout their breeding cycle. Here, we investigated...

Date
02 September 2019
RSPB Authors
Dr Antje Steinfurth
Authors
Booth, J.M., Steinfurth, A., Fusi, M., Cuthbert, R.J. & McQuaid, C.D.
Published in
Polar Biology 41 (9): 1815-1826
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Collapsing foundations: The ecology of the British oak, implications of its decline and mitigation options

Oak (Quercus spp.) is declining globally due to a variety of pests, pathogens and climate change. Assessments of the impact of losing keystone species such as oak, should include the impact on associated biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and consider mitigation options. Here, we assess the potential ecological implications of a decline in Quercus petraea/robur within the UK. We collated a database of 2300 species associated with Q. petraea/robur of which 326 were found to be obligate associates (only found on Q. petraea/robur). One potential mitigating measure for lessening the impact of oak decline on associated biodiversity would be establishing alternative tree species. However, of 30 alternative tree species assessed, none supported a high proportion of the oak-associated species (maximum 28% by Fraxinus excelsior ash, which is currently declining due to Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, a fungus). However, the functioning of oak (leaf litter/soil chemistry and decomposition) was potentially replicable owing to its similarities with other tree species. The impact on the four main oak woodland communities within the UK, of a theoretical 50% decline in oak on ecosystem functioning and associated species was explored for five scenarios, that differed in the selection of replacement tree species. The most resilient woodland communities (in all the aspects assessed) were those capable of supporting the greatest diversity of tree species and when the currently occurring tree species replaced oak. The greatest change was predicted where F. excelsior was lost in addition to a decline in oak, and if only one species, particularly Acer pseudoplantanus sycamore, filled the canopy gaps.

Date
05 August 2019
RSPB Authors
Paul Bellamy
Authors
Mitchell, R. J. Bellamy, P. E. Ellis, C. J. Hewison, R. L. Hodgetts, N. G. Iason, G. R. Littlewood, N. A. Newey, S. Stockan, J. A. Taylor, A. F. S.
Published in
Biological Conservation 233: 316-327
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The decline of the Turtle Dove: Dietary associations with body condition and competition with other columbids analysed using high-throughput sequencing

Dietary changes linked to the availability of anthropogenic food resources can have complex implications for species and ecosystems, especially when species are in decline. Here, we use recently developed primers targeting the ITS2 region of plants to characterize diet from faecal samples of four UK columbids, with particular focus on the European turtle dove...

Date
01 August 2019
RSPB Authors
Dr Tony Morris
Authors
Dunn, J.C., Stockdale, J.E., Moorhouse-Gann, R.J., McCubbin, A., Hipperson, H., Morris, A.J., Grice, P.V. & Symondson, W.O.C.
Published in
Molecular Ecology 27 (16): 3386-3407
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Shallow genetic population structure in an expanding migratory bird with high breeding site fidelity, the Western Eurasian Crane Grus grus grus

For more than half a century, the Western Eurasian Crane (Grus grus grus) has been expanding its range toward western Europe, recolonizing areas where it had been previously driven to extinction, including the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark. The Western Eurasian Crane is, on the one hand, a very mobile, migratory species, but on the other, is territorial and shows high breeding site fidelity. Hence, its genetic population structure is subject to antagonizing forces, which have different consequences. Based on the genotyping of six highly variable microsatellite loci, we inferred the population structure of the Western Eurasian Crane from samples from eight regions. We integrated classic F-statistics including analyses of molecular variance with a priori designation of structure and divisive clustering approaches, i.e. a Bayesian procedure (STRUCTURE) and discriminant analysis of principal components, which infer structure a posteriori. According to the F-statistics, populations were only weakly differentiated, and the majority of the genetic variance (> 90%) was attributed to individuals. At first glance, the divisive approaches appeared to agree in finding four clusters. Yet, there was no correspondence regarding the composition of the clusters and none of the results were biologically meaningful. However, STRUCTURE delivered an alternative interpretation, designating the highest likelihood to a scenario without subdivision, in clear agreement with the findings based on the F-statistics. In conclusion, the Western Eurasian Crane is genetically largely homogeneous, probably as a consequence of the rapid growth and range expansion of its population.

Date
30 July 2019
RSPB Authors
Andrew Stanbury
Authors
Haase, Martin Höltje, Henriette Blahy, Beate Bridge, Damon Henne, Eberhard Johansson, Ulf Kaldma, Katrin Khudyakova, Ekaterina King, Amy Leito, Aivar Mewes, Wolfgang Mudrik, Elena Ojaste, Ivar Politov, Dmitry Popken, Ronald Rinne, Juhani Stanbury, Andrew Tofft, Jesper Väli, Ülo Schmitz, Angela
Published in
Journal of Ornithology 160 (4): 965-972
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Avian malaria-mediated population decline of a widespread iconic bird species

Parasites have the capacity to affect animal populations by modifying host survival, and it is increasingly recognized that infectious disease can negatively impact biodiversity. Populations of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) have declined in many European towns and cities, but the causes of these declines...

Date
17 July 2019
RSPB Authors
Dr Will Peach
Authors
Dadam, D., Robinson, R.A., Clements, A., Peach, W.J., Bennett, M., Rowcliffe, J.M. & Cunningham, A.A.
Published in
Royal Society Open Science 6 (7)
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Report: Paying for public goods from land management.

A report for the RSPB, the National Trust and The Wildlife Trusts.

Date
28 June 2019
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1. Authorship Guidelines

These guidelines are for determining who should be included on authorship of manuscripts to peer reviewed journals involving RSPB staff and volunteers and should be used by everyone.

Date
19 June 2019
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