Thematic Session 2 - Conservation Science 1

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Thematic Session 2

Conservation Science 1

Tuesday 9 February 2021 | 10:00-12:00 hrs


LINK TO ZOOM MEETING: Will Follow soon.


10:00 – 10:05 Introduction by the session chairs - Dr Emily Strange (Assistant Professor Conservation Biology @ Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML), Leiden University) & Dr Patrick Jansen (Associate Professor Wildlife Ecology and Conservation @ Wageningen University)
10:05 – 10:20 KEYNOTE LECTURE | Conserving Africa's mammals: a community ecology perspective
Michiel Veldhuis @ Department of Environmental Biology, Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML), Leiden University

​African savanna conservation practices often aim to increase tourism. However, management actions such as creating artificial water points or reintroduction of large carnivores can be detrimental to some species, thereby decreasing overall diversity. Here, I will take a community ecology perspective and present a two‐dimensional niche partitioning framework along trait space of body size and minimum dung moisture content that can be used to predict the effects of changes in water availability, temperature and predation. From this, I predict that increased spatial homogeneity in water availability in drylands reduces the number of ungulate species that will coexist. Subsequently, I will explore how other constraints such as predation risk and thermoregulation are connected to this two‐dimensional framework. This novel framework integrates multiple simultaneous stressors for herbivores and can help predict the expected changes in large herbivore community composition following conservation actions and climate change.
10:20 – 10:30 How do breeding black-tailed godwits cope with agricultural intensification?
Yuhong Li @ Conservation Ecology Group, University of Groningen

Habitat selection and home range sizes of 57 breeding black-tailed godwits (Limosa limosa limosa) tracked by Argos PTT satellite transmitters in 2013-2019 were examined as a function of agricultural land-use intensity over the entire Netherlands. The godwits selected grasslands with lower land-use intensity from the available area at different spatial scales. Additionally, core area sizes of godwit home range increased with the land-use intensity. This nation-wide study suggests that intensive grasslands are less favoured by godwits probably because they have limited resource and frequent farming disturbance, which also leads godwits to forage over larger area in intensive grassland.
10:30 – 10:40 The effects of captivity on predator avoidance behaviour after reintroduction of cheetahs in the wild
Nynke Wemer @ Conservation Ecology, University of Groningen

Most wildlife reintroduction programs fail because released individuals do not respond to predatory cues properly, resulting in high mortality rates quickly after release. This study determines the response differences between captive and successfully released cheetahs to the threat of lions. This helps deciding which individuals are expected to be successful after release. We found that captive individuals respond less adequately to lion sound than wild individuals. Therefore testing a priory which individuals are immediately suitable for release and which need training is necessary in conservation programs. This ensures beneficial responses to other predators and thereby enhancing survival and release success.
10:40 – 10:50 Conservation implications of Sabellaria spinulosa reef patches in a dynamic sandy-bottom environment
Karin van der Reijden @ Conservation Ecology, University of Groningen

Biogenic reefs form biodiversity hotspots, making them priority habitats for nature conservation. But dynamic, patchy reefs generally have a lower conservation status. Here, we determined the ecological effects of patchy reefs created by Sabellaria spinulosa, located in a sandy environment with strong tidal currents. Reef habitats were patchily distributed, and matched prevailing tidal bedforms. Mobile epifauna was attracted to reef habitats. Biogenic reefs are often as patchily distributed as the observed S. spinulosa reefs. Their conservation status should therefore dominantly assess the functional impact of the reefs on the prevailing ecosystem instead of its physical dimensions only.
10:50 – 11:10 Joint coffee / tea break and time to socialise within your breakout room
11:10 – 11:20 TurtleCams reveal unintended consequences of tourists feeding wildlife
Fee Smulders @ Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management, Wageningen University

Feeding wildlife can affect their behavior. In this study, we deployed animal-borne cameras on five green turtles from the Bahamas to directly assess the impact of tourists feeding turtles. The turtles spent most of their time waiting for tourist boats near a feeding site. All individuals caught on camera actively approached people and boats, and some fed on squid offered by tourists. During these feeding events, turtles displayed atypical aggressive behavior. An online search revealed that turtles are regularly fed across their global range. Increased habituation and dependency of endangered turtles on humans can form a risk for turtle conservation.
11:20 – 11:30 Site fidelity of two shorebird species in an imperiled flyway
Ying-Chi (Ginny) Chan @ Conservation Ecology, University of Groningen

Site fidelity is commonly observed in migratory birds. When habitat quality reduces, lower site fidelity might be favored if it promotes switching to better habitats. In two species of migratory shorebirds impacted by the rapid deterioration of intertidal habitats in the Yellow Sea, using satellite tracking and mark-resighting data, we showed that great knots had lower site fidelity than bar-tailed godwits in both the wintering and migration periods. great knots might be coping better considering they were impacted not only by habitat loss (which was also impacting bar-tailed godwits), but additionally by a collapse of their main bivalve prey stock.
11:30 – 11:40 Poacher detection system based on deviations in (group) movement of non-targeted sentinel animals
Rascha Nuijten @ Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Wageningen University

Illegal poaching is a major threat to wildlife populations, with rhinos being a prime example. Our proposed detection system evolves around the idea that poachers can be detected based on the ‘wave of disturbance’ in wild animal populations, other than the targeted species. By extracting information from tagged animals about their movements (GPS) and habits (accelerometer) in space and time, a site-specific pilot study showed that simulated intrusions could be accurately detected. Successful implementation of such a system can make a huge difference for wildlife. Next steps involve the usage of collective movement of group living sentinel animals.
11:40 – 11:55 General discussion and wrap up of the session