Thematic Session 8 - Conservation Science 2

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Thematic Session 8

Conservation Science 2

Wednesday 10 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 | Testing the ecological effects of the Deltaplan Biodiversity Recovery approach
David Kleijn @ Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation, Wageningen University

​In 2018 a societal initiative comprising representatives from a wide range of stakeholder organizations launched the Deltaplan Biodiversity Recovery. The aim of the ambitious plan is to bend the ongoing negative biodiversity trend upward. The key features that distinguish the plan ecologically from traditional conservation approaches are that plans are to be developed at the landscape level through integrated conservation actions in nature reserves, in public space and on farmland. How do we know that this works? Here I outline the implementation of the approach in the Geuldal area in the South of the Netherlands. We discuss ways to evaluate the ecological effects and present the first preliminary results of the initiative.
10:20 – 10:30 Importance of natural land cover for plant species’ presence: a nationwide study in The Netherlands
Kaixuan Pan @ Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML), Leiden University

Shifts to high-intensity land cover have caused overwhelming biodiversity loss. By assessing the association between natural habitat and species occurrence probability of 1544 plant species at 1 km resolution across the whole Netherlands. We found that 75.1% of native species and 84.1% of the threatened species preferred landscapes with over 50% natural land cover (NLC), while these landscapes only accounted for 15.6% of all grids. Most species preferred natural areas with a mixture of forest and open areas rather than areas with completely open or forested nature. Our results demonstrate the importance of natural areas for plant species.
10:30 – 10:40 Swimways - Linking movement ecology and fish conservation in the Wadden Sea
Jena Edwards @ Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) & Aquaculture & Fisheries Group, Wageningen University

In the Wadden Sea, many large fish species face population declines, the causes of which remain uncertain. Furthermore, knowledge of the factors driving regional fish distribution and habitat use are insufficient for establishing measures for improvement. This forward-thinking review uses current knowledge of the movement of Wadden Sea fishes and approaches derived from the field of movement ecology to identify key questions currently limiting effective management. As part of the Waddentools Swimway project, this research promotes future studies aimed at addressing these knowledge gaps, thereby forming the foundation upon which telemetry studies in the Wadden Sea can be established.
10:40 – 10:50 Predicting fish community responses to environmental policy targets
Io Deflem @ Laboratory of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Genomics, KU Leuven

The EU adopted the Water Framework Directive more than two decades ago to diminish the degradation of freshwater ecosystems. Yet, both ecological and environmental quality targets do not reach the imposed standards and overall water quality remains poor. Identifying successful management actions should be prioritized to efficiently increase ecological quality. We built a joint species distribution model for riverine fishes in Flanders to better understand responses of entire communities to current environmental policy targets. Low response to ‘good’ environmental quality, accompanied by complex interactions of nutrient-associated problems, indicate a challenging future for the restoration of Flemish rivers.
10:50 – 11:10 Joint coffee / tea break and time to socialise within your breakout room
11:10 – 11:20 The impact of dominant large frugivore-palm interactions on ecological structure in tropical forests
Nacho Villar @ Aquatic Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology

Dominant consumer-resource interactions can cast a long shadow on the ecological structure of ecosystems. We conducted an exclusion experiment in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil to test the impact of the removal of a dominant large frugivore-key palm resource interaction on ecological structure. On the non-defaunated site, where dominant peccaries and tapirs where present, large frugivores structured plant recruitment, species diversity and primary productivity along a gradient of palm abundance. In contrast, on the defaunated site without those dominant frugivores, such structure was absent. We conclude that the functional loss of dominant interactions can have strong impact on ecological structure.
11:20 – 11:30 Complex role of elections as drivers of tropical deforestation
Joeri Morpurgo @ BIOMAC, University of Amsterdam

Tropical forests provide essential ecosystem services and sustain the livelihood of billions of people, yet deforestation is increasing relentlessly. Emerging evidence suggests that elections incentivise politicians to allow increased utilisation of tropical forests in return for political support. Modelling the effect of national elections on deforestation, shows that deforestation is lower in years with elections. However, deforestation is higher in elections that are competitive compared to uncompetitive ones. These results suggest that competitive elections are potential drivers of deforestation, but that the general role of elections as drivers of pan-tropical deforestation is more nuanced than previously thought.
11:30 – 11:40 Dominant and non-dominant taxa of epigeal natural enemies respond inconsistently to land-use intensity
Zulin Mei @ Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation, Wageningen University

Land-use intensity increasing is thought to be an important reason to biodiversity loss in agricultural landscapes. But how diversity of epigeal natural enemies respond to land-use intensity has been rarely studied. Focusing on carabid beetles and spiders, we selected 66 winter wheat fields in four countries across Europe to study how crop yield and proportion of crop land affect their diversity. We found that dominance of carabid beetles was positively and species richness of spider was negatively responded to proportion of crop land respectively. Meanwhile, we also found the inconsistent response of dominant and non-dominant taxa on land-use intensity as dominant taxa remained stable while the negative effect on biodiversity mainly targeting on non-dominant taxa. Hence, it is important to maintain and expanding semi-natural habitats in agricultural landscape and conserving measures in agricultural ecosystem should be more specific on non-dominant taxa.
11:40 – 11:55 General discussion and wrap up of the session