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Now showing items 1 - 16 of 15040

  • Global importance of large-diameter trees

    Lutz, James A.   Furniss, Tucker J.   Johnson, Daniel J.   Davies, Stuart J.   Allen, David   Alonso, Alfonso   Anderson-Teixeira, Kristina J.   Andrade, Ana   Baltzer, Jennifer   Becker, Kendall M. L.   Blomdahl, Erika M.   Bourg, Norman A.   Bunyavejchewin, Sarayudh   Burslem, David F. R. P.   Cansler, C. Alina   Cao, Ke   Cao, Min   Cardenas, Dairon   Chang, Li-Wan   Chao, Kuo-Jung   Chao, Wei-Chun   Chiang, Jyh-Min   Chu, Chengjin   Chuyong, George B.   Clay, Keith   Condit, Richard   Cordell, Susan   Dattaraja, Handanakere S.   Duque, Alvaro   Ewango, Corneille E. N.   Fischer, Gunter A.   Fletcher, Christine   Freund, James A.   Giardina, Christian   Germain, Sara J.   Gilbert, Gregory S.   Hao, Zhanqing   Hart, Terese   Hau, Billy C. H.   He, Fangliang   Hector, Andrew   Howe, Robert W.   Hsieh, Chang-Fu   Hu, Yue-Hua   Hubbell, Stephen P.   Inman-Narahari, Faith M.   Itoh, Akira   Janik, David   Kassim, Abdul Rahman   Kenfack, David   Korte, Lisa   Kral, Kamil   Larson, Andrew J.   Li, YiDe   Lin, Yiching   Liu, Shirong   Lum, Shawn   Ma, Keping   Makana, Jean-Remy   Malhi, Yadvinder   McMahon, Sean M.   McShea, William J.   Memiaghe, Herve R.   Mi, Xiangcheng   Morecroft, Michael   Musili, Paul M.   Myers, Jonathan A.   Novotny, Vojtech   de Oliveira, Alexandre   Ong, Perry   Orwig, David A.   Ostertag, Rebecca   Parker, Geoffrey G.   Patankar, Rajit   Phillips, Richard P.   Reynolds, Glen   Sack, Lawren   Song, Guo-Zhang M.   Su, Sheng-Hsin   Sukumar, Raman   Sun, I-Fang   Suresh, Hebbalalu S.   Swanson, Mark E.   Tan, Sylvester   Thomas, Duncan W.   Thompson, Jill   Uriarte, Maria   Valencia, Renato   Vicentini, Alberto   Vrska, Tomas   Wang, Xugao   Weiblen, George D.   Wolf, Amy   Wu, Shu-Hui   Xu, Han   Yamakura, Takuo   Yap, Sandra   Zimmerman, Jess K.  

    Aim: To examine the contribution of large-diameter trees to biomass, stand structure, and species richness across forest biomes. Location: Global. Time period: Early 21st century. Major taxa studied: Woody plants. Methods: We examined the contribution of large trees to forest density, richness and biomass using a global network of 48 large (from 2 to 60 ha) forest plots representing 5,601,473 stems across 9,298 species and 210 plant families. This contribution was assessed using three metrics: the largest 1% of trees >=3D 1 cm diameter at breast height (DBH), all trees >=3D 60 cm DBH, and those rank-ordered largest trees that cumulatively comprise 50% of forest biomass. Results: Averaged across these 48 forest plots, the largest 1% of trees >=3D 1 cm DBH comprised 50% of aboveground live biomass, with hectare-scale standard deviation of 26%. Trees >=3D 60 cm DBH comprised 41% of aboveground live tree biomass. The size of the largest trees correlated with total forest biomass (r(2) 5.62, p < .001). Large-diameter trees in high biomass forests represented far fewer species relative to overall forest richness (r(2) =3D 5.45, p < .001). Forests with more diverse large-diameter tree communities were comprised of smaller trees (r(2) =3D 5.33, p < .001). Lower large-diameter richness was associated with large-diameter trees being individuals of more common species (r(2) =3D5.17, p=3D5.002). The concentration of biomass in the largest 1% of trees declined with increasing absolute latitude (r(2) =3D 5.46, p < .001), as did forest density (r(2) =3D 5.31, p < .001). Forest structural complexity increased with increasing absolute latitude (r(2) =3D 5.26, p < .001). Main conclusions: Because large-diameter trees constitute roughly half of the mature forest biomass worldwide, their dynamics and sensitivities to environmental change represent potentially large controls on global forest carbon cycling. We recommend managing forests for conservation of existing large-diameter trees or those that can soon reach large diameters as a simple way to conserve and potentially enhance ecosystem services.
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  • A regional assessment of white-tailed deer effects on plant invasion

    Averill, Kristine M.   Mortensen, David A.   Smithwick, Erica A. H.   Kalisz, Susan   McShea, William J.   Bourg, Norman A.   Parker, John D.   Royo, Alejandro A.   Abrams, Marc D.   Apsley, David K.   Blossey, Bernd   Boucher, Douglas H.   Caraher, Kai L.   DiTommaso, Antonio   Johnson, Sarah E.   Masson, Robert   Nuzzo, Victoria A.  

    Herbivores can profoundly influence plant species assembly, including plant invasion, and resulting community composition. Population increases of native herbivores, e.g. white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), combined with burgeoning plant invasions raise concerns for native plant diversity and forest regeneration. While individual researchers typically test for the impact of deer on plant invasion at a few sites, the overarching influence of deer on plant invasion across regional scales is unclear. We tested the effects of deer on the abundance and diversity of introduced and native herbaceous and woody plants across 23 white-tailed deer research sites distributed across the east-central and north-eastern USA and representing a wide range of deer densities and invasive plant abundance and identity. Deer access/exclusion or deer population density did not affect introduced plant richness or community-level abundance. Native and total plant species richness, abundance (cover and stem density) and Shannon diversity were lower in deer-access vs. deer-exclusion plots. Among deer-access plots, native species richness, native and total cover, and Shannon diversity (cover) declined as deer density increased. Deer access increased the proportion of introduced species cover (but not of species richness or stem density). As deer density increased, the proportion of introduced species richness, cover and stem density all increased. Because absolute abundance of introduced plants was unaffected by deer, the increase in proportion of introduced plant abundance is likely an indirect effect of deer reducing native cover. Indicator species analysis revealed that deer access favoured three introduced plant species, including Alliaria petiolata and Microstegium vimineum, as well as four native plant species. In contrast, deer exclusion favoured three introduced plant species, including Lonicera japonica and Rosa multiflora, and 15 native plant species. Overall, native deer reduced community diversity, lowering native plant richness and abundance, and benefited certain invasive plants, suggesting pervasive impacts of this keystone herbivore on plant community composition and ecosystem services in native forests across broad swathes of the eastern USA.
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  • Effects of grassland management on overwintering bird communities

    Johnson, Amy E. M.   Sillett, T. Scott   Luther, David   Herrmann, Valentine   Akre, Thomas A.   McShea, William J.  

    Birds that depend on grassland and successional-scrub vegetation communities are experiencing a greater decline than any other avian assemblage in North America. Habitat loss and degradation on breeding and wintering grounds are among the leading causes of these declines. We used public and private lands in northern Virginia, USA, to explore benefits of grassland management and associated field structure on supporting overwintering bird species from 2013 to 2016. Specifically, we used non-metric multidimensional scaling and multispecies occupancy models to compare species richness and habitat associations of grassland-obligate and successional-scrub species during winter in fields comprised of native warm-season grasses (WSG) or non-native cool-season grasses (CSG) that were managed at different times of the year. Results demonstrated positive correlations of grassland-obligate species with decreased vegetation structure and a higher percentage of grass cover, whereas successional-scrub species positively correlated with increased vegetation structure and height and increased percentages of woody stems, forb cover, and bare ground. Fields of WSG supported higher estimated total and target species richness compared to fields of CSG. Estimated species richness was also influenced by management timing, with fields managed during the previous winter or left unmanaged exhibiting higher estimated richness than fields managed in summer or fall. Warm-season grass fields managed in the previous winter or left unmanaged had higher estimated species richness than any other treatment group. This study identifies important winter habitat associations (e.g., vegetation height and field openness) with species abundance and richness and can be used to make inferences about optimal management practices for overwintering avian species in eastern grasslands of North America. (c) 2019 The Authors. Journal of Wildlife Management Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of The Wildlife Society.
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  • Born-digital biodiversity data: Millions and billions

    Kays, Roland   McShea, William J.   Wikelski, Martin  

    Given the dramatic pace of change of our planet, we need rapid collection of environmental data to document how species are coping and to evaluate the impact of our conservation interventions. To address this need, new classes of "born digital" biodiversity records are now being collected and curated many orders of magnitude faster than traditional data. In addition to the millions of citizen science observations of species that have been accumulating over the last decade, the last few years have seen a surge of sensor data, with eMammal's camera trap archive passing 1 million photo-vouchered specimens and Movebank's animal tracking database recently passing 1.5 billion animal locations. Data from digital sensors have other advantages over visual citizen science observation in that the level of survey effort is intrinsically documented and they can preserve digital vouchers that can be used to verify species identity. These novel digital specimens are leading spatial ecology into the era of Big Data and will require a big tent of collaborating organizations to make these databases sustainable and durable. We urge institutions to recognize the future of born-digital records and invest in proper curation and standards so we can make the most of these records to inform management, inspire conservation action and tell natural history stories about life on the planet.
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  • Does hunting or hiking affect wildlife communities in protected areas?

    Kays, Roland   Parsons, Arielle W.   Baker, Megan C.   Kalies, Elizabeth L.   Forrester, Tavis   Costello, Robert   Rota, Christopher T.   Millspaugh, Joshua J.   McShea, William J.  

    Managed public wild areas have dual mandates to protect biodiversity and provide recreational opportunities for people. These goals could be at odds if recreation, ranging from hiking to legal hunting, disrupts wildlife enough to alter their space use or community structure. We evaluated the effect of managed hunting and recreation on 12 terrestrial wildlife species by employing a large citizen science camera trapping survey at 1947 sites stratified across different levels of human activities in 32 protected forests in the eastern USA. Habitat covariates, especially the amount of large continuous forest and local housing density, were more important than recreation for affecting the distribution of most species. The four most hunted species (white-tailed deer, raccoons, eastern grey and fox squirrels) were commonly detected throughout the region, but relatively less so at hunted sites. Recreation was most important for affecting the distribution of coyotes, which used huntedareas more compared with unhunted control areas, and did not avoid areas used by hikers. Most species did not avoid human-made trails, and many predators positively selected them. Bears and bobcats were more likely to avoid people in hunted areas than unhunted preserves, suggesting that they perceive the risk of humans differently depending on local hunting regulations. However, this effect was not found for the most heavily hunted species, suggesting that human hunters are not broadly creating fear' effects to the wildlife community as would be expected for apex predators.Synthesis and applications. Although we found that hiking and managed hunting have measureable effects on the distribution of some species, these were relatively minor in comparison with the importance of habitat covariates associated with land use and habitat fragmentation. These patterns of wildlife distribution suggest that the present practices for regulating recreation in the region are sustainable and in balance with the goal of protecting wildlife populations and may be facilitated by decades of animal habituation to humans. The citizen science monitoring approach we developed could offer a long-term monitoring protocol for protected areas, which would help managers to detect where and when the balance between recreation and wildlife has tipped.
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  • Creating advocates for mammal conservation through citizen science

    Forrester, Tavis D.   Baker, Megan   Costello, Robert   Kays, Roland   Parsons, Arielle W.   McShea, William J.  

    Citizen science initiatives have shown promise to provide informal education about nature and conservation and simultaneously gather scientific data at large scales. eMammal is a platform for citizen science projects that recruits volunteers to place camera traps that collect data in the form of wildlife photographs. Our project offered informal education on wildlife ecology and conservation to volunteers through training materials, feedback during the project, and a natural history blog. We tested whether our education efforts and volunteer activities affected their project specific skills, wildlife knowledge, conservation attitudes, and what kind of information they shared with their social network. Volunteers accurately (>90%) identified 15 of 20 wildlife species captured in the photos and reduced the rejection rate of camera placements over time. Our surveys showed that volunteer's attitudes toward conservation were high before joining the project and did not change after participating. However, volunteer knowledge of wildlife was higher after working with eMammal. Volunteers also became advocates for mammal conservation by sharing their new knowledge. Roughly half of our volunteers reported actively discussing some type of information related to wildlife both before (50%) and after (54%) the project. However, after volunteering they were 84% more likely to discuss local mammals or local mammal conservation. The likelihood of discussing local mammals was positively influenced by the number of predator photos captured by volunteers, showing that the type of experience can influence how information is spread through a volunteer's social network. Citizen science can connect people to the natural world while simultaneously providing reliable data for conservation. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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  • A multispecies occupancy model for two or more interacting species

    Rota, Christopher T.   Ferreira, Marco A. R.   Kays, Roland W.   Forrester, Tavis D.   Kalies, Elizabeth L.   McShea, William J.   Parsons, Arielle W.   Millspaugh, Joshua J.  

    1. Species occurrence is influenced by environmental conditions and the presence of other species. Current approaches for multispecies occupancy modelling are practically limited to two interacting species and often require the assumption of asymmetric interactions. We propose amultispecies occupancymodel that can accommodate two ormore interacting species. 2. We generalize the single-species occupancy model to two or more interacting species by assuming the latent occupancy state is a multivariate Bernoulli random variable. We propose modelling the probability of each potential latent occupancy state with both a multinomial logit and a multinomial probit model and present details of aGibbs sampler for the latter. 3. As an example, we model co-occurrence probabilities of bobcat (Lynx rufus), coyote (Canis latrans), grey fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) as a function of human disturbance variables throughout 6 Mid-Atlantic states in the eastern United States. We found evidence for pairwise interactions among most species, and the probability of some pairs of species occupying the same site varied along environmental gradients; for example, occupancy probabilities of coyote and grey fox were independent at sites with little human disturbance, but these two species were more likely to occur together at sites with high human disturbance. 4. Ecological communities are composed of multiple interacting species. Our proposed method improves our ability to draw inference from such communities by permitting modelling of detection/non-detection data from an arbitrary number of species, without assuming asymmetric interactions. Additionally, our proposed method permits modelling the probability two or more species occur together as a function of environmental variables. These advancements represent an important improvement in our ability to draw community-level inference from multiple interacting species that are subject to imperfect detection.
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  • Do occupancy or detection rates from camera traps reflect deer density?

    Forrester, Tavis   McShea, William J.   Baker-Whatton, Megan C.   Millspaugh, Joshua J.   Kays, Roland  

    Camera trapping is a powerful tool for studying mammal populations over large spatial scales. Density estimation using camera-trap data is a commonly desired outcome, but most approaches only work for species that can be individually recognized, and researchers studying most mammals are typically constrained to measures of site occupancy or detection rate. These 2 metrics are often used as measures of relative abundance and presumed to be related directly to animal density. To test this relationship, we estimated density, occupancy, and detection rate of male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) using camera-trap data collected from 1,199 cameras across 20 study sites. Detection rate and density exhibited stronger positive linear correlation (r(2) =3D 0.80) than occupancy and density (r(2) =3D 0.27). When hunted and unhunted paired areas were compared, detection rate and density showed the same trend between paired sites 62.5% of the time compared to 87.5% for occupancy and density. In particular, agreement between estimates was lowest for pairs of sites that had the largest differences in surrounding housing density. Although it is clear occupancy and detection rate contain some information about density, models suggested different ecological relationships associated with the metrics. Using occupancy or detection rate as proxies for density may be particularly problematic when comparing between areas where animals might to move or behave differently, such as urban-wild interfaces. In such cases, alternate methods of density approximation are recommended.
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  • Volunteer-run cameras as distributed sensors for macrosystem mammal research

    McShea, William J.   Forrester, Tavis   Costello, Robert   He, Zhihai   Kays, Roland  

    Variation in the abundance of animals affects a broad range of ecosystem processes. However, patterns of abundance for large mammals, and the effects of human disturbances on them are not well understood because we lack data at the appropriate scales. We created eMammal to effectively camera-trap at landscape scale. Camera traps detect animals with infrared sensors that trigger the camera to take a photo, a sequence of photos, or a video clip. Through photography, camera traps create records of wildlife from known locations and dates, and can be set in arrays to quantify animal distribution across a landscape. This allows linkage to other distributed networks of ecological data. Through the eMammal program, we demonstrate that volunteer-based camera trapping can meet landscape scale spatial data needs, while also engaging the public in nature and science. We assert that camera surveys can be effectively scaled to a macrosystem level through citizen science, but only after solving challenges of data and volunteer management. We present study design and technology solutions for landscape scale camera trapping to effectively recruit, train and retain volunteers while providing efficient data workflows and quality control. Our initial work with > 400 volunteers across six contiguous U.S. states has proven that citizen scientists can deploy these camera traps properly (94 % of volunteer deployments correct) and tag the photos accurately for most species (67-100 %). Using these tools we processed 2.6 million images over a 2 year period. The eMammal cyberinfrastructure made it possible to process far more data than any participating researcher had previously achieved. The core components include an upload application using a standard metadata format, an expert review tool to ensure data quality, and a curated data repository. Macrosystem scale monitoring of wildlife by volunteer-run camera traps can produce the data needed to address questions concerning broadly distributed mammals, and also help to raise public awareness on the science of conservation. This scale of data will allow for linkage of large mammals to ecosystem processes now measured through national programs.
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  • The Impact of Fencing on the Distribution of Przewalski's Gazelle

    Zhang, Lu   Liu, Jiazi   Mcshea, William J.   Wu, Yonglin   Wang, Dajun   Lu, Zhi  

    The endangered Przewalski's gazelle (Procapra przewalskii) experienced severe habitat loss and population decline over the last century. Illegal hunting of gazelles has been largely prevented since 2002, leaving fencing of pastures as one of the main threats to the gazelle. We conducted surveys on 810km of parallel transects on 8 gazelle-occupied sites and 4 nearby control sites where no gazelles were found, and evaluated the impact of fencing on gazelle distribution. A comparison of gazelle-occupied and control sites showed the former had a lower fence density and height, lower aboveground biomass (EVI), and a longer distance to houses. Logistic regression indicated that the presence of gazelle feces on the 1-km segment of transect was negatively affected by the density of fences and the proportion of fences with barbed wire both in spring and summer. In addition, we found a negative effect from distance to houses in spring and from EVI in summer. Gazelles did not occur more on grasslands with greater vegetation biomass, possibly because of the association of greater vegetation biomass with greater fence density and proportion of barbed wires. Although removing fences can be costly, lowering the top barbed wire, as well as constructing special gates and seasonal use of existing gates, may be beneficial for this endangered species at minimal disruption to local people. (c) 2014 The Wildlife Society.
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  • What are the roles of species distribution models in conservation planning?

    McShea, William J.  

    The development of species distribution models (SDMs) has benefited biodiversity conservation through their linkage of science to policy and decision processes. These models have evolved to provide scenarios of future landscapes based on known and projected environmental parameters. Whereas there are many caveats to their use, the persuasive power of the models for conveying the consequences of environmental change to the non-science community is immense. Scientists are obliged to convey the uncertainty of the futures depicted in their models, but also to involve the stakeholders who will shape those future conditions. Stakeholders can identify the natural resources they want to sustain, voice their priorities in environmental policy, and articulate the range of solutions they are willing to accept. The creation of alternative futures is an academic exercise if not linked to real viable decisions concerning important resources. SDMs only reach their full potential when they bring together scientists, public stakeholders and policy makers, and are used as an adaptive management tool to understand complex landscapes that are undergoing short- and long-term change.
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  • Size-related scaling of tree form and function in a mixed-age forest

    Anderson-Teixeira, Kristina J.   McGarvey, Jennifer C.   Muller-Landau, Helene C.   Park, Janice Y.   Gonzalez-Akre, Erika B.   Herrmann, Valentine   Bennett, Amy C.   So, Christopher V.   Bourg, Norman A.   Thompson, Jonathan R.   McMahon, Sean M.   McShea, William J.  

    1. Many morphological, physiological and ecological traits of trees scale with diameter, shaping the structure and function of forest ecosystems. Understanding the mechanistic basis for such scaling relationships is key to understanding forests globally and their role in Earth's changing climate system. 2. Here, we evaluate theoretical predictions for the scaling of nine variables in a mixed-age temperate deciduous forest (CTFS-ForestGEO forest dynamics plot at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Virginia, USA) and compare observed scaling parameters to those from other forests world-wide. We examine fifteen species and various environmental conditions. 3. Structural, physiological and ecological traits of trees scaled with stem diameter in a manner that was sometimes consistent with existing theoretical predictions - more commonly with those predicting a range of scaling values than a single universal scaling value. 4. Scaling relationships were variable among species, reflecting substantive ecological differences. 5. Scaling relationships varied considerably with environmental conditions. For instance, the scaling of sap flux density varied with atmospheric moisture demand, and herbivore browsing dramatically influenced stem abundance scaling. 6. Thus, stand-level, time-averaged scaling relationships (e.g., the scaling of diameter growth) are underlain by a diversity of species-level scaling relationships that can vary substantially with fluctuating environmental conditions. In order to use scaling theory to accurately characterize forest ecosystems and predict their responses to global change, it will be critical to develop a more nuanced understanding of both the forces that constrain stand-level scaling and the complexity of scaling variation across species and environmental conditions.
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  • Ecology and management of white-tailed deer in a changing world

    McShea, William J.  

    Due to chronic high densities and preferential browsing, white-tailed deer have significant impacts on woody and herbaceous plants. These impacts have ramifications for animals that share resources and across trophic levels. High deer densities result from an absence of predators or high plant productivity, often due to human habitat modifications, and from the desires of stakeholders that set deer management goals based on cultural, rather than biological, carrying capacity. Success at maintaining forest ecosystems require regulating deer below biological carrying capacity, as measured by ecological impacts. Control methods limit reproduction through modifications in habitat productivity or increase mortality through increasing predators or hunting. Hunting is the primary deer management tool and relies on active participation of citizens. Hunters are capable of reducing deer densities but struggle with creating densities sufficiently low to ensure the persistence of rare species. Alternative management models may be necessary to achieve densities sufficiently below biological carrying capacity. Regardless of the population control adopted, success should be measured by ecological benchmarks and not solely by cultural acceptance.
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  • Reconstructing a herbivore's diet using a novel rbcL DNA mini-barcode for plants

    Erickson, David L.   Reed, Elizabeth   Ramachandran, Padmini   Bourg, Norman A.   McShea, William J.   Ottesen, Andrea  

    Next Generation Sequencing and the application of metagenomic analyses can be used to answer questions about animal diet choice and study the consequences of selective foraging by herbivores. The quantification of herbivore diet choice with respect to native versus exotic plant species is particularly relevant given concerns of invasive species establishment and their effects on ecosystems. While increased abundance of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) appears to correlate with increased incidence of invasive plant species, data supporting a causal link is scarce. We used a metabarcoding approach (PCR amplicons of the plant rbcL gene) to survey the diet of white-tailed deer (fecal samples), from a forested site in Warren County, Virginia with a comprehensive plant species inventory and corresponding reference collection of plant barcode and chloroplast sequences. We sampled fecal pellet piles and extracted DNA from 12 individual deer in October 2014. These samples were compared to a reference DNA library of plant species collected within the study area. For 72% of the amplicons, we were able to assign taxonomy at the species level, which provides for the first time-sufficient taxonomic resolution to quantify the relative frequency at which native and exotic plant species are being consumed by white-tailed deer. For each of the 12 individual deer we collected three subsamples from the same fecal sample, resulting in sequencing 36 total samples. Using Qiime, we quantified the plant DNA found in all 36 samples, and found that variance within samples was less than variance between samples (F =3D 1.73, P =3D 0.004), indicating additional subsamples may not be necessary. Species level diversity ranged from 60 to 93 OTUs per individual and nearly 70% of all plant sequences recovered were from native plant species. The number of species detected did reduce significantly (range 4-12) when we excluded species whose OTU composed < 1% of each sample's total. When compared to the abundance of native and non-natives plants inventoried in the local community, our results support the observation that white-tailed deer have strong foraging preferences, but these preferences were not consistent for species in either class. Deer forage behaviour may favour some exotic species, but not all.
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  • Incorporating biotic interactions reveals potential climate tolerance of giant pandas

    Wang, Fang   Zhao, Qing   McShea, William J.   Songer, Melissa   Huang, Qiongyu   Zhang, Xiaofeng   Zhou, Lingguo  

    Many studies have overestimated species' range shifts under climate change because they treat climate as the only determinant while ignoring biotic factors. To assess the response of giant pandas to climate change, we incorporated spatial effects in modeling bamboo distributions, which in turn was incorporated to represent giant panda-bamboo biotic interactions in predicting giant panda distribution. Our study revealed potential tolerance of giant pandas to climate change. We found significant residual spatial correlation in the bamboo models. The biotic interactions with bamboo understories and anthropogenic activities had large effects on panda distribution, which lowered the relative importance of climatic variables. Our results are fundamentally different from previous studies that used climate-only and nonspatial approaches, which may have overestimated the effects of climate change on panda and lead to inappropriate conservation recommendations. We strongly advocate that giant panda conservation planning continues to focus on protecting bamboo forest and reducing anthropogenic interferences.
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  • Does one size fit all? A multispecies approach to regional landscape corridor planning

    Wang, Fang   McShea, William J.   Li, Sheng   Wang, Dajun  

    Aim: The practical value of the single-species approach to conserve biodiversity could be minimal or negligible when sympatric species are limited by factors that are not relevant to the proposed umbrella species. In this study, we quantitatively evaluated as follows: (1) habitat suitability and potential movement corridors of a single umbrella species, giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca); (2) habitat suitability of sympatric mammals; and (3) the potential effectiveness of the single-species corridor planning to preserve suitable habitat and its connectivity of other focal species. Location: Qinling Mountains, central part of China (15,000 km(2)). Methods: We collected species distribution, environmental and anthropogenic data and conducted species occupancy modelling for giant panda and six other sympatric species (i.e., takin Budorcas taxicolor, tufted deer Elaphodus cephalophus, Chinese goral Naemorhedus griseus, Reeve's muntjac Muntiacus reevesi, leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis and yellow-throated marten Martes flavigula). We then conducted circuit models to identify potential corridors for each species and evaluated the effectiveness of giant panda corridors to restore the habitat connectivity for these sympatric mammals. Results: Occupancy modelling revealed that each species had a unique set of environmental variables associated with its distribution in the Qinling Mountains. We found that giant panda and all other focal species had some degree of fragmentation to their suitable habitat that required restoring habitat connectivity. Among the eight potential giant panda corridors, conservation efforts to reduce anthropogenic impacts would significantly improve the effectiveness of six corridors, while the other two corridors would require altering the vegetation. Five proposed giant panda corridors had remarkable overlap with corridors proposed for other species. We suggest two giant panda corridors as a priority due to their potential to maximize the benefits to both giant panda and a broader suite of mammals. Main conclusions: Corridor planning in this region of China will likely continue using the single-species policy, but our results highlight that not all potential giant panda corridors have equal effectiveness for other wildlife species. When offered multiple alternative actions, conservation planners can prioritize corridor development based on a multispecies perspective without loss of connectivity for the priority species. This approach has strong implications to the conservation of wildlife communities in China, and elsewhere, where conservation plans developed for a single-species garner most available funding and institutional support.
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