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We compared the demography of the palm Euterpe edulis in a large forest fragment that is protected from palm harvesting with that in three smaller fragments where harvesting has occurred. Palms were censused from 2005 to 2007 in nine 30 m × 30 m plots in each forest fragment. Each individual was assigned to one of five stage classes: seedling, infant, juvenile, immature, and reproductive. Using summary matrices constructed for the fragments and a matrix for the population in the protected area, we compared the asymptotic growth rate (lgr;) in the protected and non-protected areas. We then quantified the contribution of each lower-level vital rate to the observed differences in lgr; using a fixed-design LTRE. Euterpe edulis populations in the protected area are projected to shrink at rates of 4.54 to 12.6% per year, and the populations of the fragments are projected to grow at rates of 3.44 to 9.43% per year. Our LTRE analysis revealed that the generally higher lgr; for the summary matrix based on the populations in fragments was due primarily to greater survival of immatures and reproductives. However, seedling growth contributed negatively to lgr; in the fragments. We also found that great numbers of immatures and reproductives were killed by the capuchin monkey (Cebus nigritus), which apparently also contributes to the differences between the protected area and the fragments. This study lends support to the idea that small fragments in a landscape actively managed and modified by humans can be very important in maintaining viable plant populations.
Papua New Guinea is the third largest remaining area of tropical forest after the Amazon and Congo basins. However, the growing intensity of large-scale slash-and-burn agriculture and logging call for conservation research to assess how local people's traditional land-use practices result in conservation of local biodiversity, of which a species-rich and diverse component is the avian community. With this in mind, I conducted a preliminary survey of birds in small-scale secondary plots and in adjacent primary forest in Wanang Conservation Area in Papua New Guinea. I used mist-netting, point counts, and transect walks to compare the bird communities of 7-year-old secondary growth, and neighboring primary forest. The preliminary survey lasted 10 days and was conducted during the dry season (July) of 2008. I found no significant differences in summed bird abundances between forest types. However, species richness was higher in primary forest (98 species) than in secondary (78 species). The response of individual feeding guilds was also variable. Two habitats differed mainly in presence of canopy frugivores, which were more abundant (more than 80%) in primary than in secondary forests. A large difference (70%) was found also in understory and mid-story insectivores. Species occurring mainly in secondary forest were Hooded Butcherbird (Cracticus cassicus), Brown Oriole (Oriolus szalayi), and Helmeted Friarbird (Philemon buceroides). Examples of primary forest species were Red-bellied Pitta (Pitta erythrogaster), Little Kingfisher (Alcedo pusilla), and Zoe's Imperial Pigeon (Ducula zoeae). My results suggest that changes in bird assemblages occur even in relatively undisturbed landscapes in response to small-scale shifting agriculture that is crucial for local people's livelihood; it also seems that traditional land use by local people favors the persistence of a rich bird species pool in the forested and traditionally managed landscape.
Habitat fragmentation imposes profound impacts on the tropical forest microclimate, but the microclimatic configuration of isolated forest patches and its implications for biodiversity persistence and habitat management are not clear. In this study we assessed a set of 10 aged (> 80 years) fragments (3.0 – 3,500 ha in size) of the Atlantic forest to examine to what extent fragment microclimatic attributes are correlated with distance to the nearest edge as frequently proposed in the literature. We used 129 sampling points and took a total of 516 measures of air temperature and humidity, vapor pressure deficit and light incidence to characterize the microclimate of forest fragments in terms of their relative deviation from the surrounding matrix. Fragments as a whole presented strong internal variation and strongly differed from the microclimate exhibited by the open matrix of sugar-cane fields. Distance to nearest edge, percentage of forest cover around the measurement point, percentage of edge-affected area, and geographical orientation of the nearest edge all proved to have minor effects on the microclimate of forest fragments. Conversely, we identified percentage of forest cover and fragment area as the most significant explanatory variables driving their microclimatic configuration: as forest cover increases at landscape scale, forest microclimate deviates less from the open matrix (a forest-mediated matrix buffering). Our results suggest that microclimatic conditions are spatially complex, as they do not correlate with the distance to the nearest forest edges; rather, they are driven by a forest-mediated buffering of the surrounding matrix that minimizes heat and humidity exchanges between forest and non-forest habitats, thus shaping the microclimatic signature of isolated forest fragments.
Non-invasive techniques such as hair snares have been used in conjunction with molecular methods to study species that occur at low densities and have elusive behavior, as an alternative to invasive methods such as trapping and hunting. This study was designed to evaluate the use of hair snares as a non-invasive method for the collection of felid and other mammalian samples in the tropical rainforest of the Selva Lacandona, Chiapas, Mexico. Hair snares were placed along transects in Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve for four months a year in 2005 and 2006. Hairs were selected based on morphological characteristics and identification of species was done based on a diagnostic portion of mtDNA cytochrome b region. A total of 389 hits on 888 hair-snare checks were recorded, representing a capture rate of 43%. The species identified included margay (Leopardus wiedii, n=2), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis, n=1), jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi, n=1), gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus, n=1), tayra (Eira barbara, n=3), coati (Nasua narica, n=1), four-eyed opossum (Metachirus nudicaudatus, n=6), and common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis, n=16). The present study is the first to report the successful collection of hair samples from jaguarundi and margay in the wild and hair samples from ocelots in tropical areas. The deficit of information on carnivore populations in tropical rainforests is due mainly to the lack of appropriate methodologies that are reliable and cost-effective. This study supports the assumption that hair-snaring is viable and cost-effective in ecosystems such as the Selva Lacandona, particularly when monitoring carnivore populations that have wide geographic distributions and low densities.
We assessed water-body use by elephants through monitoring elephant signs around them. Elephant footprints and dung piles were recorded at 25 water bodies fortnightly for one year. Elephants preferred perennial water bodies and avoided those with temporary human dwellings. Human activities did not significantly affect elephant use of water bodies, suggesting low incidence of activities and behavioral adaptation to them by elephants. Elephant signs at perennial water bodies increased in the dry season. The monitoring technique was able to detect differences in elephant densities in two areas and establish the presence of herds even at low densities. We conclude that outside protected areas, large perennial water bodies represent a preferred resource for elephants, and that assessing elephant signs around water bodies is a useful technique for monitoring elephant presence for management and research purposes.
Premontane forest in northern Argentina and southern Bolivia represents a conservation priority due to its biological values, role of connectivity among different forest types, and precious timber resources. Premontane forest distribution has fluctuated in correspondence to habitat use and changes in climatic conditions. The objective of this study was to determine current and future distributions of premontane forest and of six distinctive tree species in response to climate change, and to relate distribution changes to the current system of protected areas. Using the Maxent program, we developed species distribution models at the community and species levels. We used future climate scenarios available at WorldClim, in its original version and calibrated with local data. Future models determined a retraction of premontane forest of about 40% and a general tendency of this environment to migrate toward higher altitudes. Future distribution of individual species showed a similar response although concentrated at some particular areas, suggesting a shift in tree species composition of premontane forest in the future. The Yungas Biosphere Reserve represents a stable protection area for premontane forest.
Effective corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming mainstream strategic business planning for the oil palm industry. At its core, CSR aims to align business values with the needs and expectations of a broader range of stakeholders, beyond just investors and shareholders. In oil palm, this entails taking responsibility for social and environmental impacts, often beyond what is required by law, to build social and environmental capital in pursuit of a local “license to operate.” Third-party certification standards are a popular tool for guiding and monitoring the impact of CSR programs and have taken root in oil palm through the multi-stakeholder Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Eight years running, the RSPO has made substantial inroads to improve the environmental and social performance of Southeast Asia's largest and fastest growing plantation industry. Yet serious challenges remain for RSPO to mainstream environmentally sustainable and socially responsible practices throughout the supply chain. Based on experiences working with multi-stakeholder groups to implement RSPO, including industry, government, local communities, and NGOs, we highlight areas where change is required not only among growers but also the broader RSPO membership to build on recent achievements and accelerate progress. Major challenges include (1) improving corporate governance of plantation companies to translate boardroom CSR decisions into conservation actions on the ground; (2) pushing RSPO member processors, traders, manufacturers, and retailers, who profit from palm oil, to share the cost burden of implementing sustainability, (3) strengthening NGO partnerships with companies to provide the social and environmental expertise companies require but still lack, and (4) creating a more supportive regulatory structure in producer countries to implement sustainability. Challenges to RSPO progress can be overcome, but will require coordinated action to ensure that the scale and pace of change is sufficient to deliver long-term benefits for the environment before it is too late.
Afin de réduire le conflit entre la loi nationale et les coutumes et normes sociales (appelés dina), l'État Malagasy a progressivement décentralisé la gouvernance des ressources naturelles au niveau local. Les règles concernant l'utilisation des ressources dans les transferts de gestion et les aires protégées cogérés sont définies dans un dina, qui pourrait être reconnu par la loi. Dans cet article nous décrivons et analysons la mise en place et les procédures d'application d'un dina créé pour régir l'utilisation des ressources au sein de Velondriake, une aire marine protégée communautaire dans le Sud-Ouest de Madagascar. Le dina était élaboré par les membres de la communauté et homologué par le Tribunal. Les procédures d'application sont hiérarchiques, commençant au niveau du village mais avec recours aux niveaux supérieures en cas d'échec d'application. Nous discutons plusieurs problèmes associés avec la mise en place et l'application du dina, ainsi que des solutions proposées, incluant : Comment surmonter la cohésion sociale (le fihavanana), des contradictions avec la loi, et l'application du dina contre les migrants. Nous concluons avec une revue de l'utilisation des dina ailleurs à Madagascar, et nous suggérons que les dina imposés par des agences externes, s'ils ne sont pas alignés avec les aspirations de la communauté, ne seront pas respectés. Velondriake a évité de tels problèmes à travers une approche participative où le dina était élaboré par la communauté elle-même.