About  |  Issues  |  Current issue  |  Submissions  |   Instructions for reviewers  |   Subscriptions  |   Partners  |  News  |  Academic indexing  |  Contact
Tropical Conservation Science
June 2015 | Vol. 8 | Issue 2 | pages 284 - 597

Research Articles
    Forest structure, plant diversity and local endemism in a highly varied New Guinea landscape
    Eric Katovai, Dawnie D. Katovai, Will Edwards and William F. Laurance
    Highly varied landscapes in the tropical world potentially hold some of the richest and most unique biodiversity on Earth. Although naturally afforded some protection from human activities by steep or difficult terrain, these landscapes are under growing threat from industrial activities such as logging and infrastructure expansion. We examine such a landscape in Papua New Guinea, using rapid plant-survey techniques. We measured species diversity, forest structure, and local edaphic features across four adjacent forest types. Our results reveal that diversity and structure of forest plant communities vary strongly with the physical aspects of the landscape. Furthermore, local endemism was highly associated with landscape features such as slope and elevation. Due to the highly varied landscapes across New Guinea, we propose that the complex biodiversity patterns exhibited in our study are prevalent throughout similar landscapes on the island. It is therefore vital to survey these unchartered landscapes, to prevent loss of unknown biodiversity in the face of increasing habitat loss. Rapid plant surveys can provide vital information on the spatial vegetation patterns of uncharted landscapes in New Guinea.

    The use of commercial fruits as attraction agents may increase the seed dispersal by bats to degraded areas in Southern Mexico
    Preciado-Benítez, O., Gómez y Gómez, B., Navarrete-Gutiérrez, D. A. and Horváth. A.
    Bats play an important role in ecosystem maintenance and biodiversity. In the tropical Americas, most bat species feed on fruits and carry their seeds in their digestive tract as they fly to places where they can germinate. This seed dispersal pattern is an ancient mutualistic relationship between plants and fruit-eating mammals in tropical forest. Fruit-eating bats detect their food by its odor. However, perturbed ecosystems lack fruit-bearing shrubs and trees to attract seed disperser fauna like bats. Therefore, we placed ripe bananas and mangos in areas affected by forest fires in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas, in order to allure bats to increase the probability of seeds to arrive and germinated in perturbed areas. Our results suggests that Sowell’s Short-tailed bats, Toltec Fruit-eating bats and the Western Long-tongued bats are attracted by these fruits, and the seeds found in their feces are able to germinate. When these plants grows they can generate ideal environments for the establishment of other plant species and encourage the recovery of a tree cover. Our study proposes an easy technique of wildlife management to promote tropical forest restoration.

    Bushmeat Consumption in the Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem, Tanzania
    Kiffner, C., Peters, L., Stroming, A. and Kioko, J.
    Illegal hunting of wildlife is common in tropical Africa and is mainly driven by demand for bushmeat. Yet, the actual magnitude of bushmeat consumption is often unknown. In addition, the drivers of bushmeat consumption are poorly understood. Drawing upon data derived from 394 household interviews conducted in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem, we found that bushmeat consumption was admitted by at least every third interviewee. Admitted bushmeat consumption did not differ substantially between 2013 and 2014, even though a major law-enforcement operation was implemented in between the two surveys. Interestingly, every fourth interviewed Maasai admitted to bushmeat consumption. This is surprising because Maasai traditionally do not consume bushmeat. Indeed, we found that Maasai who adopted other non-traditional lifestyles were more likely to admit bushmeat consumption. However, neither the distance to major bushmeat markets nor household-level variables (availability of alternative animal protein, relative wealth) were related to bushmeat consumption. These results suggest that bushmeat consumption is widespread in the human population and may be further increased by changes in traditional behaviors. As bushmeat consumption seems to be mainly driven by the low cost relative to meat from domestic animals, we suggest measures to increase the cost of bushmeat relative to alternative protein sources.

    Seasonal diversity of butterflies and its relationship with woody-plant resources availability in an Ecuadorian tropical dry forest
    Castro, A. and Espinosa, C. I.
    Butterflies are considered good indicators for quantifying the effects of global changes of the environment on biodiversity because they respond quickly to them. However, in some habitats as tropical dry forests, there is a lack of knowledge about the relationships between seasonal variation of butterflies and the food (flowers, fruit, foliage) provided by plants. This information allows defining efficient biodiversity indicators. These are urgently needed in tropical dry forests, because they are among the most threatened habitats of the world. According to our results, just sampling two months in the rainy season give us complete information about the diversity of butterflies. Interestingly, during the dry season most species disappear. These findings implicate a significant reduction of economic and temporal costs needed to assess the diversity of butterflies in the study area. On the other hand, we observed relationships between monthly variations of ripe fruits and leaf of trees with most butterfly species. In this way, tree ripe fruits and foliage turned out to be suitable candidates to monitor whether some factors (i.e. global climate change) can mismatch the seasonal relation between butterflies and plants on the long-term. The results of this research are consistent with those found in the few studies carried out in neotropical dry forests.

    Driver knowledge and attitudes on animal vehicle collisions in Northern Tanzania
    Kioko, J., Kiffner, C., Phillips, P., Patterson-Abrolat, C., Collinson, W. and Katers, S.
    As Africa develops, the fate of wildlife remains at limbo. Development of infrastructure has gained momentum in most rural areas where much of the wildlife is found. How to integrate development of roads into national, regional and local socio-economic development agenda still remains a challenge in Africa. One of the hindrances is the lack of information on the effects of roads on wildlife in many parts of Africa. Our study was one of the first attempts to understand how drivers relate with wildlife on the roads in Africa. We interviewed drivers and monitored wildlife on a major wildlife area in northern Tanzania. We found stark difference between mortalities of wildlife killed by vehicles, and those reported by the drivers using the same roads. Driver said they would stop for bigger animals such as elephants, wildebeest and zebra to cross the road as hitting them was likely to result to an accident. Drivers would however not take much precaution not to hit smaller animals like birds, frogs and snakes. Considering that 65% of the drivers had not attended any animal vehicle collision education program, we strongly believe that driver education on wildlife care should be an important component of an effective road mitigation strategy.

Review Article
    Achieving sustainable conservation in Madagascar: the case of the newly established Ibity Mountain Protected Area
    Alvarado, S. T., Buisson, E., Carrière, S. M., Rabarison, H., Rajeriarison, C., Andrianjafy, M., Randriatsivery, F. M., Rasoafaranaivo, M. H., Raharimampionona, J., Lowry II, P. P., and Birkinshaw, C.
    Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and one of the places in the world with the greatest diversity of plants and animals. However, during the last fifty years, the ecosystems have been severely degraded causing fragmentation. These degradations have increased due to human activities that contributes to the environmental, economic and social impoverishment of the island. For this reason, the creation of protected areas that include natural ecosystems is fundamental for the preservation of natural and cultural biodiversity. This article shows the result of an interdisciplinary work with the collaboration of various institutions (universities, NGOs, etc.) and local communities, for the creation of a new protected area in Ibity Mountain in Madagascar. The main threats to the diversity were detected, and a management plan was established based on the participation of local communities to ensure sustainable protection. This work shows the main results of the diagnostic studies in Ibity Mountain, and the process carried out following an ecological and socio-geographic analysis for the establishment of a new protected area. This research is relevant for local actors, but also supports territorial development policies in Madagascar and elsewhere.

Research Articles
    High resilience of herpetofaunal communities in a human-modified tropical dry forest landscape in western Mexico
    Suazo-Ortuño, I. Alvarado-Díaz, J., Mendoza, E., López-Toledo, L., Lara-Uribe, N., Márquez-Camargo, C., Paz-Gutiérrez, J. G. and Rangel-Orozco, J. D.
    Because of the growing human population, vast expanses of tropical forests are been converted to agricultural lands. After several years of cultivation, these lands are frequently abandoned and secondary forests develop. Currently, more than five million square kilometers are covered by these types of forest. A current significant concern is whether secondary forests will be able to preserve a significant portion of the diversity of plants and animals living in the original tropical forests, especially of threatened animal groups, such as amphibians and reptiles. Results of a recent study carried out on the secondary forests of Chamela, Jalisco, Mexico, a region originally covered by dry tropical forest, indicated that, contrary to what has been reported for rain tropical forests, a large portion of the diversity of amphibians and reptiles present in the original forest were able to live and thrive in secondary forests. These results are important since they demonstrate that species respond differentially to the conversion of original forests to secondary forests depending on habitat types (dry vs. rain tropical forests), and also represent an opportunity to re-evaluate the role of dry tropical secondary forests as reservoirs of biodiversity.

    Population and trophy quality trends of three gregarious herbivores in an insulated semi-arid savannah ecosystem (Cawston Ranch, Zimbabwe), 1997-2014
    Victor. K. Muposhi, Edson Gandiwa, Stanley M. Makuza and Paul Bartels
    Long term monitoring of wildlife population and trophy size trends is needed to ensure that trophy hunting is sustainable. In this study, we explored the influence of trophy hunting on population size and trophy quality of impala, greater kudu and sable antelopes from 1997 to 2014 in Cawston Ranch, Zimbabwe. The population size trends of the three species did not show any significant decline over time. Hunting pressure had no significant effect on the population estimates of the three species for the period 1997-2014. Trophy size of the three species declined over time, 2004-2014, (impala (-1.3 %), greater kudu (-3.9 %), sable (-2.6 %)) possibly due to quality of diet available for these species at Cawston Ranch. As species occurring in a fenced small closed area, these species may be losing their genetic variability over time due to inbreeding. Regardless this decline, trophy size for greater kudu and sable were within the minimum score range of the Safari Club International. We recommend further research on genetic variability and inbreeding levels of hunted species in small isolated parks in Africa to inform management of trophy hunting as a sustainable conservation tool.

    The new toad in town: Distribution of the Asian toad, Duttaphrynus melanostictus, in the Toamasina area of eastern Madagascar
    Maya Moore, Jean Francois and Devin Edmonds
    The island of Madagascar is home to a tremendous diversity of animals found nowhere else in the world. This includes nearly 100 kinds of lemur, over half of all known chameleon species, and the spider with the world’s longest web. But the island’s unique biodiversity is now threatened by a new invader – the Asian toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus). Through interviews with residents of the city of Toamasina on the eastern coast of Madagascar, where the toad was initially reported in March 2014, it seems that the poisonous invader arrived no later than 2010 and has now spread over an area greater than 100 km2. Surveys indicate a center of distribution to be focalized around the Ambatovy nickel and cobalt refinery along National Route 2, suggesting this area as the likely location where the toad first became established. The toad has a voracious appetite and poisonous skin secretions and, if its spread isn’t stopped, it is expected to disrupt food webs, causing a decline or complete loss of native Madagascar prey and predator species. Next steps involve testing more sensitive survey methodology, improving biosecurity to avoid further transporting the toad, and immediately employing eradication tools and techniques.

    Use of wild foods during the rainy season by a reintroduced population of scarlet macaws (Ara macao cyanoptera) in Palenque, Mexico
    Amaya-Villarreal, A. M., Estrada, A. and Vargas-Ramírez, N.
    The reintroduction of species in their original range is a tactic used for the recovery of endangered species. Illegal trafficking and habitat destruction have caused the extinction of the scarlet macaw in several locations in Mesoamerica. In Mexico, its original distribution has been reduced by 98%. Between April 2013 and June 2014, 96 captive-bred scarlet macaw were released in the tropical rain forests of Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico. This study documents the use of wild foods and range use by the macaws for the period June to November 2014. The macaws used 31 tree species as a source of food. Seeds and fruit pulp accounted for 70% of their diet and the remaining 30% consisted of bark, stems, leaves, insect larvae, flowers and buds. Spatial analysis showed that range use was associated with the spatial dispersion of food trees and encompassed 36 hectares, but 23 more hectares were used for non-feeding activities. The dietary diversity of the reintroduced macaws approaches that of populations in the wild. The capacity of the reintroduced macaws in locating and using wild foods in the release site, a low mortality (9% to May 2015) and the occurrence of nine nesting events suggests a successful short-term adaptation to the wild by the reintroduced population.

    Red-listed tree species abundance in montane forest areas with differing levels of statutory protection in north-western Vietnam
    Thi Hoa Hong Dao and Dirk Hölscher
    Statutes, regulations, and forest restoration represent measures aimed at promoting the conservation of threatened species. We analyzed the abundance of red-listed tree species within three conservation zones with differing levels of protection in the Ta Xua Nature Reserve in north-western Vietnam, a rarely studied region within a biodiversity hotspot. The study area included: (1) the undisturbed core zone; (2) the low intensity traditional forest use buffer zone; and (3) the forest restoration zone. Red-listed tree species richness (IUCN and Vietnamese Red Lists combined) declined from the core zone, over the buffer zone to the restoration zone; a similar declining trend was found for all tree species. Most red-listed species reached their highest densities in the core zone, but one species was quite abundant in the restoration zone. For some red-listed tree species reduced abundance caused by human activities was suggested. Our data indicate that full protection ensures the more robust conservation outcomes.

    Seed dispersal of Vitex glabrata and Prunus ceylanica by Civets (Viverridae) in Pakke Tiger Reserve, north-east India: spatial patterns and post-dispersal seed fates
    Dayani Chakravarthy and Jayashree Ratnam
    Civets are considered potentially important seed dispersers in tropical forests of Asia. As many civet species are known to be largely frugivorous, defecate seeds in clumps under canopy gaps and on elevated sites like fallen tree logs, studies have suggested that their behavior results in increased dispersal success for certain plant species. But very few have studied the distribution of civet dispersed seeds around fruiting trees or the survival of these seeds post dispersal.Our study therefore explored these aspects of civet seed dispersal for two tree species Vitex glabrata, also known as smooth chaste tree and Prunus ceylanica. The study was conducted in the lower elevations of Pakke Tiger Reserve, a tropical forest reserve in north-east India with five known species of Viverrids: small Indian civet (Viverricula indica), large Indian civet (Viverra zibetha), common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), masked palm civet (Paguma larvata) and the binturong (Arctictis binturong). We found that civets, as a group, dispersed seeds within 50 meters from fruiting trees and deposited seeds onto different substrates like the forest floor, tree branches, lianas, and fallen logs. However, the seeds of the two tree species were dispersed differently. Over 90 percent of Vitex glabrata seeds were deposited onto tree branches and fallen logs while over 70% of Prunus ceylanica seeds were deposited onto the forest floor. We found that seeds deposited on logs experienced higher seed predation than seeds on the forest floor, especially in high seed densities. Further, seeds of Prunus ceylanica were significantly less likely to germinate when deposited on logs than onto the forest floor. As we find a large variation in seed dispersal patterns generated by a single disperser group for different plant species, we caution against efforts to predict seed dispersal patterns at the community scale based on seed dispersal patterns of individual species.

Short communication
    Flight initiation distance as behavioral indicator of hunting pressure: a case study of the Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster) in Xishuangbanna, SW China
    Sreekar, R., Goodale, E. and Harrison, R. D.
    When there is little hunting animals often appear to be tame, whereas in areas affected by hunting they often flee before you can see them. This suggests we can use the animal’s fear towards humans as a measure of hunting pressure. We tested this prediction using a common garden bird at studies sites across tropical SW China. We measured “fear” by assessing the flight initiation distance. This is the distance at which the bird flees from an approaching human and is easily measuring using a range finder. We found flight initiation distance was indeed correlated with hunting pressure across our sites. Hence, we suggest that flight initiation distance could be used as a cheap and standardized method for assessing hunting pressure. Importantly, flight initiation distance responds more specifically to hunting than other defaunation metrics, such as fragmentation, so may be used to assess the relative importance of different threats.

Research Articles
    Large-scale extinction of large carnivores (lion Panthera leo, cheetah Acinonyx jubatus and wild dog Lycaon pictus) in protected areas of West and Central Africa
    David Brugière, Bertrand Chardonnet and Paul Scholte
    The paper quantify the extinction of three large carnivore species: lion, cheetah and wild dog in 41 West and Central African Protected Areas (National parks and reserves) by comparing historical and current data of occurrence. Lions have gone extinct in 63% of Protected Areas and that extinction is more pronounced in West (64%) than in Central Africa (40%). Cheetahs have disappeared from 73% of Protected Areas. Wild dogs persist in only one Protected Area in West Africa and two in Central Africa (90% of site extinction). For all three species combined, the number of extinctions in Protected Areas in West Africa (85% of site extinction) is significantly higher than in Central African Protected Areas (64%). Our study shows that Protected Areas with remaining lion populations are significantly larger than those with extinct populations. The presence of mobile pastoralists may explain the extinction pattern of large predators while the human population density around Protected Areas is not a good predictor of lion extinction.

    Vegetation, floristic composition and species diversity in a tropical mountain nature reserve in southern Yunnan, SW China, with implications for conservation
    Zhu, H., Yong, C., Zhou, S., Wang, H. and Yan, L.
    A new nature reserve, the Bulong Nature Reserve, was established on a tropical mountain in southern Yunnan, adjacent to the border with Myanmar, to protect its high species diversity and particular floristic composition from the great threat of expanding rubber plantations. Complete floristic and vegetation surveys were done in the nature reserve. It has a vegetation change from a tropical seasonal rain forest at lowland to a lower montane evergreen broad-leaved forest, and a montane rain forest at a higher elevation. Its flora is tropical in nature with close affinity to the Indo-Malaysian flora, and has conspicuous changes with altitude. It was found that both the tree species diversities and the numbers of genera and families are higher in the lowlands and middle montane zones than in the lower montane. The lower diversity in the lower montane zone could reflect less precipitation and frequent fires in the historical past. The predominance of the family Fagaceae in these forests on the lower montane suggests that they could be largely secondary. The species compositions of samples within each altitudinal zone show also greater horizontal turnover in the lowlands. Conservation efforts should focus on the species-rich lowland and middle montane forests.

    Classification of vegetation types in the habitat of white-tailed deer in a location of the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve, Mexico
    Ariana Barrera-Salazar, Salvador Mandujano, Oscar A. Villarreal Espino-Barros and Daniel Jiménez-García
    The characterization, classification and evaluation of the habitat of the white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus are common objectives in many studies and are important for the management of populations and habitats of this species. Vegetation types have been the criteria by which to define different habitat units at landscape level, and tools such as multivariate analysis have a long tradition in ecological studies and wildlife management. The objective of clustering is to recognize discontinuous subsets in an environment that is sometimes discrete but normally perceived as continuous in ecology. This information can be used to determine and map habitat and vegetation types for a given species. This paper classifies the vegetation types that comprise the habitat of the white-tailed deer at a location within the Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Biosphere Reserve in Mexico. The principal vegetation types at the study site are tropical dry forest and crassicaule scrub. The TDF can be sub-classified into four spatially different clusters depending on the dominance of these species. The white-tailed deer population density varied depending on vegetation type. These results contribute to the ecological knowledge of the white-tailed deer in tropical habitats and are of value for the implementation of effective conservation and management.

    Community perceptions of wildlife conservation and tourism: A case study of communities adjacent to four protected areas in Zimbabwe
    Chiedza N. Mutanga, Sebastian Vengesayi, Edson Gandiwa and Never Muboko
    The study looked at community perceptions of wildlife conservation and tourism, and the socio-demographic factors that influence these perceptions in four protected areas and adjacent communities in Zimbabwe, i.e., Umfurudzi Park, Gonarezhou National Park, Matusadona National Park and Cawstone Ranch. A total of 938 responded to the administered questionnaires. The community in Gonarezhou had neutral perceptions of wildlife conservation, while those in Umfurudzi, Matusadona, and Cawston Ranch had positive perceptions of wildlife conservation. Overall, all four communities had negative perceptions of tourism. The relationship between socio-demographic factors and community perceptions of wildlife conservation and tourism varied across the different study communities. We concluded that the PAs in question have not fully involved the communities in PA management and that benefits from natural resources are not fairly shared among stakeholders, as explained by the different perceptions communities had on wildlife conservation and tourism. It is important for conservation agencies to nurture positive perceptions and address the possible determinants of negative perceptions by the communities, enhance community involvement and benefits from tourism, as well as consider community heterogeneity in conservation planning.

    Can supply chain initiatives reduce deforestation? A comparative analysis of four cases
    Karen S. Meijer
    Deforestation and forest degradation account for around 12-15% of global greenhouse gas emissions and are largely driven by agricultural expansion. In the absence of formal regulation, voluntary initiatives have been established to meet demands from consumers and environmental organizations. This paper examines what explains the effectiveness of such initiatives to reduce deforestation, comparing four initiatives in two countries: the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in Indonesia and the Roundtable on Responsible Soy, the Soy Moratorium and the Cattle Agreement in Brazil. The first two are certification schemes leading to certified products at a higher price. The latter two are moratoria under which processors and traders agreed to no longer purchase from companies that engage in deforestation. The moratoria benefitted from a concentration of power among the processors and traders, who faced a loss of customers and were in a position to pose restrictions on their suppliers. Certification schemes of multi-stakeholder initiatives are based on consensus and have lower requirements for reducing deforestation. For all initiatives the risk remains that a reduction in deforestation resulting from the initiative leads to an increase in deforestation by others, for other purposes, or elsewhere.

Popular summaries
Reader comments are generally moderated. If you find something inappropriate, please contact Tropical Conservation Science.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other authors or Tropical Conservation Science.

   Tropical Conservation Science is an open-access e-journal that publishes research relating to conservation of tropical forests and other tropical ecosystems.

Volume 8: Issue 2
Table of Contents

All issues
Mar 2008
Jun 2008
Sep 2008
Dec 2008

Mar 2009
Jun 2009
Sep 2009
Dec 2009

Mar 2010
Jun 2010
Sep 2010
Dec 2010

Mar 2011
Jun 2011
Sep 2011
Dec 2011

Mar 2012
Jun 2012
Sep 2012
Dec 2012

Mar 2013
Jun 2013
Aug 2013
Sep 2013
Nov 2013
Dec 2013

Mar 2014
Jun 2014
Sep 2014
Dec 2014

Mar 2015
Jun 2015
Sep 2015
Dec 2015

Mar 2016
Jun 2016

Most downloaded
All time



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

About | Privacy
Copyright mongabay.com 2008-2014