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Tropical Conservation Science
June 2016 | Vol. 9 | Issue 2 | pages 565 - 930

Strategies for mitigating forest arson and elephant conflict in Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia
Catherine Marie-Claire Oelrichs, David J. Lloyd and Les Christidis
In Indonesia, forest arson is a form of rebellion used by poor rural villagers struggling to deal with National Park laws blocking access rights to land, which was previously used for hunting and grazing. Official responses can be brutal, perpetuating the cycle of conflict and further revenge burning of the park. In Way Kambas National Park, on the large island of Sumatra, our study revealed multiple causes for conflict, with villager’s greatest fear being wild elephants, leaving the park to forage in their farms. Homes are destroyed, crops destroyed and people and elephants may be injured or killed. We learn that villagers want to work on conservation projects, which provide both fire protection for the park and elephant protection for the village.

Patterns of species diversity are not consistent between shifting cultivation in Bawangling Nature Reserves and selective logging in Diaoluoshan Nature Reserves, Hainan Island, China
Deng Lin, Yong Jiang, Runguo Zang, Xu Wang, Wenxing Long, Jin Huang, Yong Kang, Xixi Wang, and Zhixu Xie
We established 17 plots (each 0.25 hm2) in young, middle-aged and old-growth forests (i.e. three recovery stages) in Bawangling and Diaoluoshan on Hainan Island, China, after shifting cultivation and selective logging had taken place. Changes in the species diversity of each plot (i.e. the overall community) and within the vertical communities were assessed across the three recovery stages, after each plot was divided into four vertical communities. We found that changes in species diversity and abundance between communities of each recovery stage were different after shifting cultivation and selective logging had taken place, either overall or within the vertical communities. Additionally, we found that dissimilarity in species composition and abundance between young-aged and old-growth forests, and middle-aged and old-growth forests were more than 0.77, but that they did not differ after selective logging had occurred, suggesting that changes in species turnover is unpredictable after shifting cultivation, but predictable after selective logging.

Butterfly conservation within cities: a landscape scale approach integrating natural habitats and abandoned fields in central Mexico
María de las Nieves Barranco-León, Florencio Luna-Castellanos, Carlos H. Vergara and Ernesto I. Badano
Growing urbanization is endangering animal populations and urgent actions are required to preserve local fauna within expanding cities. Urban reserves composed of a mixture of natural habitats and abandoned fields could help to reach this aim. This would be especially valid if these reserves harbor specialized organisms that depend on natural habitats. We focused on this issue and provide evidence indicating that an urban reserve composed by relics of oak forests and abandoned fields contains more butterfly diversity than reserves composed by forest remnants only. We suggest that this kind of design for urban protected areas could help to preserve part of the regional biodiversity within cities that are experiencing accelerated urbanization growth.

How diverse are epiphyte assemblages in plantations and secondary forests in tropical lowlands?
Helena Julia Regina Einzmann and Gerhard Zotz
Tropical rainforests harbor a great variety of plants of which a large proportion grows on trees without directly harming them. These so called epiphytes are an important forest component. Destruction of tropical forests deprives epiphytes of their natural habitat. In the remaining landscape potential habitat is fragmented and its value as refuge for epiphytes is barely studied. We studied epiphyte assemblages in teak, pine and oil palm plantations, secondary forest patches and on isolated pasture trees in the lowlands of the western Pacific coast of Panama. In regions receiving more annual rainfall we found more epiphyte species and individuals. However, timber and oil palm plantations seemed to have limited value as refuge for epiphytes, whereas secondary forest patches and especially the pasture trees harbored species rich assemblages. This gives reason to hope that at least some part of epiphyte diversity may survive in fragmented landscape.

Plastic responses mediated by identity recognition in below-ground competition in Cycas micronesica K.D. Hill
Thomas E. Marler, Nirmala Dongol, and Gil N. Cruz
The roots of many plant species are able to distinguish the identity of roots of adjacent plants, and we have demonstrated this skill for Cycas micronesica. This ability to recognize if a root is a self root, a root of a close relative, or a root of a non-relative enables the plant to increase or decrease root growth responses that affect competitive ability. This below-ground behavior is important in sustaining the social life of plant communities. If two competing plants are close relatives and both plants reduce competitive behaviors, then both plants benefit from the cooperation. If two competing plants are not relatives and one of the two plants is more skilled at increasing competitive behaviors, that skill may define the structure of the plant community.

Coastal zone habitat-use by birds in Qatar: Insights from a rapid assessment method during spring migration
Stamatis Zogaris and Athanassios Kallimanis
Surprisingly little is known about Qatar's coastal wetland habitats and their importance to birdlife. Visiting scientists applied a rapid survey method at Fuwairit lagoon in northern Qatar to reveal ecological relations among birds and six different surveyed habitat types. The five-day observational study tallied 53 bird species during spring migration; biodiversity patterns were analyzed based on the each bird species’ feeding ecology and habitat use. The results highlight the outstanding importance of mangroves and intertidal mudflats, which hosted the highest bird numbers and most specialized species. This research is one of the few studies that provide a quantitative appraisal of how birds utilize coastal zone wetland oases in the Western Arabian/Persian Gulf during their long-distance migrations. Although Fuwairit beach is known as a sea-turtle sanctuary, the scientists propose its 150 ha wetland and its surrounding landscape be considered for inclusion within a new protected area.

Out on a limb: arboreal camera traps as an emerging methodology for inventorying elusive rainforest mammals
Andrew Whitworth, Laura Dominie Braunholtz, Ruthmery Pillco Huarcaya, Ross MacLeod and Christopher Beirne
Here, we demonstrate that motion-triggered camera traps placed within tree canopies can be used to inventory arboreal mammals in one of the world’s diverse conservation areas, Manu Biosphere Reserve, Peru. Whilst camera traps have been widely used to survey terrestrial mammals, it was previously unknown whether they could be used to effectively inventory canopy biodiversity. We compare the mammal inventories produced by arboreal camera trapping with those produced by traditional ground-based methodologies (transect surveys and recording incidental encounters). We show that arboreal camera trapping can be performed at comparable cost, and can produce comparable results, to traditional techniques. Crucially, the method is particularly effective for surveying secretive nocturnal species, which we currently know very little about, and hunted species which show human avoidance behaviour. The method will be an important tool for the study of charismatic and threatened arboreal species which without further research could quietly disappear from the world’s forests.

Applicability of the ‘Recommendations for Sustainable Land Use’ method for Brazilian tropical soils
Stella Cristiani Gonçalves Matoso, Kaynara Delaix Zaqueo and Silvestre Lopes da Nóbrega
The ‘Recommendation for Sustainable Land Use’ is a new method for determining the agricultural suitability of a farm. This is an important strategy for provide the conservation of environmental resources. The application of the current methods determining the agricultural suitability is a complex, difficult, and prolonged task, involving interdisciplinary knowledge and a vast amount of data. The ‘Recommendation for Sustainable Land Use’ method is more easy and objective. Thus it can be applied in areas that lack large-scale soil characterizations. The present article tested the application of this method for Plinthosols and Planosols, which are important soils in tropical regions, particularly in the Amazon region. They have a relevant relationship with the conservation of water and the biota of the ecosystem. We concluded that, with adjustments, the ‘Recommendation for Sustainable Land Use’ method is an important tool for the conservation these soils and this system requires validation for other soils.

Temporal variation in native bee diversity in the tropical sub-deciduous forest of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Virginia Meléndez-Ramírez, Ricardo Ayala and Hugo Delfín-González
In this study the monthly change in the diversity of native bees was analyzed in the forest of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, in 2007. Hurricane Dean traversed the study area in August causing some changes in the environment and in the native bee community. In total 2335 individuals belonging to 102 species from four families were collected, Apidae had more species (46%) and individuals (71%). The abundance, diversity and composition of species through the months varied and about 50% of the species were only one or two months, August species were more similar to those of the dry months. After the hurricane 40% of species were lost although nine new arrived. Solitary, parasocial and social species, mostly those nesting in preexisting cavities and wood declined. Two months later of the hurricane, the rapid recovery of vegetation possibly played an important role for the persistence of the bee community. Inescapably further investigations about disturbances caused by natural phenomena are required to plan biodiversity conservation.

Evaluating landscape suitability for golden-headed lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomelas) and Wied’s black tufted-ear marmosets (Callithrix kuhlii) in the Bahian Atlantic Forest
Cylita Guy, Camila R. Cassano, Leticia Cazarre, Kristel M. De Vleeschouwer, Maria Cecília Martins Kierulff, Leonardo G. Neves, Leonardo C. Oliveira, Bruno Marchena R. Tardio, Sara L. Zeigler and Becky E. Raboy

Many species in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil continue to loose their habitat to deforestation. Two of these species are the Endangered golden-headed lion tamarin and the Near Threatened Wied’s black tufted-ear marmoset, species that often travel together and form mixed-species groups. Because of the continued loss of forest in their shared distribution, it is important to identify regions of good habitat for protection. We used information about where these species occur in the landscape with corresponding climate data and forest cover to build models that identify suitable habitat. We measured the amount of suitable habitat in general throughout the landscape and more specifically in existing protected areas. Our maps indicated that suitable habitat was limited and mostly unprotected for both species. However, most existing protected areas did contain large amounts of suitable habitat. Our results can be used to inform future conservation planning.

Conservation value, history and legal status of non-native white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts
Jon R. Keehner, Luis Cruz-Martinez and Darryn Knobel
A small white-tailed deer population in St. Kitts was introduced to the island over 80 years ago. The deer are not native to the island and in most cases, animals which are not native to an area receive far different treatment than native animals. However, in some cases, where animals may not be harming other wildlife, habitats or damaging crops, people may choose to protect them solely for aesthetic or cultural reasons. In 1987, the people of St. Kitts passed a law protecting the deer, but management with limited funding has been difficult. Recently, the United Nations provided funding to protect biodiversity in St. Kitts. Very little is known about the deer or the conditions that are needed to help them survive. The first step to conserving the deer is to find out where they live, how many there are left and determining how much the people value them.

Mitigating human-tiger conflict: an assessment of compensation payments and tiger removals in Chitwan National Park, Nepal
Rajendra Dhungana, Tommaso Savini, Jhamak Bahadur Karki and Sara Bumrungsri
The conservation of tigers has become challenging due to human-tiger conflict arising from human casualties and livestock depredations by tigers. We investigated the conflict mitigation measures (compensation payments for tiger attacks, and the removal of tigers involved in conflicts) adopted in Chitwan National Park and its peripheral area for 2007-2014. A total compensation of US$ 93,618 ($11,702.3 per year) was paid for tiger attacks. Overall, the payments only covered 80.7% of medical expenses of injured persons, and 61.7% of the monetary value of killed livestock. Yet, there was an increasing trend in total annual payments from $2,000 in 2007 to $21,536 in 2014. The conflict resulted in removal of 15 tigers from the wild, of which the most (12) failed to survive, indicating greater impacts of conflict on tiger populations. We suggest revision of compensation payment scheme, promotion of an insurance scheme, better management of live-removed tigers, and community awareness.

Behavior and ecology of the white-footed tamarin (Saguinus leucopus) in a fragmented landscape of Colombia: small bodied primates and seed dispersal in Neotropical forests
A. Gabriela de Luna, Yesenia García-Morera and Andrés Link
White footed tamarins are an endangered primate species, endemic to one of the most biodiverse and threatened regions of Colombia. Tamarins feed on fruits, invertebrates, exudates and less frequently on small vertebrates and flowers. This study found that white footed tamarins feeds on at least 95 plant species in a fragmented habitat, and disperse seeds of different sizes up to 500 meters. Tamarins changed their movement patterns according to forest fruit productivity. In months of scarcity their visits to intervened habitats, such as pastures, were more frequent, and they also used more area including more area from neighboring groups territories. These movements imply a higher risk of predation or aggression, but they also entail that seeds from the forest get to intervened habitats. In fragmented ecosystems the role of these small primates in forest maintenance and regeneration seems to be important, mainly when other large vertebrates have already disappeared.

What Is the Potential of the Combined Use of Artificial Perches and Solarization to Restore Communities with Invasive Plant?
Aline Luiza Tomazi and Tânia Tarabini Castellani
The artificial perches are low cost structures (made with bamboo stems), used in forest restoration to attract dispersers bird seed. However, many of these seeds dispersed under artificial perches can not be established due to competition with other invasive plants. Thus, we tested the management of invasive species with solarization technique (ground cover and invasive species with black plastic layers), followed by installation of artificial perches for restoration of an abandoned pasture, originally occupied by the Atlantic Forest in southern of Brazil. The solarization eliminated invasive species, but the effects were not long lasting. With the removal of the plastic layers, invasive species sprang quickly from the areas where it was not applied to solarization. Thus, the large amount of seeds dispersed under artificial perches could not be established. The use of artificial perches combined with solarization appears to be limited.

Impacts of small-scale gold-mining on birds and anurans near the Tambopata Natural Reserve, Peru
Nora Alvarez-Berríos, Marconi Campos-Cerqueira, Andrés Hernández-Serna, J. Amanda Delgado C., Francisco Román-Dañobeytia and T. Mitchell Aide
Gold mining is threatening tropical ecosystems, but few studies have analyzed its impacts on the terrestrial fauna. In this study, we conducted a rapid assessment on the impact of a gold mine on the avian and frogs communities in the buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve in Peru. We placed audio recorders near an active mine, in an abandoned mine, and in an adjacent forest to compare noise pollution and the richness of vocalizing bird and frog species in these sites. The mining operations are an important source of noise pollution, with noise from machinery and motorcycles emanating from the active mine area during the day and night. Habitat degradation and noise pollution did not affect species richness, but there was a dramatic effect on species composition. In particular, the number of birds that are sensitive to disturbance was substantially lower in the active mine when compared to the forest.

Floristic composition and edge-induced homogenization in tree communities in the fragmented Atlantic Rainforest of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Oliver Thier and Jens Wesenberg
The Brazilian Atlantic forest is one of the most threatened tropical forest in the world. Only a small part of its original extend is still forested and what is left is highly fragmented. Our results showed that up to about 100 m from the edge of the forest fragments more than the half of the trees belongs to pioneer species. The tree communities in these edge zones are less diverse and more similar to each other than those in the interior of the fragments. As the mayor part of the forest fragments in the study region is edge-dominated, this leads to an impoverishment and homogenization of the tree flora at landscape level. Thus, drastic simplifications of functional diversity and ecological interactions are to be expected. Therefore, efficient conservation strategies should include the creation of buffer zones between forest edges and the surrounding matrix.

Community participation and harvesting of non-timber forest products in benefit sharing pilot-scheme in Bach Ma National Park, Central Vietnam
Ha Thi Ngan Huynh, Lisa Lobry de Bruyn, Julian Prior and Paul Kristiansen
We examined community involvement in a pilot scheme in Special Use Forests in the buffer zone of Bach Ma National Park, Central Vietnam. This pilot scheme involved local villagers in the regulated access and management of harvestable amounts of non-timber forest products like rattan, honey, snails and mushrooms. Most households agreed there were benefits with having regulated access to harvesting products from the forest like rattan and mushroom. These products provided important sources of income to these rural households, even though their primary occupation was farming. Despite the improvements in income for the villagers they were also harvesting more from the forest than they originally agreed to, and needed to be more involved in the determination of harvesting levels for particular products. More participatory approaches such as mapping harvesting zones in community meetings with park management could assist in determining the appropriate levels of harvesting, followed by closer monitoring of them by forest protection teams.

Using Google Earth to improve management of threatened limestone karst ecosystems in Peninsular Malaysia
Thor-Seng Liew, Liz Price and Gopalasamy Reuben Clements
It is becoming necessary to prioritize which species and ecosystems to protect on this planet because resources for biodiversity conservation are limited. For ecosystems such as limestone hills, this process of prioritization is vital as public support for conserving its unique biodiversity is very low, while interest to quarry them for cement is extremely high. However, deciding on which limestone hills to protect and which ones to sacrifice has been hampered by the lack of even the most basic information - where can they be found? For Peninsular Malaysia, we gathered published information on the localities of 445 hills and created a GIS map that can be accessed using Google Earth. Using this map, we could then conduct a conservation prioritization exercise for limestone hills based on their size and the degree to which they are isolated and disturbed.

Scaling-up the use of chili fences for reducing human-elephant conflict across landscapes in Tanzania
Alex Chang’a, Nick Desouza, John Muya, Julius Keyyu, Angela Mwakatobe, Lucas Malugu, Humphrey Peter Ndossi, Jonathan Konuche, Raphael Omondi, Aloyce Mpinge, Nathan Hahn, Sue Palminteri and David Olson
Elephants’ love of corn, tomatos, and watermelons often gets them into trouble with angry farmers who injure or poison them or urge them to be shot as ‘problem animals’. The human-elephant conflict (HEC) arising from elephants raiding crops is growing as the wildlands that still have elephants, especially around national parks, reserves, and wildlife corridors, are increasingly being settled. Sisal string fences soaked in engine oil mixed with ground hot chili can dissuade elephants from entering fenced fields. A nine-year project in Tanzania has shown that a combination of (1) farmer-managed chili fences, (2) supported by Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), and (3) introductions of these strategies to new farming communities through farmer-to-farmer exchanges can help farmers protect their crops and the elephants they live with across landscapes. Hundreds of chili fences have been constructed with none broken by elephants―strong proof for often skeptical farmers.

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