Conservation and Evolution of Wildlife in the Context of Climate Change and Human Population Growth

A special issue of Biology (ISSN 2079-7737). This special issue belongs to the section "Zoology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2023) | Viewed by 20861

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Key Laboratory of Southwest China Wildlife Resources Conservation (Ministry of Education), China West Normal University, Nanchong 637009, China
Interests: anurans; life history; brain size; ecological adaptation; genetic diversity
School of Resources and Environmental Engineering, Anhui University, Hefei 230601, China
Interests: animal ecology; animal ethology; evolutionary biology; animal genomics
School of Ecology and Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
Interests: amphibians; conservation; extinction risk; brain size; ecological adaptation
Department of Ecology, College of Life Sciences, Henan Normal University, Xinxiang 453007, China
Interests: pollination ecology; evolutionary ecology; plant reproduction; plant-pollinator interaction

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Guest Editor
Department of Ecology, College of Life Sciences, Henan Normal University, Xinxiang 453007, China
Interests: anurans; life history; ecological adaptation, evolutionary ecology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past several centuries, climate change and human population growth have become two main biological problems that influence biodiversity around the world. As part of the world’s ecosystems, wildlife provides balance and stability to nature’s processes. The biodiversity loss of wild animals and plants is increasing, which has become an indisputable fact.

This Special Issue aims to improve our knowledge on and deepen our understanding of the responses of wild animals and plants to environmental changes caused by human population growth and climate change (including local temperature change), documenting shifts in behavior, physiology, ecology and distribution. In this way, we expect to provide basic data and theoretical bases for the development of species conservation policies. In addition, we also expect to understand how wild animals and plants will adapt to the above ecological problems.

This Special Issue will include reviews and research articles focusing on the topic “Conservation and Evolution of Wildlife in the Context of Climate Change and Human Population Growth”. Please send an abstract before submission to ensure that your work fits within this Special Issue's scope.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Wen Bo Liao
Dr. Wei Chen
Dr. Ying Jiang
Dr. Chan Zhang
Dr. Lixia Zhang
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • climate changes
  • local temperature
  • adaptation
  • evolution
  • animals
  • plants

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

15 pages, 5749 KiB  
Article
An Evaluation of Suitable Habitats for Amur Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) in Northeastern China Based on the Random Forest Model
by Chunyu Gao, Yang Hong, Shiquan Sun, Ning Zhang, Xinxin Liu, Zheyu Wang, Shaochun Zhou and Minghai Zhang
Biology 2023, 12(11), 1444; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology12111444 - 17 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1340
Abstract
Amur tigers are at the top of the food chain and play an important role in maintaining the health of forest ecosystems. Scientific and detailed assessment of the habitat quality of Amur tigers in China is the key to maintaining the forest ecosystem [...] Read more.
Amur tigers are at the top of the food chain and play an important role in maintaining the health of forest ecosystems. Scientific and detailed assessment of the habitat quality of Amur tigers in China is the key to maintaining the forest ecosystem and also addressing the urgent need to protect and restore the wild population of Amur tigers in China. This study used the random forest method to predict the potential habitat of Amur tigers in Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces using animal occurrence sites and a variety of environmental variables. Random forests are a combination of tree predictors such that each tree depends on the values of a random vector sampled independently and with the same distribution for all trees in the forest. The generalization error for forests converges to a limit as the number of trees in the forest becomes large. The generalization error of a forest of tree classifiers depends on the strength of the individual trees in the forest and the correlation between them. The results showed that the AUC value of the test set was 0.955. The true skill statistic (TSS) value is 0.5924, indicating that the model had good prediction accuracy. Using the optimal threshold determined by the Youden index as the cutoff value, we found that the suitable habitat for Amur tigers in the field was approximately 107,600 km2, accounting for 16.3% of the total study areas. It was mainly distributed in the Sino-Russian border areas in the south of the Laoyeling Mountains at the junction of Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, the Sino-Russian border areas of Hulin–Raohe in the eastern part of the Wanda Mountains, and the Lesser Khingan Mountain forest region. The habitat suitability of the Greater Khingan Mountain and the plain areas connecting Harbin and Changchun was relatively low. Prey potential richness was the most critical factor driving the distribution of Amur tigers. Compared with their prey, the potential habitats for Amur tigers in Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces were small in total areas, sporadically distributed, and had low continuity and a lack of connectivity between patches. This indicates that some factors may restrict the diffusion of the Amur tiger, whereas the diffusion of ungulates is less restricted. The Amur tigers in this area face a serious threat of habitat fragmentation, suggesting that habitat protection, restoration, and ecological corridor construction should be strengthened to increase population dispersal and exchange. We provide a reference for future population conservation, habitat restoration, construction of ecological migration corridors, and population exchange of Amur tigers. Full article
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11 pages, 747 KiB  
Article
Life-History and Ecological Correlates of Egg and Clutch Mass Variation in Sympatric Bird Species at High Altitude
by Yuxin Liu, Xiaolong Du, Guopan Li, Yingbao Liu and Shaobin Li
Biology 2023, 12(10), 1303; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology12101303 - 02 Oct 2023
Viewed by 983
Abstract
The variation in egg and clutch mass in sympatric species at high altitudes is poorly understood, and the potential causes of variation are rarely investigated. This study aimed to describe the interspecific variation in avian egg and clutch mass among 22 sympatric bird [...] Read more.
The variation in egg and clutch mass in sympatric species at high altitudes is poorly understood, and the potential causes of variation are rarely investigated. This study aimed to describe the interspecific variation in avian egg and clutch mass among 22 sympatric bird species at an altitude of 3430 m. Our objective was to reduce potential confounding effects of biotic/abiotic factors and investigated hypotheses concerning allometry, clutch size, parental care, nest predation, and lifespan as possible correlates and explanations for the observed variation. Our findings indicated that both egg and clutch mass evolve with body mass across species. We found that egg mass variation was not explained by clutch size when controlling for allometric effects, which contrasts the “egg mass vs. clutch size trade-off” hypothesis. Additionally, we found that clutch mass was positively associated with parental care (reflected by development period) but negatively associated with predation rate. By substituting egg mass and clutch size into the models, we found that clutch size was significantly correlated with parental care, predation rate, and lifespan, while egg mass was only significantly associated with development period. Overall, these findings support life-history theories suggesting that reduced clutch size or mass is associated with a higher risk of predation, reduced parental care, but longer adult lifespan. Interestingly, our results indicate that clutch size has a greater influence on these factors compared to egg mass. This could be attributed to the fact that smaller clutch sizes result in a more notable decrease in energetic allocation, as they require a reduced effort in terms of offspring production, incubation, and feeding, as opposed to solely reducing egg size. These findings contribute to the growing evidence that life-history and ecological traits correlate with egg and clutch mass variation in sympatric species. However, further research is needed to explore the potential evolutionary causes underlying these patterns. Full article
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22 pages, 5929 KiB  
Article
Shifts in the Distribution Range and Niche Dynamics of the Globally Threatened Western Tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus) Due to Climate Change and Human Population Pressure
by Muhammad Azhar Jameel, Muhammad Sajid Nadeem, Shiekh Marifatul Haq, Iqra Mubeen, Arifa Shabbir, Shahzad Aslam, Riyaz Ahmad, Abdel-Rhman Z. Gaafar, Bander M. A. Al-Munqedhi and Rainer W. Bussmann
Biology 2023, 12(7), 1015; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology12071015 - 17 Jul 2023
Viewed by 13833
Abstract
The impact of a changing climate, particularly global warming, often harms the distribution of pheasants, particularly those with limited endemic ranges. To effectively create plans of action aimed at conserving species facing threats such as the Western Tragopan, (Tragopan melanocephalus; Gray, 1829; [...] Read more.
The impact of a changing climate, particularly global warming, often harms the distribution of pheasants, particularly those with limited endemic ranges. To effectively create plans of action aimed at conserving species facing threats such as the Western Tragopan, (Tragopan melanocephalus; Gray, 1829; Galliformes, found in the western Himalayas), it is crucial to understand how future distributions may be affected by anticipated climate change. This study utilized MaxEnt modeling to assess how suitable the habitat of the targeted species is likely to be under different climate scenarios. While similar studies have been conducted regionally, there has been no research on this particular endemic animal species found in the western Himalayas throughout the entire distribution range. The study utilized a total of 200 occurrence points; 19 bioclimatic, four anthropogenic, three topographic, and a vegetation variable were also used. To determine the most fitting model, species distribution modeling (SDM) was employed, and the MaxEnt calibration and optimization techniques were utilized. Data for projected climate scenarios of the 2050s and 2070s were obtained from SSPs 245 and SSPs 585. Among all the variables analyzed; aspect, precipitation of coldest quarter, mean diurnal range, enhanced vegetation index, precipitation of driest month, temperature seasonality, annual precipitation, human footprint, precipitation of driest quarter, and temperature annual range were recognized as the most influential drivers, in that order. The predicted scenarios had high accuracy values (AUC-ROC > 0.9). Based on the feedback provided by the inhabitants, it was observed that the livability of the selected species could potentially rise (between 3.7 to 13%) in all projected scenarios of climate change, because this species is relocating towards the northern regions of the elevation gradient, which is farther from the residential areas, and their habitats are shrinking. The suitable habitats of the Tragopan melanocephalus in the Himalayan region will move significantly by 725 m upwards, because of predicted climate change. However, the fact that the species is considered extinct in most areas and only found in small patches suggests that further research is required to avert a further population decline and delineate the reasons leading to the regional extinction of the species. The results of this study can serve as a foundation for devising conservation strategies for Tragopan melanocephalus under the changing climate and provide a framework for subsequent surveillance efforts aimed at protecting the species. Full article
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17 pages, 6860 KiB  
Article
Climate Change and Human Activities, the Significant Dynamic Drivers of Himalayan Goral Distribution (Naemorhedus goral)
by Shiekh Marifatul Haq, Muhammad Waheed, Riyaz Ahmad, Rainer W. Bussmann, Fahim Arshad, Arshad Mahmood Khan, Ryan Casini, Abed Alataway, Ahmed Z. Dewidar and Hosam O. Elansary
Biology 2023, 12(4), 610; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology12040610 - 18 Apr 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2169
Abstract
The distribution of large ungulates is more often negatively impacted by the changing climate, especially global warming and species with limited distributional zones. While developing conservation action plans for the threatened species such as the Himalayan goral (Naemorhedus goral Hardwicke 1825; a [...] Read more.
The distribution of large ungulates is more often negatively impacted by the changing climate, especially global warming and species with limited distributional zones. While developing conservation action plans for the threatened species such as the Himalayan goral (Naemorhedus goral Hardwicke 1825; a mountain goat that mostly inhabits rocky cliffs), it is imperative to comprehend how future distributions might vary based on predicted climate change. In this work, MaxEnt modeling was employed to assess the habitat suitability of the target species under varying climate scenarios. Such studies have provided highly useful information but to date no such research work has been conducted that considers this endemic animal species of the Himalayas. A total of 81 species presence points, 19 bioclimatic and 3 topographic variables were employed in the species distribution modeling (SDM), and MaxEnt calibration and optimization were performed to select the best candidate model. For predicted climate scenarios, the future data is drawn from SSPs 245 and SSPs 585 of the 2050s and 2070s. Out of total 20 variables, annual precipitation, elevation, precipitation of driest month, slope aspect, minimum temperature of coldest month, slope, precipitation of warmest quarter, and temperature annual range (in order) were detected as the most influential drivers. A high accuracy value (AUC-ROC > 0.9) was observed for all the predicted scenarios. The habitat suitability of the targeted species might expand (about 3.7 to 13%) under all the future climate change scenarios. The same is evident according to local residents as species which are locally considered extinct in most of the area, might be shifting northwards along the elevation gradient away from human settlements. This study recommends additional research is conducted to prevent potential population collapses, and to identify other possible causes of local extinction events. Our findings will aid in formulating conservation plans for the Himalayan goral in a changing climate and serve as a basis for future monitoring of the species. Full article
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27 pages, 6118 KiB  
Article
Vernacular Taxonomy, Cultural and Ethnopharmacological Applications of Avian and Mammalian Species in the Vicinity of Ayubia National Park, Himalayan Region
by Sayda Maria Bashir, Muhammad Altaf, Tanveer Hussain, Muhammad Umair, Muhammad Majeed, Wali Muhammad Mangrio, Arshad Mahmood Khan, Allah Bakhsh Gulshan, M. Haroon Hamed, Sana Ashraf, Muhammad Shoaib Amjad, Rainer W. Bussmann, Arshad Mehmood Abbasi, Ryan Casini, Abed Alataway, Ahmed Z. Dewidar, Mohamed Al-Yafrsi, Mahmed H. Amin and Hosam O. Elansary
Biology 2023, 12(4), 609; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology12040609 - 17 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1414
Abstract
Numerous investigations on plant ethnomedicinal applications have been conducted; however, knowledge about the medicinal use of wild animals is still limited. This present study is the second on the medicinal and cultural meaning of avian and mammalian species used by the population in [...] Read more.
Numerous investigations on plant ethnomedicinal applications have been conducted; however, knowledge about the medicinal use of wild animals is still limited. This present study is the second on the medicinal and cultural meaning of avian and mammalian species used by the population in the surrounding area of the Ayubia National Park, KPK, Pakistan. Interviews and meetings were compiled from the participants (N = 182) of the study area. The relative frequency of citation, fidelity level, relative popularity level, and rank order priority indices were applied to analyze the information. Overall, 137 species of wild avian and mammalian species were documented. Of these, 18 avian and 14 mammalian species were utilized to treat different diseases. The present research showed noteworthy ethno-ornithological and ethno-mammalogical knowledge of local people and their connection with fauna, which might be useful in the sustainable utilization of the biological diversity of the Ayubia National Park, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Furthermore, in vivo and/or in vitro examination of the pharmacological activities of species with the highest fidelity level (FL%) as well as frequency of mention (FM) might be important for investigations on faunal-based new drugs. Full article
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