Topic Editors

Section of Zoology, Department of Animal Biology, Parasitology, Ecology, Edaphology and Agronomic Chemistry, Campus Miguel de Unamuno, University of Salamanca, 37071 Salamanca, Spain
Section of Zoology, Department of Animal Biology, Parasitology, Ecology, Edaphology and Agronomic Chemistry, Campus Miguel de Unamuno, University of Salamanca, 37071 Salamanca, Spain

Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates

Abstract submission deadline
closed (30 July 2023)
Manuscript submission deadline
closed (30 September 2023)
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Topic Information

Dear Colleagues,

Vertebrates are one of the most threatened biodiversity groups in the context of global change. Habitat destruction and fragmentation, the impact of human activities, illegal trafficking, invasive alien species, emerging diseases or climate change are some of the main drivers behind the decline in their populations. A great research effort has been made in recent decades to develop new methodologies for the study and quantification of these impacts, and to provide novel proposals to favor the conservation of this group of fauna. This Topic aims to bring together a wide range of primary research papers for vertebrate conservation around the world, offering examples from a broad spectrum of themes representing the current state of the art.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  1. novel approaches to vertebrate conservation biology;
  2. studies on the drivers of vertebrate population decline;
  3. results of conservation plans and strategies;
  4. relevant aspects of the ecology of vertebrate populations in relation to their conservation;
  5. incorporation of local perspectives in vertebrate conservation.

Prof. Dr. Miguel Lizana
Dr. Víctor Colino-Rabanal
Topic Editors

Keywords

  • vertebrates
  • conservation
  • global change
  • human-wildlife interactions
  • threat drivers
  • plans and strategies

Participating Journals

Journal Name Impact Factor CiteScore Launched Year First Decision (median) APC
Animals
animals
3.0 4.2 2011 18.1 Days CHF 2400
Birds
birds
- - 2020 20 Days CHF 1200
Diversity
diversity
2.4 3.1 2009 17.8 Days CHF 2600
Life
life
3.2 2.7 2011 17.5 Days CHF 2600

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Published Papers (32 papers)

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12 pages, 2161 KiB  
Article
Genetic Monitoring of the Captive Population of the Critically Endangered Brazilian Merganser (Mergus octosetaceus)
by Davidson P. Campos, Henry P. Granger-Neto, José E. Santos-Júnior, Renata S. O. Buzatti and Fabrício R. Santos
Birds 2024, 5(1), 190-201; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds5010013 - 13 Mar 2024
Viewed by 583
Abstract
The Brazilian Merganser (Mergus octosetaceus) is one of the rarest birds in South America, and it is a critically endangered Anatidae species with an estimated population of less than 250 adult individuals in the Brazilian Cerrado. A captive population was established [...] Read more.
The Brazilian Merganser (Mergus octosetaceus) is one of the rarest birds in South America, and it is a critically endangered Anatidae species with an estimated population of less than 250 adult individuals in the Brazilian Cerrado. A captive population was established a few years ago at Zooparque Itatiba (São Paulo state) where 46 individuals were kept, and the founding population (progenitors derived from nature) was composed of 19 of the ex situ birds, derived from the four remaining localities with wild populations in Brazil. To characterize the genetic diversity and the genealogical relationships of the captive population, it is essential to conduct appropriate ex situ management and to assist future reintroduction projects. Thus, we have identified 425 SNPs by massively parallel sequencing of ddRAD libraries that allowed us to genotype individuals of the captive population. We observed a close relatedness between 70% of the captive population and founding individuals of Jalapão and Alto Paranaiba localities, indicating the need for supplementation with individuals from other areas of Canastra and Veadeiros. Even though many captives present a high level of inbreeding, we have identified some individuals with a high genetic value (less inbred) that can be selected for the breeding program to generate individuals for a future pilot reintroduction project. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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16 pages, 3306 KiB  
Article
Updating Chimpanzee Nesting Data at Mount Assirik (Niokolo Koba National Park, Senegal): Implications for Conservation
by Yaya Hamady Ndiaye, Papa Ibnou Ndiaye, Stacy Marie Lindshield and Jill Daphne Pruetz
Animals 2024, 14(4), 553; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14040553 - 07 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1364
Abstract
The Niokolo Koba National Park (NKNP) is the largest protected area in Senegal and lies at the northern limit of the chimpanzee’s range in West Africa. Recent information on nesting behavior and factors influencing nesting behavior is available for several sites outside NKNP. [...] Read more.
The Niokolo Koba National Park (NKNP) is the largest protected area in Senegal and lies at the northern limit of the chimpanzee’s range in West Africa. Recent information on nesting behavior and factors influencing nesting behavior is available for several sites outside NKNP. However, the information available for NKNP is obsolete. Considering that the adequate management of chimpanzee populations cannot be achieved without strong scientific knowledge, it is essential to update data on chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes verus, nesting behavior in NKNP. For this reason, we surveyed their habitat in Mt. Assirik and recorded 626 chimpanzee nests. The results of the study showed that chimpanzees nest more often in closed-canopy habitats such as gallery forests. The average nest height observed in this study was 8.07 ± 0.36 m, varying between 2 and 20 m, which is well below the heights described in most sites where chimpanzees cohabit with large carnivores. Botanical surveys confirmed that chimpanzees select tree species bearing their nests. In Assirik, 12 of the 37 tree species bearing nests are the most used. The nest decay rate (or the time it takes for a nest to go from the fresh to the skeletal stage) at Assirik averaged 68.8 ± 5.8 days. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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18 pages, 5509 KiB  
Article
Getting to the Meat of It: The Effects of a Captive Diet upon the Skull Morphology of the Lion and Tiger
by David M. Cooper, Nobuyuki Yamaguchi, David W. Macdonald, Bruce D. Patterson, Galina P. Salkina, Viktor G. Yudin, Andrew J. Dugmore and Andrew C. Kitchener
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3616; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233616 - 22 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1620
Abstract
Zoo animals are crucial for conserving and potentially re-introducing species to the wild, yet it is known that the morphology of captive animals differs from that of wild animals. It is important to know how and why zoo and wild animal morphology differs [...] Read more.
Zoo animals are crucial for conserving and potentially re-introducing species to the wild, yet it is known that the morphology of captive animals differs from that of wild animals. It is important to know how and why zoo and wild animal morphology differs to better care for captive animals and enhance their survival in reintroductions, and to understand how plasticity may influence morphology, which is supposedly indicative of evolutionary relationships. Using museum collections, we took 56 morphological measurements of skulls and mandibles from 617 captive and wild lions and tigers, reflecting each species’ recent historical range. Linear morphometrics were used to identify differences in size and shape. Skull size does not differ between captive and wild lions and tigers, but skull and mandible shape does. Differences occur in regions associated with biting, indicating that diet has influenced forces acting upon the skull and mandible. The diets of captive big cats used in this study predominantly consisted of whole or partial carcasses, which closely resemble the mechanical properties of wild diets. Thus, we speculate that the additional impacts of killing, manipulating and consuming large prey in the wild have driven differentiation between captive and wild big cats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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8 pages, 2241 KiB  
Communication
The Tibetan Antelope Population Depends on Lakes on the Tibetan Plateau
by Li Zhang, Lingyan Yan, Xiaojun Kou and Zhiyun Ouyang
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3614; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233614 - 22 Nov 2023
Viewed by 703
Abstract
The influence of freshwater ecosystems on terrestrial taxa in high-altitude regions with challenging access, such as the Tibetan Plateau, remains inadequately understood. This knowledge gap is particularly significant due to the fragility of these ecosystems, characterized by low primary productivity. Ungulates, in particular, [...] Read more.
The influence of freshwater ecosystems on terrestrial taxa in high-altitude regions with challenging access, such as the Tibetan Plateau, remains inadequately understood. This knowledge gap is particularly significant due to the fragility of these ecosystems, characterized by low primary productivity. Ungulates, in particular, may exhibit high sensitivity to even minor alterations in plant availability, potentially stemming from global climate change. Consequently, the investigation of these ecosystems may offer valuable insights into addressing future challenges posed by climate change. Here, to fill this knowledge gap, we explore the relationship between lakes and Tibetan antelopes in an even more vulnerable region, the Tibetan Plateau. We found that the Tibetan antelope population was higher in areas with larger lakes, and where the terrain near the lakes was flatter. At the same time, vegetation cover and plant diversity were higher near the lake compared to areas farther away from the lake. This phenomenon can be elucidated by the fact that lakes offer Tibetan antelopes a richer food supply and reduced predation risk. Our study provides new perspectives for researchers to explore the cross-ecosystem impacts of climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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10 pages, 934 KiB  
Article
Geographical Variation in Body Size in the Asian Common Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus)
by Kunhao Zhang, Duojing Qiu, Li Zhao, Chengzhi Yan, Long Jin and Wenbo Liao
Life 2023, 13(11), 2219; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13112219 - 17 Nov 2023
Viewed by 774
Abstract
The geographic variation in life-history traits of organisms and the mechanisms underlying adaptation are interesting ideas in evolutionary biology. This study investigated age and body size of the Asian common toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) among five populations along a geographical gradient. We [...] Read more.
The geographic variation in life-history traits of organisms and the mechanisms underlying adaptation are interesting ideas in evolutionary biology. This study investigated age and body size of the Asian common toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) among five populations along a geographical gradient. We found that geographical variation in age was non-significant among populations but there was a significant and positive correlation between mean age and body size. Although the body size values at 1043 m are quite different from other sites, after controlling for age effects, there was a significant positive correlation between altitude and body size. Our findings followed the predictions of Bergmann’s rule, suggesting that the body size of D. melanostictus is potentially influenced by the low air temperatures at higher altitudes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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15 pages, 7671 KiB  
Article
Effect of Food Restriction on Food Grinding in Brandt’s Voles
by Xin Dai, Yu-Xuan Han, Qiu-Yi Shen, Hao Tang, Li-Zhi Cheng, Feng-Ping Yang, Wan-Hong Wei and Sheng-Mei Yang
Animals 2023, 13(21), 3424; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13213424 - 05 Nov 2023
Viewed by 970
Abstract
Food grinding is supposed to be influenced by multiple factors. However, how those factors affecting this behavior remain unclear. In this study, we investigated the effect of food restriction on food grinding in Brandt’s voles (Lasiopodomys brandtii), as well as the [...] Read more.
Food grinding is supposed to be influenced by multiple factors. However, how those factors affecting this behavior remain unclear. In this study, we investigated the effect of food restriction on food grinding in Brandt’s voles (Lasiopodomys brandtii), as well as the potential role of the gut microbiota in this process, through a comparison of the variations between voles with different food supplies. Food restriction reduced the relative amount of ground food to a greater extent than it lowered the relative food consumption, and altered the abundance of Staphylococcus, Aerococcus, Jeotgalicoccus, and Un--s-Clostridiaceae bacterium GM1. Fecal acetate content for the 7.5 g-food supply group was lower than that for the 15 g-food supply group. Our study indicated that food restriction could effectively inhibit food grinding. Further, Un--s-Clostridiaceae bacterium GM1 abundance, Aerococcus abundance, and acetate content were strongly related to food grinding. Variations in gut microbial abundance and short-chain fatty acid content induced by food restriction likely promote the inhibition of food grinding. These results could potentially provide guidance for reducing food waste during laboratory rodent maintenance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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13 pages, 4523 KiB  
Article
Nesting Habitat Suitability of the Kentish Plover in the Arid Lands of Xinjiang, China
by Peng Ding, Zitan Song, Yang Liu, Naerhulan Halimubieke, Tamás Székely and Lei Shi
Animals 2023, 13(21), 3369; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13213369 - 30 Oct 2023
Viewed by 869
Abstract
Understanding the main ecological factors of the nesting habitat of shorebirds is of great significance in relation to their protection and habitat management. Habitat loss and change due to a lack of water threaten the biodiversity of shorebirds, with impacts likely to be [...] Read more.
Understanding the main ecological factors of the nesting habitat of shorebirds is of great significance in relation to their protection and habitat management. Habitat loss and change due to a lack of water threaten the biodiversity of shorebirds, with impacts likely to be most pronounced in arid lands. We collected the data of 144 nesting sites and 10 ecological factors during the breeding season from April to July each year in 2019 and 2020 in nine river districts in Xinjiang. The MaxEnt model was applied to assess the suitability of nesting habitats for Kentish plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus) in the study area to examine the main factors affecting their nesting habitat. The most suitable nesting habitats are mostly distributed in plain reservoirs in the middle part of the Northern Slope of the Tianshan Mountains, Ebinur Lake and its eastern position in the southwestern Junggar Basin, near Ulungur Lake of the Ulungur river area and the southern Irtysh river area. The distance from water, normalized difference vegetation index, mean temperature of the breeding season, slope, and land use were the main factors affecting the nesting habitat selection of Kentish plovers. It was found that the proportion of suitable nesting habitat protected for the Kentish plovers in the study area was low (851.66 km2), accounting for only 11.02% of the total suitable nesting habitat area. In view of the scarcity and importance of water bodies in arid lands and the lack of protection for Kentish plovers at present, it is suggested to strengthen the conservation and management of the regional shorebirds and their habitats by regulating and optimizing the allocation of water resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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20 pages, 834 KiB  
Article
Community-Based Workshops to Involve Rural Communities in Wildlife Management Case Study: Bighorn Sheep in Baja California, Mexico
by Enrique de J. Ruiz-Mondragón, Guillermo Romero-Figueroa, Rafael Paredes-Montesinos, Luz A. Tapia-Cabazos, Luis A. Méndez-Rosas, Crystian S. Venegas-Barrera, María E. Arrellano-García, Israel Guerrero-Cárdenas and Eloy A. Lozano-Cavazos
Animals 2023, 13(20), 3171; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13203171 - 11 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1646
Abstract
The description of natural history, and information on the factors threatening conservation, the distribution area, and the status of species population are necessary for proper wildlife management. The objective of this research was to generate such information in two rural communities and to [...] Read more.
The description of natural history, and information on the factors threatening conservation, the distribution area, and the status of species population are necessary for proper wildlife management. The objective of this research was to generate such information in two rural communities and to engage residents in bighorn sheep management through a program of three workshops. The first one covered training regarding natural history and management of the species. The second one consisted in the description of the habitat of the species through a dynamic of participatory mapping. The third, include a design of a one strategy to monitor the bighorn sheep population. The workshops were attended by 37 people from the two rural communities. The results suggest the economic element was the main interest of the inhabitants regarding the bighorn sheep. Eleven risk factors were identified to the bighorn sheep in the study sites, a participatory map with relevant information for the management of the species on each community was developed, and a monitoring strategy of the bighorn sheep population was prepared. The workshop program proposed in this research is a tool that can be applied in rural communities to lay the groundwork for a long-term management project of wildlife species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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12 pages, 4944 KiB  
Article
Integrating Species Distribution Models to Estimate the Population Size of Forest Musk Deer (Moschus berezovskii) in the Central Qinling Mountains of Shaanxi
by Xinyu Gao, Shuhai Bu and Xueli Zheng
Diversity 2023, 15(10), 1071; https://doi.org/10.3390/d15101071 - 09 Oct 2023
Viewed by 788
Abstract
Understanding the population size of animals is crucial for formulating scientific management policies, especially for endangered species. The central area of the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi is a vital area for forest musk deer, but research is insufficient and estimates of its population [...] Read more.
Understanding the population size of animals is crucial for formulating scientific management policies, especially for endangered species. The central area of the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi is a vital area for forest musk deer, but research is insufficient and estimates of its population size are lacking. In this study, we constructed a species distribution model for the forest musk deer in the central Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi using topography, land-use, and bioclimatic variables alongside forest musk deer occurrence data. The Time-to-Event (TTE) model was employed to estimate the population density of forest musk deer in the selected survey area. By utilizing the suitable habitat area provided by the species distribution model, the population density in the central Qinling Mountains of Shaanxi was estimated by extrapolating from the survey area. Our estimate of the population size of forest musk deer in the central Qinling Mountains of Shaanxi is approximately 2722 ± 788. Similar population estimation methods could be more widely applied, especially in areas with limited survey resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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14 pages, 2685 KiB  
Article
Identifying Migration Routes of Wild Asian Elephants in China Based on Ecological Networks Constructed by Circuit Theory Model
by Xin Jiang, Hong-Jie Liu, Zhi-Yun Jiang and Ru-Ping Ni
Animals 2023, 13(16), 2618; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13162618 - 14 Aug 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1349
Abstract
Humans overlap with Asian elephants, resulting in frequent costly human–elephant conflicts, which disturb and even threaten local residents. In this study, we treat provincial and national nature reserves where Asian elephants still exist and other alternative habitats suitable for Asian elephants in southern [...] Read more.
Humans overlap with Asian elephants, resulting in frequent costly human–elephant conflicts, which disturb and even threaten local residents. In this study, we treat provincial and national nature reserves where Asian elephants still exist and other alternative habitats suitable for Asian elephants in southern Yunnan, China, as ecological patches. By using this approach, we can treat the terrain and surface state factors that hinder the migration of Asian elephants as a form of ecological resistance surface. We can then use a circuit theory model and remote sensing data to construct an ecological network, which allows us to identify ecological corridors and ecological pinch points. Herein, the possible migration routes of wild Asian elephants were identified. The main results are as follows: (1) In the study area, dense forests with steep slopes and high altitudes, cultivated land, and building land have greater migration resistance, while the gently undulating shrubs, bamboo forests, and grasslands far away from the city have less migration resistance. (2) There are three ecological corridor groups in the study area, mainly composed of shrub and grassland. The ecological corridors identified in this paper are the most likely migration routes of wild Asian elephants in China, and areas with higher simulated current densities reflect a higher probability of Asian elephants passing through. (3) According to the analysis, the ecological pinch points in the study area are 602 km2 in total, and woodland and grassland account for 89.2% of the total ecological pinch area. The areas where the pinch points are located have a high probability of Asian elephants passing through and a narrow space. Our findings can provide suggestions and solutions for the current conservation of wild Asian elephant species, alleviate human–elephant conflicts, promote the harmonious coexistence between humans and nature, and provide reference for biological protection and biological reserve planning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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19 pages, 3806 KiB  
Article
Nesting Ecology of European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in Urban Areas in Southeast Spain: Nest Habitat Use and Characteristics
by Jana Marco-Tresserras and Germán M. López-Iborra
Animals 2023, 13(15), 2453; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13152453 - 29 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1094
Abstract
Appropriate nesting sites are needed for the presence of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in an area, along with food availability. However, little attention has been paid to them in the literature. This study aimed at analysing, for the first time, the [...] Read more.
Appropriate nesting sites are needed for the presence of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in an area, along with food availability. However, little attention has been paid to them in the literature. This study aimed at analysing, for the first time, the environmental characteristics of nesting sites chosen by hedgehogs, their spatial distribution and the effect of sex and season on them in two types of urban parks in southeastern Spain. A total of 31 hedgehogs were equipped with GPS devices, and 130 hedgehog nests were located and described. Both sexes had a similar number of nests; however, the spatial distribution of the male nests was larger, and they changed nests more frequently than females. The environment around the nests and hosting structures used also differed between the sexes, with males using a higher variety of nesting structures available and females being more selective. The differences in topography and habitat composition of the two urban parks also affected hedgehog nesting ecology, especially in reference to artificial elements like cat feeders. Further studies of nest locations at a microhabitat level are needed to contribute to a better understanding of a hedgehog’s requirements, fostering the design of more effective conservation strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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18 pages, 983 KiB  
Article
Diet of the Dingo in Subtropical Australian Forests: Are Small, Threatened Macropods at Risk?
by Dusty McLean, Ross Goldingay and Mike Letnic
Animals 2023, 13(14), 2257; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13142257 - 10 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1641
Abstract
Carnivores fulfil important ecological roles in natural systems yet can also jeopardise the persistence of threatened species. Understanding their diet is, therefore, essential for managing populations of carnivores, as well as those of their prey. This study was designed to better understand the [...] Read more.
Carnivores fulfil important ecological roles in natural systems yet can also jeopardise the persistence of threatened species. Understanding their diet is, therefore, essential for managing populations of carnivores, as well as those of their prey. This study was designed to better understand the diet of an Australian apex predator, the dingo, and determine whether it poses a threat to at-risk small macropods in two floristically different yet geographically close reserves in subtropical Australia. Based on an analysis of 512 scats, dingo diets comprised 34 different prey taxa, of which 50% were common between reserves. Our findings add support to the paradigm that dingoes are opportunistic and generalist predators that prey primarily on abundant mammalian fauna. Their diets in the Border Ranges were dominated by possum species (frequency of occurrence (FOC) = 92.5%), while their diets in Richmond Range were characterised by a high prevalence of pademelon species (FOC = 46.9%). Medium-sized mammals were the most important dietary items in both reserves and across all seasons. The dietary frequency of medium-sized mammals was generally related to their availability (indexed by camera trapping); however, the avoidance of some species with high availability indicates that prey accessibility may also be important in dictating their dietary choices. Other prey categories were supplementary to diets and varied in importance according to seasonal changes in their availability. The diets included two threatened macropods, the red-legged pademelon and black-striped wallaby. Our availability estimates, together with earlier dietary studies spanning 30 years, suggest that the red-legged pademelon is resilient to the observed predation. The black-striped wallaby occurred in only two dingo scats collected from Richmond Range and was not detected by cameras so the threat to this species could not be determined. Two locally abundant but highly threatened species (the koala and long-nosed potoroo) were not detected in the dingoes’ diets, suggesting dingoes do not at present pose a threat to these populations. Our study highlights the importance of site-based assessments, population monitoring and including data on prey availability in dietary investigations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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10 pages, 1307 KiB  
Article
Are Urban Populations of a Gliding Mammal Vulnerable to Decline?
by Anita J. Marks and Ross L. Goldingay
Animals 2023, 13(13), 2098; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13132098 - 24 Jun 2023
Viewed by 859
Abstract
Small populations are at high risk of extinction, and they are likely to need management intervention. Successful management, however, relies on sufficient long-term demographic data in order to determine whether apparent declines are natural fluctuations or the product of threatening processes. In this [...] Read more.
Small populations are at high risk of extinction, and they are likely to need management intervention. Successful management, however, relies on sufficient long-term demographic data in order to determine whether apparent declines are natural fluctuations or the product of threatening processes. In this study, we monitored a small urban population of squirrel gliders (Petaurus norfolcensis) in Queensland, Australia, over a 16 year period. A reference population in a larger forest patch was also studied in order to investigate whether its demographic trends were similar. Using mark-recapture data to generate estimates of apparent survival and population size, we found evidence of a decline within the small population but not in the reference population over the monitoring period. We suggest that the influence of multiple factors may have led to the decline, but, ultimately, that the genetic condition of the small population may be responsible. Understanding demographic trends is an important context for management interventions of small populations, although causes of decline need to be identified for successful management. The squirrel glider provides a useful case study for small urban populations and particularly for arboreal mammals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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14 pages, 1450 KiB  
Article
Should I Stay or Should I Go? Seasonal Fluctuations of Wood Mouse Populations in Fields Surrounded by Woodlands
by Sara Savazza, Paola Bartolommei, Stefania Gasperini, Andrea Bonacchi, Emiliano Manzo and Roberto Cozzolino
Animals 2023, 13(12), 2017; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13122017 - 17 Jun 2023
Viewed by 852
Abstract
The wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus is common in woodlands and open areas of the Western Palearctic. Despite extensive research, little is known about its population ecology in fields in the Mediterranean area, where the climate involves great seasonal changes in environmental features. Here, [...] Read more.
The wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus is common in woodlands and open areas of the Western Palearctic. Despite extensive research, little is known about its population ecology in fields in the Mediterranean area, where the climate involves great seasonal changes in environmental features. Here, we investigated wood mice seasonal fluctuations in the number of captures and population structure by sampling long-fallow fields and woodlands, i.e., oak forest and conifer plantation, in a heterogeneous landscape of central Italy. Mice were live-trapped every two months for three years (23.814 trap-days). The number of captures, mice body weight, and proportion of adult, residents and breeding individuals were analyzed. Mice dynamics changed across seasons and habitats. In fields, we recorded more captures, more reproductive individuals, and fewer non-adults and resident individuals in the warmer months compared to the colder months; mice were heavier in warmer months. During the cold season, the captures and adult proportion in fields were lower than in resource-rich woodlands. Breeding and non-resident mice were more abundant in fields than in woodlands in warmer months. Overall, the seasonal demographic variations we recorded provide evidence that fields can represent a suboptimal habitat in Mediterranean heterogeneous landscapes, acting nonetheless as a source of food resources, cover, and mates for mice in spring–summer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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11 pages, 1153 KiB  
Article
Morphological Description and Live Weight Prediction from Body Measurements of Socorro Island Merino Lambs
by Paola Estefanía Castillo, Rafael Julio Macedo, Victalina Arredondo, José Luis Zepeda, Mauricio Valencia-Posadas and Carlos Urban Haubi
Animals 2023, 13(12), 1978; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13121978 - 14 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1053
Abstract
The aim of this study was to describe the morphology and estimate live weight from body measurements of Socorro Island Merino lambs. A group of Socorro Island Merino lambs was recorded from birth to year for live weight, rump width, rump length, withers [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to describe the morphology and estimate live weight from body measurements of Socorro Island Merino lambs. A group of Socorro Island Merino lambs was recorded from birth to year for live weight, rump width, rump length, withers height, body length, cannon bone perimeter, and chest girth, width, and depth. The effect of the lamb type on body measurements and live weight was analyzed using ANOVA, Pearson’s correlation analysis was performed to estimate the relationship between body measurements and live weight, multiple linear regressions were fitted to obtain prediction equations of live weight from the body measurements and finally, chest girth was used to generate prediction equations using linear and exponential models. At birth and at year, differences were observed in body measurements, especially those related to the thoracic region, with crossbred males showing the highest values. Live weight was correlated with almost all the body measurements, with the highest coefficients observed with chest girth, chest width, and chest depth. Live weight can be accurately predicted from multiple regression equations using several body measurements, but using only chest girth (CG) as a predictor, the exponential equation W0–365 = 0.9142 exp(0.0462 CG) showed the best accuracy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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13 pages, 3810 KiB  
Case Report
Alloparenting by Helpers in Striped Hyena (Hyaena hyaena)
by Ezra Hadad, Amir Balaban and Reuven Yosef
Animals 2023, 13(12), 1914; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13121914 - 08 Jun 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2841
Abstract
In an ongoing study of the striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena), we observed that in the nine different females, alloparenting by the daughters of a previous litter was not uncommon and occurred on fifteen different occasions, twice with two helpers. Alloparenting persisted [...] Read more.
In an ongoing study of the striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena), we observed that in the nine different females, alloparenting by the daughters of a previous litter was not uncommon and occurred on fifteen different occasions, twice with two helpers. Alloparenting persisted from when the cubs are approximately a month old until they reach the age when they go out foraging with their mothers at 10–12 months. Helpers perform most maternal duties, except suckling, even in the mother’s presence. Helpers accrued indirect fitness and practiced parenting before reaching sexual maturity. Future studies must study the reproductive biology of the striped hyena in the wild throughout its geographic range to elucidate additional breeding properties that have not yet been identified. The continued persecution of striped hyenas and the lack of information about their breeding rituals and capabilities in the wild mean that this study of their different reproduction strategies, focusing on surrogate mothers, is of great conservation importance. The fact that we have found cooperative breeding in this solitary species suggests that there is much more to uncover of the enigmatic striped hyena in the wild. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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17 pages, 1339 KiB  
Article
Camera Trap Methods and Drone Thermal Surveillance Provide Reliable, Comparable Density Estimates of Large, Free-Ranging Ungulates
by Robert W. Baldwin, Jared T. Beaver, Max Messinger, Jeffrey Muday, Matt Windsor, Gregory D. Larsen, Miles R. Silman and T. Michael Anderson
Animals 2023, 13(11), 1884; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13111884 - 05 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1754
Abstract
Camera traps and drone surveys both leverage advancing technologies to study dynamic wildlife populations with little disturbance. Both techniques entail strengths and weaknesses, and common camera trap methods can be confounded by unrealistic assumptions and prerequisite conditions. We compared three methods to estimate [...] Read more.
Camera traps and drone surveys both leverage advancing technologies to study dynamic wildlife populations with little disturbance. Both techniques entail strengths and weaknesses, and common camera trap methods can be confounded by unrealistic assumptions and prerequisite conditions. We compared three methods to estimate the population density of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virgnianus) in a section of Pilot Mountain State Park, NC, USA: (1) camera trapping using mark–resight ratios or (2) N-mixture modeling and (3) aerial thermal videography from a drone platform. All three methods yielded similar density estimates, suggesting that they converged on an accurate estimate. We also included environmental covariates in the N-mixture modeling to explore spatial habitat use, and we fit models for each season to understand temporal changes in population density. Deer occurred in greater densities on warmer, south-facing slopes in the autumn and winter and on cooler north-facing slopes and in areas with flatter terrain in the summer. Seasonal density estimates over two years suggested an annual cycle of higher densities in autumn and winter than in summer, indicating that the region may function as a refuge during the hunting season. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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11 pages, 4375 KiB  
Communication
Computed Tomography as a Method for Age Determination of Carnivora and Odontocetes with Validation from Individuals with Known Age
by Sina Baier-Stegmaier, Carsten Gundlach, Mariann Chriél, Mette Sif Hansen, Christina Vedel-Smith, Charlotte Vikkelsø Hansen, Daniel Klingberg Johansson, Louise Birgitte Henriksen, Magnus Wahlberg, Charlotte Bie Thøstesen, Aage Kristian Olsen Alstrup, Kristian Murphy Gregersen, Cino Pertoldi and Sussie Pagh
Animals 2023, 13(11), 1783; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13111783 - 27 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1312
Abstract
Traditional methods for age determination of wildlife include either slicing thin sections off or grinding a tooth, both of which are laborious and invasive. Especially when it comes to ancient and valuable museum samples of rare or extinct species, non-invasive methods are preferable. [...] Read more.
Traditional methods for age determination of wildlife include either slicing thin sections off or grinding a tooth, both of which are laborious and invasive. Especially when it comes to ancient and valuable museum samples of rare or extinct species, non-invasive methods are preferable. In this study, X-ray micro-computed tomography (µ-CT) was verified as an alternative non-invasive method for age determination of three species within the order of Carnivora and suborders Odontoceti. Teeth from 13 red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), 2 American mink (Neogale vison), and 2 harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) of known age were studied using µ-CT. The number of visible dental growth layers in the µ-CT were highly correlated with true age for all three species (R2 = 96%, p < 0.001). In addition, the Bland–Altman plot showed high agreement between the age of individuals and visible dental layers represented in 2D slices of the 3D µ-CT images. The true age of individuals was on average 0.3 (±0.6 SD) years higher than the age interpreted by the µ-CT image, and there was a 95% agreement between the true age and the age interpreted from visible dental layers in the µ-CT. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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18 pages, 2415 KiB  
Article
Estimating Wolf Population Size and Dynamics by Field Monitoring and Demographic Models: Implications for Management and Conservation
by Enrico Merli, Luca Mattioli, Elena Bassi, Paolo Bongi, Duccio Berzi, Francesca Ciuti, Siriano Luccarini, Federico Morimando, Viviana Viviani, Romolo Caniglia, Marco Galaverni, Elena Fabbri, Massimo Scandura and Marco Apollonio
Animals 2023, 13(11), 1735; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13111735 - 24 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2654
Abstract
We estimated the current size and dynamics of the wolf population in Tuscany and investigated the trends and demographic drivers of population changes. Estimates were obtained by two different approaches: (i) mixed-technique field monitoring (from 2014 to 2016) that found the minimum observed [...] Read more.
We estimated the current size and dynamics of the wolf population in Tuscany and investigated the trends and demographic drivers of population changes. Estimates were obtained by two different approaches: (i) mixed-technique field monitoring (from 2014 to 2016) that found the minimum observed pack number and estimated population size, and (ii) an individual-based model (run by Vortex software v. 10.3.8.0) with demographic inputs derived from a local intensive study area and historic data on population size. Field monitoring showed a minimum population size of 558 wolves (SE = 12.005) in 2016, with a density of 2.74 individuals/100 km2. The population model described an increasing trend with an average annual rate of increase λ = 1.075 (SE = 0.014), an estimated population size of about 882 individuals (SE = 9.397) in 2016, and a density of 4.29 wolves/100 km2. Previously published estimates of wolf population were as low as 56.2% compared to our field monitoring estimation and 34.6% in comparison to our model estimation. We conducted sensitivity tests to analyze the key parameters driving population changes based on juvenile and adult mortality rates, female breeding success, and litter size. Mortality rates played a major role in determining intrinsic growth rate changes, with adult mortality accounting for 62.5% of the total variance explained by the four parameters. Juvenile mortality was responsible for 35.8% of the variance, while female breeding success and litter size had weak or negligible effects. We concluded that reliable estimates of population abundance and a deeper understanding of the role of different demographic parameters in determining population dynamics are crucial to define and carry out appropriate conservation and management strategies to address human–wildlife conflicts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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27 pages, 8280 KiB  
Article
An Efficient Method for Monitoring Birds Based on Object Detection and Multi-Object Tracking Networks
by Xian Chen, Hongli Pu, Yihui He, Mengzhen Lai, Daike Zhang, Junyang Chen and Haibo Pu
Animals 2023, 13(10), 1713; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13101713 - 22 May 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2251
Abstract
To protect birds, it is crucial to identify their species and determine their population across different regions. However, currently, bird monitoring methods mainly rely on manual techniques, such as point counts conducted by researchers and ornithologists in the field. This method can sometimes [...] Read more.
To protect birds, it is crucial to identify their species and determine their population across different regions. However, currently, bird monitoring methods mainly rely on manual techniques, such as point counts conducted by researchers and ornithologists in the field. This method can sometimes be inefficient, prone to errors, and have limitations, which may not always be conducive to bird conservation efforts. In this paper, we propose an efficient method for wetland bird monitoring based on object detection and multi-object tracking networks. First, we construct a manually annotated dataset for bird species detection, annotating the entire body and head of each bird separately, comprising 3737 bird images. We also built a new dataset containing 11,139 complete, individual bird images for the multi-object tracking task. Second, we perform comparative experiments using a state-of-the-art batch of object detection networks, and the results demonstrated that the YOLOv7 network, trained with a dataset labeling the entire body of the bird, was the most effective method. To enhance YOLOv7 performance, we added three GAM modules on the head side of the YOLOv7 to minimize information diffusion and amplify global interaction representations and utilized Alpha-IoU loss to achieve more accurate bounding box regression. The experimental results revealed that the improved method offers greater accuracy, with mAP@0.5 improving to 0.951 and mAP@0.5:0.95 improving to 0.815. Then, we send the detection information to DeepSORT for bird tracking and classification counting. Finally, we use the area counting method to count according to the species of birds to obtain information about flock distribution. The method described in this paper effectively addresses the monitoring challenges in bird conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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14 pages, 2613 KiB  
Article
Habitat Selection and Home Range of Reeves’ Turtle (Mauremys reevesii) in Qichun County, Hubei Province, China
by Rongping Bu, Zihao Ye and Haitao Shi
Animals 2023, 13(9), 1514; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13091514 - 30 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1550
Abstract
Habitat selection and range are crucial factors in understanding the life history of species. We tracked 23 adult wild Reeves’ turtles (Mauremys reevesii) from August 2021 to August 2022 in Qichun County, Hubei Province, China, to study their habitat selection, home [...] Read more.
Habitat selection and range are crucial factors in understanding the life history of species. We tracked 23 adult wild Reeves’ turtles (Mauremys reevesii) from August 2021 to August 2022 in Qichun County, Hubei Province, China, to study their habitat selection, home range, and the characteristics of chosen habitats. Significant differences were observed in aquatic habitats, regarding shelter cover (Z = −6.032, p < 0.001), shelter height (Z = −6.783, p < 0.001), depth of water (Z = −2.009, p = 0.045), and distance from the edge (Z = −4.288, p < 0.001), between selected and random habitats. In terrestrial habitats, significant differences were observed in canopy cover (Z = −2.100, p = 0.036), herbage cover (Z = −2.347, p = 0.019), distance from the field edge (Z = −2.724, p = 0.006), dead grass cover (Z = −2.921, p = 0.003), and dead grass thickness (t = 3.735, df = 17, p = 0.002) between the selected and random habitats. The mean home range area observed for this turtle population was 14.34 ± 4.29 ha, the mean core home range was 2.91 ± 2.28 ha, and the mean line home range was 670.23 ± 119.62 m. This study provides valuable information on this endangered species, providing a foundation for the development of conservation plans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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15 pages, 6068 KiB  
Article
Beaver Dams and Fallen Trees as Ecological Corridors Allowing Movements of Mammals across Water Barriers—A Case Study with the Application of Novel Substrate for Tracking Tunnels
by Zuzanna Wikar and Mateusz Ciechanowski
Animals 2023, 13(8), 1302; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13081302 - 11 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2286
Abstract
Physical obstacles within animal habitats create barriers to individual movements. To cross those barriers, specific corridors are used, some of them created by keystone species such as Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber). Their dams on rivers may also increase habitat connectivity for [...] Read more.
Physical obstacles within animal habitats create barriers to individual movements. To cross those barriers, specific corridors are used, some of them created by keystone species such as Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber). Their dams on rivers may also increase habitat connectivity for terrestrial mammals, but the significance of that function has never been quantified. To investigate this, we placed tracking tunnels on beaver dams, fallen trees, and—as a control—on floating rafts. Additionally, we tested kinetic sand as a novel substrate for collecting tracks and found the paws of small mustelids precisely imprinted in that medium, allowing easy identification. However, we needed to lump all shrews and rodents smaller than water voles (Arvicola amphibius) into one category as they can only be detected but not identified. The highest mammalian activity was observed on dams, as they may provide shelter, offering protection from predators during a river crossing or permanent residence, and even the opportunity to hunt invertebrates. Slightly higher diversity was found on logs because of a higher proportion of mustelids, which select exposed locations for scent marking. Our results increase our body of knowledge about the beaver as an ecosystem engineer and provide a novel tool for the monitoring of mammal activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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13 pages, 3751 KiB  
Article
Fine-Scale Interactions between Leopard Cats and Their Potential Prey with Contrasting Diel Activities in a Livestock-Dominated Nature Reserve
by Chengpeng Ji, Hai-Dong Li, Wenhong Xiao, Kai Xu, Yingfeng Ren, Hongyun Li, Pengcheng Wang, Mingliang Fan, Xiaoqun Huang and Zhishu Xiao
Animals 2023, 13(8), 1296; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13081296 - 10 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1727
Abstract
Habitat use and the temporal activities of wildlife can be largely modified by livestock encroachment. Therefore, identifying the potential impacts of livestock on the predator–prey interactions could provide essential information for wildlife conservation and management. From May to October 2017, we used camera [...] Read more.
Habitat use and the temporal activities of wildlife can be largely modified by livestock encroachment. Therefore, identifying the potential impacts of livestock on the predator–prey interactions could provide essential information for wildlife conservation and management. From May to October 2017, we used camera trapping technology to investigate fine-scale spatiotemporal interactions in a predator–prey system with the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) as a common mesopredator, and its prey with contrasting activity patterns (i.e., nocturnal rats and diurnal squirrels) in a livestock-dominated nature reserve in Northern China. We found that the prey species showed different habitat preferences with the leopard cats. The nocturnal rats had strong positive effects on the site-use of the leopard cats, while the influence of livestock on the diurnal squirrels’ site-use changed from strong positive effects to weak effects as the livestock disturbance increased. The temporal overlap between the leopard cats and the nocturnal rats was almost four times that of the leopard cats and the diurnal squirrels, regardless of the livestock disturbance. Our study demonstrated that the fine-scale spatiotemporal use patterns of the leopard cats were consistent and highly correlated with the nocturnal rats under livestock disturbance. We suggest that appropriate restrictions on livestock disturbance should be implemented by reserve managers to reduce the threat to wildlife and achieve multi-species coexistence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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11 pages, 1401 KiB  
Article
A Camera-Trap Survey of Mammals in Thung Yai Naresuan (East) Wildlife Sanctuary in Western Thailand
by Supagit Vinitpornsawan and Todd K. Fuller
Animals 2023, 13(8), 1286; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13081286 - 09 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2702
Abstract
The Thung Yai Naresuan (East) Wildlife Sanctuary (TYNE), in the core area of the Western Forest Complex of Thailand, harbors a diverse assemblage of wildlife, and the region has become globally significant for mammal conservation. From April 2010 to January 2012, 106 camera [...] Read more.
The Thung Yai Naresuan (East) Wildlife Sanctuary (TYNE), in the core area of the Western Forest Complex of Thailand, harbors a diverse assemblage of wildlife, and the region has become globally significant for mammal conservation. From April 2010 to January 2012, 106 camera traps were set, and, in 1817 trap-nights, registered 1821 independent records of 32 mammal species. Of the 17 IUCN-listed (from Near Threatened to Critically Endangered) mammal species recorded, 5 species listed as endangered or critically endangered included the Asiatic elephant (Elephas maximus), tiger (Panthera tigris), Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus), dhole (Cuon alpinus), and Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica). The northern red muntjac (Muntiacus vaginalis), large Indian civet (Viverra zibetha), Malayan porcupine (Hystrix brachyuran), and sambar deer (Cervus unicolor) were the most frequently recorded species (10–22 photos/100 trap-nights), representing 62% of all independent records, while the golden jackal (Canis aureus), clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata), and Sunda pangolin were the least photographed (<0.1/100 trap-nights). Species accumulation curves indicated that the number of camera trap locations needed to record 90% of taxa recorded varied from 26 sites for herbivores to 67 sites for all mammals. TYNE holds a rich community of mammals, but some differences in photo-rates from an adjacent sanctuary and comparisons with other research on local mammals suggest that some species are rare and some are missed because of the limitations of our technique. We also conclude that the management and conservation plan, which involves the exclusion of human activities from some protected areas and strict protection efforts in the sanctuaries, is still suitable for providing key habitats for endangered wildlife populations, and that augmented and regular survey efforts will help in this endeavor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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17 pages, 3156 KiB  
Article
Vegetation Structure and Invertebrate Food Availability for Birds in Intensively Used Arable Fields: Evaluation of Three Widespread Crops
by Adriana Hološková, Tomáš Kadlec and Jiří Reif
Diversity 2023, 15(4), 524; https://doi.org/10.3390/d15040524 - 04 Apr 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1257
Abstract
Arable land covers a large part of the European landscape, and its biodiversity is declining rapidly due to agricultural intensification. Among the most threatened groups of organisms are insectivorous ground-foraging farmland birds. To reverse their decline, it is necessary to understand the impact [...] Read more.
Arable land covers a large part of the European landscape, and its biodiversity is declining rapidly due to agricultural intensification. Among the most threatened groups of organisms are insectivorous ground-foraging farmland birds. To reverse their decline, it is necessary to understand the impact of agriculture on the factors potentially shaping their populations. This study therefore evaluates the invertebrate food availability and vegetation structure of three widespread crops—wheat, maize and rapeseed—during their breeding. This research took place in Slovakia, the country with the largest average field size in the EU. Wheat overlapped bird habitat preferences for the longest part of their breeding season by vegetation structure, but it also had the most limited food supply due to frequent treatment with insecticides. Maize and rapeseed provided higher invertebrate abundance and biomass, but their stands created unsuitable vegetation structures for farmland bird nesting and foraging over a major part of the breeding season. The food supply improved closer to the field edges, but the birds’ ability to use these benefits could be considerably limited by the large field sizes. Therefore, conservation measures should include reduction of field size and insecticide application to improve the food supply and switch to spring sowing to improve the vegetation structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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9 pages, 1826 KiB  
Article
The Origin and Invasion Pathway of Brown Rats Rattus norvegicus on Dok-Do Island Revealed by Genome-Wide Markers from 3-RADseq Approach
by Han-Na Kim, Ohsun Lee, Hwa-Jin Lee, Gyu-Cheol Kim, Hyeon-Soo Kim, Jonathan James Derbridge and Yeong-Seok Jo
Animals 2023, 13(7), 1243; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13071243 - 03 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1458
Abstract
Biological invasions are known to cause local extinctions on islands. Dok-do, a small, remote volcanic island in the East Sea of Korea in the western Pacific, has recently been invaded by rats, posing ecological problems. To infer their origin and invasion pathway, we [...] Read more.
Biological invasions are known to cause local extinctions on islands. Dok-do, a small, remote volcanic island in the East Sea of Korea in the western Pacific, has recently been invaded by rats, posing ecological problems. To infer their origin and invasion pathway, we collected rats from Dok-do and from the potential introduction source locations, Ulleung-do in the Pacific Ocean, and four east coastal ports. First, we identified that the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) was the only rat species occurring at collecting sites based on the key morphological characteristics. To determine the population-level genetic diversity pattern, we applied the 3-RADseq approach. After a series of filtrations (minor allele frequency < 0.05, Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium p < 1 × 10−7), 4042 SNPs were retained for the final dataset from the 25,439 SNPs initially isolated. The spatial structure and genetic diversity pattern of brown rats suggested that the rat population on Dok-do was likely introduced from Ulleung-do. Our work provides practical information that will assist in the management of invasive brown rats in vulnerable island ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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27 pages, 4149 KiB  
Article
Ecosystem Conditions That Influence the Viability of an Old-Forest Species with Limited Vagility: The Red Tree Vole
by William L. Gaines, Andrea L. Lyons, Lowell H. Suring and Carol S. Hughes
Animals 2023, 13(7), 1166; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13071166 - 25 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1534
Abstract
We evaluated ecosystem conditions known to influence the viability of a strictly arboreal species (the red tree vole, Arborimus longicaudus) endemic and historically distributed in the forests across the Coast Range, Cascades, and Klamath Mountains ecoregions in the Western United States of [...] Read more.
We evaluated ecosystem conditions known to influence the viability of a strictly arboreal species (the red tree vole, Arborimus longicaudus) endemic and historically distributed in the forests across the Coast Range, Cascades, and Klamath Mountains ecoregions in the Western United States of America. We found widespread reductions in ecosystem conditions needed to support the long-term viability of the red tree vole. This was particularly evident in the Coast Range where the weighted watershed index (WWI) was 26% of its historical value, and the current probability of maintaining viability departed the most from historical viability probabilities in ecoregions that were evaluated. In contrast, in the Cascades and Klamath Mountains, the WWI was 42% and 52% of their respective historical values, and the current probabilities of maintaining viability departed less from historical conditions than in the Coast Range. Habitat loss from timber harvest represented the most immediate threat in the Coast Range, while habitat loss from wildfires represented the most risk to the red tree vole in the Cascades and Klamath Mountains. Reducing the risks to the viability of the red tree vole will depend largely on the implementation of conservation practices designed to protect remaining habitat and restore degraded ecosystems in the Coast Range. However, the risk of large, high-severity wildfires will require the protection and increased resilience of existing ecosystems. Our results indicate that considerable adaptation to climate change will be required to conserve the red tree vole in the long term. Conservation may be accomplished by revising land and resource management plans to include standards and guidelines relevant to red tree vole management and persistence, the identification of priority areas for conservation and restoration, and in assessing how management alternatives influence ecosystem resiliency and red tree vole viability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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12 pages, 619 KiB  
Article
Diet of Free Ranging American Mink (Neovison vison) in Denmark
by René Worup Rørbæk, Tobias Astell Andersen, Cino Pertoldi, Alex Jørgensen and Sussie Pagh
Animals 2023, 13(3), 461; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13030461 - 28 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1805
Abstract
Non-native American mink (Neovison vison) is a widely spread predator in Denmark. The feral population in mainland Denmark consists of captive-born mink that escaped from fur farms and wild mink born in nature, whereas the population on Bornholm is almost all [...] Read more.
Non-native American mink (Neovison vison) is a widely spread predator in Denmark. The feral population in mainland Denmark consists of captive-born mink that escaped from fur farms and wild mink born in nature, whereas the population on Bornholm is almost all wild-born mink. In this study, the diets of feral mink in mainland Denmark and on the island of Bornholm are analyzed. The aim of this study was to examine (1) whether the diet of the larger captive-born mink differs from that of the smaller wild-born mink, (2) assess the regional variations between the diets of mink in mainland Denmark and on Bornholm, and (3) investigate the seasonal variation in the diet composition of mink. The stomach contents of 364 mink (243 wild-born and 114 captive-born) culled in the years 2019–2022 were analyzed. Of these, 203 mink were from mainland Denmark, and 154 were from Bornholm. No significant differences were found between the diets of captive-born mink and wild-born mink or the mink found in mainland Denmark and on the island of Bornholm. Significantly more empty stomachs were found during spring than during the summer and autumn, suggesting a bottleneck in the diet during spring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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12 pages, 1034 KiB  
Article
Public Opinions on Stray Cats in China, Evidence from Social Media Data
by Jiaping Xu and Aiwu Jiang
Animals 2023, 13(3), 457; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13030457 - 28 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3946
Abstract
The management of stray cats is often contentious because public perceptions about these animals are different. Using user-generated content from Weibo, this study investigated Chinese citizens’ opinions on stray cats on a large scale. Through the techniques of natural language processing, we obtained [...] Read more.
The management of stray cats is often contentious because public perceptions about these animals are different. Using user-generated content from Weibo, this study investigated Chinese citizens’ opinions on stray cats on a large scale. Through the techniques of natural language processing, we obtained each Weibo post’s topics and sentiment propensity. The results showed that: (1) there were some irresponsible feeding behaviors among citizens; (2) public perceptions of the ecological impacts caused by stray cats were unlike; (3) the trap-neuter-return (TNR) method served high support in public discussion; (4) knowledge about stray cats’ ecological impacts was positively correlated with support for the lethal control methods in management. Based on these findings, we suggested that management policies should be dedicated to (1) communicating to the (potential) cat feeders about the negative aspects of irresponsible feeding behaviors; (2) raising “ecological awareness” campaigns for the public as well as highlighting the environmental impacts caused by stray cats; (3) understanding citizens’ perceptions toward different management scenarios and making decisions accordingly. In addition, this study also suggested that social media data can provide useful information about people’s opinions on wild animals and their management. Policies would benefit by taking this source of information into the decision-making process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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10 pages, 1229 KiB  
Article
No Apparent Immediate Reproductive Costs of Overlapping Breeding and Moult in a Mediterranean Great Tit Population
by Iris Solís, Elena Álvarez and Emilio Barba
Animals 2023, 13(3), 409; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13030409 - 26 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1072
Abstract
Some phenological events in birds, such as breeding and moulting, are being affected by rising temperatures due to global warming, and many species have undergone temporary changes in these energetically demanding phases that are often separated in time. This has led to an [...] Read more.
Some phenological events in birds, such as breeding and moulting, are being affected by rising temperatures due to global warming, and many species have undergone temporary changes in these energetically demanding phases that are often separated in time. This has led to an increased overlap between breeding and moulting in some populations. This overlap causes conflicts in resource allocation and may impose fitness costs that could affect immediate reproductive performance. We tested whether this occurs in a great tit (Parus major) population in eastern Spain. In 71% of 390 pairs, in which both parents were captured during the period of overlap between moulting and breeding, at least one parent was moulting when feeding the chicks of its second brood. Later breeders were more likely to overlap breeding and moulting, and when both parents overlapped, clutch size was smaller, fewer eggs hatched and fewer fledglings in poorer body condition were produced. Some results were intermediate when only one parent moulted. However, all these differences between moulting and non-moulting pairs disappeared when the seasonal trend in reproductive parameters was taken into account, as moulting birds bred later and reproductive performance decreased seasonally. Therefore, the overlap of breeding and moulting does not impose additional reproductive costs in this population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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24 pages, 426 KiB  
Review
Evaluation of Genetic Diversity in Dog Breeds Using Pedigree and Molecular Analysis: A Review
by Ripfumelo Success Mabunda, Mahlako Linah Makgahlela, Khathutshelo Agree Nephawe and Bohani Mtileni
Diversity 2022, 14(12), 1054; https://doi.org/10.3390/d14121054 - 01 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 4298
Abstract
Domestic dogs are important for many economic and social reasons, and they have become a well-known model species for human disease. According to research, dog breeds exhibit significant levels of inbreeding and genetic diversity loss, decreasing the population’s ability to adapt in certain [...] Read more.
Domestic dogs are important for many economic and social reasons, and they have become a well-known model species for human disease. According to research, dog breeds exhibit significant levels of inbreeding and genetic diversity loss, decreasing the population’s ability to adapt in certain conditions, and indicating the need of conservation strategies. Before the development of molecular markers, pedigree information was used for genetic diversity management. In recent years, genomic tools are frequently applied for accurate estimation of genetic diversity and improved genetic conservation due to incomplete pedigrees and pedigree errors. The most frequently used molecular markers include PCR-based microsatellite markers (STRs) and DNA sequencing-based single-nucleotide polymorphism markers (SNP). The aim of this review was to highlight genetic diversity studies on dog breeds conducted using pedigree and molecular markers, as well as the importance of genetic diversity conservation in increasing the adaptability and survival of dog breed populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
10 pages, 1330 KiB  
Article
Plastic Debris in Nests of Two Water Bird Species Breeding on Inland Saline Lakes in a Mediterranean Biosphere Reserve
by Álvaro Luna, José A. Gil-Delgado and Edgar Bernat-Ponce
Animals 2022, 12(22), 3222; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12223222 - 21 Nov 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2157
Abstract
Despite more studies being carried out to know the impacts associated with plastic debris and much effort being spent on marine ecosystems, the impacts of plastics on terrestrial and freshwater species remain largely unknown. Here, we explored the presence of anthropogenic materials in [...] Read more.
Despite more studies being carried out to know the impacts associated with plastic debris and much effort being spent on marine ecosystems, the impacts of plastics on terrestrial and freshwater species remain largely unknown. Here, we explored the presence of anthropogenic materials in nests of two wader species, the gull-billed tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) and the black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus), breeding on the inland salt lakes in the “La Mancha Húmeda” Biosphere Reserve, Central Spain. We revealed the presence of anthropogenic debris, mainly macroplastics (>5 mm), in 2.4% and 12.5% of the sampled nests of the gull-billed tern and the black-winged stilt, respectively. The fragments found in nests ranged from 8 mm to 257 mm for the gull-billed tern and from 7 mm to 19 mm for the black-winged stilt. This debris showed no clear pattern of color or size and probably originated both in the agricultural activities in the surroundings and domestic refuse. Although we did not detect any pernicious impacts on adults or chicks (e.g., entangled, injured, or dead individuals), the presence of plastics and other human waste directly placed in nests located in a protected area should warn us about the ubiquity of these pollutants, and the endocrine and immunological effects, among others, that may reduce the recruitment of new animals to the population should be assessed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Ecology, Management and Conservation of Vertebrates)
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