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  • Journal article
    Morfopoulos C, Muller J-F, Stavrakou T, Bauwens M, De Smedt I, Friedlingstein P, Prentice IC, Regnier Pet al., 2022,

    Vegetation responses to climate extremes recorded by remotely sensed atmospheric formaldehyde

    , Global Change Biology, Vol: 28, Pages: 1809-1822, ISSN: 1354-1013

    Accurate monitoring of vegetation stress is required for better modelling and forecasting of primary production, in a world where heatwaves and droughts are expected to become increasingly prevalent. Variability in formaldehyde (HCHO) concentrations in the troposphere is dominated by local emissions of short-lived biogenic (BVOC) and pyrogenic volatile organic compounds. BVOCs are emitted by plants in a rapid protective response to abiotic stress, mediated by the energetic status of leaves (the excess of reducing power when photosynthetic light and dark reactions are decoupled, as occurs when stomata close in response to water stress). Emissions also increase exponentially with leaf temperature. New analytical methods for the detection of spatiotemporally contiguous extremes in remote-sensing data are applied here to satellite-derived atmospheric HCHO columns. BVOC emissions are shown to play a central role in the formation of the largest positive HCHO anomalies. Although vegetation stress can be captured by various remotely sensed quantities, spaceborne HCHO emerges as the most consistent recorder of vegetation responses to the largest climate extremes, especially in forested regions.

  • Journal article
    Medeiros GG, Antonio J, Harrison M, Della Coletta L, Soltangheisi A, Banks-Leite C, Duarte-Neto PJ, Martinelli LAet al., 2022,

    Effect of vertebrate exclusion on leaf litter decomposition in the coastal Atlantic forest of southeast Brazil

    , TROPICAL ECOLOGY, Vol: 63, Pages: 151-154, ISSN: 0564-3295
  • Journal article
    Ward D, Melbourne-Thomas J, Pecl GT, Evans K, Green M, McCormack PC, Novaglio C, Trebilco R, Bax N, Brasier MJ, Cavan EL, Edgar G, Hunt HL, Jansen J, Jones R, Lea M-A, Makomere R, Mull C, Semmens JM, Shaw J, Tinch D, van Steveninck TJ, Layton Cet al., 2022,

    Safeguarding marine life: conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems

    , REVIEWS IN FISH BIOLOGY AND FISHERIES, Vol: 32, Pages: 65-100, ISSN: 0960-3166
  • Journal article
    Stewart PS, Voskamp A, Santini L, Biber MF, Devenish AJM, Hof C, Willis SG, Tobias JAet al., 2022,

    Global impacts of climate change on avian functional diversity

    , ECOLOGY LETTERS, Vol: 25, Pages: 673-685, ISSN: 1461-023X
  • Journal article
    Crouch NMA, Tobias JA, 2022,

    The causes and ecological context of rapid morphological evolution in birds

    , ECOLOGY LETTERS, Vol: 25, Pages: 611-623, ISSN: 1461-023X
  • Journal article
    Sol D, Garcia-Porta J, Gonzalez-Lagos C, Pigot AL, Trisos C, Tobias JAet al., 2022,

    A test of Darwin's naturalization conundrum in birds reveals enhanced invasion success in the presence of close relatives

    , ECOLOGY LETTERS, Vol: 25, Pages: 661-672, ISSN: 1461-023X
  • Journal article
    Weeks BC, Naeem S, Lasky JR, Tobias JAet al., 2022,

    Diversity and extinction risk are inversely related at a global scale

    , ECOLOGY LETTERS, Vol: 25, Pages: 697-707, ISSN: 1461-023X
  • Journal article
    McFadden IR, Fritz SA, Zimmermann NE, Pellissier L, Kissling WD, Tobias JA, Schleuning M, Graham CHet al., 2022,

    Global plant-frugivore trait matching is shaped by climate and biogeographic history

    , ECOLOGY LETTERS, Vol: 25, Pages: 686-696, ISSN: 1461-023X
  • Journal article
    Wayman JP, Sadler JP, Pugh TAM, Martin TE, Tobias JA, Matthews TJet al., 2022,

    Assessing taxonomic and functional change in British breeding bird assemblages over time

    , Global Ecology and Biogeography, Vol: 31, Pages: 925-939, ISSN: 1466-822X

    AimThe aim was to identify the primary drivers of compositional change in breeding bird assemblages over a 40-year period.LocationBritain.Time periodFrom 1970 to 2010.Major taxa studiedBirds.MethodsUsing morphological trait measurements and a dataset of presence–absence data for British breeding birds surveyed in 10 km × 10 km hectads during two time periods, we calculated temporal taxonomic and functional beta diversity for each hectad alongside the change in species richness, mean nearest taxon distance (MNTD) and mean pairwise distance (MPD). We also estimated potential drivers of beta diversity, including climatic and land-use and land-cover (LULC) change variables, elevation and assemblage species richness in 1970 (1970rich). We used random forest regressions to test which variables best explained compositional change in the assemblages. We also assessed spatial taxonomic and functional change by analysing multiple-site beta diversity and pairwise dissimilarities between time periods.ResultsInitial (1970) species richness was the most important predictor (highest importance score) across all models, with areas characterized by higher initial richness experiencing less assemblage change overall. The coordinates included to capture spatial autocorrelation in the data were also important predictors of change. Most climate and LULC variables had relatively low explanatory power; elevation and average temperature were the most influential. All metrics increased slightly with increasing elevation, except for species richness change and MPD, which decreased.Main conclusionsThe composition of British breeding bird assemblages changed substantially between 1970 and 2010. Spatial heterogeneity increased, both taxonomically and functionally. We show evidence that hectads with larger assemblages have been buffered from temporal diversity change and that those at higher elevations changed more in composition than those at lower elevations. Overall, coarse-resolu

  • Journal article
    Fu Z, Ciais P, Prentice IC, Gentine P, Makowski D, Bastos A, Luo X, Green J, Stoy P, Yang H, Hajima Tet al., 2022,

    Atmospheric dryness reduces photosynthesis along a large range of soil water deficits

    , Nature Communications, Vol: 13, ISSN: 2041-1723

    Both low soil water content (SWC) and high atmospheric dryness (vapor pressure deficit, VPD) can negatively affect terrestrial gross primary production (GPP). The sensitivity of GPP to soil versus atmospheric dryness is difficult to disentangle, however, because of their covariation. Using global eddy-covariance observations, here we show that a decrease in SWC is not universally associated with GPP reduction. GPP increases in response to decreasing SWC when SWC is high and decreases only when SWC is below a threshold. By contrast, the sensitivity of GPP to an increase of VPD is always negative across the full SWC range. We further find canopy conductance decreases with increasing VPD (irrespective of SWC), and with decreasing SWC on drier soils. Maximum photosynthetic assimilation rate has negative sensitivity to VPD, and a positive sensitivity to decreasing SWC when SWC is high. Earth System Models underestimate the negative effect of VPD and the positive effect of SWC on GPP such that they should underestimate the GPP reduction due to increasing VPD in future climates.

  • Journal article
    Fornace K, Manin BO, Matthiopoulos J, Ferguson HM, Drakeley C, Ahmed K, Khoon KT, Ewers RM, Daim S, Chua THet al., 2022,

    A protocol for a longitudinal, observational cohort study of infection and exposure to zoonotic and vector-borne diseases across a land-use gradient in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo: a socio-ecological systems approach [version 1; peer review: 1 approved, 2 approved with reservations]

    , Wellcome Open Research, Vol: 7, ISSN: 2398-502X

    Introduction. Landscape changes disrupt environmental, social and biological systems, altering pathogen spillover and transmission risks. This study aims to quantify the impact of specific land management practices on spillover and transmission rates of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases within Malaysian Borneo. This protocol describes a cohort study with integrated ecological sampling to assess how deforestation and agricultural practices impact pathogen flow from wildlife and vector populations to human infection and detection by health facilities. This will focus on malaria, dengue and emerging arboviruses (Chikungunya and Zika), vector-borne diseases with varying contributions of simian reservoirs within this setting. Methods. A prospective longitudinal observational cohort study will be established in communities residing or working within the vicinity of the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) Project, a landscape gradient within Malaysian Borneo encompassing different plantation and forest types. The primary outcome of this study will be transmission intensity of selected zoonotic and vector-borne diseases, as quantified by changes in pathogen-specific antibody levels. Exposure will be measured using paired population-based serological surveys conducted at the beginning and end of the two-year cohort study. Secondary outcomes will include the distribution and infection rates of Aedes and Anopheles mosquito vectors, human risk behaviours and clinical cases reported to health facilities. Longitudinal data on human behaviour, contact with wildlife and GPS tracking of mobility patterns will be collected throughout the study period. This will be integrated with entomological surveillance to monitor densities and pathogen infection rates of Aedes and Anopheles mosquitoes relative to land cover. Within surrounding health clinics, continuous health facility surveillance will be used to monitor reported infections and febrile illnesses. Models will be develo

  • Journal article
    Phillips JA, Soto JSV, Pawar S, Koprivnikar J, Benesh DP, Molnar PKet al., 2022,

    The effects of phylogeny, habitat and host characteristics on the thermal sensitivity of helminth development

    , PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, Vol: 289, ISSN: 0962-8452
  • Journal article
    Colgan TJ, Arce AN, Gill RJ, Ramos Rodrigues A, Kanteh A, Duncan EJ, Li L, Chittka L, Wurm Yet al., 2022,

    Genomic signatures of recent adaptation in a wild bumblebee

    , Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vol: 39, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 0737-4038

    Environmental changes threaten insect pollinators, creating risks for agriculture and ecosystem stability. Despite their importance, we know little about how wild insects respond to environmental pressures. To understand the genomic bases of adaptation in an ecologically important pollinator, we analyzed genomes of Bombus terrestris bumblebees collected across Great Britain. We reveal extensive genetic diversity within this population, and strong signatures of recent adaptation throughout the genome affecting key processes including neurobiology and wing development. We also discover unusual features of the genome, including a region containing 53 genes that lacks genetic diversity in many bee species, and a horizontal gene transfer from a Wolbachia bacteria. Overall, the genetic diversity we observe and how it is distributed throughout the genome and the population should support the resilience of this important pollinator species to ongoing and future selective pressures. Applying our approach to more species should help understand how they can differ in their adaptive potential, and to develop conservation strategies for those most at risk.

  • Journal article
    Piot N, Schweiger O, Meeus I, Yañez O, Straub L, Villamar-Bouza L, De la Rúa P, Jara L, Ruiz C, Malmstrøm M, Mustafa S, Nielsen A, Mänd M, Karise R, Tlak-Gajger I, Özgör E, Keskin N, Diévart V, Dalmon A, Gajda A, Neumann P, Smagghe G, Graystock P, Radzevičiūtė R, Paxton RJ, de Miranda JRet al., 2022,

    Honey bees and climate explain viral prevalence in wild bee communities on a continental scale

    , Scientific Reports, Vol: 12, ISSN: 2045-2322

    Viruses are omnipresent, yet the knowledge on drivers of viral prevalence in wild host populations is often limited. Biotic factors, such as sympatric managed host species, as well as abiotic factors, such as climatic variables, are likely to impact viral prevalence. Managed and wild bees, which harbor several multi-host viruses with a mostly fecal-oral between-species transmission route, provide an excellent system with which to test for the impact of biotic and abiotic factors on viral prevalence in wild host populations. Here we show on a continental scale that the prevalence of three broad host viruses: the AKI-complex (Acute bee paralysis virus, Kashmir bee virus and Israeli acute paralysis virus), Deformed wing virus, and Slow bee paralysis virus in wild bee populations (bumble bees and solitary bees) is positively related to viral prevalence of sympatric honey bees as well as being impacted by climatic variables. The former highlights the need for good beekeeping practices, including Varroa destructor management to reduce honey bee viral infection and hive placement. Furthermore, we found that viral prevalence in wild bees is at its lowest at the extreme ends of both temperature and precipitation ranges. Under predicted climate change, the frequency of extremes in precipitation and temperature will continue to increase and may hence impact viral prevalence in wild bee communities.

  • Journal article
    Wong Y, Rosindell J, 2022,

    Dynamic visualisation of million-tip trees: the OneZoom project

    , Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Vol: 13, Pages: 303-313, ISSN: 2041-210X

    1. The complete tree of life is now available, but methods to visualise it are still needed to meet needs in research, teaching and science communication. Dynamic visualisation of million-tip trees requires many challenges in data synthesis, data handling and computer graphics to be overcome.2. Our approach is to automate data processing, synthesise data from a wide range of available sources, then to feed these data to a client-side visualisation engine in parts. We develop a way to store the whole tree topology locally in a highly compressed form, then dynamically populate metadata such as text and images as the user explores.3. The result is a seamless and smooth way to explore the complete tree of life, including images and metadata, even on relatively old mobile devices.4. The underlying methods developed have applications that transcend tree of life visualisation. For the whole complete tree, we describe automated ID mappings between well known resources without resorting to taxonomic name resolution, automated methods to collate sets of public domain representative images for higher taxa, and an index to measure public interest of individual species. 5. The visualisation layout and the client user interface are both abstracted components of the codebase enabling other zoomable tree layouts to be swapped in, and supporting multiple applications including exhibition kiosks and digital art.6. After 10 years of work, our tree of life explorer is now broadly complete, it has attracted nearly 1.5 million online users, and is backed by a novel long-term sustainability plan. We conclude our description of the OneZoom project by suggesting the next challenges that need to be solved in this field: extinct species and guided tours around the tree.

  • Journal article
    Kirwan GM, Broughton RK, Lees AC, Ottenburghs J, Tobias JAet al., 2022,

    The ‘Meidum geese’ revisited: Early historical art is not a suitable basis for taxonomic speculation

    , Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Vol: 41, Pages: 1-5, ISSN: 2352-409X

    Romilio (2021) used a taxonomic scoring system to compare differences between three species of geese (Anseriformes) depicted in the Chapel of Itet, one of which he speculated might represent an undescribed (presumably now extinct) species. Despite some apparently distinctive features, the depiction has traditionally been associated with the well-known modern species, red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis). We discuss limitations in applying the Tobias et al. (2010) scoring system to cases such as this, for which it was not designed, and we outline the many pitfalls that must be considered when attempting to identify historical artwork of birds using examples discussed recently in the ornithological literature. We conclude that the illustrations proposed by Romilio to represent a new Branta goose species are within the range of known plumage variation and potential artistic licence for red-breasted goose, and that this very probably is the species upon which the artwork was based. More generally, we caution against applying the Tobias criteria to cases where a series of specimens cannot be measured, and highlight the difficulties of using illustrations to inform taxonomy.

  • Journal article
    Chik HYJ, Estrada C, Wang Y, Tank P, Lord A, Schroeder Jet al., 2022,

    Individual variation in reaction norms but no directional selection in reproductive plasticity of a wild passerine population

    , ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, Vol: 12, ISSN: 2045-7758
  • Journal article
    Williams C, Kirby A, Marghoub A, Kever L, Ostashevskaya-Gohstand S, Bertazzo S, Moazen M, Abzhanov A, Herrel A, Evans SE, Vickaryous Met al., 2022,

    A review of the osteoderms of lizards (Reptilia: Squamata)

    , BIOLOGICAL REVIEWS, Vol: 97, Pages: 1-19, ISSN: 1464-7931
  • Journal article
    Chaplin-Kramer R, Brauman KA, Cavender-Bares J, Diaz S, Duarte GT, Enquist BJ, Garibaldi LA, Geldmann J, Halpern BS, Hertel TW, Khoury CK, Krieger JM, Lavorel S, Mueller T, Neugarten RA, Pinto-Ledezma J, Polasky S, Purvis A, Reyes-Garcia V, Roehrdanz PR, Shannon LJ, Shaw MR, Strassburg BBN, Tylianakis JM, Verburg PH, Visconti P, Zafra-Calvo Net al., 2022,

    Conservation needs to integrate knowledge across scales

    , NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, Vol: 6, Pages: 118-119, ISSN: 2397-334X
  • Journal article
    Russell M, Cator L, 2022,

    No impact of biocontrol agent’s predation cues on development time or size of surviving Aedes al-bopictus under optimal nutritional availability

    , Insects, Vol: 13, ISSN: 2075-4450

    Cyclopoid copepods have been applied successfully to limit populations of highly invasive Aedes albopictus mosquitoes that can transmit diseases of public health importance. However, there is concern that changes in certain mosquito traits, induced by exposure to copepod predation, might increase the risk of disease transmission. In this study, third instar Ae. albopictus larvae (focal individuals) were exposed to Megacyclops viridis predator cues associated with both the consumption of newly hatched mosquito larvae and attacks on focal individuals. The number of newly hatched larvae surrounding each focal larva was held constant to control for density effects on size, and the focal individual’s day of pupation and wing length were recorded for each replicate. Exposing late instar Ae. albopictus to predation decreased their chances of surviving to adulthood, and three focal larvae that died in the predator treatment showed signs of melanisation, indicative of wounding. Among surviving focal Ae. albopictus, no significant difference in either pupation day or wing length was observed due to copepod predation. The absence of significant sublethal impacts from M. viridis copepod predation on surviving later stage larvae in this analysis supports the use of M. viridis as a biocontrol agent against Ae. albopictus.

  • Journal article
    Russell MC, Herzog CM, Gajewski Z, Ramsay C, El Moustaid F, Evans MV, Desai T, Gottdenker NL, Hermann SL, Power AG, McCall ACet al., 2022,

    Both consumptive and non-consumptive effects of predators impact mosquito populations and have implications for disease transmission

    , eLife, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-23, ISSN: 2050-084X

    Predator-prey interactions influence prey traits through both consumptive and non-consumptive effects, and variation in these traits can shape vector-borne disease dynamics. Meta-analysis methods were employed to generate predation effect sizes by different categories of predators and mosquito prey. This analysis showed that multiple families of aquatic predators are effective in consumptively reducing mosquito survival, and that the survival of Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex mosquitoes is negatively impacted by consumptive effects of predators. Mosquito larval size was found to play a more important role in explaining the heterogeneity of consumptive effects from predators than mosquito genus. Mosquito survival and body size were reduced by non-consumptive effects of predators, but development time was not significantly impacted. In addition, Culex vectors demonstrated predator avoidance behavior during oviposition. The results of this meta-analysis suggest that predators limit disease transmission by reducing both vector survival and vector size, and that associations between drought and human West Nile virus cases could be driven by the vector behavior of predator avoidance during oviposition. These findings are likely to be useful to infectious disease modelers who rely on vector traits as predictors of transmission.

  • Journal article
    Huxley PJ, Murray KA, Pawar S, Cator LJet al., 2022,

    Competition and resource depletion shape the thermal response of population fitness in <i>Aedes aegypti</i>

    , COMMUNICATIONS BIOLOGY, Vol: 5
  • Journal article
    Leimberger KG, Dalsgaard B, Tobias JA, Wolf C, Betts MGet al., 2022,

    The evolution, ecology, and conservation of hummingbirds and their interactions with flowering plants

    , Biological Reviews, Vol: 97, ISSN: 1464-7931

    The ecological co-dependency between plants and hummingbirds is a classic example of a mutualistic interaction: hummingbirds rely on floral nectar to fuel their rapid metabolisms, and more than 7000 plant species rely on hummingbirds for pollination. However, threats to hummingbirds are mounting, with 10% of 366 species considered globally threatened and 60% in decline. Despite the important ecological implications of these population declines, no recent review has examined plant–hummingbird interactions in the wider context of their evolution, ecology, and conservation. To provide this overview, we (i) assess the extent to which plants and hummingbirds have coevolved over millions of years, (ii) examine the mechanisms underlying plant–hummingbird interaction frequencies and hummingbird specialization, (iii) explore the factors driving the decline of hummingbird populations, and (iv) map out directions for future research and conservation. We find that, despite close associations between plants and hummingbirds, acquiring evidence for coevolution (versus one-sided adaptation) is difficult because data on fitness outcomes for both partners are required. Thus, linking plant–hummingbird interactions to plant reproduction is not only a major avenue for future coevolutionary work, but also for studies of interaction networks, which rarely incorporate pollinator effectiveness. Nevertheless, over the past decade, a growing body of literature on plant–hummingbird networks suggests that hummingbirds form relationships with plants primarily based on overlapping phenologies and trait-matching between bill length and flower length. On the other hand, species-level specialization appears to depend primarily on local community context, such as hummingbird abundance and nectar availability. Finally, although hummingbirds are commonly viewed as resilient opportunists that thrive in brushy habitats, we find that range size and forest dependency are key predic

  • Journal article
    Guissou C, Quinlan MM, Sanou R, Ouedraogo RK, Namountougou M, Diabate Aet al., 2022,

    Preparing an insectary in Burkina Faso to support research in genetic technologies for malaria control

    , Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, Vol: 22, Pages: 1-11, ISSN: 1530-3667

    The Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé (IRSS) of Burkina Faso, West Africa, was the first African institution to import transgenic mosquitoes for research purposes. A shift from the culture of mosquito research to regulated biotechnology research and considerable management capacity is needed to set up and run the first insectary for transgenic insects in a country that applied and adapted the existing biosafety framework, first developed for genetically modified (GM) crops, to this new area of research. The additional demands arise from the separate regulatory framework for biotechnology, referencing the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and the novelty of the research strain, making public understanding and acceptance early in the research pathway important. The IRSS team carried out extensive preparations following recommendations for containment of GM arthropods and invested efforts in local community engagement and training with scientific colleagues throughout the region. Record keeping beyond routine practice was established to maintain evidence related to regulatory requirements and risk assumptions. The National Biosafety Agency of Burkina Faso, Agence Nationale de Biosécurité (ANB), granted the permits for import of the self-limiting transgenic mosquito strain, which took place in November 2016, and for conducting studies in the IRSS facility in Bobo-Dioulasso. Compliance with permit terms and conditions of the permits and study protocols continued until the conclusion of studies, when the transgenic colonies were terminated. All this required close coordination between management and the insectary teams, as well as others. This article outlines the experiences of the IRSS to support others undertaking such studies. The IRSS is contributing to the ongoing development of genetic technologies for malaria control, as a partner of Target Malaria. The ultimate objective of the innovation is to reduce malaria transmission by using

  • Journal article
    Lyons-White J, Yobo CM, Ewers RM, Knight ATet al., 2022,

    Understanding zero deforestation and the High Carbon Stock Approach in a highly forested tropical country

    , LAND USE POLICY, Vol: 112, ISSN: 0264-8377
  • Journal article
    Mengoli G, Agusti-Panareda A, Boussetta S, Harrison S, Trotta C, Prentice ICet al., 2022,

    Ecosystem photosynthesis in land-surface models: a first-principles approach incorporating acclimation

    , Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, Vol: 14, Pages: 1-18, ISSN: 1942-2466

    Vegetation regulates land-atmosphere water and energy exchanges and is an essential component of land-surface models (LSMs). However, LSMs have been handicapped by assumptions that equate acclimated photosynthetic responses to the environment with the fast responses observable in the laboratory. The effects of acclimation can be taken into account by including PFT-specific values of photosynthetic parameters, but at the cost of increasing parameter requirements. Here we develop an alternative approach for including acclimation in LSMs by adopting the P model, an existing light-use efficiency model for gross primary production (GPP) that implicitly predicts the acclimation of photosynthetic parameters on a weekly to monthly timescale via optimality principles. We demonstrate that it is possible to explicitly separate the fast and slow photosynthetic responses to environmental conditions, allowing the simulation of GPP at the sub-daily timesteps required for coupling in an LSM. The resulting model reproduces the diurnal cycles of GPP recorded by eddy-covariance flux towers in a temperate grassland and boreal, temperate and tropical forests. The best performance is achieved when biochemical capacities are adjusted to match recent midday conditions. Comparison between this model and the operational LSM in the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts climate model shows that the new model has better predictive power in most of the sites and years analysed, particularly in summer and autumn. Our analyses suggest a simple and parameter-sparse method to include both instantaneous and acclimated responses within an LSM framework, with potential applications in weather, climate and carbon-cycle modelling.

  • Journal article
    Lyons-White J, Mikolo Yobo C, Ewers RM, Knight ATet al., 2022,

    Understanding zero deforestation and the High Carbon Stock Approach in a highly forested tropical country

    , Land Use Policy, Vol: 112, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 0264-8377

    “Zero deforestation” commitments are pledges by companies to avoid deforestation when producing palm oil. Zero deforestation can be implemented using the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA), a tool that distinguishes forests from degraded land which can be developed. In highly forested countries like Gabon, zero deforestation may conflict with national economic goals involving palm oil and other agricultural commodities. We investigated perspectives of stakeholders in Gabon about zero deforestation and the HCSA using Critical Systems Heuristics, a systems thinking methodology. In 25 interviews with government, NGOs, companies, and research institutions, and two focus groups with rural communities, we identified three contrasting perspectives on forest conservation and agro industrial development: international, national, and local. Zero deforestation represents an international perspective that marginalises issues from a national perspective. This may produce unintended consequences that undermine the legitimacy of zero deforestation, including conversion of Gabon’s savannahs and disincentives for sustainable business. From a local perspective, zero deforestation is embedded in an agro-industrial vision that may marginalise value judgments concerning forests and traditional livelihoods. Gabon’s National Land Use Plan could help reconcile the three perspectives but requires recognition by international standards. Adapting the HCSA to Gabon’s context should also be considered to promote legitimacy. Research is required to ensure proposed institutional arrangements deliver equitable multi-stakeholder participation in land-use planning. Gabon’s case shows the applicability of zero deforestation to all highly forested countries cannot be assumed. Improved international understanding of national contexts, and flexibility in applying “zero deforestation”, is important for designing effective and equitable international standard

  • Journal article
    Bowler E, Lefebvre VA, Pfeifer M, Ewers RMet al., 2022,

    Optimising sampling designs for habitat fragmentation studies

    , Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Vol: 13, Pages: 217-229, ISSN: 2041-210X

    Habitat fragmentation has become one of the largest areas of research in conservation biology. Empirical studies into habitat fragmentation impacts typically measure ecological responses to metrics describing fragmentation processes, for example ‘distance to the nearest forest edge’, ‘forest fragment area’ and ‘landscape habitat amount’. However, these studies often fail to sample across representative ranges of fragmentation metrics characterising the study region. They therefore lack the data to account for correlation among multiple fragmentation metrics and for spatial autocorrelation among sample sites, which reduces the strength of derived predictive models.Here, we draw on approaches used in the mining and soil science industry to develop standardised and repeatable protocols for designing optimised sampling schemes of biodiversity in fragmented landscapes that meet three criteria: the distance between sample sites is maximised to reduce spatial autocorrelation, the full range of values of the metrics of interest are sampled and the confounding effects of correlated metrics are minimised.We show that our computational methods can optimise the placement of sample sites in fragmented landscapes to minimise, and in some cases to entirely avoid, over- or under-sampling of fragmentation metrics. Our method is flexible enough to cater for any continuous (e.g. maps of percentage tree cover) or categorical (e.g. habitat and land use types) fragmentation metric, and to simultaneously handle combinations of multiple fragmentation metrics and habitat types. We implement our methods as open-source code which includes options to mask invalid or inaccessible regions, update designs to adapt to unforeseen constraints in the field and suggest optimal numbers of sample sites for given design criteria.Using a case study landscape, we demonstrate how the approach improves on manually generated sampling designs. We also show that the methods a

  • Journal article
    Lavergne A, Hemming D, Prentice IC, Guerrieri R, Oliver R, Graven Het al., 2022,

    Global decadal variability of plant carbon isotope discrimination and its link to gross primary production.

    , Global Change Biology, Vol: 28, Pages: 524-541, ISSN: 1354-1013

    Carbon isotope discrimination (Δ13C) in C3 woody plants is a key variable for the study of photosynthesis. Yet how Δ13C varies at decadal scales, and across regions, and how it is related to gross primary production (GPP), are still incompletely understood. Here we address these questions by implementing a new Δ13C modelling capability in the land-surface model JULES incorporating both photorespiratory and mesophyll-conductance fractionations. We test the ability of four leaf-internal CO2 concentration models embedded in JULES to reproduce leaf and tree-ring (TR) carbon isotopic data. We show that all the tested models tend to overestimate average Δ13C values, and to underestimate interannual variability in Δ13C. This is likely because they ignore the effects of soil water stress on stomatal behavior. Variations in post-photosynthetic isotopic fractionations across species, sites and years, may also partly explain the discrepancies between predicted and TR-derived Δ13C values. Nonetheless, the “least-cost” (Prentice) model shows the lowest biases with the isotopic measurements, and lead to improved predictions of canopy-level carbon and water fluxes. Overall, modelled Δ13C trends vary strongly between regions during the recent (1979–2016) historical period but stay nearly constant when averaged over the globe. Photorespiratory and mesophyll effects modulate the simulated global Δ13C trend by 0.0015 ± 0.005‰ and –0.0006 ± 0.001‰ ppm−1, respectively. These predictions contrast with previous findings based on atmospheric carbon isotope measurements. Predicted Δ13C and GPP tend to be negatively correlated in wet-humid and cold regions, and in tropical African forests, but positively related elsewhere. The negative correlation between Δ13C and GPP is partly due to the strong dominant influences of temperature on GPP and vapor pressure deficit on Δ13

  • Journal article
    Halfter S, Cavan EL, Butterworth P, Swadling KM, Boyd PWet al., 2022,

    "Sinking dead"-How zooplankton carcasses contribute to particulate organic carbon flux in the subantarctic Southern Ocean

    , LIMNOLOGY AND OCEANOGRAPHY, Vol: 67, Pages: 13-25, ISSN: 0024-3590

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