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See detailThe value of disturbance-tolerant cercopithecine monkeys as seed dispersers in degraded habitats
Albert, Aurélie; McConkey, Kim; Savini, Tommaso ULg et al

in Biological Conservation (2014), 170

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See detailSelective defaunation affects dung beetle communities in continuous Atlantic rainforest
Culot, Laurence ULg; Bovy, Emilie; Vaz-de-Mello, Fernando Z. et al

in Biological Conservation (2013), 163

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See detailEffects of management regimes and extreme climatic events on plant population viability in Eryngium alpinum
Andrello, Marco; Bizoux, Jean-Philippe ULg; BARBET-MASSIN, morgane et al

in Biological Conservation (2012), 147(1), 99-106

Extreme climatic events like the 2003 summer heatwave and inappropriate land management can threaten the existence of rare plants. We studied the response of Eryngium alpinum, a vulnerable species, to ... [more ▼]

Extreme climatic events like the 2003 summer heatwave and inappropriate land management can threaten the existence of rare plants. We studied the response of Eryngium alpinum, a vulnerable species, to this extreme climatic event and different agricultural practices. A demographic study was conducted in seven field sites between 2001 and 2010. Stage-specific vital rates were used to parameterize matrix population models and perform stochastic projections to calculate population growth rates and estimate extinction probabilities. Among management regimes, spring grazing and land abandonment decreased vital rates and population growth, while autumn grazing and late mowing had positive effects on population viability. The 2003 heatwave reduced fecundity rates and survival rates. Only spring grazed sites presented considerable extinction risk. Stochastic projections showed that an increased frequency of 2003-like events may exacerbate extinction risk, but extinction probability depends mainly on land management regimes. To better conserve E. alpinum populations, we recommend conversion of presently spring grazed and abandoned sites to late mowing or autumn grazing. [less ▲]

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See detailPlant species extinction debt in a temperate biodiversity hotspot: community, species and functional traits approaches
Piqueray, Julien ULg; Bisteau, Emmanuelle; Cristofoli, Sara et al

in Biological Conservation (2011), 144

Destruction and fragmentation of (semi-) natural habitats are considered the main causes of biodiversity loss worldwide. Plant species may exhibit a slow response to fragmentation, resulting in the ... [more ▼]

Destruction and fragmentation of (semi-) natural habitats are considered the main causes of biodiversity loss worldwide. Plant species may exhibit a slow response to fragmentation, resulting in the development of an extinction debt in fragmented plant communities. The detection of extinction debt is of primary importance in habitat conservation strategies. We applied two different approaches proposed in the literature to identify extinction debt in Southeast Belgium calcareous grasslands. The first method compared species richness between stable and fragmented habitat patches. The second explored correlations between current species richness and current and past landscape configurations using multiple regression analyses. We subsequently examined results generated by both methods. In addition, we proposed techniques to identify species that are more likely to support extinction debt and associated functional traits. We estimated a respective extinction debt of approximately 28% and 35% of the total and specialist species richness. Similar results were obtained from both methods. We identified 15 threatened specialist species under the current landscape configuration. It is likely the landscape configuration no longer supports the species habitat requirements. We demonstrated that non-clonal species are most threatened, as well as taxa that cannot persist in degraded habitats and form only sparsely distributed populations. We discussed our results in light of other studies in similar habitats, and the overall implications for habitat conservation. [less ▲]

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See detailChanges in the distribution of carabid beetles in Belgium revisited: Have we halted the diversity loss?
Desender, K.; Dekoninck, W.; Dufrêne, Marc ULg et al

in Biological Conservation (2010), 143(6), 1549-1557

Twenty years ago, Desender and Turin (1989) analysed the changes in the composition of carabid beetles in four NW European countries between the periods <1950 and 1950-1985. Recently, a new distribution ... [more ▼]

Twenty years ago, Desender and Turin (1989) analysed the changes in the composition of carabid beetles in four NW European countries between the periods <1950 and 1950-1985. Recently, a new distribution atlas of carabid beetles in Belgium was compiled using data collected during the period 1986-2008. In the light of the Countdown2010 target of halting the loss of biodiversity, we used these new data to test whether or not previously observed trends were altered. Since 1950, 46 species were no longer recorded in Belgium and seven species were added to the Belgian fauna. By relating the changes in distribution area to ecological and life history traits as well as to conservation priorities of the species, we examined which species characteristics were associated with the strongest changes in distribution. Comparing the period before 1950 with the period 1950-1985 showed that species from nutrient-poor dry biotopes and heathlands, threatened, rare and big species declined. Generalists, non-threatened species, species with a pan-European distribution range, species in the centre of their distribution range and common species, on the other hand, increased. From the period 1950-1985 to 1986-2008, mainly macropterous species, both rare and very common species and big species decreased, while generalists, dimorphic species, species with a pan-European distribution range and species that were already common in the second period increased. For the conservation of carabid beetles in a strongly industrialised and highly fragmented NW European landscape, we propose actions on two levels: first, the protection and adequate management of high quality biotopes, especially nutrient-poor grasslands and heathlands, in large core areas for specialist species and second, the creation and/or restoration of a 'matrix' that facilitates the exchange of individuals between core areas for the conservation of both generalist and specialist species. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. [less ▲]

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See detailManagement strategies in urban green spaces: Models based on an introduced exotic pet turtle
Teillac-Deschamps, Pauline; Lorillière, Romain; Servais, Véronique ULg et al

in Biological Conservation (2009), 142(10), 2258-2269

A number of recent authors have emphasised the increasing disconnection from conservation issues among urban dwellers. In a global increase of urbanisation, this disconnect can have an impact on ... [more ▼]

A number of recent authors have emphasised the increasing disconnection from conservation issues among urban dwellers. In a global increase of urbanisation, this disconnect can have an impact on conservation practices. Here, we discuss how managers of public green spaces can contribute to global biodiversity preservation, through combined efforts to preserve local biodiversity and educate the public about conservation issues. We compared several management strategies, including those that mixed direct action on local biodiversity with public education and those that did not. Two kinds of one-way communication were considered as well as a two-way communication process, which take into account different perceptions and practices of nature. We based our model on the introduction of the red-eared slider turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans, into urban French freshwater ecosystems. We found that direct actions only had a limited, short term effect on the abundance of feral turtles in green spaces and had no effect on the level of public concern about environmental questions. We also showed that a mix of different communication strategies improved people’s awareness and altered behaviour with respect to introduced species issues. Finally, we showed the importance of a two-way communication that takes into account the diversity of personal perceptions and practices as regards nature in urban areas in order to achieve sustainable conservation measures and objectives [less ▲]

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See detailA multi-scale approach to facultative paedomorphosis of European newts (Salamandridae) in the Montenegrin karst: Distribution pattern, environmental variables, and conservation
Denoël, Mathieu ULg; Ficetola, Gentile Francesco; Cirovic, Ruza et al

in Biological Conservation (2009), 142(3), 509-517

Facultative paedomorphosis, a process in which newt larvae can opt for reproduction before or after metamorphosis, is geographically heterogeneous. Despite numerous ecological studies and recent evidence ... [more ▼]

Facultative paedomorphosis, a process in which newt larvae can opt for reproduction before or after metamorphosis, is geographically heterogeneous. Despite numerous ecological studies and recent evidence of declines in paedomorphic populations, however, no attempt to model environmental variables that explain the presence of paedomorphs has been made at a multi-scale level. Our aim was to fill this gap in studying three newt species (Lissotriton vulgaris, Mesotriton alpestris, and Triturus macedonicus) of the Montenegrin karst as model species. To this end, we used multivariate analysis on three scales of habitat: the breeding pond, the land use and the climatologic features. Results show that the study area is both an important hotspot for paedomorphosis and where intraspecific diversity is quickly disappearing (20-47% extirpation) because of fish introductions. Other habitat variables (water permanency, PH or the habitat origin) were shown to act on paedomorphosis but not consistently across species, confirming complexity of the evolutionary and ecological processes. This study appeals for more long-term and detailed landscape studies of polyphenisms, a neglected but promising topic, to better understand and protect alternative modes of development. Particularly, measures should be taken to identify hotspots of intraspecific diversity at a global scale and stop fish introductions before we reach a point of no-return. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailFitness-related parameters improve presence-only distribution modelling for conservation practice: The case of the red-backed shrike
Titeux, N.; Dufrêne, Marc ULg; Radoux, J. et al

in Biological Conservation (2007), 138(1-2), 207-223

The red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio L.) is a bird living in human-altered agricultural areas that are managed by extensive farming techniques. This passerine species has declined significantly in ... [more ▼]

The red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio L.) is a bird living in human-altered agricultural areas that are managed by extensive farming techniques. This passerine species has declined significantly in Western Europe over the last 30-40 years. The development of efficient species-specific conservation strategies relies on fine-grained information about the ecological resources and environmental conditions that constitute its reproductive habitat in this agricultural landscape. Species distribution models are used increasingly in conservation biology to provide such information. Most studies investigate the environmental pattern of species distribution, assuming that species records are reliable indicators of habitat suitability. However, ecological theory on source-sink dynamics and ecological traps points out that some individuals may be located outside the environmental bounds of their species' reproductive niche. Those individuals could reduce model accuracy and limit model utility. Parameters related to the reproductive success of this shrike in Southern Belgium were integrated into a fine-scale presence-only modelling framework to demonstrate this problem and to address critical habitat requirements of this species relative to conservation management. Integrating reproductive parameters into the modelling framework showed that individuals occurred, but did not reproduce successfully, above a certain environmental threshold. This indicated that the reproductive niche of the shrike is ecologically narrower than standard practice in species distribution modelling would suggest. The major resources (nest sites availability, distance to human settlements, suitable perching sites, foraging areas and insect abundance) required for the reproduction of the red-backed shrike were quantified and ranked to offer concrete species-specific conservation management guidelines. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailEcological characteristic's of small farmland ponds: Associations with land use practices at multiple spatial scales
Declerck, Steven; De Bie, Tom; Ercken, Dirk et al

in Biological Conservation (2006), 131(4), 523-532

Despite their restricted surface area, small farmland ponds often have a high conservation value because they contribute significantly to regional biodiversity and contain rare or unique species. For this ... [more ▼]

Despite their restricted surface area, small farmland ponds often have a high conservation value because they contribute significantly to regional biodiversity and contain rare or unique species. For this reason, the creation of new ponds has become a widely applied practice in many countries. information on the effects of land use on farmland ponds is very scarce. Farmland ponds differ from larger ponds, lakes and livers in many aspects and can therefore be expected to be affected by land use via other mechanisms operating at different spatial scales. We here present a study on 126 ponds distributed over the entire territory of Belgium (surface area: 30.500 km(2)). We assessed variables related to turbidity state and vegetation complexity and related them to land use variables assessed at several spatial scales ranging from the pond edge up to 32 km(2) circular areas. According to redundancy analysis, trampling by cattle and percentage cover of nearby crop land were positively associated with turbid state related variables. Conversely, ponds with high coverage by forest in the immediate neighbourhood tended to be more associated with the clear water state. Multiple regression analysis demonstrated a negative effect of trampling and coverage by crop land on vegetation complexity. Effects of crop lands and forest were strongest at the local scale (< 200 m radius) which indicates that adverse external influences can most efficiently be mitigated at a small scale. Based on these results we suggest several recommendations for pond construction and conservation. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailMulti-scale effect of landscape processes and habitat quality on newt abundance: Implications for conservation
Denoël, Mathieu ULg; Lehmann, Anthony

in Biological Conservation (2006), 130(4), 495-504

Recent studies in population dynamics suggest that landscape processes and habitat quality act at different scales on population abundances, but very few have modelled their simultaneous effects. However ... [more ▼]

Recent studies in population dynamics suggest that landscape processes and habitat quality act at different scales on population abundances, but very few have modelled their simultaneous effects. However, at a time of large declines in natural populations, it is essential to understand such multivariate components. We tested the hypothesis that natural populations of palmate newts (Triturus helveticus) are affected on three scales: breeding patch (pond), habitat complementation (terrestrial cover), and metapopulation. structure (density of ponds, surrounding populations). We conducted our survey in 130 ponds from southern France (Larzac) and analysed data with generalized additive models (GAM). Two main novel results emerge from these models: (1) the three landscape scales have significant effects on newt abundance, with more newts in deep, vegetated ponds, devoid of fish and surrounded by wooded areas and inhabited ponds; (2) the quality of the surrounding breeding patches is of primary importance in determining the abundance at core sites in a complex way: high abundances are associated positively with high densities of inhabited ponds, but negatively with the number of surrounding ponds. Deforestation, invasive species and abandonment of ponds all have negative impacts on the persistence of palmate newt populations. Future studies should encompass landscapes at different scales and incorporate the habitat quality in surrounding sites to better understand population dynamics and. provide adequate conservation measures. [less ▲]

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See detailA GIS-based survey for the conservation of bryophytes at the landscape scale
Vanderpoorten, Alain ULg; Sotiaux, André ULg; Engels, Patrick ULg

in Biological Conservation (2005), 121(2), 189-194

Geographical information system (GIS) data on landscape features and land use were collected to predict bryophyte diversity and conservation value in order to determine the factors that favour bryophytes ... [more ▼]

Geographical information system (GIS) data on landscape features and land use were collected to predict bryophyte diversity and conservation value in order to determine the factors that favour bryophytes at a large geographical scale and propose the relevant conservation measures. Total species diversity and diversity in species of high conservation value were highly correlated, and the landscape features promoting them were the proportion of military lands, steep slopes, and broadleaf woodland. Military lands seemed to be especially important for the conservation of endangered species highly specialized to open habitats maintained by the appropriate level of disturbance. Woodland cover was also as a key factor for bryophyte diversity but landscape heterogeneity, such as steep slopes with a range of contrasting ecological conditions, was required to reach the highest species numbers. The GIS-based approach presented here may help focusing the attention on sites exhibiting the appropriate landscape features in terms of conservation, which is especially relevant in the context of the European network 'Natura 2000' for designating, conserving, and managing the sites of high biological value. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailIs the western population of the European mink, (Mustela lutreola), a distinct Management Unit for conservation?
Michaux, Johan ULg; Libois, Roland ULg; Davison, A. et al

in Biological Conservation (2004), 115(3), 357-367

The European mink (Mustela lutreola) is one of the most threatened carnivores in Europe, with fragmented populations in Belarus. Russia and Romania, as well in south-western France and northern Spain ... [more ▼]

The European mink (Mustela lutreola) is one of the most threatened carnivores in Europe, with fragmented populations in Belarus. Russia and Romania, as well in south-western France and northern Spain. Many populations have become extinct recently, or are declining. We investigated mitochondrial DNA variation, using the complete D-loop region, and concentrating oil the west European population. The aim was two-fold: to use the genetic information to advise on the conservation of European mink, and to begin to understand their history through the Pleistocene. Captive breeding and re-introduction programmes are underway, so it is particularly vital to know whether the West European population should be treated separately. We find that European mink probably colonised from a single refugium after the last glaciation. West European populations may be fixed for a single haplotype. also suggesting a common origin. Despite this evidence for gene flow, following the precautionary principle we suggest that mink from the three geographically separate populations (Romania, Eastern and Western Europe) should be managed separately, for the moment. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Bryophyte Layer In A Calcareous Grassland After A Decade Of Contrasting Mowing Regimes
Vanderpoorten, Alain ULg; Delescaille, Lm.; Jacquemart, Al.

in Biological Conservation (2004), 117(1),

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See detailConservation management for Orthoptera in the Dadia reserve, Greece
Kati, V.; Dufrêne, Marc ULg; Legakis, A. et al

in Biological Conservation (2004), 115(1), 33-44

The diversity patterns, the ecological structure and the typical species of the orthopteran assemblage in the Dadia reserve are investigated. The reserve was designed to protect the black vulture ... [more ▼]

The diversity patterns, the ecological structure and the typical species of the orthopteran assemblage in the Dadia reserve are investigated. The reserve was designed to protect the black vulture (Aegypius monachus) and other raptors. A total of 39 orthopteran species were found, including Paranocarodes chopardi, a pamphagid species with very restricted distribution. All species can be represented in a network of six complementary habitats, including open oak woodlands, agricultural fields separated with hedges, humid grasslands, as well as serpentine grasslands. The buffer zone of the reserve is far more important for Orthoptera conservation than the core areas, which host most of the black vulture nests. Management focusing on raptors is in general compatible with conservation of Orthoptera. We suggest the maintenance of forest openings in the buffer zone, the maintenance of forest heterogeneity, the enhancement of periodical livestock grazing, and the use of nine indicator species and Paranocarodes chopardi in the reserve monitoring program. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailHotspots, complementarity or representativeness? Designing optimal small-scale reserves for biodiversity conservation
Kati, V.; Devillers, P.; Dufrêne, Marc ULg et al

in Biological Conservation (2004), 120(4), 471-480

Reserve networks are a major tool of ecological management aiming at biodiversity conservation. Maximizing the number of species conserved with the minimum land sacrifice is a primary requirement in ... [more ▼]

Reserve networks are a major tool of ecological management aiming at biodiversity conservation. Maximizing the number of species conserved with the minimum land sacrifice is a primary requirement in reserve design. In this study, we examine the efficiency of five different scenarios to conserve: (i) the biodiversity of one target group and (ii) the overall biodiversity of an area. The study was conducted in Dadia Reserve, in northern Greece. Six groups of species were selected to represent its biodiversity: woody plants, orchids, Orthoptera, aquatic and terrestrial herpetofauna, and small terrestrial birds. The scenarios examined represent different conservation approaches to select network sites. For each approach, the starting point was one of the above six groups of species, considered as the target group. In scenario A, which reflects the hotspot approach, the sites richest in species are selected. Scenario B selects the sites most complementary in terms of species richness. The next two scenarios use the principle of environmental representativeness, expressed in terms of habitat (scenario C) or vegetation (scenario D). Under scenario E, sites forming the network are selected at random. The rank of scenarios in terms of preserving the species of the target group was always B>A>C>D>E, irrespective of the group considered as target group. Their rank, when preservation of the total biodiversity was the issue, was B, A>C, D>E. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailA comparative study of the hydrophyte flora from the Alpine Rhine to the Middle Rhine. Application to the conservation of the Upper Rhine aquatic ecosystems
Vanderpoorten, Alain ULg; Klein, J. P.

in Biological Conservation (1999), 87(2), 163-172

A typology of the main channel of the river Rhine according to its aquatic bryophyte and vascular hydrophyte assemblages is presented. The aquatic bryophytes are especially abundant in the main channel ... [more ▼]

A typology of the main channel of the river Rhine according to its aquatic bryophyte and vascular hydrophyte assemblages is presented. The aquatic bryophytes are especially abundant in the main channel, having found stable, rocky habitats with variable water levels in the regulated river, and segregate longitudinally along a gradient of water quality. Conversely, the vascular hydrophytes are restricted to side channels with constant discharges and silt deposits, and segregate laterally along a gradient of connectivity with the main river. The hydrophytes have been affected by water eutrophication which became obvious in the 1960s-1970s. The oligotrophic groundwater-fed side-channels disconnected since the river canalization consequently include a relic reference flora. Important hydraulic works are currently in progress in order to protect the areas located downstream from the canalized Rhine from flooding by retaining the river waters in lateral systems during the discharge peaks and to recreate a functional alluvial floodplain by reconnecting the disconnected side-channels to the main river. The floodpulse caused by the suddent input of surface water in the disconnected brooks will probably wash out most of the hydrophytes and it is very likely that the rare species with their low recolonization strategies will disappear in these conditions. It is highly desirable to preserve from flooding the last oligotrophic brooks with their original hydrophyte assemblages. Those brooks which show a tendency to silt up can be re-dynamized by ecological engineering without disturbing the flowing drains of the watertable. In areas (including flowing drains of the watertable) that have already been designated for flood retention, the hydraulic works should allow, as far as possible, the preservation of the flowing oligotrophy streams by only permitting the input of surface water in the silted-up brooks. The disconnected side-channels could then continue their role as refugia from where the main channel, whose water quality has been improving for a decade, could be recolonized by its primary flora. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Unionid mussels (Mollusca, Bivalvia) of the Belgian upper river Meuse: an assessment of the impact of hydraulic works on the river water self-purification
Libois, Roland ULg; Hallet, Catherine

in Biological Conservation (1987), 42

In september 1983, the nine weirs regulating the flow of the river Meuse between Givet (France) and Namur (Belgium) were kept fully open for technical purposes. The water level therefore dropped, allowing ... [more ▼]

In september 1983, the nine weirs regulating the flow of the river Meuse between Givet (France) and Namur (Belgium) were kept fully open for technical purposes. The water level therefore dropped, allowing the sampling of benthic organisms and the mapping of the different kinds of banks. For each bank type, the density of unionids mussels was measured. Silt and fine gravel bottoms are the preferred habitats of these mussels. In these natural habitats, the mean biomass is estimated at more than 1.8 tonnes/ha. In pebbles this value is near 1 tonne/ha whereas in the stony blocks and on rocky bars it falls to 165 kg/ha. Man made banks are poor biotopes: 297 kg mussels/ha on old stoneworks and only 65 kg/ha on recent ones. When the filtration rate is considered, is can be shown that, at the time this study was under taken, the unionid mussels living on the Meuse banks filtered more than 300 litres water/sec. This rate will drop to 27 litres/sec within only a few years if the designed hydraulic works are carried out. This study emphasises the negative effects of these works on the self-purification capacity of the river. [less ▲]

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