What is New

6 July 2016

Understanding forest fire history can help keep forests healthy

For nearly a century, forest fires have been viewed by scientists and the public as dangerous and damaging to the ecosystem. However, recent research has shown that forest fires are vital to maintaining healthy forests.

"Many forest ecosystems are fire-dependent, meaning that in order to maintain their health and vibrancy, they must be subjected to fire on a regular basis," said Stambaugh, who is a member of the Missouri Tree-Ring Laboratory at MU. "By understanding how fire has maintained forest ecosystems in the past, we can determine the best ways to use fire to maintain those forests in the future. The history of fire in America also is the history of humans on this continent. Humans have been here for more than 12,000 years and everywhere we see humans move, we see fires follow or be altered. This has been a constant for so long that forest ecology has become dependent on these fires, if they already weren't before humans arrived. However, many parts of the U.S., especially in the eastern half of the continent, have not experienced forest fires in more than 150 years because humans have worked hard to prevent those fires. Many of those forests are now suffering because of the lack of fire to help renew the ecology."

Details appear in the latest issue of journal Fire ecology

1 June 2016 

In grassland areas prescribed grassland burning is a must to maintain ecosystem says Kansas State University researchers 

Here is something that is bound to be of great interest to wildlife managers managing grassland ecosystem.

Kansas State University researchers advise an increase in prescribed grassland burning to maintain ecosystem. They have found a three-year absence of fire is the tipping point for the tallgrass prairie ecosystem and advise an increase in burning.  The study applied 40 years of data collected at Konza Prairie Biological Station, a tallgrass prairie jointly owned by Kansas State University and The Nature Conservancy and satellite fire maps of the Flint Hills from 2000 to 2010.

Managed by the university's Division of Biology, Konza Prairie has more than 50 sections of land called watersheds -- because they are partitioned based on water flow -- that are burned at varying frequencies -- from annually to every 20 years -- since the land was donated in 1971. The areas of the station with one- and two-year fire intervals have minimal large shrubs compared to a nearby watershed that is burned at three-and-a-half-year intervals and that has lost 40 percent of its area to shrub expansion.

"In this area, if we completely exclude fire, the landscape can go from tallgrass prairie to a cedar forest in as little as 30-40 years," said John Briggs, director of Konza Prairie and one of the authors of the study. "Once it gets to that point, we are not confident that fire alone is going to bring that back."

Briggs added “There is always a conflict to burning," "Most people think that the remaining tallgrass prairie should be a fenced-off preserve. They think that it will take care of itself, but this system is fire derived and historically fire maintained. Aside from the sustainable and ecological aspects, it is critical to people's livelihoods and necessary to ranching communities."  

Details appear in the latest issue of journal Rangeland Ecology and Management

17 May 2016 

6th WORLD CONGRESS ON MOUNTAIN UNGULATES - Third announcement

6th WORLD CONGRESS ON MOUNTAIN UNGULATES and 
5th INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON MOUFLON

Organized by the Ministry of Interior with the cooperation of Frederick University and the Caprinae Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission of IUCN

AUGUST 28 - SEPTEMBER 1, 2016, Nicosia, Cyprus

Message from Dr. Eleftherios Hadjisterkotis

1. Participation fee is free for all the scientists or students who are going to submit an abstract for an oral or poster presentation until the 31st of June 2016, according to the instructions in the web site: mountain ungulates

 2.  The manager of the Nicosia City Centre Hotel informed us that after the 31st of June the hotel is closing for renovations. 
The new venue hotel is Cleopatra, situated in the most central location in the city Centre of Nicosia and 6 minutes’ walk from the old part of the city. Cleopatra is within walking distance of the main business, nightlife venues, cafes and shopping centers, government offices, museums, ancient churches, medieval building and galleries, with superb accommodations and great service in a relaxing environment. More details

 Dr. Eleftherios Hadjisterkotis

Environment Officer

Ministry of the Interior, Nicosia Cyprus

On behalf of the Organizing and the Scientific Committee 

7 May 2016 

6th WORLD CONGRESS ON MOUNTAIN UNGULATES – SECOND ANNOUNCEMENT   

Message from Dr Eleftherios Hadjisterkotis, Chairman of the Organizing Committee 

Participation fee is free for the scientists who are going to submit an abstract for an oral or poster presentation until the 31st of June 2016. All other participants who are not going to submit an abstract please follow the instructions below.

PREREGISTRATION: 

€150 for non-students (early registration fee until June 31st 2016, €200 from July 1st until August 29), and €100 for students (official confirmation is requested). Registration fees will cover all administrative cost, printing of conference materials, refreshment breaks, three conference lunches, all social events including a cocktail party and the conference dinner, a full day trip to the center of Pafos Forest the habitat of the Cyprus Mouflon, a visit to cedar valley, and a visit to the historic Kykko monastery. The fee for accompanying persons is €100. It includes a cocktail party, the official dinner, ladies program in Nicosia, and one day excursion with lunch, etc. 

2 May 2016 

Convincing evidence to show that drones can add substantial value to long-term ecological monitoring by providing low cost, high resolution data

Seeing the forest from drones: Testing the potential of lightweight drones as a tool for long-term forest monitoring

Jian Zhang,Jianbo Hu, Juyu Lian, Zongji Fann, Xuejun Ouyang and Wanhui Ye

Biological ConservationVolume 198, June 2016, Pages 60–69

Here is a paper that provides Convincing evidence that drones can add substantial value to long-term ecological monitoring by providing low cost, high resolution data.

Long-term ecological monitoring has contributed significantly towards advancements in theoretical and applied ecology. The flip side is that the costs to maintain a long-term monitoring site are enormous. Here the researchers used a lightweight drone to map in detail forest canopy structure across a 20-ha subtropical forest dynamics plot. They examined the added benefit of incorporating drone-derived variables in explaining local variation in both stand and species measures. The researchers were convinced thatDrone-derived canopy variables contributed substantially towards explaining spatial patterns in biodiversity. Species with different light requirements responded to canopy variables supporting gap dynamics successional theories and Lightweight drone technologies offer great potential for long-term ecological studies.

30 March 2016 

Making remote sensing data relevant to wildlife management – A case study 

In mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), reproduction patterns closely follow the cycles of plant growth in their habitat. Research led by David Stoner of Utah State University using NASA satellite data has demonstrated that tracking vegetation from space can help wildlife managers predict when does will give birth to fawns. Researchers claim they can forecast the timing of fawning seasons based on vegetation. With satellite data they track when vegetation greens up and how productive it is compared to drought or wet years.

The tool used by researchers is called the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which is a measure of the "greenness" of the landscape. It measures how plants absorb and reflect light -- the more infrared light is reflected, the healthier the vegetation. So by measuring the greenness of the mule deer habitat, scientists were able to mark the beginning and peak of the plant growing season -- and the fawning season. 

29 March 2016 

Next big advancement in drones is round the corner 

 Exciting advances  in drones is round the corner. Drones powered by hydrogen cells are undergoing trials in UK. The fuel cells were developed by the firm 'Intelligent Energy'. The drones powered by hydrogen cells can fly up to two hours compared to half an hour of most drones now. The refueling takes only a few minutes without any hassles, compared to hours needed to charge the battery pack. The prototype is expected to be developed in to full fledged model by the end of the year. A major manufacturer of drones has already obtained commercial rights for the new fuel cells. So, guys, if you are planning to buy a new drone please bear the latest development in mind before you take the plunge.

 

16 March 2016 

Targeted gene flow as a tool for conservation 

Ella Kelly and Ben L. Phillips from School of Biosciences, University of Melbourne argues that  targeted gene flow, which involves moving individuals with favorite  traits to areas where these traits would have a conservation benefit, could have much broader application in conservation. Across a species’ range there may be long-standing geographic variation in traits or variation that  may have rapidly developed in response to a threatening process.   Rather than simply assuming persistent populations are there purely because of attributes of their environment, decision makers should carefully consider the possibility that these populations persist because of genetic variation in relevant traits. The persistent populations can be exploited for both targeted gene flow and reintroduction efforts. Targeted gene flow could be used to promote natural resistance to threats to increase species resilience. They go on to add that targeted gene flow is a currently under appreciated strategy in conservation.  Targeted gene flow may provide novel solutions to a number of conservation problems across a wide range of species and threatening processes.

   Targeted gene flow for conservation

    Ella Kelly and Ben L. Phillips

Conservation Biology, Volume 30Issue 2pages 259–267April 2016

 

14th March 2016 

6th World Congress on Mountain Ungulates and 5th International Symposium on Mouflon. The website is ready 

The website of the congress is ready. It is up and running 

Please log on to  mountain ungulates gov.cy

You can submit your abstracts now.

We have already posted the first announcement a few days back   

24 February 2016 

Fear is the key in predator- prey relationships 

Fear of large carnivores causes a trophic cascade

Justin P. Suraci,           Michael Clinchy, Lawrence M. Dill, Devin Roberts& Liana Y. Zanette

Nature Communications 7, Article number: 10698 Published 23 February 2016

The researchers say “The fear large carnivores inspire, independent of their direct killing of prey, may cause cascading effects down food webs potentially critical for conserving ecosystem function, particularly by affecting large herbivores and mesocarnivores. Till now the presumption has remained experimentally untested.

Here the researchers show that experimentally manipulating fear itself in free-living mesocarnivore (raccoon) populations using month-long playbacks of large carnivore vocalizations caused just such cascading effects, reducing mesocarnivore foraging to the benefit of the mesocarnivore’s prey, which in turn affected a competitor and prey of the mesocarnivore’s prey.  The researchers by experimentally restoring the fear of large carnivores in their study system, where most large carnivores have been extirpated, succeeded in reversing the mesocarnivore’s impacts.

The researchers’ signs off saying “We suggest that our results reinforce the need to conserve large carnivores given the significant “ecosystem service” the fear of them provides.”

15 February 2016 

Use of Twitter as an effective communication tool in conservation

Using Twitter to communicate conservation science from a professional conference

Sara P. Bombaci, Cooper M. Farr, H. Travis Gallo, Anna M. Mangan, Lani T. Stinson, Monica Kaushik and Liba Pejchar

Conservation Biology, Volume 30, Issue 1, pages 216–225, February 2016

read this interesting paper today. The researchers examined the feasibility of using twitter for scholarly discussion, and extending and diversifying the scope of audiences reached. They examined live tweeting as a means of communicating conservation science at the 2013 International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB). One drawback noticed was that the groups often reached through live tweeting were not the presenters’ intended audiences. Policy makers and government and non-governmental organizations were rarely reached (0%, 4%, and 6% of audience, respectively). Much more work is needed to fine-tune the whole process of delivery. Over half the presenters believed the tweets about their talks were effective.

The researchers recommend that presenters who want their science to be communicated accurately and broadly through Twitter should provide Twitter-friendly summaries that incorporate relevant hashtags and usernames.

The scientist caution that if Twitter does not accurately convey science due to the inherent brevity of this media, misinformation could cascade quickly through social media. 

22 January 2016 

Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge – Top slot for Indian IT firm

The Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge is an initiative of USAID, in partnership with National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution and TRAFFIC. They have announced the winners of its competition for designing new, innovative solutions to the most intractable issues in the fight against wildlife trafficking.

Indian IT firm Binomial Solutions Private Limited (India) has found the top slot for its innovative “e-Eye ® (Electronic Eye): Real-time Anti-Poaching, Surveillance & Wildlife Tracking System.” Congrats. Give a big hand to them, guys.

The other winners are

Bosque Antiguo (Mexico): “High Throughput STRs and Sequence Genotyping as Forensic Tools for Species Protection”.

For the Fishes (U.S.): “Tank Watch--The Good Fish/Bad Fish Tool for Saltwater Aquariums.”

Jennifer Jacquet (U.S.): “Enforcement Gaps Interface.”

Kalev Hannes Leetaru (U.S.): “A Real-time Global Platform for Mapping, Forecasting, and Network Assessment of Wildlife Crime.”

Mars Omega Partnership Ltd (U.K.):“The JIGZAW Information Collaboration Project.”

National Whistleblowers Center (U.S.): “Secured Internet Wildlife Crime Reporting System.”

New England Aquarium (U.S.): “Live Digital Invoices for Real Time Data Analytics to Enhance Detection of Illegal Wildlife Trade.”

Paso Pacifico (U.S.): “The Trade of Endangered Sea Turtle Eggs: Detecting and Monitoring Regional Transit Routes.” 

Planet Indonesia (U.S.): “Enhancing Bird Market Monitoring in Indonesia through Smartphone Technology.”

University of Leicester (U.K.): “Universal Species Identification in the field by Rapid and Affordable Nanopore DNA Sequencing.”

University of Pretoria (South Africa): Internationalization of RhODIS® and eRhODIS®

University of Technology Sydney (Australia): “Rapid Chemical Odor Profiling for Frontline Identification of Illegal Wildlife Products.”

University of Washington (U.S.): High Throughput Methods for Locating Source Populations in the Illegal Wildlife Trade.”

Yayasan Inisiasi Alam Rehabilitasi Indonesia (Indonesia): “Conservation of threatened Indonesian Slow Lorises Using DNA-based Forensic Methods to Tackle Trade.”

Zoological Society of London (U.K.): “Instant Detect- Exposing the Movement of Poachers in Real Time.”

USAID will award USD10, 000 to each winner and provide technical support to help them fine tune their solutions to stamp out illegal trade in wildlife. Winners are eligible to compete for a Grand Prize of up to USD500, 000. 

23 December 2015 

‘Systems behaviour chart', which conservation managers can use to focus their decisions 

Dr Simon Black  Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, Canterbury  has come up with a new method to help conservation mangers focus their management decisions. The method is a spin off from the control chart methods of commercial and industrial and environmental monitoring. It gives an approach to using existing data and enables insight to aid timely planning of conservation interventions.

System Behaviour Charts Inform an Understanding of Biodiversity Recovery

Simon A. Black, International Journal of Ecology, Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 787925

Read the paper HERE 

28 November 2015 

6th WORLD CONGRESS ON MOUNTAIN UNGULATES

First Announcement

The Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Cyprus, Frederick University, and the IUCN Caprinae Specialist Group, invites you to attend the:  6th WORLD CONGRESS ON MOUNTAIN UNGULATES and  5th INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON MOUFLON

AUGUST 29 - SEPTEMBER 2, 2016, NICOSIA, CYPRUS,Under the Auspices of the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Socrates Hasikos.

Congress Chairman:Dr Eleftherios Hadjisterkotis

The website is under construction. We will keep you updated about latest announcements.

2September 2015 

A new approach for identifying vertebrate populations at risk of extinction by estimating the rate of genetic diversity loss 

Criteria currently used to identify at risk species are based on demographics. These criteria are not correlated with genetic diversity. To rectify the lacunae, Univeristy of Purdue researchers have come up with a novel approach for identifying species of conservation need by estimating the expected loss of genetic diversity. The researchers evaluated the efficacy of their new approach and found that it performs significantly better than the existing methods for identifying species that merit conservation. The new method helps conservationists to estimate the number of generations remaining before a population reaches a threshold of low genetic variation. The team used datasets from 5,164 studies spanning 17,988 loci -- that is, positions of a gene on a chromosome -- to estimate genetic diversity across wild populations of birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. They found that threatened species had reduced genetic variation, likely due to inbreeding and the random loss of variation that occurs when population sizes are small.

The reduction of genetic diversity in threatened vertebrates and new recommendations regarding IUCN conservation rankings

Janna R. Willoughbya, Mekala Sundarama, Bhagya K. Wijayawardenab, Steven J.A. Kimblea, Yanzhu Jia, Nadia B. Fernandeza, b, Jennifer D. Antonidesa, Maureen C. Lambb, Nicholas J. Marrac, J. Andrew DeWoodya,

Biological Conservation, Volume 191, November 2015, Pages 495–503

1 September 2015 

Using ERDAS IMAGINE 2015 Spatial Modeller in conjunction with conservation drone images     

Manually extracting pertinent information from drone imagery is an arduous and time-consuming task. It is here that the new ERDAS IMAGINE 2015 Spatial Modeller comes in handy. The software removes the traditional dialogue-driven workflows and replaces them with a streamlined, customizable graphical Interface. A minor tweak to the model devised for counting oil palm trees allowed it to be used to identify nesting sites and count over 2000 birds from a different UAV image.

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