News

Alumni Publications 2020

June 11, 2020

Please find below a list of our alumni publications (in alphabetical order) featured in our 2020 newsletter issues.

2020

Acevedo, A. A., Armesto, O., & Palma, E. (2020). Two new species of Pristmantis (Anura: Craugastoridae) with notes on the distribution of the genus in northeastern Colombia. Zootaxa, 4750 (4): 499-523.

We describe two new species of the genus Pristimantis from the western margin of the Eastern Cordillera of Colombia. The species have a sympatric distribution and are found in the humid tropical forests of the lower part of the Tamá National Natural Park (PNN Tamá) and its buffer zone. The new species were described from morphological comparisons and phylogenetic reconstruction from the sequencing of three mitochondrial and two nuclear genes. With these two new species, the number of Pristimantis species known in the department of Norte de Santander has increased to 10. In addition, we included new sequences for the species P. anolirexP. niceforiP. mondolfii, and P. yukpa. Our explorations in the last decade indicate that there are probably between five and 10 species that have not been described in the northeastern part of Colombia, especially in areas where the armed conflict has predominated in the last five decades.

**************************************************************

Aditya, V., Pasul, Y., & Thyagarajan, G. (2020). On the occurrence of Honey Badger Mellivora capensis (Mammalia: Carnivora: Mustelidae) in the northern Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa12(5), 15661-15663. https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.5162.12.5.15661-15663

The Honey Badger or Ratel is a monotypic species of the badger family Mustelidae ranging across Africa and Asia at low densities.  There have been no records of their presence and distribution across the Eastern Ghats of India.  The present note reports the first camera trap record of the Honey Badger Mellivora capensis Schreber, 1776 from the reserved forests of the northern Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh, India.

**************************************************************

Andriantsimanarilafy, R. R., Randrianantoandro J. C. & Andrihery S. (2020). Calumma tarzan: Density. Herpetol. Rev. 51(1): 122. 

Calumma tarzan is one of Critically Endangered chameleon of Madagascar. Research on its population size, distribution and trend was recommended during red list assessment. Establish conservation strategy of this species was mentioned for future action needed on our CLP project report (ID Code F210308) submitted in January 2011. This project given us an opportunities to do survey of chameleon from different part of Madagascar and increase our knowledge on this group and their need for conservation. We conducted survey of this species from three known sites of Tarzan chameleon and this article the first data on its population density that we think important to know. Actually we have project and plan establish the species conservation strategy for 2021.

**************************************************************

Campbell, E., Mangel, J.C., Alfaro-Shigueto, J., Mena, J.L., Thurstan, R.H. & Godley, B.J. (2020) Coexisting in the Peruvian Amazon: Interactions between fisheries and river dolphins. Journal for Nature Conservation, 56, 125859.

The freshwater tucuxi (Sotalia flluviatilis) and the Amazon River dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) are endemic to the Amazon-Orinoco river basin. Their conservation is hindered by human disturbance and uncertainty about total population size and distribution. In this study, we used rapid assessment questionnaires to identify threats to river dolphins in Peru and to identify priority areas for their further study and conservation. We administered questionnaires to fishers (surveyed 2010 n = 162, 2015 n = 251) and community members (surveyed 2015 only; n = 118) at 12 landing ports of the Peruvian Amazon, asking questions about their knowledge, perception and interactions with river dolphins. Dolphins were observed by interviewed fishers based across all ports except for Aguaytia port, which was subsequently excluded from further analysis. Across the sampled ports in 2010, an average of 86 % of fishers (range: 59–100%; n = 8 ports) associated dolphins with negative economic impacts, largely due to net damage with similar findings in the more extensive survey in 2015 (74%, 27–100%; n = 11 ports). Bycatch of dolphins was also reported in 11 ports, with a higher incidence in the Loreto, where up to 10 bycaught individuals per fisher per year were reported for both time periods. The use of dolphins as bait has been practised from at least 2010 (2010: 31% of fishers, 11–57%; 2015: 31%, 0–63%) and is prevalent (>40%) in four of the surveyed ports (Caballococha, Bagazan, Requena and Manantay). Our study can be used as a first reference to guide monitoring of river dolphin populations in priority areas. Future efforts should revisit and extend this survey to other ports in Peru. Doing so will enable detection of trends in fisheries conflicts with river dolphins and improve the estimation of bycatch and direct take of dolphins in the Peruvian Amazon.

**************************************************************

Costa-Araújo R., Regolin A. L, Martelo F., Souza-Alves J. P., Hrbek T., Ribeiro M. C. (2020). Occurrence and conservation of the Vulnerable titi monkey Callicebus melanochir in fragmented landscapes of the Atlantic forest hotspot. Oryx (in press)

**************************************************************

Das, D.K., Galib, A.J., Khandakar, N., Rohman, M.H., & Reza, A.H.M.A. (2020). Activity budget of wintering Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis) at Damar Char, Bangladesh. Marine Ornithology 48: 119–123.

The Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis is categorized as a globally ‘Vulnerable' or ‘Critically Endangered' species, depending on ranking source. This is mostly because of its rapid population decrease due to widespread degradation and disturbance of its habitat in lowland rivers and wetlands. At present, the last strongholds of the Indian Skimmer are in India and Bangladesh. Here we describe the species' activity budget in its wintering ground at Damar Char, an island on the southern coast of Bangladesh. We used scan sampling during 47 hours of observations to quantify the Indian Skimmer activity budget between January and March 2016. Skimmers spent most of the time roosting (49 %), followed by flying (33 %), being alert (11 %), preening (4 %), foraging (2 %), and interacting with others (1 %). There was no significant difference in activity budget over the three-month period. The skimmers spent nearly half of the day flying or being alert (Σ = 44 %) due to anthropogenic disturbances, a factor found at a high level at the roosting sites in Bangladesh. Protecting their roosting sites and minimizing disturbances would certainly improve conservation of the Indian Skimmer in Bangladesh.

**************************************************************

Gong, Y., Wen, G., Jiang, J., & Xie, F. (2020). Codon bias analysis may be insufficient for identifying host(s) of a novel virus. Journal of Medical Virology (Letter to the Editor) First published: 07 May 2020 https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25977

**************************************************************

Kadagi, N. I., Wambiji, N., & Swisher, M. E. (2020). Potential for conflicts in recreational and artisanal billfish fisheries on the coast of Kenya. Marine Policy117, 103960.

The Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region is home to several species of billfish that are important ecologically as top predators and as a source of local livelihoods both within and outside the country's borders, thus targeted by multiple resource user groups. However, little attention has been paid to the characteristics of recreational and artisanal billfish fishers, and the potential conflicts that may arise in shared fishery resources in the Western Indian Ocean. Our paper examines the characteristics of recreational and artisanal billfish resource users, particularly the factors that often can lead to potential conflicts. We conducted semi-structured interviews with a total of 130 recreational and artisanal fishers at two study sites along the Kenya coast. We identified three primary drivers of potential conflict: perception of billfish as an open access resource, the competing uses, and internal and external issues related to fisheries governance. Some potential conflicts including social, ecological, governance and economic conflicts are discussed. These findings provide key insights about the complexities of multiple resource user groups and governance in exacerbating fisheries conflicts in this resource system. The findings also highlight the need to develop strategies to decrease conflicts, such as fisheries co-management, in the light of multiple billfish resource user groups and the species' ability to traverse various transnational boundaries.

**************************************************************

Kadagi, N.I., Lien, Z., Hendrix, C. (2020). Fisheries Management: A Possible Venue for Navigating Fisheries Conflicts in the Indian OceanNewsecuritybeat (Article).

**************************************************************

Miranda, R. J., Nunes, J. A. C. C., Creed, J. C., Barros, F., Macieira, R. M. M., Santos, R. G., ... & Pereira, P. H. C. (2020). Brazil policy invites marine invasive species. Science, 368 (6490), pp. 481.

Invasive species threaten biodiversity and ecosystem function and can affect human well-being and services. In November 2019, Brazil's Tourism Ministry launched a plan to sink 1200 scrapped ships, trains, and airplanes, most of them inside marine protected areas (MPAs), supposedly to promote diving tourism business. Artificial reefs, such as those that would be created by sinking these vehicles, are used by invading species as stepping-stones to natural reefs, causing ecological, social, and economic deterioration. This plan, if implemented, would undermine efforts to attain Convention on Biological Diversity and National Environmental Policy Act targets.

**************************************************************

Okafor-Yarwood, I., Kadagi, N. I., Miranda, N., Uku, J., Elegbede, I. O. & Adewumi, I. J., (2020). The blue economy - cultural livelihood - ecosystem conservation triangle: the African experienceFrontiers in Marine Science.

The concept of Blue Economy (BE) is recognized as central for sustainable development that incorporates socio-economic benefits and ecological conservation. However, in Africa, much of the emphasis on BE is placed on economic gains; as a result, traditional livelihoods and small-scale local operations are outcompeted by international corporations and government initiatives, with little or no regard for social inclusion and environmental sustainability. We argue that successful BE initiatives in Africa accentuate the involvement of local communities and promote sustenance of the natural ecosystem. We define success in terms of the sustainability balance among ecological, social and economic aspects. Drawing on extensive expert experiences, observational data and literature review of case studies across the African continent, we highlight two critical findings. First, large scale BE initiatives prioritize economic gains at the expense of environmental degradation and the exclusion of local communities. Second, using the full spectrum sustainability (FSS) evaluation, we show that successful BE interventions considered ecological, economic, socio-cultural and institutional objectives. Drawing on these case studies, we propose the adoption of a collaborative framework which amalgamates the top-down and bottom-up approaches to BE management. Achieving the goal of successful blue growth in Africa is now even more challenged by the implications of COVID-19 on the BE sectors. Reimagining and rebuilding a resilient BE in Africa post-coronavirus will require a strong political commitment to promoting a balance between economic, social and environmental benefits in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

**************************************************************

Sales, N. G., Kaizer, M. D. C., Coscia, I., Perkins, J. C., Highlands, A., Boubli, J. P., ... & Mcdevitt, A. D. (2020). Assessing the potential of environmental DNA metabarcoding for monitoring Neotropical mammals: a case study in the Amazon and Atlantic Forest, Brazil. Mammal Review

The application of environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding as a biomonitoring tool has greatly increased, but studies have focused on temperate aquatic macro‐organisms. We apply eDNA metabarcoding to detecting the mammalian community in two high‐biodiversity regions of Brazil: the Amazon and Atlantic Forests. We identified Critically Endangered and Endangered mammalian species and found overlap with species identified via camera trapping. We highlight the potential for using eDNA monitoring for mammals in biodiverse regions and identify challenges: we need a better understanding of the ecology of eDNA within variable environments and more appropriate reference sequences for species identification in these anthropogenically impacted biomes.

**************************************************************

Sierra-Huelsz, J. A., Fernández, P. G., Binnqüist, C. L., Guibrunet, L., & Ellis, E. A. (2020). Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Community Forest Management: Evolution and Limitations in Mexican Forest Law, Policy and Practice. Forests11(4), 403.

Community forest management (CFM) is often a field of encounter between knowledge systems, where a conventional forestry blueprint is frequently applied in contexts rich in traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). This is the case in Mexico, a bioculturally diverse country and a reference of community forestry. Based on a review of laws, policies, literature, and empirical examples, we explore technical, epistemological, political, and contextual dimensions associated with the inclusion and exclusion of TEK in CFM in Mexico. Our analysis is composed of three steps: (1) A diachronic analysis of how TEK and associated practices have been considered by federal forest laws and codes (1960–2018), (2) a diachronic analysis of the scope of conventional forestry and its evolution in time and space, and (3) situated examples illustrating the inclusion and exclusion of TEK in CFM. We argue that: (1) Legal recognition of TEK as a concept does not necessarily entail the legal recognition of all traditional management practices; (2) the inclusion of TEK in CFM is heterogeneous across communities, ecosystems, regions, products and historical trajectories; and (3) different traditional practices are not equally integrated in CFM: traditional practices that contradict the spatial segregation of activities (i.e., land sparing) favored by conventional forestry tend to be less easily accepted or ignored by government institutions.

**************************************************************

Silvestre, S. M., Calle-Rendón, B. R., Toledo, J. J. de, & Hilário, R. R. (2020). Drivers of hunting in the savannahs of Amapá: implications for conservation. Oryx: The International Journal of Conservation, 1–7.

Although overhunting is amongst the main threats to biodiversity, wild meat is culturally and nutritionally important for many communities. Conservation initiatives should therefore address the drivers of hunting, rather than its practice alone. Here we gathered information from structured interviews with 68 local households to assess the drivers of hunting in a highly threatened Amazonian savannah complex, the Cerrado of Amapá in Brazil. We used regression models to evaluate the influence of socio-economic parameters and spatial variables on hunting prevalence and frequency. The only identified driver of hunting prevalence was forest cover, whereas five variables had significant effects on hunting frequency. The positive effect of forest cover and the negative effect of hunter's age on hunting frequency suggest that logistical and physical feasibility are important drivers of hunting frequency. Furthermore, we suggest that the negative effect of distance to urban centres may be related to the profitability of hunting. We base this on the negative effect of river length in the vicinity of households and per capita monthly income on hunting frequency, which corroborates the tendency of hunting frequency to decrease when alternatives to wild meat are more readily available. We argue that to reduce unsustainable hunting it is necessary both to raise awareness amongst local communities and involve them in the creation of management plans that conserve biodiversity and meet economic and social needs.

**************************************************************

Supsup, C.E., Asis, A.A., Carestia, U.V. Jr, et al. (2020). Variation in species richness, composition and herpetological community structure across a tropical habitat gradient of Palawan Island, Philippines. Herpetozoa, 33, 95-111.

Information on species richness and community structure is invaluable for guiding conservation and management of biodiversity, but is rarely available in the megadiverse biodiversity conservation hotspot of Philippines – particularly for amphibians and reptiles. This study provides the first report and characterisation of amphibians and reptile communities across primary habitat types of the Victoria-Anepahan Mountain Range on Palawan Island along the western edge of the archipelago. A total of 41 amphibian and reptile species were recorded throughout our sampling sites (n = 27 species) or in targeted habitat searches (14 species). A species richness estimator predicted that 35 species may be present in our sampling sites, suggesting that a significant proportion of secretive species may continue to be unrecorded, especially for reptiles. Higher species richness was found in secondary growth than in mixed-use agricultural areas or even pristine forest. The low species richness recorded from pristine forest types may be due to these forests now being restricted to higher elevations where species diversity has been documented to decrease. Our results also show that complex community structures (species assemblages) are to be equally expected in both secondary growth and pristine forests. Together, our results show how species richness and community assemblages may vary across habitats, highlighting that old growth forest does not always support higher species richness, particularly in high elevations.

**************************************************************

Vahalik, P., Patocka, Z., Drapela, K., Habrova, H., et al (2020). The conservation status and population mapping of the endangered Dracaena serrulata in the Dhofur Mountains, Oman. Forests, 11(3), 322.

Populations of Dracaena serrulata are disappearing at an alarming rate in the Arabian Peninsula. They are being destroyed by herders who use the leaves as fodder for camels, goats, and sheep during the dry season. Up until now, precise information about the current distribution and population status of D. serrulata in Oman have not been published. To fill this gap, the main aim of this work was to map the species distribution in the Dhofar Mountains (Oman) and to define the conservation and health status of the populations. Three isolated sub-populations of the study species were defined and mapped: the Jabal Samhan, Jabal al Qara, and Jabal al Qamar sub-populations. D. serrulata occupies an area of 227 km2 in the Dhofar Mountains. More than 43,000 trees were counted, and 2387 trees were inventoried in total. The Jabal Samhan sub-population is an example of an extensively damaged population with 59% of the trees recorded as dead and only 21% healthy trees. Populations in the western portions of the Dhofar Mountains., Jabal al Qamar, and Jabal al Qara are comparatively abundant stands of healthy trees with a higher proportion of seedlings. The health of trees is strongly influenced by accessibility and precipitation provided by the southwest summer monsoon: the healthy individuals predominate on the steep terrain along the seaward facing cliffs.

**************************************************************

Zakir, T., Debbarma, H., & Akash, M. (2020). Dhole Cuon alpinus in Satchari National Park: on the first verifiable evidence from northeast Bangladesh. Mammalia (published online ahead of print). doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2019-0050.

The distribution range of the globally Endangered dhole Cuon alpinus overlaps mixed evergreen mid-hill forests of northeastern Bangladesh but lacks any authentic documentation. With the first evidence from this region, we observed the activity pattern of dhole, of its prey and of human activities in Satchari National Park, a part of a larger northeastern forested area, Raghunandan Hill Reserve Forest – the northernmost fringe of the Baramura Hills of India. We obtained 32 photos of solitary individuals on eight different events from six out of 587 camera trap days. Naïve occupancy estimate for dhole was 0.41 with a detection probability of 0.65. We identified two individuals, and reported five predation events. We encountered a moderately high temporal overlap of dhole activity with that of barking deer (∆̂1 = 0.65, CI = 0.42–0.83), human activity (0.63, 0.38–0.89), and livestock movement (0.59, 0.38–0.89). Given that dhole is a diurnal hyper-carnivore, illegal logging and tourism pressure appeared as major disturbances to the species' existence in the park. Habitats of northeastern protected forests, their adjacency with hill ranges of Tripura, and dhole being a habitat generalist, we conjecture its presence in the entire region and recommend thorough camera-trapping efforts.

**************************************************************

Giridhar Malla (author and illustrator) & Paromita Ray (narrator). (2020). "Moon and the Little Fishing Cat" comic book.

"This story is of a fishing cat kitten's journey into the wild as she begins to explore the world around her. This story allows you to learn about the relationship of every living being with nature while giving you an insight into the world of a little known wild cat species."

**************************************************************

2019

Baptista, N.L., António, T., & Branch W.R. (2019). The herpetofauna of Bicuar National Park and surroundings, southwestern Angola: a preliminary checklist. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, 13(2): 96-130.

Bicuar National Park (BNP) is a protected area in southwestern Angola where biodiversity has been poorly studied. BNP is located on the Angolan plateau on Kalahari sands, in a transition zone between the Angolan Miombo Woodland and the Zambezian Baikiaea Woodland ecoregions. Herpetological surveys were conducted in BNP and surrounding areas, through visual encounter surveys, trapping, and opportunistic collecting of specimens from 2015 to 2018. The regional herpetofauna is described here based on these surveys, literature records, and additional unpublished records. In total, 16 amphibian, 15 lizard, 18 snake, two testudine, and one crocodilian species were observed from the recent surveys, and in combination with historical records the species counts are 21, 36, 32, four, and one species for these herpetofauna groups, respectively. Important observations include the first record of Xenocalamus bicolor bicolor (Günther, 1868), the second records of Sclerophrys poweri (Hewitt, 1935) and of Amblyodipsas ventrimaculata (Roux, 1907), and the fourth record of Monopeltis infuscata (Broadley, 1997) for Angola. Additionally, the type locality of Hyperolius benguellensis (Bocage, 1893) is discussed. A part of the material could not be confidently identified to species level, reflecting the taxonomic uncertainty associated with the Angolan herpetofauna. Fossorial herpetofauna was well represented, reflecting adaptation to sandy soils, the dominant substrate in the area. The likely presence of endemic and poorly known species in BNP reinforces the importance of the park for the conservation of Angolan biodiversity. Further surveys are necessary for a more comprehensive understanding of the park's fauna and biogeographic affinities, and to improve conservation planning.

**************************************************************

Hunowu, I., Patandung, A., Pusparani, W., et al. (2019). New insights into Sulawesi's apex predator: the Sulawesi civet Macrogalidia musschenbroekii. Oryx, 1-4. doi:10.1017/S0030605319000723

The Sulawesi civet Macrogalidia musschenbroekii is endemic to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, where it is the largest mammalian predator. Limited field data means that little is known about the species’ distribution, habitat preferences, conservation status and needs, but it is believed to depend on primary forest. We conducted camera-trap surveys across the forests of North Sulawesi, including in two of its main protected areas: Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park and Tangkoko Nature Reserve. From 148 camera trap stations and 10,371 trap nights, Sulawesi civets were recorded 17 times at 12 stations, and in almost equal numbers in primary forest, secondary forest and farmland, including the first photographic records from both the National Park and Nature Reserve. We also collected data on the Malay civet Viverra tangalunga, an introduced species of Viverridae and potential competitor. Our records (n = 21) revealed that it is established in secondary forest; it only co-occurred twice with the Sulawesi civet. With a lapse of > 20 years since the last field record of the Sulawesi civet, our findings offer new insight into its status and new enthusiasm within the provincial government for its conservation, which has led to an extension of camera-trap research into neighbouring Gorontalo province. Featured in an Oryx blog.

**************************************************************

Paudel, K., Potter, G.R., Phelps, J. (2019). Conservation enforcement: Insights from people incarcerated for wildlife crimes in Nepal. Conservation Science and Practice, 2:e137.

There are long‐standing debates about the effectiveness and social impacts of enforcement‐based conservation, particularly as investments into enforcement increase in response to growing alarm about Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT). However, there is little data on the people subject to this enforcement, including prison sentences, species targeted, what motivates and deters them, and the social impacts of enforcement. This study identified 384 individuals across Nepal who were in prison for IWT offences in late 2016, and involved interviews (= 116) focused on respondents' trade practices, economic circumstances and motivations. IWT prisoners represented 10–20% of the total prison populations in two regions and often received stiff sanctions, with a range of downstream impacts on respondents' families. Most respondents were arrested for their involvement in the rhinoceros trade (61%). Most were poor (56%) and from indigenous communities (75%), highlighting potentially inequitable impacts of enforcement. Despite common assumptions about the links between IWT, poverty and organized crime, most respondents were motivated by the desire to earn extra income and by the ease of IWT compared to other employment. IWT was neither a primary livelihood strategy, nor had the attributes for formal organized crime. Respondents, particularly poor respondents, seemed to underestimate the risks of detection and incompletely understood the scale of sanctions. Improved public awareness about the scale and social impacts of sanctions could help increase deterrence effects while reducing unintended social harms of enforcement.

Covered in Scientific American. One of the top downloaded articles for Conservation Science and Practice in 2019.

**************************************************************

Seiha, H., Vireak, S., Saveng, I., & Bunyeth, C. (2019). Rediscovery of the Critically Endangered giant land snail Bertia cambojiensis (Reeve, 1860) in Cambodia. Cambodian Journal of Natural History, 2019(2), 128–130.