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16 juin 2017

Participatory adaptive management leads to environmental learning outcomes extending beyond the sphere of science [Sciences Advances]

Keywords : evidence-based conservation, natural resources, fisheries management, knowledge co-production, participation, science communication, science education

Resolving uncertainties in managed social-ecological systems requires adaptive experimentation at whole-ecosystem levels. However, whether participatory adaptive management fosters ecological understanding among stakeholders beyond the sphere of science is unknown. We experimentally involved members of German angling clubs (n = 181 in workshops, n = 2483 in total) engaged in self-governance of freshwater fisheries resources in a large-scale ecological experiment of active adaptive management of fish stocking, which constitutes a controversial management practice for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning when conducted inappropriately. The collaborative ecological experiments spanned several years and manipulated fish densities in 24 lakes with two species. In parallel, we experimentally compared changes in ecological knowledge and antecedents of proenvironmental behavior in stakeholders and managers who were members of a participatory adaptive management treatment group, with those receiving only a standard lecture, relative to placebo controls.(...)

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16 juin 2017

Damming the rivers of the Amazon basin [Nature]

Subject terms : sustainability, ecosystem ecology, limnology, environmental impact

More than a hundred hydropower dams have already been built in the Amazon basin and numerous proposals for further dam constructions are under consideration. The accumulated negative environmental effects of existing dams and proposed dams, if constructed, will trigger massive hydrophysical and biotic disturbances that will affect the Amazon basin’s floodplains, estuary and sediment plume. We introduce a Dam Environmental Vulnerability Index to quantify the current and potential impacts of dams in the basin. The scale of foreseeable environmental degradation indicates the need for collective action among nations and states to avoid cumulative, far-reaching impacts. We suggest institutional innovations to assess and avoid the likely impoverishment of Amazon rivers.

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15 juin 2017

Less favourable climates constrain demographic strategies in plants [Ecology Letters]

Keywords : climate change, COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database, demographic compensation, ecological niche models, matrix population models, population dynamics, spatial demography, species distribution models, species interactions–abiotic stress hypothesis, stress gradient hypothesis

Correlative species distribution models are based on the observed relationship between species’ occurrence and macroclimate or other environmental variables. In climates predicted less favourable populations are expected to decline, and in favourable climates they are expected to persist. However, little comparative empirical support exists for a relationship between predicted climate suitability and population performance. We found that the performance of 93 populations of 34 plant species worldwide – as measured by in situ population growth rate, its temporal variation and extinction risk – was not correlated with climate suitability.(...)

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15 juin 2017

Evolvability meets biogeography : evolutionary potential decreases at high and low environmental favourability [Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences]

Keywords : birds, environmental change, Europe, evolutionary ecology, species distribution models, wild populations

Understanding and forecasting the effects of environmental change on wild populations requires knowledge on a critical question : do populations have the ability to evolve in response to that change ? However, our knowledge on how evolution works in wild conditions under different environmental circumstances is extremely limited. We investigated how environmental variation influences the evolutionary potential of phenotypic traits. We used published data to collect or calculate 135 estimates of evolvability of morphological traits of European wild bird populations. We characterized the environmental favourability of each population throughout the species’ breeding distribution.(...)

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14 juin 2017

Functional ecology of fish : current approaches and future challenges [Aquatic Sciences]

Sébastien Brosse

Fish communities face increasing anthropogenic pressures in freshwater and marine ecosystems that modify their biodiversity and threaten the services they supply to human populations. To address these issues, studies have been increasingly focusing on functions of fish that are linked to their main ecological roles in aquatic ecosystems. Fish are indeed known to control other organisms through predation, mediate nutrient fluxes, and can act as ecosystem engineers. Here for each of the key functions played by fish, we present the functional traits that have already been used to assess them. We include traits measurable from observations on living individuals, morphological features measured on preserved organisms or traits categorized using information from the literature, and we discuss their respective advantages and limitations. We then list future research directions to foster a more complete functional approach for fish ecology that needs to incorporate functional traits describing, food provisioning and cultural services while accounting more frequently for intraspecific variability. Finally, we highlight ecological and evolutionary questions that could be addressed using meta-analyses of large trait databases, and how a trait-based framework could provide valuable insights on the mechanistic links between global changes, functional diversity of fish assemblages, and ecosystem services.

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