2016 Conference - Talk abstracts

For PowerPoint copies of the talk presentations, please contact the presenter directly.

Download the entire 2016 Book of Abstracts here.


Does having more time to think alter people’s responses in a choice experiment?

Spener Nilsen Andrianantenaina a
a Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Agronomiques – Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar
Co-authors: O.Sarobidy Rakotonarivo b,c, Neal Hockleyb , James Gibbonsb , Jette Jacobsenc
b School of Natural Resources, Environment and Geography, Bangor University,
cFood and Resource Economics, Section for Global Development, University of Copenhagen

Respondents to discrete choice experiments (DCEs) may lack pre-defined or well-informed preferences for large environmental interventions. We evaluate whether more time to think and discuss with others influence responses to a DCE assessing the local welfare impacts of forest conservation in Madagascar. We used a within-subject design and debriefing interviews. Giving respondents more time significantly affects individual-level preference parameters and compensation estimates. While qualitative debriefings provide limited evidence for recall and suggest extensive deliberation within household members, we also found evidence of strategic behaviour. We discuss the implications of our results on the application of DCEs in developing countries.


Using identification guides to identify UK bumblebees: is expertise an advantage?

Gail Austen
Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NR, UK

Visual species identification is integral to many conservation activities. The large datasets required to make informed decisions are populated by observations from both expert and citizen science communities. However, some experts have questioned the usefulness of data collected by non-experts. Using paradigms from face recognition research, the image matching abilities of experts and non-experts were investigated. Even under highly optimised conditions, overall accuracy was less than 60%, and comparable for all levels of expertise. The implications of misidentification are huge, and further research into the differences between expert and non-expert observers could aid identification training.


Climatic influences on range-restricted birds in Ethiopia

Andrew Bladon
Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, UK

The Ethiopian Bush-crow and White-tailed Swallow’s small, near identical, global ranges are neatly described by a climate envelope of cooler, drier climate. For my PhD I have been investigating the mechanisms of their restriction; looking for environmental correlates of their distribution and abundance, investigating the effects of temperature on Swallow breeding success, and studying the Bush-crow’s behavioural responses to temperature. I will present the key results from my research, and discuss the implications for their conservation in the face of climate change.


Jaguar conservation in agricultural landscapes

Valeria Boron
Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent, Canterbury CT27NR, UK

Reconciling agricultural expansion and biodiversity conservation is an increasing challenge. Large carnivores like jaguars (Panthera onca) are particularly vulnerable to habitat loss and are keystone species in their ecosystems. Using camera trapping, we estimated jaguar density across an agricultural area in Colombia (3.0 individuals/100km2) and suggest that jaguars can persist in these landscapes if natural habitats and especially wetlands are present. Interviews to experts/stakeholders and network analysis revealed that to conserve jaguars while improving overall sustainability in the region it is key to focus on the oil-palm sector, strengthen institutions, and adopt stricter regulatory frameworks and incentive schemes.


Using ecological genomics to understand threats to dwarf birch

James Borrell
Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS, UK

The persistence of woody plant populations faces numerous environmental challenges, including climate change, hybridisation and population fragmentation. Here we explore the genomic signatures and relative importance of these pressures in Dwarf Birch (Betula nana), which has declined significantly over the last century across the Scottish Highlands.  We used 18 microsatellite markers, genome wide RADseq generated SNPs and the Betula nana reference genome to assess genetic diversity across the species extant range. Initial evidence suggests introgression from two substantially more abundant congeneric species appears to be ‘swamping’ Dwarf Birch populations whilst climate change may lead to range shifts and increased interactions.


How do you understand a frog that surfaces for only seven days in a year?

Sandeep Das
Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Kerala 680563, India

The description of Purple frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis) in 2003 was the first time in 77 years that a new family of amphibians had been described and its conservation was high on agenda. Direct observations and call surveys were used to observe breeding in Purple frog which surfaces for two weeks every year. Male frogs called out to potential mates from within the ground! Large egg clutches (4000) were laid at rocky pools, which hatched into suctorial tadpoles within a week.  Complete metamorphosis occurred within 110 days and the froglets disappeared underground soon after.


Seabird tracking to monitor ecosystems and engage people

Jonathan Murray Handley
Department of Zoology, PO Box 77000, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa

Understanding seabird foraging ecology helps elucidate factors affecting populations. A key factor in the marine environment is interaction with fisheries. This investigation of Gentoo penguin foraging ecology revealed how some populations in the Falkland Islands may be influenced by fisheries. In particular, the cessation of a major fishery, for Micromesistius australis, has increased the abundance of the primary Gentoo penguin prey species, Patagontothen ramsayii, with a resultant growth in Gentoo population. Bird-borne camera loggers further revealed interactions with Patagontothen ramsayii as well as other novel behaviours at sea. Camera footage was identified as a potential tool for community engagement.


Snow leopards and sustainability

Jonny Hanson
University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

This talk addresses the assumptions that more diverse and resilient livelihoods, and a decentralised conservation governance model, will improve attitudes to and reduce conflict with snow leopards, and their conservation.  Using random sampling, a quantitative questionnaire was administered to 705 households at two sites in Nepal.  Attitudes to snow leopards were best predicted by attitudes to snow leopard conservation and numbers of livestock; with attitudes to snow leopard conservation, it was attitudes to snow leopards and livelihoods.  For conflict with snow leopards and with snow leopard conservation, the number of livestock lost was the foremost predictor.


Communicating climate change: the effectiveness of place-based information

Sifan Hu
Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China

Climate change education is considered an essential tool for mitigating climate change. However, a general lack of engagement related to mitigating climate change, mainly due to the local and individual irrelevance of climate change in people’s perceptions, often prevents education from being effective. This study introduces the effectiveness of a place-based communication strategy of climate change education, emphasizing experience-based interpretation and showing the relevance of global climate change to local impacts and individual experiences by inter-generational communication, which will draw attention from a wide audience for engaging in climate change mitigation.


Climate change and Acacia invasion in a biodiversity hotspot

Atul Arvind Joshi
National Centre for Biological Sciences, GKVK, Bellary Road, Bangalore- 560065, India

Grasslands of montane forest-grassland mosaics of Western Ghats, where native trees don’t establish, are threatened by the non-native Acacia tree invasion. We, through in situ transplant experiments, tested the influence of micro-climates and soils of forest and grassland on germination and seedling survival of Acacia and native trees. Further, in situ night-time warming experiment examined temperature’s role in survival of Acacia and native seedlings in grasslands. Greater germination and seedling survival of Acacia in grassland micro-climate underlie its ongoing invasion of grassland. Future warming will accelerate it. If not addressed immediately, this invasion poses an extinction risk to these unique grasslands.


Assessing the socio-ecological impacts of small dams

Suman Jumani

Small hydro-power projects (SHPs) are being widely propagated environmentally benign and socially beneficial sources of energy. Our study assessed the ecological and social impacts of a cluster of four SHPs in a biodiversity hotspot in India. Ecological impacts were studied with respect to forest fragmentation, freshwater fish assemblages and water parameters. Social surveys were conducted to understand impacts on SHPs on socio-economic activities, resource access and human-animal conflict. Ecological and social impacts were found to be substantial, especially with regard to fish assemblages and human-elephant conflict. In light of our findings, we suggest that the policy regarding SHPs be revised.


Seasonal dynamics of bushmeat hunting around Korup National Park

Olivier William Kamgaing Towa1, 2*
1Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, 46 Shimoadachi-cho, Yoshida, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, JAPAN
2 School for the Training of Wildlife Specialists, Garoua, Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, P.O. Box: 271 Garoua, Cameroon
 Co-authors: Kadiri S. Bobo2, 3, Tayou. J. L. Tene 3 and Matthias Waltert4`                      
3Department of Forestry, University of Dschang. P.O.Box: 222 Dschang, Cameroon
4Department of Conservation Biology, Georg-August-Universität, Von-Siebold-Straße 2, 37075 Göttingen, Germany
 *Author for correspondence (e-mail: wkamgaing@gmail.com)

Local hunters often change their practices depending on the season. However, how these changes impact on the prey species remain unknown. We investigated the dynamic of hunting patterns from rainy to dry season by monitoring 65 hunters (1,346 hunter-days; nine months). Gun-hunting was conducted year-round, while trapping was undertaken mainly in the rainy season. Harvest rates were significantly higher for the brush-tailed porcupine and lower for the tree pangolin in the rainy season. Because such changes can be highly site-specific, further offtake estimations should carefully examine them. However, a thorough attention should be paid on data collection and analysis protocols.


Impact of Ebola market closures on bushmeat hunting

Kennedy Kaminju Kariuki
Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Tubney House, Abingdon Road Tubney, Abingdon OX13 5QL, UK

Unsustainable bushmeat hunting in Central/West Africa poses serious threats to wildlife. Efforts to combat illegal hunting for bushmeat require strong political will. This study examines the effect of market closures in Nigeria during the Ebola outbreak in 2014 to understand the impact of such decisions on hunting in adjacent Cameroon. Acoustic sensors recorded gun hunting activity continuously in Korup National park since 2013. Hunter, household and bushmeat market surveys were conducted concurrently. Results show the efficiency of the novel acoustic monitoring units that record hunting intensity at very fine temporal scales.


Molecular evidence for two distinct hog deer lineages in India

Ajit Kumar
Wildlife Institute of India, Chandrabani, Dehra Dun - 248001, Uttarakhand, India

We examined genetic variation and differentiation among two subspecies of hog deer, using mtDNA cytochrome b and control region gene. Two distinct subspecies were reported; Axis porcinus porcinus from the Indian subcontinent including Myanmar and Axis porcinus annamiticus from Southeast Asia. Our study suggested that the hog deer populations in India also have two genetically distinct units, which indicated a long term historical isolation of Manipur population from other existing populations in India. Therefore, we recommend that both distinct populations (western and eastern lineages) of hog deer should be managed as evolutionary significant units (ESUs).


Art collection and investment in China: a neglected demand for rhino horn

Tak Lun Lee
The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong; Everest Snow Leopard Conservation Center, Tibet, China

No rhino horn market survey was conducted in China in the last decade.  Western media mostly reported rhino horn consumption in China for their medical value, while Chinese media predominantly reported their investment and artistic values. There is significant positive correlation between the volume of rhino horn auctioned in China and the rate of rhino poached in South Africa. An information gap exists between the demand end in China and the western countries where most rhino conservation efforts were initiated.  Rhino horn art investment is potentially a critical yet underestimated driver for the recent surge in horn consumption in China.


Charismatic species in conservation marketing

Piia Lundberg
Global Change and Conservation, Metapopulation Research Centre, Department of Biosciences, PO BOX 65, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

Charismatic species are frequently used in raising funds and awareness of conservational issues, which has also awoken opposition. The key question is: do flagship species necessarily need to be charismatic? By conducting a survey we asked how much people are willing to donate to conservation of species differing in their assumed appeal. Our preliminary results support the idea that charisma and attractiveness influence willingness to pay. Species with presumably pleasant appearance attracted more funding than less attractive species. However, people value also other traits, and there may be differences between respondent groups that should be taken into account in marketing.


Sea sparing vs sea sharing

Jennifer McGowan
Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, AU

The land-sparing vs. sharing debate involves how best to balance competing demands for biodiversity persistence and food production in agricultural landscapes. We apply the broad thinking from this debate to the sea and propose a framework based on three possible management zones: no-take marine reserves, regulated fishing and open access areas. We investigate an approach that maximizes biodiversity, considered here as standing fish biomass, while maintaining a minimum fishery production rate. We find that when management budgets are small, the classic sea-sparing strategy is the optimal zone allocation, given that the production target is lower than the open access equilibrium.


Are local perceptions of wildlife populations reliable?

Ehsan Mohammadi Moqanaki
Animal Ecology Programme, Department of Biology, Lund University, SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden

In many countries wildlife managers rely on local knowledge or perceptions to assess the status of wildlife populations. In this study we compared the perceived-abundance of a Caucasian brown bear population by local rangers with that of faecal-DNA analyses. The rangers perceived that the abundance of this bear population was approximately five times higher than the estimate suggested by the spatial capture-recapture analysis of DNA samples (mean= 38 bears, 2.5%-97.5% CI = 26 - 56). We showed that lack of accurate knowledge about the status of wildlife populations may substantially increase the probability of misleading the prioritization of conservation actions.


The plight of Du Toit’s torrent frog

Jacob Mueti Ngwava
National Museums of Kenya, P.O. Box 40658-00100, Nairobi, Kenya

The amphibian species Arthroleptides dutoiti is endemic to Mt Elgon, Kenya but hasn’t been observed since 1962 despite several surveys. The species is currently considered critically endangered by the IUCN redlist but it might be extinct. Compiling data on all amphibians collected in Mt Elgon and the time it took to collect these specimens over the years I will assess whether declines are species specific or assemblage wide phenomena. This talk will shed light on the conservation status of A. dutoiti and the potential threats that might have led to the species decline and potential extinction.


Wind farm prioritisation based on impacts on wolf habitat in Croatia

Gioele Passoni
Imperial College London - Buckhurst Road, Ascot, West Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK

Wind energy represents a major threat to wolves in Croatia, where 33 wind farms are planned to be built by 2020 to meet European targets. However, only half of the total installed capacity would be necessary to meet such targets. In this study, a habitat suitability model for wolves in Croatia was carried out using Maxent. Model predictions were used as proxy for wind farms’ potential impact on wolves. Finally, Marxan was used to prioritise wind farms, in order to ensure the achievement of targets at minimum costs on wolves. This framework can be expanded to multiple species and infrastructure.


Implications of poor boundary-setting for future protected area management

Hasina Hervé Rakotoarison
Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Agronomiques – Département des Eaux et Forêts BP : 175 Antananarivo 101 Madagascar

The success of protected areas can be greatly affected by the initial process of boundary demarcation. We used key informant interviews and community-level focus groups at several sites around the Corridor Ankeniheny Zahamena (CAZ) protected area in Madagascar to understand different perceptions of the boundary demarcation process for this new protected area. We found that the process was not perceived to be as participatory as was intended in the regulations. This has led to discontent among key stakeholders, with communities wanting access to their ‘ancestral’ land in the park, and government staff frustrated by lack of involvement in the process.


Monitoring forest birds using satellite data

Solohery Rasamison
University of Antananarivo, Antananarivo 906, Madagascar

Many species of endemic birds in Madagascar are threatened by habitat loss.  However Madagascar does not have established long-term monitoring programmes to detect trends in bird populations.  In this study I used GBIF records of birds, a time-series of environmental variables derived from high resolution satellite data, and species distribution modelling to estimate the extent of suitable habitat for birds in Madagascar from 1990-2015.  This method allows area of habitat for bird species, a proxy for population size, to be monitored retrospectively.  I found that forest dependent species with restricted ranges have experienced greater relative range contractions than generalist species.


Livelihoods and the pet trade in Madagascar

Janine Robinson
Durrell Institute of Conservation & Ecology (DICE), School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NR, UK

The global trade in wildlife is big business, and is a significant conservation issue for many species. However, the benefits of wildlife trade in terms of livelihoods associated with sustainable use of natural resources, an important goal of the Convention on Biological Diversity, are often little-understood. This study follows the trade chain from exporters to local communities at the source of the herpetofauna trade in Madagascar, in order to understand the livelihood and related conservation implications of this trade. This is the first step in assessing potential social, economic and conservation implications of future policy interventions to regulate wildlife trade.

Lion tamarins in cocoa agroforests

Juliana Monteiro de Almeida Rocha
Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz - UESC, Rodovia Ilhéus-Itabuna, km 16, Salobrinho, Ilhéus-BA, Brazil, 45662-900

The golden-headed lion tamarin (GHLT) is an endemic primate from Brazil's Atlantic Forest which is threatened by habitat loss. Its range is dominated by cocoa agroforests (cabruca), a simplified habitat with high predation risk. This project aims to understand the role of predators and vegetation structure on GHLT's occurrence in cabrucas. Active search, playback, fixed point and camera traps were applied in sixteen cabrucas to detect GHLTs and its predators. Habitat variables were collected on vegetation plots. Predators were not determinants but vegetation structure seems crucial for GHLTs, suggesting that intensively managed cabrucas may not be favourable to the species.


Unravelling the migration of the Critically Endangered hooded grebe

Carlos Ignacio Roesler
Laboratorio de Ecología y Comportamiento Animal, Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pabellón II, Ciudad Universitaria, C1428EHA Buenos Aires, Argentina

Hooded Grebe is a migratory species that moves from inland Patagonia to the southern Atlantic Coast. Both, winter and summer grounds are well known but nothing is known about migration routs and timing of migration. The main methods are banding using plastic colour bands, geolocators/beeper tags, and repeated censuses in both winter and summer grounds. The most important results show that it is highly phylopatric, meaning they return to the exact same lake they have born. Another important result in winter grounds the use of the estuaries is not homogenous. Lastly, that juveniles use inner lakes during the winter.


Understanding the outcomes of environmental collaborations

Janna Steadman
Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, School of Anthropology and Conservation, Marlowe Building, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NR, UK

Cross-sector collaborations, such as those between non-governmental organisations and corporations, are proliferating in conservation. However, little is known about their efficacy and subsequent impact on the wider natural environment. Here I present WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) as a case-study, which we investigated via content analyses, interviews and social network analysis. The results show that most participants join to fulfil organisational strategic objectives, rather than to address concerns regarding sustainable forest use. While not all GFTN members improved their forest product sourcing, many have achieved external chain-of-custody certification. Certified participants tend to occupy more influential positions within GFTN.


Using camera traps to find fishing cats in Cambodia

Thaung Ret
Centre for Biodiversity Conservation-Fauna and Flora International , Room 415, Faculty of Science, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Confederation of Russia Boulevard, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) had only been recorded through camera-trapping once in Cambodia. Survey aimed at recording fishing cat presence in suitable wetland habitats of south-west Cambodia. We deployed 16 camera-traps at Pream Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary (PKWS) and Botum Sakor National Park in Koh Kong province, and Ream National Park (RNP) and Prey Nop district in Preah Sihanouk province, between January and May 2015. Fishing cat recorded from PKWS and RNP.Two individuals, a male and a female, were photographed at PKWS as well as four other IUCN listed species: Pangolin (CR), Hog Deer( CR), Smooth-coated Otter (VU), Large-Spotted Civet (VU) and Sambar (VU).


Land-use change and elephant conservation

Lydia Tiller
DICE, University of Kent, Marlowe Building, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NR, UK

Human-wildlife conflict is one of the most challenging issues facing conservationists today. However, many studies focus on technological fixes and do not look at the broader issues of land-use change and spatial planning. This study documents the impacts of land clearing on elephant crop-raiding in the Trans-Mara, Kenya.  We found that high levels of forest loss has led to conflict almost doubling since 2000. This conflict is influenced by the location of elephant dispersal pathways but land-use change has also had a strong impact on crop raiding locations. This research should inform management of human-elephant conflict in Kenya.


Spatially-explicit call surveys for the mistbelt chirping frog

Mea Trenor
Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, North-West University, Potchefstroom, 2520, South Africa

Many frogs exhibit cryptic behaviour, making mark-recapture surveys challenging. Audio transects depend on surveyors’ experience, hindering standardization. Using automated song meters, in a spatially explicit array with GPS synchronization, one can confidently count the frogs present and determine their exact location. We employed this method for the endangered Mistbelt Chirping Frog (Anhydrophryne ngongoniensis). Its habitat is severely fragmented due to agricultural afforestation with no official protection. The results will provide insight into calling behaviour and distribution of the frog within a breeding site. The data obtained will be used to update population estimates and guide conservation measures for important areas.


Conservation implications of elevational diversity patterns in reptiles

Jins Vallanattu
Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Anaikatty Post, Coimbatore, India- 641108

We studied the elevational patterns of reptile diversity in Agasthyamalai Hills (100-1860m ASL), Western Ghats, India. Reptiles were sampled by Visual Encounter Surveys and vegetation by 10x10 plots. Climatic data were extracted from WorldClim. We did not find evidence for mid-domain effect in reptile species diversity, implying the role of climatic or historical factors in the observed elevational patterns. Stepwise multiple regression revealed that area and temperature contributed most to the reptile diversity, which showed a declining trend with elevation. The lower elevations that show high species richness of reptiles with narrow altitudinal ranges need immediate attention for conservation.


Dewlaps in the wind: an unexpected trophic cascade from clean energy

Amod Mohan Zambre
Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore-560012, Karnataka, India

Renewable energy sources like wind power are globally promoted as safe alternatives to fossil fuels to mitigate effects of climate change. My work on fan throated lizards in the Western Ghats of India shows that the presence wind turbines is causing a trophic cascade that involves changes in predation pressures, which in turn influences lizard density, as well as morphology, behaviour and physiology. Given the short history of wind farms in the study area, and the fact that these lizards are the main mesopredator in the community, such changes can have major ecological and evolutionary consequences.


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