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Restored and artificial wetlands do not support the same waterbird functional diversity as natural wetlands

The restoration of degraded areas and the creation of artificial ecosystems have partially compensated for the continuing loss of natural wetlands. However, the success of these wetlands in terms of the capacity of supporting biodiversity and ecosystem functions is unclear. Natural, restored, and artificially created wetlands present within the Doñana protected area were compared to evaluate if they are equivalent in terms of waterbird functional trait diversity and composition. Functional diversity measures and functional group species richness describing species diet, body mass, and foraging techniques were modelled in 20 wetlands in wintering and breeding seasons. Artificial wetlands constructed for conservation failed to reach the functional diversity of natural and restored wetlands. Unexpectedly, artificial ponds constructed for fish production performed better, and even exceeded natural wetlands for functional richness during winter. Fish ponds stood out as having a unique functional composition, connected with an increase in richness of opportunistic gulls and a decrease in species sensitive to high salinity. Overall, the functional structure of breeding communities was more affected by wetland type than wintering communities. These findings suggest that compensating the loss of natural wetlands with restored and artificial wetlands results in systems with altered waterbird?supported functions. Protection of natural Mediterranean wetlands is vital to maintain the original diversity and composition of waterbird functional traits. Furthermore, restoration must be prioritised over the creation of artificial wetlands, which, even when intended for conservation, may not provide an adequate replacement. informacion[at] Almeida et al. (2020) Comparing the diversity and composition of waterbird functional traits between natural, restored, and artificial wetlands. Freshwater Biology DOI 10.1111/fwb.13618
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Consequences of the defaunation of the Canarian frugivorous lizards

Consequences of the defaunation of the Canarian frugivorous lizards

Defaunation of large-bodied frugivores could be causing severe losses of crucial ecosystem functions such as seed dispersal. The immediate ecological consequences may include alteration or even collapse of seed-mediated gene flow affecting plant population connectivity, with impacts on the regional scale distribution of genetic variation. Yet these far-reaching consequences of defaunation remain understudied. This study tested whether human-induced defaunation of the Canarian frugivorous lizards altered within-island population connectivity and the amount and large-scale distribution of genetic variation of Neochamaelea pulverulenta, which relies exclusively on these lizards for seed dispersal. Individual plant genotypes from 80 populations were extensively sampled spanning the full geographic range of the plant to examine their genetic diversity, population-genetic network topologies, and the patterns of isolation both by distance (IBD) and resistance (IBR) across three ecological scenarios. Plant genetic diversity appeared unaffected by defaunation-mediated downsizing of frugivorous lizards. However, it was found reduced overall plant population connectivity together with an increased isolation by distance within the most defaunated islands when compared with the scenario preserving the functionality of lizard-mediated seed dispersal. The results, with a significant effect of lizard downsizing, were robust when controlling for biotic/abiotic differences among the three islands by means of isolation by resistance models. These results provide valuable insights into the far-reaching consequences of the deterioration of mutualisms on plant population dynamics over very large spatial scales. Conservation of large-bodied frugivores is thus essential because their irreplaceable mutualistic dispersal services maintain an extensive movement of seeds across the landscape, crucial for maintaining the genetic cohesiveness of metapopulations and the adaptive potential of plant species across their entire geographic range. informacion[at] Pérez-Méndez et al (2017) Persisting in defaunated landscapes: reduced plant population connectivity after seed dispersal collapse. J Ecol doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12848