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Large carnivore species recolonize Europe

Wolves, lynxes and brown bears are among the most charismatic carnivore species in Europe, and they seem to be making a comeback after almost becoming extinct at the end of the past century. What is causing this gradual recolonization of their historical range?

A multi-national team from 11 European countries, including the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC) investigated if changes in land cover, human population density and protection status were responsible for the expansion of Eurasian lynx, brown bear or grey wolf in Europe in the last 24 years.

Contrary to popular belief, the increasing protection in Europe did not play a significant role in their expansion. According to the study, the factors that positively affect the recovery of these large carnivores are agricultural abandonment and forest encroachment, exodus of human population from rural to urban areas, and decrease in direct persecution. Up until now, the relative importance of these changes for large carnivore distributions at the European scale remained unclear.

"This does not mean that the protected area network is not important for the conservation of these species. It means that its relative importance is lower regarding other factors such as changes in land use or human population density" explains Ana Benítez, researcher at EBD-CSIC and co-author of the study.

The results open new paths to study the role played by society's perception and tolerance toward these species and their expansion, especially in rural areas where there may be conflicts between some socio-economic activities and the conservation of these species. In addition, it would also be interesting to study the importance of other factors that could have also influenced the expansion of large carnivores in Europe, such as the abundance of pray species or the level of compliance with the law regarding direct persecution and illegal hunting.



Cimatti, M et al (2021) Large carnivore expansion in Europe is associated with human population density and land cover changes. Diversity and Distributions.

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Ecotourism as a data source on rare species

Ecotourism as a data source on rare species

Monitoring long-term trends in population size is important for species' conservation assessments. However, it may be unfeasible for rare species, for which past records are typically sparse. In this study, the potential of birding trip reports as an underappreciated source of biological information to monitor rare species was investigated. For this purpose, the Peruvian thick-knee, a cryptic gregarious species, was used as an example to assess population trends over 2000?2010, using flock size dynamics as a proxy. All observations of thick-knees that could be accessed from trip reports across the entire geographic range of the species were collected. Overall, this search yielded 218 records of 2403 individuals, of which 73.9% were fully useable for this study. Mean flock size declined slightly over the study period in Lima (Central Peru), whereas in Tarapacá (North Chile), it increased at the beginning of the decade and then decreased nearly 90% until the end of the study period. This suggests that, at least at the southernmost part of the distribution range of the thick-knee, the magnitude and speed of the change in population size could be sufficient to qualify for a threatened category. Compared to other sources, nature trip reports seem a promising data source for monitoring rare species, since sightings of sought-after species are increasingly posted online as a form of tourist attraction. This study highlights the great utility that trip reports freely available online may have to provide retrospective data on rare species that would otherwise be impossible to collect. Nonetheless, they might not be universally valid due to species-specific differences and possible lack of non detection records. Potential biases due to varying sampling effort or detectability should also be carefully considered. information[at] Camacho (2016) Birding trip reports as a data source for monitoring rare species. Anim Conserv DOI:10.1111/acv.12258