News News

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.

ebd_outreach[at]ebd.csic.es

Referencia

Cimatti, M et al (2021) Large carnivore expansion in Europe is associated with human population density and land cover changes. Diversity and Distributions. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.13219

Full press release (Spanish)


Average (0 Votes)

Latest News Latest News

Back

Dwarfism in continental populations of natterjack toads in the absence of genetic isolation

Dwarfism in continental populations of natterjack toads in the absence of genetic isolation

Ample variation in body size is common in vertebrates over extensive geographical distances, or in isolated populations, where effective geographical barriers may cause dwarfism or gigantism. The potential causes of extreme size reduction in continental populations of amphibians within a short geographical distance and in the absence of geographical barriers were studied. Natterjack toads Epidalea calamita in Doñana National Park (Spain) experience up to 2.1?fold difference in body mass in as little as 37?km. Studying six populations divergent in body size, the genetic isolation of the dwarf populations using multilocus genotypes (16 microsatellites) was tested. Additionally, it was explored whether populations differed in trophic status (through stable isotope analysis), standard metabolic rate and growth pattern, senescence and age structure (conducting telomere length assays and skeletochronology). Advertisement calls were also recorded across populations and experimentally tested for behavioural reinforcement of the body size variation through female preferences. Local dwarfism in these populations occurs in the absence of genetic isolation while maintaining relatively high effective population sizes. Dwarf populations, however, were exposed to drier and warmer climatic conditions, have different trophic status, show lower mass?specific metabolic rate, and male advertisement calls with a higher dominant frequency. Juvenile growth differed among populations, reaching the adult stage at different body sizes. Altogether, these results suggest a significant influence of environmental conditions on the physiology and ecology of the Doñana E. calamita populations, mainly affecting toads between metamorphosis and sexual maturity. Further experimental and genomic studies focusing on these early life stages are necessary to dissect the relative roles of the environment and adaptive genetic differentiation on this phenomenon. informacion[at]ebd.csci.es: Hyeun-Ji et al (2020) Dwarfism in close continental amphibian populations despite lack of genetic isolation. OIKOS Doi 10.1111/oik.07086


https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/oik.07086