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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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Environmental and anthropogenic drivers of brown bear damage

Environmental and anthropogenic drivers of brown bear damage

In Europe every year about 12,000 sheep and goats and 2,000 beehives are claimed lost due to brown bear damage and compensated to farmers. Just a few countries account for the majority of these losses. This study highlights that these differences are related to management and land-use practices, and not to bear abundance. A wolf preying on sheep or a bear raiding an apiary often imply economic and emotional losses to farmers and often lead to negative attitudes towards the wildlife causing the damage. This has triggered that in the past humans did everything to exterminate these species, which then were extirpated in many countries and regions. Nowadays things have changed: wolves, bears and other predator species are protected by law and cannot be legally persecuted any longer. To support protection, many countries provide economic compensation to offset these losses through environmental agencies or other organizations. This study shows that the number of compensations for bear damage greatly differ among European regions. For instance, in Norway approximately 900 claims are compensated every year, while in Estonia only 30. These differences are larger if we take into account that in Estonia there are 4 times more bears than in Norway, or, in other words, that the number of compensations per bear is 150 times higher in Norway than in Estonia. Why those differences? The study reveals that we have to look into what humans do. How the claims are compensated, which management practices, like supplementary feeding of bears, are used or the amount of agricultural land in the area, all influence the final number of claims. However, the abundance of bears has no influence. A practice commonly used is to reduce the number of bears by establishing culling quotas. This study finds that things are not so simple and that the regions where bears are hunted or that have less number of bears are not necessarily the ones with less claims. The way of compensating damage differs across countries and this is reflected in the number of compensations. An example of good practice is Sweden. There, the government subsidizes preventive measures, such as dogs and electric fences, to protect livestock and apiaries. If damage is claimed by a farmer, then a damage inspector has to verify that it was caused by a bear and compensations are only paid if preventive measures were used. On the other extreme, in Norway up to 95% of compensation payments for livestock losses are not verified to be made by bears and correspond to free ranging and unprotected sheep. It is interesting that these differences between neighbouring countries are not rare across Europe. The same bears are blamed for numerous damages on one side of the border, and for just a few on the other. informacion[at] Bautista et al (2016) Patterns and correlates of claims for brown bear damage on a continental scale. J Appl Ecol doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12708