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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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General versus specific surveys: estimating the suitability of different road-crossing structures for small mammals

General versus specific surveys: estimating the suitability of different road-crossing structures for small mammals

The use of wildlife road-crossing structures (WCS hereafter) is less monitored for small mammals than for more emblematic species. Furthermore, because of the undeniable difficulty of small mammal track identification, most biologists usually carry out general surveys without species recognition. Here it is hypothesized that general surveys traditionally used for monitoring WCS by small mammals may be biased because the degraded habitats along roads are mainly used by generalist and not specialist species. For this reason, authors compared the results of a general small-mammal survey with those from a species-specific one, focusing on 3 study species: 1 habitat generalist (North American deer mouse), 1 forest specialist (southern red-backed vole), and 1 prairie specialist (meadow vole). We sampled along 4 types of WCS (overpasses, open-span underpasses, and both elliptical and box culverts) in Banff National Park (Canada), by placing footprint track tubes along the WCS, and as a reference in front of their entrances (mainly located in roadside grasslands) and in the surrounding woodlands. Using the traditional general survey, significant differences in small-mammal presence among WCS and reference sites were not detected. In contrast, species-specific surveys showed that only the deer mouse (a generalist species) consistently used the WCS. The deer mice did not show preferences for any WCS type, whereas the specialist species (voles) used only overpasses. Therefore, general surveys used without species identification can overestimate the value of WCS for specialist small mammals, with relevant conservation implications. As a consequence, species-specific surveys of WCS suitability for small mammals is recommended. Authors also suggest improving the habitat (or at least the cover availability) in the WCS and along the space between them and the surrounding environments to increase WCS suitability for specialist species. informacion[at] D'Amico et al (2015) General versus specific surveys: estimating the suitability of different road-crossing structures for small mammals. J Wildl Manage 79(5) 854–860 DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.900