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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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Humans shape distribution and habitat use of an opportunistic scavenger

Humans shape distribution and habitat use of an opportunistic scavenger

Research focused on evaluating how human food subsidies influence the foraging ecology of scavenger species is scarce but essential for elucidating their role in shaping behavioral patterns, population dynamics, and potential impacts on ecosystems. This study evaluates the potential role of humans in shaping the year?round distribution and habitat use of individuals from a typical scavenger species, the yellow?legged gull (Larus michahellis), breeding at southwestern Spain. To do this, long?term, nearly continuous GPS?tracking data were combined with spatially explicit information on habitat types and distribution of human facilities, as proxied by satellite imagery of artificial night lights. Overall, individuals were mainly associated with freshwater habitats, followed by the marine?related systems, human?related habitats, and terrestrial systems. However, these relative contributions to the overall habitat usage largely changed throughout the annual cycle as a likely response to ecological/physiological constraints imposed by varying energy budgets and environmental constraints resulting from fluctuations in the availability of food resources. Moreover, the tight overlap between the year?round spatial distribution of gulls and that of human facilities suggested that the different resources individuals relied on were likely of anthropogenic origin. This evidence supports the high dependence of this species on human?related food resources throughout the annual cycle. Owing to the ability of individuals to disperse and reach transboundary areas of Spain, Portugal, or Morocco, international joint efforts aimed at restricting the availability of human food resources would be required to manage this overabundant species and the associated consequences for biodiversity conservation (e.g., competitive exclusion of co?occurring species) and human interests (e.g., airports or disease transmission). informacion[at] Ramírez et al (2020) Humans shape the year?round distribution and habitat use of an opportunistic scavenger. Ecol Evol