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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.

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

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Complex plumage patterns can be produced only with the contribution of melanins

Complex plumage patterns can be produced only with the contribution of melanins

Birds exhibit an extraordinary diversity of plumage pigmentation patterns. It has been overlooked, however, that complex patterns can be produced only with the contribution of melanins because these are the only pigments under direct cellular control. This hypothesis was tested for the first time examining the plumage patterning of all species of extant birds. 32% of species show complex plumage patterns, the vast majority (98%) including the contribution of colors produced by melanins. Only 53 species show complex patterns that do not containing melanin-based colors, and these species display unusual colorations and belong to three families where innovative metabolic modifications of conventional carotenoid pigments have been described. While the adaptive functions of complex plumage patterns remain poorly understood and in most cases are ascribed to fulfill camouflage, our findings indicate that such functions will be only understood by considering the synthesis pathway of melanins. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Galván et al (2017) Complex plumage patterns can be produced only with the contribution of melanins. Phys Biochem Zool. Doi 10.1086/693962


http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/693962