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    Strategic Forest Reserves can protect biodiversity in the western United States and mitigate climate change
    (Springer Nature, 2021-12-14) Law, Beverly E.; Berner, Logan T; Buotte, Polly C.; Mildrexler, David J.; Ripple, William J.
    Forest preservation is crucial for protecting biodiversity and mitigating climate change. Here we assess current forest preservation in the western United States using spatial data and find that beyond the 18.9% (17.5 Mha) currently protected, an additional 11.1% (10.3 Mha) is needed to achieve 30% preservation by 2030 (30 × 30). To help meet this regional preservation target, we developed a framework that prioritizes forestlands for preservation using spatial metrics of biodiversity and/or carbon within each ecoregion. We show that meeting this preservation target would lead to greater protection of animal and tree species habitat, current carbon stocks, future carbon accumulation, and forests that are important for surface drinking water. The highest priority forestlands are primarily owned by the federal government, though substantial areas are also owned by private entities and state and tribal governments. Establishing Strategic Forest Reserves would help protect biodiversity and carbon for climate adaptation and mitigation.
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    Preserving cultural heritage through the valorization of Cordillera heirloom rice in the Philippines
    (Springer Nature, 2020-10-15) Bairagi, Subir; Custodio; Marie Claire; Durand-Morat, Alvaro; Demont, Matty
    For centuries, heirloom rice varieties have been grown on the terraces of the Cordillera Mountains of Luzon, Philippines, terroirs known for their significant historical, cultural, and aesthetic values. However, heritage heirloom rice farming is gradually being abandoned, mainly because of its lower productivity and the struggle of the sector to create a sustainable niche market for heirloom rice by branding its cultural, social, and nutritional values. We propose several demand-side intervention strategies for the valorization of heirloom rice. To support the development of a segmented marketing strategy for heritage farming, we provide evidence on urban consumers’ willingness to purchase heirloom rice. We interviewed 500 urban consumers from Metro Manila in July–August 2015, who placed a purchasing bid on a kilogram of heirloom rice. Consumers’ bids averaged PHP 72.61 kg−1 (USD 1.60 kg−1), which is less than half its current market price. This explains why heirloom rice struggles to gain market share in urban markets in the Philippines. Given this bid price, we estimate a potential market size of PHP 20.3 billion (USD 443 million) that could be created for heirloom rice and tapped into by heritage farmers. Findings further indicate that women, business owners, and consumers who buy packaged rice and eat pigmented rice are willing to pay more for heirloom rice. Finally, our evidence suggests that proper information framing will be necessary to create demand and support the valorization of heirloom rice to preserve cultural heritage and in situ biodiversity of rice landraces in the Philippines.
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    Assessment of multiple model algorithms to predict earthworm geographic distribution range and biodiversity in Germany: implications for soil-monitoring and species-conservation needs
    (Springer Nature, 2023-04-19) Salako, Gabriel; Russell, David J.; Stucke, Andres; Eberhardt, Einar
    Identifying the potential distribution of soil-biodiversity with its density and richness relationships, including constituent species, is a pre-requisite for the assessment, conservation and protection of soil biodiversity and the soil functions it drives. Although the role of earthworms in improving soil quality has long been established, to quantitatively and spatially assess how this soil-animal group’s distribution changes along environmental gradients and geographic space and the identification of the drivers of such change has not been fully investigated. This comprehensive study aimed at modelling and mapping earthworm spatial distribution and diversity patterns to determine their conservation needs and provide baseline reference data for Germany. The study compared multiple modelling algorithms to map earthworm community parameters and 12 species-specific distribution probabilities, calculate their geographic range sizes and determine responses to environmental predictor variables. Three general patterns of spatial distribution ranges were identified by the model predictions (large-range, mid-range, and restricted-range species) with the corresponding environmental contributions to the predictions. Modelled species responses to environmental predictors confirm observed environmental drivers of earthworm distribution in Germany. The range classes based both on distributional level and geographic space provide the necessary information for identifying conservation and decision-making priorities, especially for restricted-distribution species as well as those with clearly defined habitat preferences.
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    Remnant habitat patches provide high value for a wide range of insect species in a timber plantation mosaic
    (2023-03-10) van der Mescht, Aileen; Pryke, James S.; Gaigher, René; Samways, Michael J.
    Species present in transformed landscapes utilise resources from either the transformed patches, natural patches, or both. Depending on the degree to which species are specialised, species-specific responses to landscape transformation is both varied and dynamic. Understanding species-specific responses across a landscape is therefore essential to make informed conservation decisions. We investigate how spillover of stenotopic, cultural, and ubiquitous insect species respond to the different edge combinations present in a timber plantation mosaic. We use a multi-taxon approach, sampling two distinct insect assemblages (ground and foliage) across four different biotopes in a grassland-forest-plantation landscape in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, which forms part of the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany biodiversity hotspot. We show that in this landscape, ecological networks consisting of natural grassland and forest supported high insect diversity in both ground and foliage assemblages. The foliage assemblage displayed stronger responses to the different biotope combinations than the ground assemblage. There was remarkably little spillover of habitat specialist species of either the ground or foliage assemblages from grassland or forest into the plantation stands. The few species associated with plantation stands (cultural species) had consistent levels of spillover across different types of plantation blocks, but not into the natural areas. Natural biotopes in this landscape conserved many habitat specialists, whereas plantations maintained low levels of diversity. Thus, we recommend that conservation practitioners consider the fidelity and spillover of the species present in the local landscape before designing conservation plans in these dynamic production landscapes.
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    Rock climbing affects cliff-plant communities by reducing species diversity and altering species coexistence patterns
    (Springer Nature, 2023-02-25) March-Salas, Martí; Morales-Armijo, Felipe; Hernández-Agüero, Juan Antonio; Estrada-Castillón, Eduardo; Sobrevilla- Covarrubias, Andrea; Arévalo, José Ramón; Scheepens, J. F.; Lorite, Juan
    Cliffs are unique ecosystems with an outstanding but relatively unknown plant diversity, harboring rare, endemic and threatened species, but also rock-specialist or generalist species that can become locally common and dominant on cliffs. The rising popularity of climbing represents an increasing threat to cliff biota, affecting community composition and potentially diminishing diversity and species associations. We used a novel sampling design of closely-paired climbed versus unclimbed points along the cliff-face. We sampled along climbing routes of different climbing intensities in El Potrero Chico (Nuevo León, Mexico), identifying plant species and analyzing species associations and community composition in climbed and unclimbed plots. Diversity on the sampled cliffs was high, even greater than in other regional ecosystems. We found reduced abundance, cover, and diversity in climbed plots, irrespective of climbing intensity. Dominant species on the sampled cliffs were the most negatively affected by rock climbing in terms of abundance, and some locally rare species, including endemics and endangered species, were entirely absent from climbed plots. Co-occurrence analysis showed that the number of associations between pairs of dominant and common species were greatly reduced in climbed plots, and that positive associations between locally rare species existed in unclimbed plots but not in climbed plots, which may contribute to the disappearance of endemic and threatened species. Finally, NMDS analysis revealed that the community composition changed significantly due to climbing. Our results indicate that conservation science should convince stakeholders of the need for a holistic conservation of cliff ecosystems and not focus solely on emblematic or rare species, since plant community dynamics and preservation depend on interactions between plant species.