Browsing by Subject "Conservation"

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  • Pearce-Higgins, J. W.; Antão, L. H.; Bates, R. E.; Bowgen, K. M.; Bradshaw, C. D.; Duffield, S. J.; Ffoulkes, C.; Franco, A. M.A.; Geschke, J.; Gregory, R. D.; Harley, M. J.; Hodgson, J. A.; Jenkins, R. L.M.; Kapos, V.; Maltby, K. M.; Watts, O.; Willis, S. G.; Morecroft, M. D. (2022)
    Impacts of climate change on natural and human systems will become increasingly severe as the magnitude of climate change increases. Climate change adaptation interventions to address current and projected impacts are thus paramount. Yet, evidence on their effectiveness remains limited, highlighting the need for appropriate ecological indicators to measure progress of climate change adaptation for the natural environment. We outline conceptual, analytical, and practical challenges in developing such indicators, before proposing a framework with three process-based and two results-based indicator types to track progress in adapting to climate change. We emphasize the importance of dynamic assessment and modification over time, as new adaptation targets are set and/or as intervention actions are monitored and evaluated. Our framework and proposed indicators are flexible and widely applicable across species, habitats, and monitoring programmes, and could be accommodated within existing national or international frameworks to enable the evaluation of both large-scale policy instruments and local management interventions. We conclude by suggesting further work required to develop these indicators fully, and hope this will stimulate the use of ecological indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of policy interventions for the adaptation of the natural environment across the globe.
  • Balotari-Chiebao, Fabio; Brommer, Jon E.; Saurola, Pertti; Ijäs, Asko; Laaksonen, Toni (2018)
    The expansion of wind energy over large areas may be accompanied by major conflicts with birds, including birds of prey. Hence, it is desirable that the space use of species known to be vulnerable to wind energy be assessed in light of current and future developments. Here, we report on the large-scale dispersal movements of pre-breeding white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) in Finland, where a currently modest wind-energy capacity is expected to increase in the near future. We studied white-tailed eagle space use with a particular focus on the potential for annual power production (GWh) at specific locations, as estimated by the Finnish Wind Atlas. Also, we aimed to detect a potential human-wildlife conflict by assessing white-tailed eagle space use against the spatial distribution of existing and recently proposed wind farms. We found that, despite visiting a large proportion of the country, the eagles stayed primarily within coastal areas and islands, restricted to where human infrastructure was present only at very small amounts. Because of the distribution of wind resources, such areas were found to contain considerable potential for power production. The eagles visited most of the areas targeted for wind-energy development. However, these areas did not coincide with a higher-than-average eagle relocation frequency, suggesting that the existing and recently proposed wind farms do not represent an elevated threat to dispersing eagles. Caution should nevertheless be taken against interpreting that co-occurrence poses no threat at any given site, as site selection is paramount to avoid conflicts with avian conservation.
  • Nummi, Petri; Liao, Wenfei; van der Schoor, Juliette; Loehr, John (2021)
    Beavers (Castor spp.) are ecosystem engineers that induce local disturbance and ecological succession, which turns terrestrial into aquatic ecosystems and creates habitat heterogeneity in a landscape. Beavers have been proposed as a tool for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration. So far, most research has compared biodiversity in beaver wetlands and non-beaver wetlands, but few studies have explored how beaver-created succession affects specific taxa. In this study, we investigated how water beetles responded to different successional stages of wetlands in a beaver-disturbed landscape at Evo in southern Finland. We sampled water beetles with 1-L activity traps in 20 ponds, including: 5 new beaver ponds, 5 old beaver ponds, 5 former beaver ponds, and 5 never engineered ponds. We found that beaver wetlands had higher species richness and abundance than non-beaver wetlands, and that new beaver wetlands could support higher species richness (321%) and abundance (671%) of water beetles compared to old beaver wetlands. We think that higher water beetle diversity in new beaver ponds has resulted from habitat amelioration (available lentic water, shallow shores, aquatic vegetation, and low fish abundance) and food source enhancement (an increase of both dead and live prey) created by beaver dams and floods. We conclude that using beavers as a tool, or imitating their way of flooding, can be beneficial in wetland restoration if beaver population densities are monitored to ensure the availability of newly colonizable sites.
  • Voorsluis, Nina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Tiivistelmä – Referat – Abstract In this Master’s thesis I investigate Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) involvement, experiences and outcomes in Madagascar, including the limiting and enabling factors for impact of conservation interventions driven by NGOs. The focal point of the research is the lived experiences from the field, including identification of processes and forces shaping the preconditions for NGO interventions. As part of the research I explore experiences of NGOs from their interventions and from engaging with local communities, government, policy makers and other NGOs in Madagascar. Many NGOs are active in biodiversity hotspots like Madagascar, but evaluation outcomes and lessons learned tend not to be extensively shared across organizations and thematic focus areas. This in turn affects preconditions to influence outcome determinants not only in isolated interventions but also across organizational borders. This study aims to define the situation and the issues faced by NGOs in Madagascar to suggest how the landscape could be navigated to improve the preconditions for long term intervention impact. The purpose is not to evaluate specific projects, but to assess the mechanisms through which the NGO sector can make a significant contribution to conservation, as well as the challenges in doing so. As the analysis seeks to broaden and contextualize the discussion of NGO involvement in conservation interventions, the theoretical framework for the research is based on theory on Non-Governmental Organizations and grounded theory. The theoretical framework facilitates the analysis of the findings, understanding of the results, as well as structuring and highlighting new insights. The theory is complemented with a background assessment of the environmental context in Madagascar, reviewing other research on conservation and its challenges in the country. This helps to understand the dimensions of the challenges, as well as the avenues open for exploration. Insights are gathered from representatives of long-term in situ NGOs to better understand the wider playing field in which they operate. The empirical research is based on semi-structured interviews conducted with 21 representatives from 12 international and local NGOs working with biodiversity conservation in Madagascar. The data was transcribed and analyzed through thematic network analysis and constructivist grounded theory analysis. The interviews were combined with a literature review, a group interview, a field visit to a project site, and more informal conversations with academic researchers and experts in the field. As part of the study, a two-week field trip to Madagascar was undertaken. To present the findings from this research, thematic categorizations were used to illustrate factors that affect outcomes of conservation interventions driven by NGOs. The categories are related to internal organization specific factors, cooperation with other actors (including other NGOs, government and actors in the local communities), as well as the Malagasy environment and politics (including government, laws and policies). The findings reveal challenges especially with systematic coordination of NGO interventions, NGO evaluation practices, resources, as well as issues with implementing sustainable community involvement in project design and decision making. Local community involvement is considered important, but in practice is not fully scaled up and inclusive in terms of decision making and consistent involvement. Findings indicate that the cooperation between NGOs and their key stakeholders works reasonably well from the NGO perspective, but still has potential to be better utilized in order to improve long-term sustainability. Consideration of external constraints is important to assess the potential of different types of interventions and approaches, allowing NGOs to focus their efforts according to the context and their capacities. While acknowledging and navigating the diversity of viewpoints, it is essential to be aware of the impact of structural challenges, the political complexity and the often-conflicting interests between conservation, the commercial and extractive sector, as well as local livelihoods and practices. Findings indicate issues with policy implementation and harmonization, and with conservation prioritization and law enforcement by the government. Local and national ownership and leadership backing is seen as essential for biodiversity conservation, pushing for stronger leadership from within the society. My research provides insights, recommendations and conclusions from which NGOs and conservation actors can gain better understanding of factors impacting interventions, as well as on the Malagasy playing field and its dynamics. This can be helpful in order to capitalize on opportunities and counter challenges, focusing actions on areas that make a difference. The findings can also be of value to other biodiversity conservation researchers, funding agencies, associations, communities and government stakeholders specifically focused on Madagascar. The research may also benefit NGOs and conservation actors involved in other countries, which confront similar challenges concerning conservation, governance, NGO involvement and interventions.
  • Terraube, Julien (2019)
    This Forum article synthesizes the current evidence on the links between predator-prey interactions, protected areas and spatial variations in Lyme disease risk in Fennoscandia. I suggest key research directions to better understand the role of protected areas in promoting the persistence of diverse predator guilds. Conserving predators could help reducing host populations and Lyme disease risk in northern Europe. There is an urgent need to find possible win-win solutions for biodiversity conservation and human health in ecosystems facing rapid global environmental change.
  • Yaripour, Sareh; Kekalainen, Jukka; Hyvarinen, Pekka; Kaunisto, Sirpa; Piironen, Jorma; Vainikka, Anssi; Koljonen, Marja-Liisa; Koskiniemi, Jarmo; Kortet, Raine (2020)
    Enriched rearing has been demonstrated to shape the phenotype of hatchery-reared salmonids and improve their post-release survival in the wild, thus having an important applied value in conservation. However, it is unclear if rearing conditions or survival selection during the early life stages induce long-term fitness effects on adult phenotypes. Using a paired full-sib set-up, we investigated the influence of the environmental enrichment at the egg and fry stages on the milt quality and skin colouration of the adult brown trout (Salmo trutta L.). Overall, males had a higher number of skin spots than females. Notably, the total numbers of spots and black spots were significantly lower in fish raised in an enriched environment than in their full siblings reared in a conventional hatchery environment. However, neither sperm motility nor sperm swimming behaviour differed between full sib males reared in different environments. Our results suggest that rearing method may shape the colouration of brown trout, either by ecological carry-over effects or by selective survival during the rearing process. This, in turn, indicates that ecological conditions at early life can have long-prevailing phenotypically plastic or microevolutionary effects on the adult traits of fish. These effects should be taken into consideration to better understand the ecological role of rearing methodology in salmonid conservation.
  • Milicic, Marija; Vujic, Ante; Cardoso, Pedro (2018)
    Climate change presents a serious threat to global biodiversity. Loss of pollinators in particular has major implications, with extirpation of these species potentially leading to severe losses in agriculture and, thus, economic losses. In this study, we forecast the effects of climate change on the distribution of hoverflies in Southeast Europe using species distribution modelling and climate change scenarios for two time-periods. For 2041-2060, 19 analysed species were predicted to increase their areas of occupancy, with the other 25 losing some of their ranges. For 2061-2080, 55% of species were predicted to increase their area of occupancy, while 45% were predicted to experience range decline. In general, range size changes for most species were below 20%, indicating a relatively high resilience of hoverflies to climate change when only environmental variables are considered. Additionally, range-restricted species are not predicted to lose more area proportionally to widespread species. Based on our results, two distributional trends can be established: the predicted gain of species in alpine regions, and future loss of species from lowland areas. Considering that the loss of pollinators from present lowland agricultural areas is predicted and that habitat degradation presents a threat to possible range expansion of hoverflies in the future, developing conservation management strategy for the preservation of these species is crucial. This study represents an important step towards the assessment of the effects of climate changes on hoverflies and can be a valuable asset in creating future conservation plan, thus helping in mitigating potential consequences.
  • Lal, Dennis; May, Patrick; Perez-Palma, Eduardo; Samocha, Kaitlin E; Kosmicki, Jack A; Robinson, Elise B; Møller, Rikke S; Krause, Roland; Nürnberg, Peter; Weckhuysen, Sarah; De Jonghe, Peter; Guerrini, Renzo; Niestroj, Lisa M; Du, Juliana; Marini, Carla; Ware, James S; Kurki, Mitja; Gormley, Padhraig; Tang, Sha; Wu, Sitao; Biskup, Saskia; Poduri, Annapurna; Neubauer, Bernd A; Koeleman, Bobby P C; Helbig, Katherine L; Weber, Yvonne G; Helbig, Ingo; Majithia, Amit R; Palotie, Aarno; Daly, Mark J (BioMed Central, 2020)
    Abstract Background Classifying pathogenicity of missense variants represents a major challenge in clinical practice during the diagnoses of rare and genetic heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). While orthologous gene conservation is commonly employed in variant annotation, approximately 80% of known disease-associated genes belong to gene families. The use of gene family information for disease gene discovery and variant interpretation has not yet been investigated on a genome-wide scale. We empirically evaluate whether paralog-conserved or non-conserved sites in human gene families are important in NDDs. Methods Gene family information was collected from Ensembl. Paralog-conserved sites were defined based on paralog sequence alignments; 10,068 NDD patients and 2078 controls were statistically evaluated for de novo variant burden in gene families. Results We demonstrate that disease-associated missense variants are enriched at paralog-conserved sites across all disease groups and inheritance models tested. We developed a gene family de novo enrichment framework that identified 43 exome-wide enriched gene families including 98 de novo variant carrying genes in NDD patients of which 28 represent novel candidate genes for NDD which are brain expressed and under evolutionary constraint. Conclusion This study represents the first method to incorporate gene family information into a statistical framework to interpret variant data for NDDs and to discover new NDD-associated genes.
  • EuroEPINOMICS-RES Consortium; Lal, Dennis; May, Patrick; Perez-Palma, Eduardo; Kurki, Mitja; Palotie, Aarno; Daly, Mark J.; Lehesjoki, Anna-Elina (2020)
    Background Classifying pathogenicity of missense variants represents a major challenge in clinical practice during the diagnoses of rare and genetic heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). While orthologous gene conservation is commonly employed in variant annotation, approximately 80% of known disease-associated genes belong to gene families. The use of gene family information for disease gene discovery and variant interpretation has not yet been investigated on a genome-wide scale. We empirically evaluate whether paralog-conserved or non-conserved sites in human gene families are important in NDDs. Methods Gene family information was collected from Ensembl. Paralog-conserved sites were defined based on paralog sequence alignments; 10,068 NDD patients and 2078 controls were statistically evaluated for de novo variant burden in gene families. Results We demonstrate that disease-associated missense variants are enriched at paralog-conserved sites across all disease groups and inheritance models tested. We developed a gene family de novo enrichment framework that identified 43 exome-wide enriched gene families including 98 de novo variant carrying genes in NDD patients of which 28 represent novel candidate genes for NDD which are brain expressed and under evolutionary constraint. Conclusion This study represents the first method to incorporate gene family information into a statistical framework to interpret variant data for NDDs and to discover new NDD-associated genes.
  • Kantelinen, Annina; Purhonen, Jenna; Halme, Panu; Myllys, Leena (2022)
    Lichens have a vital role in forest ecosystems and they are a threatened group in boreal forests. However, the conservation ecology of the total lichen community has very rarely been studied. Here we studied lichen species and communities, including macrolichens (=foliose and fruticose growth forms) and rarely studied crustose li-chens, on decaying wood in boreal spruce-dominated forests in Finland. We also studied obligate lignicoles that grow only on dead wood and are mostly crustose in growth form. Species richness and community composition were examined on decaying logs and natural or cut stumps of Picea abies at different decay stages (2-5) in 14 stands, half of which were natural or seminatural and half recently managed. We used thorough search to yield a species list as close to complete as possible. Our study questions were: 1) Are species richness and lichen communities different in natural and managed forests, and if so, are there differences between macrolichens, crustose lichens and obligate lignicoles in how they respond to forest management? 2) How does the decay stage and dead wood type affect the lichens, i.e. are there differences between stumps and logs? We found a total of 127 lichen species. Most (75 %) of the recorded lichen species were crustose. With a generalized linear model we found that crustose lichens and obligate lignicoles had a higher species richness in natural than managed forests, but macrolichen richness was not significantly affected by forest management. Utilizing non-metric multidi-mensional scaling we discovered that site level community composition of macrolichens, crustose lichens and obligate lignicoles was also significantly different between natural and managed forests. We found that on dead wood unit level the decay stage had a significant effect on species richness and community composition, so that the species richness of all studied groups declined during the decay process. The dead wood type (stump vs log) had a significant effect on species richness of macrolichens and obligate lignicoles, both for which species richness was higher on logs than on stumps, as well as on the communities of crustose lichens.
  • Selonen, Olavi; Brommer, Jon E.; Holopainen, Sini; Kauhala, Kaarina; Krüger, Heidi; Poutanen, Johanna; Väänänen, Veli-Matti; Laaksonen, T. (2022)
    The role of an alien predator in the community depends on its interaction with native predators. The absence of apex predators may facilitate outbreaks of invasive mesopredators, but the effect of apex predators may vary between species and environments. We analysed the occurrence of a common invasive mesopredator in Europe, the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), and native mesopredators, the red fox and the Eurasian badger, in camera-trap data from Finland. The observations in cameras were analysed in relation to the presence of apex predators in the landscape (grey wolf and Eurasian lynx), human density, and habitat. We observed negative effect of increasing presence of wolves and lynxes on the occurrence of raccoon dogs. This effect appeared clear compared to the effects of habitat and human density. The effect of lynxes on raccoon dogs was clearer in areas with short growth season. For the occurrence of badgers, the presence of wolves had a weak negative effect and the presence of lynxes had a positive effect. For the occurrence of red foxes, wolves had a positive effect when agricultural fields were sparse in the landscape and lynxes had no effect. We also observed that the invasive raccoon dog currently appears to be the most common mesopredator within the study area. We conclude that the effect of apex predators on mesopredators depends on the environment and, in our case, was more suppressive on the alien mesopredator than on the native mesopredators. Thus, apex predators can play an important role in controlling invasive mesopredators.
  • Harmoinen, Katri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    New Zealand is an isolated landmass laying in the Southwest Pacific waters, far away from any major islands or continents. It was the last major landmass to be colonized by people, discovered by the first Polynesian explorers around a thousand years ago. Historically, New Zealand lacked all native mammals (apart from three species of bats) and so has developed a plethora of bird species and other endemic wildlife. The absence of mammalian predators, combined with the continuous isolation for millions of years, has led the evolution of some very unique and charismatic species. One of these species is the iconic symbol of New Zealand – the kiwi (Apteryx spp). The biggest challenge to the New Zealand wildlife has been the introduction of mammalian species to the New Zealand ecosystem. There are 25 species of introduced mammals in New Zealand today that are regarded as pests. The devastation caused by these species is the main cause for the dramatic decline of the endemic New Zealand wildlife, including the iconic kiwi. Nationally, kiwi continue to decline by more than 2% annually and there are estimates of the species going extinct from the wild within 50 years. Since the first more permanent human settlement, more than 50% of the New Zealand breeding birds have gone extinct. In this thesis, the relation between kiwi and introduced mammalian species around the township of Whakatāne, New Zealand, was studied. During summer 2018-2019, three out of eight monitored kiwi chicks were predated by a suspected mustelid/mustelids and DNA swabs were obtained from the bite sites. Volunteer pest trappers were then asked to bring in all their catches in an attempt to catch the individual/individuals responsible for the predations. Molecular tools including microsatellites were used to create ID profiles in an attempt to match the profiles to those obtained from the kiwi chicks. In the second part of the study, the stoats’ stomachs were analysed as part of a diet study. A new, kiwi specific DNA probe was trialled and the remaining stomach contents were sequenced for other native wildlife species. Out of the three predated kiwi chicks, all of them were confirmed to be stoat predations. Unfortunately, none of the stoat ID profiles obtained matched the profile of the kiwi chick Ranui who was the only chick a good micro-satellite profile was obtained for. This confirmed that the stoat/stoats responsible for the predation of Ranui was not caught as part of this study. In the diet part of this thesis, we trialled the kiwi specific probe but could not identify any kiwi DNA in the stoat stomach contents. The DNA sequencing however revealed five other species: tomtit (lat. Petroica macrocephala, 100%), common chaffinch (lat. Frigilla coelebs, 100%), tui (lat. Prosthemadera novaseelandiae, 96%), European hare (lat. Lepus europaeus,100%) and copper skink (lat. Cyclodina aenea, 100%). These findings shed new light on the extent introduced mammalian species contribute to the species loss taking place in the New Zealand forests today. The use of molecular techniques and tools in conservation offers an often faster, cost-efficient and more reliable alternative to traditional monitoring methods of introduced species. The rapid development of these tools has seen New Zealand taking critical steps towards one day becoming predator free. The ambitious goal to rid New Zealand of target introduced species (mustelids, possums and rats) by year 2050 (Predator Free 2050), has been compared as the New Zealand equivalent of putting the man on the moon.
  • Tabatabaei, Seyedeh Narjes; Abdoli, Asghar; Ahmadzadeh, Faraham; Primmer, Craig R.; Swatdipong, Akarapong; Segherloo, Iraj Hashemzadeh (2020)
    A total of 120 Caspian Sea trout specimens from five streams and Lar Lake of the Lar National Park plus 27 Caspian Sea trout specimens (out-group) from the Babolrud River drainage in the Caspian Sea Basin (Iran) were analyzed using 12 microsatellite loci to assess population genetic structure and to estimate the contribution of each population to the lake-run stock. In addition to the Babolrud River population that was significantly differentiated (P <0.001) from that in Lar National Park, the Dalichay population was significantly differentiated from other populations (P <0.001). The Dalichay and Absefid populations showed no contribution to the lake-run trout stock, while the others that did not show population genetic structure showed a 100% contribution to the lake-run trout stock. The different contributions to the lake-run trout stock estimated here may be related to the habitat qualifies that make the habitats suitable for natural Caspian Sea trout production or to different migratory behaviors between resident and lake-run trout. The results show that more stringent protection of the stream habitats for the contributing populations should be considered in order to sustain recreational fishing in the lake.
  • Viranta, Suvi; Atickem, Anagaw; Werdelin, Lars; Stenseth, Nils C (BioMed Central, 2017)
    Abstract Background The African wolf, for which we herein recognise Canis lupaster Hemprich and Ehrenberg, 1832 (Symbolae Physicae quae ex Itinere Africam Borealem er Asoam Occidentalem Decas Secunda. Berlin, 1833) as the valid species name (we consider the older name Canis anthus Cuvier, 1820 [Le Chacal de Sénégal, Femelle. In: Geoffroy St.-Hilaire E, Cuvier F, editors. Histoire Naturelle des Mammifères Paris, A. Belin, 1820] a nomen dubium), is a medium-sized canid with wolf-like characters. Because of phenotypic similarity, specimens of African wolf have long been assigned to golden jackal (Canis aureus Linnaeus, 1758 [Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata, 1758]). Results Here we provide, through rigorous morphological analysis, a species description for this taxonomically overlooked species. Through molecular sequencing we assess its distribution in Africa, which remains uncertain due to confusion regarding possible co-occurrence with the Eurasian golden jackal. Canis lupaster differs from all other Canis spp. including the golden jackal in its cranial morphology, while phylogenetically it shows close affinity to the Holarctic grey wolf (Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758 [Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata, 1758]). All sequences generated during this study clustered with African wolf specimens, consistent with previous data for the species. Conclusions We suggest that the estimated current geographic range of golden jackal in Africa represents the African wolf range. Further research is needed in eastern Egypt, where a hybrid zone between Eurasian golden jackal and African wolf may exist. Our results highlight the need for improved studies of geographic range and population surveys for the taxon, which is classified as ‘least concern’ by the IUCN due to its erroneous identification as golden jackal. As a species exclusively distributed in Africa, investigations of the biology and threats to African wolf are needed.
  • Fernandez-Llamazares Onrubia, Alvaro; Cabeza-Jaimejuan, Maria Del Mar (2018)
    Several intergovernmental policy instruments, including the World Heritage Convention of UNESCO and the Convention on Biological Diversity, have proposed to develop integrated strategies to build bridges between biological and cultural diversity agendas. We contend that to succeed in this endeavor, it is crucial to link biocultural revitalization to conservation practice. Our hope with this review is to call attention to indigenous storytelling as an option worth adding to the repertoire of conservation practitioners who aim to: (1) link conservation actions to indigenous worldviews; (2) foster connections between indigenous peoples and their landscapes; (3) facilitate intergenerational transfer of indigenous knowledge; (4) support dialogue over conservation; and (5) promote local participation in conservation. Because indigenous stories are full of resonance, memory, and wisdom—in a footing that is structurally free of power imbalance between conservation practitioners and local communities—, we contend that they can be crucial to guide future efforts in biocultural conservation practice. Our review shows that deeper consideration and promotion of indigenous storytelling can lead to enhanced understanding of diverse values and perceptions around biodiversity, while offering a constructive approach for greater inclusion of indigenous peoples in conservation pursuits.
  • Hyvärinen, Marko (2020)
    Rubus humulifolius is a Eurasian species that has got wide geographic distribution from western parts of Russia to Manchuria. The westernmost and separate population of R. humulifolius was found in Central Finland in 1917. The population was assumed to be formed via anthropogenic dispersal either in early nineteenth or early eighteenth century. In 20's the population was regarded as viable as it covered an area of a hectare almost as a monoculture in the field layer and it was protected by law in 1933. However, the state of the population started to decline in the same year as the area was ditched. In 1957 there were only fifteen rosettes left and five rosettes of were transplanted from the site to a private cottage garden just before the whole area was turned into a construction area and remaining population destroyed. The rescued population thrived but attempts to reintroduce plants from it to other sites considered to be suitable for the species were unsuccessful. Therefore, a research project initiated in 1986 for finding a suitable in vitro method for vegetative propagation of the plant. Eventually, the right formula for a substrate was found and 1500 new plants were produced in a couple of months. Now the in vitro propagated descendants of the five rescued ramets grow in several Finnish botanic gardens as part of their living collections and they also have been reintroduced to a natural site close to the original one in Central Finland. One can assume that a plant population that has gone through two bottlenecks-i.e. establishment of new population by presumably few long-distance dispersed genetic individuals and population decline to near extirpation -has got very narrow genetic diversity. Whether this is the case and whether inbreeding depression could explain e.g. the observed poor seed production in the population remains as a challenge for future research. Owing to ex situ conservation and in vitro technique applied for the first time to reintroduce an endangered species R. humulifolius is no more in immediate danger of extirpation. However, it is still classified as Critically Endangered (CR) as there is still only one population in the wild and it may be genetically depauperate.
  • Kunnasranta, Mervi; Niemi, Marja; Auttila, Miina; Valtonen, Mia; Kammonen, Juhana; Nyman, Tommi (2021)
    Wildlife species living in proximity with humans often suffer from various anthropogenic factors. Here, we focus on the endangered Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis), which lives in close connection with humans in Lake Saimaa, Finland. This unique endemic population has remained landlocked since the last glacial period, and it currently consists of only similar to 400 individuals. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the Saimaa ringed seal, identify the main risk factors and discuss the efficacy of conservation actions put in place to ensure its long-term survival. The main threats for this rare subspecies are bycatch mortality, habitat destruction and increasingly mild winters. Climate change, together with small population size and an extremely impoverished gene pool, forms a new severe threat. The main conservation actions and priorities for the Saimaa ringed seal are implementation of fishing closures, land-use planning, protected areas, and reduction of pup mortality. Novel innovations, such as provisioning of artificial nest structures, may become increasingly important in the future. Although the Saimaa ringed seal still faces the risk of extinction, the current positive trend in the number of seals shows that endangered wildlife populations can recover even in regions with considerable human inhabitation, when legislative protection is combined with intensive research, engagement of local inhabitants, and innovative conservation actions. Such multifaceted conservation approaches are needed in a world with a growing human population and a rapidly changing climate.
  • Herzon, Irina; Raatikainen, Kaisa J.; Helm, Aveliina; Rusina, Solvita; Wehn, Solvi; Eriksson, Ove (2022)
    We propose to consider semi-natural habitats-hotspots for biodiversity-being caught in a socio-ecological extinction vortex, similar to the phenomenon described for species threatened with extinction. These habitats are essentially socioecological systems, in which socioeconomic drivers are interlinked with ecological processes. We identify four highly interlinked and mutually reinforcing socio-economic processes, pertaining to the importance of semi-natural habitats for (i) agricultural production, (ii) policy, research and development; (iii) vocational education in the fields of agricultural sciences and (iv) public's experiences with semi-natural habitats. Evidence from six countries in the boreal region demonstrates that recent slowing down or even reversal of two processes are insufficient to stop the extinction vortex phenomenon. We suggest research directions to ascertain the phenomenon, monitor its development and develop proactive actions to weaken the vortex. It is highly plausible that interventions directed at most, if not all, of the key vortex processes are needed to reverse the overall deteriorating trends of a socio-ecological system.
  • Lehtomäki, Joona (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    In a world of competing interests and increasing land use pressures, the allocation of limited resources for biodiversity conservation need to be prioritized. Spatial conservation prioritization deals with the cost-efficient and well-balanced identification of priority areas for biodiversity, as well as with the allocation and scheduling of alternative conservation actions. Finland is the most forested country in Europe, but more than 90 percents of Finland s forests are under commercial management. A history of widespread and relatively intensive forest management has led to many specialist species and habitats becoming threatened. At the same time, the protected area network is unequally distributed over the country, with largest areas in the north where species diversity is lowest. Consequently, the current main priority for conservation action for forest habitats is expanding the protected area network in the southern parts of the country in an ecologically justified way. In this thesis, I have three specific objectives. First, I examine the suitability of commonly available forest inventory data for informative high-resolution spatial conservation prioritization. Second, I clarify the effects of spatial scale and connectivity on spatial conservation prioritization at regional and national extents. Finally, I develop, demonstrate, and implement a practical workflow for regional- and national-scale forest conservation management planning in Finland, using the Zonation framework and software for spatial prioritization. I show how habitat quality indices based on forest inventory data and expert knowledge can be used as a basis of conservation prioritization. Comparison against validation datasets reveals that the analyses do indeed produce informative priorities. Case studies involving the expansion of the national protected area network both on public and private land demonstrate how the results can be applied in the context of a national forest conservation program, METSO. The spatial resolution of input data should closely match those of the planning objectives and the ecological processes involved. Furthermore, the level of detail in the forest inventory data defines how well the prioritization is able to identify small occurrences of important forest types and key habitats. The quality and the quantity of suitable habitat between protected areas are important for many forest species. Accounting for connectivity in the prioritization analyses produces spatially more aggregated priority patterns. However, emphasizing connectivity will lower the relative value of locally high quality, but poorly connected sites. Therefore, the balance between connectivity and local habitat quality merits careful consideration in spatial prioritization. The thesis highlights important factors. First, data availability often restricts the types of prioritization analyses that can be undertaken. Therefore, long-term development of high-quality open access data is crucial for making best use of spatial prioritization approaches. Second, establishing a conceptual model for the prioritization process can help formulate the right questions, to select the most suitable tools, and to estimate the costs and benefits involved. Finally, a successful conservation prioritization requires participation of experts and stakeholders. Methods, analyses, workflows and visualization techniques summarized in this thesis can serve as starting points for other similar applications elsewhere and support meeting local, regional and global conservation goals.
  • Oldén, A.; Selonen, V. A O; Lehkonen, E.; Kotiaho, J. S (BioMed Central, 2019)
    Abstract Background Riparian forests surrounding streams host high biodiversity values, but are threatened by clear-cut logging. Narrow buffer strips of about 15 m are commonly left between the stream and the clear-cut, but studies suggest that the buffer width should be at least 30 m to protect riparian plant communities. Moreover, selective logging is often allowed on the buffer strips in order to increase economic gain. We used an experiment of 43 riparian sites where buffer strip width and selective logging within the strip were manipulated and supplemented with unlogged control sites. We report the short-term changes in the community composition of vascular plants and mosses near the stream (0–15 m distance). Results 15-meter buffers are not enough to protect the vascular plant communities from changes caused by a clear-cut irrespective of the selective logging on the buffer strip. For moss communities 15-m buffers were not enough if they were selectively logged. Relative to the control sites, we observed no significant changes in community composition of vascular plants or mosses in the sites with 30-m buffer strips, whether selectively logged or not. Conclusions We conclude that buffer strips of 15 m are not sufficient to protect streamside plant communities even in the short term, but that buffers of 30 m should be left on both sides of the stream. Selective logging appears not to have effects on buffers that are at least 30 m wide. Thus, it may be more reasonable to increase buffer width and to allow selective logging on the wider buffer in order to compensate for the economic losses than to leave all trees on a narrow and ecologically insufficient buffer.