Biological Records Center

Wallingford, United Kingdom

Biological Records Center

Wallingford, United Kingdom
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Gilburn A.S.,University of Stirling | Bunnefeld N.,University of Stirling | McVean Wilson J.,University of Stirling | Botham M.S.,Biological Records Center | And 3 more authors.
PeerJ | Year: 2015

There has been widespread concern that neonicotinoid pesticides may be adversely impacting wild and managed bees for some years, but recently attention has shifted to examining broader effects they may be having on biodiversity. For example in the Netherlands, declines in insectivorous birds are positively associated with levels of neonicotinoid pollution in surface water. In England, the total abundance of widespread butterfly species declined by 58% on farmed land between 2000 and 2009 despite both a doubling in conservation spending in the UK, and predictions that climate change should benefit most species. Here we build models of the UK population indices from 1985 to 2012 for 17 widespread butterfly species that commonly occur at farmland sites. Of the factors we tested, three correlated significantly with butterfly populations. Summer temperature and the index for a species the previous year are both positively associated with butterfly indices. By contrast, the number of hectares of farmland where neonicotinoid pesticides are used is negatively associated with butterfly indices. Indices for 15 of the 17 species show negative associations with neonicotinoid usage. The declines in butterflies have largely occurred in England, where neonicotinoid usage is at its highest. In Scotland, where neonicotinoid usage is comparatively low, butterfly numbers are stable. Further research is needed urgently to show whether there is a causal link between neonicotinoid usage and the decline of widespread butterflies or whether it simply represents a proxy for other environmental factors associated with intensive agriculture. © 2015 Gilburn et al.


PubMed | Biological Records Center, Butterfly Conservation, University of Stirling and University of Sussex
Type: | Journal: PeerJ | Year: 2015

There has been widespread concern that neonicotinoid pesticides may be adversely impacting wild and managed bees for some years, but recently attention has shifted to examining broader effects they may be having on biodiversity. For example in the Netherlands, declines in insectivorous birds are positively associated with levels of neonicotinoid pollution in surface water. In England, the total abundance of widespread butterfly species declined by 58% on farmed land between 2000 and 2009 despite both a doubling in conservation spending in the UK, and predictions that climate change should benefit most species. Here we build models of the UK population indices from 1985 to 2012 for 17 widespread butterfly species that commonly occur at farmland sites. Of the factors we tested, three correlated significantly with butterfly populations. Summer temperature and the index for a species the previous year are both positively associated with butterfly indices. By contrast, the number of hectares of farmland where neonicotinoid pesticides are used is negatively associated with butterfly indices. Indices for 15 of the 17 species show negative associations with neonicotinoid usage. The declines in butterflies have largely occurred in England, where neonicotinoid usage is at its highest. In Scotland, where neonicotinoid usage is comparatively low, butterfly numbers are stable. Further research is needed urgently to show whether there is a causal link between neonicotinoid usage and the decline of widespread butterflies or whether it simply represents a proxy for other environmental factors associated with intensive agriculture.


PubMed | Biological Records Center, British Dragonfly Society and Dragonfly Conservation Group
Type: | Journal: PeerJ | Year: 2015

A major challenge in ecology is understanding why certain species persist, while others decline, in response to environmental change. Trait-based comparative analyses are useful in this regard as they can help identify the key drivers of decline, and highlight traits that promote resistance to change. Despite their popularity trait-based comparative analyses tend to focus on explaining variation in range shift and extinction risk, seldom being applied to actual measures of species decline. Furthermore they have tended to be taxonomically restricted to birds, mammals, plants and butterflies. Here we utilise a novel approach to estimate occurrence trends for the Odonata in Britain and Ireland, and examine trait correlates of these trends using a recently available trait dataset. We found the dragonfly fauna in Britain and Ireland has undergone considerable change between 1980 and 2012, with 22 and 53% of species declining and increasing, respectively. Distribution region, habitat specialism and range size were the key traits associated with these trends, where habitat generalists that occupy southern Britain tend to have increased in comparison to the declining narrow-ranged specialist species. In combination with previous evidence, we conclude that the lower trend estimates for the narrow-ranged specialists could be a sign of biotic homogenization with ecological specialists being replaced by warm-adapted generalists.


Maes D.,Research Institute for Nature and Forest INBO | Isaac N.J.B.,Biological Records Center | Harrower C.A.,Biological Records Center | Collen B.,University College London | And 2 more authors.
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2015

IUCN Red Lists are recognized worldwide as powerful instruments for the conservation of species. Quantitative criteria to standardize approaches for estimating population trends, geographic ranges and population sizes have been developed at global and sub-global levels. Little attention has been given to the data needed to estimate species trends and range sizes for IUCN Red List assessments. Few regions collect monitoring data in a structured way and usually only for a limited number of taxa. Therefore, opportunistic data are increasingly used for estimating trends and geographic range sizes. Trend calculations use a range of proxies: (i) monitoring sentinel populations, (ii) estimating changes in available habitat, or (iii) statistical models of change based on opportunistic records. Geographic ranges have been determined using: (i) marginal occurrences, (ii) habitat distributions, (iii) range-wide occurrences, (iv) species distribution modelling (including site-occupancy models), and (v) process-based modelling. Red List assessments differ strongly among regions (Europe, Britain and Flanders, north Belgium). Across different taxonomic groups, in European Red Lists IUCN criteria B and D resulted in the highest level of threat. In Britain, this was the case for criterion D and criterion A, while in Flanders criterion B and criterion A resulted in the highest threat level. Among taxonomic groups, however, large differences in the use of IUCN criteria were revealed. We give examples from Europe, Britain and Flemish Red List assessments using opportunistic data and give recommendations for a more uniform use of IUCN criteria among regions and among taxonomic groups. © 2015 The Linnean Society of London.


PubMed | University of Leeds and Biological Records Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: The Journal of animal ecology | Year: 2015

In 2003, 24 presence-absence -diversity metrics were reviewed and a number of trade-offs and redundancies identified. We present a parallel investigation into the performance of abundance-based metrics of -diversity. -diversity is a multi-faceted concept, central to spatial ecology. There are multiple metrics available to quantify it: the choice of metric is an important decision. We test 16 conceptual properties and two sampling properties of a -diversity metric: metrics should be 1) independent of -diversity and 2) cumulative along a gradient of species turnover. Similarity should be 3) probabilistic when assemblages are independently and identically distributed. Metrics should have 4) a minimum of zero and increase monotonically with the degree of 5) species turnover, 6) decoupling of species ranks and 7) evenness differences. However, complete species turnover should always generate greater values of than extreme 8) rank shifts or 9) evenness differences. Metrics should 10) have a fixed upper limit, 11) symmetry (A,B =B,A ), 12) double-zero asymmetry for double absences and double presences and 13) not decrease in a series of nested assemblages. Additionally, metrics should be independent of 14) species replication 15) the units of abundance and 16) differences in total abundance between sampling units. When samples are used to infer -diversity, metrics should be 1) independent of sample sizes and 2) independent of unequal sample sizes. We test 29 metrics for these properties and five personality properties. Thirteen metrics were outperformed or equalled across all conceptual and sampling properties. Differences in sensitivity to species abundance lead to a performance trade-off between sample size bias and the ability to detect turnover among rare species. In general, abundance-based metrics are substantially less biased in the face of undersampling, although the presence-absence metric, sim , performed well overall. Only Baselga R turn , Baselga B-C turn and sim measured purely species turnover and were independent of nestedness. Among the other metrics, sensitivity to nestedness varied >4-fold. Our results indicate large amounts of redundancy among existing -diversity metrics, whilst the estimation of unseen shared and unshared species is lacking and should be addressed in the design of new abundance-based metrics.

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