Center for Ecology and Hydrology

Lancaster, United Kingdom

Center for Ecology and Hydrology

Lancaster, United Kingdom
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Hemrova L.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Bullock J.M.,Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Hooftman D.A.P.,Center for Ecology and Hydrology | White S.M.,Mathematical Institute | Munzbergova Z.,Charles University
Oikos | Year: 2017

Understanding the ability of plants to spread is important for assessing conservation strategies, landscape dynamics, invasiveness and ability to cope with climate change. While long-distance seed dispersal is often viewed as a key process in population spread, the importance of inter-specific variation in demography is less explored. Indeed, the relative importance of demography vs seed dispersal in determining population spread is still little understood. We modelled species' potential for population spread in terms of annual migration rates for a set of species inhabiting dry grasslands of central Europe. Simultaneously, we estimated the importance of demographic (population growth rate) versus long-distance dispersal (99th percentile dispersal distance) characteristics for among-species differences in modelled population spread. In addition, we assessed how well simple proxy measures related to demography (the number and survival of seedlings, the survival of flowering individuals) and dispersal (plant height, terminal velocity and wind speed during dispersal) predicted modelled spread rates. We found that species' demographic rates were the more powerful predictors of species' modelled potential to spread than dispersal. Furthermore, our simple proxies were correlated with modelled species spread rates and together their predictive power was high. Our findings highlight that for understanding variation among species in their potential for population spread, detailed information on local demography and dispersal might not always be necessary. Simple proxies or assumptions that are based primarily on species demography could be sufficient. © 2017 Nordic Society Oikos.

PubMed | Anglia, Sustainable Development Technology, James Cook University, Naturalis Biodiversity Center and 6 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Nature | Year: 2016

Wild and managed pollinators provide a wide range of benefits to society in terms of contributions to food security, farmer and beekeeper livelihoods, social and cultural values, as well as the maintenance of wider biodiversity and ecosystem stability. Pollinators face numerous threats, including changes in land-use and management intensity, climate change, pesticides and genetically modified crops, pollinator management and pathogens, and invasive alien species. There are well-documented declines in some wild and managed pollinators in several regions of the world. However, many effective policy and management responses can be implemented to safeguard pollinators and sustain pollination services.

PubMed | University of Oxford, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Institute Investigacion en Recursos Cinegeticos IREC CSIC UCLM JCCM, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and 9 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Ecotoxicology (London, England) | Year: 2016

Biomonitoring using birds of prey as sentinel species has been mooted as a way to evaluate the success of European Union directives that are designed to protect people and the environment across Europe from industrial contaminants and pesticides. No such pan-European evaluation currently exists.Coordination of such large scale monitoring would require harmonisation across multiple countries of thetypes of samples collected and analysed-matrices vary in the ease with which they can be collected and the information they provide. We report the first ever pan-European assessment of whichraptor samples are collected across Europe and review their suitability for biomonitoring. Currently, some 182 monitoring programmes across 33 European countries collect a variety of raptor samples, and we discuss the relative merits of each for monitoring current priority and emerging compounds. Of the matrices collected, blood and liver are used most extensively for quantifying trends in recent and longer-term contaminant exposure, respectively. These matrices are potentially the most effective for pan-European biomonitoring but are not so widely and frequently collected as others. We found that failed eggs and feathers are the most widely collected samples. Because of this ubiquity, they may provide the best opportunities for widescale biomonitoring, although neither is suitable for all compounds. We advocate piloting pan-European monitoring of selected priority compounds using these matrices and developing read-across approaches to accommodate any effects that trophic pathway and species differences in accumulation may have on our ability to track environmental trends in contaminants.

PubMed | University Autonoma Barcelonas, IRSTEA, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Technical University In Zvolen and 6 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology | Year: 2016

The number of collaborative initiatives between scientists and volunteers (i.e., citizen science) is increasing across many research fields. The promise of societal transformation together with scientific breakthroughs contributes to the current popularity of citizen science (CS) in the policy domain. We examined the transformative capacity of citizen science in particular learning through environmental CS as conservation tool. We reviewed the CS and social-learning literature and examined 14 conservation projects across Europe that involved collaborative CS. We also developed a template that can be used to explore learning arrangements (i.e., learning events and materials) in CS projects and to explain how the desired outcomes can be achieved through CS learning. We found that recent studies aiming to define CS for analytical purposes often fail to improve the conceptual clarity of CS; CS programs may have transformative potential, especially for the development of individual skills, but such transformation is not necessarily occurring at the organizational and institutional levels; empirical evidence on simple learning outcomes, but the assertion of transformative effects of CS learning is often based on assumptions rather than empirical observation; and it is unanimous that learning in CS is considered important, but in practice it often goes unreported or unevaluated. In conclusion, we point to the need for reliable and transparent measurement of transformative effects for democratization of knowledge production.

News Article | February 2, 2016

Because of spiking levels of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, global warming will possibly unleash devastating and extreme flooding in the coming years. Scientists say it will be similar to the severe storms that targeted a coastal plain in England in 2014. In a new report, a team of experts explained that climate change had "amplified" the violent storms that flooded Somerset Levels during late 2013 and early 2014. Now, man-made greenhouse gas emissions have upped the chances of extreme flooding by 43 percent, scientists said, as increasingly warmer temperatures hold larger amounts of moisture that lead to heavier downpour. "What was once a 1 in 100-year event in a world without climate change is now a 1 in 70-year event," said Oxford University's Friederike Otto, co-author of the report. Their paper is the first research to look into the likely role of climate change in the winter flooding of Somerset Levels. During December 2013 and January 2014, heavy rainfall poured down the coastal plain and wetland area of central Somerset in South West England, affecting Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and the Thames valley. The downpour led to extensive flooding, where more than 5,000 houses and establishments, as well as 17,000 acres of agricultural land, were submerged. Losses amounted to more than £450 million ($647 million). The truth is, no single extreme weather occurrence can be linked to climate change, but Otto says it is more possible to estimate how much more likely an event is shaped by global warming. Aside from the Somerset Levels, Otto also calculated the severe flooding that occurred in Cumbria by Storm Desmond in December. Otto found that it was made 40 percent more possible by climate change, and that the record rainfall in the UK over the whole of that month was 50 to 75 percent more likely because of global warming. "We can definitely say with climate change that the issue of flooding isn't going to go away," said Otto. "As a society we need to think hard about the question of our vulnerability and exposure to flooding." The study also applied contributions from citizen scientists all over the world who had all used spare processing time on their computers to calculate more than 130,000 simulations of what the weather would have been like with and without human interference in the climate. According to Dr. Pascal Yiou of the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat e l'Environnement (LSCE), the increase in amount of rainfall had been due to a rise in moisture. "The more extreme the weather, the stronger the effect of climate change over the UK," said Yiou. Meanwhile, Beate Werner, one of the authors of the report, said the recent flooding in the UK are adding to evidence of worsening flood problems across Europe, which has occurred also because of draining, barricading and building on the flood plains around major rivers. The Somerset Levels study, which is featured in the journal Nature Climate Change, was conducted by experts from LSCE and the Center for Ecology and Hydrology.

Fowler D.,Center for Ecology and Hydrology
Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences | Year: 2013

Global nitrogen fixation contributes 413 Tg of reactive nitrogen (Nr) to terrestrial and marine ecosystems annually of which anthropogenic activities are responsible for half, 210 Tg N. The majority of the transformations of anthropogenic Nr are on land (240 Tg N yr(-1)) within soils and vegetation where reduced Nr contributes most of the input through the use of fertilizer nitrogen in agriculture. Leakages from the use of fertilizer Nr contribute to nitrate (NO3(-)) in drainage waters from agricultural land and emissions of trace Nr compounds to the atmosphere. Emissions, mainly of ammonia (NH3) from land together with combustion related emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), contribute 100 Tg N yr(-1) to the atmosphere, which are transported between countries and processed within the atmosphere, generating secondary pollutants, including ozone and other photochemical oxidants and aerosols, especially ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) and ammonium sulfate (NH4)2SO4. Leaching and riverine transport of NO3 contribute 40-70 Tg N yr(-1) to coastal waters and the open ocean, which together with the 30 Tg input to oceans from atmospheric deposition combine with marine biological nitrogen fixation (140 Tg N yr(-1)) to double the ocean processing of Nr. Some of the marine Nr is buried in sediments, the remainder being denitrified back to the atmosphere as N2 or N2O. The marine processing is of a similar magnitude to that in terrestrial soils and vegetation, but has a larger fraction of natural origin. The lifetime of Nr in the atmosphere, with the exception of N2O, is only a few weeks, while in terrestrial ecosystems, with the exception of peatlands (where it can be 10(2)-10(3) years), the lifetime is a few decades. In the ocean, the lifetime of Nr is less well known but seems to be longer than in terrestrial ecosystems and may represent an important long-term source of N2O that will respond very slowly to control measures on the sources of Nr from which it is produced.

Sier A.,Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Monteith D.,Center for Ecology and Hydrology
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2016

The UK Environmental Change Network (ECN), the UK's Long-Term Ecosystem Research (LTER) network, has now been operating for over twenty years. It was established in 1992 as a set of terrestrial sites at which sustained observations relevant to a range of ecological indicators and environmental parameters could be made. An additional ECN freshwater network was launched in 1994. In this paper we provide a brief history of the network, and describe its current structure and role within a complementary wider range of UK environmental monitoring and observation programmes that are either more focussed on specific parameters or habitats, or operate at different temporal and spatial scales. We then provide a review of the other papers within this Special Issue, which exemplifies the broad range of environmental concerns that ECN data and sites are helping to address. These include network-wide summaries of environmental and biological trends over the first two decades of monitoring, more site-specific assessment of the ecological impacts of local pressures resulting from changes in management, biological and ecosystem service indicator development, and the testing of new monitoring technologies. We go on to consider: (i) future directions of network development and adaptation in light of recently emerging environmental concerns, dwindling financial resources and the consequent need for greater efficiency; (ii) the desire for tighter integration with other monitoring and observation programmes both nationally internationally; (iii) opportunities raised by recent technological developments; and (iv) the need to process and make available data more rapidly to increase the capacity of ECN sites as early warning systems. In its first two decades of operation the ECN has accumulated a robust set of baseline data that describe environmental and biological variability across a range of habitats in unprecedented detail. With appropriate, informed development, these should prove invaluable in discerning the causes and consequences of environmental change for decades to come. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

PubMed | Center for Ecology and Hydrology
Type: | Journal: Journal of environmental radioactivity | Year: 2016

Under the MODARIA (Modelling and Data for Radiological Impact Assessments Programme of the International Atomic Energy Agency), there has been an initiative to improve the derivation, provenance and transparency of transfer parameter values for radionuclides. The approach taken for animal products is outlined here and the first revised table for goat milk is provided. Data from some references used in TRS 472 were removed and reasons given for removal. Particular efforts were made to improve the number of CR (concentration ratio) values which have some advantages over transfer coefficients. There is little difference in most of the new CR and Fm (transfer coefficient) values for goat milk compared with those in TRS 472. In TRS 472, 21 CR values were reported for goat milk. In the 2015 dataset for goat milk CR values for a further 14 elements are now included. The CR and Fm values for only one element (Co) were removed.

There is a worrying reduction in the population of bees worldwide. Because bees are considered as major pollinator of crops, decline in their number threatens global food production and supply. Now, a new research provides another evidence that the long-term and large-scale decline in bee population could be blamed in part to the use of neonicotinoid insecticides. In a new study spanning 18 years, researchers looked at wild bees that forage from oilseed rape crops, which are widely treated with neonicotinoids. They found that these insects are three times more likely to experience long-term population decline compared with bees that forage from other sources. "Using a multi-species dynamic Bayesian occupancy analysis, we find evidence of increased population extinction rates in response to neonicotinoid seed treatment use on oilseed rape," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the journal Nature Communications on Aug. 16. Neonicotinoids are widely used worldwide in a variety of crops to keep away insects that eat through harvests, but they also harm insects that benefit plants. Lab-based studies have shown that this pesticide is also harmful to certain species of bee, particularly commercial honeybees and bumblebees. The result of the new study offers some of the first evidences that exposure to neonicotinoid can scale up and lead to major damages to bees. "Prior to this, people had an idea that something might be happening, but no-one had an idea of the scale," said study author Ben Woodcock, from the Natural Environmental Research Council Center for Ecology and Hydrology. "(Our results show that) it's long-term, it's large scale, and it's many more species than we knew about before." Until now, most of the studies that looked at the effects of the chemical was limited to short-term and small-scale research. Many of these studies were also performed in laboratory settings and focused on just a few species. The result of the new study is different and more reliable in that it used 18 years' worth of data and involved more than 60 bee species in England. The research also relied on field data. "It's nice to see the use of long-term data to look at trends in pesticide impacts over longer time scales," said Dara Stanley, from the National University of Ireland Galway, who was involved in earlier research on the impact of neonicotinoids on bees. "That is something that has been missing in the debate on bees and pesticides so far, and there have been many calls to look at effects over time." © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

News Article | August 22, 2016

LONDON (Reuters) - Wild bees that forage from oilseed rape crops treated with insecticides known as neonicotinoids are more likely to undergo long-term population declines than bees that forage from other sources, according to the findings of an 18-year study. The new research covered 62 species of bee found in the wild in Britain and found a link between their shrinking populations and the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. Neonicotinoids are used worldwide in a range of crops and have been shown in lab-based studies to be harmful to certain species of bee - notably commercial honeybees and bumblebees. The European Union limited use of the chemicals - made and sold by various companies including Bayer CropScience and Syngenta - two years ago, after research pointed to risks for bees, which are crucial for pollinating crops. Neonicotinoids were initially licensed for use as a pesticide in Britain in 2002. By 2011, the proportion of UK oilseed rape seeds treated with them was 83 percent, according to the researchers leading this latest study. Going back to data from 1994 up to 2011, the scientists analyzed how large-scale applications of neonicotinoids to oilseed rape crops influenced bee population changes. The results, published in the journal Nature Communications, found that bees foraging on treated oilseed rape were three times more likely to experience population declines than bees foraging from other crops or wild plants. Giving details at a briefing in London, Ben Woodcock, who co-led the study, said the average decline in population across all 62 species was 7.0 percent, but the average decline among 34 species that forage on oilseed rape was higher, at 10 percent. Five of the 62 species studied declined by 20 percent or more, he said, and the worst affected declined by 30 percent. Woodcock, an ecological entomologist at the Natural Environmental Research Council Center for Ecology and Hydrology, said the findings showed the extent of the impact. "Prior to this, people had an idea that something might be happening, but no-one had an idea of the scale," he told reporters. "(Our results show that) it's long-term, it's large scale, and it's many more species than we knew about before." Woodcock's team said this should add to the body of evidence being considered in a review of neonicotinoid risks to bees being carried out by the European Food Standards Authority, expected to be completed by January 2017. Christopher Connolly, a neurobiologist and bee expert at the University of Dundee, who was not directly involved in this research, said: "The evidence against neonicotinoids now exists in key bee brain cells involved in learning and memory, in whole bees, entire colonies and now at the level of whole populations of wild bees."

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