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Mihok B.,Center forEcological Research | Kovacs E.,Szent Istvan University | Kovacs E.,Environmental Social Science Research Group ESSRG | Balazs B.,Szent Istvan University | And 34 more authors.
Journal for Nature Conservation

Halting biodiversity loss is a critical aim for the forthcoming decades, but is hindered by the gap between research and practice. Bridging this gap is a significant challenge in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, where, compared to Western European countries, biodiversity is higher but the research budget is lower. Approaches to address bridging this gap include participatory research prioritizing exercises. These demand-driven collaborative ranking processes have proven to be a useful tool in providing a research agenda derived from a review of critical challenges based on stakeholder engagement. However, for research agendas to be effectively realized, they are best developed and implemented at the operative level of research financing and implementation. This paper shows the process and the outcome of an exercise conducted in Hungary aiming to compile the most important conservation research questions at the country-level and outlines a set of further measures and tools required for dissemination and advocacy for the research agenda. During the process 792 research questions were collated from conservation practitioners and natural resource managers based on interviews and via an online questionnaire; the final 50 most important questions were identified by practitioners and policy makers during an expert workshop. Questions are embedded in global and EU biodiversity targets and imply a pragmatic approach with the aim of identifying research that supports policy- and decision-making regarding habitat management, land-use and regional development, while also focussing on conflicting issues. The outcome of the process includes the potential for lobbying, therefore post-publication activities and dissemination strategies are outlined as an integrated part of the exercise. © 2015 Elsevier GmbH. Source

Elek Z.,Eotvos Lorand University | Drag L.,University of South Bohemia | Drag L.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Pokluda P.,University of South Bohemia | And 4 more authors.
European Journal of Entomology

Knowledge of the dispersal ability of endangered species is crucial for developing effective, evidence-based conservation policies. Due to their limited dispersal abilities and specific habitat requirements, insects are among the animals most threatened by habitat fragmentation. We studied three populations of the highly endangered species of ground beetle, Carabus hungaricus, at three sites in Central Europe (Hungary and Czech Republic) using mark-release-recapture (MRR). The total catch of 574 pitfall traps set at the three sites was 6255 individuals. Depending on the site, the percentage recaptured was 13-32%. Average and maximum distance moved by individuals of both sexes at each of the sites ranged between 47-132 and 207-1104 m, respectively. The probability of the movements following an inverse power function (IPF) for the two sexes did not differ, but did differ among sites. Probability of dispersing for distances >100 m differed by an order of magnitude between sites, most likely because of differences in how the samples were collected. Despite the fact that individual beetles are able to move over distances in the order of kilometres, the high fragmentation of their habitats is likely to prevent them from colonizing most uninhabited habitat patches. Therefore, the conservation of this threatened ground beetle could be improved by adopting and implementing a policy of assisted dispersal. Our results from three study sites also provide an interesting illustration of the variability in the estimates of the probability of dispersal obtained using MRR. Source

Moskat C.,Hungarian Academy of Sciences | Rosendaal E.C.,University of Groningen | Boers M.,University of Groningen | Zolei A.,Duna Ipoly National Park Directorate | And 2 more authors.
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

Hosts of the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), an avian brood parasite, develop antiparasite defense mechanisms to increase their reproductive success. Ejection of the parasite egg and desertion of the parasitized nest are the most typical adaptations in response to brood parasitism, but nest desertion may also occur in response to partial clutch reduction, independently from parasitism. Some great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) showed both mechanisms in the same incidence of cuckoo parasitism: in 18% of successful ejections of the parasite eggs, they deserted their nests. We studied if such cases of post-ejection nest-desertion are caused by brood parasitism or reduced clutch value. We experimentally parasitized clutches consisting of five or three host eggs with two painted conspecific eggs to mimic parasitic eggs, as multiple parasitism is frequent in the area. Although hosts ejected these parasitic eggs in both clutch categories (100% and 67% for the larger and smaller inital clutch sizes, respectively), we found that after manipulation, post-ejection nest-desertion frequently occurred at small (3-egg) clutches (40%), but rarely at large (5-egg) clutches (17%). The same phenomenon also occurred when unparasitized 3-egg clutches were reduced by two eggs, but not when 5-egg clutches were reduced in the same way. A logistic regression model revealed that only initial clutch size affected nest desertion of parasitized nests in our experiments. Therefore, we conclude that post-ejection nest-desertion is not a second antiparasite mechanism, which might serve as a redundant antiparasite defense, but a reaction to typically small and further decreased clutch size. © 2010 Springer-Verlag. Source

Drag L.,University of South Bohemia | Drag L.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Hauck D.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Berces S.,Duna Ipoly National Park Directorate | And 5 more authors.
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society

Knowledge of patterns of genetic diversity in populations of threatened species is vital for their effective conservation. Rosalia longicorn (Rosalia alpina) is an endangered and strictly protected beetle. Despite a marked decline in part of its range, the beetle has recently expanded to the lowlands of Central Europe. To facilitate a better understanding of the species' biology, recent expansion and more effective conservation measures, we investigated patterns of genetic structure among 32 populations across Central and South-east Europe. Eight microsatellite loci and a partial mitochondrial gene (cytochrome c oxidase subunit I) were used as markers. Both markers showed a significant decline in genetic diversity with latitude, suggesting a glacial refugium in north-western Greece. The cluster analysis of the nuclear marker indicated the existence of two genetically distinct lineages meeting near the border between the Western and Eastern Carpathians. By contrast, one widespread mtDNA haplotype was dominant in most populations, leading to the assumption that a rapid expansion of a single lineage occurred across the study area. The genetic differentiation among populations from the north-western part of the study area was, however, surprisingly low. They lacked any substructure and isolation-by-distance on a scale of up to 600 km. This result suggests a strong dispersal capacity of the species, as well as a lack of migration barriers throughout the study area. That the lowland populations are closely related to those from the nearby mountains indicates repeated colonization of the lowlands. Our results further suggest that R. alpina mostly lives in large, open populations. Large-scale conservation measures need to be applied to allow for its continued existence. © 2015 The Linnean Society of London. Source

Berces S.,Duna Ipoly National Park Directorate | Elek Z.,Eotvos Lorand University
Insect Conservation and Diversity

Carabus hungaricus is a ground beetle inhabiting the Pannonian steppes. It is highly endangered by fragmentation and abandonment of its habitat. For five consecutive years, from 2006 to 2010, we used the mark-release-recapture technique in a grid of 270 live-capture pitfall traps to study its population ecology in sandy grasslands on Szentendrei Island in the Northern vicinity of Budapest, Hungary. In total, 3950 individuals of C. hungaricus (1874 females and 2076 males) were marked. Population size was estimated at∼2000 individuals per year; the estimates for females were consistently higher than those for males. The minimum population size was 1317 ± 60.1 individuals in 2007, whereas the maximum was 2169.7 ± 108.8 individuals in 2008. Adults older than a year formed∼32-42% of the population, whereas individuals surviving for 3 years formed∼10%, and those surviving for 4 years formed∼2% of the population. Individuals older than 4 years comprised <1% of the population. Female survival rate was higher than that of male, but the capture rate also differed between sexes. Although the studied population showed considerable fluctuations in the pattern of activity during the 5 years, its size seemed to be relatively stable, underlining the importance of overlapping generations. © 2012 The Royal Entomological Society. Source

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