Joint Nature Conservation Committee

Falkland Islands

Joint Nature Conservation Committee

Falkland Islands
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Cavin L.,University of Stirling | Mountford E.P.,Joint Nature Conservation Committee | Peterken G.F.,Beechwood House | Jump A.S.,University of Stirling
Functional Ecology | Year: 2013

The effect of extreme climate events on ecosystems is an important driver of biotic responses to climate change. For forests, extreme drought has been linked to negative effects such as large-scale mortality and reduced primary production. However, the response of plant communities to extreme drought events remains poorly understood. We used mortality data from a long-term monitoring programme in the core of the focal species' ranges, in combination with annual growth data from tree-rings, to study the effect of, and recovery from, an extreme drought event. We examined both the intraspecific and interspecific drought response and explored how differential responses affect competitive dominance between the dominant species Fagus sylvatica and Quercus petraea. Mortality for the most drought-susceptible species, F. sylvatica, occurred alongside a temporary reduction in competition-induced mortality of Q. petraea, resulting in the long-term alteration of the relative abundance of the two species. Significant intraspecific variation occurred in post-drought recovery in surviving F. sylvatica, with two distinct cohorts identified. A prolonged recovery period was coupled with the failure to regain pre-drought growth levels in this species, whereas for Q. petraea, no severe drought impacts were observed. This species instead experienced competitive release of growth. Our results demonstrate that ecosystem responses to extreme drought can involve rapid, nonlinear threshold processes during the recovery phase as well as the initial drought impact. These sudden changes can lead to the reordering of dominance between species within communities, which may persist if extreme events become more frequent. © 2013 British Ecological Society.

News Article | November 14, 2016

Swedish developer Vattenfall has shortlisted 16 projects for a €3m ($3.2m) scientific research programme at its 92.4MW European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen, Scotland, looking at the environmental impacts of offshore wind power. Selected from almost 100 applications by a panel made up of specialists from environmental agencies, scientists, the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group and Vattenfall, the projects encompass areas ranging from seabed geology studies,  through movement of different bird, mammal and fish species, to exploring the effect of offshore wind farms on the environment and societies. “It is important to harness the EOWDC as an opportunity to conduct in-depth research into offshore wind at a full-scale, near-shore facility," states Vattenfall EODWC project director Adam Ezzamel. “Each of these shortlisted projects has the potential to offer new insights into the sector. Through working with key environmental agencies and industry experts we will identify the successful applicants and allocate funding that will facilitate ground-breaking research into offshore wind.” Vattenfall expects that panel will decide on the successful projects, being part-funded by the European Union, by year-end. Panel members also include Marine Scotland Science, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, RSPB Scotland, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, and the UK Crown Estate. Erica Knott, Scottish Natural Heritage's representative on the panel, notes: “Understanding possible interactions between offshore wind farms and our marine wildlife is key to the sustainable growth of the industry in Scotland. “The short-listed projects target some of the most fundamental uncertainties in this area, resolution of which should inform and streamline the future consenting process for such development, in Scotland and beyond.” Slated to be online in 2018, the £300m EODWC project, also known as Aberdeen Bay, is a 11-turbine wind farm where Vattenfall aims to demonstrate cutting-edge offshore wind technology including MHI Vestas's 8MW V164 turbine, suction bucket foundations and high voltage 66kV cabling. The project became internationally known thanks to the unsuccessful campaign run against it by US billionaire – and now president-elect – Donald Trump, who complained of the effect on views from his golf complex onshore.

News Article | November 7, 2016

My former colleague Palmer Newbould, who has died aged 87, was a champion of scientific nature conservation, an innovative university teacher and a generous, warm-hearted man with broad interests. His nature conservation work was based mainly in Northern Ireland, where wide-ranging conservation legislation was introduced only in 1965. Palmer served on two statutory committees in the 1970s – the Nature Reserves Committee and Ulster Countryside Committee – before becoming chairman of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside in 1989, for which he was appointed OBE. He was also a Northern Ireland representative on the UK’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee and served on Ireland’s Nuclear Energy Board. Born in south-west London, he was the son of Dorothy (nee Pugh) and Alfred Newbould. His father played a significant role in the early cinema industry and was a Liberal MP between 1919 and 1922. Palmer was educated at Charterhouse school, Surrey, and Balliol College, Oxford. His academic career began as a plant ecology lecturer at University College London in 1955, where he had earlier met Jo, his wife, while they were both botany PhD students. They were married in 1954. Respect for his research on peat bogs and ecosystem productivity led to involvement with the International Biological Programme and appointment as vice-president of the British Ecological Society. At UCL he was convener of Europe’s first MSc in conservation, which quickly became the model for similar courses elsewhere. In 1968 he was made a professor of biology at the New University of Ulster (NUU), helping to introduce undergraduate courses in ecology and environmental science, among the first of their kind. His horticultural skills were invaluable in beginning the transformation of the exposed Coleraine campus into today’s wooded landscape. At NUU his good humour, integrity, and interest in the arts as well as the sciences made him a successful, if reluctant, administrator. As acting vice-chancellor during the merger between NUU and the Ulster Polytechnic the trust he enjoyed among colleagues helped bring complex negotiations to a successful conclusion. The merged institution became the University of Ulster (UU) and Palmer became provost of UU’s Coleraine campus. In retirement, in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, he became a trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, which distributes some of the National Lottery funds, and, with Jo, worked on a project monitoring biodiversity in Mallorca’s S’Albufera wetlands. He is survived by Jo and their children, Elizabeth, Andrew and Susan.

Davies J.S.,University of Plymouth | Howell K.L.,University of Plymouth | Stewart H.A.,British Geological Survey | Guinan J.,Marine Institute of Ireland | And 2 more authors.
Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography | Year: 2014

In 2007, the upper part of a submarine canyon system located in water depths between 138 and 1165m in the South West (SW) Approaches (North East Atlantic Ocean) was surveyed over a 2 week period. High-resolution multibeam echosounder data covering 1106km2, and 44 ground-truthing video and image transects were acquired to characterise the biological assemblages of the canyons. The SW Approaches is an area of complex terrain, and intensive ground-truthing revealed the canyons to be dominated by soft sediment assemblages. A combination of multivariate analysis of seabed photographs (184-1059m) and visual assessment of video ground-truthing identified 12 megabenthic assemblages (biotopes) at an appropriate scale to act as mapping units. Of these biotopes, 5 adhered to current definitions of habitats of conservation concern, 4 of which were classed as Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems. Some of the biotopes correspond to descriptions of communities from other megahabitat features (for example the continental shelf and seamounts), although it appears that the canyons host modified versions, possibly due to the inferred high rates of sedimentation in the canyons. Other biotopes described appear to be unique to canyon features, particularly the sea pen biotope consisting of Kophobelemnon stelliferum and cerianthids. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Lascelles B.G.,Global Seabird Programme | Langham G.M.,National Audubon Society | Ronconi R.A.,Dalhousie University | Reid J.B.,Joint Nature Conservation Committee
Biological Conservation | Year: 2012

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are recognised as a key component of an ecosystem-based approach to managing the marine environment more effectively and sustainably. Marine top predators, such as seabirds, may be used to identify and prioritize sites for marine conservation. Here we highlight the important role that seabird scientists can play in identifying candidate sites for MPAs; areas identified using at-sea surveys, seabird tracking, and species-habitat modelling. Prioritization of species and sites needs knowledge of ecological and habitat dynamics, threats and important areas at key stages of annual and life-cycle. The results need to be interpreted within the context of relevant policy mechanisms and agreements. The size and shape of candidate MPAs should be: (a) realistic for the key species and systems involved; (b) easy to monitor and enforce; and (c) where feasible involve reasonably long-term data sets. Designation of MPAs by relevant authorities and organisations will require effective advocacy (at local, national and international levels) and must be based on robust and defensible science. Site boundaries should also be sufficient flexibility to be modified, if necessary, in the light of future experience and data collection. The effectiveness of MPAs at the scale required for seabird conservation will need to build on existing experience and develop innovative, as well as traditional, marine spatial planning, monitoring and management techniques. To achieve this within the target timeframes outlined in a number of policy mechanisms will require the rapid development of new approaches, resources and partnerships. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Tanentzap A.J.,University of Cambridge | Mountford E.P.,Joint Nature Conservation Committee | Cooke A.S.,Greenlawns | Coomes D.A.,University of Cambridge
Journal of Ecology | Year: 2012

1. Multi-stemmed trees are an understudied but common component of temperate broadleaf forests that can provide insight into how plants persist and regenerate within communities. In particular, multi-stemmed architecture may be an important trait for the growth and survival of trees in forest understoreys that have to cope with low light levels, but this idea has been rarely tested using long-term individual-level data. 2. We use measurements of 8527 individual woody stems from 1985, 1996 and 2008 to model the growth, survival and recruitment of hazel (Corylus avellana) and hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata and C. monogyna) trees as a function of neighbourhood competition in the understorey of a minimum-intervention, mixed-ash woodland in England. We test the effects of browsing by deer (Muntiacus reevesi) on woodland dynamics by comparing demographic rates during a period of high deer densities (1985-1996) with rates recorded from 1996 to 2008, when sustained culling substantially reduced deer densities. 3. Growth and survival of hazel and hawthorn trees increased with the number of stems they possessed, demonstrating clear benefits to multi-stemmed architecture. Surviving trees continued to accumulate basal area and stems without any clear upper limit after 23years. However, increasing numbers of stems generally reduced the growth and recruitment of stems within multi-stemmed trees. 4. Temporal differences in deer browsing appeared to influence the strength of intra-specific (i.e. inter-stem) competition and, consequently, the growth, survival and recruitment of multi-stemmed trees. Most notably, stem survival declined with the number of stems in a tree only after deer culling, but not during a period of high deer densities, suggesting that intense deer browsing reduced resource competition among stems. Inter-specific neighbourhood competition had no detectable effect on hazel or hawthorn demography. 5. Synthesis. Multi-stemmed architecture is an advantageous trait for understorey trees in temperate woodlands relative to the allocation of resources towards the growth of a single stem. We suggest that the low light levels of forest understoreys favour 'persistence', through multi-stemmed growth, rather than 'regeneration' niches (i.e. periodic recruitment through seed), with the advantage of this life-history strategy influenced by herbivory and intra-specific competition. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Ecology © 2011 British Ecological Society.

O'Brien S.H.,Joint Nature Conservation Committee | Webb A.,Joint Nature Conservation Committee | Webb A.,HiDef Aerial Surveying Ltd | Brewer M.J.,James Hutton Institute | Reid J.B.,Joint Nature Conservation Committee
Biological Conservation | Year: 2012

The red-throated diver (Gavia stellata) is listed on Annex I of the European Union Birds Directive and requires protection within Special Protection Areas (SPAs), among other conservation measures. The Outer Thames Estuary, east England, was known to support almost half of the Great Britain wintering population of red-throated divers but delineating an SPA boundary there was not straightforward as existing boundary-setting methods did not perform well. The number and distribution of red-throated divers in the Outer Thames Estuary was determined using visual aerial survey methods. Bird observations were smoothed using kernel density estimation (KDE) and were combined to create a mean modelled density surface. A threshold density was identified using maximum curvature and an SPA boundary was drawn around all cells on the density surface with a density greater than the threshold density. The SPA boundary contained 6301 red-throated divers in an area of 3937km2, which was 77.5% of the estimated Outer Thames Estuary red-throated diver population in an area of only 38.9% of the study area. This boundary was adopted in 2010 when the Outer Thames Estuary SPA was classified. This method is suited to a species that is aggregated at medium to large scales and for which appropriate environmental covariates are lacking. It is relatively simple, which is advantageous when communicating methods to non-scientists, and provides an objective method for drawing an MPA boundary that is robust to challenge by stakeholders who may wish the MPA to be larger or smaller. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Bicknell A.W.J.,University of Exeter | Knight M.E.,University of Plymouth | Bilton D.T.,University of Plymouth | Campbell M.,Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science | And 3 more authors.
Diversity and Distributions | Year: 2014

Aim: Demographic linkage between subpopulations plays a critical role in population processes. Metapopulation dynamics, however, remains one of the most poorly understood aspects of population biology. This is especially true for small, pelagic seabirds because their discrete subpopulations are located on offshore islands, separated by vast areas of open ocean, making monitoring logistically challenging. Seabird populations often contain large numbers of immature pre-breeders that may be important for subpopulation connectivity and demography, but are poorly studied. Here we provide evidence for intercolony movement of pre-breeding Leach's storm-petrels Oceanodroma leucorhoa among three colonies spanning the North Atlantic Ocean. We discuss their influence on metapopulation dynamics and the extinction risk of a subpopulation under threat from extreme predation. Location: North Atlantic Ocean Islands (Scotland, Canada & Iceland). Methods: We use a novel application of Bayesian stable isotope mixing models to infer recent movement of pre-breeding birds between three major breeding populations in the North Atlantic. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope values from breeding birds (central place foragers) sampled at each colony were used as model sources and pre-breeding birds as model mixtures. Results: Of 134 pre-breeding Leach's storm-petrels sampled at three colonies across the North Atlantic, five had isotope mixing model estimates dissimilar (< 25%) to their colony of capture and were instead isotopically similar to another breeding region. Nineteen further pre-breeders had highly mixed signatures (< 50% for the colony of capture), indicating possible recent movement between colonies. Main conclusions: Our findings provide evidence for interpopulation connectivity of pre-breeding Leach's storm-petrels among colonies spanning the North Atlantic. These results highlight the significance of cryptic young age-classes in metapopulation dynamics and the demographic processes. Moreover, they provide us with a better understanding of how one subpopulation remains extant, despite experiencing extreme predation rates. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Bicknell A.W.J.,University of Plymouth | Bicknell A.W.J.,University of Sheffield | Knight M.E.,University of Plymouth | Bilton D.,University of Plymouth | And 3 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2012

Dramatic local population decline brought about by anthropogenic-driven change is an increasingly common threat to biodiversity. Seabird life history traits make them particularly vulnerable to such change; therefore, understanding population connectivity and dispersal dynamics is vital for successful management. Our study used a 357-base pair mitochondrial control region locus sequenced for 103 individuals and 18 nuclear microsatellite loci genotyped for 245 individuals to investigate population structure in the Atlantic and Pacific populations of the pelagic seabird, Leach's storm-petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa leucorhoa. This species is under intense predation pressure at one regionally important colony on St Kilda, Scotland, where a disparity between population decline and predation rates hints at immigration from other large colonies. amova, FST,φST and Bayesian cluster analyses revealed no genetic structure among Atlantic colonies (Global φST = -0.02 P > 0.05, Global FST = 0.003, P > 0.05, structureK = 1), consistent with either contemporary gene flow or strong historical association within the ocean basin. The Pacific and Atlantic populations are genetically distinct (Global φST = 0.32 P < 0.0001, Global FST = 0.04, P < 0.0001, structureK = 2), but evidence for interocean exchange was found with individual exclusion/assignment and population coalescent analyses. These findings highlight the importance of conserving multiple colonies at a number of different sites and suggest that management of this seabird may be best viewed at an oceanic scale. Moreover, our study provides an illustration of how long-distance movement may ameliorate the potentially deleterious impacts of localized environmental change, although direct measures of dispersal are still required to better understand this process. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Bridgewater P.,Joint Nature Conservation Committee
Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2011

Is a target a goal? What is an indicator? Targets, or goals, are the desired outcomes of a policy framework; they show where we want to be and represent the successful implementation of policy. To get there, a mission is needed, but all too often this is confused with targets, goals and vision. Good targets need good indicators to measure success along the way. However, indicators are often left aside from target setting, a self-defeating strategy and one regrettably followed by the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2002 and again in 2010 in setting global targets for reducing the rate of loss of biodiversity. Embracing a highly aspirational target (i.e. reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010) is easy, but measuring the success of that target is the tricky bit! SMART targets are well known, but CUTE targets (Comprehensive, Understandable, Time-bound and Enabling) can be more effective in public policy setting. Often in public policy, the focus is all on process and outputs, and all too rarely on outcomes. Targets can capitalize on the input from policy, but must be informed by potential indicators from the outset and, in the end, must also enable policy delivery and refreshed outcomes, a critical failing of the 2010 target. © 2011 The Linnean Society of London.

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