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Stafford R.,Bournemouth University | Williams R.L.,Kingston Maurward College | Herbert R.J.H.,Bournemouth University
Ocean and Coastal Management | Year: 2015

In the marine environment, humans exploit natural ecosystems for food and economic benefit. Challenging policy goals have been set to protect resources, species, communities and habitats, yet ecologists often have sparse data on interactions occurring in the system to assess policy outcomes. This paper presents a technique, loosely based on Bayesian Belief Networks, to create simple models which 1) predict whether individual species within a community will decline or increase in population size, 2) encapsulate uncertainty in the predictions in an intuitive manner and 3) require limited knowledge of the ecosystem and functional parameters required to model it. We develop our model for a UK rocky shore community, to utilise existing knowledge of species interactions for model validation purposes. However, we also test the role of expert opinion, without full scientific knowledge of species interactions, by asking non-UK based marine scientists to derive parameters for the model (non-UK scientists are not familiar with the exact communities being described and will need to extrapolate from existing knowledge in a similar manner to model a poorly studied system). We find these differ little from the parameters derived by ourselves and make little difference to the final model predictions. We also test our model against simple experimental manipulations, and find that the most important changes in community structure as a result of manipulations correspond well to the model predictions with both our, and non-UK expert parameterisation. The simplicity of the model, nature of the outputs, and the user-friendly interface makes it potentially suitable for policy, conservation and management work on multispecies interactions in a wide range of marine ecosystems. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Source


Williams R.L.,Kingston Maurward College | Williams R.L.,University of Gloucestershire | Stafford R.,Bournemouth University | Goodenough A.E.,University of Gloucestershire
Urban Ecosystems | Year: 2015

Urban gardens provide a rich habitat for species that are declining in rural areas. However, collecting data in gardens can be logistically-challenging, time-consuming and intrusive to residents. This study examines the potential of citizen scientists to record hedgehog sightings and collect habitat data within their own gardens using an online questionnaire. Focussing on a charismatic species meant that the number of responses was high (516 responses were obtained in six weeks, with a ~50:50 % split between gardens with and without hedgehog sightings). While many factors commonly thought to influence hedgehog presence (e.g. compost heaps) were present in many hedgehog-frequented gardens, they were not discriminatory as they were also found in gardens where hedgehogs were not seen. Respondents were most likely to have seen hedgehogs in their garden if they had also seen hedgehogs elsewhere in their neighbourhood. However, primary fieldwork using hedgehog ‘footprint tunnels’ showed that hedgehogs were found to be just as prevalent in gardens in which hedgehogs had previously been reported as gardens where they had not been reported. Combining these results indicates that hedgehogs may be more common in urban and semi-urban gardens than previously believed, and that casual volunteer records of hedgehogs may be influenced more by the observer than by habitat preferences of the animal. When verified, volunteer records can provide useful information, but care is needed in interpreting these data. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Source


Stafford R.,Bournemouth University | Williams R.L.,Kingston Maurward College | Herbert R.J.H.,Bournemouth University
Ocean and Coastal Management | Year: 2015

In the marine environment, humans exploit natural ecosystems for food and economic benefit. Challenging policy goals have been set to protect resources, species, communities and habitats, yet ecologists often have sparse data on interactions occurring in the system to assess policy outcomes. This paper presents a technique, loosely based on Bayesian Belief Networks, to create simple models which 1) predict whether individual species within a community will decline or increase in population size, 2) encapsulate uncertainty in the predictions in an intuitive manner and 3) require limited knowledge of the ecosystem and functional parameters required to model it. We develop our model for a UK rocky shore community, to utilise existing knowledge of species interactions for model validation purposes. However, we also test the role of expert opinion, without full scientific knowledge of species interactions, by asking non-UK based marine scientists to derive parameters for the model (non-UK scientists are not familiar with the exact communities being described and will need to extrapolate from existing knowledge in a similar manner to model a poorly studied system). We find these differ little from the parameters derived by ourselves and make little difference to the final model predictions. We also test our model against simple experimental manipulations, and find that the most important changes in community structure as a result of manipulations correspond well to the model predictions with both our, and non-UK expert parameterisation. The simplicity of the model, nature of the outputs, and the user-friendly interface makes it potentially suitable for policy, conservation and management work on multispecies interactions in a wide range of marine ecosystems. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Source


Roberts F.,Kingston Maurward College | Roberts F.,Oxford Business Park | Lucas A.,Oxford Business Park | Johnson S.,Tesco
Animal Welfare | Year: 2012

The objective of the present retrospective analysis was to review between- and within-sector variations in an outcome-based measure of animal welfare throughout slaughterhouses that currently supply to Tesco Stores Ltd, UK. Non-conformances in relation to individual scheme standards were designated a specific level in terms of severity and frequency and from this a single outcome status, based on a 'traffic-light' system is assigned to the site (which informs both subsequent corrective action and future inspection frequency). Sector-specific, country and time differences were found and underlying contributory factors and associated commercial implications are reviewed. © 2012 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. Source


Stafford R.,University of the Sea | Stafford R.,Bournemouth University | Clitherow T.J.,Bournemouth University | Howlett S.J.,Latvian State Forest Research Institute | And 6 more authors.
Ocean and Coastal Management | Year: 2016

Evaluating potential effects of conservation and management actions in marine reserves requires an understanding not only of the biological processes in the reserve, and between the reserve and the surrounding ocean, but also of the effects of the wildlife on the wider political and economic processes. Such evaluations are made considerably more difficult in the absence of good ecological data from within reserves or consistent data between reserves and the wider marine environment, as is the case in much of mainland Ecuador. We present an approach to evaluate the effects of a wide range of possible management processes on the marine ecology of the Machalilla National Park, as well as that of the surrounding marine environments (including recently established reserves) and related socio-economic pressures. The approach is based on Bayesian belief networks, and as such can be used in the presence of sparse data from multiple and disparate sources. We show that currently there are no observable benefits of marine reserves to reef and fish community structure, and that high value (normally predatory) fish, which are sought by fishers and shark finners are frequently absent from reef systems. We demonstrate that there is broad similarity in ecological communities between most shallow marine systems, in or out of marine reserves, and predict there can be a strong effect from actions outside the reserve on what is present within it. We also show that establishing a stronger link between (responsible) ecotourism and the marine environment could reduce the need for income in other more destructive areas, such as fishing and particularly shark finning, and discuss ways that high value, low impact eco-tourism could be introduced. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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