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Salisbury, United Kingdom

Roy H.E.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Peyton J.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Aldridge D.C.,University of Cambridge | Bantock T.,British Bugs | And 24 more authors.
Global Change Biology | Year: 2014

Invasive alien species (IAS) are considered one of the greatest threats to biodiversity, particularly through their interactions with other drivers of change. Horizon scanning, the systematic examination of future potential threats and opportunities, leading to prioritization of IAS threats is seen as an essential component of IAS management. Our aim was to consider IAS that were likely to impact on native biodiversity but were not yet established in the wild in Great Britain. To achieve this, we developed an approach which coupled consensus methods (which have previously been used for collaboratively identifying priorities in other contexts) with rapid risk assessment. The process involved two distinct phases: Preliminary consultation with experts within five groups (plants, terrestrial invertebrates, freshwater invertebrates, vertebrates and marine species) to derive ranked lists of potential IAS. Consensus-building across expert groups to compile and rank the entire list of potential IAS. Five hundred and ninety-one species not native to Great Britain were considered. Ninety-three of these species were agreed to constitute at least a medium risk (based on score and consensus) with respect to them arriving, establishing and posing a threat to native biodiversity. The quagga mussel, Dreissena rostriformis bugensis, received maximum scores for risk of arrival, establishment and impact; following discussions the unanimous consensus was to rank it in the top position. A further 29 species were considered to constitute a high risk and were grouped according to their ranked risk. The remaining 63 species were considered as medium risk, and included in an unranked long list. The information collated through this novel extension of the consensus method for horizon scanning provides evidence for underpinning and prioritizing management both for the species and, perhaps more importantly, their pathways of arrival. Although our study focused on Great Britain, we suggest that the methods adopted are applicable globally. © 2014 The Authors. Source

Storkey J.,Rothamsted Research | Meyer S.,University of Gottingen | Still K.S.,Plantlife | Leuschner C.,University of Gottingen
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2012

The impact of crop management and agricultural land use on the threat status of plants adapted to arable habitats was analysed using data from Red Lists of vascular plants assessed by national experts from 29 European countries. There was a positive relationship between national wheat yields and the numbers of rare, threatened or recently extinct arable plant species in each country. Variance in the relative proportions of species in different threat categories was significantly explained using a combination of fertilizer and herbicide use, with a greater percentage of the variance partitioned to fertilizers. Specialist species adapted to individual crops, such as flax, are among the most threatened. These species have declined across Europe in response to a reduction in the area grown for the crops on which they rely. The increased use of agro-chemicals, especially in central and northwestern Europe, has selected against a larger group of species adapted to habitats with intermediate fertility. There is an urgent need to implement successful conservation strategies to arrest the decline of this functionally distinct and increasingly threatened component of the European flora. © 2011 The Royal Society. Source

Deep Dale is situated within the carboniferous limestone area of the Peak District National Park. The study site occupies an area of 36 hectares, representing the south-eastern slopes of the dale. During the period from 1950 to 1996, the site was grazed by cattle, traditionally from the beginning of May each year. Then, from 1997 to 2012, the grazing start date was delayed to the beginning of July in order to comply with the requirements of agri-environment schemes. Repeat surveys indicate that this change in start date appears to have resulted in few pronounced changes to the vegetation. Some areas of grassland on shallow soils (conforming to National Vegetation Community CG2d) have become more herb-rich with an increase in abundance of kidney vetch Anthyllis vulneraria, common milkwort Polygala vulgaris, devilsbit scabious Succisa pratensis and autumn gentian Gentianella amarella. However, it appears that these changes are mainly associated with areas grazed preferentially (first) by livestock, whilst in an area of CG2d grazed later, fewer positive indicator species have shown an increase in their abundance and there are early signs of a decline in condition, including a decrease in the abundance of fairy flax Linum catharticum and an increase in the abundance of bryophytes. Most significantly, areas of acid U4c grassland have shown a notable increase in the abundance of hawthorn Crataegus monogyna seedlings, and in the abundance of wavy hair-grass Deschampsia flexuosa. Source

The effect of meadow management on plant species diversity was examined in a meadow in the west of England. In 2002 the meadow was assessed as species-poor. From 2002 to 2013 the meadow, along with 11 surrounding fields, was managed as a hay meadow, with grass being mown for hay in late July or early August each year and the aftermath then grazed by cattle. Vegetation surveys from 2002 and 2013 showed that the diversity of the meadow was significantly enhanced over the period of management, with ten additional meadow herb species becoming established by unaided colonisation. In consequence, a colourful, nectar-rich meadow has been created within the space of 11 years. However, a number of species present on the farm that are more closely associated with old meadows have not yet colonised the field. © 2015, University of Cambridge. All rights reserved. Source

Pescott O.L.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Walker K.J.,Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland | Pocock M.J.O.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Jitlal M.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | And 4 more authors.
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2015

Interest in citizen science has been increasing rapidly, although the reviews available to date have not clearly outlined the links between the long-established practice of recording plant species' distributions for local and national atlases, or other recording projects, and the gradual development of more structured monitoring schemes that also rely on volunteer effort. We provide a review of volunteer-based plant monitoring in Britain and Ireland, with a particular focus on the contributions of expert volunteers working with biological recording schemes and natural history societies; in particular, we highlight projects and practices that have improved the quality of data collected. Although the monitoring of plant distributions at larger scales has led to numerous insights into floristic change and its causes, these activities have also led to the recognition that knowledge of species' abundances at finer-scales often provides a more powerful means of detecting and interpreting change. In the UK, this has led to the development of a new, abundance-based 'National Plant Monitoring Scheme'. We outline this new structured scheme, and review some of the design considerations that have been made during its development. New monitoring projects require a clear justification, and the launch of a new scheme is also an opportune moment to review whether some basic assumptions about the collection of monitoring data can withstand scrutiny. A distinction is often made between monitoring that is focused on answering particular, focused questions, and that which is more generally seeking to detect changes; for example, in species' distributions or abundances. Therefore, we also review the justification for such general 'surveillance' approaches to the monitoring of biodiversity, and place this in the context of volunteer-based initiatives. We conclude that data collected by biological recorders working within atlas or monitoring scheme frameworks will continue to produce datasets that are highly valued by governments, scientists, and the volunteers themselves. © 2015 The Linnean Society of London. Source

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