Sezione di Biodiversita Tropicale

Trento, Italy

Sezione di Biodiversita Tropicale

Trento, Italy
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Rovero F.,Sezione di Biodiversita Tropicale | Ahumada J.,Moore Center for Science
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2017

While there are well established early warning systems for a number of natural phenomena (e.g. earthquakes, catastrophic fires, tsunamis), we do not have an early warning system for biodiversity. Yet, we are losing species at an unprecedented rate, and this especially occurs in tropical rainforests, the biologically richest but most eroded biome on earth. Unfortunately, there is a chronic gap in standardized and pan-tropical data in tropical forests, affecting our capacity to monitor changes and anticipate future scenarios. The Tropical Ecology, Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network was established to contribute addressing this issue, as it generates real time data to monitor long-term trends in tropical biodiversity and guide conservation practice. We present the Network and focus primarily on the Terrestrial Vertebrates protocol, that uses systematic camera trapping to detect forest mammals and birds, and secondarily on the Zone of Interaction protocol, that measures changes in the anthroposphere around the core monitoring area. With over 3 million images so far recorded, and managed using advanced information technology, TEAM has created the most important data set on tropical forest mammals globally. We provide examples of site-specific and global analyses that, combined with data on anthropogenic disturbance collected in the larger ecosystem where monitoring sites are, allowed us to understand the drivers of changes of target species and communities in space and time. We discuss the potential of this system as a candidate model towards setting up an early warning system that can effectively anticipate changes in coupled human-natural system, trigger management actions, and hence decrease the gap between research and management responses. In turn, TEAM produces robust biodiversity indicators that meet the requirements set by global policies such as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Standardization in data collection and public sharing of data in near real time are essential features of such system. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


Klailova M.,University of Lisbon | Klailova M.,University of Stirling | Casanova C.,University of Lisbon | Henschel P.,Panthera | And 3 more authors.
Folia Primatologica | Year: 2012

The slow life histories of great apes (hereafter 'apes') combined with a growing inventory of predation incidents suggest that apes may be strongly affected by direct predation, as well as by predation risk. Predation risk may shape and increase behavioural flexibility by forcing individuals to adapt their behaviour to predator patterns. Forest leopards are an apex predator of primates in African rain forests and may represent a significant risk to ape populations. More field data are needed to further elucidate the behavioural modifications of apes in response to predation. We present research methods that combine the use of remote camera traps, capture-mark-recapture statistics and occupancy modelling to study predator-African ape relationships and potential antipredator behaviour through spatial variation in species co-occurrence patterns. © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.


Rovero F.,Sezione di Biodiversita Tropicale | Rovero F.,Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Center | Zimmermann F.,KORA | Berzi D.,Canis lupus Italia | And 2 more authors.
Hystrix | Year: 2013

Automatically triggered cameras taking photographs or videos of passing animals (camera traps) have emerged over the last decade as one of the most powerful tool for wildlife research. In parallel, a wealth of camera trap systems and models has become commercially available, a phenomenon mainly driven by the increased use of camera traps by sport hunters. This has raised the need for developing criteria to choose the suitable camera trap model in relation to a range of factors, primarily the study aim, but also target species, habitat, trapping site, climate and any other aspect that affects camera performance. There is also fragmented information on the fundamentals of sampling designs that deploy camera trapping, such as number of sampling sites, spatial arrangement and sampling duration. In this review, we describe the relevant technological features of camera traps and propose a set of the key ones to be evaluated when choosing camera models. These features are camera specifications such as trigger speed, sensor sensitivity, detection zone, flash type and flash intensity, power autonomy, and related specifications. We then outline sampling design and camera features for the implementation of major camera trapping applications, specifically: (1) faunal inventories, (2) occupancy studies, (3) density estimation through Capture-Mark-Recapture and (4) density estimation through the Random Encounter Model. We also review a range of currently available models and stress the need for standardized testing of camera models that should be frequently updated and widely distributed. Finally we summarize the "ultimate camera trap", as desired by wildlife biologists, and the current technological limitations of camera traps in relation to their potential for a number of emerging applications. © 2013 Associazione Teriologica Italiana.


PubMed | University of Oregon, Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Sezione di Biodiversita Tropicale and University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Heredity | Year: 2016

A comprehensive understanding of how human disturbance affects tropical forest ecosystems is critical for the mitigation of future losses in global biodiversity. Although many genetic studies of tropical forest fragmentation have been conducted to provide insight into this issue, relatively few have incorporated landscape data to explicitly test the effects of human disturbance on genetic differentiation among populations. In this study, we use a newly developed landscape genetic approach that relies on a genetic algorithm to simultaneously optimize resistance surfaces to investigate the effects of human disturbance in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania, which is an important part of a universally recognized biodiversity hotspot. Our study species is the endangered Udzungwa red colobus monkey (Procolobus gordonorum), which is endemic to the Udzungwa Mountains and a known indicator species that thrives in large and well-protected blocks of old growth forest. Population genetic analyses identified significant population structure among Udzungwa red colobus inhabiting different forest blocks, and Bayesian cluster analyses identified hierarchical structure. Our new method for creating composite landscape resistance models found that the combination of fire density on the landscape and distance to the nearest village best explains the genetic structure observed. These results demonstrate the effects that human activities are having in an area of high global conservation priority and suggest that this ecosystem is in a precarious state. Our study also illustrates the ability of our novel landscape genetic method to detect the impacts of relatively recent landscape features on a long-lived species.


Anile S.,University of Catania | Ragni B.,University of Perugia | Randi E.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | Mattucci F.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | Rovero F.,Sezione di Biodiversita Tropicale
Journal of Zoology | Year: 2014

The European wildcat is an elusive felid that is declining across its range. Sicily hosts a distinctive insular wildcat population, the conservation of which requires much better ecological knowledge than is currently available, particularly population density. We simultaneously used two noninvasive methods (camera-trapping and scat-collection) to estimate the population density of wildcats on the Etna volcano. We conducted genetic analyses to identify individuals and to detect potential hybridization with the domestic cat. We analyzed individual capture-histories from camera-trapping and scat-collection using the spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) model. Furthermore, we applied the random encounter model (REM), which does not require individual identification, to the camera-trapping data. We identified 14 wildcats from 70 photographic detections (6.48 detections/100 trap-days) obtained from 1080 camera-trapping days over 4 months, and we estimated to have identified all the individuals living in the study area (10.9km-2). On the contrary, we identified 10 wildcats from 14 out of 39 scats collected from 391km of transects walked. The estimated densities (individualskm-2±se) were 0.32±0.1 (SECR camera-trapping), 1.36±0.73 (SECR scat-collection) and 0.39±0.03 (REM). The population density estimates obtained from SECR camera-trapping and REM overlapped, although we recommend care when applying the latter. The SECR scat-collection gave the highest population density (and less precise) estimates because of the low number of capture and recaptures; however, the population size estimated with this method matched the number of individuals photographed. The population density of the wildcat in Etna falls in the medium-high range of those reported in literature, highlighting the role of this ecosystem for the long-term conservation of the wildcat in Sicily. Camera-trapping is confirmed as a useful tool to assess the wildcat population density and, in this case, was complemented by the genetic analysis that confirmed individual identity. © 2014 The Zoological Society of London.


Araldi A.,Reproductive Biology Unit | Barelli C.,Reproductive Biology Unit | Barelli C.,Research and Innovation Center Fondazione Edmund Machinery | Hodges K.,Reproductive Biology Unit | And 2 more authors.
International Journal of Primatology | Year: 2014

Estimates of population density and abundance are essential for the assessment of nonhuman primate conservation status, especially in view of increasing threats. We undertook the most extensive systematic primate survey yet of the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania, an outstanding region for primate endemism and conservation in Africa. We used distance sampling to survey three arboreal monkey species, including the endangered and endemic Udzungwa red colobus (Procolobus gordonorum). Overall, we encountered 306 primate clusters over 287 km walked along 162 line transects. We found the lowest cluster densities for both red colobus and Angolan colobus (Colobus angolensis; 0.8 clusters/km2) in the least protected forest (Uzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve, US), while we found the highest densities (3.2 and 2.6 clusters/km2 for red colobus; 3.2 and 2.7 clusters/km2for Angolan colobus) in two large and protected forests in the national park. Unexpectedly, Magombera, a small forest surrounded by plantations, had the highest densities of red colobus (5.0 clusters/km2), most likely a saturation effect due to the rapid shrinking of the forest. In contrast, Sykes’ monkey (Cercopithecus mitis monoides/moloneyi) had more similar densities across forests (3.1–6.6 clusters/km2), including US, suggesting greater resilience to disturbance in this species. For the endemic red colobus monkey, we estimated an abundance of 45–50,000 individuals across all forests, representing ca. 80% of the global population. Though this is a relatively high abundance, the increasing threats in some of the Udzungwa forests are of continued concern for the long-term survival of red colobus and other primates in the area. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


PubMed | University of California at Irvine, University of Pennsylvania, Humboldt State University, National Autonomous University of Mexico and 8 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Proceedings. Biological sciences | Year: 2016

In many primates, including humans, the vocalizations of males and females differ dramatically, with male vocalizations and vocal anatomy often seeming to exaggerate apparent body size. These traits may be favoured by sexual selection because low-frequency male vocalizations intimidate rivals and/or attract females, but this hypothesis has not been systematically tested across primates, nor is it clear why competitors and potential mates should attend to vocalization frequencies. Here we show across anthropoids that sexual dimorphism in fundamental frequency (F0) increased during evolutionary transitions towards polygyny, and decreased during transitions towards monogamy. Surprisingly, humans exhibit greater F0 sexual dimorphism than any other ape. We also show that low-F0 vocalizations predict perceptions of mens dominance and attractiveness, and predict hormone profiles (low cortisol and high testosterone) related to immune function. These results suggest that low male F0 signals condition to competitors and mates, and evolved in male anthropoids in response to the intensity of mating competition.


Kaufman J.A.,Midwestern University | Turner G.H.,Barrow Neurological Institute | Holroyd P.A.,University of California at Berkeley | Rovero F.,Sezione di Biodiversita Tropicale | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The Gray-faced Sengi (Rhynchocyon udzungwensis) is a newly-discovered species of sengi (elephant-shrew) and is the largest known extant representative of the order Macroscelidea. The discovery of R. udzungwensis provides an opportunity to investigate the scaling relationship between brain size and body size within Macroscelidea, and to compare this allometry among insectivorous species of Afrotheria and other eutherian insectivores. We performed a spin-echo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan on a preserved adult specimen of R. udzungwensis using a 7-Tesla high-field MR imaging system. The brain was manually segmented and its volume was compiled into a dataset containing previously-published allometric data on 56 other species of insectivore-grade mammals including representatives of Afrotheria, Soricomorpha and Erinaceomorpha. Results of log-linear regression indicate that R. udzungwensis exhibits a brain size that is consistent with the allometric trend described by other members of its order. Inter-specific comparisons indicate that macroscelideans as a group have relatively large brains when compared with similarly-sized terrestrial mammals that also share a similar diet. This high degree of encephalization within sengis remains robust whether sengis are compared with closely-related insectivorous afrotheres, or with more-distantly-related insectivorous laurasiatheres. © 2013 Kaufman et al.


Barelli C.,Sezione di Biodiversita Tropicale | Barelli C.,Reproductive Biology Unit | Mundry R.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Heistermann M.,German Primate Center | Hammerschmidt K.,German Primate Center
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Animal vocal signals may provide information about senders and mediate important social interactions like sexual competition, territory maintenance and mate selection. Hence, it is important to understand whether vocal signals provide accurate information about animal attributes or status. Gibbons are non-human primates that produce loud, distinctive and melodious vocalizations resembling more those of birds than of other non-human primates. Wild gibbons are characterized by flexibility in social organization (i.e., pairs and multimale units) as well as in mating system (i.e., monogamy and polyandry). Such features make them a suitable model to investigate whether the physiology (hormonal status) and socio-demographic features find their correspondence in the structure of their songs. By combining male solo song recordings, endocrine outputs using non-invasive fecal androgen measures and behavioral observations, we studied 14 groups (10 pair-living, 4 multimale) of wild white-handed gibbons (Hylobates lar) residing at Khao Yai National Park, Thailand. We collected a total of 322 fecal samples and recorded 48 songs from 18 adult animals. Our results confirmed inter-individuality in male gibbon songs, and showed a clear correlation between androgen levels and song structures. Gibbons with higher androgen levels produced calls having higher pitch, and similarly adult individuals produced longer calls than senior males. Thus, it is plausible that gibbon vocalizations provide receivers with information about singers' attributes. © 2013 Barelli et al.


PubMed | Moore Center for Science and Sezione di Biodiversita Tropicale
Type: | Journal: The Science of the total environment | Year: 2016

While there are well established early warning systems for a number of natural phenomena (e.g. earthquakes, catastrophic fires, tsunamis), we do not have an early warning system for biodiversity. Yet, we are losing species at an unprecedented rate, and this especially occurs in tropical rainforests, the biologically richest but most eroded biome on earth. Unfortunately, there is a chronic gap in standardized and pan-tropical data in tropical forests, affecting our capacity to monitor changes and anticipate future scenarios. The Tropical Ecology, Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network was established to contribute addressing this issue, as it generates real time data to monitor long-term trends in tropical biodiversity and guide conservation practice. We present the Network and focus primarily on the Terrestrial Vertebrates protocol, that uses systematic camera trapping to detect forest mammals and birds, and secondarily on the Zone of Interaction protocol, that measures changes in the anthroposphere around the core monitoring area. With over 3 million images so far recorded, and managed using advanced information technology, TEAM has created the most important data set on tropical forest mammals globally. We provide examples of site-specific and global analyses that, combined with data on anthropogenic disturbance collected in the larger ecosystem where monitoring sites are, allowed us to understand the drivers of changes of target species and communities in space and time. We discuss the potential of this system as a candidate model towards setting up an early warning system that can effectively anticipate changes in coupled human-natural system, trigger management actions, and hence decrease the gap between research and management responses. In turn, TEAM produces robust biodiversity indicators that meet the requirements set by global policies such as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Standardization in data collection and public sharing of data in near real time are essential features of such system.

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