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Freetown, Sierra Leone

Tranquilli S.,University College London | Abedi-Lartey M.,Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Radolfzell) | Abedi-Lartey M.,University of Konstanz | Abernethy K.,University of Stirling | And 60 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Numerous protected areas (PAs) have been created in Africa to safeguard wildlife and other natural resources. However, significant threats from anthropogenic activities and decline of wildlife populations persist, while conservation efforts in most PAs are still minimal. We assessed the impact level of the most common threats to wildlife within PAs in tropical Africa and the relationship of conservation activities with threat impact level. We collated data on 98 PAs with tropical forest cover from 15 countries across West, Central and East Africa. For this, we assembled information about local threats as well as conservation activities from published and unpublished literature, and questionnaires sent to long-term field workers. We constructed general linear models to test the significance of specific conservation activities in relation to the threat impact level. Subsistence and commercial hunting were identified as the most common direct threats to wildlife and found to be most prevalent in West and Central Africa. Agriculture and logging represented the most common indirect threats, and were most prevalent in West Africa. We found that the long-term presence of conservation activities (such as law enforcement, research and tourism) was associated with lower threat impact levels. Our results highlight deficiencies in the management effectiveness of several PAs across tropical Africa, and conclude that PA management should invest more into conservation activities with long-term duration. Copyright: © 2014 Tranquilli et al. Source


Groeneveld L.F.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Groeneveld L.F.,University of Gottingen | Atencia R.,Jane Goodall Institute | Garriga R.M.,Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary | Vigilant L.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Background: The PRDM9 locus in mammals has increasingly attracted research attention due to its role in mediating chromosomal recombination and possible involvement in hybrid sterility and hence speciation processes. The aim of this study was to characterize sequence variation at the PRDM9 locus in a sample of our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees and bonobos. Methodology/Principal Findings: PRDM9 contains a highly variable and repetitive zinc finger array. We amplified this domain using long-range PCR and determined the DNA sequences using conventional Sanger sequencing. From 17 chimpanzees representing three subspecies and five bonobos we obtained a total of 12 alleles differing at the nucleotide level. Based on a data set consisting of our data and recently published Pan PRDM9 sequences, we found that at the subspecies level, diversity levels did not differ among chimpanzee subspecies or between chimpanzee subspecies and bonobos. In contrast, the sample of chimpanzees harbors significantly more diversity at PRDM9 than samples of humans. Pan PRDM9 shows signs of rapid evolution including no alleles or ZnFs in common with humans as well as signals of positive selection in the residues responsible for DNA binding. Conclusions and Significance: The high number of alleles specific to the genus Pan, signs of positive selection in the DNA binding residues, and reported lack of conservation of recombination hotspots between chimpanzees and humans suggest that PRDM9 could be active in hotspot recruitment in the genus Pan. Chimpanzees and bonobos are considered separate species and do not have overlapping ranges in the wild, making the presence of shared alleles at the amino acid level between the chimpanzee and bonobo species interesting in view of the hypothesis that PRDM9 plays a universal role in interspecific hybrid sterility. © 2012 Groeneveld et al. Source


Li J.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Li J.,Chinese Academy of Sciences | Nasidze I.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Quinque D.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | And 10 more authors.
BMC Microbiology | Year: 2013

Background: It is increasingly recognized that the bacteria that live in and on the human body (the microbiome) can play an important role in health and disease. The composition of the microbiome is potentially influenced by both internal factors (such as phylogeny and host physiology) and external factors (such as diet and local environment), and interspecific comparisons can aid in understanding the importance of these factors. Results: To gain insights into the relative importance of these factors on saliva microbiome diversity, we here analyze the saliva microbiomes of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (Pan paniscus) from two sanctuaries in Africa, and from human workers at each sanctuary. The saliva microbiomes of the two Pan species are more similar to one another, and the saliva microbiomes of the two human groups are more similar to one another, than are the saliva microbiomes of human workers and apes from the same sanctuary. We also looked for the existence of a core microbiome and find no evidence for a taxon-based core saliva microbiome for Homo or Pan. In addition, we studied the saliva microbiome from apes from the Leipzig Zoo, and found an extraordinary diversity in the zoo ape saliva microbiomes that is not found in the saliva microbiomes of the sanctuary animals. Conclusions: The greater similarity of the saliva microbiomes of the two Pan species to one another, and of the two human groups to one another, are in accordance with both the phylogenetic relationships of the hosts as well as with host physiology. Moreover, the results from the zoo animals suggest that novel environments can have a large impact on the microbiome, and that microbiome analyses based on captive animals should be viewed with caution as they may not reflect the microbiome of animals in the wild. © 2013 Li et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source


Brncic T.,REPUBLIC RESOURCES | Amarasekaran B.,Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary | McKenna A.,Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary | Mundry R.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | And 2 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2015

Like elsewhere in West Africa, the landscapes of Sierra Leone are strongly human-dominated with consequences for large mammal distribution and diversity. Sierra Leone is currently going through a phase of post-war recovery, with accelerating development of the mining, forestry, agricultural and infrastructure sectors. As environmental issues are increasingly considered, comprehensive biodiversity information is required. Here we evaluate spatial patterns of large mammal diversity throughout Sierra Leone to make inferences about species persistence. We used systematic line transect sampling for assessing large mammal distribution. GLMs and canonical correspondence analyses were used to evaluate the relative importance of human impact for every species while controlling for environmental gradients and to make countrywide spatial model predictions. We further developed an algorithm to identify core distributional ranges for the most common species. A total of 562 km of transects were surveyed and 35 large mammal species encountered. Species diversity was impoverished in the country’s south and center and strongly increased towards the north and east. Human impact did not determine the distribution of four species (brushed-tailed porcupine, bushbuck, giant rat, warthog), but was very influential on chimpanzee and yellow-backed duiker occurrence with U-shaped and negative responses, respectively. The remaining species showed mixed responses to human impact and environmental gradients. Predicting species persistence in West African human-dominated landscapes is complex. Pooling of species for land-use planning is therefore not recommended. Our study provides key information for land-use planning to separate areas with post-depletion species assemblages from more diverse regions with high conservation value. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source

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