Freshwaters are the most threatened ecosystems on earth. Although recent assessments provide data on global priority regions for freshwater conservation, local scale priorities remain unknown. Refining the scale of global biodiversity assessments (both at terrestrial and freshwater realms) and translating these into conservation priorities on the ground remains a major challenge to biodiversity science, and depends directly on species occurrence data of high taxonomic and geographic resolution. Brazil harbors the richest freshwater ichthyofauna in the world, but knowledge on endemic areas and conservation in Brazilian rivers is still scarce.
Using data on environmental threats and revised species distribution data we detect and delineate 540 small watershed areas harboring 819 restricted-range fishes in Brazil. Many of these areas are already highly threatened, as 159 (29%) watersheds have lost more than 70% of their original vegetation cover, and only 141 (26%) show significant overlap with formally protected areas or indigenous lands. We detected 220 (40%) critical watersheds overlapping hydroelectric dams or showing both poor formal protection and widespread habitat loss; these sites harbor 344 endemic fish species that may face extinction if no conservation action is in place in the near future.
We provide the first analysis of site-scale conservation priorities in the richest freshwater ecosystems of the globe. Our results corroborate the hypothesis that freshwater biodiversity has been neglected in former conservation assessments. The study provides a simple and straightforward method for detecting freshwater priority areas based on endemism and threat, and represents a starting point for integrating freshwater and terrestrial conservation in representative and biogeographically consistent site-scale conservation strategies, that may be scaled-up following naturally linked drainage systems. Proper management (e. g. forestry code enforcement, landscape planning) and conservation (e. g. formal protection) of the 540 watersheds detected herein will be decisive in avoiding species extinction in the richest aquatic ecosystems on the planet.
The tropical rain forests (TRF) of Africa are the second largest block of this biome after the Amazon and exhibit high levels of plant endemism and diversity. Two main hypotheses have been advanced to explain speciation processes that have led to this high level of biodiversity: allopatric speciation linked to geographic isolation and ecological speciation linked to ecological gradients. Both these hypotheses rely on ecology: in the former conservation of ecological niches through time is implied, while in the latter adaptation via selection to alternative ecological niches would be a prerequisite. Here, we investigate the role of ecology in explaining present day species diversity in African TRF using a species level phylogeny and ecological niche modeling of two predominantly restricted TRF tree genera, Isolona and Monodora (Annonaceae). Both these genera, with 20 and 14 species, respectively, are widely distributed in African TRFs, with a few species occurring in slightly less humid regions such as in East Africa.
A total of 11 sister species pairs were identified most of them occurring in allopatry or with little geographical overlap. Our results provide a mixed answer on the role of ecology in speciation. Although no sister species have identical niches, just under half of the tests suggest that sister species do have more similar niches than expected by chance. PCA analyses also support little ecological differences between sister species. Most speciation events within both genera predate the Pleistocene, occurring during the Late Miocene and Pliocene periods.
Ecology is almost always involved in speciation, however, it would seem to have had a little role in species generation within Isolona and Monodora at the scale analyzed here. This is consistent with the geographical speciation model for TRF diversification. These results contrast to other studies for non-TRF plant species where ecological speciation was found to be an important factor of diversification. The Pliocene period appears to be a vital time in the generation of African TRF diversity, whereas Pleistocene climatic fluctuations have had a smaller role on speciation than previously thought.
Ecological niche modeling, species level phylogeny, ecological speciation, African tropics, Isolona, Monodora, Annonaceae
The threats facing Ecuador's Yasuní National Park are emblematic of those confronting the greater western Amazon, one of the world's last high-biodiversity wilderness areas. Notably, the country's second largest untapped oil reserves—called “ITT”—lie beneath an intact, remote section of the park. The conservation significance of Yasuní may weigh heavily in upcoming state-level and international decisions, including whether to develop the oil or invest in alternatives.
We conducted the first comprehensive synthesis of biodiversity data for Yasuní. Mapping amphibian, bird, mammal, and plant distributions, we found eastern Ecuador and northern Peru to be the only regions in South America where species richness centers for all four taxonomic groups overlap. This quadruple richness center has only one viable strict protected area (IUCN levels I–IV): Yasuní. The park covers just 14% of the quadruple richness center's area, whereas active or proposed oil concessions cover 79%. Using field inventory data, we compared Yasuní's local (alpha) and landscape (gamma) diversity to other sites, in the western Amazon and globally. These analyses further suggest that Yasuní is among the most biodiverse places on Earth, with apparent world richness records for amphibians, reptiles, bats, and trees. Yasuní also protects a considerable number of threatened species and regional endemics.
Yasuní has outstanding global conservation significance due to its extraordinary biodiversity and potential to sustain this biodiversity in the long term because of its 1) large size and wilderness character, 2) intact large-vertebrate assemblage, 3) IUCN level-II protection status in a region lacking other strict protected areas, and 4) likelihood of maintaining wet, rainforest conditions while anticipated climate change-induced drought intensifies in the eastern Amazon. However, further oil development in Yasuní jeopardizes its conservation values. These findings form the scientific basis for policy recommendations, including stopping any new oil activities and road construction in Yasuní and creating areas off-limits to large-scale development in adjacent northern Peru.
Traditionally, biodiversity conservation gap analyses have been focused on governmental protected areas (PAs). However, an increasing number of social initiatives in conservation (SICs) are promoting a new perspective for analysis. SICs include all of the efforts that society implements to conserve biodiversity, such as land protection, from private reserves to community zoning plans some of which have generated community-protected areas. This is the first attempt to analyze the status of conservation in Latin America when some of these social initiatives are included. The analyses were focused on amphibians because they are one of the most threatened groups worldwide. Mexico is not an exception, where more than 60% of its amphibians are endemic. We used a niche model approach to map the potential and real geographical distribution (extracting the transformed areas) of the endemic amphibians. Based on remnant distribution, all the species have suffered some degree of loss, but 36 species have lost more than 50% of their potential distribution. For 50 micro-endemic species we could not model their potential distribution range due to the small number of records per species, therefore the analyses were performed using these records directly. We then evaluated the efficiency of the existing set of governmental protected areas and established the contribution of social initiatives (private and community) for land protection for amphibian conservation. We found that most of the species have some proportion of their potential ecological niche distribution protected, but 20% are not protected at all within governmental PAs. 73% of endemic and 26% of micro-endemic amphibians are represented within SICs. However, 30 micro-endemic species are not represented within either governmental PAs or SICs. This study shows how the role of land conservation through social initiatives is therefore becoming a crucial element for an important number of species not protected by governmental PAs.
Due to rising energy demands and abundant untapped potential, hydropower projects are rapidly increasing in the Neotropics. This is especially true in the wet and rugged Andean Amazon, where regional governments are prioritizing new hydroelectric dams as the centerpiece of long-term energy plans. However, the current planning for hydropower lacks adequate regional and basin-scale assessment of potential ecological impacts. This lack of strategic planning is particularly problematic given the intimate link between the Andes and Amazonian flood plain, together one of the most species rich zones on Earth. We examined the potential ecological impacts, in terms of river connectivity and forest loss, of the planned proliferation of hydroelectric dams across all Andean tributaries of the Amazon River. Considering data on the full portfolios of existing and planned dams, along with data on roads and transmission line systems, we developed a new conceptual framework to estimate the relative impacts of all planned dams. There are plans for 151 new dams greater than 2 MW over the next 20 years, more than a 300% increase. These dams would include five of the six major Andean tributaries of the Amazon. Our ecological impact analysis classified 47% of the potential new dams as high impact and just 19% as low impact. Sixty percent of the dams would cause the first major break in connectivity between protected Andean headwaters and the lowland Amazon. More than 80% would drive deforestation due to new roads, transmission lines, or inundation. We conclude with a discussion of three major policy implications of these findings. 1) There is a critical need for further strategic regional and basin scale evaluation of dams. 2) There is an urgent need for a strategic plan to maintain Andes-Amazon connectivity. 3) Reconsideration of hydropower as a low-impact energy source in the Neotropics.
In Argentina, human fascioliasis has never been adequately analysed, although having a physiography, climate, animal prevalences and lymnaeids similar to those of countries where the disease is endemic such as Bolivia, Peru and Chile. We performed a literature search identifying 58 reports accounting for 619 cases, involving 13 provinces, their majority (97.7%) from high altitudes, in central mountainous areas and Andean valleys, concentrated in Cordoba (430 cases), Catamarca (73), San Luis (29) and Mendoza (28), the remaining provinces being rarely affected. This distribution does not fit that of animal fascioliasis. Certain aspects (higher prevalence in females in a local survey, although a trend non-significant throughout Argentina) but not others (patient's age 3-95 years, mean 37.1 years) resemble human endemics in Andean countries, although the lack of intensity studies and surveys in rural areas does not allow for an adequate evaluation. Human infection occurs mainly in January-April, when higher precipitation and temperatures interact with field activities during summer holidays. A second June peak may be related to Easter holidays. The main risk factor appears to be wild watercress ingestion (214) during recreational, weekend outings or holiday activities, explaining numerous family outbreaks involving 63 people and infection far away from their homes. Diagnosis mainly relied on egg finding (288), followed by serology (82), intradermal reaction (63), surgery (43), and erratic fluke observation (6). The number of fascioliasis-hydatidosis co-infected patients (14) is outstanding. Emetine appears as the drug most used (186), replaced by triclabendazole in recent years (21). Surgery reports are numerous (27.0%). A long delay in diagnosis (average almost 3.5 years) and high lithiasis proportion suggest that many patients are frequently overlooked and pose a question mark about fascioliasis detection in the country. High seroprevalences found in recent random surveys suggest human endemic situations. This analysis highlights that human fascioliasis may have been overlooked in the past and its real epidemiological situation in high risk rural, mainly altitudinal areas, may currently be underestimated. Results provide a valuable baseline on which to design appropriate multidisciplinary studies on humans, animals and lymnaeids to assess up to which level and in which areas, human fascioliasis may represent a health problem in Argentina.
Human and animal fascioliasis is emerging in many world regions, among which Andean countries constitute the largest regional hot spot and Peru the country presenting more human endemic areas. A survey was undertaken on the lymnaeid snails inhabiting the hyperendemic area of Cajamarca, where human prevalences are the highest known among the areas presenting a "valley transmission pattern", to establish which species are present, genetically characterise their populations by comparison with other human endemic areas, and discuss which ones have transmission capacity and their potential implications with human and animal infection.
Therefore, ribosomal DNA ITS-2 and ITS-1, and mitochondrial DNA 16S and cox1 were sequenced by the dideoxy chain-termination method.
Results indicate the presence of three, morphologically similar, small lymnaeid species belonging to the Galba/Fossaria group: Galba truncatula, Lymnaea neotropica and L. schirazensis. Only one combined haplotype for each species was found. The ITS-1, 16S and cox1 haplotypes of G. truncatula are new. No new haplotypes were found in the other two species. This scenario changes previous knowledge, in which only L. viator (= L. viatrix) was mentioned. Galba truncatula appears to be the most abundant, with high population densities and evident anthropophyly including usual presence in human neighbourhood. Infection by Fasciola hepatica larval stages were molecularly confirmed in two populations of this species. The nearness between G. truncatula populations presenting liver fluke infection and both human settings and schools for children, together with the absence of populations of other lymnaeid species in the locality, suggest a direct relationship with human infection.
The geographical overlap of three lymnaeid species poses problems for epidemiological studies and control action. First, a problem in classifying lymnaeid specimens in both field and laboratory activities, given their transmission capacity differences: G. truncatula mainly involved in transmission to humans, L neotropica typically responsible for livestock infection, and L. schirazensis unable for transmission. Although several phenotypic characteristics may be helpful for a preliminary specimen classification, a definitive classification can only be obtained by marker sequencing. Aditionally, L. schirazensis increases the confusion, owing to its ability to mix with other Galba/Fossaria species and distort fascioliasis data such as transmission capacity and infection susceptibility. Second, a problem for epidemiological analysis, surveillance and control by methods as mathematical modelling and Remote Sensing - Geographical Information Systems. In Cajamarca, low resolution mapping may be insufficient, as already verified in Andean areas where different lymnaeid species overlap.
Parathion-methyl is an organophosphorous insecticide that is widely used in agricultural production sites in the Amazon. The use of this pesticide might pose a potential risk for the biodiversity and abundance of fish and invertebrate species inhabiting aquatic ecosystems adjacent to the agricultural fields. Due to a lack of toxicity data for Amazonian species, safe environmental concentrations used to predict the ecological risks of parathion-methyl in the Amazon are based on tests performed with temperate species, although it is unknown whether the sensitivity of temperate species is representative for those of Amazonian endemic species. To address this issue, the acute toxic effect (LC50–96 h) of parathion-methyl was assessed on seven fish and five freshwater invertebrate species endemic to the Amazon. These data were used to compare their pesticide sensitivity with toxicity data for temperate species collected from the literature. The interspecies sensitivity was compared using the Species Sensitivity Distribution (SSD) concept. The results of this study suggest that Amazonian species are no more, or less, sensitive to parathion-methyl than their temperate counterparts, with LC50 values ranging from 2900 to 7270 μg/L for fish and from 0.3 to 319 μg/L for freshwater arthropods. Consequently, this evaluation supports the initial use of toxicity data of temperate fish and freshwater invertebrate species for assessing the effects of parathion-methyl on Amazonian freshwater ecosystems.
Across the Americas and the Caribbean, nearly 561,000 slide-confirmed malaria infections were reported officially in 2008. The nine Amazonian countries accounted for 89% of these infections; Brazil and Peru alone contributed 56% and 7% of them, respectively. Local populations of the relatively neglected parasite P. vivax, which currently accounts for 77% of the regional malaria burden, are extremely diverse genetically and geographically structured. At a time when malaria elimination is placed on the public health agenda of several endemic countries, it remains unclear why malaria proved so difficult to control in areas of relatively low levels of transmission such as the Amazon Basin. We hypothesize that asymptomatic parasite carriage and massive environmental changes that affect vector abundance and behavior are major contributors to malaria transmission in epidemiologically diverse areas across the Amazon Basin. Here we review available data supporting this hypothesis and discuss their implications for current and future malaria intervention policies in the region. Given that locally generated scientific evidence is urgently required to support malaria control interventions in Amazonia, we briefly describe the aims of our current field-oriented malaria research in rural villages and gold-mining enclaves in Peru and a recently opened agricultural settlement in Brazil.
Protected area systems and conservation corridors can help mitigate the impacts of climate change on Amazonian biodiversity. We propose conservation design criteria that will help species survive in situ or adjust range distributions in response to increased drought. The first priority is to protect the western Amazon, identified as the ‘Core Amazon’, due to stable rainfall regimes and macro-ecological phenomena that have led to the evolution of high levels of biodiversity. Ecotones can buffer the impact from climate change because populations are genetically adapted to climate extremes, particularly seasonality, because high levels of habitat diversity are associated with edaphic variability. Future climatic tension zones should be surveyed for geomorphological features that capture rain or conserve soil moisture to identify potential refugia for humid forest species. Conservation corridors should span environmental gradients to ensure that species can shift range distributions. Riparian corridors provide protection to both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Multiple potential altitudinal corridors exist in the Andes, but natural and anthropogenic bottlenecks will constrain the ability of species to shift their ranges and adapt to climate change. Planned infrastructure investments are a serious threat to the potential to consolidate corridors over the short and medium term.
conservation corridors; biodiversity; protected area design
We investigated the conservation concern of Azorean forest fragments and the entire Terceira Island surface using arthropod species vulnerability as defined by the Kattan index, which is based on species rarity. Species rarity was evaluated according to geographical distribution (endemic vs. non endemic species), habitat specialization (distribution across biotopes) and population size (individuals collected in standardized samples). Geographical rarity was considered at ‘global’ scale (species endemic to the Azorean islands) and ‘regional’ scale (single island endemics).
Measures of species vulnerability were combined into two indices of conservation concern for each forest fragment: (1) the Biodiversity Conservation Concern index, BCC, which reflects the average rarity score of the species present in a site, and (2) one proposed here and termed Biodiversity Conservation Weight, BCW, which reflects the sum of rarity scores of the same species assemblage. BCW was preferable to prioritise the areas with highest number of vulnerable species, whereas BCC helped the identification of areas with few, but highly threatened species due to a combination of different types of rarity.
A novel approach is introduced in which BCC and BCW indices were also adapted to deal with probabilities of occurrence instead of presence/absence data. The new probabilistic indices, termed pBCC and pBCW, were applied to Terceira Island for which we modelled species distributions to reconstruct species occurrence with different degree of probability also in areas from which data were not available. The application of the probabilistic indices revealed that some island sectors occupied by secondary vegetation, and hence not included in the current set of protected areas, may in fact host some rare species. This result suggests that protecting marginal non-natural areas which are however reservoirs of vulnerable species may also be important, especially when areas with well preserved primary habitats are scarce.
Climate change is impacting species and ecosystems globally. Many existing templates to identify the most important areas to conserve terrestrial biodiversity at the global scale neglect the future impacts of climate change. Unstable climatic conditions are predicted to undermine conservation investments in the future. This paper presents an approach to developing a resource allocation algorithm for conservation investment that incorporates the ecological stability of ecoregions under climate change. We discover that allocating funds in this way changes the optimal schedule of global investments both spatially and temporally. This allocation reduces the biodiversity loss of terrestrial endemic species from protected areas due to climate change by 22% for the period of 2002–2052, when compared to allocations that do not consider climate change. To maximize the resilience of global biodiversity to climate change we recommend that funding be increased in ecoregions located in the tropics and/or mid-elevation habitats, where climatic conditions are predicted to remain relatively stable. Accounting for the ecological stability of ecoregions provides a realistic approach to incorporating climate change into global conservation planning, with potential to save more species from extinction in the long term.
Global conservation priorities have often been identified based on the combination of species richness and threat information. With the development of the field of systematic conservation planning, more attention has been given to conservation costs. This leads to prioritizing developing countries, where costs are generally low and biodiversity is high. But many of these countries have poor governance, which may result in ineffective conservation or in larger costs than initially expected. We explore how the consideration of governance affects the selection of global conservation priorities for the world's mammals in a complementarity-based conservation prioritization. We use data on Control of Corruption (Worldwide Governance Indicators project) as an indicator of governance effectiveness, and gross domestic product per capita as an indicator of cost. We show that, while core areas with high levels of endemism are always selected as important regardless of governance and cost values, there are clear regional differences in selected sites when biodiversity, cost or governance are taken into account separately. Overall, the analysis supports the concentration of conservation efforts in most of the regions generally considered of high priority, but stresses the need for different conservation approaches in different continents owing to spatial patterns of governance and economic development.
spatial conservation prioritization; mammals; good governance; corruption; conservation effectiveness
This paper examines the traditional use of medicinal plants in Northern Peru, with special focus on the Departments of Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Cajamarca, and San Martin.
Northern Peru represents the center of the old Central Andean "Health Axis," stretching from Ecuador to Bolivia. The roots of traditional healing practices in this region go at least as far back as the Moche period (AC 100–800).
Although about 50% of the plants in use reported in the colonial period have disappeared from the popular pharmacopoeia, the plant knowledge of the population is much more extensive than in other parts of the Andean region.
510 plant species used for medicinal purposes were collected, identified and their vernacular names, traditional uses and applications recorded. The families best represented were Asteraceae with 69 species, Fabaceae (35), Lamiaceae (25), and Solanaceae (21). Euphorbiaceae had twelve species, and Apiaceae and Poaceae 11 species.
The highest number of species was used for the treatment of "magical/ritual" ailments (207 species), followed by respiratory disorders (95), problems of the urinary tract (85), infections of female organs (66), liver ailments (61), inflammations (59), stomach problems (51) and rheumatism (45).
Most of the plants used (83%) were native to Peru. Fresh plants, often collected wild, were used in two thirds of all cases, and the most common applications included the ingestion of herb decoctions or the application of plant material as poultices.
The rate of molecular evolution of Tricyrtis plant groups as a model system was estimated. The outcome further highlights the importance of conserving biodiversity in a rapidly changing Earth environment. This phylogenetic analyses of Tricyrtis with its high endemism in north-east Asia sheds light on processes of speciation processes.
Background and aims
Tricyrtis is a genus of monocots with attractive and sophisticated flower shapes and colours, endemic to north-east Asia. There are 18 known species. The highly restricted geographical distribution of the genus is of great interest in terms of both abiotic (continental drift) and biotic (long-distance dispersal) impacts on monocot plant speciation events and their timing, and of evolutionary patterns of diversification leading to the extant taxa. The aims of this study were to (i) predict the time of speciation (divergence) events at infraspecific levels of Tricyrtis, (ii) estimate the rate of evolution of the genus and (iii) provide information on an excellent plant model system in terms of studying loss of biodiversity or extinction of organisms in the dynamic earth environment.
To investigate the divergence time and evolution rate of Tricyrtis, Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) analyses were performed by calculating the mean branch lengths of evolutionary paths based on base substitution variations between rps16 intron nucleotide sequences from the 18 known species.
Based upon the relaxed molecular clock model test data, a Bayesian phylogenetic inference tree is presented, and the divergence times and rate of evolution of Tricyrtis were estimated. The analyses also suggest that evolution is occurring at the infraspecific level of the genus in a manner that is not strictly clock bound.
Continental drift may have been the main speciation process giving rise to the current distribution of the taxa of Tricyrtis. The single-locus gene sequence data presented here are a significant step towards an improved future understanding of the molecular evolution of Tricyrtis via multi-locus evaluation.
Three new species of “non-spiny" Solanum are described from Peru and Ecuador, and a revised description for Solanum verecundum M. Nee is presented. Solanum kulliwaita S. Knapp, sp. nov. (Dulcamaroid clade) is endemic to the Department of Cuzco in southern Peru, and is most similar to the recently described Solanum sanchez-vegae S. Knapp of northern Peru. Solanum dillonii S. Knapp, sp. nov. (Brevantherum clade) is found in southern Ecuador and northern Peru in the Amotape-Huancabamba phytogeographic zone, and is morphologically similar to the widespread Solanum riparium Ruiz & Pav. Solanum oxapampense S. Knapp, sp. nov., (also of the Brevantherum clade) is endemic to the Oxapampa region (Department of Pasco) of central Peru, and is similar to and segregated from Solanum verecundum M. Nee of Peru and Ecuador. Complete descriptions, distributions and preliminary conservation assessments of all new species are given.
Amotape-Huancabamba zone; Andes; Ecuador; endemism; conservation; nightshades; Peru; Solanum
In the face of accelerating species extinctions, map-based prioritization systems are increasingly useful to decide where to pursue conservation action most effectively. However, a number of seemingly inconsistent schemes have emerged, mostly focussing on endemism. Here we use global vertebrate distributions in terrestrial ecoregions to evaluate how continuous and categorical ranking schemes target and accumulate endangered taxa within the IUCN Red List, Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE), and EDGE of Existence programme. We employed total, endemic and threatened species richness and an estimator for richness-adjusted endemism as metrics in continuous prioritization, and WWF's Global200 and Conservation International's (CI) Hotspots in categorical prioritization. Our results demonstrate that all metrics target endangerment more efficiently than by chance, but each selects unique sets of top-ranking ecoregions, which overlap only partially, and include different sets of threatened species. Using the top 100 ecoregions as defined by continuous prioritization metrics, we develop an inclusive map for global vertebrate conservation that incorporates important areas for endemism, richness, and threat. Finally, we assess human footprint and protection levels within these areas to reveal that endemism sites are more impacted but have more protection, in contrast to high richness and threat ones. Given such contrasts, major efforts to protect global biodiversity must involve complementary conservation approaches in areas of unique species as well as those with highest diversity and threat.
Prioritizing areas for conservation requires the use of surrogates for assessing overall patterns of biodiversity. Effective surrogates will reflect general biogeographical patterns and the evolutionary processes that have given rise to these and their efficiency is likely to be influenced by several factors, including the spatial scale of species turnover and the overall congruence of the biogeographical history. We examine patterns of surrogacy for insects, snails, one family of plants and vertebrates from rainforests of northeast Queensland, an area characterized by high endemicity and an underlying history of climate-induced vicariance. Nearly all taxa provided some level of prediction of the conservation values for others. However, despite an overall correlation of the patterns of species richness and complementarity, the efficiency of surrogacy was highly asymmetric; snails and insects were strong predictors of conservation priorities for vertebrates, but not vice versa. These results confirm predictions that taxon surrogates can be effective in highly diverse tropical systems where there is a strong history of vicariant biogeography, but also indicate that correlated patterns for species richness and/or complementarity do not guarantee that one taxon will be efficient as a surrogate for another. In our case, the highly diverse and narrowly distributed invertebrates were more efficient as predictors than the less diverse and more broadly distributed vertebrates.
Eliminated after 1950, malaria may be reemerging in a new region.
A recent epidemic of malaria in the highlands of Bolivia and establishment of multiple Anopheles species mosquitoes in the highlands of Ecuador highlights the reemergence of malaria in the Andes Mountains in South America. Because malaria was endemic to many highland valleys at the beginning of the 20th century, this review outlines the 20th century history of malaria in the highlands of Ecuador, and focuses on its incidence (e.g., geographic distribution) and elimination from the northern highland valleys of Pichincha and Imbabura and the role of the Guayaquil to Quito railway in creating highland larval habitat and inadvertently promoting transportation of the vector and parasite. Involvement of control organizations in combating malaria in Ecuador is also outlined in a historical context.
malaria; parasites; Ecuador; Andes Mountains; Anopheles pseudopunctipennis; Anopheles albimanus; Anopheles punctimacula; mosquitoes; highlands
Indicator taxa are commonly used to identify priority areas for conservation or to measure biological responses to environmental change. Despite their widespread use, there is no general consensus about the ability of indicator taxa to predict wider trends in biodiversity. Many studies have focused on large-scale patterns of species co-occurrence to identify areas of high biodiversity, threat or endemism, but there is much less information about patterns of species co-occurrence at local scales. In this study, we assess fine-scale co-occurrence patterns of three indicator taxa (epiphytic ferns, leaf litter frogs and dung beetles) across a remotely sensed gradient of human disturbance in the Ecuadorian Amazon. We measure the relative contribution of rare and common species to patterns of total richness in each taxon and determine the ability of common and rare species to act as surrogate measures of human disturbance and each other. We find that the species richness of indicator taxa changed across the human disturbance gradient but that the response differed among taxa, and between rare and common species. Although we find several patterns of co-occurrence, these patterns differed between common and rare species. Despite showing complex patterns of species co-occurrence, our results suggest that species or taxa can act as reliable indicators of each other but that this relationship must be established and not assumed.
Spatial conservation prioritization should seek to anticipate climate change impacts on biodiversity and to mitigate these impacts through the development of dynamic conservation plans. Here, we defined spatial priorities for the conservation of amphibians inhabiting the Atlantic Forest Biodiversity Hotspot that overcome the likely impacts of climate change on the distribution of this imperiled fauna. First, we built ecological niche models (ENMs) for 431 amphibian species both for current time and for the mid-point of a 30-year period spanning 2071–2099 (i.e. 2080). For modeling species' niches, we combined six modeling methods and three different climate models. We also quantified and mapped model uncertainties. Our consensus models forecasted range shifts that culminate with high species richness in central and eastern Atlantic Forest, both for current time and for 2080. Most species had a significant range contraction (up to 72%) and 12% of species were projected to be regionally extinct. Most species would need to disperse because suitable climatic sites will change. Therefore, we identified a network of priority sites for conservation that minimizes the distance a given species would need to disperse because of changes in future habitat suitability (i.e. climate-forced dispersal) as well as uncertainties associated to ENMs. This network also maximized complementary species representation across currently established protected areas. Priority sites already include possible dispersal corridors linking current and future suitable habitats for amphibians. Although we used the a top-ranked Biodiversity Hotspot and amphibians as a case study for illustrating our approach, our study may help developing more effective conservation strategies under climate change, especially when applied at different spatial scales, geographic regions, and taxonomic groups.
Despite controversy over alternative definitions, the species is the fundamental operational unit of biodiversity, and species are the building-blocks of conservation. But is a ‘species’ from one part of the world the same as a ‘species’ from elsewhere? Our meta-analysis of molecular phylogenetic data reveals that reptile and amphibian species distributed in temperate-zone areas of the Northern Hemisphere are younger than taxa from the Southern Hemisphere, probably reflecting the greater impact of past climatic variation on Northern Hemisphere habitats. Because a species' age may influence its vulnerability to anthropogenic threats, geographical variation in species ages should be incorporated into conservation planning.
reptile; amphibian; molecular dating; intraspecific diversification; conservation status
Global biodiversity is under significant threat from the combined effects of human-induced climate and land-use change. Covering 12% of the Earth's terrestrial surface, protected areas are crucial for conserving biodiversity and supporting ecological processes beneficial to human well-being, but their selection and design are usually uninformed about future global change. Here, we quantify the exposure of the global reserve network to projected climate and land-use change according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and set these threats in relation to the conservation value and capacity of biogeographic and geopolitical regions. We find that geographical patterns of past human impact on the land cover only poorly predict those of forecasted change, thus revealing the inadequacy of existing global conservation prioritization templates. Projected conservation risk, measured as regional levels of land-cover change in relation to area protected, is the greatest at high latitudes (due to climate change) and tropics/subtropics (due to land-use change). Only some high-latitude nations prone to high conservation risk are also of high conservation value, but their high relative wealth may facilitate additional conservation efforts. In contrast, most low-latitude nations tend to be of high conservation value, but they often have limited capacity for conservation which may exacerbate the global biodiversity extinction crisis. While our approach will clearly benefit from improved land-cover projections and a thorough understanding of how species range will shift under climate change, our results provide a first global quantitative demonstration of the urgent need to consider future environmental change in reserve-based conservation planning. They further highlight the pressing need for new reserves in target regions and support a much extended ‘north–south’ transfer of conservation resources that maximizes biodiversity conservation while mitigating global climate change.
conservation planning; conservation priorities; protected areas; future land-use and climate change; biodiversity
Among Atlantic scleractinian corals, species diversity is highest in the Caribbean, but low diversity and high endemism are observed in various peripheral populations in central and eastern Atlantic islands and along the coasts of Brazil and West Africa. The degree of connectivity between these distantly separated populations is of interest because it provides insight into processes at both evolutionary and ecological time scales, such as speciation, recruitment dynamics and the persistence of coral populations. To assess connectivity in broadly distributed coral species of the Atlantic, DNA sequence data from two nuclear markers were obtained for six coral species spanning their distributional ranges. At basin-wide scales, significant differentiation was generally observed among populations in the Caribbean, Brazil and West Africa. Concordance of patterns in connectivity among co-distributed taxa indicates that extrinsic barriers, such as the Amazon freshwater plume or long stretches of open ocean, restrict dispersal of coral larvae from region to region. Within regions, dispersal ability appears to be influenced by aspects of reproduction and life history. Two broadcasting species, Siderastrea siderea and Montastraea cavernosa, were able to maintain gene flow among populations separated by as much as 1,200 km along the coast of Brazil. In contrast, brooding species, such as Favia gravida and Siderastrea radians, had more restricted gene flow along the Brazilian coast.
Richness, rarity, endemism and complementarity of indicator taxon species are often used to select conservation areas, which are then assumed to represent most regional biodiversity. Assessments of the degree to which these indicator conservation areas coincide across different taxa have been conducted on a variety of vertebrate, invertebrate and plant groups at a national scale in Britain, Canada, USA and South Africa and at a regional scale in Cameroon, Uganda and the USA. A low degree of spatial overlap among and within these selected indicator conservation areas has been demonstrated. These results tend to suggest that indicator conservation areas display little congruence across different taxa. However, some of these studies demonstrate that many conservation areas for indicator taxa capture a high proportion of non-target species. Thus it appears that indicator conservation areas might sample overall biodiversity efficiently. These indicator conservation areas may, however, exclude species essential for effective conservation, e.g. rare, endemic or endangered species. The present study investigated the value of indicator taxa as biodiversity surrogates using spatial congruence and representativeness of different indicator priority conservation areas. The conservation status of species excluded by the indicator approaches is also assessed. Indicator priority conservation areas demonstrate high land area requirements in order to fully represent non-target species. These results suggest that efficient priority area selection techniques must reach a compromise between maximizing non-target species gains and minimizing land-use requirements. Reserve selection procedures using indicator-based complementarity appear to be approaches which best satisfy this trade-off.