Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research charts growing threats to biodiversity 'arks'

Date:
July 25, 2012
Source:
University of York
Summary:
Many of the world’s tropical protected areas are struggling to sustain their biodiversity, according to a study by more than 200 scientists from around the world.

Even well-protected tropical reserves may not protect wildlife if the surrounding habitat is degraded. This howler monkey lives on Barro Colorado Island, a Smithsonian research station in the Panama Canal waterway.
Credit: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Many of the world’s tropical protected areas are struggling to sustain their biodiversity, according to a study by more than 200 scientists from around the world.

But the study published in Nature includes research focusing on a reserve in Tanzania by University of York scientists that indicates that long-term engagement with conservation has positive results

Dr Andy Marshall, of the Environment Department at York and Director of Conservation Science at Flamingo Land, compared the data he collected in the Udzungwa mountains with data collected more than 20 years previously by Jon Lovett, formerly of the University of York and now Professor of Global Challenges at the University of Leeds.

Conservation efforts in this biodiversity hotspot have paid dividends. It is one of the few sites that are relatively unchanged from a biodiversity point of view.

Professor William Laurance, from James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, said that “these reserves are like arks for biodiversity.”

“But some of the ‘arks’ are in danger of sinking,” he said, “even though they are our best hope to sustain tropical forests and their amazing biodiversity in perpetuity.”

Professor Laurance and his team studied more than 30 different categories of species—from trees and butterflies to primates and large predators—in protected areas across the tropical Americas, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

They estimated how these groups had changed in numbers over the past two to three decades, while identifying environmental changes that might threaten the reserves.

Laurance said their conclusion was that while most reserves were helping to protect their forests, about half were struggling to sustain their original biodiversity.

In Udzungwa, more than 20 years ago, the forest was being heavily logged but now the area had been designated a national park.

Dr Marshall said: “Our findings indicate that concerted engagement with conservation in Udzungwa has had a positive effect in mitigating the impact of human activity on biodiversity.”

Professor Lovett added: “We were able to make a good assessment of the condition of the reserve because Andy Marshall was able to follow up my work from the mid-1980s. The comparison showed that long term engagement with conservation has positive results.”

Elsewhere, the picture is more worrying with many reserves suffering a decline in a wide array of species, including big predators and other large-bodied animals, many primates, old-growth trees, and stream-dwelling fish and amphibians, among others.

The researchers found that reserves that were suffering most were those that were poorly protected and suffered encroachment from illegal colonists, hunters and loggers.

Deforestation is advancing rapidly in tropical nations and most reserves are losing some or all of their surrounding forest.

The team found many nature reserves acted like mirrors—partially reflecting the threats and changes in their surrounding landscapes.

The bottom line, the researchers say, is that a better job needs to be done in protecting the protected areas - and that means fighting both their internal and external threats, and building support for protected areas among local communities. Such efforts will help ensure protected areas are more resilient to future threats such as climate change.

“We have no choice,” said Professor Laurance, “tropical forests are the biologically richest real estate on the planet, and a lot of that biodiversity will vanish without good protected areas.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. William F. Laurance et al. Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical forest protected areas. Nature, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nature11318

Cite This Page:

University of York. "Research charts growing threats to biodiversity 'arks'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120725132131.htm>.
University of York. (2012, July 25). Research charts growing threats to biodiversity 'arks'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120725132131.htm
University of York. "Research charts growing threats to biodiversity 'arks'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120725132131.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) The mystery of the moving rocks in Death Valley, California, has finally been solved. Scientists are pointing to a combo of water, ice and wind. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Tropical Biodiversity Arks Reach Tipping Point: Threats in Sustaining Biodiversity

July 25, 2012 Establishing protection over a swath of land seems like a good way to conserve its species and its ecosystems. But biologists report that protected areas are still vulnerable to damaging ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins