Editor's choice: selected new literature May 2017
  • Landscape genetics indicate recently increased habitat fragmentation in African forest -associated chafers.
  • Unravelling fluvial deposition and pedogenesis in ephemeral stream deposits in the vicinity of the prehistoric rock shelter of Ifri n'Ammar (NE Morocco) during the last 100 ka.
  • Redrawing the Map of Southern Africa ? A Critical Analysis of the Arguments for the Unification of South Africa and Lesotho.
  • Considering the needs of indigenous and local populations in conservation programs.
  • Effects of logging on roadless space in intact forest landscapes of the Congo Basin.
  • Expanding Kenya 's protected areas under the Convention on Biological Diversity to maximize coverage of plant diversity.
  • "Life is at a standstill" Quality of life after lower extremity trauma in Malawi.
  • Gap filling and homogenization of climatological datasets in the headwater region of the Upper Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia.
  • Agronomic Challenges and Opportunities for Smallholder Terrace Agriculture in Developing Countries (2017).
  • Driving forces of recent vegetation changes in the Sahel: Lessons learned from regional and local level analyses.
  • Evaluating Four Remote Sensing Methods for Estimating Surface Air Temperature on a Regional Scale.
  • Altitudinal filtering of large-tree species explains above-ground biomass variation in an Atlantic Central African rain forest.
  • Matrix population models indicate that bark harvest of two medicinal plants in Uganda 's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is sustainable.
  • Assessing and understanding the environmental changes in the Doubegue watershed (Burkina Faso) by combining temporal study of land use changes and stakeholders' knowledge.
  • Understanding community criteria for assessing forest co-management programmes: evidence from Malawi.
  • Similar bird communities in homegardens at different distances from Afromontane forests.
  • Food availability and population structure: How do clumped and abundant sources of carrion affect the genetic diversity of the black-backed jackal?
  • The response of bird feeding guilds to forest fragmentation reveals conservation strategies for a critically endangered African eco-region.
  • Heterogeneous patterns of abundance of epigeic arthropod taxa along a major elevation gradient.
  • Trade-offs in linking adaptation and mitigation in the forests of the Congo Basin.
  • Land cover dynamics in the Simien Mountains ( Ethiopia ), half a century after establishment of the National Park.
  • Commodification of natural resources and forest ecosystem services: examining implications for forest protection.
  • A communication framework for climatic risk and enhanced green growth in the eastern coast of Ghana.
  • Spatial Overlap Between People and Non-human Primates in a Fragmented Landscape.
  • Unequal access to land and the current migration crisis.


Landscape genetics indicate recently increased habitat fragmentation in African forest -associated chafers.


Eberle, J; Rdder, D; Beckett, M; Ahrens, D (2017). GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY, 23 (5):1988-2004; 10.1111/gcb.13616 MAY 2017


Abstract: Today, indigenous forests cover less than 0.6% of South Africa’s land surface and are highly fragmented. Most forest relicts are very small and typically occur in fire-protected gorges along the eastern Great Escarpment . Yet, they hold a unique and valuable fauna with high endemism and ancient phylogenetic lineages, fostered by long-term climatic stability and complex microclimates. Despite numerous studies on southern African vegetation cover, the current state of knowledge about the natural extension of indigenous forests is rather fragmentary. We use an integrated approach of population-level phylogeography and climatic niche modeling of forest -associated chafer species to assess connectivity and extent of forest habitats since the last glacial maximum. Current and past species distribution models ascertained potential fluctuations of forest distribution and supported a much wider potential current extension of forests based on climatic data. Considerable genetic admixture of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA among many populations and an increase in mean population mutation rate in Extended Bayesian Skyline Plots of all species indicated more extended or better connected forests in the recent past (< 5 kya). Genetic isolation of certain populations, as revealed by population differentiation statistics (G'(ST)), as well as landscape connectivity statistics and habitat succession scenarios suggests considerable loss of habitat connectivity. As major anthropogenic influence is likely, conservational actions need to be considered.


Unravelling fluvial deposition and pedogenesis in ephemeral stream deposits in the vicinity of the prehistoric rock shelter of Ifri n'Ammar (NE Morocco) during the last 100 ka.


Bartz, M; Rixhon, G; Kehl, M; El Ouahabi, M; Klasen, N; Brill, D; Weniger, GC; Mikdad, A; Bruckner, H (2017). CATENA, 152 115-134; 10.1016/j.catena.2016.12.007 MAY 2017

Abstract: Our study focuses on the ephemeral stream deposits of Wadi Selloum to identify phases of morphodynamic stability (pedogenesis) and activity (flooding) in the direct vicinity of the rock shelter of Ifri n'Ammar (NE Morocco). As one of the oldest settlement sites of anatomically modern humans (AMH) in North Africa , Ifri n'Ammar documents periodical occupations since similar to 170 ka. Since the discontinuous settlement record may reflect climate forcing with subsequent landscape changes, we aim at reconstructing the palaeoenvironmental variability recorded in the ephemeral stream deposits. In addition to the use of micromorphological, seditnentological, geochemical and mineralogical methods, the geochronological framework of ephemeral stream deposits was established by the application of different luminescence dating techniques. The deposition ages between 102 +/- 8 ka and 13 +/- 0.2 ka span different morphodynamically stable and active phases. Periods of enhanced aggradation occurred around similar to 100 ka, similar to 75 ka, similar to 55 ka, after the LGM, and during the Holocene, whilst sedimentation ended after similar to 13 ka. The Wadi Selloum might be characterised by enhanced flooding during humid phases. Pedogenesis may be used as environmental indicator for more humid climate conditions during MIS 3 (palaeo-Calcisol), the early Holocene (Calcisol) and the late Holocene (Fluvisol). This study thus provides first insights into the palaeoenvironmental changes around the rock shelter of Ifri n'Ammar during the last glacial-interglacial cycle.

Redrawing the Map of Southern Africa ? A Critical Analysis of the Arguments for the Unification of South Africa and Lesotho.

Caromba, L (2017). POLITIKON, 44 (1):93-109; 10.1080/02589346.2017.1278636 APR 2017

Abstract: South Africa and Lesotho have an unusual bilateral relationship. Lesotho is one of only three enclaves in the world that is completely surrounded by another state, and there is a massive size disparity between the two countries in terms of both population and GDP. This means that Lesotho is in a position of extreme dependence towards its larger neighbour, which has occasionally led to speculation that the two states might, at some point in the future, merge into a single entity. Such speculation is more prevalent in Lesotho , but it has occasionally been raised by South Africans too. However, previous arguments for or against unification have generally not taken into account the full range of political and economic consequences of such a policy. This article first situates the relationship between Lesotho and South Africa within the broader theoretical debate over postcolonial African borders. It then considers the arguments for unification on several levels: in relation to politics, the role of the military, fiscal considerations, and economic policy. The section on politics considers the quality of governance in Lesotho , the political role of its military, and the potential effects of a merger on South African national politics. The section on fiscal considerations compares the level of fiscal support that Lesotho would receive within South Africa to the level that it currently receives as a member of Southern African Customs Union. Finally, the section on economic policy weighs up the value of Lesotho 's ability to make independent economic policy decisions against the drag and inefficiency that occurs as a result of having to move goods and people across the national border with South Africa .



Considering the needs of indigenous and local populations in conservation programs.

Kohler, F; Brondizio, ES (2017). CONSERVATION BIOLOGY, 31 (2):245-251; 10.1111/cobi.12843 APR 2017

Abstract: Local rural and indigenous communities have assumed increasing responsibility for conservation within and between areas buffering the impacts of agricultural or resource-extraction zones and protected areas. Empowering local communities as central partners in conservation and climate-change mitigation has allowed many people to gain access to land and citizenship rights but has provided limited improvements in access to social services and economic opportunities even as expectation about their role as environmental stewards grows. These expectations, however, are inconsistent with reality. We conducted multiple field studies in Brazil since the mid-1980s to illustrate the discrepancies between conservation programs and local conditions and expectations. We suggest that public policies and conservation programs should not delegate responsibility for managing protected areas to local and indigenous communities without considering local needs and expectations and locals' attitudes toward conservation. In other words, behavior that maintains or improves the environment should not be treated as traditional based on the expectations of outsiders. Framing local populations as traditional environmentalists creates contradictions and frustrations for local populations and for conservation professionals and policy makers.


Effects of logging on roadless space in intact forest landscapes of the Congo Basin.

Kleinschroth, F; Healey, JR; Gourlet-Fleury, S; Mortier, F; Stoica, RS (2017). CONSERVATION BIOLOGY, 31 (2):469-480; 10.1111/cobi.12815 APR 2017

Abstract: Forest degradation in the tropics is often associated with roads built for selective logging. The protection of intact forest landscapes (IFL) that are not accessible by roads is high on the biodiversity conservation agenda and a challenge for logging concessions certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). A frequently advocated conservation objective is to maximize the retention of roadless space, a concept that is based on distance to the nearest road from any point. We developed a novel use of the empty-space function - a general statistical tool based on stochastic geometry and random sets theory - to calculate roadless space in a part of the Congo Basin where road networks have been expanding rapidly. We compared the temporal development of roadless space in certified and uncertified logging concessions inside and outside areas declared IFL in 2000. Inside IFLs, road-network expansion led to a decrease in roadless space by more than half from 1999 to 2007. After 2007, loss leveled out in most areas to close to 0 due to an equilibrium between newly built roads and abandoned roads that became revegetated. However, concessions in IFL certified by FSC since around 2007 continuously lost roadless space and reached a level comparable to all other concessions. Only national parks remained mostly roadless. We recommend that forest -anagement policies make the preservation of large connected forest areas a top priority by effectively monitoring - and limiting - the occupation of space by roads that are permanently accessible.


Expanding Kenya 's protected areas under the Convention on Biological Diversity to maximize coverage of plant diversity.

Scherer, L; Curran, M; Alvarez, M (2017). CONSERVATION BIOLOGY, 31 (2):302-310; 10.1111/cobi.12792 APR 2017

Abstract: Biodiversity is highly valuable and critically threatened by anthropogenic degradation of the natural environment. In response, governments have pledged enhanced protected-area coverage, which requires scarce biological data to identify conservation priorities. To assist this effort, we mapped conservation priorities in Kenya based on maximizing alpha (species richness) and beta diversity (species turnover) of plant communities while minimizing economic costs. We used plant-cover percentages from vegetation surveys of over 2000 plots to build separate models for each type of diversity. Opportunity and management costs were based on literature data and interviews with conservation organizations. Species richness was predicted to be highest in a belt from Lake Turkana through Mount Kenya and in a belt parallel to the coast, and species turnover was predicted to be highest in western Kenya and along the coast. Our results suggest the expanding reserve network should focus on the coast and northeastern provinces of Kenya , where new biological surveys would also fill biological data gaps. Meeting the Convention on Biological Diversity target of 17% terrestrial coverage by 2020 would increase representation of Kenya 's plant communities by 75%. However, this would require about 50 times more funds than Kenya has received thus far from the Global Environment Facility.



"Life is at a standstill" Quality of life after lower extremity trauma in Malawi.

Kohler, RE; Tomlinson, J; Chilunjika, TE; Young, S; Hosseinipour, M; Lee, CN (2017). QUALITY OF LIFE RESEARCH, 26 (4):1027-1035; 10.1007/s11136-016-1431-2 APR 2017

Abstract: Low- and middle-income countries face a disproportionate burden of death and disability from injuries, many of which are due to road traffic accidents or falls. Lower extremity injuries in particular have implications not only for physical disabilities affecting work and school performance, but also for quality of life (QOL) of the individual. This qualitative study explores the psychosocial impact and QOL changes due to lower extremity injuries among trauma patients in central Malawi. We transcribed and translated interviews with 20 patients who received care for a trauma to the lower extremity at a tertiary hospital in Lilongwe. We used NVivo to organize and thematically analyze the data. Participants reported limitations in physical functioning, activities of daily living, social roles, and vocational and social activities. Limited mobility led to unplanned long-term disruptions in work, personal financial loss, and household economic hardship. As a result, psychological distress, fears and worries about recovery, and poor perceptions of health and QOL were common. Several contextual factors influenced patient outcomes including socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, social networks, local landscape , housing structures, and transportation accessibility. Lower extremity trauma led to physical suffering and ongoing social and economic costs among Malawians. Injuries affecting mobility have broad QOL and economic consequences for patients and affected family members. Interventions are needed to improve post-injury recovery and QOL. Better access to trauma surgery and social and welfare support services for people living with disabling conditions are needed to alleviate the consequences of injuries.


Gap filling and homogenization of climatological datasets in the headwater region of the Upper Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia.

Woldesenbet, TA; Elagib, NA; Ribbe, L; Heinrich, J (2017). INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATOLOGY, 37 (4):2122-2140; 10.1002/joc.4839 MAR 30 2017


Abstract: Long-term time series of climatological data measured at meteorological stations provide one of the most authentic annals of climate in the past. However, there are a host of factors that affect measurements ofclimate parameters and make the data unsuitable for direct use and analysis. Serial completion and homogenization thus have to be undertaken in order to draw valid conclusions about the climate, or to apply the time series in impact studies. This study reports on gap filling and homogenization results of climatological elements in the headwater region of the Upper Blue Nile Basin from 1980 to 2013. Firstly, approaches for reconstruction of the time series from neighbouring stations using different techniques were compared and selected. Neighbouring stations were selected based on horizontal distance and coefficient of correlation. Secondly, the reconstructed time series were homogenized using Multiple Analysis of Series for Homogenization (MASH). The results show improved spatial coherence of the final data series. Higher spatial coherence was revealed for maximum temperature than for minimum temperature and rainfall. For rainfall and minimum and maximum temperatures, the coefficient of correlation weighting method outperforms other candidate methods, such as the normal ratio method (NRM), the modified NRM, and the inverse distance weighting method. Rainfall series for half of the stations considered were found to be homogeneous, and thus inhomogeneity corrections were not applied. Inhomogeneity in the remaining stations either underestimates or overestimates annual rainfall series. All stations revealed inhomogeneity in the mean annual maximum and minimum temperature series. These serially complete and homogenized data on rainfall, and minimum and maximum temperatures of the present study can be used for climate change and hydrological studies in the basin.



Agronomic Challenges and Opportunities for Smallholder Terrace Agriculture in Developing Countries (2017).

Chapagain, T; Raizada, MN (2017). FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE, 8 10.3389/fpls.2017.00331 MAR 17 2017


Abstract: Improving land productivity is essential to meet increasing food and forage demands in hillside and mountain communities . Tens of millions of smallholder terrace farmers in Asia. Africa , and Latin America who earn $1-2 per day do not have access to peer-reviewed knowledge of best agronomic practices, though they have considerable traditional ecological knowledge. Terrace farmers also lack access to affordable farm tools and inputs required to increase crop yields. The objectives of this review are to highlight the agronomic challenges of terrace farming, and offer innovative, low-cost solutions to intensify terrace agriculture while improving local livelihoods. The article focuses on smallholder farmers in developing nations, with particular reference to Nepal. The challenges of terrace agriculture in these regions include lack of quality land area for agriculture, erosion and loss of soil fertility, low yield, poor access to agricultural inputs and services, lack of mechanization, labour shortages, poverty, and illiteracy. Agronomic strategies that could help address these concerns include intensification of terraces using agro-ecological approaches along with introduction of light-weight, low-cost, and purchasable tools and affordable inputs that enhance productivity and reduce female drudgery. To package, deliver, and share these technologies with remote hillside communities, effective scaling up models are required. One opportunity to enable distribution of these products could be to "piggy-back" onto pre-existing snackfood/cigarette/alcohol distribution networks that are prevalent even in the most remote mountainous regions of the world. Such strategies, practices, and tools could be supported by formalized government policies dedicated to the well-being of terrace farmers and ecosystems, to maintain resiliency at a time of alarming climate change. We hope this review will inform governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector to draw attention to this neglected and vulnerable agro-ecosystem in developing countries.



Driving forces of recent vegetation changes in the Sahel: Lessons learned from regional and local level analyses.

Leroux, L; Begue, A; Lo Seen, D; Jolivot, A; Kayitakire, F (2017). REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 191 38-54; 10.1016/j.rse.2017.01.014 MAR 15 2017


Abstract: A wide range of environmental and societal issues such as food security policy implementation requires accurate information on biomass productivity and its underlying drivers at both regional and local scales. While many studies in West Africa are conducted with coarse resolution earth observation data, few have tried to relate vegetation trends to explanatory factors, as is generally done in land use and land cover change (LULCC) studies at finer scales. In this study we proposed to make a bridge between vegetation trend analysis and LULCC studies to improve the understanding of the various factors that influence the biomass production changes observed in satellite time series (using integrated Normalized Difference Vegetation Index [NDVI] as a proxy). The study was conducted in two steps. In the first step we analyzed MODIS NDVI linear trends together with TRMM growing season rainfall over the Sahel region from 2000 to 2015. A classification scheme was proposed that enables better specification of the relative role of the main drivers of biomass production dynamics. We found that 16% of the Sahel is re-greening-but found strong evidence that rainfall is not the only important driver of biomass increase. Moreover, a decrease found in 5% of the Sahel can be chiefly attributed to factors other than rainfall (88%). In the second step, we focused on the "Degre Carre de Niamey" site in Niger. Here, the observed biomass trends were analyzed in relation to land cover changes and a set of potential drivers of LULCC using the Random Forest algorithm. We observed negative trends (29% of the Niger site area) mainly in tiger bush areas located on lateritic plateaus, which are particularly prone to pressures from overgrazing and overlogging. The significant role of accessibility factors in biomass production trends was also highlighted. Our methodological framework may be used to highlight changing areas and their major drivers to identify target areas for more detailed studies. Finer-scale assessments of the long-term vulnerability of populations can then be made to substantiate food security management policies.



Evaluating Four Remote Sensing Methods for Estimating Surface Air Temperature on a Regional Scale.

Liu, SH; Su, HB; Tian, J; Zhang, RH; Wang, WZ; Wu, YR (2017). JOURNAL OF APPLIED METEOROLOGY AND CLIMATOLOGY, 56 (3):803-814; 10.1175/JAMC-D-16-0188.1 MAR 2017

Abstract: Surface air temperature is a basic meteorological variable to monitor the environment and assess climate change . Four remote sensing methods-the temperature-vegetation index (TVX), the univariate linear regression method, the multivariate linear regression method, and the advection-energy balance for surface air temperature (ADEBAT)-have been developed to acquire surface air temperature on a regional scale. To evaluate their utilities, they were applied to estimate the surface air temperature in northwestern China and were compared with each other through regressive analyses, t tests, estimation errors, and analyses on estimations of different underlying surfaces. Results can be summarized into three aspects: 1) The regressive analyses and t tests indicate that the multivariate linear regression method and the ADEBAT provide better accuracy than the other two methods. 2) Frequency histograms on estimation errors show that the multivariate linear regression method produces the minimum error range, and the univariate linear regression method produces the maximum error range. Errors of the multivariate linear regression method exhibit a nearly normal distribution and that of the ADEBAT exhibit a bimodal distribution, whereas the other two methods display negative skewness distributions. 3) Estimates on different underlying surfaces show that the TVX and the univariate linear regression method are significantly limited in regions with sparse vegetation cover. The multivariate linear regression method has estimation errors within 1 degrees C and without high levels of errors, and the ADEBAT also produces high estimation errors on bare ground.


Altitudinal filtering of large-tree species explains above-ground biomass variation in an Atlantic Central African rain forest.

Gonmadje, C; Picard, N; Gourlet-Fleury, S; Rejou-Mechain, M; Freycon, V; Sunderland, T; McKey, D; Doumenge, C (2017). JOURNAL OF TROPICAL ECOLOGY, 33 143-154; 10.1017/S0266467416000602 2 MAR 2017

Abstract: Patterns in above-ground biomass of tropical forests over short altitudinal gradients are poorly known. The aim of this study was to investigate the variation of above-ground biomass with altitude in old-growth forests and determine the importance of changes in floristic composition as a cause of this variation. We used a dataset from 15 1-ha permanent plots established from lowland (200 m asl) to submontane forests (900 m asl) in the Ngovayang Massif, south-western Cameroon . We analysed variation over altitude in two specific functional traits, the potential maximum tree height and the wood density. Forest above-ground biomass decreased from 500-600 Mg ha(-1) in lowland plots to around 260 Mg ha(-1) at the highest altitudes. The contribution to above-ground biomass of large-tree species (dbh >= 70 cm) decreased with altitude, while the contribution of smaller trees was constant. Contribution of the Fabaceae subfamily Caesalpinioideae decreased with altitude, while those of Clusiaceae, Phyllanthaceae and Burseraceae increased. While potential maximum tree height significantly decreased, wood specific gravity displayed no trend along the gradient. Finally, the decrease in above-ground biomass along the short altitudinal gradient can be at least partially explained by a shift in species composition, with large-tree species being filtered out at the highest altitudes. These results suggest that global change could lead to significant shifts in the properties of montane forests over time.


Matrix population models indicate that bark harvest of two medicinal plants in Uganda 's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is sustainable.

Stas, SM; Langbroek, EM; Bitariho, R; Sheil, D; Zuidema, PA (2017). AFRICAN JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY, 55 (1):30-36; 10.1111/aje.12309 MAR 2017

Abstract: Balancing forest conservation with resource extraction by local people is challenging. In the mountain forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda , this was addressed by permitting regulated access to certain forest products in specific areas by authorized local people. However, it remained unclear whether harvest levels were biologically sustainable . Here, we used matrix population models and long-term data to examine the impacts of bark harvesting on population dynamics of two important medicinal plants, Rytigynia kigeziensis and Ocotea usambarensis, in Bwindi. Only 4% of R.kigeziensis and 3% of O. usambarensis stems (>1.3m height) showed signs of bark harvest, mostly mild harvesting. We found that the harvested populations of both species appeared stable or will moderately grow in the long run. Modelled population growth rates were mostly determined by survival probabilities. Similarity between the stable stage distributions predicted by the model and observed population structures suggests that our estimated vital rates (growth, recruitment and survival rates) are a reasonable representation of actual values in these populations. Thus, recent harvest levels of R.kigeziensis and O.usambarensis appear sustainable . Nonetheless, monitoring of harvested and unharvested populations by tagging, marking and remeasuring individuals should continue for both species.


Assessing and understanding the environmental changes in the Doubegue watershed (Burkina Faso) by combining temporal study of land use changes and stakeholders' knowledge.

Robert, E (2017). GEOGRAPHICAL JOURNAL, 183 (1):97-111; 10.1111/geoj.12169 MAR 2017

Abstract: Since the 1980s, the Bagre region (Burkina Faso) has witnessed significant environmental changes mainly due to anthropogenic causes (arrival of new population groups, demographic increase, reservoir creation, exacerbation of conflict linked to land ownership, and land and agrarian reform), and secondarily to climatic perturbations. For a comprehensive understanding of these environmental changes, and their causes and impacts in the Doubegue watershed, it is necessary to combine different analytical tools. An original methodology, which combines remote sensing and field survey, is proposed. A temporal study of land use change was conducted to identify areas at risk and ongoing processes. At the same time, a survey was carried out to study the local population's knowledge concerning changes to the resources of vegetation, water and soil. The analysis of a time series of satellite images reveals environmental changes mainly in the central area of the watershed, since the 1990s in particular, with an increase in cropped and bare soils. The survey also highlights reduction in vegetation cover, a decrease in soil quality and changes in the river system. In addition, stakeholders link the degradation of vegetation cover to changes in the river system. Finally, to reduce degradation of resources (vegetation, water and soil), actions are being developed and/or sought by the population and by organisations in the region.


Understanding community criteria for assessing forest co-management programmes: evidence from Malawi.

Chinangwa, L; Pullin, AS; Hockley, N (2017). INTERNATIONAL FORESTRY REVIEW, 19 (1):17-28; MAR 2017

Abstract: Criteria for assessing success or failure of forest co-management programmes may vary among different participating actors. Local people are important actors in co-management, thus understanding their perceived criteria is important in evaluating forest co-management programmes. We interviewed 134 ordinary community members and 21 committee members participating in a forest co-management programme in Zomba and Ntchisi, Malawi in order to understand how local actors understand and define criteria for assessing forest co-management programme. Respondents identified five criteria including forest conservation, access to forest resources, participation in decision making, infrastructure development and improved livelihoods. Ordinary community members highlighted access to forest resources and improved livelihoods as important success criteria, whilst committee members identified forest conservation as an important criterion, and the difference was significant in both Zomba (x(2) = 11.79, p = 0.036) and Ntchisi (x(2) = 8.97, p = 0.042). Furthermore, perceived criteria were influenced by household socio- economic characteristics including gender, wealth status and level of education. Thus, evaluation studies should be designed to capture perspectives and experiences across social strata within a community.


Similar bird communities in homegardens at different distances from Afromontane forests.

Engelen, D; Lemessa, D; Sekercioglu, CH; Hylander, K (2017). BIRD CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL, 27 (1):83-95; 10.1017/S0959270916000162 MAR 2017

Abstract: Human modified landscapes make up a growing proportion of the tropics, but are relatively little studied. The spatial distribution of remnant vegetation can structure and shape local biodiversity, affecting the provisioning of ecosystem services and regulation of pest problems. We compared species composition, abundance and functional diversity of birds between forest and homegardens close to (0-100 m) and further away from (1,500-2,000 m) moist evergreen Afromontane forests in south-western Ethiopia . We thoroughly inventoried birds with point counts and mist netting in two forest sites and three garden sites of each type. Gardens differed in general species composition from forests , with fewer forest specialist species (7% versus 29% of recorded species), but instead supported many other species that were rarely encountered in the forests . Overall gardens had higher numbers of species than forests . Homegardens close to the forest and further from the forest were similar to each other in terms of species richness and overall species composition. Both garden types had a similar composition in terms of the relative proportion of species with different habitat preferences as well as the composition of species from different feeding guilds. The lack of forest specialists in even the most structurally complex part of the agricultural landscape close to forest edges suggests that the last larger forest remnants are critical for conservation of forest specialists. Nonetheless, homegardens maintain rich bird diversity that also should be considered in a biodiversity conservation context. Further research is needed to establish to what extent the richness and composition of the agro-ecological bird fauna is regulated by the existence of forest patches in the region. Our results could not resolve this question since gardens two kilometers from the forest edge were similar in composition to gardens close to the forest edges.


Food availability and population structure: How do clumped and abundant sources of carrion affect the genetic diversity of the black-backed jackal?

James, RS; Scott, DM; Yarnell, RW; Overall, ADJ (2017). JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY, 301 (3):184-192; 10.1111/jzo.12407 MAR 2017

Abstract: Carnivores frequently come into conflict with humans in agricultural and livestock-producing areas around the world. Understanding their fidelity and dispersal patterns in response to food availability is therefore important given the effort invested in conflict mitigation strategies. In this study, we investigated the influence of clumped and abundant sources of carrion on the genetic diversity of the black-backed jackal Canis mesomelas within six private game farms in the North-West and Gauteng provinces of South Africa . It is predicted that clumped and abundant sources of carrion will increase immigration and thus genetic diversity in the local subpopulation. By quantifying the variability in microsatellite loci in black-backed jackals subjected to artificially increased carrion availability, and comparing them with individuals from control sites, we were able to describe patterns of historic gene flow within the total sampled population. The results of this investigation indicate that clumped and abundant sources of carrion promote genetic structuring (F-ST=0.0302) which implies a lack of gene flow and a degree of isolation. Genetic artefacts of three populations could be identified through Bayesian clustering analysis of individuals based on their genetic identity. Individuals sampled from the two supplementary feeding sites could be assigned to one of two ancestral populations with an average population assignment of 69 and 82%, while individuals from the remaining four control sites, originate from a third population with percentage assignments of 63%, 46%, 53% and 42%. It is therefore likely that clumped and abundant sources of carrion in the agricultural landscape of South Africa can affect the population dynamics of the black-backed jackal and result in subpopulations with limited migration and dispersal when compared with the total population.


The response of bird feeding guilds to forest fragmentation reveals conservation strategies for a critically endangered African eco-region.

Olivier, PI; van Aarde, RJ (2017). BIOTROPICA, 49 (2):268-278; 10.1111/btp.12402 MAR 2017

Abstract: South African coastal forests form part of two critically endangered eco-regions and harbor an extinction debt. Remaining fragments are small, isolated, and embedded within a range of human land-use types.In this study, we ask: how should we invest conservation resources if we want to restore this landscape and prevent predicted extinctions? To answer this question, we use path analyses to determine the direct and indirect effects of forest area, forest connectivity, and matrix land-use types on species richness within five bird feeding guilds. We found that forest connectivity had a significant direct effect on insectivores fragments that were more connected had more species of insectivores than those that were isolated. Moreover, forest area had a significant indirect effect on insectivores that was mediated through tree species richness. Larger fragments had more species of trees, which led to more species of insectivores. Fragment area, connectivity, matrix land-use type, and tree species richness had no significant effects on the species richness of frugivores, nectarivores, granivores, or generalist feeders. To conserve insectivores in coastal forests, conservation efforts should focus on maximizing fragment connectivity across the landscape but also protect the tree community within fragments from degradation. This can be achieved by including matrix habitats that adjoin forest fragments within forest conservation and restoration plans. Natural matrix habitats can increase connectivity, provide supplementary resources, buffer fragments from degradation, and could play an important role in safeguarding diversity and preventing extinctions in this threatened human-modified landscape.


Heterogeneous patterns of abundance of epigeic arthropod taxa along a major elevation gradient.

Roder, J; Detsch, F; Otte, I; Appelhans, T; Nauss, T; Peters, MK; Brandl, R (2017). BIOTROPICA, 49 (2):217-228; 10.1111/btp.12403 MAR 2017

Abstract: Species diversity is the variable most commonly studied in recent ecological research. Ecological processes, however, are driven by individuals and affected by their abundances. Understanding the variation in animal abundances along climatic gradients is important forpredicting changes in ecosystem processes under global warming . High abundances make arthropods, despite their small body sizes, important actors in food webs, yet abundance distributions of major arthropod taxa along climatic gradients remain poorly documented. We sampled arthropod assemblages in disturbed and undisturbed vegetation types along an elevational gradient of 860-4550m asl on the southern slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro , Tanzania . In our analysis, we focused on 13 taxa of arthropods that represented three major functional groups: predators, herbivores, and decomposers. Abundance patterns were unimodal for most of the taxa and functional groups, including decomposer arthropods, and most of them peaked at low elevations in lower montane forest . When we assigned beetles to functional groups, however, decomposer beetle abundances declined almost linearly, and abundances of predator beetles (ca. 2400m asl) and herbivore beetles (ca. 3000m asl, undisturbed vegetation) peaked at higher elevations and exhibited unimodal patterns. Temperature, not primary productivity, was the best predictor of abundance for most of the taxa and groups. Disturbance was only of minor importance. Our results revealed different trends in the response of arthropod abundance along the elevational gradient that depended on the level of taxonomic and functional resolution. This highlights the need for more comparisons of different taxa along the same climatic gradients.


Trade-offs in linking adaptation and mitigation in the forests of the Congo Basin.

Few, R; Martin, A; Gross-Camp, N (2017). REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE, 17 (3):851-863; 10.1007/s10113-016-1080-6 MAR 2017

Abstract: Recent discussions on forests and climate change have highlighted the potential for conservation of tropical forests to contribute synergistically to both mitigation (reducing emissions of greenhouse gases) and adaptation ( increasing capacity to cope with changing climate conditions). Key mechanisms through which adaptive advantages might be gained include the potential for forest resources to support livelihoods in the context of climatic strains on agriculture and the protection that intact forest ecosystems might provide against landslides, flash floods and other hazards related to extreme weather. This paper presents findings from field research with forest communities in three areas of the Congo Basin in Central Africa , in which the adaptive role and potential of forests in these respects is critically analysed. The investigation was carried out through a combination of structured and semi-structured qualitative techniques within six villages in Cameroon , Equatorial Guinea and Rwanda. The findings of the research highlight the need to understand both the limits of synergy, and the constraints and trade-offs for rural livelihoods that may be associated with a forest conservation agenda driven by the additional impetus of carbon sequestration. The search for synergy may be conceptually laudable, but if forest management actions do not take account of on-the-ground contexts of constraints and social trade-offs then the result of those actions risks undermining wider livelihood resilience.


Land cover dynamics in the Simien Mountains ( Ethiopia ), half a century after establishment of the National Park.

Jacob, M; Frankl, A; Hurni, H; Lanckriet, S; De Ridder, M; Guyassa, E; Beeckman, H; Nyssen, J (2017). REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE, 17 (3):777-787; 10.1007/s10113-016-1070-8 MAR 2017

Abstract: The Simien Mountains house several endangered and endemic wildlife species and provide important ecosystem services. Despite its regional environmental importance, the Simien Mountains are listed as World Heritage in Danger since 1997. This raised the need for an evaluation of landscape changes from before the establishment of the Simien Mountain National Park (SMNP) in 1969. For this purpose, historical terrestrial photographs (1966-2009) were re-analyzed from 2014 repeats, using an expert rating system with eight correspondents. An increase in forest was observed in the eastern and western edge of the SMNP at Sankaber and Imet Gogo (20-40%). In contrast, centrally in the SMNP (around Gich), the area covered with dense forest decreased with an estimated rate of -1.4% per decade. There is no significant effect (p >0.05) of the boundary of the SMNP on woody vegetation change, because of continued anthropogenic pressure (especially wood cutting and livestock grazing) inside the SMNP. Also elevation and distance to scout camps do not affect rates of change, and however, the density of houses within 2.2 km (a proxy of population pressure) is able to explain 32% of the spatial distribution of woody vegetation decrease (p < 0.05). A subset of six repeated photographs, indicated an uplift of the treeline by more than 1 m year(-1), in areas with low anthropogenic pressure. This is potentially related to increasing (average annual) temperature warming of up to 1.5 degrees C over the past 50 years. Overall, further reduction in anthropogenic pressure is urgent and crucial for recovery of the afro- alpine vegetation and the interrelated endangered wildlife in the Simien Mountains.


Commodification of natural resources and forest ecosystem services: examining implications for forest protection.

Kopnina, H (2017). ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, 44 (1):24-33; 10.1017/S0376892916000436 MAR 2017

Abstract: Through the commodification of nature, the framing of the environment as a natural resource' or ecosystem service' has become increasingly prominent in international environmental governance. The economic capture approach is promoted by international organizations such as the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). This paper will inquire as to how forest protection is related to issues of social and ecological justice, exploring whether forest exploitation based on the top-down managerial model fosters an unequitable distribution of resources. Both top-down and community-based approaches to forest protection will be critically examined and a more inclusive ethical framework to forest protection will be offered. The findings of this examination indicate the need for a renewed focus on existing examples of good practice in addressing both social and ecological need, as well as the necessity to address the less comfortable problem of where compromise appears less possible. The conclusion argues for the need to consider ecological justice as an important aspect of more socially orientated environmental justice for forest protection.


A communication framework for climatic risk and enhanced green growth in the eastern coast of Ghana.

Dovie, DBK (2017). LAND USE POLICY, 62 326-336; 10.1016/j.landusepol.2017.01.008 MAR 2017

Abstract: Progresses made in global responses to climate change shows that adaptation is gradually finding its way into development planning, yet delays are generally expected from competing priorities of several sectors, policy and knowledge challenges. To understand these dynamics, a pathway for enhanced climatic risk communication, which is a form of a non-structural adaptation, was analyzed in Ghana 's coastal zones. Two learning platforms, the Community-based Risk Screening Tool for Adaptation and Livelihoods (CRiSTAL), and U-Learning (Theory U-Process)were used to engage the state level policy-maldng process in governing development within coastal zones in the face of increased climatic risks and climate change impacts. Local livelihood priorities showed that a national level development planning framework that excluded local contexts of climatic risks face possible maladaptation. Subsequently the process that was engaged in the local contextualization of climatic risks and development in selected Districts culminated in the consensus framework, Coastal Zone Green Growth (CZGG), informed mostly by concerns over clean energy usage and ecologically compatible use of coastal resources. Therefore the CZGG potentially provides co-benefits for enhanced ecosystem services, livelihoods and adaptation. Thus, it constitutes a denominator for measuring climatic risks and adaptation to potentially inform the policy-making process towards sustainable coastal zone management practices. Except for the desired goals of CZGG being far reaching and futuristic, they overlapped with goals of the adaptation strategies of the local population, which are similar to development goals. Therefore communicating localized contexts of coastal climatic risks of which sea level rise is seen often as remote to planning, could strengthen risk management in integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) and enhance resilience of vulnerable communities. However, this will require the designation of a body which is accustomed to the local issues to facilitate, harmonize and coordinate multi-sector actions and diverse stakeholders' interests for the CZGG to become a reality in contributing to ICZM in Ghana.


Spatial Overlap Between People and Non-human Primates in a Fragmented Landscape.

Paige, SB; Bleecker, J; Mayer, J; Goldberg, T (2017). ECOHEALTH, 14 (1):88-99; 10.1007/s10393-016-1194-9 MAR 2017

Abstract: In western Uganda , the landscape surrounding Kibale National Park (KNP) contains households, trading centers, roads, fields, and forest fragments. The mosaic arrangement of these landscape features is thought to enhance human-primate interaction, leading to primate population declines and increased bi-directional disease transmission. Using a social-ecological systems research framework that captures the complexity of interaction among people, wildlife, and environment, we studied five forest fragments near KNP and conducted intensive on-the-ground mapping to identify locations of human-primate spatial overlap. Primate locations and human activities were distributed within, on the edges, and far beyond fragment borders. Analysis of shared spaces indicated that 5.5% of human space overlapped with primate spaces, while 69.5% of primate spaces overlapped with human spaces. Nearest neighbour analysis indicated that human activities were significantly spatially clustered within and around individual fragments, as were primate locations. Getis-Ord statistics revealed statistically significant "hotspots'' of human activity and primate activity, but only one location where spatial overlap between humans and primates was statistically significant. Human activities associated with collecting fuelwood and other forest products were the primary drivers of human-primate overlap; however, primates also spent time outside of forest fragments in agricultural spaces. These results demonstrate that fragmented landscapes are not uniform with respect to human-primate overlap, and that the implications of human-primate interaction, such as primate population declines and possible cross-species disease transmission, are spatially aggregated.


Unequal access to land and the current migration crisis.

Obeng-Odoom, F (2017). LAND USE POLICY, 62 159-171; 10.1016/j.landusepol.2016.12.024 MAR 2017

Abstract: How does the crisis of migration relate to unequal access to land? In what ways can unequal access to land help to explain the migration crisis today? And, how does a focus on land differ from and is superior to existing mainstream analyses and hence extend our understanding of the crisis of migration? Based on comments made by Henry George in Social Problems (1883) and a methodology he espoused in The Science of Political Economy (1898), I argue that much of the crisis of migration can be understood as driven or accentuated by the crisis of land, to wit, inequality, poverty, and other social problems arising from unequal access to land. The role of land in the story of migration varies over time and this temporal feature influences the direction or spatial aspect of migration. The argument is not that all forms of migration in all their complexities arise from unequal access to land but that the myriad of social problems and policies driving the mass migration of people cannot be satisfactorily resolved or fully understood without addressing the class-based land question. If so, mere pro-migration policy whether it is of the neoliberal or humanistic hue is not a panacea, especially when the destination settlements have similarly monopolistic land ownership structures. The conservative, nationalist, and nativist stance linked to Garrett Hardin's ideas in the 'tragedy of the commons' (1968) and 'lifeboat ethics: the case against helping the poor' (1974) is worse because erecting borders is another form of monopolising the commons and land and hence is likely to intensify the inequality and social problems that underpin the global migration crisis. Creating equal access to land in both origin and destination settlements, granting social protection to migrants, especially those in work relations, and granting permanent status to migrants, while providing them and locals with excellent public services and enabling them to contribute to the common wealth in the destination settlement would constitute a much better approach to addressing the migration crisis. This Georgist approach, focusing on the class and the resulting social problems engendered by unequal access to land at different scales in the migration process is more holistic, distinct from and superior to the mainstream approach centred on dysfunctional states, the erection of borders, individual self-interest in driving the migration process, the commodification of labour without social protection, and economic growth without structural redistribution.