Profound and pervasive degradation of Madagascar's freshwater wetlands and links with biodiversity.
ABSTRACT: Reflecting a global trend, freshwater wetlands in Madagascar have received little conservation or research attention. Madagascar is a global conservation priority due to its high level of species endemism but most work has focused on protecting forests. For the first time, we investigated the state of wetlands across the country to determine the effects of human disturbance. We conducted a rapid survey of 37 wetlands, using waterbirds and benthic invertebrates as ecological indicators. We recorded nine variables relating to human disturbance, revealing widespread wetland destruction. Principal Components Analysis reduced the nine variables to a single Principal Component (PC) that explained 50% of the dataset variance, demonstrating that different forms of human disturbance are ubiquitous and inseparable. The disturbance PC provides an index of how pristine a lake is and in Generalized Linear Models (GLMs) was significantly inversely related to the number of waterbird species present and the density of Chironomidae. The disturbance PC was estimated for every wetland in a GIS-derived dataset of wetland locations in Madagascar, giving a country-wide frequency distribution of disturbance. To validate the estimated PC values, we used the GLMs to predict the number of endemic bird species at an independent sample of 22 lakes. The predicted values correlated with the observed number of species, demonstrating that our procedure can identify lakes with high biodiversity value. The disturbance PC provides a convenient method for ranking sites, and a country-wide ranking demonstrates that the only near-pristine lakes in Madagascar are small sites that have been preserved by remoteness from human activity and not conservation management. The strategy of conserving high biodiversity remnants is insufficient because existing remnants suffer some degree of degradation and only support small populations of threatened species. Large-scale restoration of degraded wetlands is required for the long-term conservation of Madagascar's freshwater biodiversity.
Project description:Identifying the factors that determine the spatial distribution of biodiversity is a major focus of ecological research. These factors vary with scale from interspecific interactions to global climatic cycles. Wetlands are important biodiversity hotspots and contributors of ecosystem services, but the association between proportional wetland cover and species richness has shown mixed results. It is not well known as to what extent there is a relationship between proportional wetland cover and species richness, especially at the sub-continental scale. We used the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) to model wetland cover for the conterminous United States and the National Land Cover Database to estimate wetland change between 2001 and 2011. We used a Bayesian spatial Poisson model to estimate a spatially varying coefficient surface describing the effect of proportional wetland cover on the distribution of amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles and the cumulative distribution of terrestrial endemic species. Species richness and wetland cover were significantly correlated, and this relationship varied both spatially and by taxonomic group. Rather than a continental-scale association, however, we found that this relationship changed more closely among ecoregions. The species richness of each of the five groups was positively associated with wetland cover in some or all of the Great Plains; additionally, a positive association was found for mammals in the Southeastern Plains and Piedmont of the eastern U.S. Model results indicated negative association especially in the Cold Deserts and Northern Lakes & Forests of Minnesota and Wisconsin, though these varied greatly between groups. Our results highlight the need for wetland conservation initiatives that focus efforts at the level II and III ecoregional scale rather than along political boundaries.
Project description:Dryland rivers have considerable flow variability, producing complex ecosystems, processes, and communities of organisms that vary over space and time. They are also among the more vulnerable of the world's ecosystems. A key strategy for conservation of dryland rivers is identifying and maintaining key sites for biodiversity conservation, particularly protecting the quantity and quality of flow and flooding regimes. Extreme variability considerably challenges freshwater conservation planning. We systematically prioritised wetlands for waterbirds (simultaneously for 52 species), across about 13.5% of the Murray-Darling Basin (1,061,469 km2), using a 30-year record of systematic aerial surveys of waterbird populations. Nine key wetlands in this area, primarily lakes, floodplains, and swamps, consistently contributed to a representation target (80%) of total abundances of all 52 waterbird species. The long temporal span of our data included dramatic availability (i.e., booms) and scarcity (i.e., busts) of water, providing a unique opportunity to test prioritisation at extremes of variation. These extremes represented periods when waterbirds were breeding or concentrating on refugia, varying wetland prioritisation. In dry years, important wetlands for waterbirds were riverine and lacustrine (12 wetlands) but this changed in wet years to lacustrine and palustrine (8 wetlands). Such variation in ecosystem condition substantially changes the relative importance of individual wetlands for waterbirds during boom and bust phases. Incorporating this variability is necessary for effective conservation of Murray-Darling Basin waterbirds, with considerable generality for other similarly variable systems around the world.
Project description:The degradation of natural wetlands has significant effects on the ecosystem services they provide and the biodiversity they sustain. Under certain conditions, these negative effects can be mitigated by the presence of artificial wetlands. However, the conservation value of artificial wetlands needs to be explored further. In addition, it is unclear how certain anthropogenic variables, such as road networks and hunting reserves (i.e., areas where hunting of birds is prohibited) affect biodiversity in both artificial and natural wetlands. Here, we use data from thirteen artificial and six natural wetlands in Cyprus, to assess their similarities in bird species diversity and composition, and to quantify the relationship between species diversity and the density of road networks, hunting reserves, wetland size, and wetland depth. We found that while on average natural wetlands have more species and support higher abundances, certain artificial wetlands have the potential to support similarly diverse communities. Overall, regardless of the type, larger wetlands, with shallower waters tend to be more biodiverse. The same is true for wetlands surrounded by a higher percentage of hunting reserves and a lower density of road networks, albeit the effect of road networks was weaker. We conclude, from our results, that although the conservation value of natural wetlands is higher, artificial wetlands have the potential to play a complimentary role in the conservation of bird communities, assuming those wetlands have the right characteristics (e.g., in terms of size and depth) and assuming that the disturbances resulting from high-impact human-activities (e.g., hunting) are minimized.
Project description:Wetlands are the most productive ecosystem and provide wide arrays of wetland ecosystems (goods and services) to the local communities in particular and global communities in general. However, management of the wetland often does not remain priority and recognized as the unproductive waste land mainly due to poor realization of the economic value of the wetlands. Taking this into account, the study estimated the total economic value of the Jagadishpur Reservoir taking into account direct, indirect, and nonuse value. The study prioritized six major values of the reservoir which include wetland goods consumption, tourism, irrigation, carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, and conservation for future use (existence and option value). The study used market and nonmarket based valuation techniques to estimate total economic value of the reservoir. Household survey, focus group discussions, and interaction with the tourism entrepreneurs and district stakeholders were carried out to collect information. The study estimated the total annual economic value of the reservoir as NRs 94.5 million, where option/existence value remains main contributor followed by direct use value such as wetland goods and tourism and indirect use value, for example, carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, and irrigation. The study reveals that the local communities gave high importance to the future use value and are willing to make investment for conservation and restoration of reservoir given its conservation significance.
Project description:Accelerated degradation of the wetlands and fragmentation of surrounding vegetation in the Andean-Orinoco Piedmont are the main threats to diversity and ecological integrity of these ecosystems; however, information on this topic is of limited availability. In this region, we evaluated the value of 37 lentic wetlands as reservoirs of woody and aquatic plants and analyzed diversity and changes in species composition within and among groups defined according to management given by: (1) type (swamps, heronries, rice fields, semi-natural lakes, constructed lakes and fish farms) and (2) origins (natural, mixed and artificial). A total of 506 plant species were recorded: 80% woody and 20% aquatic. Of these, 411 species (81%) were considered species typical of the area (Meta Piedmont distribution). Diversity patterns seem to be driven by high landscape heterogeneity and wetland management. The fish farms presented the highest diversity of woody plants, while swamps ranked highest for aquatic plant diversity. Regarding wetland origin, the artificial systems were the most diverse, but natural wetlands presented the highest diversity of typical species and can therefore be considered representative ecosystems at the regional scale. Our results suggest that lentic wetlands act as refuges for native vegetation of Meta Piedmont forest, hosting 55% of the woody of Piedmont species and 29% of the aquatic species of Orinoco basin. The wetlands showed a high species turnover and the results indicated that small wetlands (mean ± SD: size = 11 ± 18.7 ha), with a small area of surrounding forest (10 ± 8.6 ha) supported high local and regional plant diversity. To ensure long-term conservation of lentic wetlands, it is necessary to develop management and conservation strategies that take both natural and created wetlands into account.
Project description:Shoreline erosion can transition freshwater coastal wetlands from carbon sinks to carbon sources. No studies have explored the impacts of coastal geomorphic processes on freshwater wetland carbon budgets. To do so, we modified a saltmarsh carbon budget model for application in freshwater coastal wetlands. We validated the model with data from a shoreline wetland in the Laurentian Great Lakes. The model generates the carbon budget by differencing carbon export and carbon storage. The inputs for carbon storage are the carbon inventory and maximum wetland age. Inputs for carbon export include erosion rates and overwash extent. The model demonstrates that the wetland examined in this study transitioned to a source of carbon during periods of erosion. In fact, the net carbon export between 2015 and 2018 was 10% of the wetland's original carbon stock. This study indicates that geomorphic change can dictate whether and how freshwater coastal wetlands serve as sources or sinks for terrestrial carbon, and that carbon stocks can fluctuate on a geologically rapid timescale. We recommend that such geomorphic processes be considered when developing carbon budgets for these marginal environments. Furthermore, the carbon budget model refined in this study can be used to prioritize wetlands in land management and conservation efforts.
Project description:Rapid urbanisation has led to major landscape alterations, affecting aquatic ecosystems' hydrological and biogeochemical cycles, and biodiversity. Thus, habitat alteration is considered a major driver of aquatic biodiversity loss and related aquatic ecosystem goods and services. This study aimed to investigate and compare aquatic macroinvertebrate richness, diversity and community structure between urban temporary wetlands, located within protected and un-protected areas. The latter were found within an open public space or park with no protection or conservation status, whereas the former were inaccessible to the public and had formal protected, conservation status. We hypothesised that; (1) protected urban wetlands will harbour higher aquatic macroinvertebrate biodiversity (both dry and wet) as compared to un-protected urban wetlands, and (2) that the community composition between the two urban wetlands types will be significantly different. Contrary to our hypothesis, our results revealed no major differences between protected and un-protected urban wetlands, based on the measures investigated (i.e. taxon richness, Shannon-Weiner diversity, Pielou's evenness and community composition) during the dry and wet phase. The only exception was community composition, which revealed significant differences between these urban wetland types. These results suggest that human activities (potential littering and polluting) in the un-protected urban wetlands have not yet resulted in drastic change in macroinvertebrate richness and composition, at least from the dry phase. This suggests a potential for un-protected urban wetlands suffering from minimal human impact to act as important reservoirs of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Project description:Migrating waterbirds moving between upper and lower latitudinal breeding and wintering grounds rely on a limited network of endorheic lakes and wetlands when crossing arid continental interiors. Recent drying of global endorheic water stores raises concerns over deteriorating migratory pathways, yet few studies have considered these effects at the scale of continental flyways. Here, we investigate the resiliency of waterbird migration networks across western North America by reconstructing long-term patterns (1984-2018) of terminal lake and wetland surface water area in 26 endorheic watersheds. Findings were partitioned regionally by snowmelt- and monsoon-driven hydrologies and combined with climate and human water-use data to determine their importance in predicting surface water trends. Nonlinear patterns of lake and wetland drying were apparent along latitudinal flyway gradients. Pervasive surface water declines were prevalent in northern snowmelt watersheds (lakes -27%, wetlands -47%) while largely stable in monsoonal watersheds to the south (lakes -13%, wetlands +8%). Monsoonal watersheds represented a smaller proportion of total lake and wetland area, but their distribution and frequency of change within highly arid regions of the continental flyway increased their value to migratory waterbirds. Irrigated agriculture and increasing evaporative demands were the most important drivers of surface water declines. Underlying agricultural and wetland relationships however were more complex. Approximately 7% of irrigated lands linked to flood irrigation and water storage practices supported 61% of all wetland inundation in snowmelt watersheds. In monsoonal watersheds, small earthen dams, meant to capture surface runoff for livestock watering, were a major component of wetland resources (67%) that supported networks of isolated wetlands surrounding endorheic lakes. Ecological trends and human impacts identified herein underscore the importance of assessing flyway-scale change as our model depictions likely reflect new and emerging bottlenecks to continental migration.
Project description:Wetlands play important ecological, economic, and cultural roles in societies around the world. However, wetland degradation has become a serious ecological issue, raising the global sustainability concern. An accurate wetland map is essential for wetland management. Here we used a fuzzy method to create a hybrid wetland map for China through the combination of five existing wetlands datasets, including four spatially explicit wetland distribution data and one wetland census. Our results show the total wetland area is 384,864 km(2), 4.08% of China's national surface area. The hybrid wetland map also shows spatial distribution of wetlands with a spatial resolution of 1 km. The reliability of the map is demonstrated by comparing it with spatially explicit datasets on lakes and reservoirs. The hybrid wetland map is by far the first wetland mapping that is consistent with the statistical data at the national and provincial levels in China. It provides a benchmark map for research on wetland protection and management. The method presented here is applicable for not only wetland mapping but also for other thematic mapping in China and beyond.
Project description:In West Virginia, USA, there are 24 conservation easement program wetlands enrolled in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). These wetlands are located on private agricultural land and are passively managed. Due to their location within fragmented agricultural areas, wetlands enrolled in ACEP in West Virginia have the potential to add wetland ecosystem services in areas that are lacking these features. We evaluated ACEP wetlands compared to reference wetlands on public land in West Virginia by using surrounding land cover, vegetative cover, and wetland features and stressors such as the presence or absence of erosion, upland inclusion, algal mats, and evidence of impacts from the surrounding landscape as surrogate measurements of wetland function on 13 ACEP wetlands and 10 reference wetlands. ACEP wetlands had higher percentages of tree coverage and a higher proportion of agricultural land in the areas immediately surrounding the wetland. Reference wetlands had higher percent coverage of emergent vegetation and had a higher proportion of forest in the immediate landscape. Our findings suggest that ACEP wetlands provide valuable early successional and forested wetland cover in a state that is largely forested. Because of this, it is important to maintain and even expand ACEP in West Virginia to continue providing a valuable source of early successional wetland habitat.