Spatial pattern of white stork migration in Germany
by Mary Antonette Beroya-Eitner, Lukas Prey, Vadym Sokol Modelling project for the course “Global Change Impacts on Species Distributions” within the study program “Global Change Ecology”
The spatial pattern of migration of white storks is dependent on a number environmental conditions. This study aims to investigate the influence of land cover types and different climatic variables on such pattern for three migration stages (forage, roosting and nesting) based on the migration route data of an individual stork tracked by GPS. Corine land cover map and WorldClim data were used for this purpose. Analyses were mainly done in R. Results show that white storks nest in rural, mainly agricultural areas, but stay in or close to urban areas for roosting and forage during roosting. As regards the influence of the climatic conditions, results reveal that the precipitation of the wettest month is the most important variable for all the different migration stages. Application of different models yields different prediction maps. In general, the generalized additive model (GAM) tends to identify more potential sites while the random forest tends to identify lesser number of potential sites.
Modelling plant species richness of a temperate forest ecosystem in the Bavarian Forest
Global Change Ecology – B7
Scope and Methods: Since its establishment, the National Park Bavarian Forest in south-east Germany aimed at protecting the habitat of a multitude of species from nocuous human influences. Yet, it is still discussed in which manner to foster high species richness through national park management. In other places, ecological conditions have to be analysed prior to the declination of nature protection zones. Depending on site conditions, species richness can differ substantially (Fig. 1). In the following, the influence of a number of ecological parameters on the plant species richness is analysed by using data that was collected along the south- facing slope of the Rachel Mountain. 193 different species were counted in 115 study plots in two concentric hexagons with the outer one having a maximum diameter of 8m (Table 2). For species frequency, species were not double-counted within the study plots. Analysis was done in the program R. For a pre-assessment, the influence of the forest structure was examined using LIDAR-data for 36 of the plots. However, only the mean canopy height was found to be significantly correlated with the species richness on a 10% level, yet with a very low R2 (Fig.2 a). It was hypothesized that plant leaf indices as surrogates for the coverage and content of photosynthetic compounds could correlate with species richness through the putative negative influence of shadowing by high canopy vegetation on the generally species-rich herb and shrub layer. Three indices were included in the model: the NDLI as a lignin index, the LCI as a chlorophyll index and the CRI 550 as a carotenoid index (Gitelson et al., 2002). In the case of the NDLI, it was expected to represent the tree cover which also has a crucial influence on shadowing, nutrient competition and growth factor seasonality. A glm was run using 13 explaining variables for species richness. Furthermore due to lack of data for other variables, a spatial subset was used for predicting the potential species richness based on the plant leaf indices.
Potential habitats of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the western part of central Africa according to prevalent environmental conditions and anthropogenic influence
By Marco Brendel, Wanda Graf, Juliana Kehrer
within the module B5 Global Change Impacts on Species Distributions (Masters Program Global Change Ecology)
Movement paths by terrestrial herbivores came into focus of recent ecological research, as these animals are globally increasingly threatened. For habitat protection and species conservation their spatial behaviour is an essential factor. In course of this research project the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), one of the main objectives in ecological studies about endangered species, is regarded (Bindi et al. 2011, Dolmia et al. 2007, Grant et al. 2007, DeKnegt et al. 2011, Wall et al. 2012). Populations of the Loxodonta africana can especially be found in the western part of central Africa, where it is severely endangered by poachers hunting for ivory, and faced with a steady loss and fragmentation of its habitats. Several recent cases of illegal killing of the elephants especially in the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in Central African Republic show the necessity of expanding its security (Wall et al. 2012). On the basis of their current distribution, potential habitats of elephants in the western part of central Africa have been assessed due to prevalent environmental conditions and anthropogenic influence. Their movement behaviour and habitat preferences are defined by a short distance to roads, as elephants use roads as moving corridors (Douglas-Hamilton et al. 2005). Moreover their habitat use increases with proximity to available water (Harris et al. 2008). Their habitats are determined by a low anthropogenic influence and a high proportion of vegetation (Harris et al. 2008). For the species distribution modelling the algorithms “randomForest”, “tree”, as well as “rpart” were utilized in the programming language R!. In a later step the results might be a basis for indentifying new areas of prospective national parks to ensure the survival of the endangered African elephant.
Future projections of climate warming propose substantial changes especially in high altitude ecosystems such as the Alps. Especially the tree line regions as climatically-determined ecotones are regarded to react sensitively to altered temperature regimes (Gehrig-Fasel et al. 2007). Potential impacts include structural changes of tree composition, a rise of the alpine tree line, and altered species composition mainly due to rising temperatures, but also due to other climatic as well as edaphic and topographic factors (Gehrig-Fasel et al. 2007; Theurillat & Guisan 2001). The project presented here was an attempt to model the current and projected distribution of larch (Larix decidua) in the Alps using the entropy model MaxEnt and the IPCC-SRES emission scenario A1B for the time periods 2040-2050 and 2070-2080. According to recent findings we expect a distinguishable shift in the distribution of larch towards higher altitudes. The aims of the project were therefore to assess potential altitudinal as well as geographical changes in the distribution of larch over time as a response to climatic and topographic variables.
A contribution by the GCE students: Dominik Wiehl, Moses John Duguru, Michaela Deininger
Our study was carried out on the common beech tree (Fagus sylvatica) due to its outstanding importance in central Europe. It is the most abundant tree species in Europe and not only a relevant key species to conservationists but also for foresters. It stands out by its wide distribution and, furthermore, by its crucial role as a carbon sink. Knowledge of the distribution of Fagus Sylvatica is incomplete, but nevertheless quite profound, ranging from complete atlases and several scientific papers to databases. The distribution of this species is scientifically demonstrated to be mostly driven by the climate components precipitation and temperature (Ellenberg 1996). In the face of climate change, it is very likely that there will be a mostly northward shift of higher temperatures and precipitation patterns to higher latitude regions (EPA, 2013). As a consequence, it is also expected that several species which favour warmer temperatures and high precipitation will follow this patterns by migration. We focused on the values of average monthly precipitation of July and January(summer and winter )averages respectively, as well as on average temperatures of these two months. An inspection of the collinearity has proven these environmental variables to be crucial for the occurence of Fagus Sylvatica since they represent annual minimun and maximum values.
This is probably one of the most important questions conservationists have to answer. According to Airame et al. (2003), “marine reserves not only provide a means of establishing sustainable fisheries and long term economic viability, but also contribute to the conservation of habitats and unexploited species, while providing opportunities for marine research and education.” In a nutshell: the aim of such a reserve is to maximize ecological, economic, and cultural benefits and to enhance educational and research opportunities.
The Scimitar-horned Oryx is according to the red list of the IUCN a mammal, which is claimed “extinct in the wild” since 2000. Until the late 1980s at least some animals survived in the wild of Chad and Niger. Originally they lived in habitats across Africa in the semiarid and arid regions of the Sahara desert. This species is nearly extinct due to extensive hunting for its horn and meat. Capturing some of the animals in the mid-1960s secured its survival at least in captivity. Since then some reintroductions to Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia into fenced and protected areas have successfully taken place. Taking into consideration, that it is a migratory browsing species, releasing it to the wild would be necessary to lead it back to natural population.
Reintroducing Scimitar Oryx into its original habitat would not only bring a beautiful highly adapted animal back into wildlife. Furthermore it is an icon for this region and therefore connected with regional pride and emotional importance for local people.
Arusha NP was founded in 1960 as the Ngurdoto Crater NP and in 1967 it was enlarged to the area of Mount Meru. The park is proximate to Arusha town, with a population of 1.694.310, which leads to several land use conflicts and other human impacts the natural environment is exposed to (see City Population, 2012). Current land use belongs to forestry, nature conservation, recreation/tourism and water management. The impacts are wide spread and of high environmental risk due to enclosed agriculture and population growth. An increase in food demand through rising population may lead to an amplification of the spatial pressure. Moreover, the environmental threats are strongly correlated with agriculture because the Mormella Lakes are affected by chemicals of the surrounding farms that are introduced due to high surface run-off (see BirdLife International, 2013).
The EDGE program focuses on the conservation of Evolutionary Distinct & Globally Endangered species. This program uses the approach of raising awareness about the species studying them in the wild and realising long-term conservation. As for the sustainability of the conservation efforts the involvement of local communities is key they play a crucial role in the study implementation phase. The implementation has to provide benefits for the local community and take all stakeholders into consideration. The development of the conservation action plan is based on traditional pathways or ,if necessary, on unusual strategies. In any case local conservation as well as scientific capacities should be built.
A set of R scripts and a guide are being developed as tools for image classification using image segmentation and a random forests classifier. The intent is to provide robust image classification methods that can be used by people with modest remote sensing experience. The guide should be easy to follow. If it’s not please let me know and I’ll try to make improvements by integrating your comments and requests. These methods are still being tested so problems may occur as people apply them to different data sets and for different applications. You can access the scripts and guide on this Bitbucket site: https://bitbucket.org/rsbiodiv/segmentclassification.