Animal Conservation

Cover image for Vol. 19 Issue 3

Early View (Online Version of Record published before inclusion in an issue)

Edited By: Res Altwegg, Darren Evans, John Ewen, Iain Gordon, Jeff A. Johnson, Nathalie Pettorelli and Julie Young

Impact Factor: 2.788

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2015: 10/48 (Biodiversity Conservation); 48/149 (Ecology)

Online ISSN: 1469-1795

Associated Title(s): International Zoo Yearbook, Journal of Zoology, Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation


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  1. Original Articles

    1. Categorizing species by niche characteristics can clarify conservation planning in rapidly-developing landscapes

      A. Gangadharan, S. Vaidyanathan and C. C. St. Clair

      Version of Record online: 11 MAR 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12262

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      By classifying species into surrogate groups defined by their common habitat preferences and response to anthropogenic activity, it is possible to identify multiple conservation priorities in anthropogenic landscapes.

    2. From a conservation trap to a conservation solution: lessons from an intensively managed Montagu's harrier population

      D. Torres-Orozco, B. Arroyo, M. Pomarol and A. Santangeli

      Version of Record online: 8 MAR 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12260

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      Many threatened species in human-dominated systems are managed through conservation programs that have been designed based on intuition or short-term results rather than assessing their long-term biological and economic sustainability. The current conservation program for Montagu's harriers (Circus pygargus) in Lleida (NE Spain) has been flagged as a ‘conservation trap’. In the present work, population viability analyses were used to find a conservation management scenario that decreases the risk of the conservation trap, or at least minimizes the medium-term expenditure on conservation. Alternative management scenarios are presented. The results suggest that selecting a conservation program based only on short-term biological or cost-effective targets might not be the most appropriate, and demonstrate the relevance of having clear medium-term conservation targets.

  2. Reviews

    1. You have free access to this content
      Shark conservation and management policy: a review and primer for non-specialists

      D. S. Shiffman and N. Hammerschlag

      Version of Record online: 3 MAR 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12265

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      There is increasing concern for the conservation of sharks among scientists, environmental conservation advocates, and the interested public, but there is a misunderstanding among policy non-specialists about which conservation and management policies are available, and which might work best for certain situations. Here we present a comprehensive review of fisheries management and conservation literature relating to sharks. Policies are broadly divided into target-based policies that aim for sustainable fisheries of exploitation of species which can withstand it (e.g. fisheries quotas) and limit-based policies that aim to ban all fisheries exploitation of entire taxa (e.g. marine reserves). A thorough list of the pros and cons of each policy is included, as is a decision tree to aid in selection of the most appropriate policy. Our goal is that this paper will allow policy non-specialists, including scientists without policy training, environmental activists, and concerned citizens, to make informed decisions when advocating for shark conservation.

  3. Original Articles

    1. Correlates of wildlife hunting in indigenous communities in the Pastaza province, Ecuadorian Amazonia

      C. Vasco and A. Sirén

      Version of Record online: 3 MAR 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12259

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      By analyzing the socioeconomic drivers of wildlife hunting among indigenous peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazonia, we found that households which have higher shares of off-farm and nonfarm employment tend to harvest smaller amounts of wild meat. A probable explanation to this is that having a permanent and well-paid job implies an increased opportunity cost of time, leading to a decrease in the time spent hunting and, therefore, decreased wildlife harvests.

    2. Experimental habitat restoration for conserved species using ecosystem engineers and vegetation management

      S. McCullough Hennessy, D. H. Deutschman, D. M. Shier, L. A. Nordstrom, C. Lenihan, J.-P. Montagne, C. L. Wisinski and R. R. Swaisgood

      Version of Record online: 1 MAR 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12266

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      We experimentally address the potential for managing ecosystem engineer species to support suites of other species in degraded habitats, which could provide conservation managers with a cost-effective tool for restoring degraded habitats for species of conservation concern, in this case the western burrowing owl Athene cunicularia hypugaea. Using the ecosystem engineer, California ground squirrel Otospermophilus beecheyi, we implemented short-term treatments, including vegetation management and squirrel translocation, to re-establish key ecological processes on protected reserve lands in a replicated, large-scale field experiment. We found significant additive effects of squirrel translocation and vegetation management on the spatial footprint of squirrel activity, and noteworthy and persistent engineering effects were achieved by the end of the 3-year experimental period.

    3. Predicting free-roaming cat population densities in urban areas

      D. T. T. Flockhart, D. R. Norris and J. B. Coe

      Version of Record online: 1 MAR 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12264

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      Free-roaming cats can have a significant impact on the environment, and while substantial resources have been invested to find humane alternatives for managing cat populations, there are no empirical estimates of free-roaming cat population sizes in medium to large cities. We used replicated distance transect sampling and likelihood-based hierarchical modelling to derive an empirical estimate of total population size and present a spatially explicit prediction of free-roaming cat density across an entire city. Our approach used simple geographical information that is readily available for most urban areas in North America and can be applied broadly to inform cat management in urban areas.

    4. Dolphin sociality, distribution and calving as important behavioural patterns informing management

      H. Smith, C. Frère, H. Kobryn and L. Bejder

      Version of Record online: 28 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12263

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      We combined the study of dolphin sociality, distribution and calving to identify important behavioural and ecological patterns to inform management. The density distribution of female dolphins was highest in the inner waters during December–February (austral summer) and March (early autumn), which also coincided in time with the majority of calving. The temporal stability of social bonds between adult females was measured (using lagged association rates) and remained stable over multiple years. A cyclic model best described female–female associations with an annual peak occurring each austral summer (Dec–Jan–Feb). These results informed the implementation of a legislative no-go area and vessel speed restriction areas.

    5. Habitat selection in a reintroduced population: social effects differ between natal and post-release dispersal

      K. M. Richardson and J. G. Ewen

      Version of Record online: 11 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12257

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      We examine social and physical drivers of habitat selection in a reintroduced passerine population. Our findings lead us to suggest (1) that consideration of social effects and conspecific attraction should play a role in planning reintroduction release strategies, especially if reinforcement releases are considered necessary and (2) that it may not always be appropriate to assume post-release dispersal in reintroduced populations will be driven by the same factors that influence natal dispersal.

    6. Drivers' attitudes toward wildlife-vehicle collisions with reptiles and other taxa

      B. A. Crawford and K. M. Andrews

      Version of Record online: 2 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12261

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      By measuring drivers' attitudes toward wildlife-vehicle collisions, we found that people were generally concerned about impacts of this threat to wildlife; however, their concern was not equal across specific taxa. Our results support previous psychosocial findings regarding negative attitudes toward snakes but additionally demonstrate that these attitudes can remain alongside positive attitudes toward other taxa, such as mammals and turtles. These findings can inform our ability to predict the frequency of wildlife-vehicle collisions and tailor conservation messages toward taxa when negative attitudes exist.

    7. Use of biodegradable driftnets to prevent ghost fishing: physical properties and fishing performance for yellow croaker

      S. Kim, P. Kim, J. Lim, H. An and P. Suuronen

      Version of Record online: 1 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12256

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      When synthetic non-biodegradable fishing nets are lost, abandoned or discarded at sea, they may continue to catch fish and other animals for a long period of time. This phenomenon is known as ‘ghost fishing’. Biodegradable fishing nets, on the other hand, are intended to degrade or decompose after a certain period of time under water and thereby lose their ghost fishing capacity more quickly than conventional gear. A biodegradable net material, a blend of 82% polybutylene succinate (PBS) and 18% polybutylene adipate-co-terephthalate (PBAT), was developed. We examined the physical properties and degradability of the biodegradable monofilament, and compared the fishing performance of driftnets made of conventional nylon and of the biodegradable material. The fishing performance showed that similar catches of yellow croaker were caught with both types of fishing net. We conclude that biodegradable netting may become a feasible alternative to conventional nylon netting and can contribute to reducing ghost fishing.

    8. Birding trip reports as a data source for monitoring rare species

      C. Camacho

      Version of Record online: 26 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12258

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      Field data on rare species are typically limited. Thus, looking for new data sources to monitor rare species is needed. This study highlights the potential of birding trip reports as an underappreciated source of retrospective data on rare species that would otherwise be impossible to collect. Fortunately, sightings of sought-after species are increasingly posted online as a form of tourist attraction and so made publicly accessible for researchers and managers. Looking forward, this paper describes several ways to address potential biases due to varying sampling effort or detectability.

    9. In the search of good biodiversity surrogates: are raptors poor indicators in the Baja California Peninsula desert?

      C. G. Estrada and R. Rodríguez-Estrella

      Version of Record online: 22 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12252

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      Raptors have been proposed and used as biodiversity surrogates. We evaluated the effect of spatial and environmental variability on the degree of assemblage concordance between raptors, as the surrogate group, and vascular plants, reptiles, birds and mammals, as target groups in Baja California peninsula. We found raptors to be poor biodiversity surrogates in the desert ecosystem. (Photo credit: Victor H. Luja).

    10. Vulnerability to climate warming of four genera of New World iguanians based on their thermal ecology

      C. Piantoni, C. A. Navas and N. R. Ibargüengoytía

      Version of Record online: 12 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12255

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      A rigorous analysis of the thermal biology of four genera of the New World iguanians suggests a general pattern of vulnerability to global warming. While thermoregulatory behavior typically increases with latitude and altitude, tropical and lowland lizards generally behave as thermoconformers. In a warming scenario, thermoconformity or poor thermoregulation in environments where body and operative temperatures exceed the population's preferenda will cause a reduction in the hours of activity and a higher risk of overheating. Thus, tropical populations, especially the ones inhabiting tropical open and low elevation sites, are at greater risk. Furthermore, these species occupy the least protected areas, which stresses the urgent need of mitigation measures as increase in conservation units to protect their underestimated biodiversity. In contrast, Patagonia and montane environments represent potential future thermal refuges for many equator-ward or lowland lizards capable of dispersion.

    11. Evaluation of alternative management strategies for maintenance of genetic variation in wildlife populations

      R. M. Giglio, J. A. Ivy, L. C. Jones and E. K. Latch

      Version of Record online: 11 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12254

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      For species like bison Bison bison, where management includes regular removal of individuals to maintain restricted population sizes on constrained landscapes, management actions can be tailored to address genetic diversity retention. Using an individual-based modeling approach, we provide an assessment of alternative culling strategies for maintenance of genetic variation in intensively managed wildlife populations. We found that a strategy that uses mean kinship to guide culling decisions maximized retention of genome-wide variation, outperforming strategies based on demographic criteria or variation at a suite of genetic loci.

    12. Lifelong and carry-over effects of early captive exposure in a recovery program for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)

      C. N. Clarke, D. J. Fraser and C. F. Purchase

      Version of Record online: 8 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12251

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      Over the life cycle of endangered Atlantic salmon, we measured the effects on wild fitness resulting from two widely applied captive rearing strategies in a conservation program that releases juveniles before the onset of feeding (reduced exposure) or after 5 months of captive feeding (extended exposure). Fish were released into the wild and monitored 1–3 years later as seaward migrating juveniles. A sample of migrating fish from both rearing strategies was held captive in the ocean until mature, and artificially bred to monitor offspring viability. Extended early captive exposure resulted in smaller size-at-stage throughout life, less wild exposure at maturation, shorter generation time and smaller, less viable offspring in the next generation. Our results demonstrate how brief alterations in captive exposure generate long-term effects on fitness and life history traits and hence provide insight into the effective recovery strategy design.

    13. You have full text access to this OnlineOpen article
      High genetic variability of vagrant polar bears illustrates importance of population connectivity in fragmented sea ice habitats

      V. E. Kutschera, C. Frosch, A. Janke, K. Skírnisson, T. Bidon, N. Lecomte, S. R. Fain, H. G. Eiken, S. B. Hagen, U. Arnason, K. L. Laidre, C. Nowak and F. Hailer

      Version of Record online: 7 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12250

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      Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections of climate change suggest a reduction of suitable polar bear sea ice habitat by the late 21st century, but the population genetic implications of this have not been addressed, and current management plans implicitly rely on high gene flow levels. Here we compare genetic variability (mtDNA, Y-chromosomal and autosomal markers) of four vagrant polar bears that reached Iceland with that in recognized subpopulations, and find that already few vagrant individuals represent a substantial portion of the species' gene pool. Based on demographic simulations, we show that long-distance dispersers will be important for maintaining genetic variability, necessitating management that promotes population connectivity.(© Hansruedi Weyrich,

    14. Evaluating the probability of avoiding disease-related extinctions of Panamanian amphibians through captive breeding programs

      B. Gratwicke, H. Ross, A. Batista, G. Chaves, A. J. Crawford, L. Elizondo, A. Estrada, M. Evans, D. Garelle, J. Guerrel, A. Hertz, M. Hughey, C. A. Jaramillo, B. Klocke, M. Mandica, D. Medina, C. L. Richards-Zawacki, M. J. Ryan, A. Sosa-Bartuano, J. Voyles, B. Walker, D. C. Woodhams and R. Ibáñez

      Version of Record online: 4 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12249

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      We surveyed amphibian experts to determine the probability of avoiding chytridiomycosis-related extinctions of Panamanian species using captive breeding programs. We found that the following species already represented in captive collections had the highest chances of avoiding extinction: Atelopus zeteki (top left), A. varius (top middle), A. limosus (top right), A. certus (second row left), A. glyphus (second row right), Agalychnis lemur, (third row left) Hemiphractus fasciatus (third row right), Gastrotheca cornuta (bottom left) and Anotheca spinosa (bottom right). Other species that experts predicted were highly susceptible to chytridiomycosis that might also benefit from ex situ management include Craugastor tabasarae, C. azueroensis, C. evanesco, Strabomantis bufoniformis and Colostethus panamansis.

    15. Consequences of individual removal on persistence of a protected population of long-lived turtles

      C. K. Dodd, V. Rolland and M. K. Oli

      Version of Record online: 4 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/acv.12253

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      We used a dataset based on a 16-year mark-recapture study of a Florida box turtle population inhabiting an isolated island to model the effects of rare and chronic removal of individuals from the population. Even this large increasing population could only sustain a small annual loss, but if the population was stable or declining, extirpation would occur rapidly within a few decades. Long-lived turtles, such as this species, are particularly vulnerable to both chronic and rare episodic disturbances.


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