Many drivers of mangrove forest loss operate over large scales and are most effectively addressed by policy interventions. However, conflicting or unclear policy objectives exist at multiple tiers of government, resulting in contradictory management decisions. To address this, we considered four approaches that are being used increasingly or could be deployed in Southeast Asia to ensure sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity conservation. First, a stronger incorporation of mangroves into marine protected areas (that currently focus largely on reefs and fisheries) could resolve some policy conflicts and ensure that mangroves do not fall through a policy gap. Second, examples of community and government comanagement exist, but achieving comanagement at scale will be important in reconciling stakeholders and addressing conflicting policy objectives. Third, private-sector initiatives could protect mangroves through existing and novel mechanisms in degraded areas and areas under future threat. Finally, payments for ecosystem services (PES) hold great promise for mangrove conservation, with carbon PES schemes (known as blue carbon) attracting attention. Although barriers remain to the implementation of PES, the potential to implement them at multiple scales exists. Closing the gap between mangrove conservation policies and action is crucial to the improved protection and management of this imperiled coastal ecosystem and to the livelihoods that depend on them.
Over the past 50 years, Tropical East Asia has lost more biodiversity than any tropical region. Tropical East Asia is a megadiverse region with an acute taxonomic impediment. DNA barcodes are short standardized DNA sequences used for taxonomic purposes and have the potential to lessen the challenges of biodiversity inventory and assessments in regions where they are most needed. We reviewed DNA barcoding efforts in Tropical East Asia relative to other tropical regions. We suggest DNA barcodes (or metabarcodes from next-generation sequencers) may be especially useful for characterizing and connecting species-level biodiversity units in inventories encompassing taxa lacking formal description (particularly arthropods) and in large-scale, minimal-impact approaches to vertebrate monitoring and population assessments through secondary sources of DNA (invertebrate derived DNA and environmental DNA). We suggest interest and capacity for DNA barcoding are slowly growing in Tropical East Asia, particularly among the younger generation of researchers who can connect with the barcoding analogy and understand the need for new approaches to the conservation challenges being faced.
Southeast Asia is a biodiversity hotspot where the risk of extinction for many vertebrates is high (Duckworth et al. 2012) due to the loss and degradation of habitats resulting from burgeoning human populations and economies, expansion of agricultural development, and unsustainable harvest of wildlife and other natural resources (Sodhi et al. 2010). Important conservation challenges in the region, especially in the terrestrial and coastal realms, include reducing the loss and degradation of native vegetation and reducing the risk of species' extinction and extirpation. This will involve mitigating impacts of land-use change, reducing human-wildlife conflicts, improving management of protected areas, resolving land-tenure conflicts, increasing community engagement in in resource conservation, and ultimately developing proconservation behaviors in Asian societies as a whole. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
We examined the links between the science and policy of habitat corridors to better understand how corridors can be implemented effectively. As a case study, we focused on a suite of landscape-scale connectivity plans in tropical and subtropical Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, and Bhutan). The process of corridor designation may be more efficient if the scientific determination of optimal corridor locations and arrangement is synchronized in time with political buy-in and establishment of policies to create corridors. Land tenure and the intactness of existing habitat in the region are also important to consider because optimal connectivity strategies may be very different if there are few, versus many, political jurisdictions (including commercial and traditional land tenures) and intact versus degraded habitat between patches. Novel financing mechanisms for corridors include bed taxes, payments for ecosystem services, and strategic forest certifications. Gaps in knowledge of effective corridor design include an understanding of how corridors, particularly those managed by local communities, can be protected from degradation and unsustainable hunting. There is a critical need for quantitative, data-driven models that can be used to prioritize potential corridors or multicorridor networks based on their relative contributions to long-term metacommunity persistence.
Humans influence tropical rainforest animals directly via exploitation and indirectly via habitat disturbance. Bushmeat hunting and logging occur extensively in tropical forests and have large effects on particular species. But how they alter animal diversity across landscape scales and whether their impacts are correlated across species remain less known. We used spatially widespread measurements of mammal occurrence across Malaysian Borneo and recently developed multispecies hierarchical models to assess the species richness of medium- to large-bodied terrestrial mammals while accounting for imperfect detection of all species. Hunting was associated with 31% lower species richness. Moreover, hunting remained high even where richness was very low, highlighting that hunting pressure persisted even in chronically overhunted areas. Newly logged sites had 11% lower species richness than unlogged sites, but sites logged >10 years previously had richness levels similar to those in old-growth forest. Hunting was a more serious long-term threat than logging for 91% of primate and ungulate species. Hunting and logging impacts across species were not correlated across taxa. Negative impacts of hunting were the greatest for common mammalian species, but commonness versus rarity was not related to species-specific impacts of logging. Direct human impacts appeared highly persistent and lead to defaunation of certain areas. These impacts were particularly severe for species of ecological importance as seed dispersers and herbivores. Indirect impacts were also strong but appeared to attenuate more rapidly than previously thought. The lack of correlation between direct and indirect impacts across species highlights that multifaceted conservation strategies may be needed for mammal conservation in tropical rainforests, Earth's most biodiverse ecosystems.
Habitat corridors are important tools for maintaining connectivity in increasingly fragmented landscapes, but generally they have been considered in single-species approaches. Corridors intended to facilitate the movement of multiple species could increase persistence of entire communities, but at the likely cost of being less efficient for any given species than a corridor intended specifically for that species. There have been few tests of the trade-offs between single- and multispecies corridor approaches. We assessed single-species and multispecies habitat corridors for 5 threatened mammal species in tropical forests of Borneo. We generated maps of the cost of movement across the landscape for each species based on the species' local abundance as estimated through hierarchical modeling of camera-trap data with biophysical and anthropogenic covariates. Elevation influenced local abundance of banded civets (Hemigalus derbyanus) and sun bears (Helarctos malayanus). Increased road density was associated with lower local abundance of Sunda clouded leopards (Neofelis diardi) and higher local abundance of sambar deer (Rusa unicolor). Pig-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina) local abundance was lower in recently logged areas. An all-species-combined connectivity scenario with least-cost paths and 1 km buffers generated total movement costs that were 27% and 23% higher for banded civets and clouded leopards, respectively, than the connectivity scenarios for those species individually. A carnivore multispecies connectivity scenario, however, increased movement cost by 2% for banded civets and clouded leopards. Likewise, an herbivore multispecies scenario provided more effective connectivity than the all-species-combined scenario for sambar and macaques. We suggest that multispecies habitat connectivity plans be tailored to groups of ecologically similar, disturbance-sensitive species to maximize their effectiveness.
Agriculturally altered vegetation, especially oil-palm plantations, is rapidly increasing in Southeast Asia. Low species diversity is associated with this commodity, but data on anuran diversity in oil-palm plantations are lacking. We investigated how anuran biological diversity differs between forest and oil-palm plantation, and whether observed differences in biological diversity of these areas is linked to specific environmental factors. We hypothesized that biological diversity is lower in plantations and that plantations support a larger proportion of disturbance-tolerant species than forest. We compared species richness, abundance, and community composition between plantation and forest areas and between site types within plantation and forest (forest stream vs. plantation stream, forest riparian vs. plantation riparian, forest terrestrial vs. plantation terrestrial). Not all measures of biological diversity differed between oil-palm plantations and secondary forest sites. Anuran community composition, however, differed greatly between forest and plantation, and communities of anurans in plantations contained species that prosper in disturbed areas. Although plantations supported large numbers of breeding anurans, we concluded the community consisted of common species that were of little conservation concern (commonly found species include Fejervarya limnocharis, Microhyla heymonsi, and Hylarana erythrea). We believe that with a number of management interventions, oil-palm plantations can provide habitat for species that dwell in secondary forests.
There are few empirical data, particularly collected simultaneously from multiple sites, on extinctions resulting from human-driven land-use change. Southeast Asia has the highest deforestation rate in the world, but the resulting losses of biological diversity remain poorly documented. Between November 2006 and March 2008, we conducted bird surveys on six landbridge islands in Malaysia and Indonesia. These islands were surveyed previously for birds in the early 1900 s, when they were extensively forested. Our bird inventories of the islands were nearly complete, as indicated by sampling saturation curves and nonparametric true richness estimators. From zero (Pulau Malawali and Pulau Mantanani) to 15 (Pulau Bintan) diurnal resident landbird species were apparently extirpated since the early 1900 s. Adding comparable but published extinction data from Singapore to our regression analyses, we found there were proportionally fewer forest bird extinctions in areas with greater remaining forest cover. Nevertheless, the statistical evidence to support this relationship was weak, owing to our unavoidably small sample size. Bird species that are restricted to the Indomalayan region, lay few eggs, are heavier, and occupy a narrower habitat breadth, were most vulnerable to extinction on Pulau Bintan. This was the only island where sufficient data existed to analyze the correlates of extinction. Forest preservation and restoration are needed on these islands to conserve the remaining forest avifauna. Our study of landbridge islands indicates that deforestation may increasingly threaten Southeast Asian biodiversity.
The recent advent of carbon crediting has led to a rapid rise in biosequestration projects that seek to remove carbon from the atmosphere through afforestation and forest rehabilitation. Such projects also present an important potential opportunity to reverse biodiversity losses resulting from deforestation and forest degradation, but the biodiversity benefits of different forms of biosequestration have not been considered adequately. We captured birds in mist nets to examine the effects of rehabilitation of logged forest on birds in Sabah, Borneo, and to test the hypothesis that rehabilitation restores avian assemblages within regenerating forest to a condition closer to that seen in unlogged forest. Species richness and diversity were similar in unlogged and rehabilitated forest, but significantly lower in naturally regenerating forest. Rehabilitation resulted in a relatively rapid recovery of populations of insectivores within logged forest, especially those species that forage by sallying, but had a marked adverse effect on frugivores and possibly reduced the overall abundance of birds within regenerating forest. In view of these results, we advocate increased management for heterogeneity within rehabilitated forests, but we strongly urge an increased role for forest rehabilitation in the design and implementation of a biodiversity-friendly carbon-offsetting market.
Large, intact areas of tropical peatland are highly threatened at a global scale by the expansion of commercial agriculture and other forms of economic development. Conserving peatlands on a landscape scale, with their hydrology intact, is of international conservation importance to preserve their distinctive biodiversity and ecosystem services and maintain their resilience to future environmental change. We explored threats to and opportunities for conserving remaining intact tropical peatlands; thus, we excluded peatlands of Indonesia and Malaysia, where extensive deforestation, drainage, and conversion to plantations means conservation in this region can protect only small fragments of the original ecosystem. We focused on a case study, the Pastaza-Marañón Foreland Basin (PMFB) in Peru, which is among the largest known intact tropical peatland landscapes in the world and is representative of peatland vulnerability. Maintenance of the hydrological conditions critical for carbon storage and ecosystem function of peatlands is, in the PMFB, primarily threatened by expansion of commercial agriculture linked to new transport infrastructure that is facilitating access to remote areas. There remain opportunities in the PMFB and elsewhere to develop alternative, more sustainable land-use practices. Although some of the peatlands in the PMFB fall within existing legally protected areas, this protection does not include the most carbon-dense (domed pole forest) areas. New carbon-based conservation instruments (e.g., REDD+, Green Climate Fund), developing markets for sustainable peatland products, transferring land title to local communities, and expanding protected areas offer pathways to increased protection for intact tropical peatlands in Amazonia and elsewhere, such as those in New Guinea and Central Africa which remain, for the moment, broadly beyond the frontier of commercial development.
The commercial captive breeding of wildlife is often seen as a potential conservation tool to relieve pressure on wild populations, but laundering of wild-sourced specimens as captive bred can seriously undermine conservation efforts and provide a false sense of sustainability. Indonesia is at the center of such controversy; therefore, we examined Indonesia's captive-breeding production plan (CBPP) for 2016. We compared the biological parameters used in the CBPP with parameters in the literature and with parameters suggested by experts on each species and identified shortcomings of the CBPP. Production quotas for 99 out of 129 species were based on inaccurate or unrealistic biological parameters and production quotas deviated more than 10% from what parameters in the literature allow for. For 38 species, the quota exceeded the number of animals that can be bred based on the biological parameters (range 100-540%) calculated with equations in the CBPP. We calculated a lower reproductive output for 88 species based on published biological parameters compared with the parameters used in the CBPP. The equations used in the production plan did not appear to account for other factors (e.g., different survival rate for juveniles compared to adult animals) involved in breeding the proposed large numbers of specimens. We recommend the CBPP be adjusted so that realistic published biological parameters are applied and captive-breeding quotas are not allocated to species if their captive breeding is unlikely to be successful or no breeding stock is available. The shortcomings in the current CBPP create loopholes that mean mammals, reptiles, and amphibians from Indonesia declared captive bred may have been sourced from the wild.
Over half of globally threatened animal species have experienced rapid geographic range loss. Identifying the parts of species' distributions most vulnerable to local extinction would benefit conservation planning. However, previous studies give little consensus on whether ranges decline to the core or edge. We built on previous work by using empirical data to examine the position of recent local extinctions within species' geographic ranges, address range position as a continuum, and explore the influence of environmental factors. We aggregated point-locality data for 125 Galliform species from across the Palearctic and Indo-Malaya into equal-area half-degree grid cells and used a multispecies dynamic Bayesian occupancy model to estimate rates of local extinctions. Our model provides a novel approach to identify loss of populations from within species ranges. We investigated the relationship between extinction rates and distance from range edge by examining whether patterns were consistent across biogeographic realm and different categories of land use. In the Palearctic, local extinctions occurred closer to the range edge than range core in both unconverted and human-dominated landscapes. In Indo-Malaya, no pattern was found for unconverted landscapes, but in human-dominated landscapes extinctions tended to occur closer to the core than the edge. Our results suggest that local and regional factors override general spatial patterns of recent local extinction within species' ranges and highlight the difficulty of predicting the parts of a species' distribution most vulnerable to threat.
As a landscape becomes increasingly fragmented through habitat loss, the individual patches become smaller and more isolated and thus less likely to sustain a local population. Metapopulation theory is appropriate for analyzing fragmented landscapes because it combines empirical landscape features with species-specific information to produce direct information on population extinction risks. This approach contrasts with descriptions of habitat fragments, which provide only indirect information on risk. Combining a spatially explicit metapopulation model with empirical data on endemic species' ranges and maps of habitat cover, we calculated the metapopulation capacity-a measure of a landscape's ability to sustain a metapopulation. Mangroves provide an ideal model landscape because they are of conservation concern and their patch boundaries are easily delineated. For 2000-20015, we calculated global metapopulation capacity for 99 metapopulations of 32 different bird species endemic to mangroves. Northern Australia and Southeast Asia had the highest richness of mangrove endemic birds. The Caribbean, Pacific coast of Central America, Madagascar, Borneo, and isolated patches in Southeast Asia in Myanmar and Malaysia had the highest metapopulation losses. Regions with the highest loss of habitat area were not necessarily those with the highest loss of metapopulation capacity. Often, it was not a matter of how much, but how the habitat was lost. Our method can be used by managers to evaluate and prioritize a landscape for metapopulation persistence.