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      Multi-decadal surveys in a Mediterranean forest reserve – do succession and isolation drive moth species richness?

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      Nature Conservation

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Isolated fragments of semi-natural habitats are often embedded in a landscape matrix that is hostile to organisms of conservation concern. Such habitat islands are prone to changes in their biota over time. For insects, few studies on long-term trends in species richness within conservation areas are available, mainly due to the lack of historical data. We here use moths in the coastal pine wood reserve Pineta san Vitale (Ravenna, NE Italy) to assess how local fauna has changed over the last 85 years. This reserve has experienced massive changes in vegetation structure due to secondary succession. We compared historical collections (1933–1976: 107 species; and 1977–1996: 157 species) with our own samples (1997–2002: 174 species; and 2011+2012: 187 species). Over the last 85 years, the proportion of habitat generalists in relation to all recorded moth species increased from 20 to 33%. The fractions of woodland and open habitat species concomitantly decreased by 10 percentage points, respectively. Amongst woodland and habitat generalist species, gains outnumbered losses. In contrast, 18 species of open habitats and 10 reed species were lost over the decades. We attribute these changes to vegetation succession and to the isolation of the reserve. Generalist species are presumably better able to pass through anthropogenically exploited landscapes and colonise isolated habitat fragments than habitat specialists.

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          Boreal forest health and global change.

          The boreal forest, one of the largest biomes on Earth, provides ecosystem services that benefit society at levels ranging from local to global. Currently, about two-thirds of the area covered by this biome is under some form of management, mostly for wood production. Services such as climate regulation are also provided by both the unmanaged and managed boreal forests. Although most of the boreal forests have retained the resilience to cope with current disturbances, projected environmental changes of unprecedented speed and amplitude pose a substantial threat to their health. Management options to reduce these threats are available and could be implemented, but economic incentives and a greater focus on the boreal biome in international fora are needed to support further adaptation and mitigation actions.
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            Plant ecology. Anthropogenic environmental changes affect ecosystem stability via biodiversity.

            Human-driven environmental changes may simultaneously affect the biodiversity, productivity, and stability of Earth's ecosystems, but there is no consensus on the causal relationships linking these variables. Data from 12 multiyear experiments that manipulate important anthropogenic drivers, including plant diversity, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, fire, herbivory, and water, show that each driver influences ecosystem productivity. However, the stability of ecosystem productivity is only changed by those drivers that alter biodiversity, with a given decrease in plant species numbers leading to a quantitatively similar decrease in ecosystem stability regardless of which driver caused the biodiversity loss. These results suggest that changes in biodiversity caused by drivers of environmental change may be a major factor determining how global environmental changes affect ecosystem stability.
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              Forests of the Mediterranean region: gaps in knowledge and research needs

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Conservation
                NC
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-3301
                1314-6947
                May 30 2019
                May 30 2019
                : 35
                : 25-40
                Article
                10.3897/natureconservation.35.32934
                © 2019

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