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      Recovery of large carnivores in Europe's modern human-dominated landscapes.

      Science (New York, N.Y.)

      Biodiversity, Wolves, Ursidae, Mustelidae, Lynx, Humans, Europe, Conservation of Natural Resources, Animals

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          Abstract

          The conservation of large carnivores is a formidable challenge for biodiversity conservation. Using a data set on the past and current status of brown bears (Ursus arctos), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), gray wolves (Canis lupus), and wolverines (Gulo gulo) in European countries, we show that roughly one-third of mainland Europe hosts at least one large carnivore species, with stable or increasing abundance in most cases in 21st-century records. The reasons for this overall conservation success include protective legislation, supportive public opinion, and a variety of practices making coexistence between large carnivores and people possible. The European situation reveals that large carnivores and people can share the same landscape. Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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          Most cited references 68

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          Status and ecological effects of the world's largest carnivores.

          Large carnivores face serious threats and are experiencing massive declines in their populations and geographic ranges around the world. We highlight how these threats have affected the conservation status and ecological functioning of the 31 largest mammalian carnivores on Earth. Consistent with theory, empirical studies increasingly show that large carnivores have substantial effects on the structure and function of diverse ecosystems. Significant cascading trophic interactions, mediated by their prey or sympatric mesopredators, arise when some of these carnivores are extirpated from or repatriated to ecosystems. Unexpected effects of trophic cascades on various taxa and processes include changes to bird, mammal, invertebrate, and herpetofauna abundance or richness; subsidies to scavengers; altered disease dynamics; carbon sequestration; modified stream morphology; and crop damage. Promoting tolerance and coexistence with large carnivores is a crucial societal challenge that will ultimately determine the fate of Earth's largest carnivores and all that depends upon them, including humans.
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            Edge effects and the extinction of populations inside protected areas

            Theory predicts that small populations may be driven to extinction by random fluctuations in demography and loss of genetic diversity through drift. However, population size is a poor predictor of extinction in large carnivores inhabiting protected areas. Conflict with people on reserve borders is the major cause of mortality in such populations, so that border areas represent population sinks. The species most likely to disappear from small reserves are those that range widely-and are therefore most exposed to threats on reserve borders-irrespective of population size. Conservation efforts that combat only stochastic processes are therefore unlikely to avert extinction.
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              Reconciling food production and biodiversity conservation: land sharing and land sparing compared.

              The question of how to meet rising food demand at the least cost to biodiversity requires the evaluation of two contrasting alternatives: land sharing, which integrates both objectives on the same land; and land sparing, in which high-yield farming is combined with protecting natural habitats from conversion to agriculture. To test these alternatives, we compared crop yields and densities of bird and tree species across gradients of agricultural intensity in southwest Ghana and northern India. More species were negatively affected by agriculture than benefited from it, particularly among species with small global ranges. For both taxa in both countries, land sparing is a more promising strategy for minimizing negative impacts of food production, at both current and anticipated future levels of production.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                25525247
                10.1126/science.1257553

                Chemistry

                Biodiversity, Wolves, Ursidae, Mustelidae, Lynx, Humans, Europe, Conservation of Natural Resources, Animals

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