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Francesco di Castri Awards

Young scientist best oral

Kate Kirby
McGill University, Canada,
Opportunities for combining carbon sequestration and…


Latin America young scientist best oral

George Brown
Embrapa Soybean, Brazil,
Conservation agriculture: making biodiversity work for …


Young scienctist best poster

Tamara Münkemüller
UFZ Centre for Environmental Research, Germany,
How important are local population dynamics in …


Latin America young scientist best poster

Ximena Arango
University of Magallanes, Chile,
The Magellanic woodpecker: a charismatic species …



Opportunities for combining carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation in an indigenous territory of Eastern Panama

New incentives for the development of terrestrial carbon (C) sinks could enable reforestation projects that would provide concurrent benefits for biodiversity and local livelihoods. We report the results of a C sink pilot project that was carried out in cooperation with an indigenous Emberá community in Panama to determine the C stocks and tree-species richness of three common land-use types in the community. Total C stocks (including below-ground carbon to 40 cm depth) were 255 Mg ha-1 for primary forests, 127 Mg ha-1 for traditional agroforests, and 45 Mg ha-1 for pastures. Land uses high in carbon also contained the most tree species, with average species richness of trees = 10 cm DBH per 707 m2 varying from 16 (forests) to 9 (agroforest) to 1 (pasture). Of the 61 tree species encountered in agroforests, 47.5% were never encounteredin primary forests, and 14.8% were exotics. However, these exotic species are widespread in Panama and are important for local food security. Agroforests also provided marketable goods to 56% of landowners interviewed. Our data suggest that expanding traditional agroforests into areas currently under pasture might be done in such a way as to provide significant biodiversity benefits, produce marketable goods for landowners, and with the potential to sequester 82 Mg ha-1 in two decades. However, in the short-term, slowing the conversion of forest to pasture would have the greatest impact on carbon and biodiversity stocks, avoiding the release of approximately 210 Mg C ha-1. International agreement on the provisioning of incentives for forest conservation is thus sorely needed.”

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Conservation agriculture: making biodiversity work for integrated crop and soil management

Soil microorganisms and animals are an essential part of agrobiodiversity and perform functions vital for agricultural productivity and sustainability. Their activity and biodiversity may be useful indicators of soil quality, ecosystem disturbance and the integrity of ecosystem functioning. Conservation agriculture and the adoption of no-tillage (NT) in the tropics is finally reversing physical, chemical, and biological soil degradation; in Brazil, 19 M ha are now devoted to NT. To evaluate the effect of different management practices on below-ground biodiversity, we monitored several long-term field trials in Southern Brazil, including 2-25 yr NT and crop rotations based on soybean (Glycine max) or common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). C- and N-microbial biomass and metabolic microbial efficiency were always higher in NT than in conventional tillage (CT) systems and were enhanced by legumes in the rotation. Bacterial and fungal genetic diversity, evaluated by the DGGE analysis, were also higher under both NT and rotation systems including legumes. Diversity of rhizobial strains (assessed by PCR-RFLP) was also higher under NT, although species diversity was not always higher. The environmental stability offered by the NT system may decrease total species diversity, but simultaneously increase genetic diversity within each species. Soil macrofauna diversity was higher in NT (16-18 orders) than in CT (12-13 orders), while rotations seemed to have a secondary effect. Tillage selected for resistant organisms, and in its absence a more diverse, yet more “fragile” assemblage was able to persist, performing a larger number of functions. The results obtained emphasize the benefits of NT and crop rotation with legumes, but also indicate a poor understanding of the complex relationship between soil biodiversity and sustainability and the challenges to adequately evaluate and monitor soil quality.”

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How important are local population dynamics in spatially structured landscapes for species persistence and coexistence?

Although the role of space for species persistence and coexistence has become the focus of considerable theoretical research, less attention has been paid to the influence of local population processes. However, local density regulation may potentially contribute to both persistence and coexistence: It affects the synchronising potential of dispersal which in turn is important for metapopulation persistence. Furthermore, it can lead to non-linear responses to resource availability which in turn can affect species coexistence. Thus, this study focuses on the influence of local density regulation on both persistence and coexistence of species in spatially structured landscapes.
For our simulation experiments we use a process-based metapopulation model which explicitly considers different local density regulation types, e.g. intraspecific density compensation under territorial behaviour or overcompensation under resource exploitation.
Our results show that both undercompensatory and overcompensatory density regulation can lead to high synchrony of local population densities. Metapopulation persistence is highest under compensation and low overcompensation. Increasing dispersal mortality, density dependent dispersal, or increasing patch turnover with subsequent patch regeneration shift the maxima for both synchrony and metapopulation persistence towards density regulation types with higher overcompensation. Considering interspecific competition we found that the type of local density regulation influences coexistence conditions.
Our results suggest that ignoring local population dynamics may lead to misleading conclusions. We show that overcompensatory density regulation enhances persistence in highly dynamic or hostile landscapes and influences the coexistence conditions in fragmented landscapes.”

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The Magellanic woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus): a charismatic species at the southern tip of the Americas

Conservation of species depends as much on their biological characteristics as on the perceptions and attitudes that humans have towards them. Cape Horn is one of the most remote and pristine areas on the planet with a small multicultural population of 2,300 people living in the town of Puerto Williams. In this setting, we asked the research question, what bird species are valued and preferred by residents? We applied a questionnaire to 120 persons, 20 of each of the main socio-cultural groups, including: 1) the indigenous Yahgan community; 2) personnel of Chilean Navy; 3) long-time residents; 4) authorities and public services personnel; 5) teachers; and 6) school children. The Magellanic woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus) was the favored bird (20% of the total), especially by Yaghans and long-time residents. The other birds frequently mentioned (approximately 10% each) were the kingfisher (Ceryle torquata), Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), upland goose (Chloephaga picta) and sea gull (Larus dominicanus). This study demonstrates quantitatively the charismatic character of Campephilus magellanicus. It is interesting that this species is also: a) a keystone species, producing cavities in tree trunks that serve as nesting sites for multiple species, b) an ecological indicator for old growth forests, and c) an umbrella species due to its extensive home range. Consequently, the Magellanic woodpecker fills a key ecological and social role for conservation of the world’s southernmost forests. “

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Last updated: 13 December 2005

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