Here, we report trading of endangered shark species in a world hotspot for elasmobranch conservation in Brazil. Data on shark fisheries are scarce in Brazil, although the northern and northeastern regions have the highest indices of shark bycatch. Harvest is made primarily with processed carcasses lacking head and fins, which hampers reliable species identification and law enforcement on illegal catches. We used partial sequences of two mitochondrial genes (COI and/or NADH2) to identify 17 shark species from 427 samples being harvested and marketed on the northern coast of Brazil. Nine species (53%) are listed under some extinction threat category according to Brazilian law and international authorities (IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature; CITES – Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The number increases to 13 (76%) if we also consider the Near Threatened category. Hammerhead sharks are under threat worldwide, and composed 18.7% of samples, with Sphyrna mokarran being the fourth most common species among samples. As illegal trade of threatened shark species is a worldwide conservation problem, molecular identification of processed meat or specimens lacking diagnostic body parts is a highly effective tool for species identification and law enforcement.
Food for Thought
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an authoritative and influential source of reports on climate change. The lead authors of IPCC reports include scientists from around the world, but questions have been raised about the dominance of specific disciplines in the report and the disproportionate number of scholars from the Global North. In this paper, we analyze the as-yet-unexamined issue of gender and IPCC authorship, looking at changes in gender balance over time and analyzing women’s views about their experience and barriers to full participation, not only as women but also at the intersection of nationality, race, command of English, and discipline. Over time, we show that the proportion of female IPCC authors has seen a modest increase from less than 5% in 1990 to more than 20% in the most recent assessment reports. Based on responses from over 100 women IPCC authors, we find that many women report a positive experience in the way in which they are treated and in their ability to influence the report, although others report that some women were poorly represented and heard. We suggest that an intersectional lens is important: not all women experience the same obstacles: they face multiple and diverse barriers associated with social identifiers such as race, nationality, command of English, and disciplinary affiliation. The scientific community benefits from including all scientists, including women and those from the Global South. This paper documents barriers to participation and identifies opportunities to diversify climate science.
Vocal imitation is a hallmark of human spoken language, which, along with other advanced cognitive skills, has fuelled the evolution of human culture. Comparative evidence has revealed that although the ability to copy sounds from conspecifics is mostly uniquely human among primates, a few distantly related taxa of birds and mammals have also independently evolved this capacity. Remarkably, field observations of killer whales have documented the existence of group-differentiated vocal dialects that are often referred to as traditions or cultures and are hypothesized to be acquired non-genetically. Here we use a do-as-I-do paradigm to study the abilities of a killer whale to imitate novel sounds uttered by conspecific (vocal imitative learning) and human models (vocal mimicry). We found that the subject made recognizable copies of all familiar and novel conspecific and human sounds tested and did so relatively quickly (most during the first 10 trials and three in the first attempt). Our results lend support to the hypothesis that the vocal variants observed in natural populations of this species can be socially learned by imitation. The capacity for vocal imitation shown in this study may scaffold the natural vocal traditions of killer whales in the wild.
The conservation of biological diversity represents a major challenge for modern societies. Research offers the fundamental information to advance and integrate our knowledge on ecological systems, their processes and interactions. Yet, the transfer of scientific knowledge and results represents a critical step towards enhancing conservation efficiency. Here, we use sea turtle research, as an example to test the potential and dynamics of international scientific cooperation reflecting the advancement of knowledge. The selection of sea turtles as a case study was mainly based on two factors. First, they represent a highly mobile group of species with cosmopolitan distribution that cross geopolitical borders, policies and agreements. Second, encouraging evidence on global population recovery are increasingly presented. We used research publications on sea turtles (from 1967 since 2016) as the main product of scientific knowledge, to develop a series of co-authorship networks. Countries that were mentioned in authors’ affiliations were used as nodes, with two nodes being connected if authors of these countries had collaborated as co-authors in a publication. The properties of the co-authorship networks revealed that sea turtle scientific collaboration networks are ] getting larger and spreading constantly over different countries through time. Network metrics revealed a robust and coherent network supported by numerous countries. Our results showed a steady flow of scientific information among countries within sea turtle research communities, a factor that might have contributed to the encouraging evidence on sea turtle population trends observed globally. This analysis highlights the potential benefits generated by international collaborations reflecting the integration of skills, scientific backgrounds and knowledge.
In an era of accelerated biodiversity loss and limited conservation resources, systematic prioritization of species and places is essential. In terrestrial vertebrates, evolutionary distinctness has been used to identify species and locations that embody the greatest share of evolutionary history. We estimate evolutionary distinctness for a large marine vertebrate radiation on a dated taxon-complete tree for all 1,192 chondrichthyan fishes (sharks, rays and chimaeras) by augmenting a new 610-species molecular phylogeny using taxonomic constraints. Chondrichthyans are by far the most evolutionarily distinct of all major radiations of jawed vertebrates—the average species embodies 26 million years of unique evolutionary history. With this metric, we identify 21 countries with the highest richness, endemism and evolutionary distinctness of threatened species as targets for conservation prioritization. On average, threatened chondrichthyans are more evolutionarily distinct—further motivating improved conservation, fisheries management and trade regulation to avoid significant pruning of the chondrichthyan tree of life.
In this essay, I review my career in fish and fisheries, describing my work in the context of the ideas of the period and how they have changed with time. My experience may be interesting especially for other women from social backgrounds that do not promote competitive careers. The main lessons that I have learned are that to be persistent and ambitious, to associate with top scientist, and good persons too! is rewarding at several levels. Not to try to be the one in the spotlight but to recognize other people merits gives good results in the long run. Moreover, to take risks from time to time and explore new territories, like science administration in my case, helps to reinvent yourself and keep the intellectual interest alive. I would like to encourage young scientists to persevere, be resilient and take, from time to time, risky decisions. Maybe one does not become rich, but the mental challenges, the networking, the travel and the exceptional places and life experiences make you rich in many worthy ways! One does never get bored.
Betweenness has been used in a number of marine studies to identify portions of sea that sustain the connectivity of whole marine networks. Herein we highlight the need of methodological exactness in the calculation of betweenness when graph theory is applied to marine connectivity studies based on transfer probabilities. We show the inconsistency in calculating betweeness directly from transfer probabilities and propose a new metric for the node-to-node distance that solves it. Our argumentation is illustrated by both simple theoretical examples and the analysis of a literature data set.
The success of protected areas as a management tool for biodiversity conservation remains as a challenge, and broader approaches for protected area management have been proposed. Considering biodiversity conservation as an issue of the commons and within the realm of social-ecological systems is a promising alternative. In Brazil protected areas are under a State management regime, ruled by the National System of Conservation Units. The Ecological Station of Guaraqueçaba (ESG) is a no-take protected area located in the Paranagua Estuarine Complex, surrounded by traditional communities. In this article, Ostrom's design principles were adapted to assess the institutional dynamics of this protected area management, during two periods. Research methods included semi-structured interviews, participant observation and document analysis. During the first period, management actions were oriented to prevent the conversion of forest areas into anthropic occupations. The second period originated in 2000 with the creation of the National System of Conservation Units, which established more precise management tools and mechanisms for participatory decision making. In both periods there was low fulfillment of Ostrom's principles. The main changes over time were the creation of the ESG management council as a conflict-resolution mechanism, and an increase in the recognition of the rights of local communities. Yet, only three of the eight principles are totally present in the current institutional arrangement (well-defined boundaries, conflict-resolution mechanisms, and minimal recognition of rights). The results suggest a not robust institutional arrangement in terms of commons sustainable management.
The concept of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) is globally of increasing interest. However, little is known about the views and expectations of professionals and practitioners expected to enable or implement this concept. Since these individuals design, select, shape and deliver environmental management, their views and expectations are critical to understanding how PES may play out in practice. Using the first survey on this topic, in the UK this research discusses the implications for future research and environmental management.
Responses indicate a range of views about PES and its potential effects. Most expect to see greater use of PES in future; and are cautiously positive about the environmental, social and economic consequences of doing so. Many hope PES may overcome existing challenges facing environmental management, subject to conditions or changes. The research also revealed tensions related to broader challenges in environmental governance – e.g. calls for standardisation may conflict with requests for adaptability. Meanwhile, other expectations – e.g. improved engagement with groups currently uninterested in the environment – indicate priorities that may be better addressed with other instruments. Varied views are likely in most countries and must be assessed to better understand the prospects and potential of PES.
Determining the extent of repeatable differences in the behavior of animals and the factors that influence behavioral expression is important for understanding individual fitness and population processes, thereby aiding in species conservation. However, little is known about the causes of variation in the repeatability of behavioral differences among species because rarely have comparative studies been undertaken to examine the repeatability of behavioral differences among individuals within their natural ecological settings. Using two species of endemic subtropical anemonefishes, Amphiprion mccullochi and A. latezonatus at Lord Howe and North Solitary Islands, Australia, we conducted an in situ comparative analysis of personality traits, examining the repeatability of boldness, sociability and aggression as well as the potential role of environmental and social factors on behavioral expression. For A. mccullochi, only boldness and aggression were highly repeatable and these behaviors formed a behavioral syndrome. For A. latezonatus, none of the three behaviors were repeatable due to low-inter-individual variation in behavior. We suggest that the harsher and more variable environmental and social conditions experienced by A. latezonatus have resulted in reduced repeatability in behavior, in contrast to A. mccullochi which typically inhabits a more stable lagoonal reef environment. Additionally, group size and size rank, rather than nearest-neighbor distance and anemone size, influenced the expression of these behaviors in both species, suggesting that behavioral variation was more sensitive to social than environmental factors. Overall, differences in repeatability between these closely related species likely reflect adaptations to contrasting environmental and social conditions, although alternative explanations must be considered. The differences in behavioral consistency between these two endemic anemonefishes could lead to disparity in their resilience to environmental or social change in the future.