Navigation Links
Protected areas in East Africa may not be conserving iconic plants
Date:11/7/2012

A new study led by researchers from the University of York suggests protected areas in East Africa are not conserving plants such as the iconic Acacia tree.

Acacia, the thorny flat-topped tree that characterises the African savannas, is an important component of ecosystem diversity. However, the researchers found that the majority of Acacia biodiversity 'hotspots' receive little protection through the protected area network, which includes national parks, nature and forest reserves. The situation, they say, may be exacerbated by climate change.

The results of the study, which was led by researchers from the Environment Department's Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Dynamics (KITE) and Centre for the Integration of Research Conservation and Learning (CIRCLE), and involved the Missouri Botanical Garden (St Louis, USA) and the East African Herbarium (Nairobi, Kenya), are published in the journal Plant Ecology and Evolution.

The researchers found that two thirds of Acacia diversity hotspots had less than 10 per cent coverage by protected areas. They also conclude that due to climate change, high-elevation, moisture-dependent species of Acacia may contract their ranges towards mountain peaks, where protected areas are dominated by forest reserves. These areas provide only a low level of protection compared to national parks and nature reserves.

Dr Andy Marshall, from the University's Environment Department and Director of Conservation Science at Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo, said: "The Acacia is one of Africa's most iconic groups of trees, but our data suggest protected areas such as national parks do not really conserve them. This is most likely because most protected areas were originally established to protect big game rather than to protect biodiversity and plants."

"Our data suggest that if we were to take the existing protected areas and place them completely at random across the area, we would get a better coverage of Acacia diversity than the current distribution."

Principal Investigator Dr Rob Marchant, also from York's Environment Department, said: "Plants have long been over-looked in the design of protected area systems despite their role as the foundation of all terrestrial ecosystems, harnessing the Sun's energy and providing nutrients for the entire food chain.

"As conservation continues to develop a 'biodiversity for livelihoods' mandate, information on plant distributions and the ways in which ecosystems will respond to future climatic and economic developments is crucial."

Acacia includes a number of species that dominate extensive areas of East African woodland, wooded grassland and bushland. It occurs across a wide range of ecosystems, from arid deserts to mountain forests, and ranges from small shrubs to large trees.

The researchers used distribution modelling to predict the present day distribution of Acacia in East Africa and to establish how well members of the species are conserved under the current protected network. They also used regional climate forecasts to estimate the potential impact of climate change on two Acacia species of differing ecology, with one mountain species' range shrinking away from the highest designation of protected areas.

Dr Marshall said: "The question for managers is how best to deal with the potential mismatch between biodiversity and the current protected area network, both now and in the future. The strongest and most effective means of biodiversity conservation has consistently been in the establishment of protected areas.

"While new conservation efforts do not necessarily have to follow the traditional format of protected areas and should involve working closely with local people, the most important factor is that they are based on solid science underpinned by excellent data."

The research team are now carrying out ground surveys in remote and inhospitable locations to test the predictions of their work. The initial findings from these expeditions appear to agree with their predictions. A further publication is planned for 2013.


'/>"/>
Contact: Caron Lett
caron.lett@york.ac.uk
44-019-043-22029
University of York
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Size matters: Large Marine Protected Areas work for dolphins
2. Marine Protected Areas are keeping turtles safe
3. Building the European Unions Natura 2000 -- the largest ever network of protected areas
4. Rising ocean temperatures harm protected coral reefs
5. Trial of HIV test for babies in Africa could make a big difference
6. New grant to establish pan-continental bioinformatics research network in Africa
7. Report: Bushmeat pushes Southern African species to the brink
8. African Americans less likely to adhere to DASH diet for lowering blood pressure
9. Orthobiologics Market Outlook in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) to 2018
10. African research identifies strong candidate for possible single-dose malaria cure
11. Farmer-led irrigation schemes could alter food security in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/16/2017)... HANOVER, Germany , March 16, 2017 CeBIT 2017 - Against ... Continue Reading ... Used combined in one project, multi-biometric solutions ... ... Identification Systems) ...
(Date:3/7/2017)... , March 7, 2017   HireVue , ... top global companies identify the best talent, faster, today ... Chief Sales Officer (CSO) and Diana Kucer ... round out a seasoned executive team poised to drive continued ... building on a year of record bookings in 2017. ...
(Date:3/2/2017)... , March 2, 2017 Australian stem ... (ASX: CYP), has signed an agreement with the ... the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and Department of Pharmacology ... conduct a further preclinical study to support the use ... of asthma.  Asthma is a chronic, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/29/2017)... , March 29, 2017 Patients are the ... why CSL Behring awards Local Empowerment for Advocacy Development ... patient groups. These groups tackle complex legislative and public ... Capitol Hill and in statehouses across the U.S. ... grant was awarded to New England Hemophilia Association (NEHA), ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... 2017 "Surging application of gesture control features ... are expected to drive the growth of gesture recognition ... market is expected to be worth USD 18.98 billion ... 2017 and 2022. The touchless sensing market is expected ... at a CAGR of 17.44% between 2017 and 2022. ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... and PETACH TIKVAH, ... -- BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: BCLI), a ... for neurodegenerative diseases, announced financial results for ... "2016 was a highly successful and ... achievements and significant progress made on clinical, ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... Mass. , March 29, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... in applying mechanistic modeling to drug research ... their collaboration with Zymeworks Inc. for quantitative ... conjugate therapeutics intended for the treatment of ... supported Zymeworks previously for GLP toxicology studies ...
Breaking Biology Technology: