• Eutrophication erodes inter-basin variation in macrophytes and co-occurring invertebrates in a shallow lake: combining ecology and palaeoecology

      Salgado, J; Sayer, CD; Brooks, SJ; Davidson, TA; Okamura, B (Springer, 2017-03-13)
      Aquatic biodiversity is commonly linked with environmental variation in lake networks, but less is known about how local factors may influence within-lake biological heterogeneity. Using a combined ecological and multi-proxy palaeoecological approach we investigated long-term changes in the pathways and processes that underlie eutrophication and water depth effects on lake macrophyte and invertebrate communities across three basins in a shallow lake—Castle Lough, Northern Ireland, UK. Contemporary data allow us to assess how macrophyte assemblages vary in composition and heterogeneity according to basin-specific factors (e.g. variation in water depth), while palaeoecological data (macrophytes and co-occurring invertebrates) enable us to infer basin-specific impacts and susceptibilities to nutrient-enrichment. Results indicate that variability in water depth promotes assemblage variation amongst the lake basins, stimulating within-lake macrophyte assemblage heterogeneity and hence higher lake biodiversity. The palaeo-data indicate that eutrophication has acted as a strong homogenising agent of macrophyte and invertebrate diversities and abundances over time at the whole-lake scale. This novel finding strongly suggests that, as eutrophication advances, the influence of water depth on community heterogeneity is gradually eroded and that ultimately a limited set of eutrophication-tolerant species will become homogeneously distributed across the entire lake.
    • Local extinctions of insular avifauna on the most remote inhabited island in the world

      Bond, AL; Carlson, CJ; Burgio, KR (Springer, 2018-08-13)
      The overwhelming majority of avian extinctions have occurred on islands, where introduced predators, habitat loss, disease, and human persecution have resulted in the loss of over 160 species in the last 500 years. Understanding the timing and causes of these historical extinctions can be beneficial to identifying and preventing contemporary biodiversity loss, as well as understanding the nature of island ecosystems. Tristan da Cunha (henceforth “Tristan”), the most remote inhabited island in the world, has lost three species from the main island since permanent human settlement in 1811—the Tristan Moorhen (Gallinula nesiotis), Inaccessible Finch (Nesospiza acunhae acunhae), and Tristan Albatross (Diomedea dabbenena). We used recently developed Bayesian methods, and sightings of mixed certainty compiled from historical documents, to estimate the extinction date of these three species from Tristan based on specimens. We estimate that all three species were likely extirpated from Tristan between 1869 and 1880 following a period of significant habitat alteration and human overexploitation, and only the albatross had a high probability of persistence when Black Rats (Rattus rattus) arrived in 1882, the previously assumed cause of extinction for all three species. Better estimates of extinction dates are essential for understanding the causes of historical biodiversity loss, and the combination of historical ecology with modern statistical methods has given us novel insights into the timing and therefore the causes of extinctions on one of the most isolated islands in the world.