Abstract: Acceptance of mitigation and adaptation strategies is related more to the perceived levels of threats as opposed to real risks. Understanding public perception of climate change is crucial for the implementation of appropriate and effective actions. This study analyzed the perceptions of climate and global changes in two European Mediterranean deltas in order to determine the similarities and differences at a regional scale and to apprehend potential adaptation and mitigation strategies necessary for the future. A total of 395 participants responded to a questionnaire through person to person interviews. Survey analysis was conducted through a multi-method approach using standard descriptive statistics and qualitative data analysis. The majority of participants in both deltas expressed that climate change was a serious problem and that human activity was a contributing factor. Despite the recognition of the importance of climate change, little action was being taken to adapt or mitigate these changes. Our results suggest that a site specific approach using confirmed information sources with adapted communication techniques is necessary to be more effective and to spur changes in practice at a local scale.
Bibliographical reference: Lisa Ernoul, Stella Vareltzidou, Mathilde Charpentier, Camille Muryanyi-Kovacs. Perception of climate change and mitigation strategies in two European Mediterranean deltas[J]. AIMS Geosciences, 2020, 6(4): 561-576. doi: 10.3934/geosci.2020032
Recovery in Mauritania of a GPS transmitter placed on an Eurasian Spoonbill in France
The Eurasian Spoonbill is a species that has several migratory strategies according to the particular individuals. For example, the Camargue population, located in Southern France, takes two migratory routes: an Atlantic route, with wintering sites in Spain, Mauritania or Senegal, a Central Mediterranean route with wintering sites in Italy or Tunisia, while approximately 200 individuals winter in Camargue.
Tour du Valat and his partner Nioz in the Netherlands track spoonbills during their migration, by tagging them with GPS/GSM transmitters in order to understand the factors that shape migration routes of young spoonbills. It will help to understand how fast migratory birds can adjust their migration routes when their environment changes (more information here).
As part of this study, a 4-week old juvenile born in Camargue, named FBXX, was fitted with a GPS on 27 July 2020. He left his breeding area on the 29 of September, crossed through Spain in 5 days and went on along the coast of Morocco. On the 9th of October, the accelerometer indicated that the bird was probably dead in Mauritania, close to Nouadhibou. We asked Animal Tracker to send an alert message to help recovering the transmitter and identifying the cause of the death.
The alert was transmitted by an Environmental consultant to the biodiversity specialist of a mining company in Mauritania. The gold corporation employees went to the located place. They found that the bird was trapped in a basin of used oil! The ring and the transmitter had been recovered from the dead bird by the guards.
This is one of the very many risks that await migratory birds, especially the inexperienced young. Survival in the first year is estimated at 30%. Then, from the second year onwards, survival is around 90% (for more information). This high mortality in the first year is a fairly common characteristic of long-lived birds such as the spoonbill or flamingo.
The ring and the transmitter were recovered from the dead bird by the guards and sent back to Camargue, 3200km from Nouadhibou. The transmitter will be able to equip a new individual next season.
Researchers from the Tour du Valat, the University of Montpellier II (ISEM) and the University of Burgundy (Biogeoscience – UMR CNRS / uB / EPHE 6282) have studied the combined effects of global warming and habitat degradation on riparian bird communities on the plains and at altitude. This study has just been published in the Journal of Biogeography.
Global warming is a major threat to biodiversity. And certain conditions are making the situation even worse. Some species are indeed more vulnerable than others to warming, either because of their greater sensitivity or because their habitat is also degraded. In this study, researchers measured the response of bird communities to global warming by taking into account an additive factor, habitat degradation, and the sensitivity of species along an altitude gradient, with mountain species being highly vulnerable to climate change. The changes in abundance of 115 bird species were analyzed thanks to more than 30 years of data collection, distributed over three major French rivers, the Loire, Allier and Doubs, and piloted by the University of Burgundy.
The results show that bird communities, both on the plains and at high altitudes, have changed over the study period, leading to a significant decline in species at high altitudes. “Specialist species, faithful to specific habitats, are less and less abundant, reflecting the degradation of habitats in all the rivers studied,” says Elie Gaget, the study’s main author.
In response to the 1.2°C increase in temperatures over 30 years, bird communities have changed their species composition, with more thermophilic species, which like warmer temperatures. Good news? “We observe that warming is faster than the birds’ response” notes Elie Gaget “and this response is even completely absent in mountain environments where species decline has also been measured”.
This study shows that, in France, global warming and habitat degradation have a cumulative impact on birds, leading to a decline in species, particularly in vulnerable environments such as high altitudes. This makes the issues of river conservation even more important.
Gaget E., Devictor V., Frochot B., Desbrosses R., Eybert MC. & Faivre B. Disentangling the latitudinal and altitudinal shifts in community composition induced by climate change: the case of riparian birds. Journal of Biogeography. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.14016
Contact : Elie Gaget – Postdoctoral researcher – University of Turku, Finland
The new website for sponsorship is online: monflamant.com
We are very pleased to present this brand new project that will allow you to discover or rediscover flamingo sponsorship; a fun way to learn more about the way of life of flamingos and about wetlands, environments that they love so much and that they obviously can’t do without!
So if like us, you are under the charm of this colorful bird, do not wait any longer to visit our website: monflamant.com
We offer you a large choice of flamingos with amazing itineraries and stories. Whether it is Aphrodite, the loving mother, Marius, the Camargue grandfather, Romane the expatriate daughter, Indiana the adventurous father or one of our mascots, you will find THE flamingo that suits you.
And if this selection is not enough for you, you even have the possibility to choose a flamingo according to its age, its sex… and to give it the first name of your choice.
There really is something for all kinds of interests and budgets!
Looking for a Christmas gift, original and committed to nature?
Don’t think too hard. This year, we suggest that you offer your loved ones an original gift that will never end to surprise them: a pink flamingo. It will be a great gift for them and for the planet!
One species out of 5 is on the verge of extinction according to the Living Mediterranean Report in preparation
“In the Mediterranean basin, one species out of 5 is on the verge of extinction according to the Living Mediterranean Report in preparation”.
Biodiversity in the Mediterranean basin is in sharp decline. This is revealed by a study conducted by several research institutes and NGOs¹, some of whose results have been pre-released. The Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) shows that of the 7363 species examined by the experts, one in five is threatened with extinction. The authors also used the methodology of the Living Planet Index and collected tens of thousands of data enabling them to calculate trends for a quarter of all vertebrate species found in the Mediterranean basin. The final results will be released in the “Living Mediterranean Report”, which will be published in the first half of 2021.
For the researchers of the Tour du Valat Institute, who initiated this study, the situation is particularly alarming because the Mediterranean basin is a global biodiversity hotspot, home to more than a third of endemic species (36.5%) that do not exist anywhere else on the globe. Among the reasons for this critical situation are pollution, climate change, intensive agriculture and urbanization. Two threats appear to play a prevalent role in the Mediterranean basin: intensive fishing and by-catch, which affect 45% of marine species, and poor management of water resources (water abstraction, pollution from farming and the construction of dams on rivers), which are draining wetlands and threatening 33% of freshwater species.
However, it is possible to bend the curve of biodiversity loss. The designation of protected areas, the restoration of degraded ecosystems, tighter control of the extraction of wild animal and plant species and integrated land management that takes biodiversity issues into account are all solutions that have been proven to be efficient. Since its inclusion on the list of protected species and the monitoring of its main egg-laying sites in the eastern Mediterranean, the Loggerhead Turtle has seen its populations increase. Many waterbird species such as the Pink Flamingo or the Dalmatian Pelican are also more numerous than they were 40 years ago because they have benefited from the protection of several large wetlands and the bans on their hunting. Some large ungulates such as the Iberian Ibex or the Corsican Red Deer have benefited from reintroduction operations in regions from which they had disappeared. These examples show that there is hope and that populations on the verge of extinction can recover if the right actions are taken in time. Political decision-makers, scientists, civil society and the private sector must now establish regular and transparent communication to ensure that their exchanges lead to decisions that can respond to the scale of the ecological crisis. Let us remember that the good health of Mediterranean biodiversity and ecosystems depends on the health of 500 million people.
¹This report is co-authored by the Tour du Valat Research Institute, the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, the WWF, the London Zoological Society, MedPAN and the University of Lisbon.
Contact : Thomas GALEWSKI, Project Leader Biodiversity Monitoring and Assessment – +33 (0)4 90 97 29 78
New article – Genetic diversity and relationships of the liver fluke Fasciola hepatica (Trematoda) with native and introduced definitive and intermediate hosts
This article was published in the Transboundary and Emerging Diseases journal in November 2020.
Abstract : Fasciolosis is a worldwide spread parasitosis mainly caused by the trematode Fasciola hepatica. This disease is particularly important for public health in tropical regions, but it can also affect the economies of many developed countries due to large infections in domestic animals. Although several studies have tried to understand the transmission by studying the prevalence of different host species, only a few have used population genetic approaches to understand the links between domestic and wildlife infections. Here, we present the results of such genetic approach combined with classical parasitological data (prevalence and intensity) by studying domestic and wild definitive hosts from Camargue (southern France) where fasciolosis is considered as a problem. We found 60% of domestic hosts (cattle) infected with F. hepatica but lower values in wild hosts (nutria, 19%; wild boars, 4.5%). We explored nine variable microsatellite loci for 1,148 adult flukes recovered from four different populations (non-treated cattle, treated cattle, nutria and wild boars). Populations from the four groups differed, though we found a number of migrants particularly non-treated cattle and nutria. Overall, we detected 729 different multilocus genotypes (from 783 completely genotyped individuals) and only 46 genotypes repeated across samples. Finally, we experimentally infected native and introduced intermediate snail hosts to explore their compatibility with F. hepatica and assess the risks of fasciolosis expansion in the region. The introduced species Galba truncatula and Pseudosuccinea columella attained the higher values of overall compatibility in relation to the European species. However, concerning the origin, sympatric combinations of G. truncatula were more compatible (higher prevalence, intensity and survival) than the allopatric tested. According to our results, we should note that the assessment of epidemiological risks cannot be limited to a single host–parasite system, but should focus on understanding the diversity of hosts in the heterogeneous environment through space and time.
Bibliographical reference : Vázquez A.A., Sabourin E., Pilar A., Leroy C., Leray C., Carron, E., Mulero S., Caty C., Hasfia S., Boisseau M., Saugné L., Pineau O., Blanchon T., Alba A., Faugère D., Vittecoq M., Hurtrez-Boussès S. 2020. Genetic diversity and relationships of the liver fluke Fasciola hepatica (Trematoda) with native and introduced definitive and intermediate hosts. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases doi.org/10.1111/tbed.13882
Nature-based Solutions – Questions for Sébastien Moncorps
Sébastien Moncorps is the Director of the IUCN French Committee. He answers questions from the Tour du Valat concerning Nature-based Solutions.
The IUCN French Committee has been working to promote Nature-based Solutions since 2015. How are these solutions innovative?
Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are innovative because they make it possible to link biodiversity conservation issues with other major challenges facing our societies, such as the fight against climate change, natural risk management, health and water supply issues, and food security. By taking action to protect, sustainably manage, and restore ecosystems, which are the three main types of NbS, we can in fact directly address one or more of these societal challenges in an effective and adaptive manner, while at the same time providing benefits for biodiversity. This was our main message in the run-up to the COP21 in Paris in 2015: we must work with nature to meet the challenges of climate change. Ecosystems play a fundamental role in carbon sequestration because they are major natural reservoirs of carbon, both on land and at sea. However, their degradation now accounts for a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide (12% for deforestation). Therefore, by protecting them, we are providing an effective solution to fight against climate change and preserve biodiversity. In addition, when we restore degraded ecosystems, we increase carbon capture and storage capacities. An international scientific study has estimated that 37% of the mitigation efforts needed to meet the 2-degree objective of the Paris Climate Agreement by 2030 can be achieved through Nature-based Solutions.
Faced with the growing challenges confronting our societies, decision-makers and land-use planners still make extensive use of traditional, technology-based approaches. What arguments could convince them of the relevance of Nature-based Solutions?
The main arguments to be put forward are their effectiveness, how they can adapt over time, the benefits they bring for biodiversity and responses to other issues, and finally their cost/benefit ratio. For example, to reduce natural risks, which are increasing in intensity and frequency as a result of climate change, many development solutions based on civil engineering contribute to the artificialisation of natural environments, are less and less effective, and sometimes even simply postpone or aggravate the problem elsewhere. This is the case, for example, of the diking of rivers to combat flooding or the dikes built to combat coastal erosion. Solutions must be found first and foremost that collaborate with and not against nature.
The IUCN French Committee has produced a compilation of experiences which show that many NbS projects in France are bringing concrete results through the restoration of wetlands and coastal dunes. Since these are projects that take place over time —unlike permanent constructions—, they can be adapted to changing conditions and bring benefits for biodiversity and the local territory, particularly for tourism, leisure, and other activities. By studying data in Aquitaine, we found that the cost of a breakwater is about €4 to 6,000 per linear metre (lm), and then about €200 /lm/year for its maintenance, whereas the cost of managing a dune is about €5 /lm/year. That is why we say to the decision-makers: “have the ‘nature’ first reflex when you try to identify natural risk management solutions.”
Can you tell me about the NbS initiatives related to water and wetlands identified by the IUCN French Committee that you find the most relevant or inspiring?
In our latest publication on NbS and water-related risks, we identified 21 projects that correspond to the IUCN’s international definition and which we have analysed. Three in particular caught our attention. The first is a project to reconnect flood expansion zones in the Thérain Valley in the Oise department, which during the winter floods of 2018 enabled 500,000m3 of water to be stored in restored wetlands, thus avoiding any damage. The second is a project to restore the Allaine River in Franche-Comté, which will make it possible to manage the intensity of a 100-year flood instead of a 30-year flood, while restoring the functioning of a biodiversity-rich wet meadow. The third is a project to remove the permanent water bodies of the Bièvre, a tributary of the Seine in the Ile-de-France region, which has made it possible to reconnect the river with its adjacent wetlands, resulting in a 30% increase in the volume of water storage, and thus reducing the risk of flooding for local populations at a very low cost (less than €20,000).
We are also following with great attention the restoration project of the former Camargue saltworks that the Tour du Valat is carrying out with its partners. The IUCN French Committee will soon be publishing a new compilation of NbS experiences and coastal risks. In this way, we wish to continue inspiring future project backers and decision-makers to make more widespread use of NbS in their local territories and to continue demonstrating that preserved and diversified ecosystems are our allies in the fight against climate change and for natural risk management.
Luc Hoffmann liked to say that if a human society does not respect nature, it carries within itself the seeds of its own self-destruction.
Every year and every week, new tangible evidence is found that supports his wise words. The postulate of our development model, based on a belief in infinite growth in a world with limited resources, was revealed to be erroneous long ago. Yet we continue to view living and non-living organisms as resources for human use only. Today we are paying the consequences of this attitude.
Successive IPBES and IPCC reports, as well as WWF’s “Living Planet” report, confirm the massive and accelerating degradation of biodiversity and its major impacts on our societies, and provide increasingly alarming forecasts of the extent and effects of climate change. Today’s facts substantiate these studies, with record temperatures, exceptional droughts, mega forest fires, and devastating storms.
Yet it is becoming increasingly clear that in response to the growing challenges facing our societies, such as climate change, health and water supply issues, food security, and flood risks, nature offers formidable solutions that are often very effective and inexpensive.
A concept that inverts our perspective and concerns all stakeholders
While nature protection is still perceived by many as a constraint to development, a cost for society, and a luxury for wealthy countries, the concept of “Nature-based Solutions” reverses the approach. Nature becomes an effective ally that is accessible to all, even the most deprived.
The concept of Nature-based Solutions was developed under the impetus of the IUCN, which defines them as “actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that directly address societal challenges in an effective and adaptive manner, while ensuring human well-being and biodiversity benefits.”
It does not oppose biodiversity and human benefits, but aims to satisfy both at the same time by focusing on concrete, multifunctional, sustainable, and accessible solutions for decision-makers and citizens alike.
Wetlands: so many destroyed despite their useful functions
The world’s wetlands are experiencing a paradoxical fate. Although they are the most productive ecosystems, the ones that contribute the most to human subsistence and well-being, in recent centuries they have experienced unparalleled decline. Long considered unhealthy or a hindrance to our development, they have been massively destroyed, leading to the disappearance of more than 2/3 of them since the beginning of the 20th century.
And wherever they have been wiped off the map, the effects have come very quickly, with reduced food resources, degradation of water quality, and an increasing number of floods and droughts.
Today, wetlands are our most powerful allies for meeting the challenges facing society. Their restoration and sustainable management represent Nature-based Solutions that create multiple collateral benefits. It is up to us to learn to change the way we look at them, to consider them as our best “life insurance” that will help us adapt to the growing challenges.
The Mediterranean Basin is the hub of all the challenges we face
The Mediterranean Basin is one of the tensest regions in the world due to the historical relationships there between man and nature, the strong demographic development, enormous pressure on limited water resources, concentration of economic activities and urbanisation in coastal regions, and the dependence on climate-sensitive agriculture.
It is one of the 36 global biodiversity hotspots, but also one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to climate change. Temperatures in the Mediterranean are forecast to rise by 2-3°C by 2050 and 3-5°C by 2100 (IPCC, 2013), which will lead to an increase in heat waves, storms, and droughts. Sea level will probably rise by more than one metre by 2100 and affect 1/3 of the Mediterranean population.
Current food production systems in the Mediterranean are the main factors responsible for biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.
Nature-based Solutions: key elements in our responses
Faced with this situation, Nature-based Solutions can mitigate the effects of such events, with positive impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity conservation, the economy, and human well-being. They appear to be effective, flexible, and low-cost approaches that offer an unprecedented opportunity to increase the resilience of Mediterranean society to climate stress and help accelerate its transition toward a sustainable economy.
For example, the restoration of coastal wetlands is a very effective NbS to create buffer zones that can mitigate marine flooding, but also to store greater amounts of carbon.
Agroecological practices contribute to high-quality nutrition and improved human health, while relocating food production, and placing nature-friendly agriculture back at the heart of the local terroir and community.
Meanwhile, in cities, aquatic environments and wooded areas are very effective solutions for reducing heat islands.
The Tour du Valat experiments with and promotes Nature-based Solutions
The Mediterranean Alliance for Wetlands urges the government of Greece to protect the coastal wetlands of the Erimitis peninsula and to adopt conservation measures that correspond with international, EU and national law.
The Erimitis peninsula, located on the northeastern tip of the island of Corfu in Greece, with its natural landscapes and pristine environment presents a rich biodiversity. Its coastal wetlands are home to a wide range of species and habitats, including species protected by the EU Habitats Directive and the EU Birds Directive. It is also on the Ionian Sea’s corridor for migratory bird populations and is an important stopover point for them.
The peninsula is not only a haven for wildlife but for the people that live on Corfu as well. Activities such as ecotourism, sailing and hiking bring significant and sustainable economic benefits to the local Corfiot community who has learned to live in harmony with their environment.
However the Kassiopi project, which aims at building a tourist resort on Erimitis, may disturb this harmony. The project includes the construction of hotels, tens of villas, apartment blocks, and a marina in this, as of yet, unspoiled area.
The project has been met with some resistance from the Mediterranean Alliance for Wetlands alongside the municipality of North Corfu, the Local Council of Sinies, as well as the residents and all local environmental organizations. A letter by 15 organizations of the Mediterranean Alliance for Wetlands was sent to the Prime Minister of Greece on the 10th of October, to express their concern and to appeal for the cancellation of the project (see the letter below).
The disappearance of the coastal wetlands would lead to the loss of the ecological services they provide such as the regulation of water quality, the reduction of soil erosion, the protection against natural hazards and the capacity to host an important biodiversity. Losing these assets would put a strain on Erimitis and its surrounding areas. Light, noise and water pollution would increase, which would not only affect the wildlife and their habitats, but also the livelihoods of the inhabitants.
The Mediterranean Wetlands Alliance was established in January 2017, and today has 25 members from throughout the Mediterranean Basin, all working to protect these ecosystems that are crucial for biodiversity and human populations (to read more).
Benjamin Folliot, who completed his PhD thesis with the OFB and Tour du Valat in December 2018, has just published an article in the journal Wildlife Biology on the survival of common Pochard on a European scale (France, Switzerland, United Kingdom).
Analysis of ringing data over several decades suggests that it is not a lower survival of adult females compared to males that has led to the decline of the species, but more likely a problem of reproductive success and/or survival of juveniles.
The survival of adults in France is lower than in Switzerland and the United Kingdom, probably due to higher hunting pressure, but it is not hunting pressure that led to the decline of the species either. However, Benjamin had shown in his PhD thesis that a reduction in the hunting harvest of this species in France, if implemented within the framework of adaptive management, could help to halt the decline.
In western Europe, common pochard populations have experienced a sharp decline over the last two decades, together with an increasing proportion of males. Both of these changes were suggested to result from decreasing survival of nesting females (i.e. survival of adult females) owing to increasing predation pressure. To test this hypothesis, we used capture–mark–recapture/recovery data of common pochard ringed during autumn–winter (October–February) in three countries of western Europe (Switzerland, United Kingdom and France). We found no evidence for decreasing survival of individuals ringed in the United Kingdom or in Switzerland over the long term (1977–2011). In France, adult males and juvenile females experienced significant decreasing survival over a shorter interval (2004–2017). Overall, females displayed lower survival than males, although this was only weakly supported by the French dataset. In contrast, only sex differences and no age differences in survival rates were recorded in the UK and Switzerland (females 0.67 ± 0.03 and 0.69 ± 0.03; males: 0.81 ± 0.01 and 0.75 ± 0.01, respectively), while both age and sex differences were recorded for France (adult females 0.62 ± 0.07, adult males 0.66 ± 0.07, juvenile females 0.49 ± 0.08, juvenile males 0.54 ± 0.08). Therefore, decreasing survival of adult females was unlikely the underlying cause of the decline of common pochard populations in western Europe. Using an age-structured two-sex matrix population model, we show that when adult males experience higher survival than adult females (as it is the case for common pochards), decreasing survival of nests and/or juveniles can trigger decreasing population size and increasing proportions of males at the same time.
Bibliographical reference : Folliot, Benjamin, Guillaume Souchay, Jocelyn Champagnon, Matthieu Guillemain, Maurice Durham, Richard Hearn, Josef Hofer, Jacques Laesser, Christophe Sorin, et Alain Caizergues. When Survival Matters: Is Decreasing Survival Underlying the Decline of Common Pochard in Western Europe? Wildlife Biology, 2020(3)3. https://doi.org/10.2981/wlb.00682
Eurasian Spoonbill migration: we still need your help!
The Tour du Valat and its scientific partners in the Netherlands are trying to better understand the migratory behaviour of Eurasian Spoonbills as they travel between their breeding areas in Europe, and their wintering areas in southern Europe and Africa.
While some individuals in this species can make migratory journeys of several thousand kilometres in the autumn and spring, the environmental and genetic factors that regulate their behaviour, and will enable this species to better adapt to the global changes already occurring, are still not yet well understood.
You can now participate in this major participatory project started in 2019 by following the movements of Eurasian Spoonbills equipped with GPS tags in real time, observing them in the field, and sending your sighting observations to the Tour du Valat and its Dutch partner (learn more on this page).
COVID and the low breeding success this year did not allow more than one Eurasian Spoonbill in the Camargue and 6 in the Netherlands to be equipped for this project. Already three of these Eurasian Spoonbill have started their migration:
Nadia, which left the Netherlands on September 14, crossed France and joined Spain;
Maya, which left the Netherlands on September 17, is on a migratory stopover in the Baie de Somme;
As for Fabio, who left the Camargue on September 14, has already been observed in the Aude by our colleagues from Aude Nature.
Thank you for participating!
[Video] Discover the animated films resulting from our partnership with the MoPA school in Arles