Wildlife Comeback in Europe - The Recovery of Selected Mammal and Bird Species. Deinet, S.; Ieronymidou, C.; McRae, L.; Burfield, I. J.; Foppen, R. P.; Collen, B.; and Böhm, M. Zoological Society of London; Birdlife International; and the European Bird Census Council / Rewilding Europe.
Wildlife Comeback in Europe - The Recovery of Selected Mammal and Bird Species [link]Paper  abstract   bibtex   
[Executive summary] With biodiversity in continuing decline worldwide, and targets set to reduce biodiversity loss not being met, conservation successes are rare in comparison to the news on declining populations and extinctions. Wildlife in Europe is showing a variety of responses to human pressure: while certain groups are clearly in decline and require conservation attention, other wildlife species are showing resurgence from previously low levels. Understanding the mechanisms allowing this wildlife comeback is crucial to better conservation of wildlife both in Europe and across the world, if we can apply the principles underlying conservation success to reverse declines in other species. [] In this report, we attempt to unravel patterns and processes behind wildlife comeback in Europe since the mid-20th century, focussing on a selected subset of mammals and birds. Of the many possible metrics of biodiversity change, we focus on two of the most useful and widely reported in order to understand the recent positive changes in some species. Firstly, we examine changes in species range. Secondly, we examine the change in population abundance and possible factors behind the trends, such as the mitigation of threats or targeted conservation action. [] The story of conservation success against a backdrop of a biodiversity crisis is given centre stage by means of detailed accounts for 18 mammal and 19 bird species showing signs of comeback. For each, we examine population trends over time and evaluate historical and current ranges, highlighting where a species' range has contracted, persisted, expanded or been recolonised over time. [] Our analysis shows that while these species have increased in abundance since the 1960s (with the exception of the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), which declined), there is great variation between species and regions. For example, abundance increases ranged from less than 10\,% for the Red kite (Milvus milvus) to more than 3,000\,% for the European bison (Bison bonasus), Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber), White-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) and some populations of Pink-footed goose (Anser brachyrhynchus) and Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis). For mammal species, increases in abundance were greatest in southern and western Europe. [] Analysis of range change showed that the mammal species selected for this study have, on average, increased their distribution range by around 30\,% since the mid-20th century. Ranges of bird species selected for this study have on average remained stable over the same time period, although the majority of species at first contracted considerably, but then expanded again by 14\,% since the 1980s. There is much variation in species distribution trends among taxa and across space, from clustering of range expansions in Fennoscandia and eastern Europe for mammalian carnivores, to pan-European increases in deer, with opposing trends between central and northwestern Europe, where more bird species have expanded, and southeastern Europe where more have contracted. [] We find that wildlife comeback in Europe since the mid-20th century appears to be predominantly due to species protection and active targeted conservation (both birds and mammals), habitat management and site protection (birds) and legal protection (both). Of the species management techniques, actively boosting existing or setting up new populations, via translocations and reintroductions, was the foremost type of species management linked to increased abundances amongst mammals and birds. Reduction in hunting pressure, protection from persecution and the phasing out of certain toxic chemicals, thus decreasing non-natural mortality, were also important for species recovery. [] Despite a picture of increasing abundance and expanding distributions for a number of European bird and mammal species, many other species are still at risk. Furthermore, the results of this report have to be viewed in the context of large historical range declines. In some instances, such as with European carnivores and many bird species, ranges and abundances had already declined dramatically from historical distributions by the mid-20th century. Therefore, wildlife resurgence has to be assessed cautiously, as although species have come back, many are still below historical abundance levels and have not yet reached the level necessary to secure viable long-term populations. [] Wildlife comeback is going to bring with it major benefits, by reconnecting people with nature which increases their wellbeing by contributions to local and national economies as well as rural development through wildlife tourism and marketing of wildlife-related products, and by restoring balance to the natural processes of ecosystems. Putting these opportunities into a local context is vital for sustainability and to mitigate any potential conflict with people. Recognising the spatial needs of species through an effective and linked-up protected area network and providing suitable habitat for many species will ensure the long term recovery of wildlife. Within the European Union, the Natura 2000 network has the potential to become such a network, but Member States need first to implement and enforce the EU Nature legislation. Understanding the issues that arise from an increasing interaction between wildlife and people and the opportunities that can be realised from it is critical to ensure a functioning European landscape for both humans and nature. [] The case studies of wildlife comeback presented in this report seem to vindicate decades of conservation efforts in Europe. Sound legislation such as the Birds and Habitats Directives have led to better hunting regulation, species and site protection and focusing of conservation investments. They show that with sufficient resources and appropriate efforts, species can be brought back, even from the brink of extinction. Conservation seems to have been particularly successful where it has been able to work with the grain of social change, such as abandonment of marginal farming areas allowing many ungulates and predators to return. Success stories are more difficult to find among species faced with growing threats, such as agricultural intensification. Conservation in the coming decades must continue to build on recent successes, including by restoring functional landscapes, but must also consider those species that are threatened by land use and our ever growing appetite for resources.
@book{deinetWildlifeComebackEurope2013,
  title = {Wildlife Comeback in {{Europe}} - {{The}} Recovery of Selected Mammal and Bird Species},
  author = {Deinet, Stefanie and Ieronymidou, Christina and McRae, Louise and Burfield, Ian J. and Foppen, Ruud P. and Collen, Ben and Böhm, Monika},
  date = {2013},
  publisher = {{Zoological Society of London; Birdlife International; and the European Bird Census Council / Rewilding Europe}},
  url = {http://mfkp.org/INRMM/article/14089335},
  abstract = {[Executive summary] 

With biodiversity in continuing decline worldwide, and targets set to reduce biodiversity loss not being met, conservation successes are rare in comparison to the news on declining populations and extinctions. Wildlife in Europe is showing a variety of responses to human pressure: while certain groups are clearly in decline and require conservation attention, other wildlife species are showing resurgence from previously low levels. Understanding the mechanisms allowing this wildlife comeback is crucial to better conservation of wildlife both in Europe and across the world, if we can apply the principles underlying conservation success to reverse declines in other species.

[] In this report, we attempt to unravel patterns and processes behind wildlife comeback in Europe since the mid-20th century, focussing on a selected subset of mammals and birds. Of the many possible metrics of biodiversity change, we focus on two of the most useful and widely reported in order to understand the recent positive changes in some species. Firstly, we examine changes in species range. Secondly, we examine the change in population abundance and possible factors behind the trends, such as the mitigation of threats or targeted conservation action.

[] The story of conservation success against a backdrop of a biodiversity crisis is given centre stage by means of detailed accounts for 18 mammal and 19 bird species showing signs of comeback. For each, we examine population trends over time and evaluate historical and current ranges, highlighting where a species' range has contracted, persisted, expanded or been recolonised over time.

[] Our analysis shows that while these species have increased in abundance since the 1960s (with the exception of the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), which declined), there is great variation between species and regions. For example, abundance increases ranged from less than 10\,\% for the Red kite (Milvus milvus) to more than 3,000\,\% for the European bison (Bison bonasus), Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber), White-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) and some populations of Pink-footed goose (Anser brachyrhynchus) and Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis). For mammal species, increases in abundance were greatest in southern and western Europe.

[] Analysis of range change showed that the mammal species selected for this study have, on average, increased their distribution range by around 30\,\% since the mid-20th century. Ranges of bird species selected for this study have on average remained stable over the same time period, although the majority of species at first contracted considerably, but then expanded again by 14\,\% since the 1980s. There is much variation in species distribution trends among taxa and across space, from clustering of range expansions in Fennoscandia and eastern Europe for mammalian carnivores, to pan-European increases in deer, with opposing trends between central and northwestern Europe, where more bird species have expanded, and southeastern Europe where more have contracted.

[] We find that wildlife comeback in Europe since the mid-20th century appears to be predominantly due to species protection and active targeted conservation (both birds and mammals), habitat management and site protection (birds) and legal protection (both). Of the species management techniques, actively boosting existing or setting up new populations, via translocations and reintroductions, was the foremost type of species management linked to increased abundances amongst mammals and birds. Reduction in hunting pressure, protection from persecution and the phasing out of certain toxic chemicals, thus decreasing non-natural mortality, were also important for species recovery.

[] Despite a picture of increasing abundance and expanding distributions for a number of European bird and mammal species, many other species are still at risk. Furthermore, the results of this report have to be viewed in the context of large historical range declines. In some instances, such as with European carnivores and many bird species, ranges and abundances had already declined dramatically from historical distributions by the mid-20th century. Therefore, wildlife resurgence has to be assessed cautiously, as although species have come back, many are still below historical abundance levels and have not yet reached the level necessary to secure viable long-term populations.

[] Wildlife comeback is going to bring with it major benefits, by reconnecting people with nature which increases their wellbeing by contributions to local and national economies as well as rural development through wildlife tourism and marketing of wildlife-related products, and by restoring balance to the natural processes of ecosystems. Putting these opportunities into a local context is vital for sustainability and to mitigate any potential conflict with people. Recognising the spatial needs of species through an effective and linked-up protected area network and providing suitable habitat for many species will ensure the long term recovery of wildlife. Within the European Union, the Natura 2000 network has the potential to become such a network, but Member States need first to implement and enforce the EU Nature legislation. Understanding the issues that arise from an increasing interaction between wildlife and people and the opportunities that can be realised from it is critical to ensure a functioning European landscape for both humans and nature.

[] The case studies of wildlife comeback presented in this report seem to vindicate decades of conservation efforts in Europe. Sound legislation such as the Birds and Habitats Directives have led to better hunting regulation, species and site protection and focusing of conservation investments. They show that with sufficient resources and appropriate efforts, species can be brought back, even from the brink of extinction. Conservation seems to have been particularly successful where it has been able to work with the grain of social change, such as abandonment of marginal farming areas allowing many ungulates and predators to return. Success stories are more difficult to find among species faced with growing threats, such as agricultural intensification. Conservation in the coming decades must continue to build on recent successes, including by restoring functional landscapes, but must also consider those species that are threatened by land use and our ever growing appetite for resources.},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-14089335,biodiversity,bird-conservation,carnivores,europe,mammals,protection}
}
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