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Using multiple palaeoecological indicators to guide biodiversity conservation in tropical dry islands: The case of São Nicolau, Cabo Verde

Using multiple palaeoecological indicators to guide biodiversity conservation in tropical dry islands: The case of São Nicolau, Cabo Verde
Using multiple palaeoecological indicators to guide biodiversity conservation in tropical dry islands: The case of São Nicolau, Cabo Verde
Tropical dry islands are currently facing major challenges derived from anthropogenic and climatic pressures. However, their trajectories of environmental change, which could provide relevant information applicable to biodiversity conservation, remain understudied. This is mainly due to poor micro-fossil preservation and irregular sediment deposition. Multi-proxy palaeoecological analyses spanning decades to 1000s of years can add perspective as to how vegetation, fungal communities, and the fauna responded to previous natural and anthropogenic disturbances. In São Nicolau, Cabo Verde, we used palaeoecological methods to analyse a highland soil profile (1000 m asl) dated to 5900 cal yr BP. We analysed how vegetation (abundances in pollen of native and introduced species, and leaf wax n-alkanes), ferns and fungal communities (abundance of non-pollen palynomorphs) varied over time in relation to fire (charcoal concentration) and erosion regimes (grain sizes and elemental composition). Between 5000 and 400 cal yr BP the highlands held native woody taxa such as Euphorbia tuckeyana, Dracaena draco subsp. caboverdeana, and Ficus, taxa that can be used for future reforestation programmes. From 400 cal yr BP to the present day, replacement of native taxa by introduced and cultivated taxa (Pinus, Eucalyptus, Asystasia, Opuntia) has occurred. Vegetation burning and grazing caused loss of vegetation and erosion, acting as conjoined drivers of scrubland degradation. This dataset helps to set historically contextualised restoration goals such as the re-introduction of native species, monitoring of recently introduced species and control of free grazing. This can serve as a model system for the conservation of tropical dry islands' biodiversity.
Conservation Palaeoecology, Ecological disturbances, Fire-history, Human impacts, Tropical dry islands, Vegetation change
0006-3207
Castilla-Beltrán, Alvaro
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Duarte, Ivani
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De Nascimento, Lea
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Fernández-Palacios, José María
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Romeiras, Maria
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Whittaker, Robert J.
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Jambrina-Enríquez, Margarita
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Mallol, Carolina
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Cundy, Andrew B.
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Edwards, Mary
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Nogué, Sandra
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Castilla-Beltrán, Alvaro
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Duarte, Ivani
de0c0d07-993f-45dc-9e6e-53247da2c5e3
De Nascimento, Lea
5bb40153-b7a1-495e-b0ac-302307b930b7
Fernández-Palacios, José María
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Romeiras, Maria
a2f04d16-d662-4b13-8ab4-8dd0b5f1b3de
Whittaker, Robert J.
5129fcff-2ef3-436f-bef6-88c520e4aae9
Jambrina-Enríquez, Margarita
415f4151-8620-484e-9581-0bf078ce5369
Mallol, Carolina
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Cundy, Andrew B.
994fdc96-2dce-40f4-b74b-dc638286eb08
Edwards, Mary
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Nogué, Sandra
5b464cff-a158-481f-8b7f-647c93d7a034

Castilla-Beltrán, Alvaro, Duarte, Ivani, De Nascimento, Lea, Fernández-Palacios, José María, Romeiras, Maria, Whittaker, Robert J., Jambrina-Enríquez, Margarita, Mallol, Carolina, Cundy, Andrew B., Edwards, Mary and Nogué, Sandra (2020) Using multiple palaeoecological indicators to guide biodiversity conservation in tropical dry islands: The case of São Nicolau, Cabo Verde. Biological Conservation, 242, [108397]. (doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108397).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Tropical dry islands are currently facing major challenges derived from anthropogenic and climatic pressures. However, their trajectories of environmental change, which could provide relevant information applicable to biodiversity conservation, remain understudied. This is mainly due to poor micro-fossil preservation and irregular sediment deposition. Multi-proxy palaeoecological analyses spanning decades to 1000s of years can add perspective as to how vegetation, fungal communities, and the fauna responded to previous natural and anthropogenic disturbances. In São Nicolau, Cabo Verde, we used palaeoecological methods to analyse a highland soil profile (1000 m asl) dated to 5900 cal yr BP. We analysed how vegetation (abundances in pollen of native and introduced species, and leaf wax n-alkanes), ferns and fungal communities (abundance of non-pollen palynomorphs) varied over time in relation to fire (charcoal concentration) and erosion regimes (grain sizes and elemental composition). Between 5000 and 400 cal yr BP the highlands held native woody taxa such as Euphorbia tuckeyana, Dracaena draco subsp. caboverdeana, and Ficus, taxa that can be used for future reforestation programmes. From 400 cal yr BP to the present day, replacement of native taxa by introduced and cultivated taxa (Pinus, Eucalyptus, Asystasia, Opuntia) has occurred. Vegetation burning and grazing caused loss of vegetation and erosion, acting as conjoined drivers of scrubland degradation. This dataset helps to set historically contextualised restoration goals such as the re-introduction of native species, monitoring of recently introduced species and control of free grazing. This can serve as a model system for the conservation of tropical dry islands' biodiversity.

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Revised_Manuscript_BIOC_NO_CHANGES - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 21 December 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 9 January 2020
Published date: 1 February 2020
Keywords: Conservation Palaeoecology, Ecological disturbances, Fire-history, Human impacts, Tropical dry islands, Vegetation change

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 437780
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/437780
ISSN: 0006-3207
PURE UUID: 48c99b93-b720-49e1-923d-374072148987
ORCID for Andrew B. Cundy: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4368-2569
ORCID for Mary Edwards: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3490-6682
ORCID for Sandra Nogué: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0093-4252

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Date deposited: 17 Feb 2020 17:30
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 17:25

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