• The classification and management of limestone pavements - an endangered habitat

      Burek, Cynthia V.; Alexander, Roy; Thom, Tim; Willis, Sue D. M. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2011-01)
      This thesis describes an in-depth study of limestone pavements across North West England and North Wales. The aim was to combine elements of geodiversity and biodiversity in order to create a holistic limestone pavement classification to inform future management. A field-based research protocol was used to assess a stratified random sample (46 pavements), accounting for approximately 10% of the limestone pavements in the geographical area. Detailed analyses of key elements are presented, along with important issues that continue to pose threats to this Annex One Priority Habitat. This research resulted in a comprehensive classification, using TWINSPAN analysis and Nonmetric Multidimensional Scaling, identifying six distinct holistic functional groups. The prime factors driving limestone pavement morphology, and hence the classification, were established to be lithology, proximity to structural fault, altitude and human intervention, particularly in terms of grazing intensity. Three upland, open limestone pavement classes were formed. Of these, the richest in terms of geodiversity and biodiversity was the group with the thickest bedding planes and hence the deepest grikes, typically greater than 1m. The class that was most species-poor was "at the highest altitude (above 450m), formed on the thin limestones of the Yoredales. These were characterised by shallow, wide grikes. The third upland limestone pavement group had mid-range grikes, generally 0.5-1m in depth, and small clints. Two wooded classes were identified. One was a lowland 'classic' wooded limestone pavement group with deep, narrow grikes and shallow soils. Indicator species included Juniperus communis and Taxus baccata. The second wooded group was situated proximal to a major structural fault. In this group the pavement dip ranged between 10°-40° with well-runnelled clints that were heavily moss-covered. The sixth group was low altitude, proximal to the coast, characterised by low moss growth, un-vegetated clints and the presence of Ulex europaeus. Conservation management was identified as key to the quality of the limestone pavement habitat and this thesis identifies best management practises and links these to the holistic limestone pavement classification. Finally, as a sample case study, this thesis presents mollusc species and diversity from eleven of the Yorkshire limestone pavements. Analysis establishes significant links between geodiversity and mollusc populations, with key drivers for mollusc communities echoing those of plant species on limestone pavement.
    • Factors modifying welfare in captive lioned-tailed mazaques (Macaca silenus)

      Smith, Tessa E.; Skyner, Lindsay J. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2006-07)
      The lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus) is endangered due to habitat destruction with less than 3500 individuals remaining in isolated fragments of South-West India. Lion-tailed macaques do not reproduce readily in captivity and captive breeding may be relied upon for future conservation. Poor welfare can have negative effects on reproduction so it is important that lion-tailed macaque welfare is examined in captive groups. The aims of this thesis were to understand certain aspects of lion-tailed macaque welfare (behaviour and HPA physiology) in captive populations, with the view to making suggestions for management to promote the species' welfare and reproduction. Behaviour (188 hours), urine (n=133) and faecal samples (n=294) were collected from 38 lion-tailed macaques housed in four groups at the North of England Zoological Society (Chester Zoo), Bristol Zoological Gardens, Assiniboine Park Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park. The study successfully developed and validated assays to detect cortisol in lion-tailed macaque urine and faeces. The assays were then subsequently used to explore behaviour and HPA activity in these endangered primates. The institution in which the individuals were housed and basic life history parameters (age and sex) were explored to further understand the interplay between behaviour and physiology. Social relationships were assessed by measuring proximity (inter-individual distances and time spent in "arms-reach"). Finally the effect of visitors on behaviour, HPA activity and enclosure use was explored. There was significant variation between institutions in behaviour and HPA activity but not proximity. The age of lion-tailed macaques modified their behaviour, but not their HPA activity or proximity. The sex of lion-tailed macaques did not modify behaviour, HPA activity or proximity. The effect of visitors on lion-tailed macaques in the current study is not clear and confirms previous research on the visitor effect on captive primates. It can be concluded from this research that lion-tailed macaques are sensitive to the environment in which they are housed, indicating factors which may have negative effects on their captive breeding rates and ability to cope with habitat fragmentation for population's in-situ. The study has highlighted the need for each captive and wild group of lion-tailed macaques to be considered and monitored separately with regard to welfare and breeding.
    • Maternal investment in mountain gorillas (Gorilla Beringei Beringei)

      Fletcher, Alison W.; Eckardt, Winnie (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2010-02)
      Investigating maternal investment (Ml) and mother-offspring relationships during the period of infant dependency is critically important to furthering the understanding of female reproductive strategies in primates. Infant primates are completely dependent upon their mothers. The way in which a mother allocates her resources therefore is crucial for infant survival, but is balanced Against her need to invest in subsequent offspring. One approach to examining how mothers might invest in their offspring stems from the Trivers & Willard hypothesis (TWH, 1973), which predicts that mothers in good condition should bias their investment towards sons and whereas mothers in poorer condition should bias investment toward daughters. Long-term demographic records on birth sex ratio and inter-birth interval suggest that female mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) do not bias investment prenatally, but they may adjust postnatal Ml according to the TWH. This study investigated Ml and mother-offspring relationships in wild mountain gorillas, using behavioural correlates of Ml, including suckling, weaned age, physical contact, "transport, and grooming to redress the lack of understanding about Ml in this species. The appropriateness of TWH was investigated, integrating different indicators of maternal condition. Important determinants of Ml and mother-offspring relationships were considered, such as offspring age, parity, presence of siblings and maternal relatives, group size and lastly, personality, which has been largely neglected in nonhuman primates. The extent, to which the offspring influenced Ml patterns, was examined using the parent-offspring conflict theory (Trivers, 1972) as a theoretical framework. During 2006-2007, 38 mother-offspring dyads were observed in the Virunga massif, resulting in 1210 hours of direct behavioural observation. Additional field data from the previous four decades were integrated into the dataset for the analysis of suckling and weaned age. Gorilla personality was assessed through the Hominoid Personality Questionnaire. Findings relating to suckling frequency, weaned age, and maternal feeding activities were consistent with the TWH: sons suckled more often than daughters when they had mothers in good condition, whereas the reverse sex-pattern occurred in offspring with mothers in poorer condition. In addition, daughters were weaned at an earlier age than sons when mothers were in better condition, although this sex-difference reduced in older mothers that were categorised as being in good condition. Maternal feeding time and feeding efficiency revealed that mothers in poorer condition spent more time ingesting food when they had daughters, whereas mothers in better .condition spent more time ingesting food when they had sons. Furthermore, group size affected lactation duration with offspring in small groups being weaned earlier than offspring in large groups. Behavioural conflicts over Ml showed that the mother and offspring influenced Ml patterns during the period of dependency. Finally, six personality dimensions were identified, of which five revealed effects maternal behaviour, such as maternal retrieval, responsiveness and rejection, although their relative importance varied between those behaviours. In general, mother and offspring personality effects were complex due to their interactions with the developmental stage of offspring. In conclusion, my thesis research has made several novel contributions to furthering the understanding of female reproductive strategies in the highly endangered mountain gorilla. I presented the first evidence using behavioural data that females bias their postnatal investment towards the sex with the greatest fitness return as predicted by the TWH. My findings are discussed in the light of alternative Ml strategies, such as the local resource competition and enhancement model. My research has highlighted the importance of integrating anthropometric and physiological measures and demographic long-term data into future Ml studies to assess direct costs and benefits of Ml. The examination of mother-offspring behavioural conflicts showed that offspring have a strong impact on the level of Ml they receive. I have also examined the personality of a wild mountain gorilla population for the first time. My findings demonstrate that personality-parenting links are evident in several respects and I have demonstrated the great potential of personality as a determinant of maternal behaviour and mother-offspring relationships.