• Recognising the potential role of native ponies in conservation management

      Stanley, Christina R.; Fraser, Marecia; Hegarty, Matt; University of Chester; Aberystwyth University (Elsevier, 2019-04-28)
      Population control of feral horses has been the subject of public debate in many parts of the world in recent years due to wide-reaching ecological and societal impacts. However, the feral populations in these high-profile cases are not ‘native’ but are instead descended from animals which escaped from or were released by settlers. This paper considers i) the potential role of indigenous equids as conservation grazers within native ecosystems currently in poor condition, and ii) the value of supporting semi-wild native ponies specifically. We argue that the high ecological overlap between ponies and cattle reported in a range of studies means that they should be considered as alternative tools for conservation management, particularly in scenarios where there is a need to reduce the dominance of plant species avoided by more-selective small ruminants such as sheep. Semi-wild ponies could be particularly suited to conservation grazing because their genomes have been predominately shaped by natural and not artificial selection, meaning they may have adaptations no longer present in domesticated equids. With agricultural and environmental policy in the EU and UK under major review, it is anticipated that the wider delivery of public goods, rather than primary production, will be prioritised under future subsidy payment schemes. Recognising the value of native ponies as conservation grazers would broaden the range of routes by which land managers could achieve biodiversity gain, while simultaneously supporting at-risk equine genotypes.
    • Risk and resilience: high stakes for sharks making transjurisdictional movements to use a conservation area.

      Oliver, Simon P.; Grothues, Thomas; Williams, Amie; Cerna, Voltaire; Silvosa, Medel; Cases, Gary; Reed, Matthew; Christopher, Simon; University of Chester; Rutgers University Marine Field Station; Scotish National Heritage; The Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project; Divelink Cebu; Evolution Dive Resort; Scubazoo (Elsevier, 2018-12-18)
      Oceanic sharks are vulnerable to overexploitation due to their life-history strategies, and declines in their populations are well documented. While it is clear that pelagic sharks are often subjected to uncontrolled fishing for their meat and valuable fins, a lack of empirical knowledge, and transboundary jurisdictional issues have stalled many initiatives to protect them in the wild. Alopiids, including pelagic thresher sharks, are important to Asian fisheries, but the extent to which they are exploited in the Philippines is unknown. We fitted 14 pelagic thresher sharks with acoustic tags, and monitored their fine scale lateral movements near a seamount in the Central Visayas where their regular occurrence is prized as a tourism enterprise. Pelagic thresher sharks used a specific corridor to move away from the seamount after early morning visits to cleaner wrasse. Long range dispersals occurred at a mean rate of 3.79 ± 1.43 km h-1 and were attributed to foraging behavior. Daily foraging expeditions led pelagic thresher sharks to potentially venture across the jurisdictional waters of five provincial territories even when they regularly returned to the seamount. Thresher sharks preferred specific locations on the seamount where they interact with cleaner fish. While the seamount offers cleaner associated services and refuge provision for these rare and elusive sharks, disconnects between habitual predator and prey localizations are likely to increase their vulnerability to pressure from large scale fisheries that operate in the area.