Phylogenetic classification of the world’s tropical forests

Ferry Slik led a new and exciting paper that just came out in PNAS. It is Open Access and can be downloaded here!

Here’s the Abstract:

Knowledge about the biogeographic affinities of the world’s tropical forests helps to better understand regional differences in forest structure, diversity, composition, and dynamics. Such understanding will enable anticipation of region-specific responses to global environmental change. Modern phylogenies, in combination with broad coverage of species inventory data, now allow for global biogeographic analyses that take species evolutionary distance into account. Here we present a classification of the world’s tropical forests based on their phylogenetic similarity. We identify five principal floristic regions and their floristic relationships: (i) Indo-Pacific, (ii) Subtropical, (iii) African, (iv) American, and (v) Dry forests. Our results do not support the traditional neo- versus paleotropical forest division but instead separate the combined American and African forests from their Indo-Pacific counterparts. We also find indications for the existence of a global dry forest region, with representatives in America, Africa, Madagascar, and India. Additionally, a northern-hemisphere Subtropical forest region was identified with representatives in Asia and America, providing support for a link between Asian and American northern-hemisphere forests.

 

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New paper on practical aspects of using drones out

We just published a new paper on drones and its open access so can be downloaded from here.

Abstract

Lightweight drones have emerged recently as a remote sensing survey tool of choice for ecologists, conservation practitioners and environmental scientists. In published work, there are plentiful details on the parameters and settings used for successful data capture, but in contrast there is a dearth of information describing the operational complexity of drone deployment. Information about the practices of flying in the field, whilst currently lacking, would be useful for others embarking on new drone-based investigations. As a group of drone-piloting scientists, we have operated lightweight drones for research in over 25 projects, in over 10 countries, and in polar, desert, coastal and tropical ecosystems, with many hundreds of hours of flying experience between us. The purpose of this paper was to document the lesser-reported methodological pitfalls of drone deployments so that other scientists can understand the spectrum of considerations that need to be accounted for prior to, and during drone survey flights. Herein, we describe the most common challenges encountered, alongside mitigation and remediation actions that increase the chances of safe and successful data capture. Challenges are grouped into the following categories: (i) pre-flight planning, (ii) flight operations, (iii) weather, (iv) redundancy, (v) data quality, (vi) batteries. We also discuss the importance of scientists undertaking ethical assessment of their drone practices, to identify and mitigate potential conflicts associated with drone use in particular areas. By sharing our experience, our intention is that the paper will assist those embarking on new drone deployments, increasing the efficacy of acquiring high-quality data from this new proximal aerial viewpoint.

 

New paper shows steep negative trend for Bornean orangutan

A recent paper led by Truly Santika shows that there has been a steep negative trend for the Bornean orangutan during the past decade. The paper is open access and can be downloaded here.

The Bornean orangutan is now a critically endangered species

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A Bornean orangutan female and infant at the Tuanan research station

 

 

 

 

PhD application opportunities

There are new PhD application opportunities at LJMU. See: https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/research/phd-scholarships

If you are a student with an MSc and one or more published papers and are interested to potentially collaborate with me on primate or drone projects get in touch. These scholarships are highly competitive and the proposal topic depends to a large extent on the interest of the student.