Providing evidence to improve practice

The journal, Conservation Evidence

Our online journal publishes research, monitoring results and case studies on the effects of conservation interventions. All papers include some monitoring of the effects of the intervention and are written by, or in partnership with, those who did the conservation work. It includes interventions such as habitat creation, habitat restoration, translocations, reintroductions, invasive species control, and education or integrated conservation development programmes, from anywhere around the world.

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A volume is created each year with peer-reviewed papers published throughout the year. We now accept Short Communications as well as standard papers.

Special issues contain new papers on a specific topic.

Virtual collections collate papers published in the journal on specific topics such as management of particular groups of species.

To search for papers on a specific topic within the journal select Advanced search, enter your keyword(s) and within the Source box type: "conservation evidence". This will take you to a list of actions that contain Conservation Evidence papers. In order to see the list of individual Conservation Evidence papers on the topic, please click on 'You can also search Individual Studies' at the top of this page.

Latest papers

The development of artificial corals using 3D-printing technology has been proposed as an alternative to aid the recovery of fish populations in degraded reefs. However, no study has empirically evaluated the potential of such artificial corals to attract fish to reef patches. We conducted an experiment to determine whether the number of fish associated with natural and 3D-printed corals differs significantly. The 3D-printed artificial corals mimicked the morphology of staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis, whose branches serve as habitat for many fish species. There is evidence indicating that fish abundance increases with habitat complexity, but no specific evidence relating to A. cervicornis.  Therefore, we also investigated whether the structural complexity of both natural and artificial corals affected their effectiveness to attract fish. We found that the number of fish associated with artificial and natural corals was not significantly different. However, irrespective of coral type, fish were more abundant in corals with the highest levels of complexity. Our findings suggest that 3D-printed corals can serve as a complementary tool to improve the ecosystem function of degraded coral reefs.

Effectiveness of LED lights on bomas in protecting livestock from predation in southern Kenya
Okemwa B., Gichuki N., Virani M., Kanya J., Kinyamario J. & Santangeli A. (2018), 15, 39-42

Various interventions have been employed to mitigate livestock predation by lions and other carnivores. Livestock owners have typically employed lethal and/or non-lethal measures with varied successes and failures. Resolving the human-carnivore conflict is key to the survival of carnivores and ensuring local livelihoods and safety. Here we assess the effectiveness of placing LED lighting systems at bomas (livestock enclosures) in order to deter predator attacks at night in two group ranches surrounding Amboseli National Park, southern Kenya. Both the number of predatory attacks and the number of livestock killed were significantly lower after the LED lighting system was installed, compared to the period before the LED system was installed for the same boma, or compared to control bomas without LEDs. LED lights reduced the number of attacks on livestock in bomas by almost threefold, and reduced the number of livestock killed by over four times compared to the levels recorded before the LED lights were installed. The results provide clear evidence that the LED system, as installed at bomas in the study regions, was an effective means of reducing night-time predation on livestock, at least in the short term (six months) during which effectiveness was monitored.

Management strategy to avoid chytrid fungus infection in egg clutches of the Valcheta frog Pleurodema somuncurense
Arellano M.L., Velasco M.A., Martínez Aguirre T., Zarini O., Belasen A.M., James T.Y. & Kacoliris F.P. (2018), 15, 38-38

Eggs which were removed from a chytrid-infected population of Valcheta frogs shortly after laying and then hatched in a clean environment resulted in juveniles free of the fungus.

Treatment of adult Valcheta frogs Pleurodema somuncurense for chytrid fungus
Arellano M.L., Velasco M.A., Martínez Aguirre T., Zarini O., Belasen A.M., James T.Y. & Kacoliris F.P. (2018), 15, 37-37

Treatment of an ex-situ colony of Valcheta frog with chloramphenicol solution was not successful in eliminating chytrid fungus.

Mechanical and manual control of prickly pear Opuntia dillenii in lakeside dunes at Laguna del Portil, southern Spain
García-de-Lomas J., Martín I., Saavedra C., Fernández-Carrillo L., Martínez E. & Rodríguez C. (2018), 15, 32-36

We present the results of an intervention to control prickly pear Opuntia dillenii in an area of coastal dunes with Juniperus spp. and Pinus pinea at the ‘Laguna del Portil’ Site of Community Importance, Huelva, southern Spain, in 2015-2017. In the first stage, a total of 2,266 m³ (approximately 460 MT) of the cactus was removed using heavy machinery, which was supplemented by the manual removal of 4 MT of fragments. Subsequently, as part of the periodic control and monitoring work, a total of 200 and 126 kg of shoots and saplings were removed manually after 15 and 25 months respectively. Twenty-six months after the mechanical removal, the composition of native plant species in treated and reference plots (uninvaded areas that represent well-preserved native vegetation) provided evidence of natural recovery. The economic efficiency of the different control stages was compared. The results suggest that combining mechanical and manual methods, adapted to the abundance, size and distribution of the invasive plant, was an effective approach. Additionally, subsequent annual rounds of control appear to be sufficient to provide effective ongoing control of the invasion of Opuntia dillenii.

Segetal plants, which grow preferentially or exclusively in cereal fields, experienced a strong decline during the last century. Among them, Bromus grossus received particular attention, as it is highly threatened in Europe. Its decline is thought to be due to crop seed cleaning among other causes. Re-establishing the sowing of uncleaned crop seeds should therefore be considered as a tool for the conservation of this species. In this study, we aimed to evaluate (i) how the conservation of B. grossus relies on transfer in uncleaned crop seed, (ii) how this practice may help to restore new populations of this species, and (iii) the contribution of this practice to the dispersal of other segetal plants. From 2012 to 2016, we monitored eight fields from three farms in Southern Belgium where uncleaned spelt seed containing B. grossus was sown. We found that B. grossus grew in the year following seed sowing, but disappeared in the second year in most cases. This highlights the extreme dependence of B. grossus upon uncleaned spelt-seed sowing. We also showed that, through associated management practices, B. grossus acted as an ‘umbrella species’ to other arable-dependent plants. Transfer of uncleaned seed led to an increase in species richness in an experimental field from 12 species in 2015 to 43 species in 2017. Based on the germination of uncleaned seeds in a greenhouse, we concluded that it was likely to account for the dispersal of at least nine species, and possibly 15 others.

The effect of using ‘displacement’ to encourage the movement of water voles Arvicola amphibius in lowland England
Gelling M., Harrington A.L., Dean M., Haddy E.C., Marshall C.E. & Macdonald D.W. (2018), 15, 20-25

Water voles are nationally protected as one of Britain’s most endangered wild mammals.  However conflict can arise where works are required along short sections of riverbank. Vegetation removal is commonly used with the aim of displacing water voles towards safety prior to development, despite a lack of evidence demonstrating its efficacy. This study aimed to investigate the movement and fate of water voles in response to vegetation removal, by radio-tracking individuals during spring and autumn at 12 experimental and four control sites. Vegetation was removed to ground level from 50 m of riverbank at experimental sites, and observed home ranges were compared before and after vegetation removal. There was no significant net movement of water voles out of areas where vegetation had been removed in either spring or autumn, although movement of individuals both in and out of the works area did occur. There was no impact of treatment on water vole survival in either season.

Testing tools for eradicating the invasive toad Duttaphrynus melanostictus in Madagascar
Reardon J.T., Kraus F., Moore M., Rabenantenaina L., Rabinivo A., Rakotoarisoa N.H. & Randrianasolo H.H. (2018), 15, 12-19

In 2014, the Asian toad Duttaphrynus melanostictus was first recorded as an invasive species in Madagascar. A feasibility study identified an urgent need to test eradication tools. This study attempts to refine estimates of the toad population and test four potential eradication tools: 1) pitfall trapping and drift fencing, 2) hand-capture removal, 3) citric acid sprays, and 4) tadpole trapping. Using delimited searches and removal trials we estimate that the Asian toad population exceeds seven million post-metamorphic toads within the incursion. Pitfall trapping and drift fencing appeared to function well as control strategies, considering the challenges of operating in a rural working environment. Capture rates suggested that, at the spacing used, a minimum of 14 nights of trapping was needed to see a strong decline in capture rates. Hand-capture of toads demonstrated the potential of local labour to deplete a free ranging toad population, but also showed that the duration of effort would need to be extended as capture rates did not decline strongly over time. Citric acid spray trials showed that this topical toxicant can be very effective for toad control, especially for juveniles. Phytotoxicity trials suggest crop and vegetation damage was not prohibitive to its broader use. Tadpole traps did not work, but we are uncertain of the influence of tadpole developmental stages on this result. This study suggests that an eradication strategy may be possible and should be tested in carefully ordered trials within a delimited area. However, the prospects of employing the best methods over the entire incursion area is likely to be cost-prohibitive and extremely high risk.

Translocation of an endangered endemic Korean treefrog Dryophytes suweonensis
Borzée A., Kim Y.-I., Kim Y.-E. & Jang Y. (2018), 15, 6-11

Endangered species in heavily modified landscapes may be vulnerable to extinction if no conservation plan is implemented. The Suweon treefrog Dryophytes suweonensis is an endemic endangered species from the Korean Peninsula. In an attempt to conserve the species, a translocation plan was implemented in the city of Suwon. The receptor site was a specially modified island in a reservoir. Egg clutches were collected from four nearby sites, and were hatched and reared in a laboratory during 2015. One hundred and fifty froglets were released at the new site. In 2016, one year after the translocation, calling male D. suweonensis and newly hatched tadpoles and juveniles were recorded. Juveniles were seen until the last week before hibernation in autumn 2016. However, only a single male was recorded calling in 2017. The population was consequently considered functionally extinct. Failure of the translocation most likely arose from mismanagement of the vegetation surrounding the wetlands, and the resulting inability of the site to fulfil the ecological requirements of the species. The project allowed the development of rearing protocols for the species, and defined its ecological requirements.

Bud caps can be used to reduce browsing pressure on isolated Scots pine Pinus sylvestris seedlings in outlying areas of Caledonian pinewood.

At Cooper’s Hill Nature Reserve, Bedfordshire, England, areas of mature heather Calluna vulgaris have been lost and replaced by dense grassy swards. We hypothesised that any heather seedlings would have difficulty competing with the grasses and tested this by removing the turf to expose the nutrient-poor sandy soil in seven small plots across the reserve. These plots, together with control areas, were monitored annually to determine which vegetation types would re-establish. Five plots also received seed-rich brash (cut heather) on half of each plot to determine whether additional seeding of stripped areas was required. Analysis of the data collected over the first five years indicates that the technique increased the amount of heather seedlings establishing, as measured by percentage heather cover. Adding seed rich brash had no effect, implying a good amount of viable heather seed is present in the soil at this site. Grasses are also establishing in the stripped areas but are not dominating the plots.

A simple predator exclosure applied to saffron-cowled blackbird nests resulted in 69% fledging success compared to 36% for the controls.