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  1. Mooers, Arne (Ed.)
  2. null (Ed.)
  3. Cooke, Steven (Ed.)
    Abstract Physiological metrics are becoming popular tools for assessing individual condition and population health to inform wildlife management and conservation decisions. Corticosterone assays can provide information on how animals cope with individual and habitat-level stressors, and the recent development of feather assays is an exciting innovation that could yield important insights for conservation of wild birds. Due to the widespread enthusiasm for feather corticosterone as a potential bioindicator, studies are needed to assess the ability of this technique to detect meaningful differences in physiological stress across a variety of stressor types and intensities. We examined feather corticosterone from 144 individuals among the 13 known breeding populations of Hawaiian gallinule (Gallinula galeata sandvicensis), an endangered waterbird, on the island of O‘ahu. These ecologically independent subpopulations are known to have low genetic connectivity and movement rates and differ largely across a number of important conditions, including level of predator management, human disturbance, proximity to urban development and conspecific population density. This system is well suited for assessing the performance of feather corticosterone as a bioindicator of different known habitat-level threats common to this and many other conservation-reliant species. We found no statistically significant relationship between feather corticosterone and level of predator control, level of human disturbance, gallinule population density, percent urban cover or body condition across all sites despite the substantial difference in stressor magnitude in our dataset. We did find that gallinules in habitats with larger population densities were in worse body condition. These findings suggest that feather corticosterone is not a consistent indicator of anthropogenic impacts on populations. Furthermore, they suggest that feather corticosterone may be a poor bioindicator of known habitat-level threats for Hawaiian gallinules and that it should be used with caution in other avian taxa of conservation concern. 
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  4. Abstract

    Water security is essential for human well‐being and is among the biggest challenges in environmental governance. Governments and nonprofit organizations alike are gaining increased appreciation for the contributions of intact ecosystems to water security, whereas conservation scientists call for decisive action to address the dire condition of earth's freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity. Stakeholder‐based, Habermasian decision‐making frameworks such as integrated water resources management (IWRM) are widely used to equitably manage complex water systems, and ecologists have developed increasingly sophisticated frameworks (e.g., environmental flows) to quantify and anticipate the ecological outcomes of water management decisions. IWRM implementation is criticized for being excessively top‐down whereas ecological frameworks in water decision‐making can fail to account for the cultural and societal values of ecosystems, and it remains unclear how best to connect the desired bottom‐up implementation of IWRM with the expert‐based, top‐down structure of hydro‐ecological research. We revisit and elaborate upon the ecological stakeholder analog (ESA) concept, which treats ecological phenomena (e.g., species and processes) as stakeholders and ecological information as interests and positions with respect to water management. We then illustrate how ESAs can address the many calls to improve environmental flows and IWRM strategies by improving their integration, and how established conceptual frameworks from stakeholder theory applies readily to ecological stakeholders.

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  5. Abstract

    Anthropogenic alterations to landscape structure and composition can have significant impacts on biodiversity, potentially leading to species extinctions. Population‐level impacts of landscape change are mediated by animal behaviors, in particular dispersal behavior. Little is known about the dispersal habits of rails (Rallidae) due to their cryptic behavior and tendency to occupy densely vegetated habitats. The effects of landscape structure on the movement behavior of waterbirds in general are poorly studied due to their reputation for having high dispersal abilities. We used a landscape genetic approach to test hypotheses of landscape effects on dispersal behavior of the Hawaiian gallinule (Gallinula galeata sandvicensis), an endangered subspecies endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. We created a suite of alternative resistance surfaces representing biologically plausible a priori hypotheses of how gallinules might navigate the landscape matrix and ranked these surfaces by their ability to explain observed patterns in genetic distance among 12 populations on the island of O`ahu. We modeled effective distance among wetland locations on all surfaces using both cumulative least‐cost‐path and resistance‐distance approaches and evaluated relative model performance using Mantel tests, a causal modeling approach, and the mixed‐model maximum‐likelihood population‐effects framework. Across all genetic markers, simulation methods, and model comparison metrics, surfaces that treated linear water features like streams, ditches, and canals as corridors for gallinule movement outperformed all other models. This is the first landscape genetic study on the movement behavior of any waterbird species to our knowledge. Our results indicate that lotic water features, including drainage infrastructure previously thought to be of minimal habitat value, contribute to habitat connectivity in this listed subspecies.

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    Invasive alien species (IAS) are a rising threat to biodiversity, national security, and regional economies, with impacts in the hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars annually. Proactive or predictive approaches guided by scientific knowledge are essential to keeping pace with growing impacts of invasions under climate change. Although the rapid development of diverse technologies and approaches has produced tools with the potential to greatly accelerate invasion research and management, innovation has far outpaced implementation and coordination. Technological and methodological syntheses are urgently needed to close the growing implementation gap and facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and synergy among evolving disciplines. A broad review is necessary to demonstrate the utility and relevance of work in diverse fields to generate actionable science for the ongoing invasion crisis. Here, we review such advances in relevant fields including remote sensing, epidemiology, big data analytics, environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling, genomics, and others, and present a generalized framework for distilling existing and emerging data into products for proactive IAS research and management. This integrated workflow provides a pathway for scientists and practitioners in diverse disciplines to contribute to applied invasion biology in a coordinated, synergistic, and scalable manner.

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