• Assessing grey squirrel dispersal patterns within the landscape using sequence variation

      Stevenson, Claire D.; Ramsey, Andrew; Nevin, Owen T.; Sinclair, William; University of Cumbria (2012)
      The grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis is thought to have contributed to the decline of red squirrel S. vulgaris populations in the UK through resource competition and disease spread. This study used mtDNA sequencing to assess patterns of grey squirrel dispersal in the UK. Patterns of genetic variation within the dloop sequence were characterised for seven grey squirrel populations. Infiltration directions and potential barriers to dispersal are identified and discussed, with a focus on Cumbria, a county at the forefront of grey squirrel expansion. Understanding the dynamics of grey squirrel dispersal will aid their management at a landscape scale and enhance the conservation of red squirrels.
    • Changing place: palm oil and sense of place in Borneo

      Lindsay, Ellie; Convery, Ian; Ramsey, Andrew; Simmons, Eunice; University of Cumbria (2012)
      The conservation of tropical ecosystems is complex and contested, not least in terms of cultural and political perspectives between developed and developing nations (Bawa & Seidler, 1998; Colchester, 2000; Brosius & Hitchner, 2010). In Sabah, on the island of Borneo, Malaysia much of the forest has recently been converted to oil palm plantations. The plantations cover vast areas and leave relatively little space for native flora and fauna. Whilst efforts are underway to enhance biodiversity within the plantations, there is no clear consensus as to how this might best be achieved and this has led in part to divisions opening up amongst stakeholders (Othman & Ameer, 2009). A range of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working within Sabah endeavour to conserve threatened biodiversity; at the Governmental level there are significant drivers for development and economic stability; while the plantation owners are trying to improve their yields and increase their global market. There is also increasing consumer pressure in Europe and North America linked to concerns about the survival of iconic rainforest species such as orang-utans. This paper considers these issues within a context of globalisation and profound economic and social change within Malaysia.
    • Conserving natural heritage: shifting perceptions of culture and nature.

      Smith, Darrell; Convery, Ian; Ramsey, Andrew; Kouloumpis, Viktor; University of Cumbria; University of Derby; University of Manchester (Boydell Press, 2016)
    • Defining Landscape Resistance Values in Least-Cost Connectivity Models for the Invasive Grey Squirrel: A Comparison of Approaches Using Expert-Opinion and Habitat Suitability Modelling

      Stevenson, Claire D.; Watts, Kevin; Bellamy, Chloe; Nevin, Owen T.; Ramsey, Andrew; University of Derby (PLOS, 2014-11-07)
      Least-cost models are widely used to study the functional connectivity of habitat within a varied landscape matrix. A critical step in the process is identifying resistance values for each land cover based upon the facilitating or impeding impact on species movement. Ideally resistance values would be parameterised with empirical data, but due to a shortage of such information, expert-opinion is often used. However, the use of expert-opinion is seen as subjective, human-centric and unreliable. This study derived resistance values from grey squirrel habitat suitability models (HSM) in order to compare the utility and validity of this approach with more traditional, expert-led methods. Models were built and tested with MaxEnt, using squirrel presence records and a categorical land cover map for Cumbria, UK. Predictions on the likelihood of squirrel occurrence within each land cover type were inverted, providing resistance values which were used to parameterise a leastcost model. The resulting habitat networks were measured and compared to those derived from a least-cost model built with previously collated information from experts. The expert-derived and HSM-inferred least-cost networks differ in precision. The HSM-informed networks were smaller and more fragmented because of the higher resistance values attributed to most habitats. These results are discussed in relation to the applicability of both approaches for conservation and management objectives, providing guidance to researchers and practitioners attempting to apply and interpret a leastcost approach to mapping ecological networks.
    • Designer reefs and coral probiotics: great concepts but are they good practice?

      Sweet, Michael J.; Ramsey, Andrew; Bulling, Mark T.; University of Derby (Taylor and Francis, 2017-03-31)
    • Effects of substrate size and cleaning regime on growth and survival of captive-bred juvenile freshwater pearl mussels, Margaritifera margaritifera (Linnaeus, 1758)

      Lavictoire, Louise; Sinclair, William; Sweeting, Roger A.; Moorkens, Evelyn; Ramsey, Andrew; University of Derby (Springer, 2015-09-04)
      The freshwater pearl mussel is critically endangered and most English populations are at risk of extinction unless conservation measures are implemented immediately. The study objectives were to test a culture system for rearing Margaritifera margaritifera in captivity, and to investigate the effects of substrate size (0.25–1 and 1–2 mm) and cleaning regime (weekly and monthly) on survival and growth. In total, 1207 and 518 juveniles were reared to 362 (12 months) and 758 days (25 months), respectively. After 362 days, survival was significantly higher in 1–2 mm substrate treatments cleaned monthly (55 ± 6 %) and lowest in 0.25–1 mm substrate cleaned weekly (14 ± 3 %). Growth was significantly higher in 1–2 mm substrates cleaned weekly (length = 1.15 ± 0.21 mm) and lowest in 0.25–1 mm substrates cleaned monthly (length = 0.83 ± 0.23 mm). Juveniles from most treatments did not display sizedependent over-winter survival, but a significant correlation was found between shell length and survival in the 0.25–1 mm weekly treatment. This low-maintenance system utilised features of previously described systems and growth and survival rates were comparable to, if not better than, other studies culturing M. margaritifera. The system could be scaled up to rear significant numbers of juveniles in captivity.
    • An expression of multiple values: The relationship between community, landscape and natural resource

      Smith, Darrell; Convery, Ian; Ramsey, Andrew; Kouloumpis, Viktor; University of Derby (Stockholm University Press, 2016-10-24)
      To aid political and institutional decision making in the sustainable use of natural resources the value of ecological, socio-cultural and economic assets has increasingly been communicated in terms of monetary units. Despite reliance upon natural resources, the impact of human activities has now reached a stage where cumulative losses are forcing society to re-appraise the evaluation process and how to better incorporate these values in to the decision-making process. This paper examines the attributes of value held by natural resources within ecological, socio-cultural and economic value domains from the perspective of a rural UK community. Here we reflect upon the continued primacy of monetary valuation of natural resource using two approaches, a scaled preference-based value typology and a place-based map measure. We demonstrate that the societal relationships which inform the evaluation of natural resources are both multi-faceted and hierarchical. Moreover, whilst aware of the utilitarian character of society’s relationship with natural resource, the societal value-for-natural-resource relationship is primarily expressed using social-ecological qualities. These results add weight to the call for a new approach towards natural resource evaluation and how these values contribute to the sustainability agenda. New methods of evaluation must adopt multiple values that extend beyond a solely economic-based commodification concern to encompass the human relationship with the resource itself. Wherein, a multi-faceted approach to attributing value to natural resource, set within an experiential framework, can provide a focal point for discussion and the decision-making process.
    • The function of strategic tree selectivity in the chemical signalling of brown bears

      Clapham, Melanie; Nevin, Owen T.; Ramsey, Andrew; Rosell, Frank; University of Cumbria (2013)
    • A hypothetico-deductive approach to assessing the social function of chemical signalling in a non-territorial solitary carnivore

      Clapham, Melanie; Nevin, Owen T.; Ramsey, Andrew; Rosell, Frank; Renou, Michel; University of Cumbria (2012)
      The function of chemical signalling in non-territorial solitary carnivores is still relatively unclear. Studies on territorial solitary and social carnivores have highlighted odour capability and utility, however the social function of chemical signalling in wild carnivore populations operating dominance hierarchy social systems has received little attention. We monitored scent marking and investigatory behaviour of wild brown bears Ursus arctos, to test multiple hypotheses relating to the social function of chemical signalling. Camera traps were stationed facing bear ‘marking trees’ to document behaviour by different age sex classes in different seasons. We found evidence to support the hypothesis that adult males utilise chemical signalling to communicate dominance to other males throughout the non-denning period. Adult females did not appear to utilise marking trees to advertise oestrous state during the breeding season. The function of marking by subadult bears is somewhat unclear, but may be related to the behaviour of adult males. Subadults investigated trees more often than they scent marked during the breeding season, which could be a result of an increased risk from adult males. Females with young showed an increase in marking and investigation of trees outside of the breeding season. We propose the hypothesis that females engage their dependent young with marking trees from a young age, at a relatively ‘safe’ time of year. Memory, experience, and learning at a young age, may all contribute towards odour capabilities in adult bears.
    • The impact of freshwater mussels (order Unionoida) on river bed characteristics and sediment flux: A flume-based study.

      Leng, Andrea; Davies-Vollum, K. Siân; Ramsey, Andrew; University of Derby (2018-05-05)
      Unionoid mussels are considered keystone species due to their ability to modify and link pelagic, benthic and hyporheic environments in freshwater systems, [1,2,3] yet empirical data to determine their influence on river bed dynamics and sediment flux is lacking. A recirculating flume-based study using fifty individuals of the unionoid species Anodonta anatina investigated the impact of this species on bedform development and particle flux of a polymodal substrate representative of the grain size distribution of the mussel's river habitat. River seston was added to the flume at weekly intervals, and water and substrate conditions were monitored for the eight-week duration of the study. The control experiment had mussels absent from the flume. It was found that the presence of A. anatina increased the organic content of the substrate through deposition of pseudofaeces, and led to significant reductions in near-bed velocity, boundary shear-stress and the amount of suspended and dissolved solids in the water column. However, despite these impacts a greater quantity of sediment and a larger range of grainsizes entered the flume's sediment trap compared to the control experiment when mussels were absent. The impact of mussel bioturbation appears to outweigh any sediment stabilisation effects arising from the increased organic content of the substrate and the reduced near bed velocities. Additionally, sediment grainsize and longitudinal wetted profile measurements indicate that the mussels increased bed roughness and heterogeneity of the substrate. Given that freshwater mussels can exist at very high densities within rivers, [3] increased mixing and mobilisation of bedload, improved habitat heterogeneity and the transferral of material from the water to the substrate by mussels implies they constitute a critical element in the sediment and nutrient dynamics of fluvial systems. References: 1. Vaughn, C.C., Nichols, S.J. & Spooner, D.E., 2008. Community and foodweb ecology of freshwater mussels. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 27(2), pp.409-423. 2. Gutierrez, J.L. et al., 2003. Mollusks as ecosystem engineers: the role of shell production in aquatic habitats. Oikos, 101(1), pp.79-90. 3. Aldridge, D.C. et al, 2007. Freshwater mussel abundance predicts biodiversity in UK lowland rivers. Aquatic Conservation-Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 17(January), pp.554-564.
    • The impacts of commercial woodland management on butterfly biodiversity.

      Taylor, Donna L.; Ramsey, Andrew; Convery, Ian; Lawrence, Anna; Weatheral, Andrew; University of Cumbria; Forestry Research (2013)
      Although the effects on biodiversity in woodland managed for conservation have been studied for a range of species, there is very little empirical data on the potential impacts of commercial woodland management on biodiversity in the UK. This study measured species richness and abundance of diurnal butterflies as a proxy for the habitat quality of three different woodland management techniques in the Morecambe Bay limestone woodland region. Butterflies were sampled at two sites; Gait Barrows and Witherslack, where three woodland management techniques were carried out: low management woodland (woodland with no recent intervention); traditional coppice management for conservation; and commercial woodland management. Both coppice management for conservation and commercial management had significantly higher butterfly species richness and abundance when compared to low management woodland; neither butterfly species richness nor abundance were significantly different between the traditional coppice management for conservation and commercial woodland management. UK Biodiversity Action Plan fritillary species (high brown fritillary Argynnis adippe; pearl bordered fritillary Boloria euphrosyne; and small pearl bordered fritillary Boloria selene) were not significantly different between the traditional coppice management for conservation and commercial management.
    • Influence of accuracy, repeatability and detection probability in the reliability of species-specific eDNA based approaches

      Mauvisseau, Quentin; Burian, Alfred; Gibson, Ceri; Brys, Rein; Ramsey, Andrew; Sweet, Michael; University of Derby; Freshwater Biological Association, Cumbria; Research Institute for Nature and Forest, Belgium (Springer, 2019-01-24)
      Environmental DNA (eDNA) barcoding has a high potential to increase the cost-efficiency of species detection and monitoring in aquatic habitats. However, despite vast developments in the field, many published assays often lack detailed validation and there is little to no commonly (agreed upon) standardization of protocols. In this study, we evaluated the reliability of eDNA detection and quantification using published primers and assays targeting the Freshwater Pearl Mussel as a model organism. We first assessed limits of detection for two different target genes (COI and 16S) following the MIQE guidelines, and then tested the reliability of quantification in a double-blind mesocosm experiment. Our results reveal that different methodological indicators, namely accuracy, repeatability and detection probability affected the reliability of eDNA measurement at the different levels tested. The selection of the optimal analytical method was mainly determined by detection probability. Both the COI and 16S assays were highly specific for the targeted organism and showed similar accuracy and repeatability, whilst the limit of detection was clearly lower for the COI based approach. In contrast, the reliability of eDNA quantification hinged on repeatability, reflected by the scattering (r2 = 0.87) around the relationship between eDNA and mussel density in mesocosms. A bootstrapping approach, which allowed for the assignment of measures associated with repeatability of samples, revealed that variability between natural replicates (i.e. accuracy) strongly influenced the number of replicates required for a reliable species detection and quantification in the field.
    • Ontogeny of juvenile freshwater pearl mussels, Margaritifera margaritifera (Bivalvia: Margaritiferidae).

      Lavictoire, Louise; Ramsey, Andrew; Moorkens, Evelyn; Souch, Graham; Barnhart, M. Christopher; University of Cumbria; University of Derby; Trinity College Dublin; Missouri State University (Public Library of Science (PLOS), 2018-03-28)
      The gills of juvenile freshwater bivalves undergo a complex morphogenesis that may correlate with changes in feeding ecology, but ontogenic studies on juvenile mussels are rare. Scanning electron microscopy was used to examine the ultrastructure and ontogeny of 117 juvenile freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera) ranging in age from 1–44 months and length from 0.49–8.90 mm. Three stages of gill development are described. In Stage 1 (5–9 inner demibranch filaments), only unreflected inner demibranch filaments were present. In Stage 2 (9–17 inner demibranch filaments), inner demibranch filaments began to reflect when shell length exceeded 1.13 mm, at 13–16 months old. Reflection began in medial filaments and then proceeded anterior and posterior. In Stage 3 (28–94 inner demibranch filaments), outer demibranch filaments began developing at shell length > 3.1 mm and about 34 months of age. The oral groove on the inner demibranch was first observed in 34 month old specimens > 2.66 mm but was never observed on the outer demibranch. Shell length (R2 = 0.99) was a better predictor of developmental stage compared to age (R2 = 0.84). The full suite of gill ciliation was present on filaments in all stages. Interfilamentary distance averaged 31.3 μm and did not change with age (4–44 months) or with size (0.75–8.9 mm). Distance between laterofrontal cirri couplets averaged 1.54 μm and did not change significantly with size or age. Labial palp primordia were present in even the youngest individuals but ciliature became more diverse in more developed individuals. Information presented here is valuable to captive rearing programmes as it provides insight in to when juveniles may be particularly vulnerable to stressors due to specific ontogenic changes. The data are compared with two other recent studies of Margaritifera development.
    • Scent-marking investment and motor patterns are affected by the age and sex of wild brown bears

      Clapham, Melanie; Nevin, Owen T.; Rosell, Frank; Ramsey, Andrew; University of Derby (Elsevier, 2014-07-01)
      Members of the Carnivora employ a wide range of postures and patterns to mark their scent onto objects and thereby communicate with conspecifics. Despite much anecdotal evidence on the marking behaviour of ursids, empirical evidence of scent-marking motor patterns displayed by wild populations is lacking. Analysing the time that different age and sex classes spend at scent-marking trees and the behaviours involved at different times of year could provide further insight into the function of marking. We used camera traps stationed at scent-marking trees to investigate scent-marking behaviour by wild brown bears, Ursus arctos. Through image-based data, we found evidence to support the hypothesis that time investment and scent-marking motor patterns are dictated by the age and sex of the bear. Adult males spent more time scent marking and displayed a more complex behavioural sequence of marking than adult females and juveniles. Adult male behaviour at marking trees was consistent throughout the year, indicating a continued benefit of chemical signalling outside of the breeding season. Juvenile bear behaviour at marking trees changed with age. Young dependent cubs were more likely to imitate their mother's behaviour, whereas older dependent cubs were more likely to engage in marking behaviour independently. The marking motor patterns of independent subadults were more simplistic than those of younger dependent cubs, suggesting a change in behaviour with independence. We suggest that these findings further support the hypothesis that scent-marking behaviour by brown bears functions in intrasexual competition between adult males. Cub behaviour at marking trees suggests an influence of social learning.
    • Using GPS telemetry to validate least-cost modeling of gray squirrel ( Sciurus carolinensis) movement within a fragmented landscape

      Stevenson, Claire D.; Ferryman, Mark; Nevin, Owen T.; Ramsey, Andrew; Bailey, Sallie; Watts, Kevin; University of Cumbria; Forest Research UK (Wiley, 2013)
      In Britain, the population of native red squirrels Sciurus vulgaris has suffered population declines and local extinctions. Interspecific resource competition and disease spread by the invasive gray squirrel Sciurus carolinensis are the main factors behind the decline. Gray squirrels have adapted to the British landscape so efficiently that they are widely distributed. Knowledge on how gray squirrels are using the landscape matrix and being able to predict their movements will aid management. This study is the first to use global positioning system (GPS) collars on wild gray squirrels to accurately record movements and land cover use within the landscape matrix. This data were used to validate Geographical Information System (GIS) least-cost model predictions of movements and provided much needed information on gray squirrel movement pathways and network use. Buffered least-cost paths and least-cost corridors provide predictions of the most probable movements through the landscape and are seen to perform better than the more expansive least-cost networks which include all possible movements. Applying the knowledge and methodologies gained to current gray squirrel expansion areas, such as Scotland and in Italy, will aid in the prediction of potential movement areas and therefore management of the invasive gray squirrel. The methodologies presented in this study could potentially be used in any landscape and on numerous species.