The relationship between a reptile and its thermal environment is a key feature of habitat use, which may be impacted by, among others, the requirements for food, avoidance of competitors and predators. Juvenile lizards are subject to the same ecological pressures, but may additionally experience predation or exclusion from prime basking site by adults and hence their capacity to achieve preferred body temperatures. In this paper we examine basking site selection in juvenile western green lizards, Lacerta bilineata and compared them to basking site availability. Secondly, measurements of morning substrate temperatures at different basking sites were compared to basking site selection over the same period. The results indicated that juveniles selected substrates with fast heating surfaces, for example fallen branches for basking, in greater frequency than their availability but in even greater than expected frequency on the cooler surfaces of clusters of bramble plant. This finding contrasted with basking site selection in adult L. bilineata in a previous study where wood surfaces was preferred over non-wood surfaces whilst avoiding basking on bramble. This illustrates the different ecological requirements between adults and juveniles
Rainbow lizards (Agama agama) are common in suburban areas throughout Africa, and have an opportunistic foraging strategy, with arthropods being the main prey source. In a coastal resort in southern Togo, West Africa, several individuals in a population were observed while feeding regularly upon non-natural human-made food (pizza) and showing a clear preference for a given type of food versus others that were offered (“four-cheeses” being the preferred one). The fact that all monitored individuals fed upon a same type of pizza suggests that they may have some chemical cues attracting them.
Hunting for bushmeat in the tropics has become a major issue in terms of conservation and human health, especially in western and central Africa. In Côte d’Ivoire, despite a ban on hunting since 1974, the bushmeat trade is widespread. This situation has been exacerbated by the long-term socio-political unrest in Côte d’Ivoire, resulting in the lack of effective protection of protected areas (PAs). Our study was carried out in the central-west Department of Daloa. We conducted standard interviews with the six main traders of the markets to trace the geographical origin of the bushmeat, and quantify the number of animals sold by direct observations twice a week during 52 weeks. We used multiple regression analyses to identify combinations of variables (proportion of animals killed, mean body mass, total biomass, price of carcass, price per body mass) that influenced poaching pressure. A total of 955 carcasses were recorded in the central market of Daloa. This number includes 948 mammals (99%), six reptiles (0.6%) and one bird (0.1%). Rodentia was the most frequently sold taxon by number of individuals (58%), followed by Artiodactyla (35%), Carnivora (4%) and Primates (1%). Almost half of the game originated from the Department of Zoukougbeu (42%; N = 404), followed by the Departments of Daloa (29%; N = 275) and Séguéla (13%; N = 123). Over 75% of all the carcasses appearing in the market consisted of greater cane rats and bushbuck. In contrast, over 68% of the total biomass (23028.75 kg) entering the market was supplied by Bushbuck and Common warthog. Game diversity by catchment area was the highest in Séguéla and Grégbeu and the lowest in Guezon and Maminigui. Our data indicated that hunting was unequally distributed throughout the central-western region of Côte d’Ivoire or markets are unequaly provisioned by hunters. Human population density of the catchment areas affected the quantity and the quality of bushmeat observed at the urban market. Increasing hunting pressure in the Departments of Zoukougbeu proximate to the Haut Sassandra forest reserve indicates that the local authority in charge of the surveillance of this reserve has to reinforce its protection to avoid further faunal depletion. Because most of the ungulates and rodents found on the market occur at high density in disturbed habitats, their relative frequencies in the carcasses provisioning the market could be used as indicators of site over-exploitation.
Goliath beetles (genus Goliathus) are among the largest and most charismatic insects in the world. In West African forests, two species (G. cacicus and G. regius) and natural hybrids are found. These beetles are widely collected for the entomological trade. We carried out standardized interview campaigns in Liberia and Ivory Coast to explore local persons’ perceptions of the status and population trends of these beetles, as well as information on their ecology and use by humans. Only relatively few interviewed communities reported the presence of beetles, all agreed that Goliath beetle populations were declining, especially G. cacicus. On the other hand, G. regius was generally considered less rare by the interviewees and was also known in a larger number of communities than G. cacicus. Because of the high deforestation rates in Liberia and Ivory Coast, as well as the impact of the international trade at specific collection localities, we suggest that these species are in peril of extinction if no immediate conservation actions are taken to reverse their status. Implications for conservation. Since our study detected a likely dramatic decline of G. cacicus and, to a lesser extent, also of G. regius, we suggest that: (i) their IUCN Red List status should be assessed as soon as possible, (ii) their current distribution should be studied more properly in the field given that many collection specimens are old and with incomplete labeling details, and (iii) their international market should be regulated as soon as possible by appropriate legislation.
During the project management actions, a chain of fine-grained events occur, both of bio-ecological and anthropic origin. While some may be expected or planned, others may be unforeseen. This work proposes the drafting of a ‘diary of events’ reporting bio-ecological and anthropogenic events, these last having both negative and positive impacts. This diary can be carried out using a schematic form, aiming to highlight the cause-effect relationships between events, the management responses, and the lessons learned. Analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (i.e., the internal and external conditioning factors) linked to these events (SWOT analysis) to make a case of study from the real world, we applied this approach to a project aimed at protecting nests of two species of conservation interest ( Charadrius alexandrinus and C. dubius ) in a protected coastal area of central Italy.
It is widely assumed that future climatic conditions, alongside their effect on local environments, will result in either a change in how species use their habitats or in a shift in species distributions. The Sahel region of Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to experience drastic changes in its average aridity and overall climate in the coming decades. Herein we use Suitability Distribution Models (SDM) to model the potential range shift in the suitable habitat for Centrochelys sulcata, an IUCN listed Endangered tortoise species found in the arid Sahel, between current day and 2070 under projected climate change. Model predictions suggest an expansion of habitat with suitable climate conditions by 2070, albeit alongside an overall decrease in the predicted quality of available habitat within the newly projected range. Based on these predictions, we provide suggestions on priority conservation areas critical for the long-term conservation of this species under the projected climate change scenario as well as call for improved sampling throughout the species current distribution.
The formulation of new food products with high nutritional quality and functionality is gaining global attention. The physicochemical properties, in vitro digestibility, antioxidant activity and consumer acceptability of biscuits produced from germinated finger millet (GFM) (Eleusine coracana) and Bambara groundnut (GBGN) (Vigna subterranea) flour blends were investigated. As the proportion of GBGN flour increased in the biscuit samples, protein, in vitro protein digestibility (80.52–89.20 %), slowly digestible and resistant starch, total phenolic content and antioxidant activities increased significantly, while rapidly digestible starch, starch hydrolysis index, glycemic index and phytic acid decreased. Addition of GBGN also positively influenced the physical attributes of the biscuits. The blending of 80% GFM with 20 % GBGN resulted in a biscuit with acceptable sensory qualities such as taste, aroma, appearance, crunchiness, and overall acceptability. This study showed that GFM and GBGN flour blends could serve as functional ingredients to produce better products.
Polyphylla ragusae (Coleoptera Scarabaeidae) is an endemic beetle restricted to the island of Sicily (Italy). This species is among the most threatened invertebrates in Italy. Currently, scientific knowledge of the distribution and habitat selection of P. ragusae is scarce, though anecdotal observations suggest that the species is primarily found in intact dune systems associated with river mouths with rich riparian vegetation and reeds. We assembled data between 2012 - 2021on the species’ distribution and activity from direct collections and observations of beetles throughout the island. We also included additional distribution data from published literature. Our results showed that: (i) there was a significant skewed sex-ratio in specimens; (ii) there were differences in flying behaviour between the sexes, and (iii) habitat selection was non-random. We also analysed (i) the relationship between the occurrence of P. ragusae and CORINE landcover variables in Sicily and (ii) built a potential distribution map using MAXENT. We showed that the species occurrence was correlated with areas with more permanent freshwater waterbodies and less with those areas with more shrubs and croplands, indicating that P. ragusae could be a habitat specialist. These habitat features are common along coastal areas in Sicily, often linked to relatively unaltered dune environments. The degradation of these habitats is therefore likely to have caused the decline of the species in Sicily. We suggest that P. ragusae should be used as a flag species to attract attention for the protection of Sicilian dune systems.
In Northern Nigeria, distrust jeopardizes the coronavirus response. On April 11, 2020, after World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Covid-19 pandemic, Kano State confirmed its first positive Covid-19 case. In the same month, the state witnessed what was described as mysterious deaths, claiming hundreds of lives. Many people in the state believe that Covid-19 is a scam and a grand plot vaccine to reduce population and the government is using it to generate money, which made them rebuff the Covid-19 vaccine. In a state like Kano which was once the epicenter of the disease in Northern Nigeria, the resistance to the Covid-19 vaccine in the state pause a great danger in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Within this context, this study examined information-seeking behavior on the Covid-19 vaccine among residents of the Fagge Local Government Area of Kano State. The study adopts the positivist approach of research design where a survey was used to generate data using a questionnaire. Simple random sampling was used to select the respondents using Taro Yamane’s formula to arrive at a sample size of 400. Based on the findings, the data indicates that social media constitute the major source of information for the Covid-19 vaccine in Fagge local government. The majority of the respondents in Fagge LGA are not satisfied with the information received on the Covid-19 vaccine. The data also indicates that the outcome of information-seeking behavior on the Covid-19 vaccine in Fagge LGA is significantly discouraging. The study concludes that the Health Believe Model can suitably be used and applied in the cases of contextualizing public behavior as regard to their information-seeking behavior using media messages towards the vaccine. This will greatly help in evaluating the implications of the public information-seeking behavior towards the Covid-19 vaccine.
The Rivers State University campus in Portharcourt is one of the university campuses in the city of Portharcourt, Nigeria covering over 21 square kilometers and housing a variety of academic, residential, administrative and other support buildings. The University Campus has seen significant transformation in recent years, including the rehabilitation of old facilities, the construction of new academic facilities and the most recent update on the creation of new collages, faculties and departments. The current view of the transformations done within the University Campus is missing from several available maps of the university. Numerous facilities have been constructed on the University Campus that are not represented on these maps as well as the qualities associated with these facilities. Existing information on the various landscapes on the map is outdated and it needs to be streamlined in light of recent changes to the University's facilities and departments. This research article aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in geospatial data collection for physical planning and mapping of infrastructures at the Rivers State University Port Harcourt campus by developing a UAS-based digital map and tour guide for RSU's main campus covering all collages, faculties and departments and this offers visitors, staff and students with location and attribute information within the campus. Methodologically, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles were deployed to obtain current visible images of the campus following the growth and increasing infrastructural development. At a flying height of 76.2m (250 ft), a DJI Phantom 4 Pro UAS equipped with a 20-megapixel visible camera was flown around the campus, generating imagery with 1.69cm spatial resolution per pixel. To obtain 3D modeling capabilities, visible imagery was acquired using the flight-planning software DroneDeploy with a near nadir angle and 75 percent front and side overlap. Vertical positions were linked to the World Geodetic System 1984 and horizontal positions to the 1984 World Geodetic Datum universal transverse Mercator (UTM) (WGS 84). To match the UAS data, GCPs were transformed to UTM zone 32 north. Finally, dense point clouds, DSM, and an orthomosaic which is a geometrically corrected aerial image that provides an accurate representation of an area and can be used to determine true distances, were among the UAS-derived deliverables. Keywords; UAS, Geospatial, Acquisition, Orthophoto, Mosaic, Flying –Height.
Comparative studies of mortality in the wild are necessary to understand the evolution of aging; yet, ectothermic tetrapods are underrepresented in this comparative landscape, despite their suitability for testing evolutionary hypotheses. We present a study of aging rates and longevity across wild tetrapod ectotherms, using data from 107 populations (77 species) of nonavian reptiles and amphibians. We test hypotheses of how thermoregulatory mode, environmental temperature, protective phenotypes, and pace of life history contribute to demographic aging. Controlling for phylogeny and body size, ectotherms display a higher diversity of aging rates compared with endotherms and include phylogenetically widespread evidence of negligible aging. Protective phenotypes and life-history strategies further explain macroevolutionary patterns of aging. Analyzing ectothermic tetrapods in a comparative context enhances our understanding of the evolution of aging.
Studies of animal communities along habitat gradients are useful in understanding the ecologicsl factors affecting species diversity and richness. Almost no investigations have been carried out on the community structure of vertebrate groups along habitat gradients modified by humans in historical or prehistoric times. Here, we analyze the community structures of lizards in suburban Lomé (Togo) and compare these with nearby savannah and forest sites using various statistical methods. We recorded a total of 25 lizard species in all sites. There was a heavy reduction in species richness from forest (18 taxa) to savannah (13) to suburbs (9); 24% of the species occurred in all habitat types, 40% solely in forest, and only two were found exclusively in suburban habitats. Suburban habitat types were relatively homogeneous in the number of observed species (maximum number of taxa per habitat = 6). There were significant interspecific differences in substratum type preferences and vertical spatial niche among species, but no evidence of nonrandom niche partitioning. There was a nonrandom “clustered” distribution of the various species along the available resource categories, indicating that species-specific preferences instead of community-driven mechanisms are more likely to explain the observed patterns. We conclude that lizard communities in tropical cities are (i) less species-rich than in the surrounding more natural habitats, (ii) usually clustered into specific habitat/substratum types (often artificial ones), and (iii) not assembled through competitive interactions.
The Sudd in South Sudan, formed by the White Nile's Baḥr al-Jabal section, is one of the largest and most important wetlands in the world. Communities in the region almost exclusively depend on fisheries for food and livelihoods. Although threatened by over-exploitation and habitat changes, fish populations are also affected by climate change. Using semi-structured questionnaires, we assessed fisherfolk’s opinions of how recent variation in climate affected their livelihoods and the environment. Fisherfolk perceived that climate had changed in the past decade and were negatively impacted by this. Interviewees reported average higher temperatures, a greater frequency of floods and droughts, unpredictable timing of seasons, and erratic rainfall. Destruction of fishing villages/camps, loss and damage of fishing equipment, shifts in the fishing calendar, reduction of fish trade, fish catch declines as well as psycho-social problems were given as the major consequences of climate change. Causes of climate change and variability were perceived to be linked to uncontrolled harvest of forest resources, anger of G-d and ancestors, and natural variability in climate. Most respondents expressed a desire to adopt more responsible behavior such as plantings trees and establishing community nurseries, being educated on climate change risks and sustainable fisheries management. Our results show that fisherfolk in the Sudd are troubled by climate change impacts on their livelihoods and on fish populations. Based on our information, further research and more focused conservation management of the Sudd wetlands are needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
We analysed the effects of body mass on the monthly activity patterns of six Mediterranean lacertid lizard taxa, four relatively small species, the Italian wall lizard (Podarcis siculus), the common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis), the blue-throated keeled lizard (Algyroides nigropunctatus), and the Ionian wall lizard (Podarcis ionicus), and two larger species, the western green lizard (Lacerta bilineata) and the Balkan green lizard (Lacerta trilineata). The highest number of observations for all six species occurred in April and May and the lowest in July and August, the latter being the hottest and driest months of the year. The two larger species were mainly active from March to July, whereas the four smaller species had an additional period of high activity from September to November. As all six species reproduce during spring, the increase in activity of the smaller species in autumn was consequently unrelated to reproductive behaviour. There was no difference in seasonal activity of the two smaller Italian species at sites with or without the larger green lizards. It is therefore unlikely that interference competition/predation by green lizards caused the increased autumnal activity of the smaller lizards. We suggest that due to their lower mass-specific metabolic rates, larger species can obtain sufficient lipid stores over a shorter annual activity to ensure successful reproduction the subsequent spring. By contrast, smaller species have greater need to replenish their lipid reserves after summer fasting and therefore resume much higher activity levels in September to November to attain this goal.
We assessed numbers and biomass of species hunted and sold for wild meat in 12 park-adjacent settlements in the Fazao Malfakassa National Park (FMNP), Togo. From hunter interviews and market carcass counts 33 species, 28 from hunter interviews and 26 from market surveys were taken, respectively. A total of 2605 animals were recorded in the study, 18 species during the wet season (740 animals) and 26 species in the dry season (1865 animals). In markets, 754 carcasses of 19 species were traded during the wet season, and 1896 carcasses of 24 species in the dry season. Most species were relatively small-bodied mammals (62% of total numbers of animals reported), the rest large ungulates. Species were generally of minor conservation concern (LC or NT) with only three EN and NE. From the gathered field data, we estimated that an average of 9095 ± 5613 animals per study village were hunted per year, amounting to a biomass of 198,334 ± 191,930 kg. Despite efforts to protect the wildlife within the FMNP, reported level of hunting, particularly of large ungulates within the park, the reported level of hunting is likely to have severe consequences on the long-term viability of this important protected area.
Conservation strategies are mainly decided, also for tropical species and habitats, on the basis of studies and examples made in the temperate regions, especially in North America and Europe. Conservation strategies for tropical species are often thought to fail due to a plethora of « human dimension » reasons. These reasons are external to the natural history and ecology of the target species, being due shortage of funds, education and awareness limits, and institutional corruption in several countries, particularly in the developing countries of Africa and Asia. Although these reasons are certainly important in determining the outcome of the conservation projects, herein we stress that there is a scientific ecological reason behind such failures in tropical ecosystems. Indeed, the ecological « entropy » of the species-rich and niche-packed tropical ecosystems is so much higher than that of North America and Europe that adopting a decision-making process based on relatively simplified (temperate) ecosystems, where a given species typically interacts with a few others, makes the eventual solution very simplistic or even « naive », thus enhancing its chances of failure. We urge that, for the future, conservation policies for tropical regions should be based on experiences designed from more realistic « highly-entropic » species-rich systems, also in the case of those species apparently sharing similar ecological roles as in the temperate regions.
The sexually dimorphic dynastine centaurus beetle, genus Augosoma (Coleoptera: Scarabeidae), is endemic to tropical Africa where two species are found (A. centaurus and A. hippocrates). These beetles are consumed by rural populations, cause damage in plantations and are targets of insect collectors and traders. We present information on size differences and analysed intersexual niche divergence and seasonality of A. centaurus in seven study sites in three West African countries (Ivory Coast, Togo and Nigeria). We recorded 711 light-attracted and/or opportunistically encountered individuals, as well as another 97 beetles in standardized transect surveys. In the latter, we found the adult sex ratio was equal but was significantly skewed towards females in light-attracted and/or opportunistically encountered individuals. In a sample of 298 adult beetles, males were significantly larger than females, with almost no size overlap between sexes. Beetle activity was highly seasonal with most animals observed in November, active during 19:00–24:00 h. Differences in habitat use were not significant between sexes, with most individuals observed in secondary forest. Males were found higher on vegetation than females and beetles of both sexes were found on Pandanus and Raffia palms. Beetles were larger in sites with more vegetation cover, and there was a significant effect of tree species on body size of both sexes. Study area or country had no effect on any of the studied parameters. Our study confirms that transect surveys without light trapping can be an effective tool for understanding large-sized tropical beetles of similar ecological characteristics.
Wild meat markets play a crucial role for food security and cash income for subsistence hunters in the tropics and subtropics. In Nigeria, the amount of meat sold from most species crashed dramatically after the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014. Sales further diminished after arrival of COVID-19, likely because of restrictions to commerce and of changed attitudes.
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Nkpolu-Oroworukwo, 100005, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria
Head of institution
Professor Nlerum S. Okogbule