3 Jan 2013
Land-use management and the conservation of endemic species in the island of São Tomé

BRANTA — Ricardo Faustino de Lima

Land-use management and the conservation of endemic species in the island of São Tomé

Institution: Lancaster University, UK
Supervisors: Jos Barlow, Martin Dallimer, Phil Atkinson
Details: PhD 2012 (Completed)
Address: Centro de Biologia Ambiental da Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa. Edifício C2, 5º Piso, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal (Jan 2013) Email
Subject Keywords: São Tomé
Species Keywords: São Tomé endemic bird species

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Habitat destruction is the single biggest threat to biodiversity. Despite significant research efforts, the response of biodiversity to human activities remains difficult to predict. This thesis analyses the responses of bird and tree assemblages to land-use intensification on the island of São Tomé (Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe), focusing on the endemic species.

Global research effort on island endemic birds is very biased; over half of the research is concentrated in less than 5% of the species. Although São Tomé has received very little research, many other endemic-rich islands have received even less.

Endemic birds were associated with less intensive land-uses, although dominant across all land-uses and rather resilient to intensification. The number and abundance of non-endemic birds increased sharply with intensification; these were nearly absent in old-growth forest and they almost became dominant in non-forested land-uses. In terms of vegetation characteristics, the shift towards an endemic-depleted bird assemblage was most strongly linked to reduced canopy cover. This shift was also facilitated by degraded landscape contexts, and it is likely that the dominance of endemic birds in São Tomé is linked to the island’s high proportion of forest cover.

Endemic trees overall were scarce and almost entirely restricted to forests. The lack of information surrounding the history of the island’s flora does not allow clarification of whether this paucity is natural or a result of human interference. However, it is clear that land-use change has strong detrimental effects on this group.

The distribution of carbon stocks across land-use types suggests the potential for carbon payments, such as REDD+, to benefit conservation in São Tomé. However, this is strongly dependent on implementation options, and REDD+ can even increase deforestation in this and other endemic-rich islands.

This thesis concludes with a list of key recommendations to improve land-use management for the conservation of island endemics.


Published Papers

de Lima R.F., Dallimer M., Atkinson P.W. & Barlow J. Biodiversity and land-use change: understanding the complex responses of an endemic-rich bird assemblage. Diversity and Distributions DOI:10.1111/ddi.12015.
View abstract

de Lima R.F., Bird J.P. & Barlow J. 2011. Research effort allocation and the conservation of restricted-range island bird species. Biological Conservation 144: 627-632.

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