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Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre

Newsletter August 2020
In the last month we have seen the dire warnings in the WWF’s 2020 Living Planet Report showing massive declines in indicator species populations over the last 50 years. This came alongside the UN’s Fifth Global Biodiversity Outlook, which showed that we have partially or entirely failed to reach each of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets laid out 10 years ago. Today the State of the World's Plants and Fungi was released from Kew Science, urging the exploration of under-utilized plant and fungal diversity, which is similarly under threat.

These reports sadly repeat warnings from earlier years: we are losing biodiversity at unprecedented rates, due to human actions, and our leaders have not done enough to stop it.

This news is hard to read, and it is certainly not easy to fight what can feel like a losing battle. It affects us deeply, as we are sure it affects many of you.

So what is there to do? Next year, the Convention on Biological Diversity will set the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework outlining ambitious international goals on biodiversity, hopefully based in transformative change, for the coming decades. Nature is resilient, if we only give it the chance to bounce back.

Before then, we can act locally. Last Friday, GGBC members gave the City of Gothenburg feedback in a public hearing on their Environmental Plan for the coming 10 years. Likewise, the GGBC Steering Board has submitted feedback to the Region of Västra Gotaland on their Regional Development Strategy, encouraging them to prioritise biodiversity even more strongly in the next decade.

The GGBC is the sum of its members, and we have many dedicated researchers, conservationists, educators, and communicators, all working against the tide of biodiversity loss. We would like to thank our members and supporters for your daily work done in the name of biodiversity. These efforts are many -- only some of which are highlighted in the long list below -- and together are increasing our understanding of and appreciation for the natural world.

Allison Perrigo and Heléne Aronsson
Director and Coordinator, respectively, of the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre

Upcoming events

GGBC Annual Biodiversity Lecture 2020

October 21st, 15:00-16:00
Facebook Livestream
This year's GGBC Biodiversity Lecture will feature IPBES, the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, the leading international panel on biodiversity.

IPBES received the WIN-WIN Gothenburg Sustainab
ility Award and 1 million Swedish Kronor this year for engaging and uniting the world’s nations around the issue of biodiversity and playing a crucial role in setting the groundwork for the change we need to address this crisis in the coming years.

Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary at IPBES and Sandra Diaz, Co-chair of the IPBES Global Assessment will speak about IPBES, how humans are driving biodiversity loss and what we can do to shift current trends.

Spatial Analysis in R - An introduction to accessing spatial biodiversity data and spatial analysis in R

November 2-6, 2020

This five-day online course covers techniques for handling spatial biodiversity data in R, starting with the very basics and moving towards how to carry out more complex analyses that are standard in many recently published studies.

The course will be held online, with no course fee. It is intended for PhD students, although motivated master's students are also welcome to apply.

Course announcement and link to sign up here

Sign up deadline 5th October


Sustainability Festival: A Focus on Biodiversity

October 19-25, 2020

The City of Gothenburg and Studiefrämjandet are organizing a week of events focusing on how we can live more sustainable in theory and practice, for anyone and everyone interested in learning and making changes in their own lives. This year the focus is biodiversity!

Plastic Pollution in the Ocean
A part of the Ocean Blues project

Lecture Hall, Gothenburg Natural History Museum
Tomorrow, October 1st, 18:00-19:00
Welcome to a lecture about plastic in the ocean with Grazzia Matamoros, educational facilitator for the project “Ocean Blues: from anxiety to action” at the University of Gothenburg. Ocean Blues links high school students in West Sweden with researchers from the university. The goal of the project is to turn concerns about marine environmental problems into action.
50 people maximum. No advance booking.

More information on the Facebook event

State of the World's Plants and Fungi Symposium: 
Join International Experts Online

13 - 15 October, 2020
Today, the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew published, in collaboration with international researchers, the State of the World’s Plants and Fungi outlining the current status of plant and fungal biodiversity. The report takes a deep dive into how we currently use plants and fungi, what we are missing and what we risk losing. Join international experts to discuss actions for protecting and sustainably using the world’s plant and fungal biodiversity for the benefit of people and the planet.

Other news

Nordens Ark in collaboration to save the Scottish Wildcat
Building on the project Scottish Wildcat Action, Nordens Ark has teamed up with both national and international expertise to breed and reintroduce these "highland tigers". Together they hope to save this feline, the rarest and most threatened mammal in Scotland, from extinction.

Gothenburg Natural History Museum debunking long-lived bat myths on local Swedish radio

Radio P4 Göteborg recorded an interview with curator Magnus Gelang in connection to the museum's evening event "Scouting for Bats." Listen as bat-savvy GGBC'er Magnus Gelang debunks some common myths about bats and teach us about these mystical creatures of the night. Listen in at 3:04:47 into the program.

Så Vilda!: The First Autumn

Så Vilda! is wrapping up the first flowering season in this project that has reached over 4500 children around Western Sweden. In this film, Botaniska's Stina Weststrand shows how to take care of meadows in the autumn: collecting seeds for next year and tidying up to keep the soil fertile. The movie is in Swedish.

Så Vilda! is a FORMAS Communications project led by Göteborgs botaniska trädgård and with many GGBC members, involved from several of our partners.

GGBC team in the international media:
Humans, not climate, driving mammal extinctions

A recent study in Science Advances by Tobias Andermann, Soren Faurby, Alexandre Antonelli, Daniele Silvestro and collaborators has received major medial attention. The paper, entitled "The past and future human impact on mammalian diversity" describe the alarming rate of mammal extinctions caused by humans. Both local news outlets and world-renowned outlets like BBC world contacted GGBC'er Tobias Andermann, lead author of the study, for live interviews and comments on the study.

The message is clear: Humans are causing an unprecedented extinction of mammals here on earth and we must act fast to stop this trend.

Read and watch more about the study here:


Mats Höggren comments on the WWF Living Planet Report on Swedish Radio P4

Mats Höggren, CEO at GGBC Partner Nordens Ark, talks on Swedish Radio P4 about biodiversity, the new WWF Living Planet Report, and how important their work is to reverse the shocking trends we're seeing. Listen starting at 2 hours 48 min in. In Swedish.

Alexandre Antonelli in BBC World News about the Amazon fires and the threat against biodiversity
Alexandre Antonelli, GGBC'er and Director of Science at Kew Gardens, speaks in an extended interview on BBC World News about the fires that are once again spreading over the Amazon and the Pantanal wetlands, and what implications this has for the environment, biodiversity and the people who live there. Listen starting at 35:30.
Listen to the interview on BBC's website

What would happen to Earth if humans went extinct?

Søren Faurby and several other scientists were asked what would happen if humans went extinct. Søren explains the impact humans have had on wildlife historically, giving us an idea of what it could have looked like here on earth without our presence.

Old Males Vital to Elephant Societies

New research from collaborators at Elephants for Africa indicates the importance of older males in the social system of bush elephants. Historically, studies have focused on old matriarchs as leaders in this long-lived species. But these findings suggest the importance of older males in teaching young individuals how to navigate the perils of life on the savannah.

Member Research Highlights

Megafauna decline have reduced pathogen dispersal which may have increased emergent infectious diseases

Søren Faurby and colleagues use body‐mass based scaling and range maps for extinct and extant mammal species to show that Late Quaternary extinctions of megafauna reduced the dispersal of seeds and nutrients, and likely also microbes and parasites. The results broadly suggest that reduced pathogen dispersal following megafauna extinctions may have increased the emergence of zoonotic pathogens moving into human populations.

Read the paper in Ecography
WEGE: A new metric for ranking locations for biodiversity conservation

Harith Farooq, Josué Azevedo, Dominic Bennet, Søren Faurby and Alexandre Antonelli together with collaborators develop and validate the “WEGE index” (Weighted Endemism including Global Endangerment index), consisting of an adaptation of the EDGE score (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered). This new ranking system tackles the shortcomings of traditionally used Key Biodiversity Areas in conservation when funding is limited by providing an internal ranking of areas on a continuous scale.

Read the paper in Diversity and Distributions
Selective extinction against redundant species buffers functional diversity
Christine Bacon, Daniele Silvestro, Alexander Zizka and Alexandre Antonelli together with co-authors compile an exceptional trait data set of fossil molluscs from a 23-million-year interval in the Caribbean Sea (34 011 records, 4422 species). They develop a novel Bayesian model of multi-trait-dependent diversification to reconstruct mollusc diversity dynamics, changes in functional diversity, and extinction selectivity over the last 23 Myr to understand how functional diversity responds to long-term biodiversity dynamics

Read the paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B
A synoptic review of the family Dendronotidae (Mollusca: Nudibranchia): a multilevel organismal diversity approach

Kennet Lundin and colleagues present a a synoptic review of the family Dendronotidae based on morphological and molecular data and recognize three genera as well as describing two new species.

Read the paper in Contributions to Zoology
Significant taxon sampling gaps in DNA databases limit the operational use of marine macrofauna metabarcoding
Thomas Dahlgren and colleagues identify significant taxon sampling gaps in DNA databases for marine macrofauna. They conclude that a significant effort remains to fill barcode databases even in highly sampled areas such as the North Sea.

Read the paper in Marine Biodiversity
Molecular systematics, species limits, and diversification of the genus Dendrocolaptes (Aves: Furnariidae): Insights on biotic exchanges between dry and humid forest types in the Neotropics
Romina Batista and Alexandre Antonelli together with co-authors analyze 2,741 base pairs of mitochondrial and nuclear genes from 43 specimens belonging to all species and the majority of subspecies described for Dendrocolaptes to evaluate species limits and reconstruct its diversification through time.

Read the paper in the Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research
Pollinators drive floral evolution in an Atlantic Forest genus
Here Beatriz Neves, Alexandre Antonelli and Chrisitine Bacon together with co-authors determine if floral traits predict functional groups of pollinators as documented, confirming the pollination syndromes in Vriesea and test if genetic structure in Vriesea is driven by geography (latitudinal and altitudinal heterogeneity) or ecology (pollination syndromes). The results suggest a role of pollinators driving ecological isolation in Vriesea clades.

Read the paper in AoB Plants
When mycologists describe new species, not all relevant information is provided (clearly enough)
Lousia Durkin and Henrik Nilsson together with co-authors investigated to what extent species description within mycology present the relevant and sufficient information for a broader audience. By going through ten years’ worth (2009–2018) of species descriptions of extant fungal taxa they find that the target audience of fungal species descriptions appears to be other fungal taxonomists and that the format needs to be reconsidered to reach an extended target audience.

Read the paper in MycoKeys
Host Cognition and Parasitism in Birds: A Review of the Main Mechanisms
Here Ferran Sayol and collaborators discuss the role of host cognition in host–parasite eco-evolutionary dynamics. They propose three different scenarios that may create causal and non-causal links between cognition and the richness, prevalence and intensity of parasites and stress the importance of distinguishing betwen casual and non-casual links to understand the effects of parasites on host fitness

Read the paper in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Zoogeography, ecology, and conservation status of the large freshwater mussels in Sweden
Ted von Proschwitz and collaborator describe the Swedish freshwater mussel species in detail and put them in context with zoogeography, ecology, and conservation status. They provide detailed distribution maps for all species, based on all available material in museum collections, databases and literature are presented and discuss possible causes for the different geographical patterns

Read the paper in Hydrobiologia
Coexistence of predators in time: Effects of season and prey availability on species activity within a Mediterranean carnivore guild

This study from Ferran Sayol and colleagues uses camera traps to look at seasonal differences in daily activity patterns of carnivores and prey, and estimates activity overlaps among carnivore species. The find that the diversity found in the way mesocarnivore species use time could facilitate their coexistence and that activity overlaps should be taken into account when discussing wildlife management actions.

Read the paper in Ecology and Evolution
Have you published recently using your GGBC affiliation? Email a link to the publication to Heléne Aronsson so GGBC can promote your paper!
GGBC Fun Fact
This week the vegetation for the whole of Slottskogen's park will be surveyed from above using drones. Head over to our partners at Slottskogen's Zoo for some drone spotting and say hello to the moose and elk in the zoo to hear their roars - they are currently in heat!

Contact information

Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre
Box 461, 40530, Gothenburg, SWEDEN
Copyright © 2020 University of Gothenburg, All rights reserved.

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