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The East Asian–Australasian flyway contains some of the most threatened habitats in the world, with at least 155 waterbird species reliant on the tidal habitats it comprises. The black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor) is an iconic endangered species distributed across the coast of East Asia. Its population suffered a severe decline into the 1990s, but extensive monitoring and conservation interventions have aided a substantial recovery of the species. We used a population viability analysis based on data collected over the past two decades in conjunction with species distribution models to project spatially explicit models of population change for the next 35 years. Over nearly all scenarios of habitat loss and climate change, the global spoonbill population was projected to increase in the short-term due to low population numbers likely well below current population carrying capacities. However, climate change and habitat loss together threaten the recovery of the spoonbill population such that, by 2050, population declines are apparent as a consequence of these cumulative impacts. These threats are also cryptic and represent a challenge to the conservation of species recovering from anthropogenic impacts; observed population increases can hide large reductions in habitat suitability that threaten the long-term viability of species.
Numerous studies of their population genetics have reported incipient reproductive isolation among sympatric populations of the common intertidal beadlet anemone Actinia equina. This has lead to certain morphs being raised to specific status. A study of the nematocysts of the green sea anemone Actinia prasina and three genetically isolated morphs of A. equina was undertaken to establish that mean nematocyst length could act as diagnostic phenotypic characters within a morphologically variable group. The results support genetic and ecological evidence for the specific status of the three red/brown coloured morphs of A. equina. The data are discussed with respect to the ecology of Actinia and concepts of species, but more work is required before the specific status of A. prasina can be confirmed.
In the common intertidal sea anemone Actinia equina (Cnidaria: Actiniaria) the morphological plasticity and lack of hard parts has caused considerable debate as to what constitutes a species. Over the last several years genetic studies have indicated that this ‘species’ consists of various separate gene-pools which appear to function as cryptic biological species. Conventional taxonomy has often concentrated on the use of a cnidome, the type, structure and number of nematocysts ('stinging’ cells). However, the usefulness of nematocysts to distinguish among various morphs of A. equina and other anthozoan species has recently been questioned. Here we describe the first detailed study of nematocyst differences between two well characterized genetically differentiated morphs with different coloured pedal discs. Measurements were taken from each type of nematocyst in five different tissues. Contrary to expectations, clear and significant nematocyst differences were found between Actinia with red or pink pedal discs and others with green to grey pedal discs. These findings support previous electrophoretic studies and suggest that quantitative descriptions of the cnidome may accurately identify separate species within other genera of Anthozoa.
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