5 years ago

Aeroconservation for the Fragmented Skies

Kevin C. Fraser, Christina M. Davy, Adam T. Ford
From birds to bacteria, airborne organisms face substantial anthropogenic impacts. The airspace provides essential habitat for thousands of species, some of which spend most of their lives airborne. Despite recent calls to protect the airspace, it continues to be treated as secondary to terrestrial and aquatic habitats in policy and research. Aeroconservation integrates recent advances in aeroecology and habitat connectivity, and recognizes aerial habitats and threats as analogous to their terrestrial and aquatic counterparts. Aerial habitats are poorly represented in the ecological literature and are largely absent from environmental policy, hindering protection of aerial biodiversity. Here, we provide a framework for defining aerial habitats to advance the study of aeroconservation and the protection of the airspace in environmental policy. We illustrate how current habitat definitions explicitly disadvantage aerial species relative to non-aerial species, and review key areas of conflict between aeroconservation and human use of the airspace. Finally, we identify opportunities for research to fill critical knowledge gaps for aeroconservation. For example, aerial habitat fragmentation may impact biodiversity and ecosystem function similarly to terrestrial habitat fragmentation, and we illustrate how this can be investigated by extending existing methods and paradigms from terrestrial conservation biology up into the airspace.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/conl.12347

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