December issue of Frontiers

Intermittent Streams, Protecting Sacred Spaces, other papers

The following research and reviews will appear in the December issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Coho salmon dependence on intermittent streams

Early this year, the US Supreme Court remanded to a lower court cases relating to whether intermittent streams are under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. Intermittent streams are currently threatened by the possible outcomes of the court cases. In this study, P.J. Wigington Jr. (US Environmental Protection Agency) and colleagues found that intermittent streams are an important source of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) smolts. Residual pools in these streams provide a place for the juvenile salmon to survive during dry periods. Their research suggests the loss of these habitats would have a negative effect on coho salmon populations.

Sacred groves: potential for biodiversity management

While global protected areas, including nature reserves, parks, and areas protected by treaties, protect some aspects of biodiversity, shortcomings remain: the areas only cover certain habitats and local people often resent their formal management. Natural sacred sites exist in many countries around the world, with communities often sharing and managing sites that are not under formal protection. Such sites cover a wide variety of habitats and are often located in biodiversity hotspots. Shonil Bhagwat (Natural History Museum, London and University of Oxford) and Claudia Rutte (University of Bern, Switzerland) propose that such habitats should be included in biodiversity management.

Although 23 percent of Earth's tropical forests are formally protected, only 8 percent of cropland and natural vegetation mosaic habitats receive the same protection. Natural sacred sites, protected by local traditions, are often situated within agricultural landscapes, providing corridors for wildlife. These sites come in many forms, including burial grounds and sites of ancestral deity worship, and often include organisms not protected in more formal settings. For example, sacred groves in the Koduga district of Karnataka state, India, have relict populations of certain threatened tree species that are not found in formal protected areas.

The researchers stress that many sacred groves are still well preserved, others have been destroyed or face threats by human encroachment. Changing values also affect these spaces; from legal ownership to shifting social and economic values as well as changes in spiritual and religious values. Bhagwat and Rutte emphasize the need for integration of sacred sites into conservation practices.

Other reviews in the December issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment include "Marine Ecosystem-based Management: from characterization to implementation" by Katie Arkema (University of California Santa Barbara), Sarah Abramson, Bryan Dewsbury and "The role of ecological theory and practice in poverty alleviation and environmental conservation" by Fabrice DeClerck and colleagues from the Earth Institute at Columbia University.


The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is a scientific, non-profit, 9500-member organization founded in 1915. Through ESA reports, journals, membership research, and expert testimony to Congress, ESA seeks to promote the responsible application of ecological data and principles to the solution of environmental problems. ESA publishes four scientific, peer-reviewed journals: Ecology, Ecological Applications, Ecological Monographs, and Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. For more information about the Society visit

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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