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Booklet Reference Strandingen en waarnemingen van zeezoogdieren en opmerkelijke andere soorten in België in 2019 [Strandings and sightings of marine mammals and remarkable other species in Belgium in 2019]
In 2019 51 harbour porpoises washed ashore: a low number compared to previous years. More than half of these animals were in a poor state of conservation, and for many no cause of death could be identified. Four harbour porpoises died due to bycatch in fishing gear, four others as a result of predation by a grey seal. The estimated density of porpoises at sea in June and August was approximately the average of the last years. The only other cetacean that was found stranded was a very decomposed common dolphin. As was the case last year, a solitary, sociable bottlenose dolphin was present for months in the region adjacent to French waters. Groups of bottlenose dolphins were observed on two occasions. More exceptional were the sightings of a humpback whale and a minke whale. The presence of seals at our coast is still on the rise. In the port of Nieuwpoort a permanent haulout site has established; it is frequently used by more than 10 harbour seals. Also sighting rates of grey seals are increasing. The increased presence of seals translates into increasing numbers of dead and dying seals on the beach: 47, the highest number ever recorded. SeaLife took care of 11 grey seals and 15 harbour seals. Two leatherback turtles and some ocean sunfish were observed in 2019. Their presence might have been related to an unusual influx of Atlantic water. For a stranded ocean sunfish, it is still being investigated which species it belonged to. Marine mammals remain very popular: some temporary or permanent exhibitions were opened in 2019, and the skeleton of a sperm whale that washed ashore in 1989 was excavated with the objective to preserve it and to put it on display.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Article Reference Molecular detection and genomic characterisation of diverse hepaciviruses in African rodents
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Article Reference Historical biogeography, systematics, and integrative taxonomy of the non‑Ethiopian speckled pelage brush‑furred rats (Lophuromys flavopunctatus group)
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Article Reference Dark Ages woodland recovery and the expansion of beech. A study of land use changes and related woodland dynamics during the Roman to Medieval transition period in northern Belgium
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Article Reference A comparative study of parasites in three latrines from Medieval and Renaissance Brussels, Belgium (14th–17th centuries)
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Techreport Reference Milieueffectenbeoordeling van de aanleg en exploitatie van een telecommunicatiekabel in het Belgische deel van de Noordzee – Mercator project
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Article Reference Ancestors of domestic cats in Neolithic Central Europe: Isotopic evidence of a synanthropic diet
Most of today’s domesticates began as farm animals, but cat domestication took a different path. Cats became commensal of humans somewhere in the Fertile Crescent, attracted to early farmers’ settlements by rodent pests. Cat remains from Poland dated to 4,200 to 2,300 y BCE are currently the earliest evidence for the migration of the Near Eastern wildcat to Central Europe. Tracking the possible synanthropic origin of that migration, we used stable isotopes to investigate the paleodiet. We found that the ecological balance was already changed due to the expansion of Neolithic farmlands. We conclude that among the Late Neolithic Near Eastern wildcats from Poland were free-living individuals, who preyed on rodent pests and shared ecological niches with native European wildcats.Cat remains from Poland dated to 4,200 to 2,300 y BCE are currently the earliest evidence for the migration of the Near Eastern cat (NE cat), the ancestor of domestic cats, into Central Europe. This early immigration preceded the known establishment of housecat populations in the region by around 3,000 y. One hypothesis assumed that NE cats followed the migration of early farmers as synanthropes. In this study, we analyze the stable isotopes in six samples of Late Neolithic NE cat bones and further 34 of the associated fauna, including the European wildcat. We approximate the diet and trophic ecology of Late Neolithic felids in a broad context of contemporary wild and domestic animals and humans. In addition, we compared the ecology of Late Neolithic NE cats with the earliest domestic cats known from the territory of Poland, dating to the Roman Period. Our results reveal that human agricultural activity during the Late Neolithic had already impacted the isotopic signature of rodents in the ecosystem. These synanthropic pests constituted a significant proportion of the NE cat’s diet. Our interpretation is that Late Neolithic NE cats were opportunistic synanthropes, most probably free-living individuals (i.e., not directly relying on a human food supply). We explore niche partitioning between studied NE cats and the contemporary native European wildcats. We find only minor differences between the isotopic ecology of both these taxa. We conclude that, after the appearance of the NE cat, both felid taxa shared the ecological niches.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Conference Reference Abc Taxa: series of peer-reviewed manuals dedicated to capacity building in taxonomy & collection management
Today, the so-called taxonomic impediment, i.e., the lack of taxonomic (inclusive of genetic) information, taxonomic and curatorial expertise, and infrastructure in many parts of the world, means that accessing and generating taxonomic information remains extremely difficult. To alter this trend, the Convention on Biological Diversity installed the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI) and endorsed it with an operational program of work. Its objectives are to remedy the knowledge gaps in our taxonomic system, increase the number of well-trained taxonomists and curators, optimize the infrastructure needed to do sound taxonomic research, significantly improve access to taxonomic collections, data, and metadata, and, thereby, to improve decision- making in conservation of biodiversity. To speed up taxonomic capacity building the Belgian GTI Focal Point has established the series Abc Taxa (www.abctaxa.be), a toll-free information highway between experts and novices. It is believed that this artery will speed up the construction of taxonomic capacity, as it does not evoke the expensive, long-term teacher-apprentice relationships previously utilized to install operational, high-quality taxonomists and collection managers. Since 2005, 19 volumes have been released with subjects as diverse as taxonomy of sea cucumbers of the Comoros, good practices in collection management of mollusc collections, taxonomy of the amphibians of Cuba and of Guyana, taxonomy of algae of Sri Lanka, bee taxonomy in sub-Saharan Africa, mushroom taxonomy of Central Africa, introduction to the taxonomy of mites, taxonomy of invasive succulents of South Africa, taxonomy of the sawflies of southern Africa, taxonomy of the diatoms of the Congo, taxonomy of fish parasites of African Freshwater fishes and taxonomy of the brittle and basket stars of South Africa. This contribution briefly details the scope and aims of Abc Taxa, demonstrates the value of the series for development, and acts as a call for future manuscripts.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Inproceedings Reference Rapid Local Adaptations in an Invasive Frog (Xenopus laevis): the Importance of Functional Trait Measurements to Predict Future Invasions
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Inproceedings Reference Incorporating data uncertainty in 3D voxel modelling and the importance in decision making
Geological databases resulting from the merging of various data sources and time periods jeopardize harmonization of data products. Data standardization is already common practice and a first step in avoiding semantic overlap. European marine data management infrastructures provide such standards, e.g., Geo-Seas (http://www.geo-seas.eu/) for geological data and SeaDataNet (https://www.seadatanet.org/) for marine metadata in general. In addition, metadata quality control is important, though data uncertainty is seldom quantified and to be used in modelling. Preliminary uncertainty analyses were worked out to provide an extra dimension to the cross-border 3D voxel models of the geological subsurface of the Belgian and southern Netherlands part of the North Sea (http://odnature.naturalsciences.be/tiles/). Starting from simple quality flagging in geological databases and model uncertainty calculations (probability and entropy) in the 3D modelling, data uncertainty (e.g., related to qualities in positioning, sampling and vintage) is now quantified. Combining all uncertainties remains a challenge, as well as communicating their importance in decision making. A demonstration will be given on the status of the uncertainty analyses and how these are incorporated in a newly developed decision support tool allowing interactive querying of the 3D voxel model, now comprising geological, as well as entropy, probability and data uncertainty attributes (figure 1).
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2018