Red-necked pond turtle (Mauremys nigricans)

LET TERS Edited by Jennifer Sills

China’s ecosystems: Focus on biodiversity ecosystem services from investments in natural capital” (17 June, p. 1455), Z. Ouyang et al. state that China’s investment in natural capital has contributed substantially to improvements in most ecosystem services, with one exception: Habitat provision for biodiversity decreased slightly between 2000 and 2010. The implications of this slight decrease in biodiversity conservation should not be overlooked. The latest Red Lists of China’s biodiversity show that ~22% of vertebrates and ~11% of higher plants are either extinct or threatened (1, 2). The rate of biodiversity loss has not slowed (3). Habitat provision remains vital to conservation. Ouyang et al. explain that China’s environmental investment programs “aim to reduce natural disaster risk by restoring forest and grassland,” but this goal lacks a direct link to biodiversity conservation. For instance, nonnative planted forests can provide important ecosystem services but contribute very little to regional biodiversity. To enhance biodiversity conservation, ecosystem service policies should incorporate goals specific to biodiversity; focus on implementation in areas that integrate both biodiversity and ecosystem services (4), as identified by systematic conservation planning; emphasize the role of existing protected areas in ecosystem services provision; and prioritize remaining intact ecosystems and wilderness areas. These areas are often the last refuges of endangered and endemic species. They also provide irreplaceable ecosystem services (5). Ruidong Wu Institute of International Rivers and Eco-Security and Yunnan Key Laboratory of International Rivers and Transboundary Eco-Security, Yunnan University, Kunming, Yunnan 650091, China. Email: [email protected]

PHOTO: FLPA/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

REFERENCES

1. Ministry of Environmental Protection of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences, “Assessment Report on the Red List of China’s Biodiversity—Higher Plants” (2013); www.mep. gov.cn/gkml/hbb/bgg/201309/t20130912_260061.htm [in Chinese]. 2. Ministry of Environmental Protection of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences, “Assessment Report on the Red List of China’s Biodiversity—Vertebrates” (2015); www.zhb. gov.cn/gkml/hbb/bgg/201505/t20150525_302233. htm [in Chinese].

3. S. H. M. Butchart et al., Science 328, 1164 (2010). 4. R. Wu et al., PLOS ONE 9, e103783 (2014). 5. S. Lin et al., Sci. Rep. 6, 25898 (2016). 10.1126/science.aah3994

China’s ecosystems: Overlooked species A RECENT REPORT by Z. Ouyang et al.

(“Improvements in ecosystem services from investments in natural capital,” 17 June, p. 1455) found that investment in the restoration and preservation of natural capital in China has brought improvements at the national level in most of the major ecosystem services measured. Our recent status assessment of China’s vertebrates (1) tells a less hopeful story. Although charismatic species, such as the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and crested ibis (Nipponia nippon) have been rescued from the brink of extinction (1), species that do not benefit from media attention are suffering. Seventeen vertebrate species are extinct or regionally extinct, including the Yunnan lake newt (Hypselotriton wolterstorffi) and the Caka stone loach (Triplophysa cakaensis). The red-necked pond turtle (Mauremys nigricans) and the Liaoning clawed salamander (Onychodactylus zhaoermii) are among the 43% of China’s vertebrates that are in peril. Some may disappear soon if urgent action is not taken (1). The proportion of threatened amphibians, also overlooked by the media, is as high as 63% (1). As indicated by the Red List Index (2), the status of mammals and fishes in China is deteriorating rapidly, amphibians and reptiles are threatened, and many birds lack sufficient data to determine a status. Existing laws protect a few charismatic species (3), but all species need legal protection. Although most are not deemed worthy of media headlines, all species are

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crucial to the stability and function of ecosystems (4). Zhigang Jiang,1* Jianping Jiang,2 Yuezhao Wang,2 E. Zhang,3 Yanyun Zhang,4 Lili Li,1 Bo Cai,2 Zhenhua Luo,5 Chunwang Li,1 Xiaoge Ping,1 Feng Xie,2 Liang Cao3 1 Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China. 2Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu, Sichuan 610041, China. 3Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, Hubei 430000, China. 4 Life Science College, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China. 5School of Life Sciences, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, Hubei 430079, China.

*Corresponding author: Email: [email protected] REFERENCES

1. Z. Jiang et al., Biodiv. Sci. 24, 552 (2016). 2. IUCN,“IUCN Redlist” (2016); www.iucn.redlist.com. 3. State Council of PR China, National Key Protected Wild Animal Species (2003); www.forestry.gov.cn/portal/ bhxh/s/709/content-85157.html [in Chinese]. 4. R. P. Leitão et al., Proc. R. Soc. Ser. B Biol. Sci. 283, 10.1098/ rspb.2016.0084 (2016). 10.1126/science.aah4000

China’s ecosystems: Sacrificing the poor IN THEIR REPORT “Improvements in

ecosystem services from investments in natural capital” (17 June, p. 1455), Z. Ouyang et al. model changes in selected ecosystem services in China to show that, at the national level, rapid economic growth is compatible with increased provision of ecosystem services. However, closer examination of their data reveals that national-scale improvements have come at the cost of environmental justice toward poor, marginalized, and ethnic minority communities, whose well-being is sacrificed to provide ecosystem services for wealthier, mostly urban populations. For example, Sanjiangyuan, a grassland region found to have a net increase in ecosystem services, has been subject to 12 AUGUST 2016 • VOL 353 ISSUE 6300

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IN THEIR REPORT “Improvements in

INSIGHTS | L E T T E R S

1

2

John A. Zinda, * Kelly A. Hopping, Edwin Schmitt,3 Emily T. Yeh,4 Stevan Harrell,5 Eugene N. Anderson6

1 Department of Development Sociology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. 2Department of Earth System Science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. 3Department of Anthropology, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong, China. 4Department of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA. 5Department of Anthropology and School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. 6Department of Anthropology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.

*Corresponding author. Email: [email protected] REFERENCES

1. F. Du, Nomadic Peoples 16, 116 (2012). 2. J. M. Foggin, Mountain Res. Dev. 28, 26 (2008). 3. C. J. Trac, A. H. Schmidt, S. Harrell, T. M. Hinckley, Environ. Practice 15, 350 (2013). 4. W. F. Laurance et al., Science 319, 1184 (2008). 10.1126/science.aah4960

the Ebola virus Makona responsible for the West African epidemic evolved more slowly than previously reported. We show that this was based on corrupted data. An erratum provided a rate compatible with the initial and later, more precise, estimates but did not correctly state the nature of the error. Full text at http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/ science.aaf3823 Response to Comment on “Mutation rate and genotype variation of Ebola virus from Mali case sequences” Thomas Hoenen, Allison Groseth, David Safronetz, Kurt Wollenberg, Heinz Feldmann

Andrew Rambaut, Gytis Dudas, Luiz Max de Carvalho, Daniel J. Park, Nathan L. Yozwiak, Edward C. Holmes, Kristian G. Andersen

Rambaut et al. show that the erratum to our report on Ebola virus Makona evolution not only corrected sample dates modified by others in GenBank but also corrected an additional transcriptional error in our original analysis. We agree with their observation that both factors contributed to our revised evolutionary rate estimate but continue to stand by our revised estimate and conclusions.

Hoenen et al. (Reports, 3 April 2015, p. 117; published online 26 March) suggested that

Full text at http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/ science.aaf4561

TECHNICAL COMMENT ABSTRACTS Comment on “Mutation rate and genotype variation of Ebola virus from Mali case sequences”

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purported grassland restoration and ecological migration programs that destock and move Tibetan herders off the land to new and often poorly built settlements, where they face health problems, unemployment, declines in living standards, and loss of Tibetan language and cultural practices (1, 2).  Their livelihoods and rights are sacrificed to provide downstream (“national”) ecological security. Furthermore, reforestation programs have increased forest cover at a national scale, but many plantations have failed because of inappropriate species selection or inadequate financial compensation to farmers recruited to plant trees. Others have yielded forests that provide downstream ecosystem services but bear few if any benefits locally (3). China also makes up for lost lumber production by importing timber, often illegally harvested in poorer countries, contributing to global-scale environmental injustice by exporting deforestation (4). Given that degradation and disasters harm human populations, efforts to steward resources must be equitable.

China's ecosystems: Overlooked species Zhigang Jiang, Jianping Jiang, Yuezhao Wang, E. Zhang, Yanyun Zhang, Lili Li, Bo Cai, Zhenhua Luo, Chunwang Li, Xiaoge Ping, Feng Xie and Liang Cao (August 11, 2016) Science 353 (6300), 657. [doi: 10.1126/science.aah4000]

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