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Jamie Gundry’s dramatic image of a white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) on the cover of this book reflects the twisting changes in fortune experienced by this species, with a revival that can be attributed to a successful interplay of science, policy and practice. White-tailed eagles were historically much more widely distributed than they are today (Yalden, 2007), once breeding across much of Europe, but by the early twentieth century the species was extinct across much of western and southern Europe. The main cause of its decline was persecution by farmers and shepherds, who considered the eagles a threat to their livestock, but, along with other raptors, white-tailed eagles were also seriously affected by DDT in the 1960s and 1970s, which had disastrous effects on the breeding success of remaining populations.
In the Anthropocene, when our environment is changing rapidly and the windows of opportunity for action to prevent further biodiversity loss are narrow, conservation researchers are increasingly encouraged to think and operate beyond the traditional approaches of producing peer-reviewed papers and presenting results to other members of the research community. Indeed, the perception that researchers belong in their ivory tower, from which they deliver evidence for others to interpret, disseminate and use in decision-making, is thankfully now widely recognised as outdated. The rise of fake news, a deliberate lack of consideration for scientific evidence, and changes to the ways of assessing the value of researchers’ work probably all play a role in supporting this shift in perception. Moreover, for many researchers, the prospect of their work ‘making a difference’ and having an impact on wider society is at least as great a motivation for doing research as generating new knowledge, however interesting that may be.
New and emerging environmental issues make policy and practice difficult. A pressing need to respond when knowledge of the problem is limited is added to an already challenging conservation agenda. Horizon-scanning is an evolving approach that draws on diverse information sources to identify early indications of poorly recognised threats and opportunities. There are many ways to conduct horizon scans, ranging from automated techniques that scan online content and mine text to manual methods that systematically consult large groups of people (often experts). These different approaches aim to sort through vast volumes of information to look for signals of change, for example the rise in microplastics or the use of mobile phones to gather data in remote forests. Identifying these new threats and opportunities is the first important step towards further researching and managing them. This chapter reviews different approaches to horizon-scanning, together with ways of encouraging uptake of scanning outputs. It concludes by introducing emerging technologies that will add value to horizon-scanning in the future.
Conservation research is essential for advancing knowledge but to make an impact scientific evidence must influence conservation policies, decision making and practice. This raises a multitude of challenges. How should evidence be collated and presented to policymakers to maximise its impact? How can effective collaboration between conservation scientists and decision-makers be established? How can the resulting messages be communicated to bring about change? Emerging from a successful international symposium organised by the British Ecological Society and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, this is the first book to practically address these questions across a wide range of conservation topics. Well-renowned experts guide readers through global case studies and their own experiences. A must-read for practitioners, researchers, graduate students and policymakers wishing to enhance the prospect of their work 'making a difference'. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
Fieldwork provides some of my deepest memories, whether exhilarating (being attacked by snowy owls when studying their nests – I still have the multiply ripped jacket), scary (being told the faulty helicopter will probably have to crash land on the pack ice), bizarre (being courted in the dark by a wild, but originally hand-reared, kakapo, who climbed my body and mated with my head), exhilarating (finding the first albatross nest in the North Atlantic – a black-browed albatross courting the gannets in Shetland), satisfying (discovering healthy populations of red-breasted geese when thought to be on the brink of extinction), amusing (being taken for dead by a passing motorist when spread-eagled on a roadside verge, photographing rare plants), disturbing (seeing the all-too-human excitement of chimpanzees nearly killing a red colobus monkey) or breath-taking (the whale shark swimming, mouth-open, directly towards me).
We present a workflow to track icebergs in proglacial fjords using oblique time-lapse photos and the Lucas-Kanade optical flow algorithm. We employ the workflow at LeConte Bay, Alaska, where we ran five time-lapse cameras between April 2016 and September 2017, capturing more than 400 000 photos at frame rates of 0.5–4.0 min−1. Hourly to daily average velocity fields in map coordinates illustrate dynamic currents in the bay, with dominant downfjord velocities (exceeding 0.5 m s−1 intermittently) and several eddies. Comparisons with simultaneous Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) measurements yield best agreement for the uppermost ADCP levels (~ 12 m and above), in line with prevalent small icebergs that trace near-surface currents. Tracking results from multiple cameras compare favorably, although cameras with lower frame rates (0.5 min−1) tend to underestimate high flow speeds. Tests to determine requisite temporal and spatial image resolution confirm the importance of high image frame rates, while spatial resolution is of secondary importance. Application of our procedure to other fjords will be successful if iceberg concentrations are high enough and if the camera frame rates are sufficiently rapid (at least 1 min−1 for conditions similar to LeConte Bay).
Growing concern about the biodiversity crisis has led to a proliferation of conservation responses, but with wide variation between countries in the levels of engagement and investment. Much of this variation is inevitably attributed to differences between nations in wealth. However, the relationship between environmentalism and wealth is complex and it is increasingly apparent that other factors are also involved. We review hypotheses that have been developed to explain variation in broad environmentalism and show that many of the factors that explain such variation in individuals, such as wealth, age and experience, also explain differences between nation states. We then assess the extent to which these factors explain variation between nation states in responses to and investment in the more specific area of biodiversity conservation. Unexpectedly, quality of governance explained substantially more variation in public and state investment in biodiversity conservation than did direct measures of wealth. The results inform assessments of where conservation investments might most profitably be directed in the future and suggest that metrics relating to governance might be of considerable use in conservation planning.
The British countryside is renowned for its pastoral beauty: a rich mosaic of farmland, woodlands, hedgerows and winding lanes where biodiversity flourishes. Yet linger within this apparently serene landscape and you are likely to discover an equally rich mosaic of conflict, which can sometimes be bitter and acrimonious. We see conflicts emerge over a wide range of issues, such as the culling of badgers Meles meles to control disease in cattle, the impact of intensive farming techniques on biodiversity or the illegal killing of predators for the benefit of game species. As we see elsewhere in this book, such conflicts are not restricted to the UK; they occur worldwide. Conflicts differ in details and participants, but they are often similar in challenges and strategies for resolution.
Ecological arguments invariably are part of conservation conflicts. We need to understand what impacts our activities have on species and ecosystems. Typically, in conflicts, the information deficit model is followed (Burgess et al., 1998). This model holds that more expert knowledge (in our case ecological data) and better communication are needed to help raise awareness, develop effective policies and change people's behaviour. Ecology is therefore often seen as providing the necessary objective evidence to enable decisions to be made to address conservation conflict. Consider, for example, the situation of conflicts involving predators. Those whose livelihoods depend on prey species commonly perceive predators as threats. So, ecologists commonly ask if perceptions of impact match ecological data (Sillero-Zubiri et al., 2007; Dickman, 2010). To make a decision about predator management, we need to quantify predation levels, understand how predation varies in time and space and how predators impact prey populations. Once we understand these ecological interactions and impacts, we can then make predictions about when and where different interests may become incompatible and to initiate management decisions. Frequently there may be several different techniques available for reducing impact so we need to know the relative effectiveness of each (Smith et al., 2014). Ecological data and analysis can help us distinguish between the effectiveness of alternative management strategies (see Box 9).