Seagrass meadows support global fisheries production Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-05-21 Richard K.F. Unsworth; Lina Mtwana Nordlund; Leanne C. Cullen‐Unsworth
The significant role seagrass meadows play in supporting fisheries productivity and food security across the globe is not adequately reflected in the decisions made by authorities with statutory responsibility for their management. We provide a unique global analysis of three data sources to present the case for why seagrass meadows need targeted policy to recognize and protect their role in supporting fisheries production and food security. (1) Seagrass meadows provide valuable nursery habitat to over 1/5th of the world's largest 25 fisheries, including Walleye Pollock, the most landed species on the planet. (2) In complex small‐scale fisheries from around the world (poorly represented in fisheries statistics), we present evidence that many of those in proximity to seagrass are supported to a large degree by these habitats. (3) We reveal how intertidal fishing activity in seagrass is a global phenomenon, often directly supporting human livelihoods. Our study demonstrates that seagrasses should be recognized and managed to maintain and maximize their role in global fisheries production. The chasm that exists between coastal habitat conservation and fisheries management needs to be filled to maximize the chances of seagrass meadows supporting fisheries, so that they can continue to support human wellbeing.
Using consumer preferences to characterise the trade of wild‐collected ornamental orchids in China Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-05-15 Sophie J. Williams; Stephan W. Gale; Amy Hinsley; Jiangyun Gao; Freya A. V. St. John
Over‐exploitation of wildlife for trade threatens taxa globally. Interest in demand‐side approaches to address this problem has grown but understanding of how consumer preferences shape demand remains limited. To quantify the role of consumer preferences for wild orchids in China's horticultural market, we used conjoint analysis to determine which attributes are preferred by orchid owners and non‐owners in two socio‐economically contrasting areas of South China. Across all respondents, price was the most important attribute followed by flower colour. Whilst Xishuangbanna participants exhibited a slight preference for wild over cultivated plants, origin (wild/cultivated) was of minimal importance. We also measured awareness of orchid import regulations. Most did not recognise the CITES logo, and knowledge of import laws was significantly lower in Hong Kong than in Xishuangbanna. Our findings suggest that trade in wild ornamental orchids in South China is supply‐driven, and strengthened regulations might be effective in reducing over‐exploitation.
The elephant (head) in the room: A critical look at trophy hunting Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-05-09 Chelsea Batavia; Michael Paul Nelson; Chris T. Darimont; Paul C. Paquet; William J. Ripple; Arian D. Wallach
Trophy hunting has occupied a prominent position in recent scholarly literature and popular media. In the scientific conservation literature, researchers are generally supportive of or sympathetic to its usage as a source of monetary support for conservation. Although authors at times acknowledge that trophy hunting faces strong opposition from many members of the public, often for unspecified reasons associated with ethics, neither the nature nor the implications of these ethical concerns have been substantively addressed. We identify the central act of wildlife “trophy” taking as a potential source of ethical discomfort and public opposition. We highlight that trophy hunting entails a hunter paying a fee to kill an animal and claim its body or body parts as a trophy of conquest. Situating this practice in a Western cultural narrative of chauvinism, colonialism, and anthropocentrism, we argue trophy hunting is morally inappropriate. We suggest alternative strategies for conservation and community development should be explored and decisively ruled out as viable sources of support before the conservation community endorses trophy hunting. If wildlife conservation is broadly and inescapably dependent on the institution of trophy hunting, conservationists should accept the practice only with a due appreciation of tragedy, and proper remorse.
The major barriers to evidence‐informed conservation policy and possible solutions Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-04-20 David C. Rose; William J. Sutherland; Tatsuya Amano; Juan P. González‐Varo; Rebecca J. Robertson; Benno I. Simmons; Hannah S. Wauchope; Eszter Kovacs; América Paz Durán; Alice B. M. Vadrot; Weiling Wu; Maria P. Dias; Martina M. I. Di Fonzo; Sarah Ivory; Lucia Norris; Matheus Henrique Nunes; Tobias Ochieng Nyumba; Noa Steiner; Juliet Vickery; Nibedita Mukherjee
Conservation policy decisions can suffer from a lack of evidence, hindering effective decision‐making. In nature conservation, studies investigating why policy is often not evidence‐informed have tended to focus on Western democracies, with relatively small samples. To understand global variation and challenges better, we established a global survey aimed at identifying top barriers and solutions to the use of conservation science in policy. This obtained the views of 758 people in policy, practice, and research positions from 68 countries across six languages. Here we show that, contrary to popular belief, there is agreement between groups about how to incorporate conservation science into policy, and there is thus room for optimism. Barriers related to the low priority of conservation were considered to be important, while mainstreaming conservation was proposed as a key solution. Therefore, priorities should focus on convincing the public of the importance of conservation as an issue, which will then influence policy‐makers to adopt pro‐environmental long‐term policies.
The use, and usefulness, of spatial conservation prioritizations Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-04-15 Samuel P. Sinclair; E.J. Milner‐Gulland; Robert J. Smith; Emma J. McIntosh; Hugh P. Possingham; Ans Vercammen; Andrew T. Knight
Spatial conservation prioritization is used globally to guide decision making with the aim of delivering the best conservation gain per unit investment. However, despite many publications on the topic, the extent to which this approach is used by decision makers has been unclear. To investigate the degree to which prioritization has been adopted by practitioners to guide conservation implementation, we conducted an online survey, collecting data on the approaches used to develop prioritizations and the reported extent of translation to on‐the‐ground action. Using a cluster analysis, we identified two categories of prioritizations, those developed to advance the field (42% of responses) and those intended for implementation (58% of responses). Respondents reported 74% of the prioritizations intended for implementation had translated to on‐the‐ground action. Additionally, we identified strong collaboration between academics and practitioners in prioritization development, suggesting a bridging of the theory‐practice gap. We recommend continued collaboration and research into the effectiveness of prioritizations in delivering conservation impacts.
Predicting the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances on marine populations Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-05-07 Jacob Nabe‐Nielsen; Floris M van Beest; Volker Grimm; Richard M Sibly; Jonas Teilmann; Paul M Thompson
Marine ecosystems are increasingly exposed to anthropogenic disturbances that cause animals to change behavior and move away from potential foraging grounds. Here we present a process‐based modeling framework for assessing population consequences of such sub‐lethal behavioral effects. It builds directly on how disturbances influence animal movements, foraging and energetics, and is therefore applicable to a wide range of species. To demonstrate the model we assess the impact of wind farm construction noise on the North Sea harbor porpoise population. Subsequently, we demonstrate how the model can be used to minimize population impacts of disturbances through spatial planning. Population models that build on the fundamental processes that determine animal fitness have a high predictive power in novel environments, making them ideal for marine management.
Population models reveal unexpected patterns of local persistence despite widespread larval dispersal in a highly exploited species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-05-11 Garavelli Lysel; White J. Wilson; Chollett Iliana; Chérubin Laurent Marcel
Nearshore marine populations are structured in metapopulations that are connected through larval dispersal across national boundaries. One of the main challenges for effective management of these metapopulations is the need for partnerships between nations that share the same resource. By coupling large‐scale connectivity information to a dynamic population model, we analyzed the patterns of connectivity and population persistence for the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) metapopulation both within and across national boundaries. Although spiny lobster subpopulations are highly connected at the basin scale, several nations located in the northern Caribbean and ecoregional networks could persist independently of the larger basin‐wide metapopulation. Based on these results, we propose trans‐national neighborhoods for spiny lobster management. Our analysis suggests that the dynamics and management of those subpopulations neighborhoods are not intrinsically dependent on ‘upstream’ connectivity even though current rates of upstream larval supply are very high.
Slow treatment promotes control of harmful species by multiple agents Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-05-12 Adam Lampert; Alan Hastings; James N. Sanchirico
The management of harmful species, including invasive species, pests, parasites and diseases, is a major, global challenge. Harmful species cause severe damage to ecosystems, biodiversity, agriculture and human health. The control of harmful species is challenging and often requires cooperation among multiple agents, such as land‐owners, agencies and countries. Agents may have incentives to contribute less, leaving more work for other agents, which can result in inefficient treatment. Here we present a dynamic game theory model and we show that slow treatment may promote a stable solution (Markovian Nash equilibrium) where all agents cooperate to remove the harmful species. The efficiency of this solution depends critically on the life history of the harmful species that determines the speed of optimal treatment. Furthermore, this cooperative equilibrium may coexist with other Nash equilibria, including one dictating no treatment of the harmful species, which implies that coordination among agents is critical for successful control.
When conservation research goes awry: A reply to Mascia and Mills (2018) Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-05-02 Jens Friis Lund; Jevgeniy Bluwstein
We raise two points of contention with “When conservation goes viral: The diffusion of innovative biodiversity conservation policies and practices” in which Mascia and Mills make a case for “diffusion of innovation theory” as a way of understanding how conservation interventions spread, drawing on case studies from Tanzania and the Pacific. First, the conceptualization of the spread of CBNRM as the uptake of innovative policies through diffusion depoliticizes CBNRM and ignores existing social science scholarship on Tanzanian CBNRM. Second, the article's central claim of “diffusion” builds on inflated statistics on the spread of CBNRM in Tanzania.
Descent with modification: Critical use of historical evidence for conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-01-26 Simon Pooley
The clear evidence of the accumulating impacts of anthropogenic actions on the Earth system is driving researchers to look to historical data as a resource for understanding the present and predicting the future. In the conservation science literature, using historical sources usually refers to data mining “the past” using the scientific methods of historical ecology. This article considers the often overlooked methodological challenges of sourcing and interpreting historical data. A schema is provided for conservation scientists, summarizing the kinds of questions and metadata required to work rigorously with historical data. This will improve the accuracy of the data we use to construct trends to inform our understanding of the conservation status of particular species and ecosystems. It will also deepen our understanding of the interplays of factors influencing policy and management in particular social‐ecological contexts.
Seizing opportunities to diversify conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-01-18 Rachelle K. Gould; Indira Phukan; Mary E. Mendoza; Nicole M. Ardoin; Bindu Panikkar
This article identifies, and offers several ways to address, a serious, persistent issue in conservation: low levels of diversity in thought and action. We first describe the lack of diversity and highlight the continued separation of the environmental conservation and environmental justice movements. We then offer—based on previous research and our collective experience—two suggestions for how to increase inclusivity (a step farther than increasing diversity) in holistic ways. We suggest that embracing narrative, including historical narrative that can be profound and painful, may be essential to addressing this deeply rooted issue. We also suggest the need to redefine “environment” to more closely align with the diversity of perspectives that different people and disciplines bring to the topic. We support our suggestions with selected data from empirical research and provide examples of initiatives that embody them.
An assessment of threats to terrestrial protected areas Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-01-15 Katharina Schulze; Kathryn Knights; Lauren Coad; Jonas Geldmann; Fiona Leverington; April Eassom; Melitta Marr; Stuart H. M. Butchart; Marc Hockings; Neil D. Burgess
Protected areas (PAs) represent a cornerstone of efforts to safeguard biodiversity, and if effective should reduce threats to biodiversity. We present the most comprehensive assessment of threats to terrestrial PAs, based on in situ data from 1,961 PAs across 149 countries, assessed by PA managers and local stakeholders. Unsustainable hunting was the most commonly reported threat and occurred in 61% of all PAs, followed by disturbance from recreational activities occurring in 55%, and natural system modifications from fire or its suppression in 49%. The number of reported threats was lower in PAs with greater remoteness, higher control of corruption, and lower human development scores. The main reported threats in developing countries were linked to overexploitation for resource extraction, while negative impacts from recreational activities dominated in developed countries. Our results show that many of the most serious threats to PAs are difficult to monitor with remote sensing, and highlight the importance of in situ threat data to inform the implementation of more effective biodiversity conservation in the global protected area estate.
Bigger or better: The relative benefits of protected area network expansion and enforcement for the conservation of an exploited species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-01-10 Caitlin D. Kuempel; Vanessa M. Adams; Hugh P. Possingham; Michael Bode
The global portfolio of protected areas is growing rapidly, despite widely recognized shortfalls in management effectiveness. Pressure to meet area‐coverage and management effectiveness objectives makes it essential to determine how limited conservation funds should be allocated between expanding protected area networks and better enforcing existing reserves. We formally explore this question for the particular case of an exploited species in a partially protected system, using a general model linking protection, enforcement and legal/illegal resource extraction. We show that, on average, funds should be disproportionately invested in enforcement rather than expansion. Further, expansion alone, without additional enforcement, can actually reduce conservation outcomes. To help guide future decisions, we calculate the optimal allocation of resources between these two actions given any current level of enforcement and protected area coverage. In most cases, simultaneously investing in expansion and enforcement is the optimal decision. However, in places with low enforcement and high protection, protected area contraction, or strategically concentrating enforcement effort, produces the greatest benefits.
Asymmetric cross‐border protection of peripheral transboundary species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-12-18 Daniel H. Thornton; Aaron J. Wirsing; Carlos Lopez‐Gonzalez; John R. Squires; Scott Fisher; Karl W. Larsen; Alan Peatt; Matt A. Scrafford; Ron A. Moen; Arthur E. Scully; Travis W. King; Dennis L. Murray
International political boundaries challenge species conservation because they can hinder coordinated management. Peripheral transboundary species, those with a large portion of their range in one country and a small, peripheral portion in an adjacent country, may be particularly vulnerable to mismatches in management because peripheral populations are likely in greater conservation need than core populations. However, no systematic assessment of peripheral transboundary species or their status across borders has been attempted. We show that numerous species in three vertebrate taxa qualify as peripheral transboundary species in North America, and that these species are often protected differently across US–Canadian and US–Mexican borders. Asymmetries in cross‐border protection may threaten populations through disruption of connectivity between periphery and core regions and are especially relevant given expected impacts of climate change and the US–Mexico border wall. Our results highlight the need for greater international collaboration in management and planning decisions for transboundary species.
The governance of land use strategies: Institutional and social dimensions of land sparing and land sharing Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-12-13 Tolera S. Jiren; Ine Dorresteijn; Jannik Schultner; Joern Fischer
Agricultural land use is a key interface between the goals of ensuring food security and protecting biodiversity. “Land sparing” supports intensive agriculture to save land for conservation, whereas “land sharing” integrates production and conservation on the same land. The framing around sparing versus sharing has been extensively debated. Here, we focused on a frequently missing yet crucial component, namely the governance dimension. Through a case‐study in Ethiopia, we uncovered stakeholder preferences for sparing versus sharing, the underlying rationale, and implementation capacity challenges. Policy stakeholders preferred sparing whereas implementation stakeholders preferred sharing, which aligned with existing informal institutions. Implementation of both strategies was limited by social, biophysical, and institutional factors. Land use policies need to account for both ecological patterns and social context. The findings from simple analytical frameworks (e.g., sparing vs. sharing) therefore need to be interpreted carefully, and in a social‐ecological context, to generate meaningful recommendations for conservation practice.
Integrating conservation biology into the development of automated vehicle technology to reduce animal–vehicle collisions Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-30 Amanda C. Niehaus; Robbie S. Wilson
Every year, hundreds of millions of animals die in collisions with cars. For some species, road strikes are a major cause of population declines, and reducing collisions is a conservation priority. We suggest that the emergence of automated vehicles will provide new opportunities for the use of computerized animal warning systems and variable speed zones in areas (and times) of high collision risk—but only if conservation biologists play a role in the development and implementation of these vehicles on the road.
Assessing the significance of endemic disease in conservation—koalas, chlamydia, and koala retrovirus as a case study Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-28 Hamish McCallum; Douglas H. Kerlin; William Ellis; Frank Carrick
It can be difficult to establish the conservation significance of endemic infectious diseases—those that are well established in a population—in contrast with infectious diseases that are still invading. This difficulty can have important implications for designing policy to address species declines. The infectious diseases of koalas provide an ideal case study to examine issues involved in identifying the role of endemic disease in conservation biology. Koala populations are in decline, amidst claims for many years that infectious diseases, particularly those with chlamydial etiology, play a key role in this loss. However, weak associations between prevalence of infection, clinical signs of disease, and population decline mean that it remains unclear whether infectious disease is a primary driver of koala population decline. There are multiple causes of koala decline including drought, habitat destruction, and disease. Well‐designed experiments, linked to appropriate models, are necessary to determine the true role of infectious disease in the current koala population declines and whether a focus on disease is likely to be a feasible, let alone the most cost‐effective, means of preventing further declines.
Forest and landscape restoration severely constrained by a lack of attention to the quantity and quality of tree seed: Insights from a global survey Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-27 Riina Jalonen; Michel Valette; David Boshier; Jérôme Duminil; Evert Thomas
Meeting the multimillion hectare commitments for forest and landscape restoration (FLR) will require billions of tree seed and seedlings. However, the adequacy of seed supply in terms of quantity, genetic diversity and quality has received scant attention in FLR planning. We surveyed 139 FLR projects worldwide and identified widespread problems in the availability and diversity of tree seed, with potentially deleterious consequences for the vigor, productivity and long‐term persistence of restored tree populations. Large projects and those focused on climate change mitigation were particularly associated with multiple problems in seed sourcing. To avoid large‐scale failure in FLR, we recommend: (1) national assessments of seed supply and demand for FLR, (2) reviewing FLR targets and funding cycles, (3) fostering sharing of knowledge and experiences regarding seed supply and selection, (4) enhancing seed exchange across landscapes, and (5) introducing regulations for seed quality and strengthening capacities for compliance.
Social fit of coral reef governance varies among individuals Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-20 Rachel A Turner; Johanna Forster; Clare Fitzsimmons; David Gill; Robin Mahon; Angelie Peterson; Selina Stead
Improved natural resource governance is critical for the effective conservation of ecosystems, and the well‐being of societies that depend on them. Understanding the social fit of institutional arrangements in different contexts can help guide the design of effective environmental governance. This empirical study assessed individual‐level variation in institutional acceptance of coral reef governance among 652 respondents in 12 fishing and tourism‐oriented communities in the Wider Caribbean. High institutional acceptance was strongly associated with perceptions of community cohesiveness, underlining the potential contribution of civil society to effective governance processes. Institutional acceptance was also influenced by reef use, awareness of rules, perceived trends in reef fish populations, education, and contextual community‐level factors. Understanding what influences diverse perceptions of coral reef governance among individuals can help to assess the likelihood of support for conservation measures. This study highlights how knowledge of institutional acceptance can inform the design of more targeted interventions that enhance the social fit of conservation governance to local contexts and diverse resource users.
Social equity and urban nature conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-16 Jensen Reitz Montambault; Myriam Dormer; Jacob Campbell; Naureen Rana; Sara Gottlieb; John Legge; Deron Davis; Mohamad Chakaki
Nature conservation and social equity issues have been approached in a myriad of ways by conservation, humanitarian, and development practitioners. The rapid and shifting urbanization of the globe makes the interaction of these issues paramount and it is imperative to articulate pathways to harmonizing these relationships readily followed by conservation practitioners. We describe the processes and compare the resulting social equity and conservation objectives of two initiatives purposefully integrating these approaches. A private nonprofit seeking to develop an urban conservation program in the Atlanta metropolitan area purposefully engaged residents from surrounding communities and self‐identified local and sector leaders to identify communities where social equity and conservation objectives could be created together. A public agency, built on a century‐long history of environmental stewardship for migratory birds and pollinators, integrated 20 years of participatory action research to engage the surrounding communities using methods suggested and developed by the communities themselves. In both cases, community‐based research approaches have helped establish cocreated objectives and flexible monitoring and evaluation baselines. Both initiatives found a need to appropriately resource and train staff to remain open to learning and evolving new objectives as additional perspectives emerge and the impact on conservation and equity objectives is assessed.
The Allure of the Illegal: Choice Modeling of Rhino Horn Demand in Vietnam Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-06 Nick Hanley; Oleg Sheremet; Martina Bozzola; Douglas C. MacMillan
Using choice modeling, we explore willingness to pay for rhino horn among existing and potential future consumers in Vietnam. We find that wild‐sourced horn, harvested humanely from the least rare species, is the most highly valued product. Furthermore, consumers are willing to pay less for rhino horn products under a scenario where international trade is legalized compared to the current situation of illegal trade. We discuss the potential implications of our findings on rhino poaching and international trade policy.
Marine Noise Budgets in Practice Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-03 Nathan D. Merchant; Rebecca C. Faulkner; Roi Martinez
Many countries have made statutory commitments to ensure that underwater noise pollution is at levels which do not harm marine ecosystems. Nevertheless, coordinated action to manage cumulative noise levels is lacking, despite broad recognition of the risks to ecosystem health. We attribute this impasse to a lack of quantitative management targets—or “noise budgets”—which regulatory decision‐makers can work toward, and propose a framework of risk‐based noise exposure indicators which make such targets possible. These indicators employ novel noise exposure curves to quantify the proportion of a population or habitat exposed, and the associated exposure duration. This methodology facilitates both place‐based and ecosystem‐based approaches, enabling the integration of noise management into marine spatial planning, risk assessment of population‐level consequences, and cumulative effects assessment. Using data from the first international assessment of impulsive noise activity, we apply this approach to herring spawning and harbor porpoise in the North Sea.
Inclusion of Biodiversity in Habitat Restoration Policy to Facilitate Ecosystem Recovery Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-03 A. Randall Hughes; Jonathan H. Grabowski; Heather M. Leslie; Steven Scyphers; Susan L. Williams
Maintaining biodiversity is a central tenet of conservation, in part because biodiversity influences ecosystem functions across terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems. Biodiversity‐ecosystem function relationships have clear relevance for the design of habitat restoration efforts, yet the degree to which biodiversity has been incorporated into restoration practice is unclear. We conducted a review of the published literature on habitat restoration to evaluate this potential science‐practice gap. The number of published restoration studies including the term biodiversity has increased slightly from 1990 to 2015 relative to the broader restoration literature. A greater percentage of empirical restorations, and a higher percentage of those with a biodiversity component, were from terrestrial than freshwater or marine ecosystems. The majority of studies considered biodiversity as a response to restoration rather than incorporating it in the restoration design. In fact, nearly half of the studies in our database that actively transplanted species manipulated only a single target species. Little consideration was given to genetic or trophic diversity despite their documented importance for ecosystem function. Given the limited resources available for and high economic costs associated with habitat restoration projects, we recommend policies that account for biodiversity to bridge this gap and maximize ecosystem function and restoration success.
Avoided Deforestation Linked to Environmental Registration of Properties in the Brazilian Amazon Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-10-27 Jennifer Alix‐Garcia; Lisa L. Rausch; Jessica L'Roe; Holly K. Gibbs; Jacob Munger
We quantified the avoided deforestation impacts of environmental land registration in Brazil's Amazonian states of Mato Grosso and Pará between 2005 and 2014. We find that the program reduced deforestation on registered lands. The magnitude of the effect implies that deforestation in the two states would have been 10% higher in the absence of the program. The impacts of registration varied over time, likely due to changing suites of policies linking environmental registration to land use incentives. Our results also reveal that agriculturally suitable lands and those located in regions undergoing the most land‐use change were more likely to be registered than those in less suitable, less dynamic regions. We conclude that environmental registration is an important first step in implementing avoided deforestation policies targeting private landholders.
Corals in Healthy Populations Produce More Larvae Per Unit Cover Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-10-18 Aaron C. Hartmann; Kristen L. Marhaver; Mark J. A. Vermeij
In coral reef conservation and management, the prevailing metric of reef health is percent coral cover, a measurement commonly used with the assumption that each unit of live coral tissue has equivalent ecological value. Here we show that the reproductive output of a coral population is not proportional to the cover of coral present. Instead, when compared to declining populations nearby, high cover coral populations produced up to four times more larvae per square centimeter of tissue, resulting in up to 200 times higher larval production per square meter of reef. Importantly, corals that produced more larvae did not produce smaller larvae, as predicted by resource allocation theory. Instead, higher fecundity corresponded to higher energetic lipid reserves in higher cover coral populations. In the wake of unprecedented global coral bleaching, our findings suggest that the largest reductions in coral reproduction may occur when corals are lost from previously healthy populations.
Reserve Sizes Needed to Protect Coral Reef Fishes Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-10-17 Nils C. Krueck; Christelle Legrand; Gabby N. Ahmadia; Estradivari; Alison Green; Geoffrey P. Jones; Cynthia Riginos; Eric A. Treml; Peter J. Mumby
Marine reserves are a commonly applied conservation tool, but their size is often chosen based on considerations of socioeconomic rather than ecological impact. Here, we use a simple individual‐based model together with the latest empirical information on home ranges, densities and schooling behaviour in 66 coral reef fishes to quantify the conservation effectiveness of various reserve sizes. We find that standard reserves with a diameter of 1–2 km can achieve partial protection (≥50% of the maximum number of individuals) of 56% of all simulated species. Partial protection of the most important fishery species, and of species with diverse functional roles, required 2–10 km wide reserves. Full protection of nearly all simulated species required 100 km wide reserves. Linear regressions based on the mean home range and density, and even just the maximum length, of fish species approximated these results reliably, and can therefore be used to support locally effective decision making.
Informing Aerial Total Counts with Demographic Models: Population Growth of Serengeti Elephants Not Explained Purely by Demography Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-10-10 Thomas A. Morrison; Anna B. Estes; Simon A.R. Mduma; Honori T. Maliti; Howard Frederick; Hamza Kija; Machoke Mwita; A.R.E. Sinclair; Edward M. Kohi
Conservation management is strongly shaped by the interpretation of population trends. In the Serengeti ecosystem, Tanzania, aerial total counts indicate a striking increase in elephant abundance compared to all previous censuses. We developed a simple age‐structured population model to guide interpretation of this reported increase, focusing on three possible causes: (1) in situ population growth, (2) immigration from Kenya, and (3) differences in counting methodologies over time. No single cause, nor the combination of two causes, adequately explained the observed population growth. Under the assumptions of maximum in situ growth and detection bias of 12.7% in previous censuses, conservative estimates of immigration from Kenya were between 250 and 1,450 individuals. Our results highlight the value of considering demography when drawing conclusions about the causes of population trends. The issues we illustrate apply to other species that have undergone dramatic changes in abundance, as well as many elephant populations.
Divergent Landowners' Expectations May Hinder the Uptake of a Forest Certificate Trading Scheme Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-09-28 Marta Lisli Giannichi; Martin Dallimer; Timothy R. Baker; Gordon Mitchell; Paula Bernasconi; Guy Ziv
A major challenge to reduce forest loss in the tropics is to incentivize conservation on private land in agricultural settings. Engaging private landowners in conservation schemes is particularly important along deforestation frontiers, such as in the southern Brazilian Amazon. While we know much about what motivates landowners to participate as providers, or sellers, of conservation schemes, understanding what motivates landowners who act as buyers, that is, those who require land to meet conservation obligations, remains lacking. Here we identify viewpoints of sellers and buyers of an emerging forest certificate trading scheme in Brazil and quantify the compatibility of their views to examine potential barriers to trade. Sellers and buyers could be divided into three groups, but only one group in each case was positive about participating in the scheme. A key concern of buyers was the desire for establishing contracts with a long duration; in contrast, price was a key issue for sellers. Addressing these concerns by defining minimum contract lengths and restricting the spatial scale of transactions will be essential if this scheme is to realise its potential to reduce rates of deforestation.
Adding the Third Dimension to Marine Conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-09-28 Noam Levin; Salit Kark; Roberto Danovaro
The Earth's oceans are inherently 3‐D in nature. Many physical, environmental, and biotic processes vary widely across depths. In recent years, human activities, such as oil drilling, mining, and fishing are rapidly expanding into deeper frontier ocean areas, where much of the biodiversity remains unknown. Most current conservation actions, management decisions and policies of both the pelagic and benthic domains do not explicitly incorporate the 3‐D nature of the oceans and are still based on a two‐dimensional approach. Here, we review current advances in marine research and conservation, aiming to advance towards incorporating the third dimension in marine systematic conservation planning. We highlight the importance and potential of vertical conservation planning and zoning from the sea surface to the seafloor. We propose that undertaking marine conservation, management and environmental decisions in 3‐D has the potential to revolutionize marine conservation research, practice and legislation.
An Evaluation of Marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in the Context of Spatial Conservation Prioritization Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-09-08 Jennifer McGowan; Robert J. Smith; Moreno Di Marco; Rohan H. Clarke; Hugh P. Possingham
Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) are sites identified as globally important for bird species conservation. Marine IBAs are one of the few comprehensive multi‐species datasets available for the marine environment, and their use in conservation planning will likely increase as countries race to protect 10% of their territorial waters by 2020. We tested 15 planning scenarios for Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone to guide best practice on integrating marine IBAs into spatial conservation prioritization. We found prioritizations based solely on habitat protection failed to protect IBAs, and prioritizations based solely on IBAs similarly failed to meet basic levels of habitat representation. Further, treating all marine IBAs as irreplaceable sites produced the most inefficient plans in terms of ecological representativeness and protection equality. Our analyses suggest that marine spatial planners who wish to use IBAs treat them like any other conservation feature by assigning them a specific protection target.
Rediscovering the Potential of Indigenous Storytelling for Conservation Practice Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-09-01 Álvaro Fernández‐Llamazares; Mar Cabeza
Several intergovernmental policy instruments, including the World Heritage Convention of UNESCO and the Convention on Biological Diversity, have proposed to develop integrated strategies to build bridges between biological and cultural diversity agendas. We contend that to succeed in this endeavor, it is crucial to link biocultural revitalization to conservation practice. Our hope with this review is to call attention to indigenous storytelling as an option worth adding to the repertoire of conservation practitioners who aim to: (1) link conservation actions to indigenous worldviews; (2) foster connections between indigenous peoples and their landscapes; (3) facilitate intergenerational transfer of indigenous knowledge; (4) support dialogue over conservation; and (5) promote local participation in conservation. Because indigenous stories are full of resonance, memory, and wisdom—in a footing that is structurally free of power imbalance between conservation practitioners and local communities—, we contend that they can be crucial to guide future efforts in biocultural conservation practice. Our review shows that deeper consideration and promotion of indigenous storytelling can lead to enhanced understanding of diverse values and perceptions around biodiversity, while offering a constructive approach for greater inclusion of indigenous peoples in conservation pursuits.
Armed conflicts and wildlife decline: Challenges and recommendations for effective conservation policy in the Sahara‐Sahel Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-04-03 José Carlos Brito; Sarah M. Durant; Nathalie Pettorelli; John Newby; Susan Canney; Walid Algadafi; Thomas Rabeil; Pierre‐André Crochet; Juan Manuel Pleguezuelos; Tim Wacher; Koen de Smet; Duarte Vasconcelos Gonçalves; Maria Joana Ferreira da Silva; Fernando Martínez‐Freiría; Teresa Abáigar; João Carlos Campos; Pierre Comizzoli; Soumía Fahd; Amina Fellous; Hamissou Halilou Malam Garba; Dieng Hamidou; Abdoulaye Harouna; Mahamat Hassan Hatcha; Abdullah Nagy; Teresa Luísa Silva; Andack Saad Sow; Cândida Gomes Vale; Zbyszek Boratyński; Hugo Rebelo; Sílvia B. Carvalho
Increasing conflicts and social insecurity are expected to accelerate biodiversity decline and escalate illegal wildlife killing. Sahara‐Sahel megafauna has experienced recent continuous decline due to unsustainable hunting pressure. Here, we provide the best available data on distribution and population trends of threatened, large vertebrates, to illustrate how escalating regional conflict (565% growth since 2011) is hastening population decline in areas that were formerly refugia for megafauna. Without conservation action, the unique and iconic biodiversity of Earth's largest desert will be forever lost. We recommend: (1) establishing strong commitments for change in global attitude toward nature; (2) engraining a culture of environmental responsibility among all stakeholders; (3) fostering environmental awareness to drive societal change; (4) reinforcing regional security and firearms control; and (5) implementing local research and wildlife monitoring schemes. We identify relevant international partners needed to tackle these challenges and to make strong policy change for biodiversity conservation and regional stability.
Maximizing biodiversity conservation and carbon stocking in restored tropical forests Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-04-16 Pedro H.S. Brancalion; Carolina Bello; Robin L. Chazdon; Mauro Galetti; Pedro Jordano; Renato A.F. Lima; Aretha Medina; Marco Aurélio Pizo; J. Leighton Reid
Assessing the conservation value of restoration plantings is critical to support the global forest landscape restoration movement. We assessed the implications of tree species selection in the restoration of Brazil's Atlantic Forest regarding carbon stocking and species conservation. This assessment was based on a comprehensive dataset of seedling acquisition records from 961 restoration projects, more than14 million seedlings, 192 forest remnants, and functional data from 1,223 tree species. We found that animal‐dispersed trees with larger seeds tend to have higher seed prices, yet are underrepresented in the seedlings acquired for restoration plantations. Compared to forest remnants, fruit supply potentially offered by the species acquired for restoration plantings is lower for birds, but higher for bats. Reduced abundance of medium‐ and/or large‐seeded, animal‐dispersed trees lead to declines of 2.8–10.6% in simulated potential carbon stocking. Given the uncertainty in these estimates, policy interventions may be needed to encourage greater representation of large‐seeded, animal‐dispersed tree species in Atlantic Forest restorations. These findings provide critical guidance for recovering tree functional diversity, plant‐frugivore mutualistic interactions, and carbon stocking in multi‐species tropical forest restoration plantings.
Participation in planning and social networks increase social monitoring in community‐based conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-04-27 Steven M. Alexander; Graham Epstein; Örjan Bodin; Derek Armitage; Donovan Campbell
Biodiversity conservation is often limited by inadequate investments in monitoring and enforcement. However, monitoring and enforcement problems may be overcome by encouraging resource users to develop, endorse, and subsequently enforce conservation regulations. In this article, we draw upon the literature on common‐pool resources and social networks to assess the impacts of participation and network ties on the decisions of fishers to voluntarily report rule violations in two Jamaican marine reserves. Data was collected using questionnaires administered through personal interviews with fishers (n = 277). The results suggest that local fishers are more likely to report illegal fishing if they had participated in conservation planning and if they are directly linked to community‐based wardens in information sharing networks. This research extends well‐established findings regarding the role and impacts of participation on biodiversity conservation by highlighting the importance of synergies between participation and social networks for voluntary monitoring of conservation regulations.
Conservation technology: The next generation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-04-18 Oded Berger‐Tal; José J. Lahoz‐Monfort
Attitudes among conservation biologists toward technological innovations and solutions have changed over the years from mistrusting and dismissive to widely accepting. However, the time has come for the conservation community to move from being technology consumers to become innovation leaders and to actively seek to create novel technologies to provide conservation tools and solutions. This challenging but critical mind‐set change requires thinking outside the box to establish and support the necessary bridges between the conservation community, technologists in both the public and the private sectors, and policy makers. The ingredients already exist, but success hinges on an open mind to new types of interactions, and bold but coordinated movements to nurture the organisational ecosystem in which such collaborations can thrive and be funded.
Overstating the value of the IUCN Red List for business decision‐making Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-04-18 Michael J. Burgass; William N.S. Arlidge; Prue F.E. Addison
The relationship between business and conservation is growing increasingly closer, with the recognition that collaboration can lead to better outcomes for biodiversity. Bennun et al. introduce the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (the Red List) to inform businesses' mitigation of biodiversity impacts; and subsequently how it can be improved to further increase its effectiveness. While we applaud this ever‐closer union of business and conservation, we believe the authors overinflate the value of the Red List in decision‐making, do not account for its limitations and therefore do not justify their conclusions for improving the Red List for business use. We are concerned this focus on wide application of the Red List promotes it as a “one‐stop‐shop” and could lead to discounting of more appropriate approaches.
Wicked conflict: Using wicked problem thinking for holistic management of conservation conflict Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-04-15 Tom H.E. Mason; Chris R.J. Pollard; Deepthi Chimalakonda; Angela M. Guerrero; Catherine Kerr‐Smith; Sergio A.G. Milheiras; Michaela Roberts; Paul Rodrigue; Nils Bunnefeld
Conservation conflict is widespread, damaging and has proved difficult to manage using conventional conservation approaches. Conflicts are often ‘wicked problems’, lacking clear solutions due to divergent values of stakeholders, and being embedded within wickedly complex environments. Drawing on the concept of wicked environmental problems could lead to management strategies better suited to tackling conflict. However, it is unclear whether managers are embracing ideas from the wicked problems concept. There is currently a lack of guidance for applying strategies to tackle particular wicked problems, such as conservation conflict. We explored the suitability of wicked problems‐inspired management, using eight contemporary conflict case‐studies. Conservation conflict was managed predominantly using conventional approaches suited to tackling single objectives in simple environments, rather than balancing competing objectives in complex environments. To deal with different characteristics of wickedness, we recommend that managers develop strategies combining distributed decision‐making, diverse opinions, pattern‐based predictions, trade‐off based objectives and reporting of failures. Recent advances in conservation conflict research have focused on improving interactions among stakeholders. We believe that such stakeholder‐focused approaches would dovetail with the whole‐system focus of a wicked problems framework, allowing conservationists to move towards a holistic strategy for managing conservation conflict.
Intention to kill: Tolerance and illegal persecution of Sumatrantigers and sympatric species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-04-06 Freya A. V. St. John; Matthew Linkie; Deborah J. Martyr; Betty Milliyanawati; Jeanne E. McKay; Fachruddin M. Mangunjaya; Nigel Leader‐Williams; Matthew J. Struebig
Tolerance may lessen when wildlife adversely impacts people. Models from psychology can help elucidate how people make judgments, why they act accordingly, and whether beliefs and norms influence support for policy and intervention. Working in a globally important region for tigers, we estimated hunting prevalence for this endangered species and three sympatric taxa using methods for asking sensitive questions. We also investigated the relative strength of ethnicity and social‐psychological predictors in influencing intention to hunt. Men's behavioral intention and perceptions differed by species: proconservation values were most prevalent for tiger, weakest for wild boar. Perceived behavioral control was the strongest predictor of hunting‐intention; affect and injunctive norms were also important. The prominence of affect in determining intention suggests increasing environmental knowledge is unlikely to curb hunting. However, existing norms could be leveraged to incentivize behaviorchange. Integrating behavior‐change models into conservation science is crucial where strategies require changes in people's actions.
Present and future biodiversity risks from fossil fuel exploitation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-04-02 Michael B. J. Harfoot; Derek P. Tittensor; Sarah Knight; Andrew P. Arnell; Simon Blyth; Sharon Brooks; Stuart H. M. Butchart; Jon Hutton; Matthew I. Jones; Valerie Kapos; Jӧrn P.W. Scharlemann; Neil D. Burgess
Currently, human society is predominantly powered by fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—yet also ultimately depends on goods and services provided by biodiversity. Fossil fuel extraction impacts biodiversity indirectly through climate change and by increasing accessibility, and directly through habitat loss and pollution. In contrast to the indirect effects, quantification of the direct impacts has been relatively neglected. To address this, we analyze the potential threat to >37,000 species and >190,000 protected areas globally from the locations of present and future fossil fuel extraction in marine and terrestrial environments. Sites that are currently exploited have higher species richness and endemism than unexploited sites, whereas known future hydrocarbon activities will predominantly move into less biodiverse locations. We identify 181 “high‐risk” locations where oil or gas extraction suitability coincides with biodiversity importance, making conflicts between extraction and conservation probable. In total, protected areas are located on $3‐15 trillion of unexploited hydrocarbon reserves, posing challenges and potentially opportunities for protected area management and sustainable financing.
Adaptive comanagement to achieve climate‐ready fisheries Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-03-30 Jono R. Wilson; Serena Lomonico; Darcy Bradley; Leila Sievanen; Tom Dempsey; Michael Bell; Skyli McAfee; Christopher Costello; Cody Szuwalski; Huff McGonigal; Sean Fitzgerald; Mary Gleason
Climate‐related impacts to marine ecosystems threaten the biological, social, and economic resilience of the U.S. fishing industry. Changes in ocean conditions and variability in fisheries productivity have stimulated an effort to integrate climate information into fisheries science and management processes to inform more responsive decision‐making. However, institutional, capacity, and budget constraints within U.S. federal and state fisheries management agencies may hinder the potential to deliver climate‐ready strategies for many fisheries. We examine whether adaptive comanagement as a governance approach can enhance capacity and advance climate‐ready fisheries objectives. Adaptive comanagement may improve the quality of science and decision‐making needed to prepare for and respond to impacts of climate change in fisheries by taking advantage of skills, technology, and funding often not optimally utilized under the current governance system. We focus on the potential to improve information flows as a means to achieve climate‐ready fisheries via adaptive comanagement, but suggest that a greater level of partnership in the management process may be possible in the future after a period of formal experimentation and learning.
Increasing disturbance demands new policies to conserve intact forest Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-03-26 Jörg Müller; Reed F. Noss; Simon Thorn; Claus Bässler; Alexandro B. Leverkus; David Lindenmayer
Ongoing controversy over logging the ancient Białowieża Forest in Poland symbolizes a global problem for policies and management of the increasing proportion of the earth's intact forest that is subject to postdisturbance logging. We review the extent of, and motivations for, postdisturbance logging in protected and unprotected forests globally. An unprecedented level of logging in protected areas and other places where green‐tree harvest would not normally occur is driven by economic interests and a desire for pest control. To avoid failure of global initiatives dedicated to reducing the loss of species, five key policy reforms are necessary: (1) salvage logging must be banned from protected areas; (2) forest planning should address altered disturbance regimes for all intact forests to ensure that significant areas remain undisturbed by logging; (3) new kinds of integrated analyses are needed to assess the potential economic benefits of salvage logging against its ecological, economic, and social costs; (4) global and regional maps of natural disturbance regimes should be created to guide better spatiotemporal planning of protected areas and undisturbed forests outside reserves; and (5) improved education and communication programs are needed to correct widely held misconceptions about natural disturbances.
Time series analysis reveals synchrony and asynchrony between conflict management effort and increasing large grazing bird populations in northern Europe Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-03-25 Jeremy J. Cusack; A. Brad Duthie; O. Sarobidy Rakotonarivo; Rocío A. Pozo; Tom H. E. Mason; Johan Månsson; Lovisa Nilsson; Ingunn M. Tombre; Einar Eythórsson; Jesper Madsen; Ayesha Tulloch; Richard D. Hearn; Steve Redpath; Nils Bunnefeld
The management of conflicts between wildlife conservation and agricultural practices often involves the implementation of strategies aimed at reducing the cost of wildlife impacts on crops. Vital to the success of these strategies is the perception that changes in management efforts are synchronized relative to changes in impact levels, yet this expectation is never evaluated. We assess the level of synchrony between time series of population counts and management effort in the context of conflicts between agriculture and five populations of large grazing birds in northern Europe. We reveal inconsistent patterns of synchrony and asynchrony between changes in population counts and impact management effort relating to population harvesting, monetary payments, or scaring practices. This variation is likely due to differing management aims, the existence of lags between management decisions and population monitoring, and the inconsistent use of predictive models across case studies. Overall, our findings highlight the need for more adaptive and timely responses of management to changes in target species numbers so as not to unexpectedly increase social conflicts and jeopardize the status of wildlife populations.
New policy directions for global pond conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-03-23 Matthew J. Hill; Christopher Hassall; Beat Oertli; Lenore Fahrig; Belinda J. Robson; Jeremy Biggs; Michael J. Samways; Nisikawa Usio; Noriko Takamura; Jagdish Krishnaswamy; Paul J. Wood
Despite the existence of well‐established international environmental and nature conservation policies (e.g., the Ramsar Convention and Convention on Biological Diversity) ponds are largely missing from national and international legislation and policy frameworks. Ponds are among the most biodiverse and ecologically important freshwater habitats, and their value lies not only in individual ponds, but more importantly, in networks of ponds (pondscapes). Ponds make an important contribution to society through the ecosystem services they provide, with effective conservation of pondscapes essential to ensuring that these services are maintained. Implementation of current pond conservation through individual site designations does not function at the landscape scale, where ponds contribute most to biodiversity. Conservation and management of pondscapes should complement current national and international nature conservation and water policy/legislation, as pondscapes can provide species protection in landscapes where large‐scale traditional conservation areas cannot be established (e.g., urban or agricultural landscapes). We propose practical steps for the effective incorporation or enhancement of ponds within five policy areas: through open water sustainable urban drainage systems in urban planning, increased incentives in agrienvironment schemes, curriculum inclusion in education, emphasis on ecological scale in mitigation measures following anthropogenic developments, and the inclusion of pondscapes in conservation policy.
The undervalued contribution of mangrove protection in Mexico to carbon emission targets Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-03-12 Maria Fernanda Adame; Christopher James Brown; Marylin Bejarano; Jorge Alfredo Herrera‐Silveira; Paula Ezcurra; J. Boone Kauffman; Richard Birdsey
Mangrove deforestation threatens to release large stores of carbon from soils that are vulnerable to oxidation. Carbon stored in deep soils is not measured in national carbon inventories. Thus, policies on emission reductions have likely underestimated the contribution of mangrove deforestation to national emissions. Here, we estimate that emissions from deforestation and degradation of mangroves in Mexico are 31 times greater than the values used to determine national emission reduction targets for the Paris Agreement. Thus, Mexico has vastly undervaluated the potential of mangrove protection to reduce its emissions. Accounting for carbon emissions from mangrove soils should greatly increase the priority of mangrove forests to receive funding for protection under carbon trading programs.
When conservation goes viral: The diffusion of innovative biodiversity conservation policies and practices Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-28 Michael B. Mascia; Morena Mills
Despite billions of dollars invested, “getting to scale” remains a fundamental challenge for conservation donors and practitioners. Occasionally, however, a conservation intervention will “go viral,” with rapid, widespread adoption that transforms the relationship between people and nature across large areas. The factors that shape rates and patterns of conservation interventions remain unclear, puzzling scientists and hindering evidence‐based policymaking. Diffusion of innovation theory—the study of the how and why innovations are adopted, and the rates and patterns of adoption—provides a novel lens for examining rates and patterns in the establishment of conservation interventions. Case studies from Tanzania and the Pacific illustrate that characteristics of the innovation, of the adopters, and of the social‐ecological context shape spatial and temporal dynamics in the diffusion of community‐centered conservation interventions. Differential trends in adoption mirrored the relative advantage of interventions to local villagers and villager access to external technical assistance. Theories of innovation diffusion highlight new arenas for conservation research and provide critical insights for conservation policy and practice, suggesting the potential to empower donors and practitioners with the ability to catalyze conservation at scale—and to do so at less cost and with longer‐lasting impacts.
Biologically representative and well‐connected marine reserves enhance biodiversity persistence in conservation planning Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-22 Rafael A. Magris; Marco Andrello; Robert L. Pressey; David Mouillot; Alicia Dalongeville; Martin N. Jacobi; Stéphanie Manel
Current methods in conservation planning for promoting the persistence of biodiversity typically focus on either representing species geographic distributions or maintaining connectivity between reserves, but rarely both, and take a focal species, rather than a multispecies, approach. Here, we link prioritization methods with population models to explore the impact of integrating both representation and connectivity into conservation planning for species persistence. Using data on 288 Mediterranean fish species with varying conservation requirements, we show that: (2) considering both representation and connectivity objectives provides the best strategy for enhanced biodiversity persistence and (2) connectivity objectives were fundamental to enhancing persistence of small‐ranged species, which are most in need of conservation, while the representation objective benefited only wide‐ranging species. Our approach provides a more comprehensive appraisal of planning applications than approaches focusing on either representation or connectivity, and will hopefully contribute to build more effective reserve networks for the persistence of biodiversity.
Lions in the modern arena of CITES Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-21 Hans Bauer; Kristin Nowell; Claudio Sillero‐Zubiri; David W. Macdonald
Lions have often been discussed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild flora and fauna (CITES). While CITES decisions on species trade regimes are ostensibly based on science, species data are often inconclusive and political considerations inevitably determine outcomes. We present the context of lion conservation and the technical and political processes of CITES to illuminate how a failed uplisting proposal nonetheless resulted in an unprecedented trade restriction as well as conservation initiatives beyond the CITES trade function. We conclude on the limitations of science to guide future directions of CITES debates, leaving politics and ethics to shape decision making.
Real‐world conservation planning for evolutionary diversity in the Kimberley, Australia, sidesteps uncertain taxonomy Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-16 Dan F. Rosauer; Margaret Byrne; Mozes P. K. Blom; David J. Coates; Stephen Donnellan; Paul Doughty; J. Scott Keogh; Janine Kinloch; Rebecca J. Laver; Cecilia Myers; Paul M. Oliver; Sally Potter; Daniel L. Rabosky; Ana Catarina Afonso Silva; James Smith; Craig Moritz
Targeting phylogenetic diversity (PD) in systematic conservation planning is an efficient way to minimize losses across the Tree of Life. Considering representation of genetic diversity below and above species level, also allows robust analyses within systems where taxonomy is in flux. We use dense sampling of phylogeographic diversity for 11 lizard genera, to demonstrate how PD can be applied to a policy‐ready conservation planning problem. Our analysis bypasses named taxa, using genetic data directly to inform conservation decisions. We highlight areas that should be prioritized for ecological management, and also areas that would provide the greatest benefit if added to the multisector conservation estate. We provide a rigorous and effective approach to represent the spectrum of genetic and species diversity in conservation planning.
Misconception and mismanagement of invasive species: The paradoxical case of an alien ungulate in Spain Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-15 Jorge Cassinello
Scientific evidence should dominate in any management decision dealing with alien species. It is also essential for all stakeholders to agree on the terminology used to avoid undesirable misinterpretations. A well‐known example is the use of the term “invasive,” which has two basic meanings, one as a biogeographic criterion and the other as an impact criterion. The aoudad (Ammotragus lervia) is a North African ungulate introduced in Spain, which was labeled “invasive” by Spanish authorities due to misreading of the term used by early studies. Indeed, to date, there are no conclusive empirical data showing negative effects of the aoudad on native flora and fauna. Recent studies have shown that its closest native ungulate, the Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica), has expanded throughout territories already occupied by the aoudad, without any apparent conflict. Aoudad diet selection studies also show them to be markedly grazers, so its role in the Mediterranean trophic network might be similar to that of extinct wild ungulates that fed in natural meadows, maintaining landscapes heterogeneous. New opportunities for its study are opening, particularly in Iberian semiarid lands. Unfortunately though, its current simplistic definition as an invasive species keeps in suspense its eventual eradication throughout the country.
Vaccination protects endangered albatross chicks against avian cholera Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-14 Vincent Bourret; Amandine Gamble; Jérémy Tornos; Audrey Jaeger; Karine Delord; Christophe Barbraud; Pablo Tortosa; Sarah Kada; Jean‐Baptiste Thiebot; Eric Thibault; Hubert Gantelet; Henri Weimerskirch; Romain Garnier; Thierry Boulinier
Global change is contributing to unprecedented expansions of infectious diseases in wildlife. Recurrent avian cholera outbreaks are causing dramatic chick mortality and population decline in endangered albatross colonies on Amsterdam Island, a critical seabird breeding ground in the Southern Indian Ocean. We manufactured a killed vaccine using a Pasteurella multocida strain isolated from a dead albatross in the field. We used this same bacterial strain to establish a serological assay allowing the monitoring of antibody levels following bird vaccination. Using this vaccine on chicks 2 weeks posthatching caused 100% seroconversion and reduced the death risk by a factor exceeding 2.5, raising fledging probability from 14% to 46%. These results suggest that using a specifically tailored vaccine could be a key tool to effectively protect endangered seabirds from disease outbreaks threatening them with extinction.
Conserving biodiversity and Indigenous bush tucker: Practical application of the strategic foresight framework to invasive alien species management planning Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-13 Vanessa M. Adams; Michael M. Douglas; Sue E. Jackson; Kelly Scheepers; Johnathan T. Kool; Samantha A. Setterfield
Invasive alien species are a major driver of global biodiversity loss. Constrained conservation budgets demand that threat abatement strategies take into account the heterogeneity of areas in need of protection, such as significant ecological and cultural sites, as well as the competing values, preferences, and objectives of stakeholders. We used strategic foresight to assess the threat that invasive alien grasses pose to environmental and Indigenous cultural values on the floodplains of a comanaged, World Heritage‐inscribed national park. We found strategic foresight to be a useful framework to set management priorities that simultaneously conserve biological and cultural diversity. However, it required the development and application of novel ecological and participatory tools and significant time, financial, and human resources. This was the first study to apply strategic foresight to weed management planning in a realistic, culturally complex setting and our work provides an exemplar for the application of the strategic foresight framework and our tools to other contexts.
A global analysis of management capacity and ecological outcomes in terrestrial protected areas Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-08 Jonas Geldmann; Lauren Coad; Megan D. Barnes; Ian D. Craigie; Stephen Woodley; Andrew Balmford; Thomas M. Brooks; Marc Hockings; Kathryn Knights; Michael B. Mascia; Louise McRae; Neil D. Burgess
Protecting important sites is a key strategy for halting the loss of biodiversity. However, our understanding of the relationship between management inputs and biodiversity outcomes in protected areas (PAs) remains weak. Here, we examine biodiversity outcomes using species population trends in PAs derived from the Living Planet Database in relation to management data derived from the Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) database for 217 population time‐series from 73 PAs. We found a positive relationship between our METT‐based scores for Capacity and Resources and changes in vertebrate abundance, consistent with the hypothesis that PAs require adequate resourcing to halt biodiversity loss. Additionally, PA age was negatively correlated with trends for the mammal subsets and PA size negatively correlated with population trends in the global subset. Our study highlights the paucity of appropriate data for rigorous testing of the role of management in maintaining species populations across multiple sites, and describes ways to improve our understanding of PA performance.
Widespread occurrence of an emerging fungal pathogen in heavily traded Chinese urodelan species Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2018-02-01 Zhiyong Yuan; An Martel; Jun Wu; Sarah Van Praet; Stefano Canessa; Frank Pasmans
Understanding introduction routes for wildlife pathogens is vital for the development of threat abatement plans. The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) has recently emerged in Europe, where it is considered to be a serious threat for urodelan conservation. If the highly diverse Chinese urodelans were to constitute a Bsal reservoir, then the significant international trade in these species may vector Bsal into naïve urodelan communities. Here, we analyzed a total of 1,143 samples, representing 36 Chinese salamander species from 51 localities across southern China for the presence of Bsal. We found Bsal was present across a wide taxonomic, geographical, and environmental range. In particular, Bsal DNA was detected in 33 samples from the genera Cynops, Pachytriton, Paramesotriton, Tylototriton, and Andrias, including the heavily traded species Paramesotriton hongkongensis and Cynops orientalis. The true Bsal prevalence across our data set was estimated between 2% and 4%, with a maximum of 50% in a population of P. hongkongensis. Even at this overall relatively low Bsal prevalence, the exportation of millions of animals renders Bsal introduction in naïve, importing countries a near certainty, which calls for the urgent implementation of proper biosecurity in the international wildlife trade.
Fuzzy Models to Inform Social and Environmental Indicator Selection for Conservation Impact Monitoring Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-02-01 Edward T. Game, Leah L. Bremer, Alejandro Calvache, Pedro H. Moreno, Amalia Vargas, Baudelino Rivera, Lina M. Rodriguez
Abstract Conservation projects increasingly aim to deliver both environmental and social benefits. To monitor the success of these projects, it is important to pick indicators for which there is a reasonable expectation of change as a result of the project, and which resonate with project stakeholders. Results chains are widely used in conservation to describe the hypothesized pathways of causal linkages between conservation interventions and desired outcomes. We illustrate how, with limited additional information, results chains can be turned into fuzzy models of social-ecological systems, and how these models can be used to explore the predicted social and environmental impacts of conservation actions. These predictions can then be compared with the interests of stakeholders in order to identify good indicators of project success. We illustrate this approach by using it to select indicators for a water fund, an increasingly popular and multiobjective conservation strategy.
Integrating Social and Ecological Knowledge for Targeting Voluntary Biodiversity Conservation Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-02-22 Riikka Paloniemi, Teppo Hujala, Salla Rantala, Annika Harlio, Anna Salomaa, Eeva Primmer, Sari Pynnönen, Anni Arponen
Abstract Improving the effectiveness of voluntary biodiversity policies requires developing trans-disciplinary conservation plans that consider social constraints to achieving ecological objectives. We integrated data on landowners’ willingness to participate in voluntary conservation efforts with ecological data on conservation values in a spatial prioritization, and found that doing so considerably reduced the loss in conservation value caused by landowners’ reluctance to participate. We learned that conducting prioritization with stakeholder input gained through dialogue during field visits could be beneficial for increasing the legitimacy of conservation plans with stakeholders. Thus, in addition to developing a methodology for using data on stakeholder perceptions of conservation in spatial prioritization, our study suggests that engaging landowners and other stakeholders in the conservation prioritization process will improve the success of conservation plans.
Accounting for Life-History Strategies and Timescales in Marine Restoration Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-02-22 Ignasi Montero-Serra, Joaquim Garrabou, Daniel F. Doak, Laura Figuerola, Bernat Hereu, Jean-Baptiste Ledoux, Cristina Linares
Abstract Understanding the drivers of restoration success is a central issue for marine conservation. Here, we explore the role of life-history strategies of sessile marine species in shaping restoration outcomes and their associated timescales. A transplantation experiment for the extremely slow-growing and threatened octocoral Corallium rubrum was highly successful over a relatively short term due to high survival and reproductive potential of the transplanted colonies. However, demographic projections predict that from 30 to 40 years may be required for fully functional C. rubrum populations to develop. More broadly, a comprehensive meta-analysis revealed a negative correlation between survival after transplanting and growth rates among sessile species. As a result, simulated dynamics for a range of marine sessile invertebrates predict that longer recovery times are positively associated with survival rates. These results demonstrate a tradeoff between initial transplantation efforts and the speed of recovery. Transplantation of slow-growing species will tend to require lower initial effort due to higher survival after transplanting, but the period required to fully recover habitat complexity will tend to be far longer. This study highlights the important role of life history as a driver of marine restoration outcomes and shows how demographic knowledge and modeling tools can help managers to anticipate the dynamics and timescales of restored populations.
Social Media Data Can Be Used to Understand Tourists’ Preferences for Nature-Based Experiences in Protected Areas Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-02-22 Anna Hausmann, Tuuli Toivonen, Rob Slotow, Henrikki Tenkanen, Atte Moilanen, Vuokko Heikinheimo, Enrico Di Minin
Abstract Can social media data be used as an alternative to traditional surveys to understand tourists’ preferences for nature-based experiences in protected areas? We explored this by comparing preferences for biodiversity obtained from a traditional survey conducted in Kruger National Park, South Africa, with observed preferences assessed from over 13,600 pictures shared on Instagram and Flickr by tourists visiting the park in the same period. We found no significant difference between the preferences of tourists as stated in the surveys and the preferences revealed by social media content. Overall, large-bodied mammals were found to be the favorite group, both in the survey and on social media platforms. However, Flickr was found to better match tourists’ preference for less-charismatic biodiversity. Our findings suggest that social media content can be used as a cost-efficient way to explore, and for more continuous monitoring of, preferences for biodiversity and human activities in protected areas.
Meeting the Global Ecosystem Collapse Challenge Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-02-27 Chloe F. Sato, David B. Lindenmayer
Abstract Natural systems are declining at an unparalleled rate. To prompt conservation of ecosystems, the IUCN has developed a framework to assess ecosystem threat. By 2025, the IUCN aims to assess the collapse risk of all the world's ecosystems using this framework. This increases the pressure to refine tractable methods to predict collapse. However, there has been no systematic review of whether predicting collapse is possible and practical, which is impeding consistent and comparable assessments of ecosystem threat. Here, we conduct such a review and highlight six areas of concern – stemming from the findings of our review – in need of immediate attention to progress work on assessing ecosystem collapse and the application of such assessments to the management of at-risk ecosystems. These are: (1) better conceptualizations of ecosystems, (2) better conceptualizations of ecosystem collapse, (3) improved integration of theory, experimentation, and practice, (4) improved surrogates and early warning indicators of ecosystem collapse, (5) the implementation of management experiments to enhance understanding of ecosystem stability, and (6) ensuring IUCN Red List of Ecosystems listings result in the conservation of biodiversity.
Not all group incentives are created equally Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-12-08 Carl Salk, Henry Travers
The growing interest in payment-based incentives as a policy tool requires robust evidence regarding the effectiveness of alternative payment structures in eliciting pro-conservation behavior. How incentives are structured not only determines how much individual resource users can be influenced, but also impacts wider co-benefits, such as building the capacity of local institutions or changing social norms. Gatiso et al. (2017) contribute to this evidence base with their experimental study of individual- and group-based payments to promote sustainable community forestry. Two important points arise from their study: i) how group and individual incentives are defined and ii) the need for fair comparisons between incentives in experimental studies. The authors find that individual payments performed better in their experiment and note that previous studies (Salk et al., 2017; Travers et al., 2011) draw the opposite conclusion, attributing this to cultural, political and experimental factors. While these are certainly relevant, there are more fundamental explanations, notably how these studies define individual and group incentives and the relative payout gained from free-riding. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Making Tough Choices: Picking the Appropriate Conservation Decision-Making Tool Conserv. Lett. (IF 7.02) Pub Date : 2017-11-06 Shannon D. Bower, Jacob W. Brownscombe, Kim Birnie-Gauvin, Matthew I. Ford, Andrew D. Moraga, Ryan J. P. Pusiak, Eric D. Turenne, Aaron J. Zolderdo, Steven J. Cooke, Joseph R. Bennett
Conservation practitioners face complex challenges due to resource limitations, biological and socioeconomic trade-offs, involvement of diverse interest groups, and data deficiencies. To help address these challenges, there are a growing number of frameworks for systematic decision making. Three prominent frameworks are structured decision making, systematic conservation prioritization, and systematic reviews. These frameworks have numerous conceptual linkages, and offer rigorous and transparent solutions to conservation problems. However, they differ in their assumptions and applicability. Here, we provide guidance on how to choose among these frameworks for solving conservation problems, and how to identify less rigorous techniques when time or data availability limit options. Each framework emphasizes the need for proper problem consideration and formulation, and includes steps for monitoring and evaluation. We recommend clear and documented problem formulation, adopting structured decision-making processes, and archiving results in a global database to support conservation professionals in making evidence-based decisions in the future.
Some contents have been Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.
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