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Last Update: February 11, 2008

Chapter 15 - Environmental change and conservation.

New books and papers | Websites

Chapter Outline :

    • In terms of biogeography, conservation can be seen as one more element in the dynamic interactions between species and their natural environment;
    • As interest in conservation has developed over the last 100 years, so has its impact upon ecosystems;
    • Conservation seeks to maintain a desired range of species and habitats often against prevailing ecological and environmental forces;
    • Current concern with changing environmental parameters, especially global climate change, will mean that, if it is to remain true to its origins,
    • Conservation must rethink some of its strategies (which is not without some difficulty).
New books and papers
Author(s) Title (and link) Comment
Nebbia and Zalba 2007 Designing nature reserves: traditional criteria may act as misleading indicators of quality Not all criteria are equal in finding the best areas for conservation. Patch size and plant richness may be the two most useful criteria
Pandit and Laband 2007 Threatened species and the spatial concentration of humans Argues that human numbers per se do not mean a complete loss of wildlife - the picture is more complex.
Whittingham et al 2007 Should conservation strategies consider spatial generality? Farmland birds show regional not national patterns of habitat association Conservation programmes are often given a national focus. This paper argues that a regional scale might produce better results because similarities of species cannot be found at national levels.
Forest et al 2007 Preserving the evolutionary potential of floras in biodiversity hotspots Describes a new method to effectively locate and prioritise conservation of evolution potential.
Blake et al 2007 Forest Elephant Crisis in the Congo Basin Congo elephants are under threat from human activity. Core areas offer more protection than just size of reserve. Elephants need to be considered on a continental scale for conservation.
Kirwan et al 2007 Evenness drives consistent diversity effects in intensive grassland systems across 28 European sites A new method of examining diversity shows that crop diversity can improve ecosystem functions in monocultural areas.
Stoner et al 2007 Hunting and Plant Community Dynamics in Tropical Forests: A Synthesis and Future Directions A review study of the possible impacts of game hunting in sensitive areas. see also, related study.
Cornelissen et al 2007 Global negative vegetation feedback to climate warming responses of leaf litter decomposition rates
in cold biomes
A current hot argument is whether arctic areas will be climate reinforcers or reducers. This study points towards the latter.
van Gils et al 2006 Shellfish Dredging Pushes a Flexible Avian Top Predator out of a Marine Protected Area Marine Protected Areas do not work if human activity is still allowed. Small amounts of dredging caused considerable decline in bird numbers
Grenyer et al 2006 Global distribution and conservation of rare and threatened vertebrates It's assumed that proxies can be used because of their congruence across species. This global study shows that it is not that simple and that hotspots often miss key species.
Nicholson et al 2006 A new method for conservation planning for the persistence of multiple species Uses a new approach to conserving maximum species for a given outlay. Old area-based methods are rejected in using models of extinction risk
Wright and Muller-Landau 2006 The Future of Tropical Forest Species Reevaluation of population impact in tropical areas shows that the loss of forests may not be as great as suspected.
Wilson et al 2006 Prioritizing global conservation efforts Reviews models and suggests ways of allocating scarse resources to the best conservation efforts.
Walsh et al 2006 Maladaptive changes in multiple traits caused by fishing: impediments to population recovery Conservation is not just a question of leaving a species alone. Selective removal of part of a population may genetically alter its characteristics.
Tilman, Reich and Knops. 2006 Biodiversity and ecosystem stability in a decadelong grassland experiment Examines the stability/diversity issue and concludes that in manipulated systems, the former can be enhanced by the latter.
La Sorte 2006 Geographical expansion and increased prevalence of common species in avian assemblages: implications for large-scale patterns of species richness Study of avifauna in the contiguous US/Canada shows that anthropogenic effects can be seen even in large spatial scales.
Taylor, Flecker and Hall 2006 Loss of a Harvested Fish Species
Disrupts Carbon Flow in a Diverse
Tropical River
The removal of a popular fish resource can adversely affect nutrient functioning and demonstrate that one species, even a low-order one, can have significant effects.
Sinclair and Byrom 2006 Understanding ecosystem dynamics for conservation of biota This paper demonstrates the need to look carefully at the model used in conservation planning as some techniques offer too little protection.
Silveira Soares-Filho et al 2006 Modelling conservation in the Amazon basin Shows that current conservation policies will not prevent serious species loss unless modified.
Schongart et al 2006 Climate–growth relationships of tropical tree species in West Africa and their potential for climate reconstruction Describes a method which can be used to study environmental change using versions of dendrochronology and thus establishing a useful tool for analysis in otherwise difficult-to-research areas.
Rooney et al 2006 Structural asymmetry and the stability of diverse food webs Despite their apparent complexity, food webs can be modelled in such a way as to demonstrate their stability. Sadly, human impact can undo this stability.
Pimm et al 2006 Human impacts on the rates of recent, present, and future bird extinctions This study shows that bird extinction rates are very difficult to quantify and that they should not be used as a proxy for other extinction rates.
France and Duffy 2006 Diversity and dispersal interactively affect predictability of ecosystem function Contrary to current understanding, increasing grazers increased the variability of ecosystem services in fragmented habitats which has implications for conservation predictions.
Asner et al 2006 Condition and fate of logged forests
in the Brazilian Amazon
Describes a study highlighting the damage caused by current logging practices in the Amazon.
Mora et al 2006 Coral Reefs and the Global Network
of Marine Protected Areas
Argues that current conservation practices are not as effective as needed for marine conservation.
Malcolm et al 2006 Global Warming and Extinctions of Endemic Species from Biodiversity Hotspots This widespread study concludes that global warming is the greatest threat to biodiversity.
Graham et al 2006 Dynamic fragility of oceanic coral reef ecosystems Coral bleaching has physical effects beyond the loss of coral and may disproportionately affect discrete reef systems.
Goossens et al 2006 Genetic Signature of Anthropogenic
Population Collapse in Orang-utans
Detailed genetic study of orangs in Sumatra and Borneo shows a more dramatic decline in population compared to usual historic studies of decline.
Klassen et al 2006 Modelling behavioural and fitness consequences of disturbance for geese along their spring flyway Comments on the vulnerability of migratory species to disturbance and suggests that human pressure must be considered in conservation methods.
Cardillo et al 2006. Latent extinction risk and the future battlegrounds of mammal conservation Hotspots might not be the best conservation principle - potential to become extinct might also help mammal conservation.
Anders and Post 2006 Distribution-wide effects of climate on population densities of a declining migratory landbird This paper describes modelling population changes due to NAO and ENSO. It suggests that regional modelling is necessary to fully appreciate climate change on distributions.
Ricketts et al 2005 Pinpointing and preventing imminent extinctions Global study aimed at reducing species loss by better finding the key locations.
Allan et al 2005 Overfishing of Inland Waters Highlights the under-reporting of issues in inland fishing areas. Argues that this is just as significant as marine fishing.
Hulme 2005 Adapting to climate change: is there scope for ecological management in the face of a global threat? Even if global warming gets worse, management of species will still be able to do more than no management at all.
Harcourt and Doherty 2005 Species–area relationships of primates in tropical forest fragments: a global analysis  Fragmentation affects populations especially of larger species. However, in studying any effects it is important to use a scale comparable with the species under investigation.
Schaber and Badeck 2005 Plant phenology in Germany over the 20th century Bud burst can be used as a proxy to climate change. however, it might be controlled by other, local, factors.
Thuiller, Lavorel and Araujo. 2005 Niche properties and geographical extent as predictors of species sensitivity to climate change Niche sensitivity is a good proxy measure for sensistivity to climate change.
Hoekstra et al 2005 Confronting a biome crisis: global disparities of habitat loss and protection Argues that human impact is affecting not just species but entire biomes and ecoregions.
Hirst et al 2005 The resilience of calcareous and mesotrophic grasslands following disturbance After disturbance, resilience is patchy in an ecosystem. Management of the area needs to take this into account.
Foley et al 2005 Global Consequences of Land Use. Human Impact on land is now becoming a global-scale issue.
Wasser et al 2004 Assigning African elephant DNA to geographic region of origin: Applications to the ivory trade Puts forward a method for better assessing the origin of ivory using microsatellite DNA techniques which could be of use in the detection of illegal ivory.
Thuiller 2004. Patterns and uncertainties of species’ range shifts under climate change We need to look not at the potential changes but also the reliability of the data, assumptions etc. used.
Thomas et al 2004 Extinction risk from climate change This paper suggests that climate change is a considerable risk for species survival and therefore we need to act quickly to reduce its effects.
Pressey, Watts and Barrett 2004. Is maximizing protection the same as minimizing loss? Efficiency and retention as alternative measures
of the effectiveness of proposed reserves
This paper examines the way in which we consider reserves to be 'successful' i.e. whether we look at keeping as much as we can or losing the least. Although apparnetly similar there are considerable differences in result.
Moore 2004 Hope in the hills for tundra? Nature 432 p 159. The spread of trees into the Artic under global warming may have a complex solution.
Lourie and Vincent 2004 Using biogeography to help set priorities in marine conservation. Argues that biogeography has a far greater role in conservation than hitherto used.
Monte-Luna 2004 The carrying capacity of ecosystems Argues that we need to know more about the carrying capacity of ecosystems for sustainable development.
Balmford et al 2004 The worldwide costs of marine protected areas Suggests that the costs of conservation would be less than either the benefits or current conventional subsidies
 Balmford et al 2003.  Global variation in terrestrial conservation costs, conservation benefits and unmet conservation needs.  A chance to look at some cost-efficient methodologies for conservation needs in developing nations.

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