Some of the questions include: 'are there critical thresholds at which loss of biodiversity disrupts ecosystem functions and services?' and 'how effective are different methods for assessing ecosystem services?' The conservationists are also keen to find out how nanotechnology impacts on biodiversity. Other contentious topics such as how ocean acidification might shape marine biodiversity and the effects of the changing water cycle on biodiversity - are also on the list.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), loss of biodiversity is accelerating despite a global convention committing governments to halt the decline. Experts say species and habitats are disappearing so fast there needs to be more effort focused on research that helps scientists understand what's behind the loss.
But there is a problem for conservation bodies trying to curb biodiversity loss. Sometimes, there is a mismatch between the conservation topics academics study and the information conservationists need to help them preserve biodiversity. The one hundred questions, published online this week in the journal Conservation Biology, could help address this issue.
"With the current crisis in the loss of habitats and species it is important that we ensure we are carrying out the most important research," says Professor William Sutherland of the University of Cambridge, lead author of the study and Miriam Rothschild Chair in Conservation Biology. "When research is designed to meet the needs of real natural resource protection projects, it can lead to substantial gains for biodiversity," he adds.
To address the mismatch, 761 conservationists from 24 of the world's leading conservation bodies and 12 academics generated a preliminary list of 2291 questions relevant to conserving global biodiversity.
The group of experts used email voting to short-list the 2291 questions before a smaller group of 44 met for two days at the University of Cambridge to decide on the final one hundred questions. The questions are not ranked.
Before a question could be included in the one hundred, it had to meet eight strict criteria, including: it had to be answerable through realistic research; it had to address important gaps in knowledge; and it had to be on a time and space scale that could be addressed by a research team.
The resulting questions are divided up into 12 key sections reflecting issues the conservationists are worried about, such as 'climate change', 'ecosystem management and restoration', 'impacts of conservation interventions' and 'ecosystem function and services'.
Many of the one hundred questions are at the heart of the biodiversity theme in Nerc's strategy: Next Generation Science for Planet Earth, 2007 – 2012. The main overarching challenge within the theme is to understand the role of biodiversity in key ecosystem processes. Specific goals include: understanding which biodiversity thresholds will ultimately lead to extinctions and ecosystem change; understanding the impact of biodiversity loss on health; and developing new methods to assess the direct and indirect value of biodiversity to society.
The list of one hundred questions builds on a hugely successful exercise conducted in 2008 to identify the top 25 emerging threats to biodiversity in the UK – also led by Professor Sutherland - widely used by researchers, funders and NGOs to direct their own research agendas.
The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Tamera Jones | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Conservation Science > Environment > Environment Research > Nanotechnology > biodiversity loss > conservation bodies > ecosystem function > ecosystem function and services > global biodiversity > key scientific questions > loss of biodiversity > synthetic biology > water cycle on biodiversity
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences