Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists call policy-makers to be scale-aware

30.08.2012
Conservation is concerned with the preservation of biological diversity at all levels, from genes to species, communities and ecosystems.

Yet conserving this biological richness is made difficult because it varies in complex ways at different scales of space and time. The problem of scale emerges as a critical new theme in conservation practice, as pointed out by scientists at a special symposium of the 3rd European Congress of Conservation Biology (ECCB) held in Glasgow on 28-31 August 2012.

To be successful, nature conservation measures must account for the complexity of the human impact and how nature responds to them, at different spatial and temporal scales. "Scale-sensitive research" emerges as a new, interdisciplinary field in nature conservation where researchers adjust concepts, analyses, and tools to the scale in which these might be used. Policy-makers, on their side, must ensure that the decisions they take resolve ecological problems at the relevant administrative and spatial scales.

Scientists involved in SCALES, a large-scale integrating project funded by the 7th Framework Program (FP7) of the European Union, have identified a series of mismatches between the scale of research at which conservation biologists study how best to protect biological diversity and the need for implementation of scale-based approaches in policy and management, especially in the design of Natura 2000, Green Infrastructure and biodiversity monitoring.

These concerns and new findings have been discussed at a dedicated SCALES symposium at the 3rd European Congress of Conservation Biology (ECCB) in Glasgow on 28th-31st of August 2012. Dr Klaus Henle from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ in Leipzig, Germany and coordinator of SCALES opened the discussion: "It has long been known that scale issues play an important role in ecological research. In recent years, however, it has become increasingly clear that scale-awareness is also crucial in designing and implementing conservation practices. Conservation in a rapidly-changing world requires systematic and dynamic approaches to shorten the time from research findings to policy implementation."

Prof. William Kunin from the University of Leeds, UK, added: "Policy-makers should consider not only or mainly the need to protect species richness (that is what scientists call "alpha-diversity"), but also changes in species' composition from one habitat to another, or what is called "beta-diversity". Focusing on beta-diversity, rather than on number of species or certain focal species in a given area or scale, will certainly enhance conservation effectiveness".

Dr. Henle showed that the problem with variation is relevant not only to space but also to time. For example, areas that may be identified as critical to protect may differ if we use data from different years. Hence, even well-researched programs to select protected areas will fail if they don't consider changes in species distribution and composition between years (that is what scientists call "temporal variation").

Dr Guy Pe'er from the UFZ suggested that "connectivity between remnants of natural habitats must be more effectively included in policy and planning, in order to allow species to survive through climate change: if natural habitats remain so fragmented, many species simply will not be able to alter their distributions with changing climate". Many scientists are aware of the problem, but nevertheless connectivity still does not attract sufficient attention of policy makers and planners, partly because of dealing with "larger scale problems", so to say, of ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services. Novel individual-based simulation models, presented by Guy Pe'er and Greta Bocedi, give some tools to bridge this gap and reduce the risks of errors when moving from local studies to tackling large-scale threats.

Dr Szabolcs Lengyel and his team from the University of Debrecen, Hungary presented a survey of the literature to investigate how specific today's conservation strategies are to certain scales. Although they found a generally increasing awareness of scale-related issues in conservation, they also identified important gaps. The results of the study call conservationists and policy-makers to develop scale-sensitive approaches, in much the same way as cell biologists may use different levels of magnifications under the microscope depending on what they wish to observe and study.

"Perhaps the biggest gap between scientists and policy makers is the gap of speed. We need to work and publish faster. The scientific work will fail to target its most important audience as long as the time until publication is slow, the language is often too technical and the outcomes are published in specialized journals of limited access. Instead, we need to communicate and share our data and findings more openly and far more rapidly", concluded Dr. Henle, the Editor-in-Chief of the new, open-access, inter-disciplinary journal Nature Conservation.

Launched at the Congress by Dr. Klaus Henle and Prof. Lyubomir Penev from the Bulgarian Academy of Science, the journal Nature Conservation aims at bridging the gap between conservation science and practice using innovative publishing and dissemination technologies. The journal strongly encourages papers not only on biological topics but also on ethical, social, socio-economic, legal and policy issues related to management and use of biodiversity and ecosystems.

http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=30775

Original sources

1. SCALES Brief 2. Systematic reserve site selection in dynamic landscapes. Authors: Klaus Henle, Birgit Felinks

2. SCALES Brief 3. Beta diversity of European fauna and flora: the role of dispersal limitations, climate and land-cover at multiple scales. Author: Petr Keil

3. Henle, K. et al.: Nature Conservation - a new dimension in Open Access publishing bridging science and application; Nature Conservation 1: 1-10. DOI 10.3897/natureconservation.1.3081

Contact
Dr. Klaus Henle
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=1868
Tel. +49-151-12200472
Dr. Guy Pe'er
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=15885
Tel.: +49-151-12200471
Additional information
SCALES (2009-2014) stands for "Securing the Conservation of biodiversity across Administrative Levels and spatial, temporal, and Ecological Scales" and is a European research project. Financed by the 7th EU framework programme for research and development (FP7), SCALES seeks ways to better integrate the issue of scale into policy and decision-making and biodiversity management in the EU. For more information please see: www.scales-project.net

Lyubomir Penev/Tilo Arnhold | UFZ News
Further information:
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=30775

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>