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1

What is conservation biology?

- an applied scientific discipline that seeks to counter biodiversity loss

- response of biologists to adverse anthropogenic impacts on the natural world

2

What are the three core components of conservation biologists?

- quantify loss & impacts (biology)
- identify causal mechanisms (biology and other disciplines)
- devise strategies to reduce impacts (biology and other disciplines)

3

What is conservation biology concerned with?

- long term viability of entire systems

4

What makes conservation biology a crisis discipline? What is a consequence of this?

- rate of biodiversity loss is faster than rate of knowledge gain

- demand for rapid knowledge can lead to poor science and advocacy

5

Discipline origins - why should we conserve?

- what are the ethical approaches?

- romantic-transcendental ethic

- resource conservation ethic

- evolutionary-ecological land ethic

6

Romantic-transcendental ethics:
- when?
- who?
- approach?
- why conserve?
- led to?

- 1850s

- john muir, henry thoreau, ralph emerson

- mystical almost religious approach to nature

- nature has an inherent value, not just economic

- led to sierra club, yosemite national park, preservationist movement

7

Resource conservation ethics:
- when?
- who?
- approach?
- why conserve?
- led to?

- 1900s
- john mill, gifford pinchot, teddy roosevelt
- utilitarian approach
- conserve nature for its economic resources
- led to "multiple use" concept

8

Evolutionary-ecological land ethic:
- when?
- who?
- approach?
- why conserve?
- led to?

- 1950s

- Aldo Leopald

- combined john muir's semi-religious fervour & john mill's utilitarian approach
- recognises ecosystems are intergrated systems based on independent processes, that there is an equilibrium and that tinkering with any component may lead to collapse

- conserve nature for both inherent/philosophical value and economic value

- foundation of modern conservation

9

Conservation biology in the modern era:

- 1960s and 70s
- 1980s

1960s/70s:
- focus on broader concerns e.g. pollution and population growth
- biologists remotely involved in resource management
- silent springs by rachel carson

1980s:
- discipline formalised by Soule and Wilcox
- "conservation biology: an evolutionary and ecological perspective"

10

Quantifying loss and impact:

- urban development

- fastest growing land use
- must quantify impact on species richness, population densities, genetic diversity, predation risk, disease risk

11

Quantifying loss and impact:

- deforestation

- revising forest code

2004: 27,700 km
2012: 4,570 km
2013: 5,800 km
2014: c. 11,000 km

12

Causal mechanisms:

- plant-pollinator interactions

- oil-collecting bee (Rediviva peringueyi) and the guild of oil-secreting orchid species (Coryciinae)

- why have plant populations declined? reduced pollination in urban areas? climate change?

13

Causal mechanisms:

- wood warblers

- 60% decline UK populaton 1995-2008
- long distant migrants
- why? changes in african winter grounds? effects of climate change on breeding grounds?

14

Identifying solutions:

- skylark plots

- skylarks struggle to forage in tall thick winter cereals
- leaving undrilled patches in winter cereal fields
- fields w 2 skylark plots per herctare have significant benefits
- mostly use them for foraging but increases breeding success
- more chicks, heavier chicks

15

Identifying solutions:

- protected area gap analysis

- identified places where species live without any protection
- analysed where the highest priority gaps in protection existed

- need to be designed in relation to the distribution patterns of species

16

Conservation biology:
- quantifying loss and impact
- causal mechanisms
- identifying solutions

Impacts on:
- species richness
- population density
- genetic diversity
- predation/disease risk

Causal mechanisms:
- understanding the responses of species to devise a conservation programme

Identifying solutions:
- addressing the things causing population declined

17

What biological fields does conservation biology draw on?

- population genetics
- statistics and modelling
- evolution and ecology

18

What other disciplines does it interact with?

- social sciences
- economics