18 January 2019

A sociological approach to global biodiversity loss (commentary)

Abstract: "The connections between social processes and environmental processes that generate biodiversity loss are very unclear compared to climate change, or even other environmental problems like oil spills or the clear-cutting of forests. In our recent article published in the journal Social Currents, we show that, because of these difficulties, the global crisis of anthropogenic biodiversity loss should, first and foremost, be explained historically. This means paying attention to how large scale social processes, for instance the increasing commodification of global agriculture or changes in international banking, interact with large scale environmental processes, for example the entire size of a species’ habitat. Overall, we believe that sociology can become an important contributor to research on biodiversity loss. For this to happen, however, it should be based on analysis of how broad social and environmental structures contribute to biodiversity loss, as well as the ways in which actual species extinctions are dependent upon a specific historical context."

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/01/a-sociological-approach-to-global-biodiversity-loss-commentary/

The case for forests’ prominent role in holding off climate change

Abstract: "The authors of a new report argue that investment in forests as a climate change mitigation strategy is just as important as addressing emissions from the energy sector. Despite the recognized potential contributions of forests to slowing the warming of the earth, they aren’t typically seen as a permanent solution to climate change. The authors of the report contend that provisions in the Paris rulebook, approved at the UN climate conference in Poland, are designed to hold countries responsible for changes to their forests so that such ‘reversals’ won’t go unaccounted for."

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/01/the-case-for-forests-prominent-role-in-holding-off-climate-change/

Species diversity as a surrogate for conservation of phylogenetic and functional diversity in terrestrial vertebrates across the Americas

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Abstract: "Preserving the evolutionary history and ecological functions that different species embody, in addition to species themselves, is a growing concern for conservation. Recent studies warn that conservation priority regions identified using species diversity differ from those based on phylogenetic or functional diversity. However, spatial mismatches in conservation priority regions need not indicate low surrogacy among these dimensions in conservation planning. Here, we use data for 10,213 terrestrial vertebrate species across the Americas to evaluate surrogacy; that is, the proportion of phylogenetic or functional diversity represented in conservation plans targeting species. We find that most conservation plans targeting species diversity also represent phylogenetic and functional diversity well, despite spatial mismatches in the priority regions identified by each plan. However, not all phylogenetic and functional diversity is represented within species-based plans, with the highest-surrogacy conservation strategy depending on the proportion of land area included in plans. Our results indicate that targeting species diversity could be sufficient to preserve much of the phylogenetic and functional dimensions of biodiversity in terrestrial vertebrates of the Americas. Incorporating phylogenetic and functional data in broad-scale conservation planning may not always be necessary, especially when the cost of doing so is high."

Read More: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0744-7