Four barriers to the global understanding of biodiversity conservation: wealth, language, geographical location and security.
ABSTRACT Global biodiversity conservation is seriously challenged by gaps and heterogeneity in the geographical coverage of existing information. Nevertheless, the key barriers to the collection and compilation of biodiversity information at a global scale have yet to be identified. We show that wealth, language, geographical location and security each play an important role in explaining spatial variations in data availability in four different types of biodiversity databases. The number of records per square kilometre is high in countries with high per capita gross domestic product (GDP), high proportion of English speakers and high security levels, and those located close to the country hosting the database; but these are not necessarily countries with high biodiversity. These factors are considered to affect data availability by impeding either the activities of scientific research or active international communications. Our results demonstrate that efforts to solve environmental problems at a global scale will gain significantly by focusing scientific education, communication, research and collaboration in low-GDP countries with fewer English speakers and located far from Western countries that host the global databases; countries that have experienced conflict may also benefit. Findings of this study may be broadly applicable to other fields that require the compilation of scientific knowledge at a global level.
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ABSTRACT: Large-scale high-throughput sequencing techniques are rapidly becoming popular methods to profile complex communities and have generated deep insights into community biodiversity. However, several technical problems, especially sequencing artifacts such as nucleotide calling errors, could artificially inflate biodiversity estimates. Sequence filtering for artifact removal is a conventional method for deleting error-prone sequences from high-throughput sequencing data. As rare species represented by low-abundance sequences in datasets may be sensitive to artifact removal process, the influence of artifact removal on rare species recovery has not been well evaluated in natural complex communities. Here we employed both internal (reliable operational taxonomic units selected from communities themselves) and external (indicator species spiked into communities) references to evaluate the influence of artifact removal on rare species recovery using 454 pyrosequencing of complex plankton communities collected from both freshwater and marine habitats. Multiple analyses revealed three clear patterns: 1) rare species were eliminated during sequence filtering process at all tested filtering stringencies, 2) more rare taxa were eliminated as filtering stringencies increased, and 3) elimination of rare species intensified as biomass of a species in a community was reduced. Our results suggest that cautions be applied when processing high-throughput sequencing data, especially for rare taxa detection for conservation of species at risk and for rapid response programs targeting non-indigenous species. Establishment of both internal and external references proposed here provides a practical strategy to evaluate artifact removal process.PLoS ONE 05/2014; 9(5):e96928. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: There have been persistent calls for greater use of local and traditional or indigenous knowledge alongside conventional scientific knowledge in making decisions about biodiversity and natural resources (Fazey et al., 2006; Raymond et al., 2010). Yet such calls are rarely reflected in practice. Different types of knowledge have not been well integrated into national and international assessment ex-ercises, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and The Eco-nomics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Turnhout, 2012), all of which focus almost exclusively on conventional scientific knowledge. The newly formed Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), charged with strengthening the knowledge base for decision-makers concerned with biodiversity conservation and the importance of the environment for human well-being, aspires to do better. Its operating principle is to 'Recognize and respect the contribution of indigenous and local knowledge to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosys-tems'. There is an urgent need to establish processes to achieve this if such aspirations are to be translated into good practice (Tengö et al., 2013; Sutherland, 2013; Thaman et al., 2013). Here we outline why we believe an explicit set of processes is needed, including within IPBES, to recognize and integrate information from conventional science and local and traditional knowledge systems. We identify key features of such processes and propose a specific mechanism that could help integrate information from different, parallel knowledge systems into international knowledge assessments. There are clear benefits of incorporating local and traditional knowledge alongside conventional scientific knowledge when assessing current understanding to guide decision-making (Tengö et al., 2013). Local and traditional knowledge can provide complementary perspectives, borne from long periods of shared observation and experimentation that are often lacking in conventional scientific knowledge. The latter commonly depends on sets of observations or experiments conducted over relatively short time-scales by groups of people disconnected from the environmental context. Local knowledge, for example, has been repeatedly shown to extend our understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of biodiversity, including for individual species (e.g. the Arctic fox Alopex lagopus; Gagnon & Berteaux, 2009). In the case of provisioning ecosystem services, so integral to human well-being, local people often hold knowledge that is vital to the cultivation and use of locally adapted crop varieties. This information is rarely col-lected by scientific studies and is not held by seed banks (e.g. in the Pamir mountains; van Oudenhoven & Haider, 2012). Limiting the collation of information to conventional science could also mean that science conducted in more developed countries (with larger scientific budgets) may dictate decision-making elsewhere. This situation is unlikely to be either politically acceptable or appropriate. There is often a mismatch between the needs of decision-makers and the conventional scientific knowledge available (Amano & Sutherland, 2013). This mismatch is important, as illustrated by considering pollinators, a topic of considerable current interest and favoured for the first IPBES assessment. In a global review of conventional scientific evidence for the effects of interventions to maintain or restore wild bee populations (Dicks et al., 2010) 30 of the 163 studies identified were outside Europe and North America. With evidence for effectiveness based largely in temperate regions, interventions only relevant to the tropics are poorly understood and may even be overlooked. In such contexts, local and traditional knowledge are particularly necessary to enable assessments that are tailored to local understanding and needs. So how can information from traditional and conven-tional scientific knowledge be effectively combined in the context of national and international assessments? We suggest there are at least three parts to the addressing of this problem. The first step is to recognize that there are fundamentally different types of knowledge, each associated with different needs for different stakeholder groups (Fazey et al., 2006). Here, it is important to distinguish information (whether drawn from observations or experiment, or from a scientific study or experience, information can be tested in some way) from values (i.e. preferences relating to priorities for action or particular outcomes) and associated mental models (i.e. the cognitive frameworks that people use to interpret and understand the world). Values and mental models must be made explicit to ensure that collaboration amongst stakeholders involved in an assessment isOryx 12/2013; 48(01). · 1.91 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: A major justification of environmental management research is that it helps practitioners, yet previous studies show it is rarely used to inform their decisions. We tested whether conservation practitioners focusing on bird management were willing to use a synopsis of relevant scientific literature to inform their management decisions. This allowed us to examine whether the limited use of scientific information in management is due to a lack of access to the scientific literature or whether it is because practitioners are either not interested or unable to incorporate the research into their decisions. In on-line surveys, we asked 92 conservation managers, predominantly from Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, to provide opinions on 28 management techniques that could be applied to reduce predation on birds. We asked their opinions before and after giving them a summary of the literature about the interventions' effectiveness. We scored the overall effectiveness and certainty of evidence for each intervention through an expert elicitation process-the Delphi method. We used the effectiveness scores to assess the practitioners' level of understanding and awareness of the literature. On average, each survey participant changed their likelihood of using 45.7% of the interventions after reading the synopsis of the evidence. They were more likely to implement effective interventions and avoid ineffective actions, suggesting that their intended future management strategies may be more successful than current practice. More experienced practitioners were less likely to change their management practices than those with less experience, even though they were not more aware of the existing scientific information than less experienced practitioners. The practitioners' willingness to change their management choices when provided with summarized scientific evidence suggests that improved accessibility to scientific information would benefit conservation management outcomes. El Efecto de la Evidencia Científica sobre las Decisiones de Manejo de Quienes Practican la Conservación Walsh, Dicks & Sutherland.Conservation Biology 08/2014; · 4.36 Impact Factor