Lab

Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science

About the lab

Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS)

We are an academic research group based in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford. Our work addresses the challenges that humanity faces in halting the decline of global biodiversity.

We work at the interface of social and ecological systems, using a range of methodologies and interdisciplinary approaches to address key issues in current conservation.

Our underlying philosophy is that in order to make progress we need to consider the incentives, pressures and challenges faced by individual decision-makers, and to bring together multidisciplinary teams who are best placed to address these issues.

https://www.iccs.org.uk

Featured projects (1)

Featured research (11)

Few studies explicitly assess the robustness and practicality of occupancy analysis informed by local inhabitants, compared to estimates from conventional monitoring methods within different contexts. This study evaluates the efficacy and robustness of occupancy models based on camera trap data, and two locally informed methods: seasonal interviews and hunter diaries, for monitoring 13 hunted mammal species in south‐eastern Cameroon. We triangulate estimates of detectability and occupancy to assess the precision and comparability of their estimates for different species, and their cost. Camera trap estimates are comparable with estimates from locally informed methods in 7 of 11 available cases, but produced the lowest detection probabilities for all species in both villages. While camera traps provide robust estimates for abundant species with a high detection probability, locally informed methods can provide estimates of occupancy comparable to camera trap estimates, but at significantly less cost. They are particularly useful where camera trap detection rates (p) are too low to produce robust occupancy model estimates, notably for rare or cryptic species. The methods, survey effort and animals that can be monitored robustly vary between villages. As such, consideration should be given before monitoring commences to ensure that the most effective and informative approach is used.
Goals play important roles in people's lives by focusing attention, mobilizing effort, and sustaining motivation. Understanding conservationists’ satisfaction with goal progress may provide insights into real‐world environmental trends and flag risks to their well‐being and motivation. We asked 2694 conservationists working globally how satisfied they were with progress towards goals important to them. We then explored how this satisfaction varied between groups. Finally, we looked at respondents' experiences associated with goal progress satisfaction. Many (94.0%) said “making a meaningful contribution to conservation” was an important goal for them, with over half being satisfied or very satisfied in this area (52.5%). However, respondents were generally dissatisfied with progress to collective conservation goals, such as stopping species loss, echoing formal assessments. Some groups were more likely to report dissatisfaction than others. For instance, those in conservation for longer tended to be less satisfied with collective goal progress (log‐odds ‐0.21, 95% credibility interval (CI) ‐0.32 to ‐0.10), but practitioners reported greater satisfaction (log‐odds 0.38, 95% CI 0.15‐0.60). Likewise, those who are more optimistic in life (log‐odds 0.24, 95% CI 0.17‐0.32), male (log‐odds 0.25, 95% CI 0.10‐0.41), and working in conservation practice (log‐odds 0.25, 95% CI 0.08‐0.43) reported greater satisfaction with individual goal progress. Free‐text responses suggested widespread dissatisfaction around livelihood goals, particularly related to job security and adequate compensation. While contributing to conservation appeared to be a source of satisfaction, slow goal progress in other areas – particularly around making a living – looked to be a source of distress and demotivation. Employers, funders, professional societies, and others should consider ways to help those in the sector make a difference whilst making a living, including by prioritizing conservationists' well‐being when allocating funding. This support could include avoiding exploitative practices, fostering supportive work environments, and celebrating positive outcomes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Sustainable wildlife trade is critical for biodiversity conservation, livelihoods, and food security. Regulatory frameworks are needed to secure these diverse benefits of sustainable wildlife trade. However, regulations limiting trade can backfire, sparking illegal trade if demand is not met by legal trade alone. Assessing how regulations affect wildlife markets participants’ incentives is key to controlling illegal trade. While much research has assessed how incentives at both the harvester and consumer ends of markets are affected by regulations, little has been done to understand the incentives of traders (sometimes referred to as middlemen or intermediaries). Here, we present a dynamic simulation model to support reduction in illegal wildlife trade within legal markets by focusing on the incentives to trade legal or illegal products faced by traders. We use an Approximate Bayesian Computation approach to infer illegal trading dynamics and parameters that might be unknown (e.g., price of illegal products). We showcase the utility of the approach with a small‐scale fishery case study in Chile, where we disentangle within‐year dynamics of legal and illegal trading and show that the majority of traded fish is illegal. Moreover, we utilized the model to assess the effect of policy interventions to improve the fishery's sustainability, and explore the trade‐offs between ecological, economic and social goals. Scenario simulations show that even significant increases (over 200%) in parameters proxying for policy levers enable only moderate improvements in ecological and social sustainability, at substantial economic cost, exposing how unbalanced trader's incentives are towards trading illegal over legal products in this fishery. Our model is a novel tool for promoting sustainable wildlife trade in data‐limited settings, which explicitly considers traders as critical players in wildlife markets. Sustaining wildlife trade into the future requires incentivizing legal over illegal wildlife trade, while considering the social, ecological, and economic impacts of interventions. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Recognizing the imperative to evaluate species recovery and conservation impact, in 2012 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) called for development of a "Green List of Species" (now the IUCN Green Status of Species). A draft Green Status framework for assessing species' progress toward recovery, published in 2018, proposed 2 separate but interlinked components: a standardized method (i.e., measurement against benchmarks of species' viability, functionality, and preimpact distribution) to determine current species recovery status (herein species recovery score) and application of that method to estimate past and potential future impacts of conservation based on 4 metrics (conservation legacy, conservation dependence, conservation gain, and recovery potential). We tested the framework with 181 species representing diverse taxa, life histories, biomes, and IUCN Red List categories (extinction risk). Based on the observed distribution of species' recovery scores, we propose the following species recovery categories: fully recovered, slightly depleted, moderately depleted, largely depleted, critically depleted, extinct in the wild, and indeterminate. Fifty-nine percent of tested species were considered largely or critically depleted. Although there was a negative relationship between extinction risk and species recovery score, variation was considerable. Some species in lower risk categories were assessed as farther from recovery than those at higher risk. This emphasizes that species recovery is conceptually different from extinction risk and reinforces the utility of the IUCN Green Status of Species to more fully understand species conservation status. Although extinction risk did not predict conservation legacy, conservation dependence, or conservation gain, it was positively correlated with recovery potential. Only 1.7% of tested species were categorized as zero across all 4 of these conservation impact metrics, indicating that conservation has, or will, play a role in improving or maintaining species status for the vast majority of these species. Based on our results, we devised an updated assessment framework that introduces the option of using a dynamic baseline to assess future impacts of conservation over the short term to avoid misleading results which were generated in a small number of cases, and redefines short term as 10 years, to better align with conservation planning. These changes are reflected in the IUCN Green Status of Species Standard.
Recognizing the imperative to evaluate species recovery and conservation impact, in 2012 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) called for development of a "Green List of Species" (now the IUCN Green Status of Species). A draft Green Status framework for assessing species' progress toward recovery, published in 2018, proposed 2 separate but interlinked components: a standardized method (i.e., measurement against benchmarks of species' viability, functionality, and preimpact distribution) to determine current species recovery status (herein species recovery score) and application of that method to estimate past and potential future impacts of conservation based on 4 metrics (conservation legacy, conservation dependence, conservation gain, and recovery potential). We tested the framework with 181 species representing diverse taxa, life histories, biomes, and IUCN Red List categories (extinction risk). Based on the observed distribution of species' recovery scores, we propose the following species recovery categories: fully recovered, slightly depleted, moderately depleted, largely depleted, critically depleted, extinct in the wild, and indeterminate. Fifty-nine percent of tested species were considered largely or critically depleted. Although there was a negative relationship between extinction risk and species recovery score, variation was considerable. Some species in lower risk categories were assessed as farther from recovery than those at higher risk. This emphasizes that species recovery is conceptually different from extinction risk and reinforces the utility of the IUCN Green Status of Species to more fully understand species conservation status. Although extinction risk did not predict conservation legacy, conservation dependence, or conservation gain, it was positively correlated with recovery potential. Only 1.7% of tested species were categorized as zero across all 4 of these conservation impact metrics, indicating that conservation has, or will, play a role in improving or maintaining species status for the vast majority of these species. Based on our results, we devised an updated assessment framework that introduces the option of using a dynamic baseline to assess future impacts of conservation over the short term to avoid misleading results which were generated in a small number of cases, and redefines short term as 10 years, to better align with conservation planning. These changes are reflected in the IUCN Green Status of Species Standard.

Lab head

Eleanor J Milner-Gulland
Department
  • Department of Zoology

Members (27)

Diogo Verissimo
  • University of Oxford
Takahiro Kubo
  • National Institute for Environmental Studies
Amy Hinsley
  • University of Oxford
Julia Baker
  • Wood Group
Hollie Booth
  • University of Oxford
Michael t Sas-Rolfes
  • University of Oxford
Molly Grace
  • University of Oxford
Helen Sarah Newing
  • Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS) University of Oxford
Henry Grub
Henry Grub
  • Not confirmed yet
joe bull
joe bull
  • Not confirmed yet