• Home
  • James E. M. Watson
James E. M. Watson

James E. M. Watson
University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia · School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

PhD, University of Oxford

About

429
Publications
305,467
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
24,592
Citations
Introduction
James Watson is a Professor of Conservation Science at The University of Queensland and Director of the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science at The University of Queensland. He leads the Green Fire Science research group (www.greenfirescience.com), whose mission is to do applied research that is linked directly to the practice of conservation, and he is the Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Science and Research Initiative. As a Rhodes Scholar, James undertook his PhD research studying in Madagascar, trying to come up with conservation plans to save endemic bird species inhabiting the country's remaining littoral forest. Since then he has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers on conservation related matters.
Additional affiliations
September 2010 - present
Wildlife Conservation Society
Position
  • Director, Climate Chnage Program
January 2008 - present
UNSW Sydney
January 2007 - August 2010
The University of Queensland
Education
January 2001 - January 2004
University of Oxford
Field of study
January 1998 - December 1998
University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy
Field of study
January 1991 - January 1995
University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy
Field of study
  • Bachelor of Science

Publications

Publications (429)
Article
Full-text available
Identification of spatial gradients in ecosystem vulnerability to global climate change and local stressors is an important step in the formulation and implementation of appropriate countermeasures. Here we build on recent work to map ecoregional exposure to future climate, using an envelope-based gauge of future climate stability—defined as a meas...
Article
The acquisition or designation of new protected areas is usually based on criteria for representation of different ecosystems or land-cover classes, and it is unclear how well-threatened species are conserved within protected-area networks. Here, we assessed how Australia's terrestrial protected-area system (89 million ha, 11.6% of the continent) o...
Article
Full-text available
The Galapagos Archipelago is renowned for its high endemism but little effort has been made to quantify the human disturbance that compromises the islands' ecological integrity. We provide a quantitative assessment of anthropogenic degradation, which we define as areas either transformed by direct human activity or heavily invaded by four of the mo...
Article
Full-text available
In the summer of 2019–2020, southern Australia experienced the largest fires on record, detrimentally impacting the habitat of native species, many of which were already threatened by past and current anthropogenic land use. A large-scale restoration effort to improve degraded species habitat would provide fire-affected species with the chance to r...
Article
Full-text available
Ambitious conservation efforts are needed to stop the global biodiversity crisis. In this study, we estimate the minimum land area to secure important biodiversity areas, ecologically intact areas, and optimal locations for representation of species ranges and ecoregions. We discover that at least 64 million square kilometers (44% of terrestrial ar...
Article
Due to climate change, megafires are increasingly common, and have sudden, extensive impacts on many species over vast areas, leaving decision‐makers uncertain about how best to prioritize recovery. Here, we provide a decision‐support framework to prioritize conservation actions to improve species outcomes immediately after a megafire. The framewor...
Article
Full-text available
Many threats to biodiversity can be predicted and are well mapped but others are uncertain in their extent, impact on biodiversity, and ability for conservation efforts to address, making them more difficult to account for in spatial conservation planning efforts, and as a result, they are often ignored. Here, we use a spatial prioritisation analys...
Preprint
Full-text available
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for global environmental agreements is how higher-income and lower-income countries share the costs of implementing them. This problem has become particularly acute as biodiversity and climate ambitions have increased across recent COPs (Conferences of Parties). Here, we estimate the likely distribution of costs...
Preprint
Indicators supporting implementation of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) are likely to be used not only to monitor progress toward achieving agreed goals and targets, but also to help prioritise specific actions to address shortfalls in this achievement as efficiently as possible. To perform this dual role, adopted indicators must...
Article
Area-based conservation measures, including protected areas (PA) and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECM), play an important role in biodiversity conservation. In the Brazilian Amazon, even though Conservation Units and Indigenous Lands have been shown to reduce deforestation, few studies have addressed Quilombola Territories, an...
Article
Full-text available
The Chestnut-backed Button-quail Turnix castanotus is a small, cryptic, ground-dwelling species endemic to savanna ecosystems of northern Australia. Due to aspects of its ecology, cryptic plumage and behaviour, and the remoteness of most of its distribution, there are few published observations from the field documenting its breeding biology. The e...
Preprint
Full-text available
1.Budgeting for biodiversity conservation requires realistic estimates of the costs of threat abatement. However, data on the costs of managing threats to biodiversity is often unavailable or unable to be extrapolated across relevant locations and scales due to a lack of transparency and consistency in how it was collated. Conservation expenditure...
Article
Full-text available
Habitat loss is the leading cause of the global decline in biodiversity, but the influence of human pressure within the matrix surrounding habitat fragments remains poorly understood. Here, we measure the relationship between fragmentation (the degree of fragmentation and the degree of patch isolation), matrix condition (measured as the extent of h...
Article
Full-text available
The main effort to secure threatened species globally is to set aside land and sea for their conservation via governance arrangements such as protected areas. But not even the biggest protected area estate will cover enough area to halt most species declines. Consequently, there is a need for assessments of how species habitats are distributed acro...
Article
Full-text available
Management of the land-sea interface is considered essential for global conservation and sustainability objectives, as coastal regions maintain natural processes that support biodiversity and the livelihood of billions of people. However, assessments of coastal regions have focused on either strictly the terrestrial or marine realm, and as a conseq...
Article
Research into the suitability of autonomous recording units (ARUs) when surveying for vocal species is increasing. Simultaneously, there has been extensive research into methods for efficiently extracting signals of interest from the acoustic data sets that accrue from the deployment of ARUs. For some species, bioacoustic monitoring supported by co...
Preprint
Institutional arrangements are key for problem-solving; therefore, pandemics require a strong governance response. While a plethora of ideas about prevention actions for pandemics have been advanced, there has been relatively limited consideration for how those can be operationalized through governance macro structures, particularly within the cont...
Article
Full-text available
Protected areas are highly heterogeneous in their effectiveness at buffering human pressure, which may hamper their ability to conserve species highly sensitive to human activities. Here, we use 60 million bird observations from eBird to estimate the sensitivity to human pressure of each bird species breeding in the Americas. Concerningly, we find...
Article
Rapid climate change is impacting biodiversity, ecosystem function, and human well‐being. Though the magnitude and trajectory of climate change are becoming clearer, our understanding of how these changes reshape terrestrial life zones—distinct biogeographic units characterized by biotemperature, precipitation, and aridity representing broad‐scale...
Article
James Watson and Oscar Venter introduce the concept of wilderness and its role in conservation efforts.
Article
Full-text available
The rise in global commitments to restore habitat underlines its importance to halt biodiversity loss and abate climate change. To effectively plan for landscape‐scale restoration efforts, decision makers need to prioritise where restoration should occur and have a method to estimate its cost. Here, we describe a systematic approach to determine wh...
Article
Full-text available
Marine species are declining at an unprecedented rate, catalyzing many nations to adopt conservation and management targets within their jurisdictions. However, marine species and the biophysical processes that sustain them are naive to international borders. An understanding of the prevalence of cross-border species distributions is important for...
Article
Despite substantial conservation efforts, the loss of ecosystems continues globally, along with related declines in species and nature’s contributions to people. An effective ecosystem goal, supported by clear milestones, targets and indicators, is urgently needed for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and beyond to support biodiversity co...
Article
Full-text available
Australia is in the midst of an extinction crisis, having already lost 10% of terrestrial mammal fauna since European settlement and with hundreds of other species at high risk of extinction. The decline of the nation's biota is a result of an array of threatening processes; however, a comprehensive taxon-specific understanding of threats and their...
Preprint
Full-text available
The imperative of a global transition to renewables to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 calls for an examination of the associated biodiversity risks. Hydropower is the biggest source of renewable energy globally, and its remaining untapped potential is concentrated in low and lower-middle income countries which are also among the world’s most bi...
Article
Minimising the environmental impacts of biofuel production is an urgent global challenge. Over the next decade, increased demand for sugarcane-based ethanol in Brazil could result in over one million hectares of the nation's native forest and grassland being replaced directly by sugarcane or indirectly by displaced crops and pastureland. Here we in...
Article
Full-text available
To achieve the goals of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, we must identify representative targets that effectively protect biodiversity and can be implemented at a national level. We developed a framework to identify synergies between biodiversity and carbon across the Asian region and proposed a stepwise approach based on scalable prior...
Article
Full-text available
International trade is responsible for connecting human and natural systems across distant countries, and has profound implications for sustainability. In particular, tele-coupling, the socioeconomic and environmental interactions between distant countries as a result of, among others, global trade, typically leaves less affluent nations bearing th...
Article
Full-text available
Signatory countries to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are formulating goals and indicators through 2050 under the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). Among the goals is increasing the integrity of ecosystems. The CBD is now seeking input toward a quantifiable definition of integrity and methods to track it globally. Here, w...
Article
Nations of the world failed to fully achieve any of the Convention on Biological Diversity 2010 targets, and the future of biodiversity hangs in the balance. Nations must not let unambitious targets in the current draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework prevent them from maximizing their biodiversity-conservation actions over the next...
Article
Shortfalls in our knowledge of the most basic parameters, such as overall range and population size, ensure evidence-based conservation of poorly known or ‘missing’ species is inherently difficult. Often, the only source of such knowledge is anecdotal reports, which are usually considered too unreliable to be of value. Methods that help conservatio...
Article
Full-text available
In 2018, the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted a decision on protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs). It contains the definition of an OECM and related scientific and technical advice that has broadened the scope of governance authorities and areas that can be engaged and recognised...
Article
Full-text available
The Convention on Biological Diversity’s post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will probably include a goal to stabilize and restore the status of species. Its delivery would be facilitated by making the actions required to halt and reverse species loss spatially explicit. Here, we develop a species threat abatement and restoration (STAR) metric...
Article
Full-text available
The new global biodiversity framework (GBF) being developed under the Convention on Biological Diversity must drive action to reverse the ongoing decline of the Earth's biodiversity. Explicit, measurable goals that specify the outcomes we want to achieve are needed to set the course for this action. However, the current draft goals and targets fail...
Article
Full-text available
Archaeological and paleoecological evidence shows that by 10,000 BCE, all human societies employed varying degrees of ecologically transformative land use practices, including burning, hunting, species propagation, domestication, cultivation, and others that have left long-term legacies across the terrestrial biosphere. Yet, a lingering paradigm am...
Article
Full-text available
Indigenous Peoples’ lands cover over one‐quarter of Earth's surface, a significant proportion of which is still free from industrial‐level human impacts. As a result, Indigenous Peoples and their lands are crucial for the long‐term persistence of Earth's biodiversity and ecosystem services. Yet, information on species composition on these lands glo...
Book
Full-text available
En ecosistemas terrestres, dulceacuícolas y marinos, los corredores ecológicos son una designación de conservación necesaria para asegurar la salud de los ecosistemas. Los corredores son elementos fundamentales de las redes ecológicas para la conservación y complementan los objetivos de las áreas protegidas y OMEC al conectar estos hábitats con otr...
Preprint
Full-text available
Protected areas, the most prevalent international policy mechanism for biodiversity conservation, are highly heterogeneous in their effectiveness at buffering ecosystems and species' habitats from human pressure. Protected areas with intense human pressure cannot protect species that are highly sensitive to human activities. Here, we use 60 million...
Article
Tropical deforestation continues at high rates in many regions, but it is often reported only in terms of area lost or its impacts on high-profile threatened species. Here, we examined the impact of both past and projected future deforestation on habitat extent for the entire assemblage of forest-dependent birds across the country with the greatest...
Preprint
Full-text available
Signatory countries to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are formulating indicators through 2030 under the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). These goals include increasing the integrity of natural ecosystems. However, the definition of integrity and methods for measuring it remain unspecified. Moreover, nations did not achie...
Preprint
Full-text available
Humanity is on a pathway of unsustainable loss of the natural systems upon which we, and all life, rely. To date, global efforts to achieve internationally-agreed goals to reduce carbon emissions, halt biodiversity loss, and retain essential ecosystem services, have been poorly integrated. However, these different goals all rely on preserving natur...
Article
Full-text available
Work on the post‐2020 global biodiversity framework is now well advanced and will outline a vision, goals, and targets for the next decade of biodiversity conservation and beyond. For the effectiveness of Protected areas and Other Effective area‐based Conservation Measures, an indicator has been proposed for “areas meeting their documented ecologic...
Article
Full-text available
The upcoming Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting, and adoption of the new Global Biodiversity Framework, represent an opportunity to transform humanity's relationship with nature. Restoring nature while meeting human needs requires a bold vision, including mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in society. We present a framework that...
Article
Full-text available
Button-quail (Turnicidae) are a greatly understudied family of birds; their cryptic habits make studying them in the wild challenging. They are known to be quite vocal which could assist with detectability, and so it follows that survey results will be more reliable as knowledge about button-quail vocal repertoire increases. Until recently, there w...
Article
Full-text available
In 2010, Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 to address the loss and degradation of nature. Subsequently, most biodiversity indicators continued to decline. Nevertheless , conservation actions can make a positive difference for biodiversity. The emerging Post-2020 Global Biod...
Article
Full-text available
. In north-eastern Queensland, the Masked Owl Tyto novaehollandiae is a rare and taxonomically complex species in apparent decline. It has typically been recorded in open sclerophyll forest and woodland, often adjacent to cleared areas, but current records suggest a patchy distribution. We used all available high-veracity records of the Masked Owl...
Article
Full-text available
An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Technical Report
Full-text available
La connectivité écologique est le mouvement sans entrave des espèces et le flux des processus naturels qui soutiennent la vie sur Terre. Il est impérieux que les pays du monde entier s’orientent vers une approche globale et cohérente de la conservation de la connectivité écologique, et qu’ils entreprennent de mesurer et de contrôler l’efficacité de...
Article
Full-text available
Big data reveals new, stark pictures of the state of our environments. It also reveals ‘bright spots’ amongst the broad pattern of decline and—crucially—the key conditions for these cases. Big data analyses could benefit the planet if tightly coupled with ongoing sustainability efforts.