Meredith Root-Bernstein

Meredith Root-Bernstein
French National Centre for Scientific Research | CNRS · CESCO Musée National d'Historie Naturelle

PhD Ecology

About

92
Publications
23,349
Reads
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753
Citations
Introduction
I am moving towards a focus on ethnobiology, which brings together my research on interdisciplinary conservation sciences, community ecology, animal behavior and environmental anthropology. Currently I am researching the restoration of the Chilean silvopastoral system, the espinal. One avenue I am investigating is restoration via rewilding with guanaco. I am also working on developing a project for multifunctional wetland restoration in the Po Delta, Italy. Some of my work in Chile is described here: http://degusyguanacos.wordpress.com
Additional affiliations
August 2014 - present
Aarhus University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Description
  • Working for the interdisciplinary Anthropocene project (AURA).
February 2013 - July 2014
Position
  • Career Development Fund Post Doctoral Researcher
January 2012 - present
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Position
  • FONDECYT Post Doctoral Researcher
Education
August 2008
October 2007 - October 2008
University of Oxford
Field of study
  • Biodiversity, Conservation and Management
October 2004 - May 2008
University of Oxford
Field of study
  • Zoology

Publications

Publications (92)
Preprint
Conservation projects in developing countries that depend on international donors or international capacity building partnerships often have to bridge a gap between donors’ or experts’ ideas of best practice and locals’ ideas of best practice. We examine how this gap may be successfully bridged by examining the case of the Wangchuck Centennial Nati...
Article
Full-text available
Preserving landscape heritage elements and indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) is an increasingly popular approach in conservation. We focus on a globally very contentious practice, silvopastoral livestock raising, which along with other peasant practices, is slated for elimination according to projected Chilean conservation policy. We used ecolog...
Article
False alarm flighting in avian flocks is common, and has been explained as a maladaptive information cascade. If false alarm flighting is maladaptive per se, then its frequency can only be explained by it being net adaptive in relation to some other benefit or equilibrium. However, I argue that natural selection cannot distinguish between false and...
Article
Full-text available
Mediterranean central Chile is globally recognized as a hotspot for terrestrial biodiversity due to its high endemism and massive habitat loss. However, within the rural landscape of central Chile, significant extents of natural areas remain, especially on less productive, steep slopes, and vegetation strips extending from the surrounding hills to...
Article
Full-text available
Different conceptions of disturbance differ in the degree to which they appeal to mechanisms that are general and equivalent, or species-, functional group-, or interaction-specific. Some concepts of disturbance, for example, predict that soil disturbances and herbivory have identical impacts on species richness via identical mechanisms (reduction...
Article
Full-text available
Artiodactyl prey species of Chile, especially guanacos (Lama guanicoe), are reported to be very susceptible to predation by pack-hunting feral dogs. It has been previously suggested that guanacos and endemic South American deer may have evolved in the absence of pack-hunting cursorial predators. However, the paleoecology of canid presence in southe...
Preprint
Full-text available
Artiodactyl prey species of Chile, especially guanacos ( Lama guanicoe ) are reported to be very susceptible to predation by pack hunting feral dogs. It has been previously suggested that guanacos and endemic South American deer may have evolved in the absence of pack-hunting cursorial predators. However, the paleoecology of canid presence in south...
Preprint
Full-text available
Traducción al español por Benjamín Silva del manuscrito original en preprint en Authorea.
Article
Full-text available
There has been much recent interest in the concept of rewilding as a tool for nature conservation, but also confusion over the idea, which has in turn limited its utility. We outline a unified definition and a series of ten guiding principles for rewilding, drawing on a global advisory group of rewilding experts. These were developed through a surv...
Preprint
The Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis is widely considered to be wrong but is rarely tested against alternative hypotheses. It predicts that soil disturbances and herbivory have identical impacts on species richness via identical mechanisms (reduction in biomass and in competition). An alternative hypothesis is that the specific traits of disturb...
Preprint
Preserving landscape heritage elements and indigenous and local knowledge is an increasingly popular approach in conservation. We focus on a globally very contentious practice, silvopastoral livestock raising, which along with other peasant practices, is slated for elimination according to projected Chilean conservation policy. We used ecological s...
Preprint
Full-text available
Artiodactyl prey species of Chile, especially guanacos (Lama guanicoe) are reported to be very susceptible to predation by pack hunting feral dogs. It has been previously suggested that guanacos and endemic South American deer may have evolved in the absence of pack-hunting cursorial predators. However, the paleoecology of canid presence in souther...
Article
River restoration is a novel paradigm of ‘mirescape’ (land-and-water-scape) management that developed along with the emergence of aquatic ecology. River restoration can be seen as the application of an ecological perspective to return rivers to nature. However, the river restoration paradigm is also the contemporary iteration of historical phases o...
Article
In this ethnographic essay, I explore how the forest in Central Chile is being transformed. Initially interested in the ecological processes that influence the recomposition of the forest after anthropogenic disturbances, I find that the forest becomes difficult to situate in the socio-economic landscape. In a local legend, the angel Gabriel kills...
Article
Full-text available
Community involvement may be essential for conservation programme success. We focus on farmers, asking how and why they believe conservation interventions will work, or not. Here we test models of folk theories of the human motivational factors required for behaviour change, in 3 rural central Chilean communities. We hypothesize that different mode...
Article
The “human dimension” of conservation is increasingly recognised as critical for success. Most conservation research involving people is based not on explicit “theories of change”, but tacit local knowledge or folk theories guiding programme design.In this study, I propose a schematization of the local socioecological knowledge and folk theories ab...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Discussions of defaunation and taxon substitution have concentrated on megafaunal herbivores and carnivores, but mainly overlooked the particular ecological importance of megafaunal omnivores. In particular, the Homo spp. have been almost completely ignored in this context, despite the extinction of all but one hominin species present sinc...
Article
Tool use has been reported in a wide range of vertebrates, but so far not in Suidae (the pigs). Suidae are widely considered to be "intelligent" and have many traits associated with tool use, so this is surprising. Here, we report the first structured observations of umprompted instrumental object manipulation in a pig, the Visayan warty pig Sus ce...
Poster
Full-text available
Four models of behavior change for conservation design: Research site, Cordillera de Cantillana: Central Chile is a mediterranean-climate area and global endemicity hotspot. Less than 1% of this region is protected. We interviewed and surveyed farmers, stratified by farm size (most < 10 ha). We collected data on farm production, knowledge of regula...
Chapter
Rewilding is an increasingly recognized approach to conservation and restoration, among academics, land managers, and the public. Although a number of different definitions have been proposed for rewilding (see Definitions of Rewilding), most approaches called “rewilding” include ideas about restoring a habitat to a less-anthropogenic state, restor...
Article
Full-text available
We propose that ribosomal RNA (rRNA) formed the basis of the first cellular genomes, and provide evidence from a review of relevant literature and proteonomic tests. We have proposed previously that the ribosome may represent the vestige of the first self-replicating entity in which rRNAs also functioned as genes that were transcribed into function...
Article
Full-text available
We assess the impacts of human paths, trails, and roads on plant species richness and Shannon diversity. Most reviews of this topic have not considered community‐level measures and have focused on excessive tourism impacts. We found significant positive effects of paths on plant richness and diversity. The effect size for richness was highest when...
Article
Rewilding is a conservation approach that is gaining increasing attention from academics, public opinion-makers, and policy makers. But what is rewilding? A large number of academic definitions coexist along with many different on-the-ground practices, and a lack of clarity at the policy level. Here, we trace the transformations of rewilding betwee...
Article
Full-text available
The management of the Søby Brunkulslejer (the Søby brown coal area) landscape for deer hunting gives it a particular arrangement characterized by the alternation of dense forest, open clearings, and hochsitz (raised hunting blinds). Following the practices of landowners, hunters, and managers in the area, as situated and vernacular knowledges of de...
Article
Full-text available
There are various approaches to rewilding, corresponding to different socio-ecological and policy contexts. Most South American ecosystems have experienced Pleistocene and historical defaunation and the functional persistence of many areas will depend on restoration and rewilding. Rewilding is not seen as a priority or as a tool for restoration in...
Article
Full-text available
We examine the feasibility of improving connectivity between of two dryland woodland types ("espinal", a savanna type habitat, and sclerophyllous forest) in the Mediterranean climate zone of Chile, for restoration purposes. The restoration approach we examine involves the reintroduction of guanacos (Lama guanicoe) in a "transhumant rewilding" model...
Article
Full-text available
We examine some unexpected epistemological conflicts that arise at the interfaces between ecological science, the ecosystem services framework, policy, and industry. We use an example from our own research to motivate and illustrate our main arguments, while also reviewing standard approaches to ecological science using the ecosystem services frame...
Article
Full-text available
Nomadic pastoralism and transhumance are ancient human adaptations to the movements of large herbivores, which themselves migrate to follow favorable environmental conditions. Free-ranging livestock production has been criticized as less water efficient than factory farming and crop production. This fails to take into account both the additional ec...
Article
Full-text available
Due to historical defaunation and extensive land-use changes, central Chile lacks a megafaunal flagship species with which to attract attention to conservation of the region. We compare the ease of observing potential flagship species according to their distributions in the landscape, and the practical barriers to promoting nature tourism focused o...
Data
Illustration of the sampling site. Graphic illustration by Thorlak Solberg (left) and photo of sampling site (right). (TIF)
Data
Different shapes and variations of red deer droppings. (TIF)
Data
Examples of assessment of vegetation percentage cover. Understory vegetation (UV), moss (Moss), bare ground (BG) and percentage density were evaluated in each subdivision of a sample site. (DOCX)
Data
The independent variables included into the statistical analysis of habitat selection. There are five different types of variables: digitalized areas of different land covers within a 100-m radius buffer zone around each plot (area of one buffer zone = 31,350 m2), distances mapped from sampling site centre to the nearest feature, terrain height and...
Data
Copyright permission Fig 1. Granted copyright permission by ESRI. (DOCX)
Data
Complete original data. File containing all data derived by fieldwork. (XLSX)
Data
Copyright permission Figs 1 and 2. Granted copyright permission by COWI. (DOCX)
Article
Full-text available
After centuries of range contraction, many megafauna species are recolonizing parts of Europe. One example is the red deer (Cervus elaphus), which was able to expand its range and is now found in half the areas it inhabited in the beginning of the 19th century. Herbivores are important ecosystem engineers, influencing e.g. vegetation. Knowledge on...
Article
Full-text available
The successional pathways linking the Acacia caven-dominated savanna habitat “espinal” and the closed sclerophyllous forest of central Chile have long been debated. Previously, espinal was considered an invasive degradation of closed forest that tended toward desertification, could not be restored to forest, and had little ecological value. Recent...
Chapter
Full-text available
In contrast to theories arguing that cellular life has evolved to transmit genes, we propose instead that cellular life evolved to facilitate the full potential of self-replicating ribosomes. Our theory explicitly rejects ?master molecule? theories such as Dawkins?s ?selfish gene? in favor of the emergence of life by means of systems of increasingl...
Article
The wild camelids wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus), guanaco (Lama guanicoe), and vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) as well as their domestic relatives llama (Lama glama), alpaca (Vicugna pacos), dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) and domestic Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) may be good candidates for rewilding, either as proxy species for extinct cameli...
Article
Interdisciplinary research between social and environmental sciences can meet difficulties when attempting to combine qualitative and quantitative field methods. Natural history, largely sidelined from professional science, may have value as a practice with elements common to the social and environmental sciences. In this commentary, I reflect on m...
Article
Wetland and estuary restoration presents a number of complex challenges that are primarily social, cultural, economic, and governance-related rather than ecological. Here we consider the case of wetland restoration in the Po Delta, Italy. Wetland restoration of the Po Delta is a goal of a broad range of actors in the region and this project is a re...
Article
Migratory bird hunting has a long tradition in the Mediterranean, but remains a highly controversial issue. Here we examine the Mediterranean migratory bird hunting controversies through the case of Italy. We interviewed key informants and carried out participant observation on both legal and illegal migratory bird hunting and migratory bird protec...
Article
Full-text available
We have proposed that the ribosome may represent a missing link between prebiotic chemistries and the first cells. One of the predictions that follows from this hypothesis, which we test here, is that ribosomal RNA (rRNA) must have encoded the proteins necessary for ribosomal function. In other words, the rRNA also functioned pre-biotically as mRNA...
Chapter
Full-text available
Como demuestra este capítulo, cada SSE es distinto y se caracteriza por una lógica interna. Entender esta lógica sirve para comprender su dinámica y su futura evolución, y para diseñar métodos de manejo y gestión adecuados para aumentar su capacidad de resiliencia y adaptación. Si bien el espinal se parece, en términos ecológicos y agronómicos, a s...
Article
Art has long been seen as a way to illustrate conservation science for public outreach, especially to children. However, art has a greater role to play as a partner in interdisciplinary practice. Here we explore four examples where early career conservationists use the production of artwork, inspired by contemporary art movements, to engage critica...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding ecosystem processes is vital for developing dynamic adaptive management of human-dominated landscapes. We focus on conservation and management of the central Chilean silvopastoral savanna habitat called “espinal”, which often occurs near matorral, a shrub habitat. Although matorral, espinal and native sclerophyllous forest are linked...
Article
Multiple forms of valuation contribute to public acceptance of conservation projects. Here, we consider how esthetic, intrinsic, and utilitarian values contribute to public attitudes toward a proposed reintroduction of guanaco (Lama guanicoe) in a silvopastoral system of central Chile. The nexus among landscape perceptions and valuations, support f...
Article
Full-text available
Many steps in the evolution of cellular life are still mysterious. We suggest that the ribosome may represent one important missing link between compositional (or metabolism-first), RNA-world (or genes-first) and cellular (last universal common ancestor) approaches to the evolution of cells. We present evidence that the entire set of transfer RNAs...
Article
Indicator species could help to compensate for a shortfall of knowledge about the diversity and distributions of undersampled and cryptic species. This paper provides background knowledge about the ecological interactions that affect and are affected by herbaceous diversity in central Chile, as part of the indicator species selection process. We fo...
Article
Semi-structured interviews and participant observation were used to understand how urban Chileans form relationships with nature and nonhuman species in central Chile. Most informants expressed dislike of the typical mediterranean-habitat landscape, characterizing it as dry, poor, and empty. Yet many people expressed nostalgic attach-ment to specic...
Article
Full-text available
Comment to: Bortolus, A. 2012. Running like Alice and losing good ideas: On the quasi-compulsive use of English by non-native English speaking scientists. AMBIO 41: 769–772. doi:10.1007/s13280-012-0339-5.Writing in Ambio, Bortolus (2012) recently argued that many non-native English-speaking environmental scientists invest a disproportionate amount...
Article
An effective educational framework is necessary to develop the engagement of children and adults with nature. Here we show how the tools for thinking framework can be applied to this end. The tools comprise 13 sensory- based cognitive skills that form the basis for formalized expressions of knowledge and understanding in the sciences and arts. Thes...
Article
Full-text available
Birds are important mobile link species that contribute to landscape-scale patterns by means of pollination, seed dispersal, and predation. Birds are often associated with habitats modified by small mammal ecosystem engineers. We investigated whether birds prefer to forage on degu (Octodon degus) runways by comparing their foraging effort across si...
Article
Full-text available
Private protected areas (PPAs) are important designations with the potential to complement and improve public protected area (PA) networks in many countries. PPAs come in many forms and offer a wide variety of incentives, rights, responsibilities, and protections. One popular model, now being considered for adoption in Chile, is the conservation ea...
Article
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Private protected areas (PPAs) are a board category that includes reserves established and managed by non-government entities, including civil society organizations, businesses and private individuals. It was recently suggested that the creation of a system of PPAs in Brazil may act as a useful model for extending protected area systems internation...
Article
Full-text available
The mediterranean habitats of central Chile are rich in endemic species, but threatened by land-use changes. In this context, we suggest that restoration of the traditional espinal silvopastoral system could improve its sustainabil-ity and conservation value. Past research on the espinal embraced negative stereotypes of peasants, the tree Acacia ca...
Article
Despite years of research on small mammal disturbance effects on plant diversity, predicting the direction and magnitude of these effects remains elusive. Models such as the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, the perturbation hypothesis, or the ecosystem engineering hypothesis of small mammal disturbance, show considerable overlap but fail to acc...
Article
Anthropomorphism has recently emerged in the literature as a useful tool for conservation. Within the current conservation literature, description of the development of anthropomorphisms and the range of species that can be anthropomorphized overlooks established and emerging evidence from anthropological and other social science studies of human–a...
Article
The disturbance activities of many small mammals, including building burrows, mounds, trails and tunnels, and herbivory, can have significant impacts on their ecosystems, both through trophic and non-trophic interactions. Some species have large enough impacts through their disturbances to be classed as ecosystem engineers and/or keystone species....
Article
Flagships are one conservation education tool. We present a proposed flagship species fleet for environmental education in central Chile. Our methods followed recent flagship guidelines. We present our selection process and a detailed justification for the fleet of flagship species that we selected. Our results are a list of eight flagship species...
Article
Coastal areas can be a challenge for conservation due to multiple competing land uses including development, tourism, and extractive resource use. These multiple land uses often lead to human-wildlife conflicts. Here we pro-pose that collaboration with industrial designers and archi-tects has the potential to generate innovative and effective solut...
Article
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: The influential teacher and historian of science Rómulo de Carvalho (1906–1997) is well known in his native Portugal both for his contributions to science education and for the poetry he wrote under the pseudonym António Gedeão [1]. Although it appears that de Carvalho thought of his...
Article
Behavioral ecologists frequently incorporate associational learning (AL) concepts into studies of choice behavior. Within behavioral ecology, AL is often considered a mechanism for information gathering. AL also provides alternative explanations of behavioral phenomena up to the level of motivational organization over the lifetime. AL assumes that...
Article
Full-text available
At the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) proposed ten additional species to “share the polar bear’s burden” and “illustrate” global effects of climate change (IUCN 2009). Images of polar bears in melting ice have become synonymous with environmentalist climate campaigns (Stir...