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Improving Research Practice

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Hannah Fraser
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There is a paradox in the shared objectives of ecology and conservation science, and the dissemination of their research: conservation is about preserving the environment, yet scientists spread this message using conferences with heavy carbon footprints. Further, ecology and conservation science depend on global knowledge exchange-getting the best science to the places it's most needed. However, conference attendance from developed countries typically outweighs that from developing ones that are biodiversity and conservation hotspots. If any branch of science should be trying to maximize participation while minimising carbon emissions, it is conservation. Virtual conferencing is common in other disciplines, but is surprisingly underused in ecology and conservation. Making effective use of virtual conferencing entails a number of challenges, which we argue can be overcome through planning and technology. We demonstrate this by presenting four conference models-a purely virtual model and three hybrid hub and node models-that are suitable for a variety of contexts. Introducing virtual conferencing would address two crucial elements required of modern conferences: lowering carbon emissions; and increasing accessibility for remote, time- and resource-poor researchers, particularly those from developing countries. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.