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We introduce a framework – based on experiences from oceanic islands – for conserving biodiversity in the Anthropocene. In an increasingly human-dominated world, the context for conservation-oriented action is extremely variable, attributable to three largely independent factors: the degree of anthropogenic change, the importance of deliberate versus inadvertent human influence on ecosystems, and land-use priorities. Given this variability, we discuss the need to integrate four strategies, often considered incompatible, for safeguarding biodiversity: maintaining relicts of historical biodiversity through intensive and continuous management; creating artificial in situ, inter situ, and ex situ conservation settings that are resilient to anthropogenic change; co-opting novel ecosystems and associated “opportunistic biodiversity” as the wildlands of the future; and promoting biodiversity in cultural landscapes by adapting economic activities.
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© The Ecological Society of America
uman-mediated environmental impacts are now so
extensive and pervasive that many consider that the
planet has entered a new geological epoch – the
Anthropocene. Increasingly, efforts to conserve biodiver-
sity are confronted with new challenges resulting from
profound changes to many biotic and abiotic processes
(Steffen et al. 2004; MA 2005), which require reassessing
current management strategies (Rosenzweig 2003; Koh
and Gardner 2010; Kareiva et al. 2011; Rudd 2011).
Driven by the need to find solutions to these emerging
challenges, biodiversity conservation is entering a phase
of prolific innovation. Here, we focus on the biological
challenges and examine some of the novel approaches
under consideration – such as implementing inter situ
conservation (Burney and Burney 2007), rewilding
(Hansen et al. 2010), reassessing the negative image of
alien species (Ewel and Putz 2004), and promoting biodi-
versity in novel ecosystems (Hobbs et al. 2013) and cul-
tural landscapes (Daily et al. 2001; Rosenzweig 2003; Koh
and Gardner 2010). With this upheaval of new ideas,
ranging from vague proposals to fully fledged pilot pro-
jects, there is a genuine risk of the conservation commu-
nity fragmenting into different schools of thought (for
controversial debates, see Caro et al. 2012; Vitule et al.
2012; Hobbs et al. 2013). In an attempt to minimize that
risk, we introduce a conceptual framework that moves
beyond established dichotomies and offers ways to recon-
cile conflicting perspectives.
We focus on oceanic islands, which possess several char-
acteristics that make them a good model system for conser-
vation in the Anthropocene. First, many islands have a
high human population density, a heavily altered and frag-
mented environment, and small remnant populations of
native species. These same attributes will increasingly be
relevant across continental land masses as wildlands shrink
and human land use expands (Rosenzweig 2003; MA 2005;
Koh and Gardner 2010). Second, species that are highly
sensitive to anthropogenic influences and species with the
ability to adapt to such influences are both represented in
island biotas; conservation should embrace species that
depend on undisturbed habitat (Gibson et al. 2011) as well
as those that tolerate anthropogenic conditions or even
benefit from humans (Rosenzweig 2003; Kareiva et al.
2011). Finally, islands are an ideal testing ground for new
conservation approaches for several practical reasons. Low
species richness, small spatial extent of associated ecosys-
tems, and the presence of thousands of islands with similar
ecologies and conservation challenges facilitate replicated
comparative studies of integrative strategies (Kueffer 2012).
Islands have long supported pioneering development in
biodiversity conservation (Whittaker and Fernández-
Reconciling conflicting perspectives for
biodiversity conservation in the
Christoph Kueffer
and Christopher N Kaiser-Bunbury
We introduce a framework – based on experiences from oceanic islands – for conserving biodiversity in the
Anthropocene. In an increasingly human-dominated world, the context for conservation-oriented action is
extremely variable, attributable to three largely independent factors: the degree of anthropogenic change,
the importance of deliberate versus inadvertent human influence on ecosystems, and land-use priorities.
Given this variability, we discuss the need to integrate four strategies, often considered incompatible, for
safeguarding biodiversity: maintaining relicts of historical biodiversity through intensive and continuous
management; creating artificial in situ, inter situ, and ex situ conservation settings that are resilient to
anthropogenic change; co-opting novel ecosystems and associated “opportunistic biodiversity” as the wild-
lands of the future; and promoting biodiversity in cultural landscapes by adapting economic activities.
Front Ecol Environ 2014; 12(2): 131–137, doi:10.1890/120201 (published online 9 Sep 2013)
Institute of Integrative Biology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
(ETH), Zurich, Switzerland
Department of
Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
In a nutshell:
In human-dominated landscapes, conservation depends on
reconciling conflicting concepts; preserving the qualities of
historical (or pristine) nature will rely on human design, and
novel ecosystems will dominate wildlands
Much biodiversity will survive only in “artificial” conservation
habitat created through ex situ, inter situ, or in situ management
Rapid up-scaling of management efforts (including restoration)
and rigorous prevention of threats are urgently needed to con-
serve relicts of historical biodiversity
Ultimately, maintenance of rare species, ecological interactions,
and ecosystem services requires large-scale planning of mosaics
of strictly protected areas, “artificial” biodiversity habitats, novel
ecosystems, and biodiverse cultural landscapes
Biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene C Kueffer and CN Kaiser-Bunbury
132 © The Ecological Society of America
Palacios 2007), and many emerging concepts were first
applied and fine-tuned on islands (Burney and Burney
2007; Hansen et al. 2010; Kaiser-Bunbury et al. 2010). In
this article, we argue that islands are also well suited to test-
ing how multiple strategies can be integrated and imple-
mented to address the conservation challenges of the
A biodiversity conservation
framework for an
anthropogenic world
It was traditionally accepted that
biodiversity is conserved most effec-
tively by protecting nature from
human influence (cf Rosenzweig
2003; Kareiva et al. 2011). Because
humans and their impacts are
omnipresent, however, this view is
becoming increasingly untenable.
We believe that a new paradigm,
based on three sets of considera-
tions (Figure 1a), is required for
guiding conservation efforts.
First, the historical abiotic and
biotic conditions of habitats prior to
major disturbances are an impor-
tant reference for understanding
and valuing the novel conditions
that occur in human-influenced
systems (Hobbs et al. 2013).
Anthropogenic impacts on ecosys-
tems have often resulted in biodi-
versity loss and homogenization.
Understanding and quantifying
these changes remains essential for
determining and conserving the
value of historical ecosystem char-
acteristics under novel conditions.
Second, humans affect ecosystems
either deliberately (eg land use) or
inadvertently (eg climate change,
invasive species, pollution). Deli-
berate actions can be altered and
directed toward augmenting biodi-
versity conservation. Nature that is
deliberately shaped by humans may
be termed designed in contrast to wild
(Higgs 2003; Kueffer and Daehler
2009). There thus exists a spectrum
– from wildlands, which are scarcely
affected by humans’ deliberate
actions, to designed nature, which is
deliberately influenced and created
by humans. The negative effects of
inadvertent actions on biodiversity
appear to be increasing in most bio-
mes of the world (MA 2005). This
implies that, even in wild nature,
historical habitat conditions are increasingly being lost as a
result of past disturbances (eg fragmentation, small popula-
tions, loss of mutualisms, changed abiotic conditions) or
unbounded anthropogenic effects. Consequently, historical
habitat conditions can be conserved only through continu-
ous major human intervention.
Third, in areas affected by deliberate human action,
Figure 1. The role of human action in biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene is
defined by three dimensions (a): (1) the degree of anthropogenic change from pre-human
historical (or pristine) nature to anthropogenic novel nature; (2) deliberate (eg land use) versus
inadvertent (eg climate change) human influence on an ecosystem, resulting in wild or designed
nature; and (3) land-use priority that can be determined as biodiversity maintenance or
generation of products and ecosystem services. Traditionally, these dimensions were assumed to
be aligned; that is, the parameters on the left and right side of the axes were associated with
biodiversity conservation and with man-made environments, respectively (c). In the
Anthropocene, however, the dimensions are largely independent (b), allowing for the
definition of multiple combinations along the three axes. We highlight four combinations (d),
which might, when synergistically applied, maximize the potential of biodiversity conservation.
Other combinations are also worthwhile, such as “novel + wild + production”, which
represents the use of ecosystem services produced through novel ecosystems.
Dimensions of biodiversity conservation
Historical Anthropogenic change Novel
Wild Deliberate intervention Designed
Conservation Land-use priority Production
Anthropocene Traditional
Novel Designed
Wild Historical
Design of novel ecosystems
for production
Conservation of historical
biodiversity in wilderness areas
Conservation actions of the Anthropocene
Historical + designed + conservation To conserve historical biodiversity through
continuous intensive care, rigorous pre-
vention of threats, and ecological resto-
Novel + designed + conservation To create intensively managed in situ,
inter situ, and ex situ conservation areas
that allow maintaining high biodiversity
and values of historical nature
Novel + wild + conservation To co-opt novel ecosystems that repre-
sent the wild nature of the future – ie the
self-organized response of nature to
anthropogenic environmental change –
as part of biodiversity conservation
Novel + designed + production To coproduce biodiversity in cultural
landscapes and on production land
through biodiversity-friendly land-use
C Kueffer and CN Kaiser-Bunbury Biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene
© The Ecological Society of America
conservation must take account of the prevailing types
and spatial patterns of land use. This can result in
another spectrum – from biodiversity areas, which are
reserved exclusively for biodiversity conservation, to pro-
duction land, where biodiversity is at best a byproduct of
other land-use types.
Thus, conservation actions in a human-dominated
landscape can be defined by three largely independent
dimensions (Figure 1b): (1) historical to novel habitat
conditions (abiotic and biotic), (2) wild to designed
nature, and (3) biodiversity areas to production land. A
framework that distinguishes these dimensions contrasts
with traditional conservation thinking, which assumes
that they are congruent: historical nature is to be found
in wildlands that should be protected for the sole purpose
of biodiversity conservation (Figure 1c). This changing
perspective leads to at least four scenarios that are often
considered conflicting (Figure 1d):
Ways must be found to actively conserve remnants and
values of historical nature that would cease to exist
without direct human assistance. Depending on the
intensity of interventions, the resulting state can be
considered wild or designed.
In a human-dominated world, biodiversity will depend
on humans’ ability to create habitats through ex situ,
inter situ, or in situ conservation that can withstand
anthropogenic impacts and better ensure its persis-
Novel ecosystems are emerging that represent the wild-
lands of the future (ie the self-organized response of
nature to anthropogenic impacts). Such ecosystems
should be co-opted as part of biodiversity conservation.
Cultural landscapes provide the opportunity to copro-
duce biodiversity through biodiversity-friendly and sus-
tainable land-use schemes. This action falls within the
remit of “reconciliation ecology” (Rosenzweig 2003)
and “countryside biogeography” (Daily et al. 2001).
Conserving relicts of historical biodiversity
requires rapid up-scaling of conservation efforts
A large proportion of island species persist today as iso-
lated individuals or small populations in small habitat
fragments (WebTable 1). Although these remnants may
still harbor high levels of biodiversity (WebTable 1),
much of it is likely to represent an extinction debt
(Triantis et al. 2010). On many islands, major habitat
damage has occurred only during the past 50 to 200 years,
and the consequences of recent sharp declines in recruit-
ment, especially for long-lived species, have not yet been
fully realized. For example, regeneration of the palm
Lodoicea maldivica has declined markedly in recent years
but will be reflected in a declining adult population only
after 200 to 300 years (Rist et al. 2010). Species that are
restricted to one or a few small areas are also susceptible
to stochastic events (Caujapé-Castells et al. 2010). Thus,
outbreaks of pests and diseases may decimate populations
of (even common) native species within a few years
(Caujapé-Castells et al. 2010).
In the past, to conserve biodiversity meant primarily to
restrict human interference in natural areas (cf
Rosenzweig 2003; Kareiva et al. 2011). Now, as multiple
threats affect historical biodiversity even in protected
areas (Figure 2), active interventions must be undertaken
speedily, applied at an adequate scale, and maintained
indefinitely. Such intervention requires: (1) removing
existing threats; (2) preventing further impacts; (3) rein-
forcing remnant populations, which are often too small to
be viable; and (4) restoring vital ecological interactions
and processes.
Recent advances in invasive species control and eradi-
cation on islands demonstrate that such rigorous actions
can be effective (Veitch et al. 2011; Database of Island
Invasive Species Eradications [http://eradicationsdb.fos.]). Eradication of invasive species from
small- to medium-sized and sparsely populated islands has
become a key element for the survival of critically endan-
gered endemics (WebTable 2; Anderson et al. 2011). On
large islands, a combination of containment, local eradi-
cation, and exclusion can have a dramatic positive effect
on native biodiversity. For example, only 10 years after
measures were introduced to control Psidium cattleianum
in Conservation Management Areas on Mauritius, popu-
lations of many native plants and animals (some previ-
ously considered extinct) had re-emerged or increased
Figure 2. In human-dominated landscapes, threat factors to
biodiversity are strongly interconnected. Among the most severe
threats to species, habitats, and ecosystem functions are climate
change and pollution; habitat fragmentation and alterations
(such as fires); natural and disturbance-caused rarity of
biodiversity; alien animals, plants, and pathogens; and the loss of
biotic interactions, such as pollination and seed dispersal. Photo
credits: (a) J Olesen, (b) D Hansen, (c, d) PCA.
Biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene C Kueffer and CN Kaiser-Bunbury
134 © The Ecological Society of America
(Florens and Baider 2013). Up-scaling control to large
areas has been increasingly successful, even on populated
islands (Oppel et al. 2011; Burns et al. 2012). Prevention
should address even minor disturbances, such as those
due to ecotourism, and should include establishing buffer
zones and developing contingency plans for threats like
fire or biological invasions. Reinforcing small populations
should build on a combination of in situ management, ex
situ or inter situ propagation for restocking, and the cre-
ation of ecological corridors or active translocation
between isolated populations to maintain genetic diver-
sity (Caujapé-Castells et al. 2010; Baret et al. 2012).
Finally, because of past or current disturbances and edge
effects, it may be necessary to restore some ecosystem
functions and ecological interactions even in relatively
undisturbed habitats. These measures need to be applied
rapidly and at an appropriate scale, but few island-based
human communities have the experience, financial
resources, and personnel to undertake such work.
Creating resilient habitat for conservation-reliant
Despite efforts to conserve the least-disturbed habitat
fragments, biodiversity on many islands will continue to
decrease. To mitigate biodiversity losses, we recommend
that natural areas be transformed to improve resilience or
that novel habitats be created. Biodiversity that cannot
be conserved in situ should be managed through an inter
situ approach that conserves biodiversity in locations
outside their past distribution but with the aim of main-
taining essential ecological interactions (eg pollination,
seed dispersal, trophic interactions; WebTable 2). More
imminently, however, many species can be conserved
only through ex situ management in botanical gardens
and zoos (WebTable 2).
On most islands, biodiverse areas will be destroyed or
degraded unless in situ management enhances the
resilience of conservation-reliant biodiversity to anthro-
pogenic change, which will require ecological design of
biotic and abiotic conditions. Biological manipulation
may involve the introduction and augmentation of “ana-
log” species closely related to extinct native species to
restore ecological interactions (Hansen et al. 2010;
Kaiser-Bunbury et al. 2010). For instance, Aldabra giant
tortoises (Aldabrachelys gigantea) act as seed dispersers of
the endemic ebony (Diospyros tessellaria) on Ile aux
Aigrettes in Mauritius (Kaiser-Bunbury et al. 2010).
Establishing a new balance in disturbed food webs may
require introduction of alien species (eg biological con-
trol), or control or removal of specific native species
(Sahasrabudhe and Motter 2011). Many of these tasks
will necessitate continuous management efforts.
Inter situ conservation creates new spaces for imperiled
species and biotic interactions associated with these
species outside their original range (Burney and Burney
2007). These habitats and communities differ in the degree
to which they resemble natural systems. The principal goal
is to design ecosystems that are resilient to anthropogenic
change and allow cost-effective conservation of multiple
species. Examples include the Makauwahi Cave restora-
tion project in the Hawaiian Archipelago, in which native
species are reintroduced to their former range (Burney and
Burney 2007), and offshore islets in the Seychelles
Archipelago (Panel 1), where inter situ communities con-
sist of designed assemblages of threatened species (Kueffer
et al. 2013). Although many conservationists still aim to
ensure that reconstructed and original species assemblies
are taxonomically and functionally similar, inter situ con-
servation areas on islands may increasingly be considered
as refugia where biodiversity is preserved irrespective of
historical communities (eg Towns et al. 1990). One exam-
ple is the conservation of rocky inselberg (steep-sided
monolithic outcrops) habitat in the Seychelles. Many tree
species formerly present in lowland forest still survive as
dwarf individuals in this ecologically marginal habitat
(Kueffer et al. 2013). Conserving or actively introducing
such moist forest trees to dry inselbergs, where some sur-
vive only as “bonsai” ecotypes of rocky habitats, could be
considered a combination of in situ and inter situ conser-
vation (Panel 1). Similarly, in situ and ex situ strategies
merge when rare native species are planted in a park set-
ting close to natural areas, which ensures maintenance of
ecological interactions; for instance, after placement
within a botanical garden, the rare endemic tree Colea
seychellarum is pollinated by the endemic Seychelles sunbird
Cinnyris dussumieri visiting from nearby forests (Panel 1).
Novel ecosystems – a chance for wild nature and
a need for containment
An increasing proportion of the world’s natural areas con-
tain wild but disturbed habitat, especially on islands
(WebTable 3). Such ecosystems have been termed “novel
ecosystems” (Hobbs et al. 2013) and contain many alien or
native species that thrive on anthropogenic disturbances (ie
opportunistic biodiversity). Novel ecosystems and their
opportunistic biodiversity deliver important ecosystem ser-
vices, entail qualities of wildness, and ensure unrestricted
evolution (WebTable 3; Kueffer and Daehler 2009; Carroll
2011; Hobbs et al. 2013). For example, forests in the
Seychelles dominated by alien cinnamon (Cinnamomum
verum) effectively prevent more problematic alien plant
species from spreading, while allowing endemic plants to
reproduce (Kueffer et al. 2010). In Hawaii, novel lowland
forest maintains or increases ecosystem services such as pro-
ductivity, nutrient turnover, or belowground carbon storage
as compared with native stands (Mascaro et al. 2012).
Further, novel ecosystems provide suitable habitat and
functionally analogous ecological interactions, which allow
some native species to persist despite detrimental change
(Kueffer and Daehler 2009; Carroll 2011; Lugo et al. 2012).
The introduced honey bee Apis mellifera, although often
considered a competitor of endemic pollinators, is one of
C Kueffer and CN Kaiser-Bunbury Biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene
© The Ecological Society of America
Panel 1. Toward biodiversity-rich anthropogenic landscapes on islands – the example of the Seychelles
A major challenge of conservation in the Anthropocene is to integrate threatened biodiversity into a heterogeneous mosaic of habitats charac-
terized by strongly contrasting anthropogenic, biotic, and environmental conditions (Koh and Gardner 2010). On islands, for instance, anthro-
pogenic and environmental gradients are often steep, habitat fragments are small, and the distances between fragments are short. An illustrative
example is Mahé, the 154-km
main inhabited island of the inner group of granitic islands of the Republic of Seychelles (western Indian Ocean;
Kueffer et al. 2013). The island is divided into four broad habitat zones (Figure 3). Lowland regions from the coast to approximately 200 m above
sea level (asl) are highly managed urban and agricultural areas characterized by tourism infrastructure along the coasts, urban development in the
lowlands to approximately 100 m asl, and residential areas intermixed with abandoned secondary vegetation and private gardens to approxi-
mately 200 m asl (indicated in red in Figure 3). Biodiversity-poor, abandoned timber and cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) plantations dominate
an altitudinal belt between 200 m and 400 m asl (yellow in Figure 3). Between 400 m and 600 m asl, the island is covered almost entirely by aban-
doned cinnamon plantations (green in Figure 3). In contrast to lower elevations, these “novel” forests are still rich in native biodiversity, albeit
scattered, and are mostly included within protected areas. Above approximately 600 m asl, 3 km
of montane cloud forest persists that is still
composed of mostly native vegetation, although alien trees such as cinnamon are common (blue in Figure 3). Inselberg (“glacis”) are steep-sided
monolithic rock outcrops that occur throughout the elevation gradient but primarily from 250 m to 650 m. Inselberg vegetation harbors some
of the last remaining endemic plant communities in the Seychelles and consists of shrubs, small trees, palms, and screw palms (Pandanus sp). Each
of these habitat zones provides particular opportunities for biodiversity conservation. In the populated lowland zone, ex situ propagation, inter
situ conservation, agroforestry, and ecotourism are important elements of conservation strategies. For instance, at the Barbarons Biodiversity
Center, part of the Seychelles Botanical Gardens (Figure 3, polygon A), rare species are propagated and planted in a park-like setting bordering
wildlands, which ensures that basic ecological interactions are maintained. North Island, a 210-ha island, is one example of the role of ecotourism
in inter situ biodiversity conservation. The island is managed by a luxury hotel that is in the process of eradicating invasive species, restoring
native vegetation, and (re-)introducing rare plant and animal species (Figure 3, arrow B). Abandoned plantation and cinnamon forest is currently
underutilized and mostly unmanaged (Figure 3, polygon C). It holds promise for sustainable timber production and the harvesting of non-timber
forest products, and as a managed forest it can serve as a buffer zone for high biodiversity areas. To manage the cinnamon-dominated novel
forests at mid-elevations as a mixed native–alien forest, it has been proposed that small patches of native vegetation interspersed in the cinna-
mon forest should be restored (Figure 3, polygon D). Such patches would serve as native fruit sources for the surrounding forest while the alien
matrix maintains important ecological functions for the forest (eg erosion control, food source for native fauna, barrier against other plant inva-
sions; Kueffer et al. 2013). Inselberg vegetation is also a seed source of native species in the alien-dominated landscape. Managing and conserving
rare plants on inselbergs, including some for which this habitat is only marginally suitable, may be considered a combination of in situ and inter
situ conservation (Figure 3, polygon E). Only small pockets of montane cloud forest and mid-elevation native palm forest survive across the
island (Figure 3, polygon F). These forests are imperiled by invasive plants and animals, climate change, and other human disturbances, and only
continuous and intensive in situ management will be able to preserve these sensitive habitats.
Figure 3. Mahé Island (Republic of Seychelles) is an illustrative example of the importance of landscape-scale conservation approaches
in the Anthropocene.
(A) Barbarons Biodiversity
(B) Small island
(C) Abandoned
(D) Restored pockets of native
(F) Palm and
montane cloud forest
(E) Inselberg vegetation
Biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene C Kueffer and CN Kaiser-Bunbury
the most abundant pollinators of many native island plants
(Kaiser-Bunbury et al. 2010). Because some of these native
plants have lost their endemic mutualisms, introduced
honey bees now provide vital pollinator services. Similarly,
alien birds and mammals often act as “substitute” seed dis-
persers for native plants (eg Riera et al. 2002).
Novel ecosystems and their opportunistic biodiversity
are no panacea for biodiversity conservation, partly
because many native species will not persist in novel
habitats and opportunistic biodiversity may threaten to
invade refugia of vulnerable native species. Despite its
benefits to mid-elevation novel forests in the Seychelles,
cinnamon threatens nearby montane cloud forests and
must be prevented from spreading therein (Kueffer et al.
2013). Opportunistic biodiversity can also introduce
problematic features to landscapes, such as increased fire
risk. Because it is often unfeasible or undesirable to
replace novel with native habitats (eg Kueffer et al. 2010;
Carroll 2011; Hobbs et al. 2013), studying novel ecosys-
tem functioning is essential to identify positive features
that can be used in sustainable biodiversity management.
Such management could, for instance, involve the large-
scale replacement of problematic alien species, which
invade nearby natural areas or increase fire risk, with easy
to propagate native or less problematic alien species. If
well managed, novel ecosystems may harbor valuable
opportunistic native and alien biodiversity, facilitate evo-
lution of new biodiversity, increase resilience to climate
change, establish ecological connectivity, or act as buffer
zones for high biodiversity areas, all of which can aid con-
Promoting biodiversity in cultural landscapes
toward long-term coexistence
Another promising avenue for conservation is the promo-
tion of native biodiversity in a cultural landscape and on
production land (Daily et al. 2001; Rosenzweig 2003; Koh
and Gardner 2010). Some island animals are ecologically
plastic and can adapt to, or benefit from, man-made envi-
ronments and new food sources (Kaiser-Bunbury et al.
2010; Lugo et al. 2012). For example, endemic geckos use
coconut trees and domestic houses for shelter, and frugiv-
orous endemic birds and fruit bats have expanded their
diets to include alien fruits grown in gardens and planta-
tions (eg Luskin 2010). To coproduce biodiversity, human
activities such as landscaping, sustainable forest produc-
tion, agroforestry, low-intensity agriculture, and home gar-
dening have to be tailored to the needs of native species
(eg Thaman 2002; Atkinson et al. 2010). One advantage
of coproduced biodiversity is the provision of additional
land for biodiversity conservation and its economically
sustainable management (Rosenzweig 2003). For in-
stance, invasive species control (eg of rats and weeds) on
production land may benefit some conservation-reliant
biodiversity that cannot be conserved on wildlands.
On islands, coproducing biodiversity in cultural land-
scapes is important for several reasons. First, distances
between urban areas, agricultural land, and (semi-)nat-
ural areas are often very short (Panel 1), allowing native
fauna to move between anthropogenic and natural areas
for different activities (eg foraging and roosting; Luskin
2010). Second, maintenance of agriculture and (agro)-
forestry is essential for economic and ecological sustain-
ability, subsistence, and food security of island communi-
ties. Consequently, biodiversity-friendly land use such as
indigenous land-use systems, agroforestry, or domestic
gardens have a long tradition on islands (Esquivell and
Hammer 1992; Clarke and Thaman 1993; Thaman
2002), and sustainable forestry with native tree species is
increasingly being implemented (eg Baret et al. 2012).
Third, ecotourism provides opportunities for landscaping
with native biodiversity and cofinancing of conservation
actions (Panel 1; eg Baret et al. 2012; Kueffer et al. 2013).
In return, biodiversity-rich cultural landscapes can help
to increase awareness of biodiversity among tourists and
local citizens. Guiding and promoting the coexistence of
production and biodiversity is thus integral to biodiver-
sity conservation and sustainable development on
More than 80% of conservation scientists agree that cur-
rent conservation goals and standards of success should be
reassessed (Rudd 2011). We have reviewed some of the
new approaches that integrate traditional and novel per-
spectives. Most of these require a landscape-scale
approach, with different types of management adapted to
specific habitats (Panel 1), and a move beyond simplistic
dichotomies such as wildlands versus man-made ecosys-
tems. In essence, biodiversity conservation can be
improved by embracing a multipronged approach, includ-
ing: conserving relicts of historical biodiversity, creating
artificial biodiversity conservation areas, co-opting novel
ecosystems and their opportunistic biodiversity as a fun-
damental part of biodiversity conservation, and coproduc-
ing biodiversity in cultural landscapes.
The views proposed here should not distract attention
from the immediate need to protect and restore remaining
large tracts of relatively undisturbed wildlands on conti-
nents (Caro et al. 2012). Instead, lessons learned from island
settings can equip managers with a broader set of skills and
approaches to address emerging conservation challenges on
continents. At a global scale, wildland extent is rapidly
shrinking (Steffen et al. 2004; MA 2005; Koh and Gardner
2010; Hobbs et al. 2013) and vulnerable biodiversity is
dependent on ever smaller fragments of natural areas
(Gibson et al. 2011) while novel ecosystems are expanding
(Hobbs et al. 2013); consequently, designing landscape-
scale mosaics of wild and anthropogenic nature is an emerg-
ing global conservation priority (Koh and Gardner 2010).
In this sense, conservation on islands provides a preview of
what conservation on continents may be like in the future.
136 © The Ecological Society of America
C Kueffer and CN Kaiser-Bunbury Biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene
We thank R Atkinson, N Bunbury, P Edwards, J Juvik, LP
Koh, and JM Olesen for helpful suggestions on the manu-
script, and K Rohweder for assistance in designing the
GIS map. CKB acknowledges funding from the Swiss
National Science Foundation (PA00P3-31495 and
142204) and JM Olesen, Aarhus University.
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... In the past decade, however, three radical proposals have been put forward to address the weaknesses of mainstream conservation and its inability to address the biodiversity crisis. These are 'new conservation' Kueffer and Kaiser-Bunbury 2014), 'half earth' Wilson 2016;Dinerstein et al. 2017) and 'convivial conservation' Fletcher, 2019, 2020). ...
... The 'new conservation' approach argues that given the already great influence of people on nature, protecting biodiversity from people is a 'losing proposition' and the aim should be to protect a resilient nature within human populations Kueffer and Kaiser-Bunbury 2014). The central argument is that human actions on nature are inevitable and the line that separates nature from humans is increasingly blurred. ...
... In the past decade, however, three radical proposals have been put forward to address the weaknesses of mainstream conservation and its inability to address the biodiversity crisis. These are 'new conservation' Kueffer and Kaiser-Bunbury 2014), 'half earth' Wilson 2016;Dinerstein et al. 2017) and 'convivial conservation' Fletcher, 2019, 2020). ...
... The 'new conservation' approach argues that given the already great influence of people on nature, protecting biodiversity from people is a 'losing proposition' and the aim should be to protect a resilient nature within human populations Kueffer and Kaiser-Bunbury 2014). The central argument is that human actions on nature are inevitable and the line that separates nature from humans is increasingly blurred. ...
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We critically unpack the term 'coexistence' and discuss its potential to facilitate transformative change in wildlife governance.
... In the past decade, however, three radical proposals have been put forward to address the weaknesses of mainstream conservation and its inability to address the biodiversity crisis. These are 'new conservation' Kueffer and Kaiser-Bunbury 2014), 'half earth' Wilson 2016;Dinerstein et al. 2017) and 'convivial conservation' Fletcher, 2019, 2020). ...
... The 'new conservation' approach argues that given the already great influence of people on nature, protecting biodiversity from people is a 'losing proposition' and the aim should be to protect a resilient nature within human populations Kueffer and Kaiser-Bunbury 2014). The central argument is that human actions on nature are inevitable and the line that separates nature from humans is increasingly blurred. ...
Full-text available
This chapter introduces the edited book 'Convivial Conservation: From Principles to Practice' and synthesises the contributions through exploration of three overarching themes.
... In the past decade, however, three radical proposals have been put forward to address the weaknesses of mainstream conservation and its inability to address the biodiversity crisis. These are 'new conservation' Kueffer and Kaiser-Bunbury 2014), 'half earth' Wilson 2016;Dinerstein et al. 2017) and 'convivial conservation' Fletcher, 2019, 2020). ...
... The 'new conservation' approach argues that given the already great influence of people on nature, protecting biodiversity from people is a 'losing proposition' and the aim should be to protect a resilient nature within human populations Kueffer and Kaiser-Bunbury 2014). The central argument is that human actions on nature are inevitable and the line that separates nature from humans is increasingly blurred. ...
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Global biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate, leading to calls for urgent change in how humans govern, conserve, and live with non-human species. It is argued that this change must be radical and transformative, and must challenge the structures and systems that shape biodiversity conservation. This book brings together a diverse group of authors to explore the potential for transforming biodiversity conservation, focusing on one particular proposal called convivial conservation: a vision, framework, and set of principles for a more socially just, democratic and inclusive form of biodiversity governance. Drawing on a rich mix of disciplinary perspectives and diverse case studies centring on human-wildlife interactions, the authors demonstrate the potential for transformation in biodiversity conservation that supports human-wildlife coexistence. The authors argue that this desired transformation will only be possible if the status quo is truly disrupted, and that convivial conservation has the potential to contribute to this disruption. However, convivial conservation must evolve in response to, and in harmony with, a plurality of ideas and perspectives, and resist becoming another top-down mode of conservation. To this end, a rich mix of visions, ideas, and pathways are put forward to move convivial conservation from principles to practice. The wealth of ideas offered in this collection provide important insights for students, academics, policy-makers, conservation professionals, and anyone who wants to think differently about biodiversity conservation and explore how it can be transformed towards a more just and abundant future.
... In line with this, the expansion of species outside their range of origin is a phenomenon inherent in the dynamics of terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity (Dogra et al., 2010). During the last three centuries, this phenomenon has gained particular momentum as a result of the propagation of the seas (Kueffer and Kaiser-Bunbury ,2014). Given the adaptability to very diverse climatic conditions and a very large geographical distribution, these invasive species are therefore likely to adapt more easily to climatic changes than native species. ...
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In the current investigation, we evaluated the biological consequences of trace elements contamination in the two Tunisian gulfs (Gabes gulf and Tunis gulf) on the blue swimming crabs hepatopancreas (Portunus segnis). The concentrations of three trace elements (cadmium, copper, and lead) in the hepatopancreas P.segnis were evaluated. Additionally, acetylcholinesterase (AChE), metallothioneins (MTs), hydroxide peroxidase (H2O2) and advanced oxidation protein products (AOPP) levels, were chosen as measurements to evaluate the environmental effects on the two crabs’ populations from different gulfs. Macromolecular (lipids, proteins, and DNA) were also determined in P.segnis hepatopancreas. The results of trace elements bioaccumulation in soft P. segnis hepatopancreas showed a high pollution in the Gabes gulf as evidence by significant accumulation of cadmium, cooper, and lead. These findings were confirmed by significant increases of metal pollution index (MPI) and metallothioneins (MTs) levels in the hepatopancreas of P. segnis from Gabes gulf than these from Tunis gulf. Consequently, the trace elements accumulation in P.segnis from Gabes gulf conduct to the generation of lipid peroxidation processes as documented by the high levels of H2O2and LOOH. A significant decrease of AChE activity was recorded in crabs collected from Gabes gulf as compared to these from Tunis gulf. The present study revealed depletion of proteins and lipids contents, while DNA showed significant degradation on crab hepatopancreas collected from Gabes gulf comparing to Tunis gulf. These evidences must be taken in consideration when using P. segnis as an ecological indicator species in the biomonitoring programs.
... With the growing demands of human population, a new kind of island system is emerging globally. People are creating artificial island habitats to meet their socio-economic and cultural needs (Kueffer & Kaiser-Bunbury, 2014). Green roof-top gardens on buildings, valued for energy-efficiency, hydrological benefits and aesthetic appeal, are increasingly becoming common in cities (Oberndorfer et al., 2007), and are analogous to islands because of their semi-isolation from one another. ...
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Aim Artificial island habitats such as human‐made wetlands are emerging novel ecosystems. Understanding the drivers of diversity in such artificial systems is essential for balancing the goals of biodiversity conservation and human socio‐economic needs. Location Telangana state, India. Methods We surveyed water birds in a network of 57 artificial wetlands and assessed four macroecological biodiversity patterns: spatial betadiversity, temporal betadiversity, species‐abundance distributions (SADs), and the species–area relationship (SAR). We employed a mix of phenomenological and mechanistic models to examine the four macroecological patterns. We hypothesized that the wetland bird communities are primarily structured by immigration–extinction dynamics and thus that spatial and temporal betadiversity would be high, the within‐wetland SADs would exhibit a large number of rare species and a monotonically declining overall shape, and that the SAR across wetlands would be strongly increasing. Results Spatial and temporal betadiversity were both high and mostly attributable to turnover rather than nestedness. While the pooled SAD exhibited an interior mode, the SAD for individual wetlands was generally log‐series distributed, consistent with a model in which immigration among wetlands is high. The SAR exhibited an increasing trend, with the ‘small‐island effect’, which reflects constraints on immigration and is often observed for true island archipelagos, being absent. Main Conclusions We tentatively conclude that bird diversity in this network of artificial wetlands is mainly structured by immigration–extinction dynamics, although we acknowledge that some of the patterns are also consistent with niche dynamics and future research should measure relevant biotic and abiotic variables in these wetlands. We encourage future work in which our rich dataset is used to fit dynamic models that permit more‐detailed quantitative inferences about mechanisms structuring diversity in this novel ecosystem, which can ultimately also inform conservation management.
... Synthetic systems can also educate, making plain to people the inner workings of ecological processes (e.g. in museum mesocosms) or the importance of stewardship (Felson et al. 2013). Stewardship may not be as incompatible with humandesigned nature as it first seems, with potential for synergies between native and novel ecologies (Ellis 2013, Kueffer andKaiser-Bunbury 2014). Indeed, capitalizing on synergies between designed nature and people may be key to shifting the human-nature relationship from one of exploitation to partnership. ...
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For millenia, humans have modified aspects of natural ecosystems to meet their social, economic and ecological needs. With advancing technology and global movement of species, modification has shifted to designing and creating new ecologies in cityscapes, building interiors, agricultural settings and more. We call intentional ecosystems that combine biodiversity and technology with little to no shared history, synthetic ecosystems. Fields, from microbial ecology to agroecology, build synthetic ecosystems under different names but share the same properties of: Being human-designed, assembled and controlled, having novel components and/or interactions, and creating systems distinctly different from what came before at a site. Creating synthetic ecosystems represents a design challenge, but also an opportunity for real-world impact – which we illustrate with a biodiverse, indoor synthetic ecosystem for food production. Overall, synthetic ecosystems may advance socioecological goals in six ways. They can: 1) replace ecological deadzones with living systems (e.g. building green roofs), 2) enhance existing ecosystem processes (e.g. boosting agricultural yields), 3) create new ecosystem functions (e.g. bioelectricity), 4) establish new ecosystem controls (e.g. biological control), 5) foster knowledge synthesis (e.g. testing ecological theory) and 6) reshape human-nature relationships (e.g. improve wellbeing). To realize these potentials, future work must more fully evaluate where and when synthetic ecosystems are appropriate to build, what architectures and aspects of diversity (biological and technological) make them most functional and how knowledge from across cultures and eras can be integrated in solutions.
... (Manning et al., 2018;Triviño et al., 2017). This can be achieved by adopting different strategies for safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, such as maintenance a large-scale mosaic of strictly protected areas, man-made biodiversity habitats, novel ecosystems providing ecosystem services e.g. by offering grassland utilization with reduced grazing pressure (Gao et al., 2021)., and biodiverse cultural landscapes (Kueffer & Kaiser-Bunbury, 2014). Above all, further degradation of alpine meadows should be prevented to halt the marked loss of ecosystem functions as a result of highintensity grazing. ...
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Human‐mediated environmental change transforms ecosystems worldwide. Understanding the detailed impact of these unprecedented changes on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, however, is challenging. Meadow ecosystems on the Tibetan Plateau transform as a result of climate change and anthropogenic disturbances. Evaluating the consequences of these meadow transformations on above‐ and below‐ground community structure, ecological network and ecosystem functioning is critical for predicting the impact on biodiversity and developing mitigation strategies. Here, we used a natural experiment across replicated sites to assess the responses of ecological networks of soil microbial communities and plant‐pollinator communities to meadow transformations and investigate the impacts of these changes on ecosystem multifunctionality. As a result of swampy meadow desiccation, species richness and ecological network complexity at multiple trophic levels increased, pollination networks became more robust while soil microbial networks became more vulnerable to species loss. Pollination function appeared to benefit from increased diversity in resources and the formation of dry soil, but important below‐ground functions decreased. When alpine meadows degraded further because of extensive grazing pressure, above‐ground diversity and network complexity tended to decline. Soil microbial richness and composition remained unchanged but associations among soil microbes homogenized, and ecosystem productivity and pollination function decreased. Our study provides empirical evidence that human‐mediated meadow transformations influence above‐ and below‐ground ecological networks and ecosystem functioning simultaneously. The findings highlight that ecosystem transformations can have contrasting effects on above‐ and below‐ground diversity and ecological networks, as well as ecosystem functions. Such contrasting responses call for targeted and nuanced management strategies to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in the Tibetan Plateau. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.
The rational delimitation of supervision zones is an important means of regional management that can effectively solve the problem of unbalanced development among reclaimed coal mine areas. In this study, 32 years of vegetation fractional coverage (VFC) series data from 1989 to 2020 were obtained for the area around the Pingshuo opencast coal mine. Then, the S-logistic function was applied to fit the VFC series data for each reclamation dump unit. Combined with the recognition results of coal mining and land reclamation years and by setting three delimitation criteria, the supervision zones of land reclamation that need to be better managed in the reclaimed dump sites were delimited. Finally, optimization revisions of the land reclamation management mode were proposed. The results showed that the effective reclamation zones of land reclamation occupied most of the study area, especially in the early reclaimed west dump, south dump and inner dump I areas of the Antaibao coal mine. The level one supervision zones, which were delineated as the general management zones, were mainly concentrated in the Anjialing inner dump, Nansigou dump, east dump, and west dump. The level two supervision zones, which were delineated as special management zones, were mainly concentrated in the Anjialing Nansigou dump site. Moreover, the Pingshuo coal mine dump sites were divided into four mode areas, namely, ecological conservation, ecological monitoring, ecological restoration, and ecological reconstruction, for the revision of land reclamation management. The proportion of area corresponding to each management mode was 49 %, 23 %, 24 % and 4 %, respectively. The management modes applicable to different reclaimed dump sites differed, and the specific management measures to be adopted depend on the succession pattern of the whole processes of rehabilitated vegetation. This study provides a new approach for delimitating the supervision zones of land reclamation and proposes revision management modes for the precise implementation of land reclamation development plans in coal mining areas.
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Introduced species present the greatest threat to the unique terrestrial biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands. Analysis of data from a survey of 97% of all properties in the four inhabited islands (Floreana, Isabela, Santa Cruz, and San Cristóbal), carried out between 2002 and 2007, combined with information from the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) herbarium (2009), show that there are now 870 recorded alien plant species in the archipelago. Of these species at least 26% (229 species) have now naturalized (established and reproducing without help from humans) and 131 species are already invading natural areas in the archipelago (Guézou and Trueman, 2009). The total number of alien plant species on each island is directly related to human population size, with Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal having the greatest number of species (Figure 1). However, most of these species occur in very few properties (92 species occur in only one property, 229 in less than 20), indicating recent introduction to the archipelago, probably within the last 30 years. It has been noted in the literature that most plant species take more than 50 years to become abundant and up to 150 years to naturalize (Sullivan et al., 2004; Caley et al., 2008). This means that it is probable that many of these species will naturalize and become invasive in the near future, as the propagation of introduced species increases alongside human population growth.
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The knowledge of the biology and ecology of threatened plant species, more specifically the methodologies used to collect, propagate and cultivate them, as well as the existing threats, are often poorly known worldwide. On La Réunion Island (Indian Ocean), local people, NGOs and conservation stakeholders, have conducted numerous actions for the recovery of threatened plants since several decades. However, it is essential to set up a coherent methodology based on a "precautionary principle" promoting the cultivation of native species. In this paper, four strategic directions are proposed: to favor (1) in situ plantations in natural or seminatural habitat after restoration and (2) ex situ collection of threatened species, (3) to cultivate indigenous species in land development projects or of public interests (4) and in public gardens, schools or private areas. The proposed methodology also includes the dispersal capacities of plant species, their degree of threat in natural areas or the knowledge and the role of the various stakeholders. The implementation of a common tool allowing the traceability of diaspores during each step of the process and used by all stakeholders is proposed. We recognize the importance of adapting the methodology in very specific cases, according to the extreme rarity of some species or the genetic variability of others. At last, we emphasize the importance to carefully monitor the on-going conservation actions, to make sure of their efficiency or to adjust them, if needed. The authors highlight the interest of the proposed methodology for all the French Overseas territories.
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New Zealand's offshore islands are refuges for many threatened species, a high proportion of vertebrate diversity, and the world's most diverse fauna of seabirds. We present key issues and questions that can be used to guide research on the conservation of biodiversity on these islands. Four global reviews formed a basis from which we identified research questions of potential relevance to the management of these islands. The research questions were assigned in the context of nine objectives proposed as a means of achieving ecological integrity. For each of the nine objectives, we then asked what has been achieved in terms of island research and management, and what needs to be achieved in order to meet long-term goals. We used local examples to identify issues and questions specific to the islands of New Zealand. Our analyses revealed two research areas in which current understanding is poor. One is the need to understand ecosystem processes and their resilience to long-term environmental change. The second is the need to define and better understand the consequences of direct involvement by the public in the management of islands, including partnerships between government agencies, tangata whenua (original people of the land - Māori) and non-government organisations such as community groups. © New Zealand Ecological Society.
Land conversion, climate change and species invasions are contributing to the widespread emergence of novel ecosystems, which demand a shift in how we think about traditional approaches to conservation, restoration and environmental management. They are novel because they exist without historical precedents and are self-sustaining. Traditional approaches emphasizing native species and historical continuity are challenged by novel ecosystems that deliver critical ecosystems services or are simply immune to practical restorative efforts. Some fear that, by raising the issue of novel ecosystems, we are simply paving the way for a more laissez-faire attitude to conservation and restoration. Regardless of the range of views and perceptions about novel ecosystems, their existence is becoming ever more obvious and prevalent in today's rapidly changing world. In this first comprehensive volume to look at the ecological, social, cultural, ethical and policy dimensions of novel ecosystems, the authors argue these altered systems are overdue for careful analysis and that we need to figure out how to intervene in them responsibly. This book brings together researchers from a range of disciplines together with practitioners and policy makers to explore the questions surrounding novel ecosystems. It includes chapters on key concepts and methodologies for deciding when and how to intervene in systems, as well as a rich collection of case studies and perspective pieces. It will be a valuable resource for researchers, managers and policy makers interested in the question of how humanity manages and restores ecosystems in a rapidly changing world.
ACROSS MOST OF AFRICA, the idea that multiple-use areas can be an effective conservation strategy for large and medium-sized mammals has little merit. Human populations are increasing very rapidly, faster than on any other continent, along with concomitant conversion of wild habitats to agricultural landscapes. Currently, there is a new “scramble for Africa” as governments and foreigners extract resources and many new development and infrastructure projects are being planned or implemented. Several forms of biodiversity have no place in these human-modified landscapes. The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate this for larger mammals and to suggest that we must adhere to and increase our commitment to fully protected areas; they are the best conservation tool at our disposal. I do this using data from a fully protected area in which I have worked for twenty years. My goal here is to counter the idea held by the “new conservationists” that we should direct future efforts toward working landscapes where animals and plants are managed for the benefits of people.Their view of the future of conservation as being “gardening of wildlife” for human benefit contrasts strongly with my original view of conservation in the Anthropocene.
Although non-native species have been implicated as a major factor in the decline of the native Hawaiian land snail fauna, little attention has been focused on understanding how colonization by non-native plants influences Hawaiian land snail populations. The plant preferences of native Hawaiian succineids in the Kohala Forest Reserve were examined where native plant species and invasive non-native ginger species are present to understand how changes in the understory plant composition may influence succineid populations. Surprisingly, native succineid land snails preferred non-native ginger species to native plant species. This finding suggests that native succineid populations may not be negatively affected when the understory plant assemblage changes from a native plant community to one composed primarily of non-native ginger species. However, this preference also indicates that native succineids may be vulnerable to the effects of ginger control efforts. As such, managers should proceed cautiously with ginger removal efforts if they intend not to harm native succineid populations. Hopefully, future efforts to control non-native ginger species will adapt and minimize any negative effects on native succineid species.