what to conserve? conservation units (lecture 2) Flashcards Preview

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Why select conservation units?

- essential for effective and efficient planning given limited resources

- the aim is to protect biodiversity
- biodiversity = variability among living organisms: within species/between species/ecosystems
- have to select from these units


What is yearly required versus actual spend on conservation?

- James et al., 2001
- McCarthy et al., 2012

- James et al: required $27.5B, actual $6B (20%)

- McCarthy et al: required $78B, currently at 10% of this


What units of conservation do taxonomic and ecosystems approaches encompass?

- genetic diversity
- populations
- sub-species
- species

- habitats
- ecosystem services


Why use genetic diversity as a conservation unit?

- important for population resilience (small population paradigm)

- in plants may be useful for improving yields in closely related crop species

- varies spatially


What are problems with genetic diversity as a conservation unit?

- focus on genetic diversity or genetic uniqueness?
- is it practical?
- are there more practical surrogates for genetic diversity?


Why use populations as a conservation unit?

Multiple populations = higher probability of:
- maximising genetic diversity
- protecting local adaptations
- insurance against local disasters


What are problems with populations as a conservation unit?

- while some distributions are obvious others are less clear
- is each isolated distribution a distinct population?
- populations can be difficult to define

- based on rarely tested assumptions of genetic divergence between populations

- often there are multiple populations, rarely pragmatic to save them all

- focus on local concerns instead of global priorities

- can lead to narrow outlooks and inefficient conservation


Example of the problems with populations as a conservation unit:

- great cranes project

- common cranes extinct in UK circa 1600
- cranes recolonised ~ 1980

- 2009 great cranes project started
- £400,000 per year on trying to increase UK common crane population
- common crane populations in Europe have seen large increases since the 1990s
- common cranes are "least concern"
- 11 other crane species globally threatened with extinction
- e,g, siberian crane is critically endangered, black-necked crane is vulnerable, neither is getting enough spent on them


Why use subspecies as a conservation unit?

- surrogate for genetic diversity
- idea that conserving a species genetic diversity is more likely if you conserve all its subspecies


What are problems with subspecies as a conservation unit?

- subspecies doesn't mean genetic distinctiveness
- Zink (2004) 97% continentally distributed avian species lack genetic distinctiveness

- subspecies based conservation problematic bc
a) incorrectly assumes subspecies always represent genetic variation
b) promotes parochial conservation


Example of the problems with subspecies as a conservation unit:

- dusky seaside sparrow

- subspecies restricted to florida
- $2.5 million investment
- declared extinct 1990
- another non-threatened subspecies was genetically identical


Why use species as a conservation unit?

- traditional conservation unit
- species are irreplaceable

- pragmatic:
- public understand it
- unit at which biological data is most frequently
- relatively easy to recognise & define (legally


What are problems with species as a conservation unit?

- unstable taxonomy: shearwaters, inflation

- 2 species were split in the early 1990s
- manx shearwater = least concern
- balearic shearwater = critically endangered, declining 7.4% a year, will be extinct in 40 years

Taxonomic inflation/progress?:
- albatross: now 21 species, used to be 13
- lemurs: 33sp in 1994, 70 in 2006, now about a hundred
- Philippines may have more than 100 more avian endemics than currently defined


What are problems with species as a conservation unit?

- unstable taxonomy
- most species not described
- especially true for non-charismatic species


Why use habitats as a conservation unit?

- response to accusations that species based conservation ignores many species

- pragmatic:
- reasonably good data on habitat loss
- protecting habitats gives a good chance of
protecting species that live there
- habitat loss is a major driver of extinction risk
- 80% of terrestrial vertebrates threatened with
habitat loss

- protect ecosystem services e.g. watershed management relying on intact forest (utilitarian approach)


What are problems with habitats as a conservation unit?

- broad-scale habitat definitions (e.g. forest type) and loss are pretty easy to define but it is more difficult at finer scales

- some species have such small ranges that broad habitat conservation won't do it


What are ecosystem services?

- benefits of ecosystems to human wellbeing
- humans are buffered by technology/culture but ultimately rely on ecosystem services


What are supporting ecosystem services?

- necessary for production of other ecosystem services
- e.g. primary production, nutrient cycling, soil formation
- often excluded from economic evaluations to prevent double counting


What are provisioning ecosystem services?

- resources obtained from ecosystems
- e.g. wood, fibre, food, freshwater


What are regulating ecosystem services?

- benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes
- e.g. climate regulation, flood regulation, disease regulation, water purification


What are cultural ecosystem services?

- non-material benefits to human wellbeing
- e.g. aesthetic, mental well-being, recreational activities like fishing and ecotourism


Provisioning ecosystem services:

- pollination
- productivity

- $27B dollars a year globally
- (Klein et al., 2007)

- debate as to whether it increases with plant species richness or if only a few really contribute
- when various conditions accounted for however most species enhance service provision in one or more scearios


Regulating ecosystem services:

- flood defence

- super-cyclone, India Orissa 1999
- mangrove forests significantly reduced death in villages less than 10km from the coast (Das and Vincent, 2009)


Cultural ecosystem services:

- well-being

- children in high-rise flats have better concentration levels when views of green spaces are availability (Taylor et al., 2002)

- people in parks with more plant species have higher mental wellbeing scores (Fuller et al., 2007)


Why use an ecosystem services approach to conservation?

- provides financial incentive for conservation



What are problems with ecosystem services as a conservation approach?

- ecosystem disservices

- ecosystem disservices: e.g. mosquitos carrying malaria in africa cost $12B USD in healthcare, lost work days, tourism, investment


What are problems with ecosystem services as a conservation approach?

- lack of data

- lack of data: only 4 services have been mapped (Naidoo, 2008) using inadequate proxies
- where there is data shows lack of congruence between biodiversity and ecosystem service provision except in few win-win areas


What are problems with ecosystem services as a conservation approach?

- biodiversity ignored

- biodiversity ignored:
- limited info on relationship b/w biodiversity and ecosystem services
- some may be be more reliant on biomass than biodiversity
- cultural services may be more reliant on perceived than actual biodiversity
- service provision can be largely dependent on number of people