Conservation Science Group

Cambridge, United Kingdom

Conservation Science Group

Cambridge, United Kingdom

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Coad L.,Conservation Science Group | Coad L.,Imperial College London | Coad L.,Environmental Change Institute | Abernethy K.,University of Stirling | And 4 more authors.
Conservation Biology | Year: 2010

Bushmeat hunting is an activity integral to rural forest communities that provides a high proportion of household incomes and protein requirements. An improved understanding of the relationship between bushmeat hunting and household wealth is vital to assess the potential effects of future policy interventions to regulate an increasingly unsustainable bushmeat trade. We investigated the relationship between hunting offtake and household wealth, gender differences in spending patterns, and the use of hunting incomes in two rural forest communities, Central Gabon, from 2003 to 2005. Households in which members hunted (hunting households) were significantly wealthier than households in which no one hunted (nonhunting households), but within hunting households offtakes were not correlated with household wealth. This suggests there are access barriers to becoming a hunter and that hunting offtakes may not be the main driver of wealth accumulation. Over half of the money spent by men in the village shop was on alcohol and cigarettes, and the amount and proportion of income spent on these items increased substantially with increases in individual hunting offtake. By contrast, the majority of purchases made by women were of food, but their food purchases decreased actually and proportionally with increased household hunting offtake. This suggests that the availability of bushmeat as a food source decreases spending on food, whereas hunting income may be spent in part on items that do not contribute significantly to household food security. Conservation interventions that aim to reduce the commercial bushmeat trade need to account for likely shifts in individual spending that may ensue and the secondary effects on household economies. © 2010 Society for Conservation Biology.


Fourcade Y.,University of Angers | Fourcade Y.,University of East Anglia | Fourcade Y.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Richardson D.S.,University of East Anglia | And 5 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2016

Understanding patterns of genetic structure, gene flow and diversity across a species range is required to determine the genetic status and viability of small peripheral populations. This is especially crucial in species distributed across a large range where spatial heterogeneity makes it difficult to predict the distribution of genetic diversity. Although biogeographical models provide expectations of how spatially structured genetic variation may be at the range scale, human disturbance may cause strong deviations from these theoretical predictions. In this study, we investigated genetic structure and demography at a pan-European scale in the corncrake Crex crex, a grassland bird species strongly affected by agricultural changes. We assessed population structure and genetic diversity, as well as demographic trends and direction of gene flow, in and among 15 contemporary populations of this species. Analyses revealed low genetic structure across the entire range with high levels of genetic diversity in all sites. However, we found some evidence that the westernmost populations were, to a very limited extent, differentiated from the rest of the European population. Demographic trends showed that population numbers have decreased in western Europe and remained constant across eastern Europe. Results may also indicate asymmetric gene flow from eastern to western populations. In conclusion, we suggest that the most likely scenario is that contrasting demographic regimes between eastern and western populations, driven by heterogeneous human activity, has caused not only asymmetric gene flow that has buffered small peripheral populations against genetic diversity loss, but also erased any genetic structure that may have existed. Our study not only highlights the need for coordinated action at the European scale to preserve source populations of the corncrake, but also to ensure persistence of the most threatened sites. Only by doing so will we avoid losing adaptive potential and prevent over-reliance on eastern source populations whose future may be uncertain. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.


Balmford A.,Conservation Science Group | Green R.,Conservation Science Group | Phalan B.,Conservation Science Group
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2012

Farming is the basis of our civilization yet is more damaging to wild nature than any other sector of human activity. Here, we propose that in order to limit its impact into the future, conservation researchers and practitioners need to address several big topics-about the scale of future demand, about which crops and livestock to study, about whether low-yield or high-yield farming has the potential to be least harmful to nature, about the environmental performance of new and existing farming methods, and about the measures needed to enable promising approaches and techniques to deliver on their potential. Tackling these issues requires conservationists to explore the many consequences that decisions about agriculture have beyond the farm, to think broadly and imaginatively about the scale and scope of what is required to halt biodiversity loss, and to be brave enough to test and when necessary support counterintuitive measures. © 2012 The Royal Society.


Groves C.R.,Conservation Science Group | Game E.T.,Conservation Science Group | Anderson M.G.,The Nature Conservancy | Cross M.,Wildlife Conservation Society | And 10 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2012

The principles of systematic conservation planning are now widely used by governments and non-government organizations alike to develop biodiversity conservation plans for countries, states, regions, and ecoregions. Many of the species and ecosystems these plans were designed to conserve are now being affected by climate change, and there is a critical need to incorporate new and complementary approaches into these plans that will aid species and ecosystems in adjusting to potential climate change impacts. We propose five approaches to climate change adaptation that can be integrated into existing or new biodiversity conservation plans: (1) conserving the geophysical stage, (2) protecting climatic refugia, (3) enhancing regional connectivity, (4) sustaining ecosystem process and function, and (5) capitalizing on opportunities emerging in response to climate change. We discuss both key assumptions behind each approach and the trade-offs involved in using the approach for conservation planning. We also summarize additional data beyond those typically used in systematic conservation plans required to implement these approaches. A major strength of these approaches is that they are largely robust to the uncertainty in how climate impacts may manifest in any given region. © 2012 The Author(s).


Pain D.,WWT | Green R.,Conservation Science Group | Clark N.,Bto Inc.
British Birds | Year: 2011

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus is thought to be one of the most endangered birds in the world. The latest information suggests that the population is in free fall and, if current trends continue, could be at such low levels that extinction through random events could happen within 5-10 years. Habitat loss at key staging posts on the bird's 8,000-km migration route to and from its southern and southeast Asian wintering grounds is one factor in this charismatic wader's decline, but recent research suggests that trapping on the wintering grounds may be a key reason for the recent acceleration in the rate of decline. Conservation priorities for the species are outlined and the feasibility of a conservation breeding programme, either to support an existing small population or to re-establish one that has become extinct, is discussed.


PubMed | Conservation Science Group
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology | Year: 2010

Bushmeat hunting is an activity integral to rural forest communities that provides a high proportion of household incomes and protein requirements. An improved understanding of the relationship between bushmeat hunting and household wealth is vital to assess the potential effects of future policy interventions to regulate an increasingly unsustainable bushmeat trade. We investigated the relationship between hunting offtake and household wealth, gender differences in spending patterns, and the use of hunting incomes in two rural forest communities, Central Gabon, from 2003 to 2005. Households in which members hunted (hunting households) were significantly wealthier than households in which no one hunted (nonhunting households), but within hunting households offtakes were not correlated with household wealth. This suggests there are access barriers to becoming a hunter and that hunting offtakes may not be the main driver of wealth accumulation. Over half of the money spent by men in the village shop was on alcohol and cigarettes, and the amount and proportion of income spent on these items increased substantially with increases in individual hunting offtake. By contrast, the majority of purchases made by women were of food, but their food purchases decreased actually and proportionally with increased household hunting offtake. This suggests that the availability of bushmeat as a food source decreases spending on food, whereas hunting income may be spent in part on items that do not contribute significantly to household food security. Conservation interventions that aim to reduce the commercial bushmeat trade need to account for likely shifts in individual spending that may ensue and the secondary effects on household economies.


PubMed | Conservation Science Group, University of California at Berkeley and CAS Kunming Institute of Botany
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PLoS biology | Year: 2016

The current unprecedented expansion of infrastructure promises to enhance human wellbeing but risks causing substantial harm to natural ecosystems and the benefits they provide for people. A framework for systematically and proactively identifying the likely benefits and costs of such developments is badly needed. Here, we develop and test at the subregional scale a recently proposed global scheme for comparing the potential gains from new roads for food production with their likely impact on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Working in the Greater Mekong-an exceptionally biodiverse subregion undergoing rapid development-we combined maps of isolation from urban centres, yield gaps, and the current area under 17 crops to estimate where and how far road development could in principle help to increase food production without the need for cropland expansion. We overlaid this information with maps summarising the importance of remaining habitats to terrestrial vertebrates and (as examples of major ecosystem services) to global and local climate regulation. This intersection revealed several largely converted yet relatively low-yielding areas (such as central, eastern, and northeastern Thailand and the Ayeyarwady Delta), where narrowing yield gaps by improving transport links has the potential to substantially increase food production at relatively limited environmental cost. Concentrating new roads and road improvements here while taking strong measures to prevent their spread into areas which are still extensively forested (such as northern Laos, western Yunnan, and southwestern Cambodia) could thus enhance rural livelihoods and regional food production while helping safeguard vital ecosystem services and globally significant biological diversity.


PubMed | Conservation Science Group
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Proceedings. Biological sciences | Year: 2012

Farming is the basis of our civilization yet is more damaging to wild nature than any other sector of human activity. Here, we propose that in order to limit its impact into the future, conservation researchers and practitioners need to address several big topics--about the scale of future demand, about which crops and livestock to study, about whether low-yield or high-yield farming has the potential to be least harmful to nature, about the environmental performance of new and existing farming methods, and about the measures needed to enable promising approaches and techniques to deliver on their potential. Tackling these issues requires conservationists to explore the many consequences that decisions about agriculture have beyond the farm, to think broadly and imaginatively about the scale and scope of what is required to halt biodiversity loss, and to be brave enough to test and when necessary support counterintuitive measures.

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