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Aberdeen, United Kingdom

The Macaulay Land Use Research Institute was a research institute based at Aberdeen in Scotland, now part of the James Hutton Institute. Its work covers aspects such as landscape, soil and water conservation and climate change. Founded in 1930, the Macaulay Institute is an international centre for research and consultancy on the environmental and social consequences of rural land uses. Interdisciplinary research across the environmental and social science aims to support the protection of natural resources, the creation of integrated land use systems, and the development of sustainable rural communities.With an annual income from research and consultancy of over £11million, the Macaulay Institute is the largest interdisciplinary research organisation of its kind in Europe.It is one of the main research providers to the Scottish Government and currently about 75% of the Macaulay's income is related to commissioned research programmes, principally on "Land Use and Rural Stewardship". The 300 staff and postgraduate students are drawn from over 25 countries, and conduct research in Scotland, across Europe and internationally, with a wide range of partner organisations. Their goal is that the research they undertake provides evidence that will help shape future environmental and rural-development policy both in Scotland and internationally.The Macaulay Land Use Research Institute is a registered charity under Scottish law. Commercial services are delivered through Macaulay Scientific Consulting Ltd, its subsidiary consultancy company.The mineral Macaulayite is named after the Institute. Wikipedia.

The impact of climate change on vector-borne infectious diseases is currently controversial. In Europe the primary arthropod vectors of zoonotic diseases are ticks, which transmit Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (the agent of Lyme disease), tick-borne encephalitis virus and louping ill virus between humans, livestock and wildlife. Ixodes ricinus ticks and reported tick-borne disease cases are currently increasing in the UK. Theories for this include climate change and increasing host abundance. This study aimed to test how I. ricinus tick abundance might be influenced by climate change in Scotland by using altitudinal gradients as a proxy, while also taking into account the effects of hosts, vegetation and weather effects. It was predicted that tick abundance would be higher at lower altitudes (i.e. warmer climates) and increase with host abundance. Surveys were conducted on nine hills in Scotland, all of open moorland habitat. Tick abundance was positively associated with deer abundance, but even after taking this into account, there was a strong negative association of ticks with altitude. This was probably a real climate effect, with temperature (and humidity, i.e. saturation deficit) most likely playing an important role. It could be inferred that ticks may become more abundant at higher altitudes in response to climate warming. This has potential implications for pathogen prevalence such as louping ill virus if tick numbers increase at elevations where competent transmission hosts (red grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus and mountain hares Lepus timidus) occur in higher numbers. © Springer-Verlag 2009. Source

Attitudes towards the management of the natural environment have been described mainly as building on individuals' images of nature and the human-nature relationship. However, in previous qualitative research I found strong evidence that in order to understand public views on environmental policies we also need to understand individuals' beliefs about their fellow humans. The present study tested the hypothesis that beliefs about human nature and preferences for certain governance approaches-such as regulations and collective action-are related to individuals' attitudes towards concrete management measures. Survey results (n=155), analysed by means of structural equation modelling, suggest that effects of beliefs about human nature are discernible, but not significant. I could, however, identify generic preferences for particular approaches to environmental governance. These significantly explained variation in attitudes towards environmental governance in an applied context, suggesting a strong need for further research in this politically highly relevant field. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009. Source

Sutherland L.-A.,Macaulay Institute
Land Use Policy | Year: 2011

Qualitative field research in England identified a cohort of farmers practicing what they self-defined as 'effectively organic' or 'semi-organic' farming. Utilising Ajzen's theory of planned behaviour as a framework for analysis, reducing inputs was found to be primarily a response to financial pressures, also reflected in changing substantive norms towards balancing risks and potential returns against investment, rather than optimising production. However, despite the apparent ease of converting to organic farming from low input practice, formal conversion to organic farming was not found to be the automatic outcome of this trajectory: instead, organic farming was identified as only one of a number of options for increasing the financial viability of the farming operation, which included other niche markets, pluriactivity and contracting land to and from other farmers. The affiliation of low input farmers with organic production denotes positive attitudes towards both organic farming and environmental practices, but a lack of understanding about organic farming techniques. The author argues that due to declining returns/input ratios, future conversion to organic farming may reflect the value placed on other aspects of organic production, such as increased labour, risk reduction and environmental ideals, and highlights the environmental implications of the ongoing 'cost price squeeze' on farming households. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

This paper addresses the question of farmer responses to agri-environmental programming in light of the Single Farm Payment, focusing on the role of environmental regulations and grant schemes in strategic farm decision-making. Utilising Ajzen's theory of planned behaviour in a qualitative case study of farmers in Upper Deeside, Scotland, it was found that farmer respondents actively consider environmental regulations and grant opportunities as part of their decision rationale in making investments in farm development, such as agro-industrial building construction or securing additional land. Fulfilling agri-environmental regulations is constructed by respondents as being part of ensuring farm viability, while eligibility for agri-environmental schemes is impacting on how tenanted land is valued. The author identifies three mechanisms facilitating farmer up-take of environmental schemes, and makes a case for consideration of farmers as experts in producing environmental outcomes while maintaining economic sustainability of farming operations. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source

Kikvidze Z.,University of Tokyo | Brooker R.,Macaulay Institute
Journal of Ecology | Year: 2010

Freckleton, Watkinson & Rees (2009) criticize a recent paper by ourselves in this journal (Brooker & Kikvidze 2008) as well as our earlier work on competition importance (Brooker et al. 2005). In response, here we clarify our ideas with the aim of defining more clearly the key points of scientific debate, specifically (i) the definition of the importance of competition and (ii) its measurement.2. Freckleton, Watkinson & Rees (2009) interpret the classic paper by Welden & Slauson (1986) such that importance as a concept relates to long-term, population-level consequences of competition. However, we consider competition importance to be the proportional impact of competition relative to the overall impact of the environment, and our index Cimp expresses changes in competition importance - as defined by ourselves - along productivity gradients. We argue that our definition more accurately reflects the work of Welden & Slauson, as well as a more recent use of the concept (Grace 1991), which precedes the work of Freckleton & Watkinson (2001).3. We highlight that Cimp was never proposed as a general index of competition importance, but is readily applicable in certain circumstances. Notably, our index and the approaches to measuring competition importance as set out by Freckleton, Watkinson & Rees (2009) are not unrelated.4. We also discuss some recent additional responses to both our (2008) paper and that by Freckleton, Watkinson & Rees (2009), including applications of the concept of competition importance. Although the authors of these papers may not have used our index Cimp, they follow the same definitions for the overall concept of competition importance as ourselves.5. Synthesis. We conclude that the complex topic of biotic interactions, including the specific issue of the importance of competition, invites a range of approaches. Importantly, these approaches can be complementary and not conflicting. Here, we propose what we see as a sensible resolution to the current debate concerning the definition of competition importance, a resolution which is backed by the original source article, literature precedent and current usage. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 British Ecological Society. Source

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