Report assesses promises and pitfalls of private investment in conservation — ScienceDaily

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) today released a report entitled “Innovative Finance for Conservation: Roles for Ecologists and Practitioners” that offers guidelines for developing standardized, ethical and effective conservation finance projects.

Public and philanthropic sources currently supply most of the funds for protecting and conserving species and ecosystems. However, the private sector is now driving demand for market-based mechanisms that support conservation projects with positive environmental, social and financial returns. Examples of projects that can support this triple bottom line include green infrastructure for stormwater management, clean transport projects and sustainable production of food and fiber products.

“The reality is that public and philanthropic funds are insufficient to meet the challenge to conserve the world’s biodiversity,” said Garvin Professor and Senior Director of Conservation Science at Cornell University Amanda Rodewald, the report’s lead author. “Private investments represent a new path forward both because of their enormous growth potential and

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Community conservation reserves protect fish diversity in tropical rivers — ScienceDaily

Prohibiting fishing in conservation reserves is a common strategy for protecting ocean ecosystems and enhancing fisheries management. However, such dedicated reserves are rare in freshwater ecosystems, where conservation efforts generally piggyback on the protection of terrestrial habitats and species.

Now, a collaboration between researchers from Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison has found that small, community-based reserves in Thailand’s Salween River Basin are serving as critical refuges for fish diversity in a region whose subsistence fisheries have suffered from decades of overharvesting.

The team’s paper, “A Network of Grassroots Reserves Protects Tropical River Fish Diversity,” published Nov. 25 in Nature.

The lead author is Aaron Koning, a former postdoctoral fellow with the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability who is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Nevada, Reno. The project was overseen by Pete McIntyre, the Dwight Webster Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow and associate professor of natural resources

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Young Brazilians are increasingly keen on conservation- and biodiversity-related topics

Young Brazilians are increasingly interested in biodiversity, conservation of the Amazon and science as they begin high school, but school students in the North region are more interested in learning about these subjects, and about local fauna and flora, than their peers in the Southeast.

These are some of the findings of a study reported in an article in Science Advances. Part of a Thematic Project supported by FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation), the study analyzed data from five PhD theses as well as an international survey called The Relevance of Science Education, or ROSE. The authors argue for the need to include more learning about local plants and animals in Brazil’s National School Curriculum. The project was conducted under the aegis of the FAPESP Research Program on Biodiversity Characterization, Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use (BIOTA-FAPESP) and involved five institutions in the state of São Paulo: the University of

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New guide on using drones for conservation

New guide on using drones for conservation
A drone. Credit: Karen Anderson

Drones are a powerful tool for conservation—but they should only be used after careful consideration and planning, according to a new report.

The report, commissioned by the global conservation organisation WWF, outlines “best practices” for using drones effectively and safely, while minimising impacts on wildlife. This is the 5th issue in a series on Conservation Technologies and Methodologies.

The lead authors are Dr. Karen Anderson and Dr. James Duffy, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter.

“This is a detailed handbook for conservation practitioners—not just academics—to understand the benefits, opportunities, limits and pitfalls of drone technology,” Dr. Anderson said.

“Drones are often hailed as a panacea for conservation problems, but in this guide we explain—with reference to detailed case studies by conservation managers and scientists—how and where drones can be used to deliver useful information, and what the key considerations surrounding

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Elephant genetics guide conservation — ScienceDaily

A large-scale study of African elephant genetics in Tanzania reveals the history of elephant populations, how they interact, and what areas may be critical to conserve in order to preserve genetic diversity for species conservation. The study, by researchers at Penn State, appears online in the journal Ecology & Evolution and is the first to explore gene flow — a process vital to maintain necessary genetic diversity for species survival — between protected areas in Africa.

“Elephants are a hallmark of the savannah, but poaching and habitat loss and fragmentation have led to major population declines across Africa,” said George Lohay, postdoctoral scholar in biology at Penn State and first author of the paper. “Human activities accelerate the loss of elephant habitat, as well as the land between protected areas. Maintaining connectivity between protected areas may be especially important for this far-ranging species, particularly with regard to gene flow, which

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Tropical peatland conservation could protect humans from new diseases — ScienceDaily

Conservation of tropical peatlands could reduce the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the likelihood of new diseases jumping from animals to humans, researchers say.

The scientists reviewed existing evidence and concluded the high biodiversity in tropical peat-swamp forests, combined with habitat destruction and wildlife harvesting, created “suitable conditions” for emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) that could jump to humans.

COVID-19 did not emerge in a tropical peatland area — but HIV/AIDS and the joint-first case of Ebola both originated in areas with extensive peatlands.

The study also assessed the possible impact of COVID-19 on tropical peatland conservation and local communities — and identified “numerous potential threats” to both.

Led by the University of Exeter, the international study team comprised researchers from countries with large tropical peatlands, including Indonesia, DR Congo and Perú.

“We’re not saying tropical peatlands are unique in this respect — but they are one important habitat where

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Peatland conservation may prevent new diseases from jumping to humans

Nov. 17 (UPI) — In a new paper, scientists argue tropical peatland areas have been mostly ignored as potential settings for new diseases to jump from animals to humans.

According to the authors of the new study, published Tuesday in journal PeerJ, better protecting and restoring tropical peat-swamp forests could help curb the effects of the current pandemic, and also prevent the emergence of future zoonotic diseases.

COVID-19 has changed the way we look at the world — and scientists say it’s also changed the way they look at their areas of expertise.

“As it became increasingly clear that COVID-19 wasn’t going to magically disappear in a few weeks, we began thinking and talking about what the potential impacts of the pandemic might be on the conservation of this ecosystem and resident local communities, and the idea of this paper was conceived,” lead study author Mark Harrison, an ecologist and

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Truffle munching wallabies shed new light on forest conservation

Truffle munching wallabies shed new light on forest conservation
Credit: Todd F Elliott

Feeding truffles to wallabies may sound like a madcap whim of the jet-setting elite, but it may give researchers clues to preserving remnant forest systems.

Edith Cowan University researcher Dr. Melissa Danks led an investigation into how swamp wallabies spread truffle spores around the environment, and results demonstrate the importance of these animals to the survival of the forest.

“There are thousands of truffle species in Australia and they play a critical role in helping our trees and woody plants to survive,” she said.

“Truffles live in a mutually beneficial relationship with these plants, helping them to uptake water and nutrients and defense against disease. Unlike mushrooms where spores are dispersed through wind and water from their caps, truffles are found underground with the spores inside an enclosed ball—they need to be eaten by an animal to move their spores.”

Dr. Danks and colleagues at the

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New approach could spark an era of battery-free ocean exploration, with applications ranging from marine conservation to aquaculture — ScienceDaily

GPS isn’t waterproof. The navigation system depends on radio waves, which break down rapidly in liquids, including seawater. To track undersea objects like drones or whales, researchers rely on acoustic signaling. But devices that generate and send sound usually require batteries — bulky, short-lived batteries that need regular changing. Could we do without them?

MIT researchers think so. They’ve built a battery-free pinpointing system dubbed Underwater Backscatter Localization (UBL). Rather than emitting its own acoustic signals, UBL reflects modulated signals from its environment. That provides researchers with positioning information, at net-zero energy. Though the technology is still developing, UBL could someday become a key tool for marine conservationists, climate scientists, and the U.S. Navy.

These advances are described in a paper being presented this week at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Hot Topics in Networks workshop, by members of the Media Lab’s Signal Kinetics group. Research Scientist Reza Ghaffarivardavagh led

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