Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Is a constructive conservation the last chance for biodiversity? Pragmatic approach to saving what can be saved

Date:
October 10, 2013
Source:
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Summary:
How can biodiversity be preserved in a world in which traditional ecosystems are increasingly being displaced by “human-made nature”? Biologists have developed a new concept for conservation measures that incorporates current landscapes formerly considered ecologically “of little value”. Numerous experiences from islands have shown that this concept has a positive effect on biodiversity. Now the authors are proposing applying these experiences to other landscape scenarios.

A day gecko Phelsuma ornata with a blossom Gastonia mauritiana on the island of Mauritius.
Credit: Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury

How can biodiversity be preserved in a world in which traditional ecosystems are increasingly being displaced by "human-made nature"? Biologists at the TU Darmstadt and ETH Zurich have developed a new concept for conservation measures that incorporates current landscapes formerly considered ecologically "of little value." Numerous experiences from islands have shown that this concept has a positive effect on biodiversity. Now the authors are proposing  applying these lessons learned to other landscapes.

In a human-dominated world that contains only little "historical" nature, the term ecosystem can no longer be a synonym for unspoilt nature. The term "novel ecosystems" was coined a few years ago to describe disturbed ecosystems in which biodiversity has been significantly altered as the result of human intervention. "In our new conservation framework we argue that this strict distinction between historic and novel ecosystems should be reconsidered to aid conservation," pollination biologist Dr. Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury describes the approach, which is not without controversy.

On continents with vast natural parks, such as the USA and Africa, critics fear that the new concept could weaken the protection of historic nature by, for instance, redirecting financial resources towards more active intervention and design of ecosystems. The team of Darmstadt and Zurich biologists, however, propagates a reconciling approach. "Our framework combines strategies that were, until now, considered incompatible. Not only historic wildlands are worth protecting, but also designed cultural landscapes. Given the increased anthropogenic pressure on nature, we propose a multi-facetted approach to preserve biodiversity: to protect historic nature where ecologically viable; to actively create new, intensively managed ecosystems; to accept novel ecosystems as natural, wild landscapes; and to convert agricultural and other cultivated landscapes while generally maintaining land-use priorities."

Agricultural landscapes "of little value" belong on the agenda

New ecosystems may also include maize fields and banana plantations, as agricultural land can be used to preserve biodiversity. In fact, necessary measures are relatively easy to implement and comparatively inexpensive. Trials in Europe involving hedges and meadow strips along fields, for example, have shown that many animal species use these areas for feeding and nesting. Such modifications also create corridors between habitats that are traditionally worth protecting. "The individual measures proposed here are not novel but what is needed is an overall concept that combines these measures on a landscape level. And this is something that has been tested on many oceanic islands -- with considerable success."

Lessons from islands

The studies by the Darmstadt and Swiss biologists have shown that biodiversity conservation on regionally heterogeneous islands, such as Galapagos, Hawaii, Fiji or Seychelles, illustrates the successful implementation of such an integrated concept. On the Seychelles, for instance, the combined conservation measures include the strict protection of natural cloud forest on a few mountain tops, the management of abandoned cinnamon plantations, and green urban areas such as gardens. The recovery of threatened species and a halt to the decline of native biodiversity are indicators of the success of these conservation strategies. "At the same time, though, we need to know more about how invasive species influence biodiversity," adds Professor Nico Blüthgen in the light of current investigations by the TU Darmstadt. "For example, native plants on Hawaii have not developed a protective mechanism against immigrant ants and are therefore threatened by their invasion." His working group addresses the consequences of species extinction on ecosystem functioning.

In another study the ecologists aim to investigate how the concept developed on islands can bet intensively tested in different landscape settings, including on a larger scale on continents.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Technische Universität Darmstadt. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christoph Kueffer, Christopher N Kaiser-Bunbury. Reconciling conflicting perspectives for biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2013; 130909062254005 DOI: 10.1890/120201

Cite This Page:

Technische Universität Darmstadt. "Is a constructive conservation the last chance for biodiversity? Pragmatic approach to saving what can be saved." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131010104925.htm>.
Technische Universität Darmstadt. (2013, October 10). Is a constructive conservation the last chance for biodiversity? Pragmatic approach to saving what can be saved. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131010104925.htm
Technische Universität Darmstadt. "Is a constructive conservation the last chance for biodiversity? Pragmatic approach to saving what can be saved." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131010104925.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — Mount Paektu volcano in North Korea is showing signs of life and there's not much known about it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins