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Natural Capital Protocol for the Ocean Workshop

Biodiversity News

December 6, 2018

Close up of ocean water surface with sunset in the backgroundOn Friday, December 7, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST in Washington, D.C., the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes will join other organizations in discussing how businesses depend upon ocean resources as part of the Natural Capital Protocol for the Ocean.

The Natural Capital Protocol for the Ocean will be a framework to help businesses answer questions related to both risks and opportunities.

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Reflections on the NatureNet Science Fellowship

Biodiversity News

November 13, 2018

Gravuer kneeling on crops holding soil between her hands, wearing sung glasses, smilingBy Kelly Gravuer

As I boarded the plane to Washington, D.C. to take on new science policy challenges, my thoughts drifted to the NatureNet Science Fellowship I had just wrapped up and how it had prepared me for this new adventure.

Through NatureNet, I had the incredible opportunity to work closely with scientists and conservation practitioners at The Nature Conservancy in California and the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes at Arizona State University.

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Conservation International partners with ASU’s Decision Theater on innovative tool

ASU Sustainability News Food Systems News

November 7, 2018

A dry, cracked bed of dirt with grass in backgroundClimate change. Species loss. Pollution.

These are well-known consequences of economic development threatening human and ecological health. International efforts to mitigate these threats are also familiar, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting endangered animals and cleaning our air and waterways.

However, perhaps the most crucial threat is also the most neglected — land degradation.

Approximately 1.3 billion people depend on polluted or degraded agricultural land. This leads to reduced agricultural productivity and access to water and increased carbon emissions. It is a complex problem with serious implications for food security, health and sustainable development.

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Biomimicry Center planting inspiration with seed exhibit

ASU Sustainability News Food Systems News

October 26, 2018

whirlybirdStill most widely associated with the invention of velcro, ASU researchers are walking the talk of biomimicry with a newly renovated office space and a new seed exhibit they hope will capture the imagination of innovators seeking solutions for complex human problems.

"Seeds continue to offer a bottomless design and engineering trove for many other innovations," said Heidi Fischer, assistant director at the Biomimicry Center. "We hope that our exhibition can provide new models for some of these innovations."

Titled “Designed to Move: Seeds that Float, Fly or Hitchhike through the Desert Southwest,” the exhibit, opening Oct. 30 in the Design School South Gallery on ASU's Tempe campus is offering viewers an extraordinary look at the beauty of desert seeds as captured through the macro photography lens of Taylor James, an alumni of ASU’s Masters of Fine Arts program.

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Making the most of conservation money

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

October 25, 2018

black footed ferretOne of the balancing acts faced by conservation agencies is how to conserve and protect as many species as possible from extinction with limited funding and finite resources. In the U.S., conservation agencies are supported and guided by the Endangered Species Act, the seminal wildlife conservation law signed by President Nixon in 1973 that is currently being reviewed by Congress.

Over time, the number of threatened and endangered species added to the ESA has grown faster than the funding for their recovery. As a result, conservation agencies have struggled in making decisions about how to apply the available resources to the greatest effect.

The result of this inadequate funding has been that while the ESA has brought back many species from the brink of extinction, many of those species remain on “life support,” never fully recovering to independence once again. This adds fuel to the debate over the effectiveness of the ESA.

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Efficient resource allocations for species protection

Biodiversity News

October 19, 2018

Black-footed ferret

ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director Leah Gerber co-authored a paper published today by Science magazine titled “Endangered species recovery: A resource allocation problem[PDF].

The article highlights a new decision-tool recently developed in partnership with the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The tool will help inform USFWS on best funding allocations for more exponentially efficient endangered species recovery efforts.

Read the full story in ASU Now.

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CAP LTER urban ecology work highlighted by Arizona PBS

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News CAP LTER News

October 15, 2018

2 people making measurements in desert with city skyline in the backgroundThe Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research program, a unit of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, was recently featured in an episode of “Catalyst” by Arizona PBS. The episode, “Desert animals in urban centers,” discussed current research about how natural environments (including plant and animal life) are affected by urban development.

Sharon Hall, a senior sustainability scientist who works with the CAP LTER, said that some plant and animal life continues to flourish within or nearby Phoenix.

"There's all these hidden spots around the city that nature is thriving,” said Hall. “If we can think about finding those areas and protecting them — or at least understanding them a bit better, maybe then we can try to make our landscape a little bit more friendly to the types of animals that . . . are living among us all the time."

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The importance of African-Americans to the executive kitchen

ASU Sustainability News Food Systems News

October 8, 2018

Whitehouse KitchenAt an October 5 Food and Thought event sponsored by Arizona State University College of Health Solutions, Author Adrian Miller spoke about the importance of African-Americans to the executive kitchen. Miller, a James Beard Award winner, signed copies of his new book at the event, which also featured food tastings an an audience question-and-answer session.

Miller’s book, "The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of African-Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas," takes a look at some of the most pivotal characters in the White House’s kitchen history, some of which he spoke about at the event hosted by the ASU College of Health Solutions.

The reception also featured some of the recipes included in the book that were prepared for presidents and their families throughout history, including first lady Caroline Harrison’s deviled almonds and a baked macaroni and cheese that was served to Thomas Jefferson.

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The inconvenience of single-use plastics

Biodiversity News

October 4, 2018

Plastic bag slowly decomposing and floating underwaterAn ASU Now story titled “The inconvenient consequences of a culture of convenience” was published today.

In this article, ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Associate Director of Biodiversity Valuation and Assessments Beth Polidoro and other center affiliated faculty shared insights on the health, pollution and biodiversity issues associated with single-use plastics.

Plastics can take decades, centuries and even millennia to break down. As they break down, they can separate into tiny pieces called microplastics. These microplastics release harmful chemicals into the environment, harming species that ingest them — humans and animals alike.

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Biodiversity conservation needs new partnerships

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

October 4, 2018

Large tiger with baby in snowIf conservation science is going to save the myriad species under threat in the world today, it’s going to have to go about it more efficiently, according to a paper published this week by an Arizona State University ecology professor.

If academia remains in an ivory tower and nongovernmental organizations working to save species lurch from problem to problem, headway won’t be made fast enough to stem the tide of biodiversity loss, said Leah Gerber, a professor in the School of Life Sciences. She is also founding director of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, where she leads a team of staff and scholars building capacity to solve the most pressing biodiversity environmental challenges.

Like many other fields, conservation science tends to rely on intuition — rather than evidence — about decision-making, resource allocation and spatial planning. Evidence would be the basis for an actionable principle, Gerber said.

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Can all biodiversity be saved?

Biodiversity News

October 3, 2018

Collage of words included in the articleIf not all species can be saved, how do we decide which ones to save?

This question is more relevant than ever, as we live in the Anthropocene, a geological age characterized by human activity having a dominating influence over Earth's ecosystems and living organisms.

Learn from the voice of ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director Leah Gerber about the various approaches to addressing endangered species protection in this Got a minute? segment.

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CBO welcomes two new postdoctoral fellows

Biodiversity News

October 3, 2018

Collage of headshots of both postdocsThe ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes is excited to welcome Danica Shaffer-Smith, the second NatureNet Science Fellow hired in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, and Gwen Iacona who will be spearheading two conservation investment decision tools for the corporate sector.

Dr. Schaffer-Smith has technical expertise in remote sensing and geospatial analysis. Her research has spanned a variety of topics, including modeling the spread of wind-driven fires, assessing habitat connectivity for endangered species, analyzing global tropical deforestation dynamics and exploring methods to quantify linkages between coupled social-ecological systems.

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ASU-STRI partnership call for student applications

Biodiversity News

October 3, 2018

Young toucan standing on branchThe ASU-Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute partnership is currently accepting applications from graduate students interested in learning about tropical science in Panama.

Students can apply to attend the Tropical Ecology and Conservation Boot Camp, which runs January 13-February 6, 2019 or the ASU Tropical Biology Study Abroad Course, which runs June 4-21, 2019.

Courses and application details are available here.

Applications close Monday, October 15, 2018 at 5 p.m. AZ time.

New institutional models needed to close research-action gap

Biodiversity News

October 2, 2018

CBO's actionable science graph is a circular puzzle with three pieces: research, education and partnerships A new publication by ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director and Professor Leah Gerber and Conservation International’s Americas Field Division Senior Vice President Dr. Daniela Raik calls for cross-sector collaborations to tackle the most pressing conservation challenges of the 21st Century.

The paper, entitled “Conservation science needs new institutional models for achieving outcomes,” was published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment – a publication of The Ecological Society of America – in October 1, 2018. (PDF)

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ASU researchers win grant to explore how snowpack changes impact water rights, policy

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News Food Systems News

September 21, 2018

Snowy mountain with forestMountain snowpack is melting earlier, leaving water regulators searching for new approaches and farmers concerned about the risk to their crops. To help stakeholders find solutions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday awarded $4.9 million to an interdisciplinary team of researchers from five institutions in three states, including Arizona State University.

Mountain snowpack and rainfall are the primary sources of water for the arid western United States, and water allocation rules determine how that water gets distributed among competing uses. But earlier melting of mountain snowpack is altering the timing of runoff, putting additional pressure on reservoirs to meet the needs of agricultural water rights holders.

Over the next five years, scientists from ASU will join researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno; Desert Research Institute; Colorado State University and Northern Arizona University to use a new $4.97 million grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to explore different aspects of this issue:

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Oxford Uni & IUCN Workshop

Biodiversity News

September 10, 2018

Historic building on Oxford UniversityOn September 7, 2018, Founding Director Leah Gerber represented  the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes at a workshop titled “Biodiversity and Business” at the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology.

The goal of the workshop was to develop a proof of concept “That the wealth of academic research and practice on biodiversity indicator development is directly relevant to businesses who are seeking to identify or develop biodiversity indicators,” as stated by the organizers.

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Should it be saved?

Biodiversity News

September 6, 2018

Wolf headshot facing camera on snowy dayA Science magazine story was published today titled “Should it be saved?” It addresses the various debates surrounding approaches to endangered species protection – in particular how decisions are made regarding funds allocation for recovery efforts.

A related story, titled “How triage became a dirty word,” was also published. This story reflects on insights shared by ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director Leah Gerber on this topic.

Read both stories here.

Organizing for biodiversity conservation in the age of extinction

Biodiversity News

September 6, 2018

View of Earth model from space with sun rays on the rightOn January 30, 3019, ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director Leah Gerber will be partnering with Elliott Millinor and Greg Kaebnick to present a session on “Organizing concepts in biodiversity conservation.”

The session is the first in a series of four-presentations on organizing for biodiversity conservation in the age of extinction. These events are an initiative of the ASU Center for Biology + Society, as part of their Conservation Series. This particular segment on biodiversity conservation is also sponsored by the School of Life Sciences Ethics program.

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