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Faculty Affiliate Spotlight

Biodiversity News

July 24, 2017

Close up of tropical Ecuadorian Amazon orchids against other local vegetationBy Leah Gerber

Tod Swanson is a Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) Faculty Affiliate and Professor in The School of History Philosophy and Religious Studies. He studies language of indigenous people and how language co-evolves with the relationship between people and nature.

Tod grew up in Ecuador and married a woman from a small native community found on the banks of the Napo River in the Amazon jungle. Tod and his extensive Ecuadorian family speak Spanish when they have to, but their native tongue is Kichwa, one of several indigenous languages in Amazonia. The family owns a 600 hectare reserve of rainforest, where they operate the Andes and Amazon Field School.

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ASU-CI: A transformational partnership

Biodiversity News

July 19, 2017

Satellite view of sun rising behind EarthThe ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) and Conservation International (CI) unveiled a video featuring CBO’s Distinguished Professor of Practice and CI’s new CEO, M. Sanjayan, describing the transformational potential of the ASU-CI Knowledge Partnership during his ASU visit in May 2017.

In the video, Sanjayan explains that “This partnership will help us answer that fundamental question—how do we live on this planet without exhausting the resources we all need to survive?”

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ICCB Workshop 202: Partnerships for conservation

Biodiversity News

June 27, 2017

Street view of colorful colonial streets in CartagenaDuring the last week of July 2017, ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director, Leah Gerber, will represent academia in Cartagena, Colombia during an International Congress for Conservation Biology workshop titled “Partnerships for Conservation.”

Our planet will be populated by 9.7 billion by 2050, but the current 7 billion have already taxed its capacity to provide for us. To advance conservation and nature-based solutions that achieve impact at scale requires a broad range of actions and participation by government, the private sector, donors, communities, NGOs and academia.

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Using math to save endangered U.S. species

Biodiversity News

June 27, 2017

Close up of threatened spectacled eider maleOn May 5, 2017, ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director, Leah Gerber, partnered with the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center to present the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials with a new tool for prioritizing recovery actions.

The plan, based on an algorithm specifically created for the United States, proposes to save as many as 200 additional species by tapping into funds currently allocated to save more iconic species, whose populations have decreased regardless of the millions of dollars invested to save them.

This proposal, already proven effective in New Zealand and Australia, is most timely as the Trump administration plans to reduce the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior, which oversees USFWS.

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Joining forces with the Natural Capital Coalition

Biodiversity News

June 27, 2017

Landscape of mountains and small lake with stormy sunset skyThe ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes recently became a member of the Natural Capital Coalition (NCC).

NCC is a unique multi-stakeholder collaboration that brings together leading global initiatives and organizations to harmonize approaches to natural capital.

Through this collaboration, CBO joined 250 other member organizations dedicated to protecting natural capital and ensuring sustainability.

CBO’s work with NCC will help advance our partnerships with Conservation International and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, specifically on directing research and creating decision tools that help integrate biodiversity accounting and valuation into the Natural Capital Protocol.

Job Opening! Field Institute Manager

Biodiversity News

June 21, 2017

Sunset landscape view of McDowell mountains and cactusThe McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, a non-profit organization in Scottsdale, AZ, has an exciting job opening for a Field Institute Manager.

The Field Institute Manager would work with a dynamic group of citizen scientists, Conservancy staff, land managers, and scientists to lead ecological fieldwork and K-6 STEM education initiatives.

This is a fantastic opportunity for an up-and-coming environmental professional to work with a knowledgeable and passionate group of people doing critical environmental work with regional implications in central Arizona and beyond.

Applications close on Tuesday, June 27. For more information and to apply, please contact Paul Staker at paul@mcdowellsonoran.org (submit cover letter, resume/CV and three references).

On the topic of strategic prioritization, or ‘species triage’

Biodiversity News

June 19, 2017

It’s easy to misrepresent the field of species prioritization. It’s often tempting to purport that some scientists are advocating for extinction. A few facts:

  • There is a clear link between funding and recovering endangered species. Wildlife conservation is grossly underfunded.
  • If we are not going to fully fund efforts to recover all endangered species, then it is important to allocate funds to achieve the greatest good.
  • A transparent approach designed with costs and other values built in will help us allocate recovery funds to save more species.
  • Each choice to fund the protection of one species comes with the consequence of sending unfunded species closer to extinction. Opponents of prioritization just pretend that is not the case by hiding the fact that there is a choice.

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Market-based approach to whaling

Biodiversity News

June 6, 2017

Seagull flying over humpback whales doing bubble net feeding A team of researchers including ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director, Dr. Leah Gerber, recently published a paper titled “Thinking Beyond the Moratorium: Testing the Feasibility of a Hypothetical Whaling-Conservation Permit Market in Norway” in Conservation Biology.

The article explores a new conservation management approach for protecting whales: a cap-and-trade system for harvests. This concept is dependent on conservationists being willing to pay for permits to protect the species. In this article, the authors model the potential outcomes of various market scenarios while acknowledging the cultural and ethical customs embedded in whaling.

Tackling wildlife poaching in South Africa

Biodiversity News

June 5, 2017

Elephant walking behind dried three branchA team of scholars from ASU traveled to South Africa to establish a joint project with the University of Johannesburg. Dr. Leah Gerber, Founding Director of ASU's Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, and Dr. Michael Schoon, CBO Faculty Affiliate and Assistant Professor of ASU School of Sustainability, spearheaded the project in collaboration with the ASU Decision Theater.

In addition to visiting the University of Johannesburg, they traveled to Kruger National Park and adjacent private reserves. This is the beginning of a promising partnership that aims to address the increasing rhino poaching epidemic. The proposed project will develop management plans that draw from the knowledge of a broad array of stakeholders at the local, national, and international levels.

Businesses called to reduce ocean waste

Biodiversity News

June 5, 2017

Beach scene with garbage accumulated in the sand, close to the waterThe World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) will publish a business case report titled “Roadmap for curbing the Ocean Waste” (ROW) the week of June 5-9, 2017 as part of the United Nation’s Oceans Conference in New York.

“Today, at least 8 million tons of plastics leak into the ocean each year, which is equivalent to dumping the content of one garbage truck into the ocean per minute,” explained WBCSD via a release to its affiliates.

The ROW report serves as a call to action to businesses, emphasizing how marine debris prevention practices can benefit industries. The report was produced with the collaboration of various corporations, including The Dow Chemical Company, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation, Unilever, Nestlé, LafargeHolcim and Borealis.

WBCSD is one of the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) knowledge partners. CBO supported this project by participating in the ROW workshops leading up to the report and by providing expert reviews along the way.

Socially responsible seafood

Biodiversity News

June 2, 2017

Fresh fish for sale on wooden table at local market, two women sit behindA group of experts from over a dozen key organizations recently published an article titled, “Committing to socially responsible seafood” in Science, under the lead of Jack Kittinger, ASU-Conservation International Professor of Practice,

The framework proposed in the article addresses the growing concerns of social abuses within the seafood sector. By engaging businesses, governments, and nonprofit organizations changes in policy and practice can ensure the sustainability of one of the largest food commodities.

Life below water, ocean sustainability report

Biodiversity News

June 1, 2017

Icon of Sustainable Development Goal 14 showing fish and waves silhouette The Nereus Program, an interdisciplinary collaboration of the The Nippon Foundation at The University of British Columbia, released a report titled, “Oceans and the Sustainable Development Goals: Co-benefits, climate change & social equity.

Just in time for the United Nations (UN) World Ocean Conference, the report emphasizes the connections between the ocean goal and the other UN Sustainable Development Goals established in 2015.

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A tool to save species

Biodiversity News

May 31, 2017

Scientists gather around table and behind them multiple screens showing other scientists videoconferencingSESYNC Science Team Leads Effort to Increase Transparency in Endangered Species Recovery

By Kate Weiss, SESYNC

On May 5, 2017, a National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) science team led by Leah Gerber and Mike Runge presented a tool to Senior Administrators of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that may help the agency prioritize endangered species recovery.

USFWS works to protect 1,275 threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, and each of these species requires an associated species recovery plan. These plans outline actions, recovery criteria, and other guidelines for species recovery. However, funding limits how many and which recovery plans each of the eight regions USFWS oversees may focus on.

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Conservation, public management scholars collaborate to enhance science outcomes

Biodiversity News

May 23, 2017

close up of monarch butterfly standing in leafy branchArizona State University researchers are working to enhance the public value outcomes of conservation science research. Leah Gerber, a professor in the School of Life Sciences, will work with Derrick Anderson, a faculty member in the School of Public Affairs, to study the ways in which researchers and organizations create public value knowledge outcomes from conservation science research.

This unlikely collaboration between an ecologist and a public management researcher is a result of ASU’s Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) and Center for Organization Research and Design (CORD) which were created in part to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration at the frontiers of biodiversity and organizational design research. As leaders of the two centers, Gerber and Anderson are now teaming up with a joint grant from the National Science Foundation’s Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP) program.

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Code of conduct for marine conservation

Biodiversity News

May 17, 2017

close up of sea turtle under water surrounded by tropical yellow fishJack Kittinger, one of the ASU-Conservation International new Professors of Practice, recently published a paper titled “An appeal for a code of conduct for marine conservation” in Marine Policy.

The journal argues that a comprehensive set of social standards is necessary for effective and lasting conservation actions. Key principles and action steps are recommended to create socially acceptable and ecologically effective marine conservation programs.

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ASU alumni joins Conservation International

Biodiversity News

May 12, 2017

Jorge Ramos next to President Michael Crow during graduation greets audienceRecently graduated ASU student and Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) GRA, Jorge Ramos-Holguín, is the new Manager for the Oceans and Climate team inside Conservation International in Washington, D.C.

Jorge graduated from the Environmental Life Sciences Ph.D. program in May, 2017, where he also worked in the Wetland Ecosystem Ecology Lab with Dr. Dan Childers. His investigation focused on quantifying the greenhouse gas emissions (methane and nitrous oxide) from a newly constructed treatment wetland in Phoenix, AZ.

In his own words, Jorge shared an open letter about his experience working with CBO:

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CBO Distinguished Professor of Practice named new CEO of Conservation International

Biodiversity News

May 10, 2017

Headshot of M. Sanjayan against green leafy backgroundASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and Conservation International (CI) Distinguished Professor of Practice, M. Sanjayan, was named new CI Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The new CI executive team was announced in May 4, 2017 and it will become effective July 1, 2017.

“It is both a privilege and deeply humbling to step into the role of chief executive officer,” said Sanjayan. “Peter Seligmann’s founding vision, that people need nature to thrive, created a global movement that has helped change the trajectory of our planet. I’m honored to partner with Jennifer Morris, our new president, Sebastian Troëng, our new executive vice president, and all of CI’s talented staff on the journey ahead.”

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Center for Biodiversity Outcomes among MacArthur’s Top 200 problem solvers

Biodiversity News

May 5, 2017

Man in supermarket aisle reaching out to grab a product on the shelfThe John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recently unveiled their 100&Change Top 200 proposals, a philanthropic initiative committed to funding $100 million to an initiative or organization willing to fix a world problem forever. The ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) was among the 25 percent of submissions that received the highest scores.

CBO proposed a market-based approach to sustaining natural capital. This approach suggests informing consumers via product labels about the impact production has in biodiversity conservation. Derived from the notion that people love nature, better informed consumers can drive market demand for products and services created with minimal impact on the environment.

Proposals were assessed on four criteria: meaningful, verifiable, feasible, and durable. CBO is proud to join the list of creative problem solvers via this recognition and will work to incorporate the feedback received from MacArthur’s Board of Directors to develop this proposal for future funding opportunities.

The eight semi-finalists selected offer bold solutions to a variety of humanitarian issues, including health, hunger, and refugee crises.

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2017 International Congress for Conservation Biology

Biodiversity News

May 4, 2017

ICCB 2017 logo showing clown frogFrom July 23-27, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) Founding Director Leah Gerber will join leading sustainability experts at the 28th International Congress for Conservation Biology in Cartagena, Colombia. The theme of this year’s conference is Insights for Sustaining Life on Earth, which the website describes as “a response to the need for conservation science to help create a better tomorrow for both biodiversity and the people who depend on it.”

Following a competitive application, the proposal titled “Partnership for Conservation: The importance of government, private sector, donor, community, academic and NGO collaboration” was selected. The workshop will consist of a panel discussion on opportunities and challenges inherent to cross-sector collaboration.

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