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Preserving nature on a tight budget

Biodiversity News

February 12, 2019

Northern Spotted Owl sitting on tree branchASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director Leah Gerber’s work was highlighted in a recent The Economist article titled, “How to preserve nature on a tight budget: Saving species cheaply and effectively.”

Gerber's proposal on streamlining budgets for protection of  endangered species would allow an increase in the number and variety of species that are actually preserved if funds are allocated differently.

As stated in the article, “[Gerber] found that 139 of the 1,124 plants and animals with federal recovery plans in place got more than their fair share of public resources, as defined by USFWS recommendations. The surplus totalled $150m a year, more than a quarter of spending in the area. Re-allocated, this could bring nearly 900 currently underfunded plans up to budget.”

Click here to read the full article.

Natural Capital Protocol for the Oceans Workshop

Biodiversity News

January 23, 2019

Look from below at closing ocean wave with sun in the backgroundThe ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes is partnering with the Natural Capital CoalitionConservation International, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales to develop a Natural Capital Protocol for the Oceans.

The Natural Capital Protocol for the Oceans will be a framework to help businesses answer questions such as: How does your business depend upon ocean resources? How is this ocean natural capital changing and what risks and opportunities does this present? Which resources, information or expertise do you need?

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Conservation through conversation

Biodiversity News

January 22, 2019

Indigenous woman smiles with long hair, red face paint and feathers crownWritten by Katie Surrey-Bergman

Three thousand miles by plane, two and a half hours by car over the high-altitude mountain ranges of Quito, an additional six and half more hours down the Amazon river by single-motor boat and we arrive at the tiny village of Gomatan, set between the riverside and the jungle which would be our home for three days.

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Graduate Hydrosystems Seminar

Biodiversity News

January 14, 2019

Headshot of DanicaASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Postdoctoral Research Associate Danica Schaffer-Smith will present a talk entitled “Risks and opportunities: can we improve water quality and reduce catastrophic flooding in the Cape Fear River Watershed, North Carolina under ongoing climate change?” as part of the CEE 591: Graduate Hydrosystems Seminar.

Danica is a current NatureNet Science Fellow examining the use of nature-based strategies to address nutrient pollution and flooding in Eastern North Carolina using remote sensing and watershed modelling methods, in collaboration with the Nature Conservancy North Carolina.

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Invisible Wild

Biodiversity News

January 14, 2019

Presenter hugging dogA significant proportion of the Earth’s biodiversity has been erased, not from the world, but from our collective depiction of nature.

Join us this Thursday, January 17, 2019, from 1-2 p.m. for a brown-bag lunch talk on compassionate conservation.

The talk will take place in ASU Tempe campus, Life Sciences-E Wing, Room 244.

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Now hiring! Administrative assistant

Biodiversity News

December 19, 2018

Close view of Sonora Desert vegetation with sprouted flowersThe Arizona State University Center for Biodiversity Outcomes is currently hiring a new administrative assistant to support the daily operations of the center.

The perfect candidate must possess knowledge of standard office policies and procedures, be a great communicator, be organized and detail oriented. A love of biodiversity conservation is always a plus!

If you think this job is for you or someone you know, click here to learn more and apply.

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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Making the most of conservation money

Board Letter 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 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 exploring how changes in snowpack impact water rights, policy

Board Letter 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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