Thanks to Gladman Thondhlana for leadership on a new perspective paper in Biological Conservation, Non-material costs of wildlife conservation to local people and their implications for conservation interventions. My placement on this author list emerged from a chat I had with Gladman while walking between hotel and venue during ISSRM in Oshkosh, WI, last year. Americans always rent cars and drive around at conferences but the rest of us have a great time strolling and talking shop. This paper synthesizes literature from a number of countries and contexts to show that more attention is needed to measuring the non-material costs of conservation and designing socially just conservation interventions.
Proud to be one of a strong list of applied social science experts co-authoring a paper out this week, Expanding the role of social science in conservation through an engagement with philosophy, methodology, and methods (open access). Led by the clear-headed Katie Moon, of UNSW Canberra, this new article responds to a special feature in Methods in Ecology and Evolution on qualitative methods for decision-making. Given the mix of methods they included (e.g. including Q-method and MCDA), it seems they used qualitative as if synonymous with social, which is one of my pet peeves. But there were more substantial issues with the special issue. I have written before that I weary of reviewing papers led by teams of natural scientists who wade into social science work without involving any experienced social scientists, so was really happy to weigh in with this great team.
Full disclosure: I joined the team late, and my rationale is not theirs; I speak only for myself. But it was a real joy to develop fellowship and debate ideas with this group, despite our far-flung geography. I’m sorry only that a poorly considered analogy fuelled an angry place online, already in oversupply, distracting from the value of this contribution and the good faith of its lead authors. Good response articles are not the result of indoctrinated voices speaking in unison, but rather a novel network of scholars working together to iron out some of the wrinkles that have been causing collective discomfort. And there is just nothing like slipping into freshly laundered sheets.
Colleagues at Bird Studies Canada and Nature Conservancy Canada joined with other conservation groups today at Evangeline Beach at Grand Pre, Nova Scotia, to celebrate 30 years that the Minas Basin has been recognized by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) as a globally significant bird habitat. MES student and BSC intern Jaya Fahey was interviewed for local media. The timing is significant: it is the leading edge of the time that the area hosts millions of shorebirds migrating south from the Arctic. These birds need to eat and gain weight and above all rest, because the next step is a big one: three days swim over the ocean non-stop to South America … and they can’t swim! The signs have already gone up at Avonport (left) to recruit beach users to help us set aside high-tide resting beaches while the birds are here. This is year three of Space to Roost, the second using resting beaches. We have some indication already that these resting beaches reduce human disturbance; this year should help us fully understand their effectiveness.
Pleased to see that our ‘Write Back’ letter on images and interdisciplinarity in ‘culturomics‘ has been published today in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. We were responding to an article late 2016 by Ladle et al. on conservation culturomics, emphasizing the growing importance of analyzing images, as well as associated text, in the growing field of culturomics initiated by Google Ngram. Also thrilled by the productive response by Ladle et al. that follows our piece in today’s volume. Editors do not always facilitate this kind of dialogue, but I think it is a really effective way to advance thinking.