Conservation science 2023-24
School of Environmental & Natural Sciences
Module - Semester 1
This module presents key concepts that underpin modern conservation science. As such it is highly interdisciplinary: emphasising the interactions between natural and social systems.
The course has three sections: why society needs to conserve biodiversity, approaches to conservation, and finally, the effectiveness of conservation approaches.
Why conserve biodiversity? We start by considering the evidence that we are living in the Anthropocene: a geological epoch where human influence is the dominant influence on the climate and the environment and discuss what this means for those of us interested in biodiversity conservation. We discuss the diverse values underpinning conservation from biocentric to anthropocentric justifications for conservation. We discuss relative importance of the various global threats to biodiversity and focus on two in particular detail: the ever-increasing demand for food, and overexploitation of wild species.
How can we conserve biodiversity? We critically discuss a range of (overlapping) approaches to conservation including protected areas, biodiversity offsetting, market mechanisms (including Payment for Ecosystem Services), and the role of ex situ conservation.
Is conservation working? The effectiveness of conservation is getting increasing attention in conservation science. We will discuss the role of monitoring and impact evaluation in improving conservation effectiveness and critical reflect on successes and failures. We end with some positivity: the conservation optimism movement and illustrations of where conservation has been successful.
ESSAY Threshold: 50% Summarise information given during the module, or available from very basic reading, in a way that answers the question. Good: 60% Answer the question using appropriate sources in a critical way to structure a coherent argument. Excellent: 70% Answer the question using a wide range of sources in a critical way to structure a well-written and coherent argument which shows deep understanding of the complexities involved
PRESENTATIONS Threshold: 50% Produce a clear presentation that makes a reasonable argument, addressing a sensible and appropriate topic. Good: 60% Synthesise and critique a range of suitable sources to produce a clear presentation that makes a reasonable argument, addressing a sesible and appropriate topic. Excellent: 70% Synthesise and critique an extensive range of suitable sources to produce a very clear presentation that makes a reasonable argument. Shows mature and deep understanding of the topic and excellent presentation.
- Be able to express themselves clearly in semi-formal presentations and debates and in a written essay.
- Synthesize and critique sources of evidence to produce a coherent written or verbal argument.
- Understand the concepts and theories underlying the subject of conservation science.
- Understand the importance of taking an evidence-based approach to the management of biodiversity.
- Understand the interdisciplinary nature of conservation science and demonstrate a good awareness of the relevance of both ecological and social sciences to conservation.
- Understand the value-judgements central to decision-making in conservation science.
Purpose of assignment: To encourage you to explore concepts and theories underlying conservation science and the interdisciplinary nature of the subject. To help you to develop an evidence-based approach to the management of biodiversity (synthesizing and critiquing sources of evidence as appropriate) while also recognising that value judgements are important. To develop presentation skills. (Learning outcomes 1,2,3,4,5 and 6). Instructions: You can chose any title related to the subject of the module that gives you the opportunity to research something of interest to you. Please tell me your title before you start work so I can confirm that it is appropriate. I expect you to do your research using a wide range of sources. This is a scientific presentation so there needs to be a critique of the literature. It is therefore not appropriate to present a point of view or a conservation project you have read about on a single website or in a single article. Questions which can be answered in the presentation make good topics. Examples of previous topics include: 1) What might brexit mean for the future of UK conservation? 2) How can data from social media be helpful to conservation science? 3) Can REDD+ equitably reduce deforestation in the Amazon? 4) Do no take zones benefit fisheries in Europe? 5) What is the role of upland management on lowland flooding in the UK? 6) Is conservation evidence-based? Please work in groups of 2 or 3. Groups of 2: you will have 12 minutes and 3 minutes for questions. Groups of 3: you will have 15 minutes and 4 minutes for questions.
Purpose of assignment: To encourage you to explore concepts and theories underlying conservation science and the interdisciplinary nature of the subject. To help you to develop an evidence-based approach to the management of biodiversity (synthesizing and critiquing sources of evidence as appropriate) while also recognising that value judgements are important. To develop presentation skills. (Learning outcomes 1,2,3,4,5 and 6). Instructions: Please write a 2500 word essay (excluding references and figure legends) with the title “Why and how I would conserve the…….” ‘The ….’ can be a species or habitat or species assemblage of your choice e.g. “Why and how I would conserve the coral reefs of the Caribbean” or “Why and how I would conserve bitterns in the UK” or “Why and how I would conserve polar bears”. In this essay I would like you to bring together what you have learnt in the course (and from your own knowledge and wider reading) to argue why your target justifies conservation investment and what sort of approach you would take to conserving it. Please use the literature (including core concepts) carefully in researching and writing this essay. For example, you will likely need to refer to anthropocentric and biocentric arguments for the conservation of your target including referencing the limitations of both value systems. You have significant time to work on this essay and I expect you to research it deeply. A good essay will draw heavily on relevant literature (e.g. critiquing conservation approaches covered in the course) which is not focused on your target. Your essay will weave this literature together with more focused literature on your target. There is a strict 2000 word limit for this exercise (excluding the literature cited and any figures or tables but including in-text citations). Please give the word count at the end of your work. I will not read beyond 2000 words. Please follow the referencing style of the journal Conservation Biology.