Environment Magazine

Influential Conservation Ecology Papers of 2018

Posted on the 17 December 2018 by Bradshaw @conservbytes

Influential conservation ecology papers of 2018
For the last five years I’ve published a retrospective list of the ‘top’ 20 influential papers of the year as assessed by experts in F1000 Prime — so, I’m doing so again for 2018 (interesting side note: six of the twenty papers highlighted here for 2018 appear in Science magazine). See previous years’ posts here: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

  • Are fieldwork studies being relegated to second place in conservation science?… provides empirical evidence that conservation studies based on actual field data are becoming less common, while studies based on modelling are rapidly becoming more common.
  • Impacts of species richness on productivity in a large-scale subtropical forest experiment… mixtures of 16 tree species stored more than double the amount of carbon found in monocultures and at least as much as was stored in commercial plantation plots at the same site.
  • Plastic waste associated with disease on coral reefs… as plastic waste accumulates on shallow water corals, there is a clear and very substantial increase in diseases.
  • Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers… illustrates how global food production could be refined to make it more sustainable and so reduce adverse impacts on the environment … also highlights the potential benefit from adopting a diet that contains only the lowest-impact animal products, because animal products have a much greater impact than vegetable substitutes …
  • Predicting global killer whale population collapse from PCB pollution… highlights the disastrous effects of human use of chemicals … on the global environment. We could therefore witness the potential decimation of the world’s whale population over the next 50 years or less …
  • One-third of global protected land is under intense human pressure… examines what is the real percentage of land … that is free of strong human pressures and how that varies across [International Union for Conservation of Nature] categories …
  • Predator declines and morphological changes in prey: evidence from coral reefs depleted of sharks… fish living on the reef without sharks had significantly reduced eye and caudal fin size … authors hypothesise that these morphological changes are driven by differences in shark predation.
  • Impaired recovery of the Great Barrier Reef under cumulative stress — … first study to quantify a region-wide reduction in coral recovery rate and reveals that coral recovery rates across the Great Barrier Reef declined by an average of 84% between 1992 and 2010.
  • Never off the hook—how fishing subverts predator-prey relationships in marine teleostsBy eliminating the strong size-coupled predation that is traditionally seen in aquatic ecosystems, and by targeting large, not small individuals, human fishing may make recovery after fishing closures more difficult.
  • Fragmentation in calcareous grasslands: species specialization matters — … shows that habitat fragmentation not only affects species richness, species and trait composition, and a loss of species, but also alters dominance hierarchies and the functionality of grassland communities.
  • Marine microalgae commercial production improves sustainability of global fisheries and aquaculture… The “Achilles Heel” in both marine and freshwater aquaculture … has been the “feeds” issue … Fishmeal and fish oil will reach a limit [so this primarily economic analysis shows that] there are viable alternatives to catching forage fish [and] there are ecological dividends in allowing forage fish to thrive in their natural environment.
  • Human footprint in Biodiversity Hotspots — … shows that 40% of potential [net primary production] of the Biodiversity Hotspots is appropriated for human use as cropland and pastureland.
  • Landscapes that work for biodiversity and people… a nicely up-to-date perspective on the interlinkages between the various challenges facing biodiversity conservation in “working lands”.
  • Impacts of forests on children’s diet in rural areas across 27 developing countries… further evidence for causal relationships underpinning the hypothesis that forest conservation activities can be part of the solution to enhancing childhood nutrition.
  • Aiming higher to bend the curve of biodiversity loss… a roadmap for the development of a post-2020 strategic plan for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that could, in principle, deliver the recovery of nature and track progress towards that aim.

CJA Bradshaw


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