Friday linksfest – Biodiversity hackathon, what difference does conservation make? & Should we be using trait analysis more?

Sooo, I decided it would be a good idea to steal an idea from my favourite ecology blog and start sticking up some content once a week covering all the things that I haven’t had time to write about properly (cue a chorus of people saying that none of my writing is ‘proper’ anyway…). So here goes.

There will be a biodiversity hackathon held in the fantastic setting of the Natural history museum in London on the 20th June. From the looks of it the hackathon will be working with data from the exciting Predicts project and the Living planet Index with the aim of “developing new tools and techniques to streamline data mining for biodiversity.” I’ll be going along, so give me a shout if you are too.

A new paper in Conservation Biology discusses what difference conservation makes to the extinction risk of 235 ungulate species, using redlist categories. The paper finds that if conservation actions for these species had suddenly ceased in 1996, by 2008  148 of the species would have deteriorated by one red list category. Quantifying the impacts of conservation is vital if we are to stop the extinction of species that are worth the effort of saving, but we need to get on and work out how to prioritise which species we should focus on saving. (HT to Paul Woodcock on twitter for highlighting that paper).

For those of you interested in research on logging in tropical forests, I just chanced across the NCEAS working group on Land-sharing/sparing in tropical logged forests – I’m intrigued to see what they will produce.

Also this week I noticed the Ask for evidence campaign run by Sense about Science, after the claims by UK minister Theresa May that EU policy on migrants would encourage more migrants to make the trip across the Mediterranean were challenged in an open letter. Given my love of all things evidence-based I encourage those of you that hear dodgy claims by your member of parliament to challenge these views. We need more evidence in politics, making the people we elect know that it is important is a start on this long road.

And finally David Warton put well thought out post on the Methods in Ecology blog, calling for ecologists to use species traits in our analyses more frequently. David makes the good point that we have spent a lot of time producing separate models to work out what influences a species’ abundance, rather than just producing one model with different trait values for each species. I largely agree with this as it allows us to get address the question of why species abundance varies across gradients of climate or human disturbance. I am now cursing myself that I didn’t think of this before submitting my most recent manuscript….

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