What counts as evidence? Local vs. research knowledge in the evidence-based policymaking movement

While evidence-based decision- and policy-making have become quite the buzzwords in recent decades, what constitutes ‘evidence’ in evidence-based is less straightforward. In this paper, Persson and colleagues help unpack the term evidence in the context of sustainability studies, discuss how scientific evidence sits at the top of the evidence hierarchy, and why ignoring local knowledge can be detrimental to sound decision- and policy-making. Additionally, they suggest an alternate model for considering both local and research knowledge to obtain a more holistic understanding of the subject matter at hand, which they argue may ultimately lead to more applicable and suitable decision- and policy-making.

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Evidence from the sediment: Lake Baikal diatom community changes in response to shifting environmental conditions

Located in Siberia, Russia, Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world (Figure 1). Similar to other waterbodies around the world, both big and small, Lake Baikal is exhibiting changes in the community composition of its primary producers in response to climate change induced changes in surface temperatures and nutrient inputs. In this study, scientists examine community composition shifts in a group of primary producers known as diatoms and examine the influence of climate change on this shift.

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Diving deep: benefits of deep sea coral refuges in the Atlantic

Take a dive into the fascinating world of deep sea coral reefs off the South Atlantic Coast and their role in supporting diverse reef fish communities. The paper examines the differences between shallow and deep reefs and explores why they may require distinctions when setting management goals.

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Natural vs. artificial: The potential utility of artificial wetlands in bird conservation

Fueled by development, the loss of wetland habitats and its impacts on the many species of birds that depend on this habitat has been concerning to conservationists for many years. Artificial wetlands, by-products of human development, may actually help combat some of the detrimental impacts of wetland habitat loss on birds. But the potential benefits of artificial wetlands remain a largely understudied topic. Efthymia Giosa et al. (2018) address this knowledge gap by evaluating the importance of artificial wetlands for birds, and comparing them to natural wetlands, using several natural and artificial wetlands in Cyprus as case studies

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Navigating the science-law interface: opportunities and challenges

Lately, there has been a renewed focus on the need to consider the real-world applications of scientific research and how best to transfer this knowledge to decision makers. A leading journal in the environmental science field even dedicated an entire special issue on translational ecology recently (https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/15409309/15/10). However, incorporating research knowledge into decision making processes remains a challenge. In this paper, Moore et al. (2018) discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with addressing the science-law interface and offer helpful insights to those attempting this endeavor, especially external scientists not directly involved in government. 

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Will the Eurasian tench (Tinca tinca) be the newest invader to wreak havoc in the Great Lakes?

The Great Lakes are a hot bed for invasions, and aquatic invasive species (AIS) from the world-over have ‘hitchhiked’ on shipping vessels, or have accidentally been released into the lakes over many years. AIS can severely affect the water quality, food-webs, nutrient cycling, and fish productivity of invaded waters. Notable examples in the Great Lakes basin include zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and Asian carp (which actually consists of four species from the family Cyprinidae). In fact, up to now the Great Lakes have been invaded by at least 188 AIS, out of which 28 are fishes. In this paper Avlijaš and colleagues (2018) identify and review threats posed by the Eurasian tench (Tinca tinca), as they appear to be the most likely invader to expand into the basin next.

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Integrating human dimensions into large-scale marine conservation planning

In our efforts to safeguard vulnerable habitats from the multitude of threats currently facing our planet, oftentimes people get left out of the picture. Large-scale conservation efforts require the support of (especially local) communities to successfully meet their conservation objectives. Therefore, we need to seriously discuss ways to successfully incorporate human dimensions into large-scale conservation planning. In this paper, Christie et al. present some ideas on how we can ensure that large-scale conservation planning is mindful of human populations who might be impacted by new conservation areas.

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