New publication: The complexity of the conservation-development nexus in Central African national parks and the perceptions of local populations

Photo by Pierre Jamar

Dr. Simon Lhoest, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Conservation Innovation Lab, recently co-authored the article “The complexity of the conservation-development nexus in Central African national parks and the perceptions of local populations”, published in the Journal for Nature Conservation.

Focusing on Rwanda and the Republic of Congo, this study identified the key determinants of conservation perceptions in order to implement successful local and regional conservation strategies. To ensure sound conservation and development measures, revenue-sharing schemes focusing on material benefits and alternative livelihoods may provide the best approach if participation of communities in the decision-making process is ensured. Improving education levels will concomitantly raise awareness and positive perceptions of conservation measures. In depth research on local demands for ecosystem products, relationships among stakeholders and community decision power are crucial factors to understand the complexity of
the conservation-development nexus.

New publication: An investment strategy to address biodiversity loss from agricultural expansion

Members of the Conservation Innovation Lab, led by PhD student Camila Guerrero-Pineda, recently published “An investment strategy to address biodiversity loss from agricultural expansion”, in Nature Sustainability.

Focusing in Colombia, the study presents a methodology to maximize the biodiversity benefits from limited conservation funding while ensuring that landowners maintain economic returns equivalent to agriculture. This approach can be applied to other contexts to examine development and policy priorities to estimate financial needs for achieving biodiversity goals.

Lisa Dent Memorial Fellowship

Erin Murphy was this year’s recipient of the Lisa Dent Memorial Fellowship. This fellowship was established to honor the life and work of Lisa Dent, an inspiring and talented graduate of ASU, who made significant contributions to the field of ecology. Each year, it is awarded to one exceptional women Ph.D. student, studying ecology in the ASU School of Life Sciences.

Congratulations on this honor, Erin!

New publication: The Present and Future Status of Ecosystem Services for Coral Reefs

Members of the Conservation Innovation Lab, led by Assistant Research Professor Katie Cramer, published The present and future status of ecosystem services for coral reefs in Elsevier, as part of Imperiled: The Encyclopedia of Conservation. 

Coral reef ecosystems are among the most imperiled globally from human impacts. Although the ecological and socioeconomic importance of coral reefs has been relatively well-documented, the impacts of coral reef degradation on ecosystem service provisioning are less known. In this manuscript, we review the range of ecosystem services currently provided by reefs (provisioning, regulating, and cultural), the human activities that threaten these services, and the future prospects of reef ecosystem services given the projected combined effects of local human disturbances and climate change. We then propose promising policy and management interventions to promote the maintenance of key coral reef ecosystem services into the future.

New publication: Integrating animal behavior into ecosystem services

Members of the Conservation Innovation Lab, led by PhD candidate Katie Surrey, recently published “Refining the Ecosystems Services Model: Integrating Animal Behavior into Ecotourism Management”, in Elsevier, as part of Imperiled: The Encyclopedia of Conservation. The paper presents a framework for considering animal behavior as a variable when assessing ecosystem service values, and highlights the increased need for more thorough understanding of the current wildlife-based ecotourism models and how they might become better adapted into the future.

Access the full manuscript here!

Congratulations to our new MSc graduates!

Congratulations to Kesha Cummings and Infynity Hill who are graduating with their Masters in Biology! Kesha’s applied project was based on her fellowship position with the Phoenix Zoo and focused on camera trap fieldwork and analysis for riparian sites within the Verde Valley. Kesha currently works in the energy industry and plans to use her experience to support and assist corporate compliance with federal wildlife laws and advocate for policy that protects and conserves natural resources and wildlife.

Infynity aimed to better understand plastic use and management by the American public. Using a nation-wide survey she explored how much plastic people by and how they dispose of various projects. Infynity currently runs her own second-hand store Infynitethreads and hopes to follow her passion for teaching moving forward!

New publication: Graduate student perspectives on transforming academia

In partnership with students from around the nation, Ph.D. candidate Olivia Davis recently published, Graduate Student Perspectives on Transforming Academia, in Conservation Science and Practice.

As the scale and complexity of socio-environmental problems has grown, there has been a renewed debate about the role that academic institutions should play in developing solutions and how institutional structures should be redesigned to encourage greater interdisciplinarity. This paper (1) presents a graduate student perspective on this debate, (2) identifies challenges facing interdisciplinary graduate student researchers, (3) suggests ways for institutions to better prepare graduate students to be the next generation of leaders in this arena, and (4) outlines models for transformational change that will ensure research is focused on solving socio-environmental problems.

This work emerged from her participation in a Beyond the Academy workshop hosted at UCLA in January 2020.

The value of information for biological evaluations of pesticides possible impacts on listed endangered species

Check out our new manuscript from members of the Conservation Innovation Lab and the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, The value of increased spatial resolution of pesticide usage data for assessing risk to endangered species!

The EPA is responsible for registering pesticides before they can be sold and regularly reviewing pesticides. As part of this process, they must consider the risk pesticides pose to species protected by the Endangered Species Act. In this recently published paper, we explored the value of high resolution pesticide usage data for increasing the efficiency and transparency of the biological evaluation process.

This research was funded by Bayer. 

New publication on market-based instruments for fisheries

This week members of the Conservation Innovation lab, Erin Murphy, Dr. Miranda Bernard and Dr. Leah Gerber, published ” Evaluating the role of market-based instruments in protecting marine ecosystem services in wild-caught fisheries,” in Ecosystem Services. This work emerged from a partnership between the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and Dr. Kevin J. Dooley, of The Sustainability Consortium.

The movement from single-species to ecosystem-based fisheries management indicates the importance of ecosystem-level thinking for achieving sustainable fisheries; however, it is not clear that fishery-specific market-based instruments effectively align with the principles of the ecosystem-based approach. In this study, we review the written indicators of seven market-based instruments to evaluate the level of protection they provide to marine ecosystem services that may be impacted by fisheries. We found that many of the ecosystem services, which may impact during their operations, are not completely protected by the instruments written indicators. Through this analysis we hope to promote a dialogue between scientists and decision-makers to encourage the use of ecosystem service indicators in market-based instruments used to promote sustainable fisheries.

This work was funded by the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes.

Costing plastic pollution interventions

Members of the conservation innovation lab recently published “A decision framework for estimating the cost of marine plastic pollution interventions”, in Conservation Biology. This paper, published with members of the Plastic Pollution Emissions Working Group, presents a framework for evaluating the net cost of marine plastic pollution interventions. We also applied the framework to two quantitative case studies and four qualitative case studies to explore how context of implementation influenced net costs.

Download the paper here: Murphy et al. 2021

Good luck Dr. Bernard!

The lab sent Dr. Miranda Bernard off to the Duke Marine Lab to start her Smith Fellowship this week. Though her passion and supportive nature will be missed in the lab, we are all very excited to see what this next chapter of her career brings. Good luck Miranda! We love you!

Summer 2021 Graduate Grants – Request for Proposals (RFP)


Figure. The three core values embraced by the ESSA community will have a ripple effect from the student to the global scale.

The Earth System Science for the Anthropocene (ESSA) community has a call for Summer Graduate Grant proposals! Any interested graduate students currently enrolled at ASU who need summer support for research, materials, hiring undergraduate research assistants, stipends, etc. are encouraged to apply!

See the request for proposals here.

And contact for more details.

New publication on sustainable fisheries

Lab members Erin Murphy, Leah Gerber, and Miranda Bernard published a new paper, Applying a jurisdictional approach to support sustainable seafood, in Conservation Science and Practice. Seafood certification and ratings systems have established strong benchmarks for sustainability, but alone they are not sufficient for ensuring sustainable seafood consumption. In this paper, the authors propose that market‐based approaches and ecosystem‐based governance initiatives are integrated using a jurisdictional approach. Jurisdictional approaches are place‐based initiatives deployed in key commodity producing regions to drive sustainability through aligned incentives among government, market, and producer actors.

This research emerged from the Conservation International-ASU partnership.


Citizen scientists help document ASU flowers and pollinators

Bumble bee approaching white flowerThroughout April, which is also Earth Month and Citizen Science Month, the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes invites the ASU community and the entire state of Arizona to participate in a citizen science project to help us document flowering plants and pollinators on ASU’s Phoenix-area campuses.

Watch the promo video.

Pollinators are vital to healthy ecosystems. Birds, bats, butterflies, bees and many other species are necessary for the health of flowering plants, food crops and the global economy.

We simply could not live without them.

As part of this initiative, citizen scientists will use their smartphones to snap and load photos of flowering plants and pollinators via the iNaturalist app.

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