New memo on recycling in Arizona

In September, graduate students from the Conservation Innovation lab published a memo addressing how to reinvigorate recycling in Arizona through state-level policy reform. By interviewing recycling coordinators from across the state, they learned that the majority of municipalities have been forced to alter their programs due to changing international markets and a lack of state-level support. Despite these challenges, interviewees view an investment in the recycling sector as an opportunity to improve the economic, environmental and social well-being of their community.

In response to these challenges, the authors identified ways Arizona policy-makers can reinvigorate recycling in Arizona.

To support this effort, please sign this petition asking the state to fund the recycling program and share this graphic on social media.

This memo was written by Erin Murphy, Miranda Bernard, Infynity Hill, Alex Tunas-Corzon and Levi Helm.

Graduate and postdoctoral fellowships with The Nature Conservancy

Sprout and morning mistDuring the past few years, we at the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes have had the pleasure of collaborating with The Nature Conservancy’s NatureNet Science Fellows Program and various ASU units to fund two postdoctoral research associates.

The NatureNet Science Fellows Program has continued to expand and again this year they have opened the fellowship to applicants from all accredited universities with the opportunity to receive research grants.

New this year, masters and PhD students are eligible to apply in addition to postdocs. Also, TNC is now fully funding these fellowships. The RFP closes on January 1, 2021.

Help us spread the word with your research network and any potential applicants who would be a great fit. Research stipend amounts for each category appear below and are available on the website, along with a program overview, project list, eligibility requirements and application instructions.

If you have any questions, please contact Kassie Morton, Global Science Project Manager, Global Science, The Nature Conservancy at

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Talk: Knowledge to outcomes in biodiversity conservation

Green young toucan standing on tree branchOn Wednesday, October 21, 2020, 6:00-7:00 p.m. PST, Dr. Leah Gerber delivered a virtual talk titled “Knowledge to outcomes in global biodiversity conservation.” This talk was part of the New Mexico State University’s Climate Change Education Seminar Series.

About this talk

Global biodiversity loss is occurring at an unprecedented rate. Approximately 1 million species are threatened with extinction and many species have gone extinct in the past decade.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report offers an integrated overview of where the world stands in relation to key international goals, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The IPBES report also represents the first assessment of indigenous and local knowledge on a global scale. In this talk, I will summarize estimates for the global status of biodiversity and ecosystem change, the implications for people, policy options and likely future pathways over the next three decades if current trends continue.

As all SDGs depend on biodiversity, I will also discuss trade-offs and synergies in progress toward achieving the goals.  Finally, I will discuss research needs for ensuring a sustainable pathway toward achieving SDG, Aichi and climate goals.

Watch this presentation.

Best practices for actionable science

Fish swimming and palm trees against sunsetASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director Leah Gerber recently published an academic article titled “Producing actionable science in conservation: Best practices for organizations and individuals.”

The publication was co-authored by ASU School for the Future of Innovation in Society Graduate Research Associate Chris J. Barton, American Museum of Natural History Biodiversity Scientist Samantha H. Cheng and ASU School of Public Affairs Associate Professor Derrick Anderson.

The team interviewed 71 biodiversity researchers to identify and analyze these specific trends and came up with six best practices associated with actionable science or scientific data and models supported by conservation science.

These six best practices are listed as (1) engaging in collaboration, (2) practicing empathy, (3) building trusting relationships, (4) employing diverse communication methods, (5) incentivizing actionable science and (6) providing resources for actionable science to early‐career researchers.

True to our center’s mission, the authors hope to push for a greater emphasis on translating scientific research into action. Their framework will help researchers better understand how to adapt their work to advocacy.

Talk: IUCN Species Threat Abatement and Restoration Metric

On Thursday, October 15, 2020, 10:00-11:00 a.m. PDT, the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and the Conservation Innovation Lab will host a talk by Newcastle University Research Associate Louise Mair, PhD. Mair will talk about the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Species Threat Abatement and Restoration (STAR) Metric.

STAR is a novel metric that quantifies the potential contribution that threat abatement and habitat restoration actions could make to reducing global species extinction risk. 

STAR provides a framework for quantifying the potential contribution of the action targets within the proposed post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to the outcome goal of species conservation. It also allows other actors such as businesses to engage with conservation and measure their potential contribution.

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Uniting Business LIVE, biodiversity conservation talk (rerun)

Toucan standing on branch facing the cameraOn Tuesday, October 6, 2020, 12:15-2:00 p.m. PDT, ASU Center for Biodiversity OutcomesFounding Director Leah Gerber hosted a panel discussion on “Industry Partnerships for Biodiversity Outcomes: Measuring private sector contributions toward mitigating biodiversity loss.

This presentation was originally held on September 21 as part of the United Nations Global Compact’s Uniting Business LIVE (September 21-23), which marked the opening of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Due to technical difficulties during the UN conference and by popular demand we presented the session once again.


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Ocean Hope Spots, discussion on marine protected areas

Sea turtle swims near corals and small fishAs part of the United Nations Global Compact’sUniting Business LIVE (September 21-23), marine conservation experts joined a panel discussion titled “Ocean Hope Spots: A panel discussion on marine protected areas with leading experts

The expert panel was composed of Sylvia Earle from Mission Blue;  ‘Aulani Wilhelm from Conservation International; and Lance Morgan from the Marine Conservation Institute.  

The panel discussion was followed by a conversation on innovative sustainability initiatives by Mark Kaplan from Envisible and an audience Q & A session facilitated by ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director Leah Gerber.

Watch the full presentation.

On minute 37:31, Gerber discusses our Lenfest Ocean Program grant in the Galapagos National Park, in partnership with WildAid Ecuador, and inquires about best practices in managing marine protected areas.

Ecological Synthesis and Its Role in Advancing Knowledge

Ladybug standing on fluff dandelion flowerToday, ASU Center for Biodiversity OutcomesFounding Director Leah Gerber co-authored a new BioScience publication titled “Ecological Synthesis and Its Role in Advancing Knowledge.”


Synthesis has become ubiquitous in ecology. Despite its widespread application to a broad range of research topics, it remains unclear how synthesis has affected the discipline.

Using a case study of publications (n = 2304) from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis compared with papers with similar keywords from the Web of Science (n = 320,000), we address several questions about the comparative impact of synthesis, the role of synthesis in driving key research themes, and whether synthesis is focused on different topics than is the broader ecological literature.

We found much higher citation rates for synthesis papers overall (fivefold more) and within eleven key topic themes (e.g., species richness, biodiversity, climate change, global change). Synthesis papers often played key roles in driving, redirecting, or resolving core questions and exhibited much greater cross-theme connectivity.

Together, these results indicate that synthesis in science has played a crucial role in accelerating and advancing ecological knowledge.

Camila completes her Masters thesis

Lab intern Camila Guerrero-Pineda completed her thesis “Prioritizing conservation investment for post-conflict agricultural expansion in Colombia”, supervised by  Dr. Leah Gerber and Dr. Gwen Iacona, as part of  her master program at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Her research explored the conservation financial implications of the 2016 peace agreement between the armed group FARC and the Colombian government. It also analyzed how Colombia should allocate funding to address the expected increase in its biodiversity decline in the post-conflict context.

Growth in plastic waste could exceed mitigation efforts

Today, along with 17 researchers from other universities and NGOs, Dr. Leah Gerber, Miranda Bernard and Erin Murphy published a Science article titled “Predicted growth in plastic waste exceeds efforts to mitigate plastic pollution.”

This work emerged from the Plastic Emissions Working Group supported by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center.

Their results show that even if every government around the world achieves their most ambitious goals for reducing plastic pollution, annual emissions to rivers, lakes and oceans could be as high as 53 million metric tons by 2030. This is driven by increases in production. The authors urge the global population to reduce unnecessary plastic use and production, as this is the only way to reduce annual emissions into our aquatic ecosystems and achieve international goals is with a significant reduction in plastic production. 

Conservation cost effectiveness workshop

butterfly resting on small flowerOn September 15, 2020, ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Graduate Research Assistant Katie Surrey-Bergman and Assistant Research Professor Gwen Iacona, both from the School of Life Sciences, presented a panel facilitated a workshop titled “Collecting and Reporting on the Costs of Compliance with the Endangered Species Act” in partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

This panel, presented alongside EPRI’s Senior Technical Leader Becca Madsen and Technical Executive Christian Newman, was part of the 110th Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Virtual Annual Meeting.

This workshop offered attendees of all levels the ability and materials to design, collect and report on cost data in conservation sciences. The workshop was attended by conservation scientists and practitioners interested in minimizing cost hindrances and maximizing efficiency in research.

Learn more about the Conservation Cost Data Portal.

Engaging with online students

Lab member Miranda Bernard will give a presentation of her work and journey into conservation sciences to the ASU student society IDEAS: Inclusion, Diversity, Education, and Advocacy in the Sciences. IDEAS is an organization for science majors in ASU Online that provides community, peer support, and networking. It is hard to gain access to postgraduate information (e.g., how to get into grad school, career options) as an online student, but organizations like IDEAS help a lot. If you are a graduate student or professor with research that can be done online, then connect with IDEAS! Also, if you are an undergraduate student check out their YouTube channel for previous guest speaker presentations, and if you are interested in giving a talk to IDEAS, send them an email at

UPDATE: link to the presentation.

CI lab members leading costing workshop at NACCB 2020

Researcher Gwen Iacona is leading a workshop at this year’s North American Congress for Conservation Biology meeting titled “Collecting and reporting the costs of conservation interventions: the first step in understanding conservation return on investment (ROI)”. Gwen Iacona will be presenting work she has been working on with lab members Olivia Davis, Erin Murphy, and Katie Surrey.

Click here for details on the 2020 virtual workshops and short courses!

Join #BackyardBiodiversity, social media campaign

Biodiversity is all around us! Even in urban settings, we can observe a variety of interesting species of plants and animals, each serving a unique role in our ecosystems.

To recognize and celebrate biodiversity close to home, the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes invites you to submit cool photographs or short videos of species you observe in your surroundings as part of our #BackyardBiodiversity social media campaign.

Email your images and video clips to with your name, a short (10-15 words) description of the content and the location (approximate) where you took it.

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Educating middle and high school students while remote!

Lab graduate student Olivia Davis has been continuing her educational outreach efforts from home! She partnered with Mrs. Boltz, an expert in inquiry based instruction from Maryland. Check out Olivia’s interview by clicking here and scrolling down to “Endangered Species Policy Advocate”. Check out Mrs. Boltz’s website for awesome information about working from home and interviews!