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Job Talks: Interdisciplinary Biodiversity Solutions

IbioS: A new interdisciplinary cluster at UBC to develop and promote solutions to the biodiversity crisis through scholarship and action.

Seminar recordings will be available to UBC affiliates with a CWL at Canvas site:  https://canvas.ubc.ca/enroll/9B9MC9


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Connectivity Search Job Talks

Geography + Zoology


Dr. Kaitlyn Gaynor

Postdoctoral Fellow, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis
website: http://www.kaitlyngaynor.com

Navigating the human footprint: Mechanisms and consequences of functional connectivity for animals in shared landscapes

January 25, 11:00 - 12:30pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/61616394940?pwd=clprQUtxLzFwWlFDSVRFYXBIQjkzUT09
 

Given the ongoing loss of biodiversity and the expansion of the global human footprint, it is critical and urgent to understand how human disturbance shapes ecological communities. The growing human footprint poses a particular challenge for large-bodied, wide-ranging terrestrial mammals, whose space needs often bring them into contact, and conflict, with people. An understanding of behavioral plasticity and its constraints can allow us to understand and predict patterns of animal movement and activity in response to human presence, infrastructure, and land use change. In this talk, I will elucidate the mechanisms and consequences of functional connectivity for large mammals in these shared, semi-permeable landscapes. Drawing on meta-analyses and case studies from Mozambique and the United States, I will explore how human disturbance shapes landscapes of fear for wild animals, and how animals modify their behavior to navigate perceived anthropogenic risk and benefit in space and time. I will discuss how the resulting patterns of animal movement and activity can scale up to affect individual fitness, ecological dynamics, and human societies, with implications for conservation. Finally, I will reflect on how this interdisciplinary research program can advance our knowledge of ecological and socio-ecological processes while informing strategies for just, effective biodiversity conservation and human-wildlife coexistence on an increasingly crowded planet.

Dr. Emily Choy

Postdoctoral Fellow, McGill University
website: https://emilyschoy.wixsite.com/home

Marine predators as sentinels of environmental change in Arctic ecosystems

January 29, 11:00 - 12:30pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/66638339590?pwd=RXpUODJUTndMRUQ2cmlrL2VXVmVqZz09
 

Long-lived predators with low reproductive rates are vulnerable to rapid climate change, and are considered indicators of ecosystem health. The objective of my research is to study marine predators as sentinels for broader-scale environmental change in Arctic ecosystems. In partnership with Inuvialuit communities, we examined inter-annual variation and environmental factors affecting prey, body condition, and physiology of Beaufort Sea beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas). Using Quantitative Fatty Acid Signatures Analysis, the estimated proportional contributions of Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) to beluga diet decreased from 2011 to 2014, coinciding with an increase in capelin (Mallotus villosus). Belugas consumed the highest proportions of capelin and the lowest proportions of cod in 2014, the same year in which body condition was lowest in whales. Body condition of whales was also positively correlated with myoglobin, hemoglobin concentrations, and hematocrit, resulting in lower total body oxygen (O2) stores in whales with lower body condition and potential impacts on foraging ability. To examine the effects of climate change on energetics, heart rate was examined as a proxy for O2 consumption in thick-billed murres (Uria lomvia) and black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla). GPS-accelerometers were paired with heart rate loggers to classify behaviours and activity rate. Finally, we examined the effects of Arctic warming on the physiology of murres. In response to increasing temperature increments, murres exhibited limited heat tolerance and low ability to dissipate heat, with one of the lowest evaporative cooling efficiencies recorded in birds. These results highlight the many impacts of climate change on marine predators and their broader implications on ecological communities. In addition, partnerships with community stakeholders and novel technologies such as biologgers are useful for identifying critical habitat and conservation priorities for wildlife and ecosystems.

Dr. Shermin de Silva

CEO, Trunks and Leaves
Website:  http://elephantresearch.net/ | https://www.trunksnleaves.org/

The Socioecological Dynamics of Elephant Landscapes

February 1, 6:00 - 7:30pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/69445805835?pwd=U0pYcys2TkI5RlcwaVhzakpPb1Yydz09
 

Asian elephants are a multi-faceted species through which to understand the challenges and opportunities for conservation in this century. They are slow-breeding social mammals with complex societies that evolved alongside our own primate ancestors; they are ecological engineers that occupy and shape diverse ecoregions; they are cultural icons, with a 5000-year history of use by humans, though never domesticated; today they attract millions of dollars in economic revenue for some, both legally and illegally; and they are also an economic liability for millions of rural agricultural communities that are among the most disenfranchised in our global society. The story of elephants is linked to the story of people and perhaps always has been. Continued coexistence necessitates a better understanding of both sides. Socioecology, broadly construed, is the study how social and ecological systems interact – be they human, or not. My research strives to understand the needs of elephants and people, as each tries to make a living on a finite landscape. I begin by describing elephant society, as understood through the unique individual-based long-term research project I manage in Sri Lanka. I then discuss the ecological changes occurring on elephant range over centennial timescales, raising issues for both elephants and people. Finally, I discuss the viewpoints of the communities that live with elephants, and what it will take to create a more sustainable future for people, wildlife, and the landscapes we share.

Dr. Andrew Hein

Research Scientist, Research Group Leader, UC Santa Cruz / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Website: www.andrewhein.org

Through the lens of movement: from connectivity theory to biodiversity solutions and back again

February 2, 11:00 - 12:30pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/64599559480?pwd=clZIdk9jdGxhRG1RVTlDT0pKUGtQQT09
 

Interconnectedness is a defining feature of complex ecological and social-ecological systems. In many cases, this connectivity depends on the movement of organisms. At the smallest ecological scales, diverse microbes navigate chemical gradients in the environment to drive processes like nutrient cycling. At the largest scales, migratory animals carry out life cycles that link distant ecosystems to one another. Climate change and human alteration of land, sea, and riverscapes have fundamentally altered how organisms move. A core challenge in addressing the biodiversity crisis is understanding and managing the impacts these changes have on biodiversity and the ecosystem processes it supports. In this talk, I will discuss how we can meet this challenge by advancing mechanistic theories of the link between movement and connectivity, and by testing these theories with diverse new sources of movement and environmental data. I will also show how this approach can provide a direct feedback between connectivity theory and biodiversity policy to produce both stronger theory and more effective conservation solutions.

Dr. Rachel Buxton

Postdoctoral fellow, Carleton University & Environment and Climate Change Canada
Website: https://rachelbuxton.wordpress.com/

Using connectivity science to guide biodiversity solutions

February 4, 1:00-2:30pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/61014771105?pwd=WU1aV3pzMWRvZU1XYUIyUysxdGdBZz09

Guiding successful protection and restoration of interconnected, equitable landscapes requires an understanding of complex patterns of ecological processes, socioeconomic factors, Indigenous knowledges, and policy frameworks. Yet, action to address the biodiversity crisis and support environmental justice has become urgent. In this context, connectivity conservation research that focuses on solutions, is co-developed with decision-makers and communities, and makes space for multiple ways of knowing is of the utmost importance. Dr. Buxton’s research leverages the expertise of broad teams of practitioners and stakeholders to support the conservation of biodiversity with robust science. Her research focuses on guiding island restoration using bicultural approaches and models of seabird metapopulation dynamics; managing fragmentation in protected areas caused by noise pollution; and streamlining threatened species recovery planning by balancing action and information. She also focuses on urban songbird conservation, where she studies the ability of greenspace restoration to enhance avian habitat within an urban matrix and the link between urban biodiversity and mental health. Ultimately, her research aims to guide urban planning and nature-based interventions to bolster biodiversity and health for more equitable and resilient cities.


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Human Dimensions of Biodiversity Search Job Talks

Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability + Land and Food Systems


Dr. Aparna Howlader

Postdoctoral Researcher, Princeton University
Website: https://www.aparnahowlader.com/

Consequences of Conservation Policies: In past and present

February 8, 9:30-11:00am
Register here to view the Research Seminar:
https://ubc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_XWVB2fcsTlqpe5qQiL0e5g

Teaching Seminar: Using Instrumental Variables for Causal Inference

February 9, 9:00-10:30am

Register here to participate in the Teaching Seminar
https://ubc.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5csc-GvrjIpGdJ0zTdBbh9x8yF71h8sGq2T

My talk focuses primarily on the relationship between conservation policies and inequality. This presentation compiles some of my past and present papers showing the implications of both historical and current conservation policies, including effects on environmental and agricultural outcomes, labor markets, climate resilience, and overall human welfare. This also illuminates the role of local communities and pre-existing institutional conditions for determining the evolution of outcomes following the enforcement of these conservation policies. At first, I will present the importance of protected areas (PAs) in rural livelihoods in a developing country, Nepal. In the second paper, to assess the short- and long-term effects of land conservation programs on counties in the United States, I evaluate the land conservation programs from its introduction. I show that the present-day differences in environmental outcomes within the Great Plains can be traced to post-Dust Bowl land conservation activities. Next, I will talk about the formation of local conservation institutions by identifying factors that drive people to cooperate to manage their land resources. I will also present how large-scale tree plantation projects change the environmental quality in the long term. In the end, I will show some of my ongoing projects on the role of local institutions in biodiversity conservation and climate resilience.

Bio: Aparna Howlader received a B.S. in Economics at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh and a MS in Economics at Simon Fraser University, Canada. She received her PhD in Agriculture and Applied Economics from the University of Illinois and defended her dissertation in June 2019. She is currently working as a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University. She is also interested in nature photography and literature. 

Human Dimensions of Biodiversity Conservation, Candidate #2

Research Seminar: Developing and applying quantitative, interdisciplinary science to understand the human dimensions of conservation

February 10, 9:30-10:45am

Register here to participate in the Research Seminar
https://ubc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4SlPZMIBRiCHY6tHaGFsNw

Teaching Seminar: Using Instrumental Variables for Causal Inference

February 11, 9:00-10:30am

Register here to participate in the Teaching Seminar
https://ubc.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5AvduuhqjMjE9dJjd3QGlYGKcbJFjlfn8qs

Research Seminar Abstract: The science and practice of conservation has morphed from an ecological endeavour to one that recognizes the fundamental role that people play in shaping its success or failure. Here, I will discuss how my research program uses quantitative, interdisciplinary approaches from fields such as economics, ecology, and health to investigate various human dimensions of conservation at scales ranging from local to global. I will highlight how quantifying the costs and benefits – economic and otherwise - that conservation entails for people can lead to novel insights for theory, the design of conservation programs, and for communication on why biodiversity is important. I will discuss examples relating to community-based conservation (assessing effects on the economic benefits, attitudes, and perceptions of local communities), nature-based tourism (quantifying the contributions of biodiversity to tourist experiences), and protected areas (evaluating their impacts on the health and wealth of nearby people). The results from this research program show that harnessing concepts and methods from multiple academic disciplines can provide insights on how biodiversity and efforts to conserve it affect the tangible wellbeing of people in multiple settings around the world.

Dr. Ranaivo Rasolofoson

Postdoctoral Associate, Cornell University
Website: https://fiorellaresearchgroup.com/people/ranaivo-a-rasolofoson

Research Seminar: From nature conservation to human health and nutrition

February 16 9:15 - 10: 45am

Register here to participate in the Research Seminar
https://ubc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Awtj-nBfQniCg0zZ3o71mw

Teaching Seminar: Using Instrumental Variables for Causal Inference

February 17 9:15 - 10:45am

Register here to participate in the Teaching Seminar
https://ubc.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5Ilf-6srTgtHdPK7iYbxf_G3UU7r913kNpt

Research Seminar Abstract: Community Forest Management (CFM) is one of the most widespread conservation approaches. It devolves forest management to local communities to achieve conservation and human well‐being goals. We investigate the impacts of CFM on deforestation and household living standards across Madagascar. We do not detect significant impacts of CFM, on average. However, our results suggest that impacts of CFM vary with the types of CFM and household characteristics. In a case study in CFM sites in eastern Madagascar, we find that health is among the most important life domains to households and CFM is perceived to affect health. This indicates that conservation needs to intentionally address human health and nutrition. In a study covering 27 developing countries, we find that forests improve children’s nutrition. Poor children benefit more from forests than others. Another major health issue conservation can help address is child suboptimal development. Our study in fishery dependent communities in Lake Victoria, Kenya, indicates that fisheries can affect child development through various mechanisms. Threats to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are public health threats. Investments in conservation are therefore public health investments. Efforts are needed to make conservation health and nutrition sensitive, so that it delivers conservation, health, and nutrition outcomes.

Ranaivo is a Postdoctoral Associate at Cornell University. He has a double PhD degree from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and Bangor University (Wales). Ranaivo is interested in investigating the impacts of environmental programs and environmental changes on different human wellbeing and environmental outcomes. He has looked at the impacts of community forest management and protected areas on deforestation, economic, and subjective human well-being in Madagascar. Ranaivo has also examined the links between forests, child nutrition, and health in developing countries, and links between fisheries, child nutrition, and child development in the areas around Lake Victoria, Kenya.

Human Dimensions of Biodiversity Conservation, Candidate #4

Research Seminar: Warming from tropical deforestation adversely impacts human health and well-being

Feb 18, 9:00-10:30am

Register here to participate in the Research Seminar
https://ubc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_L7dTFlIaQxuORaKSF7Zs_A

Teaching Seminar: Using Instrumental Variables for Causal Inference

February 19, 9:30-11:00am

Register here to participate in the Teaching Seminar
https://ubc.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5MqcuqppzgjHNerJw2LvtBqeECh79DCyygQ

Research Seminar Abstract: The planet’s natural systems support the health and well-being of people. These systems are increasingly under stress due to biodiversity loss, land degradation, and unsustainable natural resource use. Climate change can exacerbate losses to the ecosystem services these systems provide. Despite significant efforts, broad appeals to governments and communities based on conservation concerns are often insufficient for spurring action. Demonstrating the impacts of environmental change on human health and well-being creates opportunities to link conservation to more salient, proximate concerns, thus creating opportunities to grow the constituencies supporting biodiversity conservation. I present experimental research showing that tropical deforestation can adversely impact the health and well-being of rural outdoor workers through the loss of cooling services. Compared to workers in forested sites, those in deforested sites saw increases in heat strain and experienced declines in productivity and cognitive performance. I then demonstrate how, at larger scales, tropical deforestation has increased unsafe thermal environments associated with losses in safe work hours and increases in all-cause mortality. Together, these findings support a broader research program advancing biodiversity conservation by applying experimental and observational analyses to integrated research questions. Examining human dimensions of conservation can lead to more meaningful, grounded policies and actions by governments, non-governmental organizations, and everyday citizens.

WITHDRAWN - Dr. Youpei Yan

Postdoctoral Associate, Yale University
Website: https://youpeiyan42.wordpress.com

Research Seminar: Understanding human responses to the environment and implications for valuing nature

February 22, 9:15-10:45am

Register here to participate in the Research Seminar
https://ubc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_f64eWS3iTa61HYBKTEpD-g

Teaching Seminar: Using Instrumental Variables for Causal Inference

February 23, 9:00-10:30am

Register here to participate in the Teaching Seminar
https://ubc.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5UldumsqTwqHdca6dpMoTk_kVoFUqf5fvsx

Research Seminar Abstract: Human-being rely on nature for survival, production, culture, and regulation of climate and disease. Nature is how we pass opportunities to the future and is foundational to sustainable development. Therefore, nature is a portfolio of asset with real value, making us all portfolio managers. Yet as asset managers, institutions, governments, and even individuals are often unprepared and fail to manage the nature portfolio. A key challenge is a lack of information on the relative value of nature and the environmental components in the system, which depends on the ability to anticipate peoples’ endogenous responses to policy and environmental change. I will present a research program that bridges economics and natural science to provide analysis of human-environmental feedbacks that enables comparison between the value of nature and other resources. My research framework is applicable to various human-environmental coupled systems in land use conservation, adoption of management practices in agriculture, mandating pollution abatement, non-pharmaceutical interventions and infectious disease dynamics, and extraction of natural resources for production and recreation. In this talk I will show how I accomplish this type of research with examples from conservation and environmental policies, infectious disease systems, and in traditional ecosystem management settings.

Bio: Youpei Yan is a postdoctoral associate at Yale. She conducts microeconomic analysis that is related to public economics and environmental economics, and designs applied econometrics courses based on her research topics. Youpei is interested in resource allocation and human/natural responses under different management systems, including ecosystem, land use market, and infectious disease prevention. Her current research is on natural capital valuation based on the Newfoundland moose-forest system, which presents an opportunity to advance natural capital theory and measure changes in the value of important stocks of natural capital that was missing in Canada’s wealth report. Youpei obtained her B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland, where her research was focused on environmental regulations and resource management by using techniques in applied microeconomic theory and modern econometrics to understand implementation challenges and market failures in various environmental and resource policies.

Dr. Laura Vang Rasmussen

Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen
Website: http://thelandlab.net/

Research Seminar: How do we feed the world, while conserving nature at the same time?

February 24, 9:30-10:45am

Register here to participate in the Research Seminar
https://ubc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_hO6NV3Z6TI6NUIf72yJm5g

Teaching Seminar: Using Instrumental Variables for Causal Inference

February 25, 9:00-10:30am

Register here to participate in the Teaching Seminar
https://ubc.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5MucO2pqD8uH9Jy6XWGWkjfRkYVCKn2s2Mv

Abstract: The overall goal of my research is to address a seemingly intractable problem: How do we feed the world, while conserving nature at the same time? In this talk, I will firstly discuss situations where food security and nutrition policies may undermine biodiversity conservation efforts. For example, many food security efforts, especially in low- and middle-income countries, focus on increasing access to sufficient calories through increased agricultural production. However, increasing agricultural production is a leading cause of forest loss and fragmentation. Secondly, I will discuss how calories are not all equal. I will show how forest loss and fragmentation can lead to poorer diets and less food security for rural communities by reducing the availability of wild foods and other high-value forest products. Finally, I will discuss how forest restoration has the potential to improve human well-being, especially in relation to food security. Will restoring forests also restore people’s access to dietary diversity?

Bio: I am currently an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management at University of Copenhagen. Prior to that, I was a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Forest & Conservation Sciences at UBC, after having been a postdoctoral fellow for two years at the School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan. I obtained my PhD in geography in 2013 from the University of Copenhagen. With funding from the European Research Council, I am currently leading a multi-scale and multi-country project aiming to identify how and why forest loss and fragmentation affect people’s food security in low- and middle-income countries.


Biodiversity Data Science Search Job Talks

Botany + Zoology


Dr. Melissa Guzman

Postdoctoral Fellow, SFU
website: https://www.lmguzman.com 

Leveraging computational statistics to gain insight into ecological processes and biodiversity change

February 23: 12:30 - 1:45pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/62891278795?pwd=WDJhNDVrSHBaOG5DT2pwWVdzakRDUT09

Abstract: There are huge efforts -- by large institutions, community science groups, and individual research labs -- to collect and curate biodiversity data at unprecedented scales. There has also been tremendous growth in computational power and in the sophistication of statistical tools. Together these two currents offer exciting opportunities to gain critical insights into the processes that shape patterns of biodiversity and how global change is affecting these. However, doing so will require creative ways of approaching problems as the available data is often not at the ideal scale and resolution for answering the questions that are most interesting for science and pertinent for policy intervention. In my talk, I will discuss three projects that each highlight different aspects of biodiversity data science along these lines. These include combining experimental ecological data with large-scale simulations, investigating good study design for using GBIF data in the inference of biodiversity trends, and developing applications to make data streams usable by conservation practitioners. I will conclude by outlining some future directions, including an ongoing project to infer trends in North American insects and identify potential targets for insect conservation.

Dr. Rachel Buxton

Postdoctoral Fellow, Carleton University & Environment and Climate Change Canada
website: https://rachelbuxton.wordpress.com

Using ecological data to guide biodiversity conservation solutions

February 25: 12:30 - 1:45pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/66568504599?pwd=Sy9RRVJqUkV0R29kSndVUHcvWElvZz09

Abstract: Environmental conservation problems are complex, and solutions require multidisciplinary research that often exceeds capacity. Yet, action to address the biodiversity crisis and support environmental justice has become urgent. Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated each day and harnessing this big data in combination with ongoing efforts to achieve sustainability can guide more effective biodiversity conservation solutions. Dr. Buxton’s research leverages big data and the expertise of broad teams of practitioners, stakeholders, and Indigenous peoples to support the conservation of biodiversity. Her research focuses on guiding the management of sensory pollutants using remote sensing and geospatial models; using acoustic recordings and camera traps to guide biodiversity conservation at large scales; and filling knowledge gaps for threatened species using social media and citizen science data. She also focuses on the link between mental health and biodiversity conservation, combining disparate types of unstructured data to guide urban planning and nature-based interventions to enhance avian habitat and bolster human health.

Dr. Kaitlyn Gaynor

Postdoctoral Fellow, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis
website: http://www.kaitlyngaynor.com

Synthesizing socio-ecological data to inform human-wildlife coexistence and conservation in a changing world

March 1: 12:30 - 1:45pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/69349259353?pwd=UGs5YnV6VXhIRXlwYVpBTElhV3Z1dz09

Abstract: Given the ongoing loss of biodiversity and the expansion of the global human footprint, it is critical and urgent to understand how human disturbance shapes ecological communities. Recent advances in remote sensing technologies have provided unprecedented insight into the distribution and movement of organisms against a backdrop of environmental change. In my research, I leverage and advance data science tools to study these patterns across scales and systems. My research program seeks to elucidate the mechanisms of animal responses to anthropogenic activity, and the consequences of these responses for ecosystems and human societies. In this talk, I will share findings from global and regional syntheses that shed light on widespread responses of animals to human presence and infrastructure, with implications for conservation. At a local scale, I will share work that has leveraged advances in computer vision, community science, and open data principles to inform our understanding of post-war animal restoration and conservation in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park. Finally, I will highlight the opportunity to integrate social and ecological data to understand coupled dynamics of human-natural systems, drawing on case studies on carnivore-livestock conflict and recreation impacts in US National Parks. I will reflect on how this interdisciplinary research program can advance our knowledge of ecological and socio-ecological processes while informing strategies for just, effective biodiversity conservation and human-wildlife coexistence on an increasingly crowded planet. 

Dr. Ruth Oliver

Postdoctoral Associate, Yale University
website: https://sites.google.com/view/rutholiver

Biodiversity across scales: Using new technologies to elucidate trends and synthesize global knowledge

March 2: 12:30 - 1:45pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/61875605292?pwd=ZjYxZzNtLzRMRWVBc2JqdVlWazVDQT09

Abstract: Understanding our planet’s biodiversity has never been more urgent as rapid anthropogenic changes disrupt the world’s ecosystems. Advances in technology and large-scale data mobilization efforts now generate huge amounts of multi-dimensional biodiversity data, in many cases outpacing our ability to synthesize disparate data types into actionable knowledge. In this talk, I will highlight the potential of novel and emerging biodiversity data types to lend unique insight into long-standing questions in ecology. I will present work focused on understanding songbird migration at high northern latitudes using bioacoustics and GPS tracking. I will also discuss how we can track the progress of the rapid accumulation of biodiversity data in describing global diversity to support international policy efforts and ensure that we are efficiently closing knowledge gaps and advancing conservation goals.

Dr. Catherine Hulshof

Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University
Research Associate, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
website: https://biodiversityresearchlab.com

Beyond Big Data: Diversity is the next scientific revolution

March 4: 12:30 - 1:45pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/63108377354?pwd=bU1nK2pxaWR0dXV6OFZnSWtjSE5FZz09

Abstract: Periodic paradigm shifts revolutionized the world. Driven by anomalies, these shifts reframed scientific theories and led to new technologies. In this talk, I explore how breaking from conventional ideas in science and society can accelerate the discovery of biodiversity solutions. I show how diverse perspectives can rewrite ecological theories and advance conservation priorities. I describe examples where my work has challenged ideas in community assembly, functional ecology, and thermal biology using tropical and temperate plants and butterflies. I also briefly describe two future biodiversity data science initiatives for supporting diversity and innovation: ALTA and EcoCode. ALTA is a network of altitudinal transects across the American Cordillera and a model for inexpensive environmental monitoring at large scales. EcoCode is an incubator and training initiative to connect underrepresented minorities to biodiversity data science careers.

Dr. Isla Myers-Smith

Chancellor's Fellow / Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh
website: https://teamshrub.com

Ecological data science across scales captures biodiversity change

March 9: 12:30 - 1:45pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/67244591630?pwd=V20xOWtoN09sTzVmSTgrQVNWRTJ0Zz09

Abstract: Ecology is undergoing a “big data” revolution concurrent with accelerating global change. New data sources such as satellites and drones, together with global databases of biodiversity, population, trait and environmental data allow us to capture biodiversity change in unprecedented ways. Leveraging these disparate data streams to provide quantitative assessments of the consequences of global change remains a substantial analytical challenge that hinders conservation policy solutions. With lower species diversity, yet more rapid climate warming, the Arctic provides an ideal model system to apply novel data science tools. In this talk, I will summarise three dimensions of my interdisciplinary research program bridging the fields of ecology and remote sensing: 1) Biodiversity data collection is focused at local scales, however biodiversity change exhibits non-linear dynamics when extrapolated to larger spatial scales. By quantifying the species pool and the microenvironment in cross-site syntheses, we find scale-dependent biodiversity responses of tundra plant communities. 2) Ecological monitoring often targets species rather than the community-level trait changes that determine ecosystem functions. By integrating biodiversity and trait data across ecological hierarchies, we find that shifts in composition alter biome-scale climate feedbacks through trait change. And, 3) satellite observations of Arctic greening do not always match in situ measurements. By bridging the scale gap using drones, we reveal landscape heterogeneity in plant phenology that is not captured by satellites, yet alters our understanding of how tundra ecosystems are responding to warming. I will also share my proposed contributions to the UBC Interdisciplinary Biodiversity Solutions Cluster to advance collaborations, strengthen partnerships with Arctic communities, introduce the 'Coding Club' model of quantitative training and empower a diverse research team.


Conservation and Restoration Science Search Job Talks

Botany + Forest and Conservation Sciences


Dr. Sara Kuebbing

Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh
website: https://www.sarakuebbing.com

Restoring Changing Ecosystems

March 11: 12:30 - 1:45pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/66373958404?pwd=VzNJK001aVAyRXlYZXF5b3AvK2xrdz09

Abstract: Humans have been transporting species around the globe for centuries, though in the past decades with increasing frequency and quantity. The consequences of these actions have led to a proliferation of invasions, where today all seven of Earth’s continents harbor multiple nonnative, invasive species. Nonnative species occupy all of Earth’s major biomes and habitats, many of them associated with significant changes to ecosystem processes, reductions in the diversity of native communities, or extinctions of entire populations of native species. My research program broadly addresses question in how invasion by nonnative plant species alters plant communities and ecosystem processes in temperate forested ecosystems and how we can apply ecological theory to the management and conservation of forest plant diversity. My research integrates how invasion interacts with other global change drivers, such as climate warming and habitat disturbance, because these drivers are simultaneously influencing forest biodiversity. This talk focuses on three key areas of my research: 1) how are interactions among nonnative plants altering plant communities; 2) how can we disentangle ecosystem impacts of plant invasions and co-occurring disturbances; and 3) how is climate warming and invasion affecting forest wildflower communities?

Dr. Jesse Miller

Lecturer, Stanford University
website: https://jesseedmiller.com

Maintaining and restoring plant and lichen diversity in an era of global change

March 16: 12:30 - 1:45pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/68421769391?pwd=ZnZsNnRMQWxxNWx6VDRqd1ZMUDR3Zz09

Abstract: Anthropogenic global change processes such as habitat fragmentation, climate change, and altered disturbance regimes are causing shifts in ecological communities around the world, but the rise of functional traits as a common currency for interpreting ecological communities provides new insights that bolster conservation and restoration science. Substantial shifts in wildfire size, severity, and frequency in recent decades highlight the importance of understanding the effects of altered fire regimes on biodiversity, but this can pose a challenge because fire affects ecological communities at multiple spatial scales and can have both direct and indirect effects; for example, altered fire regimes may affect habitat connectivity and environmental conditions. Further, plant community responses to fire may be contingent upon historical disturbance regimes that have filtered regional species pools for specific adaptations to fire (i.e., functional traits). My research provides new insights into how altered fire regimes and other global change processes affect plant and lichen communities, and provides actionable insights for conservation and restoration, such as highlighting plant guilds to target for restoration. Human land use history can be another important driver of contemporary plant community composition; recent work in collaboration with archaeologists and Indigenous communities shows that traditional Indigenous land management practices in British Columbia can have long-persisting effects on plant diversity and functional traits, and highlights the importance of considering human land-use history in ecological studies. Future directions for my research include further work exploring the effects of altered fire regimes and developing post-fire restoration practices, developing approaches for maintaining and restoring Bryoria lichen forage in the context of woodland caribou conservation, and using long-term data sets to explore how functional traits underpin species persistence in fragmented habitats. I envision my research program as part of a larger movement to broaden conservation management and restoration ecology into a predictive science, where tools are developed collaboratively to help managers use landscape context, environment, and plant and lichen functional traits to guide conservation and restoration practices.

Dr. Alexandria Moore

NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation - American Museum of Natural History
website: https://amoorephd.weebly.com

Holistic Conservation - Incorporating Science and Culture into Conservation

March 18: 12:30 - 1:45pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/67973019482?pwd=MmE2U29sOUpYaTVmeDhhYURSNDFLQT09

Abstract: Coastal wetlands are among the most valuable and threatened ecosystems across the globe. The functions and services provided by wetlands are numerous and include food production, disturbance regulation, and cultural uses and values. Given their threatened status, significant effort has been devoted to the conservation and restoration of these dynamic coastal landscapes. However, traditional conservation practices are conducted under an historical paradigm that focuses on but a few components of wetland ecosystems (e.g., the plant-soil interface) with little consideration of how the broader ecological community or the practices and culture of local communities may influence conservation and restoration outcomes. This talk describes research that challenges our traditional understanding of how wetlands are maintained and provides insight on new directions in wetland conservation and restoration practice.

Dr. Varsha Vijay

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), University of Tennessee
Solutions Engineer, terraPulse
website: https://www.varshavijay.com

Envisioning a sustainable future: trade-offs and synergies between conservation and human systems goals

March 23: 12:30 - 1:45pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/64805415482?pwd=U0tpemg3UGdiTzhLbTRSUEFWd0JZZz09

Abstract: Climate change and increasing human resource demands are important global drivers of habitat loss and degradation, influencing species distributions, populations, and ecosystem function. As these drivers introduce novel challenges, conservation and ecosystem management approaches are tasked with both mitigating biodiversity loss while addressing human well-being. Human-environment tradeoffs and synergies are embodied by the dual challenge of meeting goals for development (e.g. UN Sustainable Development Goals) and conservation (e.g. Aichi Biodiversity Targets, 30x30) in the global protected area system. I examine these tradeoffs within the protected area system and conservation planning process, focusing on 1) The current and future impacts of crop production on global protected areas and 2) How different socio-ecological goals influence spatial prioritization for conservation. My work forecasting cropland threats to protected areas finds increasing threats in tropical regions with high food insecurity, suggesting that integrated conservation and development planning is a critical need to address both issues. I further propose a stakeholder-defined prioritization framework that addresses theory-practice gaps in conservation prioritization. Finally, I will discuss the use of interdisciplinary approaches, which extend beyond ecology to address the complexity of these systems using emerging technologies, quantitative modeling, and community-based participatory research.

Dr. Joan Dudney

David H Smith Conservation Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Davis
website: https://joandudney.com

Disentangling and managing multiple drivers of change in forest communities

March 25: 12:30 - 1:45pm
Zoom: https://ubc.zoom.us/j/65966144453?pwd=VldjQXpzT3h5RXphRmtnT1VxMXpSdz09

Abstract: Interactions and feedbacks among abiotic, biotic, and social factors are threatening forest biodiversity. The synergistic impacts of pests, pathogens, and changing abiotic conditions, for example, have contributed to widespread declines in critically important tree species. The scale and complexity of these transformations often confound efforts to understand and manage shifts in forest communities. To address these concerns, I apply rigorous analytical approaches to long-term observational and experimental data, thereby isolating the causal impacts of climate change and its cascading effects on plant communities. In this talk, I will highlight case studies that demonstrate how climate change is transforming forests in surprising ways. For example, severe drought, often predicted to become more frequent under climate change, increased productivity in subalpine forests in the Sierra Nevada. In addition, climate change led to declines in white pine blister rust prevalence even as the disease range expanded. These results contrast with predictions using more simplistic models, highlighting the critical need to better understand nonlinear and interacting effects among multiple drivers of change. Finally, I will conclude by reflecting on how managers can integrate this ecological complexity to conserve and restore forests in a rapidly changing world.


Environmental Governance and Business Search Job Talks

School of Public Policy and Global Affairs + Forest Resources Management


Dr. Marin Skidmore

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Nelson Center for the Environment and Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison
website: https://www.marinskidmore.com

Research and Vision Seminar: Innovative approaches for conservation and biodiversity in the Brazilian Amazon

Thursday, April 8: 1:00-2:15pm

Zoom link via Canvas*:  https://canvas.ubc.ca/enroll/9B9MC9

Abstract:  In the last thirty years, 780 thousand square kilometers of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has been lost, with ramifications for the local and global climate, water supply, and biodiversity.  Since 2009, major meatpacking companies have begun monitoring their direct suppliers deforestation under the Zero-Deforestation Cattle Agreements (CA).  Yet loopholes in monitoring undermine achievement in avoided deforestation.  For the first time, I quantify unmonitored deforestation in the CA supply chain and discuss the role of the policy in fostering a system of cattle “laundering.”  The achievements and shortcomings of the CA offer a roadmap for working with businesses to preserve biodiversity, as well as lessons for how to improve.  

Teaching Demonstration: Supply Chain Sustainability Agreements: Progress and Pitfalls

Friday April 9: 2:00-3:00pm

Zoom link via Canvas*:  https://canvas.ubc.ca/enroll/9B9MC9

*To access the Research and Teaching talks for this search, you will need to self-enroll in the IBioS Canvas site with your CWL, LINK. Once you are enrolled on the Canvas site, you will be able to link directly to all subsequent talks in the Zoom folder.  https://canvas.ubc.ca/courses/71198/external_tools/15408.

Dr. Ritwick Ghosh

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Environmental Studies, New York University
Website: https://ritwickghosh.com​

Research and Vision Seminar: Biodiversity Offsetting: Opportunities, Limits, and Performances

Monday, April 12: 1:00-2:15pm

Zoom link via Canvas*:  https://canvas.ubc.ca/enroll/9B9MC9

Abstract:  Offsetting represents an innovative policy mechanism to enlist commercial actors into environmental conservation. In my research, I adopt a pragmatic and critical institutional lens to study biodiversity offsetting and similar markets for ecosystem services. In this seminar, I explore how biodiversity offsetting produces habitat gains under various combinations of coercive, competitive, and collaborative forces. I will supplement this analytical framework with empirical insights from a case study of offsetting in the US related to the American Burying Beetle. The case study helps reveal the negotiations entailed in constructing markets for ecosystem services on the ground. Finally, I reflect on the prominent role of metrics, accounting, and standards in the advancement of institutional innovations. Drawing on insights in science and technology studies, I show that data can be an ambiguous resource in environmental governance. Overall, the seminar will go beyond the pros and cons of market-based solutions, and instead, reflect on what goes on in the name of market construction in place, and globally. 

Teaching Demonstration: Payments for Ecosystem Services

Tuesday April 13: 1:00-2:00pm

Zoom link via Canvas*:  https://canvas.ubc.ca/enroll/9B9MC9

*To access the Research and Teaching talks for this search, you will need to self-enroll in the IBioS Canvas site with your CWL, LINK. Once you are enrolled on the Canvas site, you will be able to link directly to all subsequent talks in the Zoom folder.  https://canvas.ubc.ca/courses/71198/external_tools/15408.

Dr. John Boakye-Danquah

MITACS Accelerate Postdoc, Canadian Institute of Forestry & Sessional Lecturer, McMaster University
website: https://www.jboakye-danquah.com

Research and Vision Seminar: Transforming biodiversity and ecosystem management: how private-social governance arrangements respond to the ongoing biodiversity crisis

Monday April 19: 11-12:15pm

Zoom link via Canvas*:  https://canvas.ubc.ca/enroll/9B9MC9

Abstract:  Globally, societal understanding of the evolution, forms, variability, functional role, and human wellbeing benefits of biodiversity has expanded significantly. Yet, efforts to protect and conserve biodiversity has been less successful in both the global north and south, prompting calls for significant transformation in human-nature relations. Scholars from both conservation and sustainability sciences as well as major global governance policy actors (e.g., United Nations) now agree that a lack of information or knowledge is not the primary barrier to addressing the ongoing biodiversity crisis; instead, mechanisms to transform knowledge into action are urgently needed. This suggests that conservation sciences must move beyond 'problem space' and into the space in which solutions are deliberated, designed, and implemented. This also requires the establishment of effective partnerships with uncommon allies. In this seminar, I provide two examples from my research that demonstrate how we can build practical ‘solution spaces’ that transform human-nature relationships through private-social governance arrangements: 1) recoupling human-ecosystem relationships. I examined recoupling in abandoned rural forested landscapes in Kyoto, Japan through collaboration between private corporations, governments and local self-organized groups, and 2) improving the use, management, and conservation of non-industrial working landscapes. I focused on improving the sustainability of private forest management in Eastern Ontario, Canada through a group forest certification scheme. Across both cases, the evolution and sustenance of local ‘solution spaces’ are conditioned on the ability of institutional actors, specifically bridging organizations, to reduce transaction costs and ensure that diverse knowledge, values, skills, resources, leadership, and cooperation at all levels are reorganized to promote new ways of living in harmony with nature. The cases further illustrate how governance arrangements can incentivize and support businesses and market arrangements to assume greater responsibility in protecting and conserving biodiversity. Building on these findings, I will highlight two new research directions that I intend to pursue: (1) how businesses can be supported to respond better to the ongoing biodiversity crisis, and (2) how to design new business models for managing ecosystem services.  

Teaching Demonstration: Rethinking the role of businesses and markets in the evolving field of environmental governance

Tuesday April 20: 1:00-2:00pm

Zoom link via Canvas*:  https://canvas.ubc.ca/enroll/9B9MC9

*To access the Research and Teaching talks for this search, you will need to self-enroll in the IBioS Canvas site with your CWL, LINK. Once you are enrolled on the Canvas site, you will be able to link directly to all subsequent talks in the Zoom folder.  https://canvas.ubc.ca/courses/71198/external_tools/15408.

Dr. Juliet Lu

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Atkinson Center for Sustainability, Cornell University 
China Fellow, Wilson Center
website: https://julietlu.com

Research and Vision Seminar: Partner or Predator? Engaging China in Global Environmental Governance Initiatives

Monday April 26: 11:00-12:15pm

Zoom link via Canvas*:  https://canvas.ubc.ca/enroll/9B9MC9

Abstract:  Most conventional environmental governance initiatives are designed to target developed market country actors. But emerging market countries drive a growing portion of global economic activity and shape new patterns of resource consumption and environmental change. Through a focus on the Chinese rubber sector, I assert the need to rethink approaches to engaging emerging market enterprises and states in global conservation and sustainable development efforts. In this talk, I will describe two aspects of my research that inform the development of new engagement approaches: first, I examine the logics of accumulation that shape firm level decision making in the ‘strategic’ Chinese rubber sector; second, I assess China’s position in the global rubber market as it relates to downstream actors’ demands for more sustainable supply chains. I will then describe how, through interdisciplinary collaborations I hope to expand at UBC, I combine fine-grained, comparative case study work with large-scale spatial datasets on land investments and environmental change to create more nuanced understandings of the drivers and impacts of agribusiness investment-driven environmental change. I will conclude by charting a vision for future impact-oriented research and constructive engagement of emerging market actors in global environmental governance initiatives. 

Teaching Demonstration: The Commons is Not a Tragedy.

Tuesday April 27: 2:00-3:00pm

Zoom link via Canvas*:  https://canvas.ubc.ca/enroll/9B9MC9

*To access the Research and Teaching talks for this search, you will need to self-enroll in the IBioS Canvas site with your CWL, LINK. Once you are enrolled on the Canvas site, you will be able to link directly to all subsequent talks in the Zoom folder.  https://canvas.ubc.ca/courses/71198/external_tools/15408.

Dr. Robert Heilmayr

Assistant Professor of environmental and ecological economics, Environmental Studies Program and the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California Santa Barbara
website: http://www.conservation-econ.com

Research and Vision Seminar: The elusive end of deforestation: Assessing the potential for equitable and sustainable commodity supply chains 

Thursday, April 29: 1:00-2:15pm

Zoom link via Canvas*:  https://canvas.ubc.ca/enroll/9B9MC9

Abstract:  International markets for agricultural and forest commodities are leading drivers of deforestation. In response, corporations that produce, use and trade these commodities have committed to ending deforestation through eco-certification systems and changes to supply chains. However, the environmental and social impacts of these interventions remain uncertain. In this talk, I will discuss how the Conservation Economics Lab has advanced our understanding of the environmental impacts of corporate interventions seeking to end deforestation. I document lessons learned from a decade of research exploring interventions adopted in the Chilean timber, Brazilian soy and Indonesian oil palm sectors. I highlight that corporate action can be an effective tool to reduce deforestation, but that environmental benefits are contingent upon patterns of adoption, spillovers, and interactions with public policies. Finally, I outline a vision of future research to explore the impacts that these interventions have had on smallholder farmers and to identify solutions that advance more equitable and sustainable commodity supply chains.  

Teaching Demonstration: Coase on the coast: Can private bargaining conserve biodiversity?

Friday April 30: 1:00-2:00pm

Zoom link via Canvas*:  https://canvas.ubc.ca/enroll/9B9MC9

*To access the Research and Teaching talks for this search, you will need to self-enroll in the IBioS Canvas site with your CWL, LINK. Once you are enrolled on the Canvas site, you will be able to link directly to all subsequent talks in the Zoom folder.  https://canvas.ubc.ca/courses/71198/external_tools/15408.