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SOCIETY FOR CONSERVATION BIOLOGY NEWSLETTER

Volume 12, Issue 4

November 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Maintaining the Research-Implementation Continuum in Conservation, by Richard Cowling

2. Local Chapters Report

3. The Ecology of Fishing Down Marine Webs, by Daniel Pauly

4. Updates from Regional Sections and Working Groups

5. Editorial: How to Keep Science Out of the U.S. Endangered Species Act

6. Correction to Editor’s Report, SCB Newsletter 12(3)

7. Editorial: Economic Growth, Biodiversity Conservation, and SCB

8. Treasurer’s Report: September 2005

9. 2006 Annual Meeting: Call for Abstracts for Papers, Posters, and Student Awards

10. Announcements

11. SCB Committees Address Strategic Plan

MAINTAINING THE RESEARCH-IMPLEMENTATION CONTINUUM IN CONSERVATION

BY RICHARD COWLING

Like many members of SCB, I embarked upon a research career that was inspired by a deep love and concern for nature. I did the usual stuff: published papers on the ecology of species and ecosystems, presented research results at long-winded scientific meetings, and supervised a cohort of postgraduate students. Much of our research team’s work was applied, in the sense that there were embedded messages about management and conservation. No one seemed to take much notice of these.

Then, in the early 1990s, I accepted an appointment that was explicitly about conservation. By this time, conservation biology was a rapidly ripening discipline and a consciously applied one-indeed, a crisis discipline. Our research became more focused in that we concentrated on problems that we perceived to be important. We researched all sorts of things and some of our papers were even cited. Yet our impact on the ground was slight. This was frustrating.

In the late 1990s, our organization (Institute for Plant Conservation at the University of Cape Town) was awarded a grant to conduct a conservation plan for the terrestrial component of the biota of the Cape Floristic Region. The products were acclaimed by our peers (Balmford 2003) and formed the spatial backbone of the Cape Action for People and the Environment (CAPE) Programme. This program subsequently has attracted a great deal of money from international donors, including the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and the Global Environment Facility.

We learned many things from our CAPE experience (Cowling and Pressey 2003). Some of these are technical and I won’t bore you with the details here (see Driver et al. 2003). The most important, I believe, was the realization-a kind of epiphany for dull-witted natural scientists-that conservation is all about the choices that people make. We realized that as scientists, we need to view ourselves as enablers in a social process: we can provide those who are empowered to make these choices-the implementers-with information that extends the range of options available to them. And our job is to ensure that these include compelling options that safeguard nature rather than discount it. If we are going to be effective, then we need to understand how our study region works, not only ecologically, but also socially and economically. So we have to climb off our academic thrones and work with our stakeholders. These may comprise a wide spectrum of society: farmers, planners, peasants, developers, and officials.

How to do this is an essay topic of its own (for some pointers regarding conservation planning, see Pierce et al. 2005). The important message is that there should exist a research-implementation continuum. Researchers need to work closely with stakeholders, especially those responsible for implementing conservation action, in order to ensure that their products are user-useful and user-friendly. This is not trivial, because these stakeholders may come from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds and be associated with many different sectors, some of which traditionally have scant regard for nature. Feedback from stakeholders enables conservation scientists to continually fine-tune their approaches and products, thereby making them more useful and effective.

But in the main, we don’t do this. Instead, we persist in overwhelming ourselves with increasingly sophisticated analyses of the same problems. Our research may end up in high-impact journals, and draw all sorts of accolades from our peers, but it seems to do very little to safeguard nature. As Andrew Knight puts it, “We have become mired in an implementation crisis” (Knight et al. in press). By acknowledging the need for a research-implementation continuum and, indeed, the existence of a conservation-action pathway that encompasses everything from data collection to on-the-ground action (Knight et al. in press), we may yet be able to drag ourselves out of this crisis.

But this research-implementation feedback works both ways: the implementers need to keep researchers in the loop after they have delivered the initial products. In essence, one becomes involved in what action research calls the action-reflection cycle (McNiff and Whitehead 2003). This cycle breaks down if some of the actors are missing. In South Africa, the institutions created for implementing bioregional programs such as CAPE have excluded the scientists who developed the conservation plans in the first place. This was a mistake. Strategies need constant updating, as reflection by scientists, stakeholders, and implementers identifies new and more effective ways of dealing with blockages and barriers to implementation. But the enabling bureaucrats aren’t listening. Instead, they are locked into the rigid world of deadlines and tick boxes that constrain innovation. Progress suffers.

The responsibility for breaking this deadlock lies with both groups-scientists and implementers alike. In this regard, we can learn much from management science, where all sorts of wise words have been written on closing the “knowing-doing” gap (Pfeffer and Sutton 1999). Much of the solution lies in effective teamwork. The root causes of nature’s plight-overpopulation and overconsumption-are complex problems which our predominantly biological backgrounds as conservation scientists do not equip us to tackle adequately. Obstacles notwithstanding (Campbell 2005), new “transdisciplines” (Max-Neef 2005) need to emerge from teamwork involving natural scientists, social scientist and scholars from the humanities (Penn 2003), as well as with the people who, by decree or democracy, make the decisions that can save or imperil nature. We need teams led by people with compassion and empathy (Goleman 1994). Dedicated and collaborative teamwork should not be intimidating. It is actually fascinating, productive and effective. Go on, try it.

Acknowledgements

I am deeply appreciative of the innumerable insights gained from my colleagues and friends, Andrew Balmford, Andrew Knight, Mandy Lombard, Mathieu Rouget, Jan Vlok and Trevor Wolf. Thank you! But most of all, to my dear wife Shirley Pierce, thanks so much for love, balance, and perspective.

Literature Cited

Balmford, A. 2003. Conservation planning in the real world: South Africa shows the way. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18:435-438.

Campbell, L. 2005. Overcoming obstacles to interdisciplinary research. Conservation Biology 19:574-577.

Cowling, R.M. and R.L. Pressey. 2003. Introduction to systematic conservation planning in the Cape Floristic Region. Biological Conservation 122:1-13.

Driver, A., R.M. Cowling, and K. Maze. 2003. Planning for living landscapes: perspectives and lessons from South Africa. Center for Applied Biodiversity Science at Conservation International, Washington, D.C. and Botanical Society of South Africa, Cape Town.

Knight, A.T., R.M. Cowling, and B.M. Campbell. 2005. Planning for implementation: an operational model for implementing conservation action. Conservation Biology, in press.

Goleman, D. 1994. Emotional intelligence. Bantam, New York.

Max-Neef, M.A. 2005. Foundations of transdisciplinarity. Ecological Economics 53:5-16.

McNiff, J. and J. Whitehead. 2003. Action research: principles and practice. Routledge Falmer, London.

Penn, D.J. 2003. Evolutionary roots of our environmental problems: towards a Darwinian ecology. The Quarterly Review of Biology 78:275-301.

Pfeffer, J. and R.I. Sutton. 1999. Knowing “what” to do is not enough: turning knowledge into action. California Management Review 42(1):83-107.

Pierce, S.M., R.M. Cowling, A.T. Knight, A.T. Lombard, M. Rouget, and T. Wolf. 2005. Systematic conservation planning products for land-use planning: interpretation for implementation. Biological Conservation 125:441-458.

Richard Cowling received a 2005 Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology for his leadership of conservation planning and implementation programs that have set the global standard for participatory, systematic conservation and helped to establish a globally significant network of formal and informal conservation areas to maximize persistence and diversification of biodiversity in the face of global change.

LOCAL CHAPTERS REPORT

SCB’s 2005 annual meeting was a resounding success for local chapters. In contrast to previous years, local chapters had a strong presence. This year we had three major activities: a highly productive annual chapter business roundtable, a new dialogue with the North America Section about chapter-section relations, and our first chapter information booth. Many thanks to all who participated or contributed to these activities. Outcomes included new resources for chapter support, growing interest in forming new chapters around the world, and plans for a chapter workshop at the 2006 annual meeting. During the past several years, the Chapter Advisors Committee has worked to strengthen chapter support and visibility in SCB, and Brasilia was proof positive of our progress.

Details about our activities are below. Please send questions or comments to Fiona Nagle, chair of the Chapter Advisors Committee, finagle@umn.edu. The chapter Web page also provides a great deal of information: /SCB/Activities/Chapters/.

Chapter Information Booth

This was the first time local chapters hosted an exhibition booth, and we now plan to host a booth each year. The booth generated considerable interest in current and potential chapters and had a fairly steady stream of visitors. Posters, flyers, newsletters, and a large world map of chapter locations were contributed by seven chapters and SCB’s Executive Office. The 2005 booth was hosted by the Bolivia Chapter, especially Alejandra Domic, chapter president, and Jose Capriles. Ingrid Hogle, a new chapter advisor, also helped to staff the booth. We found that the booth allowed us both to highlight an individual chapter and to promote chapters in general. Accordingly, we plan to ask a chapter based near the annual meeting location to host a booth each year.

Chapter-Section Dialogue

Steve Trombulak (President, North America Section), Alan Thornhill (Executive Director, SCB), Paul Beier (Chapter representative on the Board of Governors, 2003-2005), and Fiona Nagle (Chair, Chapter Advisors Committee) started a dialogue about potential relationships between local chapters and Regional Sections. We hope to continue this dialogue and expand it to include other Regional Sections as the number of chapters outside North America continues to increase. Steve was quite enthusiastic. He would like to hear from chapters in North America about their needs and desires for building their SCB community and providing chapter members with resources for professional development. Please send comments and suggestions to trombulak@middlebury.edu.

Initial support for chapters from the North America Section includes an offer to sponsor and coordinate a speaker for North America chapter meetings. This may be of interest for obtaining keynote speakers for chapter symposia, meetings, or seminars, and for new or struggling chapters that would benefit from a “chapter pep talk” or revitalization. In return for this support, Steve encourages chapter members to become SCB and Section members. SCB and Section membership confers the right to vote; regional policies and initiatives that have effects at the local level can benefit greatly from chapter involvement and voices. More information on Section initiatives is available at /SCB/Activities/Sections/NAmerica/.

In addition, SCB chapters now have the opportunity to represent themselves at regional meetings of organizations other than SCB. Alan Thornhill has offered to support and collaborate with chapters on hosting a SCB information booth at these meetings, and Sections can be involved as well. This is an excellent opportunity for chapters to promote their group, create an educational forum, access the meeting, and strengthen their links to SCB and Sections.

Chapter Business Roundtable Highlights

Nine active and future chapters were represented at this year’s roundtable. Experiences, concerns, and food were shared, and some excellent news, ideas, and projects resulted.

Chapter Activity 2004-2005

-- SCB has two new chapters. A chapter at the University of Maine became active in mid-2004. The Nairobi-based East Africa chapter, which encompasses six countries, was chartered in July 2005.

-- Chapters are being formed at Iowa State University and Ohio State University.

-- Two pairs of chapters have become “sister chapters”: Bolivia and University of California, Davis, and East Africa and University of California, Berkeley.

-- We received eight inquiries to form chapters from Bhutan, China, Columbia, Pakistan, Philippines, Slovenia, and the United States (Oregon and southern California).

-- The oldest continuously active chapter, chartered in 1991, is based at Colorado State University.

-- There are now 22 active SCB chapters: 20 in North America, one in South America, and one in Africa.

-- Chapter “home ranges” vary from a single university to multiple states to multiple countries. Most chapters are about 80% graduate students, but the proportion of graduate students, undergraduates, and professionals varies.

Focus: Latin American Chapters

The Bolivia Chapter has been active for eight years. Most members of the chapter are undergraduate biology students, and approximately 25% are SCB members. The chapter has been organizing highly successful short courses on conservation biology in La Paz for undergraduates, inviting local professionals to give the presentations. The chapter charges a small fee, which they use to support their environmental education efforts in grade schools.

Seven other SCB members expressed great enthusiasm for starting new chapters in Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Mexico. They hope that by starting SCB chapters in their countries they can promote environmental education among the general population and decision-makers. They also see SCB chapters as a promising way to bring together conservation professionals who currently tend to work in isolation, and also to provide much-needed professional development for students.

Please contact Fiona Nagle if you or your chapter have interest in assisting or mentoring these nascent chapters.

New Resources for Chapters

-- SCB has two new initiatives intended to strengthen our local chapters and encourage chapter members to play more-active roles in our global community; see below.

-- A guide to starting and running a SCB chapter is now available at the chapter Web site. This is a comprehensive resource created with input from active, successful chapters.

-- A chapter listserv exists for chapter officers and other interested persons. Please contact Fiona Nagle to be added or to post to the listserv.

-- SCB can provide awards for papers and presentations at chapter conferences

-- SCB’s Executive Office can host individual chapter email lists. Contact Kat Powers, kpm@, for more information. Kat is also the Executive Office Chapter Advocate and helps provide logistical support for chapters.

2006 Annual Meeting

-- Inherit / Conserve. This SCB program benefits researchers, chapters, and countries in need by redistributing used equipment such as field gear, textbooks, and lab materials. We encourage SCB members and chapters to donate and to assist with this project.

-- Sister Chapter Fundraisers. Chapters at the University of California, Berkeley and University of California, Davis are planning to raise funds to help bring members of sister chapter members in Bolivia and East Africa to the 2006 annual meeting. Free local lodging also is being explored. Other chapters are welcome to help with this effort, or to provide similar assistance to other new or sister chapters.

Chapter Advisors Committee Updates

-- Tom Sisk has succeeded Paul Beier as chapter representative on SCB’s Board of Governors. Tom’s term will run until the close of the 2008 annual meeting.

-- Fiona Nagle is chair of the committee.

-- Lisa Delissio has retired from the committee. Ingrid Hogle (University of California, Davis) and Eric Martin (Texas A&M University) have joined the committee.

Fiona Nagle

SEED GRANTS

Most of our local chapters are composed of students who may have trouble raising funds for events such as a seminar series or annual meeting, or for producing a brochure to attract new members. To help build the capacity of new chapters, SCB is willing to provide these groups with a grant of US$200 in each of their first two years. A “new” chapter is one that is not located within 80 km (50 miles) of another chapter that has been active for more than two years.

If your chapter is less than one year old, you can apply for start-up funds by submitting a short (two-page maximum) application that specifies (1) identity of chapter officers, all of whom must be SCB members (remember, membership rates are as low as $10), (2) the dollar amount of dues the chapter charges each of its members (you can’t expect SCB to support you if you won’t support yourselves!), (3) the number of chapter members, how many are members of SCB, and when the chapter became active (or re-activated), and (4) a description (maximum 500 words) of the one or two most important activities that the chapter will undertake. At least one of these activities should be annual. If your chapter does not have an approved charter, please also submit (5) a proposed charter and bylaws modified for your chapter. (Generic bylaws and charter are available at /SCB/Local_Chapters_EN.asp. The Web site also gives helpful advice on the types of activities that successful chapters have undertaken.) Applications may be submitted at any time. Submit all materials to Kat Powers-Morris, kpm@.

One year after receipt of the initial grant, the chapter may apply for an additional $200. Applications for renewal of support must include (1) an accounting of total revenue from the previous year in each of three categories, membership dues, donations, and grants, demonstrating that the chapter raised at least $200 in addition to the grant from SCB, and (2) a one-page report describing the chapter’s activities, specifically its progress with respect to the primary activities described in the original application, and anticipated future activities. Future activities need not be different from current activities; the chapter might elect to pursue fewer activities more fully or to experiment with a different type of activity. The report should convey how the chapter has reflected on its first year of activities and made any adjustments it felt were necessary.

Preference will be given to applications from chapters outside of North America. Additional selection criteria are quality of the activity plans (a reasonable plan for a small number of useful activities is more impressive than a long and unrealistic list) and size of the chapter. Chapters cannot request a third year of support. This is a pilot program that will be re-evaluated during 2007-2008 and continued if most initial grant recipients have become successful local chapters.

GRANTS TO INCREASE MEMBERSHIP IN STUDENT-DOMINATED LOCAL CHAPTERS

The number of active local SCB chapters increased from 14 in 2002 to 21 as of April 2005. Our local chapters provide superb annual meetings that allow conservation biologists to exchange information and build relationships, seminars in conservation biology that raise awareness in university communities, and other valuable local services. However, although officers of local chapters are required to be SCB members, most members of local chapters are not SCB members. This pattern is especially prevalent among students, who arguably may stand

to gain more than established professionals from becoming part of regional and international conservation communities.

To address this issue, SCB is targeting a new small-grant program toward student-dominated chapters. The program encourages students to join the global community of conservation professionals and to contribute their energy and new perspectives to SCB. Because most students are likely to join at the $10 rate (no subscriptions), we do not expect to realize net revenue. The program will be a success, however, to the extent that it helps build local and global communities.

Any local chapter in which at least two-thirds of members are students may apply for a grant of up to US$150 from SCB’s Executive Office. The grant may be used only to pay for or subsidize SCB memberships (with or without subscriptions). A local chapter may, at its discretion, use the grant to pay up to 100% of the cost of individual SCB memberships. For example, a chapter could use its grant to underwrite 15 memberships at the $10 level, five memberships with subscriptions to Conservation In Practice, three low-income nation subscriptions to Conservation Biology, or to subsidize 80% of the cost of two high-income nation subscriptions to Conservation Biology. An individual member of a local chapter may receive only one subsidy, which must be awarded during his or her first year of membership in the chapter and SCB.

Renewals for a second year of chapter support are not automatic; applications for continuing support must list names of individuals who received subsidies and indicate which of those individuals renewed their SCB membership after the first (subsidized) year.

Submit applications by 15 April 2006 to kpm@. Applications must include (1) a 300-500 word description of the chapter’s annual activities and (2) a list of chapter members, indicating those who are students, already members of SCB, will receive subsidies, and the total subsidy for each recipient. Preference will be given to (a) applications from developing countries, (b) chapters with a high proportion of student members, (c) chapters with a large number of members, and (d) chapters that have remained active for two or more years.

THE ECOLOGY OF FISHING DOWN MARINE WEBS

BY DANIEL PAULY

The phenomenon wherein fisheries increasingly target smaller fish lower down in the food web, called “fishing down marine food webs” (FD), and first demonstrated in 1998, is now well documented from a variety of countries and ecosystem types. This is one reason why the Convention on Biological Diversity selected the mean trophic level of fisheries catch, renamed “Marine Trophic Index,” as one of eight indicators for “immediate testing” by its over 180 member countries.

FD was an easy transition for the fishing industry to make: moving on from one depleted stock to another traditionally has been its standard operating procedure. And FD does not have a built-in economic break: small fishes and invertebrates, which have low trophic levels, have recently experienced steep increases in their market value, so much so that they may be seen as subsidizing FD.

One aspect of FD that still needs a basic framework, however, is its ecology, or, more precisely, its ecological impact on marine ecosystems. Essentially, FD is a succession, even if it seems to reverse the usual sequence: it consists of a gradual loss of large organisms, species diversity, and structural diversity, and a gradual replacement of recently evolved, derived groups (marine mammals, bony fishes) by more primitive groups (invertebrates, notably jellyfishes, and bacteria). This is best seen when distinguishing three phases of the FD process, and by characterizing, for each phase, (1) the main features of the fishes and other nektonic organism and (2) pelagic-benthic coupling and its effect on processes in the water column.

Three Phases

The first phase, “pristine,” prevailed before humans strongly impacted ocean ecosystems. A few parts of the oceans, notably outlying areas of the South Pacific, still may be pristine, But for most of the world, pristine abundances must be recovered-reconstructed-from historical accounts and anecdotes, or inferred from archeological data.

A pristine state invariably is characterized by numerous marine mammals and large fish as top predators, the latter with biomasses often exceeding their present abundance tenfold to hundredfold. Elevated biomass of top predators implies large biomass of small prey fishes and invertebrates, though not necessarily of those opportunistic groups (shrimps, squids) that now support increasingly valuable fisheries.

In the pristine environment, benthic life is dominated by an abundant structure-forming and sessile fauna, composed of filter feeders and deposit feeders, which keep phytoplankton biomass down and prevent resuspension of sediments. As a result, the water column tends to be free of suspended particles and of nutrients leaching from them, or oligotrophic.

The second phase, “exploited,” is the phase we are in currently. It is best characterized by declines, notably declining biomasses of large fishes, declining sizes and diversity of fishes in fisheries catches, declining trophic levels of the same (and hence the FD phenomenon), and declining benthos.

Initially, these declines are compensated for by cascades effects, manifest in the emergence of new fisheries for squids and other invertebrates, but these eventually decline as well.

Benthic life is modified: biogenic structures, built over centuries by filter and detritus feeders, are increasingly destroyed by bottom trawling, and replaced by small errant benthic animals and the benthic (polyp) stages of jellyfishes.

This leads to an increased eutrophication of the water column, owing to the increasing scarcity of the animals and structures that were cropping the phytoplankton and consuming the marine snow (detritus), which is now resuspended by storms and by trawling itself.

The third phase, “fully degraded,” will follow on the continuation of present trends-although in some places, e.g., estuaries such as the Chesapeake Bay, many of the features associated with this third stage have already developed. In the Chesapeake Bay, fishing not only has eliminated virtually all animals above the size of striped bass, the current top predator, but more importantly has eliminated the benthic filter feeders. Indeed, the oysters that until 150 years ago formed giant reefs are reported as having been capable of filtering the water of Chesapeake Bay in three days. Their absence (again, a result of fishing) is the ultimate reason why pollution from effluents now can have such strong effects, and why harmful algae bloom. This also applies to other water bodies, estuarine or not, which are rendered less resilient by fishing, and easier for invasive species to overwhelm.

The biological endpoint of ecosystem degradation is the “dead zone,” a zone free of oxygen and of multicellular life as a result of excess nutrients in the water column and of bacteria, rather than benthic animals, processing the resulting abundance of marine snow and other detritus. There are growing numbers of these dead zones throughout the world, from the northern Gulf of Mexico and the northern Adriatic Sea to the Bohai Sea in China, and there can be no argument that the underlying ecosystems are fully degraded.

Conclusions

These three phases of fishing down, pristine, exploited, and fully degraded, are schematic; they could be further subdivided, and defined more rigorously. Still, even in their present, preliminary form, they provide a coherent framework for many of the changes observed in ocean ecosystems. Our task is to further develop this framework.

Daniel Pauly received SCB’s 2005 Edward T. LaRoe III Memorial Award for his leadership, innovation, and effectiveness in conveying the results of his research and their implications for management of fish stocks to fisheries managers and policy makers worldwide.

UPDATES FROM REGIONAL SECTIONS AND WORKING GROUPS

AFRICA

With the help of our information officer, a career guide for the conservation biology discipline in Africa in both English and French is now available on the Section’s Web site (/Africa). If you want a copy of the guide but cannot download PDF documents via the internet, please email Stephen Awoyemi (stephen_awoyemi@).

A capacity-development project aimed at young African conservation biologists that was launched at SCB’s 2004 annual meeting is currently in its second stage. The project provides opportunities for young Africans to present their research with the assistance of senior scientists. The second stage involves the completion of a scientific article appropriate for a peer-reviewed journal. The majority of participants in the project successfully have given presentations and had peer-reviewed publications accepted for a special issue of Biological Conservation. As a follow-up, an event is being planned for SCB’s 2006 annual meeting to give African scientists the opportunity to discuss how best to use their scientific results to inform policy and management.

Since the 2005 annual meeting, the flow of discussion has increased among female scientists with interest in biological conservation in Africa. Both genders are welcome to participate in continued dialogue. The goal of this effort is to promote the discipline of conservation biology and increase its appeal to women, especially young scientists from developing countries with an emphasis on Africa. For more information, contact Christina Ellis (CEenbrousse@) or the Africa Section board (Africa@).

SCB’s 2006 annual meeting presents an opportunity to emphasize social issues that bear on the real challenges of biological conservation in Africa. Accordingly, the Section hopes to convene a symposium in addition to the Section’s annual members’ meeting to discuss four major issues related to conservation in Africa - science, conservation, policy, and development - and the role of SCB and its 2007 annual meeting in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. We are pleased to extend an invitation to researchers, students, managers, policy makers, and funding agencies with interest in conservation in Africa to join the Africa section in its presentations and meetings in San Jose. Scientists in the global environmental research community who address human dimensions are particularly welcome, especially those interested in land use and land cover change. Financial assistance from any organization that can help support attendance of Africans at the meeting is most welcome; please contact the Africa Section board or programs@ (attention: Delali Dovie).

Delali Dovie

AUSTRAL AND NEOTROPICAL AMERICA

The third annual meeting of the Board of Directors of the Austral and Neotropical America Section was held 29-30 August at the Centro Tupper de Investigación y Desarrollo, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama City, Panama. The meeting was attended by seven board members: J.A. Simonetti (President, Chile), R. Medellín (President Elect, Mexico), J.P. Rodríguez (Past President, Venezuela), A. Sánchez-Azofeifa (Chief Financial Officer, Costa Rica / Canada), L.F. Aguirre (Membership and Programs, Bolivia), J. Jiménez (Conservation, Chile), and J. Calvo (Nominations, Policy, and Audit, Costa Rica). During the meeting, Simonetti completed his term as President and Medellín assumed that position for 2005-2007.

In Panama, the strategic plan adopted during the first annual Board of Directors meeting in La Habana, Cuba was critically reviewed with respect to accomplishments and challenges. The Section adopted SCB’s strategic planning process [see SCB Newsletter 12(3)] as its own, focusing activities on the same issues adopted in La Habana.

The Section has been very active during 2005. From 2003-2005 we organized two series of seminars, organized two symposia, and co-hosted or sponsored three scientific meetings, including SCB’s 2005 annual meeting in Brasilia. To increase regional capacity building opportunities, we sponsored four graduate level courses, organized a network of video conferences, launched an ad hoc committee for student affairs, published a review of financial needs to foster capacity building in the region, and, thanks to the support of The Christensen Fund, sponsored 31 new SCB members. Seven of these memberships were given as prizes for the best conservation-related papers delivered by students and young professionals at two scientific meetings. The Section also agreed to support three new graduate level courses in Bolivia.

To facilitate access to scientific information, the Section sponsors NeoCons and has launched a Web page with information about scientific journals and regional graduate programs in conservation biology and resource management. An outcome of these activities has been an steady increase in membership, although the proportion of scientists and students from the region that are SCB members remains low.

In addition to its own meeting, the Board of Directors organized a set of lectures in association with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Lectures by W. Laurence, R. Medellín, J. Wright, and J.P. Rodríguez reached 27 students and researchers. Through opportunities such as a series of lectures (as in Guatemala) or by operating jointly with other scientific organizations, the Section plans to contribute directly to increasing the capacity of a new generation of conservation professionals in the region.

Cristian E. Olivo Quiroga

EUROPE

In September the Board of Directors met with other members of the Scientific Committee of the First European Congress of Conservation Biology (ECCB) in Hatfield, England to review symposium proposals submitted for the ECCB. We were encouraged by both the quantity and quality of submissions and are pleased to announce a provisional list of symposium titles.

Agri-environment schemes in new EU member states

Biodiversity and conservation values of urban habitat fragments

Biodiversity conservation in boreal forests

Conservation and sustainable use of wild relatives of socio-economically important plants

Conservation consequences of genetically modified plants

Conservation in botanic gardens

Conservation of European amphibians and reptiles

Conservation of European crayfish

Conserving large carnivores in European landscapes

Diversity for Europe: learning from other continents

Diversity of important transboundary wetlands of Europe

European owl conservation

Evidence-based conservation-theory and practice

Fighting invasive exotic plants

Nature conservation in freshwater ecosystems

Planning for conservation in the European landscape

Predictive distribution modeling

The role of marine protected areas in the conservation of biodiversity and fisheries management

In addition to these symposia the ECCB will host both contributed oral and poster sessions. Abstracts for papers and posters are now being accepted and we encourage you to visit the congress Web site, , for details.

The Board meeting in Hatfield was timed to coincide with the annual meeting of the British Ecological Society, which hosted a session on conservation in Europe. The British Ecological Society invited members of the Section board to present their work to highlight the discipline of conservation biology in Europe. The session was an excellent opportunity to enhance the profile and reputation of the Section and to promote ECCB. The session was well attended and enthusiastically received.

As always, the board encourages Section members to become involved in the activities of the Section. Opportunities to participate exist in both the Education Committee and the Policy Committee. The Education Committee is continuing its work to compile a database of undergraduate and graduate conservation education opportunities across Europe. If you would like to become involved or simply wish to provide information about opportunities in your country or at your institution, contact Renato Massa (renato.massa@unimib.it).

Another way to get involved is to take part in the ECCB, so start thinking about an abstract and keep 22-26 August 2006 free in your diary!

Please contact the board with any questions or comments (europe@).

Owen Nevin

MARINE

SCB2006 and the Third Symposium on Marine Conservation Biology

The Marine Section board continues its planning for the Third Symposium on Marine Conservation Biology, which will be integrated into SCB’s 2006 annual meeting. There was a strong response to the call for symposium proposals and we look forward to an enthusiastic marine presence at the meeting.

Marine Policy News

Within the United States, marine policy news continues to be dominated by a lack of response from the current administration and Congress to two seminal reports from the National Ocean Commission and Pew Commission that outlined an aggressive plan for ecosystems management and other changes in the management of oceans and coastal zones.

In the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Florida’s governor recently appeared to be moving away from his previous position of opposing all oil and gas development off the Florida coast. Citing high costs of oil and gasoline following the hurricanes, some congressional leaders likewise are encouraging new drilling in U.S. coastal waters. According to Interior Secretary Norton, 3050 of the 4000 oil and gas platforms managed by the U.S. Minerals Management Service in the Gulf of Mexico were in the path of Katrina or Rita, and 108 older platforms were destroyed (accounting for 1.7% of oil production and 0.9% of gas production). Fifty-three additional platforms suffered significant damage and are being repaired. Overall, a substantial portion of U.S. domestic fossil fuels production, 30% of oil and 21% of natural gas, comes from the 1.76 billion acres of the country’s outer continental shelf.

The hurricanes left behind a tremendous amount of trash and toxic waste. This poses challenges both to public health and to biodiversity in the region.

In Oregon, researchers have pointed to an apparent increase in toxic algae blooms that they believe may be a result of climate change, and human impacts on the coasts with resulting elevated levels of the toxin demoic acid.

The warmer Caribbean Sea waters that have fueled hurricanes also may be exacerbating coral bleaching. Corals near Florida, Cuba, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Barbados, and elsewhere may be undergoing the most substantial bleaching event since 1997-1998.

Hawaii’s governor signed legislation protecting the waters out to three miles of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands from extractive activities. It appears that the state may be seeking to extend the same level of protection to 200 miles offshore.

John Cigliano and Rob Wilder



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