December’s British Ecological Society (BES) Annual Meeting will include a thematic session on ‘The role of large-scale experimentation in applied ecology and conservation’, hosted by Forest Research ecologist Kevin Watts and Kirsty Park from the University of Stirling. The event is open to all and details of how to attend are on our event page.
The session will discuss how increasing interest in landscape-scale conservation has led to a wide range of initiatives aimed at joining up fragmented habitats through the restoration and creation of corridors, stepping-stones and ecological networks. However, the evidence-base upon which these initiatives are devised and executed is often limited and has resulted in much debate on the relative merit of, and balance between, alternative conservation actions (e.g. site versus landscape management).
While the importance of experimentation in landscape management is widely acknowledged, it remains a relatively rare approach, partly due to the difficulties of achieving sufficient replication at large scales. Recent and current work spans the range from fine-scale, highly controlled ‘manipulative’ experiments to large-scale ‘natural’ experiments, but the bulk of studies focus on the former approach.
Experimental studies also need to consider both the impacts of taking habitat away (fragmentation) and the benefits of putting habitat back (restoration), to inform conservation, as impacts and benefits may not be reciprocal.
This thematic session will provide a useful synthesis of this topic, bringing together researchers working on landscape-scale habitat fragmentation and restoration projects in a range of systems (such as woodlands and grasslands) to:
- examine the extent to which we can use large-scale experimentation in applied ecology and conservation;
- identify major gaps in knowledge and understanding in this area;
- identify specific questions for future research.
Habitat fragmentation’s enduring, and growing, impact on ecological communities – Nick Haddad, North Carolina State University, USA
The role of experiments in ecology: early lessons from the SAFE Project – Rob Ewers, Imperial University, UK
Understanding habitat-climate interactions: from field experiments to national monitoring schemes – Tom Oliver, University of Reading, UK
Live fast, die young: experimental evidence of population extinction risk due to climate change – Elvire Bestion, Station d'Ecologie Expérimentale du CNRS à Moulis, France
Ranking the ecological causes of dispersal in a butterﬂy – Delphine Legrand, Station d'Ecologie Expérimentale du CNRS à Moulis, France
Using historical woodland creation sites as test landscapes to inform future conservation actions – Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor, University of Stirling, UK