SYMP 19 - Integrating Evolution into Policy: Improved Science-Based Decision-Making for Environmental Stewardship

Thursday, August 11, 2011: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Ballroom C, Austin Convention Center
Organizer: Caroline E. Ridley
Moderator: Caroline E. Ridley
Evolutionary processes and paradigms are rarely explicitly accounted for or integrated into US environmental policy. Yet, we now know that evolution, often in combination with ecological forces and feedbacks, can produce rapid, measurable genetic and phenotypic changes in response to environmental alterations that are often human-mediated. These changes can impact populations of organisms and natural communities that the public cares about and which may already be under the jurisdiction of laws and regulations. Arguably, evolutionary biology should play a more prominent role in science-based policy, given its synergistic role with ecology in determining many aspects of environmental health and quality. Several policy areas where evolution could potentially enhance environmental protection and stewardship include wildlife disease management, fisheries management, limitation of pesticide resistance evolution, biodiversity conservation, invasive species management, biotechnology risk assessment, and climate change response and resiliency, among others. New outlets for publishing science in these areas have emerged in recent years, including Evolutionary Applications, an evolutionary counterpart to the highly successful ecological journal with similar scope and aims. Unfortunately, translation of this work into an environmental policy context remains piecemeal. This is unlike public health policy, which routinely relies on evolutionary models to pinpoint sources of human pathogens or the likelihood of new pandemics. The development of strategies for accurate and consistent consideration of evolution in environmental decision-making is a logical and necessary next step, and one on which this symposium begins to engage. This symposium will (1) provide background on how evolutionary thinking can be applied broadly to improve environmental stewardship; (2) explore specific examples of evolutionary research with real world application and relevance; (3) discuss challenges and approaches to incorporating evolution into policy frameworks, including a look at whether its consistent application can be achieved across the range of issues addressed by decision-makers; and (4) present cases of successful integration of evolutionary understanding into policy to inform future efforts. Two products are expected. First, the participants and other interested, invited parties will write a set of publishable recommendations to scientists and decision-makers for moving evolutionary understanding into public policy. Second, possibly in conjunction with the Society for the Study of Evolution’s Education Committee with whom conversations are ongoing, participants will initiate development of a series of workshops for federal agencies to introduce policy-makers to the value of evolutionary thinking to improve environmental management.
1:50 PM
Genetic risk and endangered species: Linking science and recovery
Maile C. Neel, University of Maryland; Lesley G. Campbell, Rice University; Sara Ziegler, University of Maryland, College Park
2:10 PM
Genetic diversity and population resilience
Jeffrey Markert, US Department of the Interior; Christopher W. Brown, California State Lands Commission; Mark Bagley, US Environmental Protection Agency; Diane E. Nacci, US EPA - Atlantic Ecology Division; Jason S. Grear, US EPA - Atlantic Ecology Division; Robert N. Fisher, U. S. Department of the Interior
2:30 PM
CANCELLED - Rapid evolution during habitat invasions
Carol E. Lee, University of Wiconsin
3:10 PM
3:20 PM
Evolution and conservation: A case study of endangered karst invertebrates
Cyndee A. Watson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4:00 PM
Institutional learning and regulatory evolution
Holly Doremus, University of California Berkeley
See more of: Symposium
Copyright © . All rights reserved.
Banner photo by Flickr user greg westfall.