Quantifying the Role of Species in Restoration of Ecological Processes and Conservation Decision-Making
Wednesday, August 13, 2014: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
307, Sacramento Convention Center
Valerie E. Peters, Miami University
Michael Minnick, Miami University; and
Kaitlin Campbell, Miami University
Thomas O. Crist, Miami University
As the global biodiversity loss crisis continues, strategies to make rapid assessments for conservation planning are urgently needed. This includes planning for both (1) where and what size/configuration protected areas should be, especially for developing nations and (2) how to best restore and protect biodiversity and ecological function in agricultural or human-dominated landscapes. The most common approach of rapid assessment is to select one focal taxon or a subset of organisms for which ecological knowledge can be used to assign relevant weighting scores to species, for example, based on functional traits, commonness, tolerance to ecological conditions, range size, or a combination of these. These scores can then be used as surrogates for more sample-intensive measures of habitat quality such as total biodiversity, net primary productivity, or plant structural diversity. This allows researchers to advise well-informed and quick decisions regarding protection and management actions to meet the goals set forth by the Convention of Biological Diversity to halt global biodiversity loss and restore ecosystem functions.
Due to the broad taxonomic nature of this proposed session, it will be structured to flow from the soil to the sky. The session will begin with a study of whether ecological tolerance scores for plants (i.e. the coefficient of conservatism scores used to calculate floristic quality indices) are good predictors of habitat quality for beneficial insects. Next the session will shift focus to ants and their roles as biological indicators in Ohio’s Conservation Reserve Program and their significance for conservation assessment programs in Madagascar. Then the session will highlight work that aims to quantify species’ roles in two ecological processes: biological control and pollination. Appropriate management of agricultural and human-dominated lands for the ecosystem services resulting from these processes requires quantification of species or guild-specific contributions. The first two talks in this part of the session will focus on the functional traits of native bees and how these can be used to manage for pollination services in fragmented landscapes and restored areas on private lands. The last talk in this part of the session will describe how DNA analyses of gut contents can be used to determine which predators make the greatest contribution to biological control in corn fields. The final two topics of the session will focus on the role of insectivorous birds for ecosystem function and the use of multiple bird risk factors to prioritize conservation areas in Colombia.