How Basic Ecology Has and Will Continue to Shape Conservation Science

Thursday, August 13, 2015: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
307, Baltimore Convention Center
Michelle A. Marvier, Santa Clara University
Peter Kareiva, The Nature Conservancy
Michelle A. Marvier, Santa Clara University
The founding president of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), Victor Shelford, was an avid conservationist. He chaired the ESA’s Committee on Preservation of Natural Conditions from the committee’s inception in 1917 until 1929. Shelford’s passion for nature led him to advocacy for conservation. However, two decisions within the ESA made clear that the majority of ESA members felt the society should not engage in advocacy or lobbying and should instead serve in only a science advisory role. First, in 1937, the ESA rejected a proposal that 35 cents of each ESA member’s dues be directed to preservation efforts. And in 1945 the ESA recommended amending its bylaws to preclude the ESA taking direct action to influence legislation. Frustrated by the prevailing opinion, in 1946, Shelford’s committee set off on its own as the Ecologists Union. The Ecologists Union eventually morphed into The Nature Conservancy, which today is the world’s largest conservation organization and proclaims itself to be science-based. Despite this split, many ESA members remained engaged in the science and practice of conservation, often making explicit policy recommendations. Modern ESA poster sessions, speaker symposia, and journals are replete with conservation-relevant science The ESA’s 100th year anniversary is an opportune occasion to look back and examine how some of the big ideas in ecology have directed conservation science and practice. The focus of this symposium is ecological concepts (niches, patchiness and dispersal, keystone species, etc.) rather than conservation-specific concepts (such as minimum viable population size or biodiversity hotspots). The speakers will ask to what extent has basic ecological research found its way into conservation and become critical to conservation success. The ESA’s 100th anniversary is also a time to look ahead and project how basic ecology is likely to inform conservation science in an era of rapid climate change and expanding human influence over all ecosystems, regardless of their protected status. Each speaker in this symposium will discuss the interplay between basic ecology and applied conservation through the lens of her or his area of specialization. From niche theory to keystone species to landscape ecology, basic ecology has and will continue to inform conservation practice and policy. The final talk of the session will offer concrete examples illustrating how basic ecology has shaped conservation at The Nature Conservancy over its 64 year history and, in turn, how The Nature Conservancy continues to partner with and support ecological science.
2:00 PM
 Keystone species, top-down trophic control, and conservation
James A. Estes, University of California
2:30 PM
 Animal movement ecology and the conservation of highly mobile species
William F. Fagan, University of Maryland; Sharon A. Bewick, University of Maryland, College Park
3:00 PM
4:10 PM
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