Special CollectionChallenges in conservation science



Human activities are increasingly leading to the deterioration of habitats and the loss of species around the world. Conservation efforts were initially mainly focused on individual species protected in remote environments such as nature reserves, but now encompass a much wider set of goals and activities, as reflected in the Aichi biodiversity targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Using the idea of ecosystem services, some conservationists are trying to emphasize the importance of natural systems to human well-being, although others are concerned about “putting a price on nature.” How well do we understand the systems we are trying to protect? Which metrics and tools are best suited for determining the state of ecosystems, and how can economic demands and conservation goals be reconciled? In this series of Perspectives, we highlight these and other areas of debate in conservation science.

31 October 2014 | Perspective

The value of valuing nature

Valuing nature in economic terms is not always beneficial for biodiversity conservation.
31 October 2014 | Editorial

Planet at the crossroads

The world's protected areas are at a crossroads.
24 October 2014 | Perspective

Boundless no more

Given today's unprecedented threats to marine species, it is critical that rapid action be taken to conserve ocean wildlife.
17 October 2014 | Perspective

Sensing biodiversity

Sophisticated networks are required to make the best use of biodiversity data from satellites and in situ sensors.
10 October 2014 | Perspective

Taking the measure of change

Predictive models of biodiversity change are required to inform conservation policy decisions.
Thinkstock/Getty images

10 October 2014 | Report

Indicators of progress and decline

A mid-term analysis of progress toward international biodiversity targets.
3 October 2014 | Perspective

A double-edged sword for tropical forests

Contrary to expectation, high-yielding tropical crops may cause forest loss in the tropics.
26 September 2014 | Perspective

Whose conservation?

Changes in the perception and goals of nature conservation require a solid scientific base to help ensure that conservation efforts are successful.

Related Articles

17 October 2014 | Review

Applying evolutionary biology to address global challenges

Carroll et al.review the ways that a more intentional harnessing of evolution may be able to help us meet some of Earth's most pressing challenges, including disease, climate change, and food security.
25 July 2014 | Special Issue

Vanishing fauna

This issue highlights Earth's disappearing animals as well as the complications that arise when humans try to conserve them.

Christian Ziegler
6 June 2014 | Review

Slowing Amazon deforestation through public policy and interventions in beef and soy supply chains

Declining deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon suggests it is possible to manage the advance of a vast agricultural frontier.
30 May 2014 | Review

The biodiversity of species and their rates of extinction, distribution, and protection

Despite recent progress, uncertainties remain in how many species there are, where they are located, and their rate of extinction.
2 May 2014 | Perspective

Tolerance for Predatory Wildlife

Can individual tolerance toward predators affect the success of predator conservation?
18 May 2014 | Perspective

Avoiding (Re)extinction

Alternative methods of identification should be used to avoid collection of voucher specimens of threatened or rediscovered species.
4 April 2014 | Review

Migratory Animals Couple Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning Worldwide

Migratory animals link resident communities across the globe.
4 April 2014 | Perspective

To Fence or Not to Fence

Fences must be used with care in biodiversity conservation to avoid unintended consequences.
21 February 2014 | Policy Forum

Averting Lemur Extinctions amid Madagascar's Political Crisis

Community-based management, ecotourism, and researchers' presence are proposed to prevent lemur extinctions.
10 January 2014 | Review

Status and Ecological Effects of the World’s Largest Carnivores

Large carnivores are declining globally.
15 November 2014 | Policy Forum

Protected Areas and Effective Biodiversity Conservation

Increasing the collective contribution of protected areas toward preventing species extinctions requires the strategic allocation of management efforts.
1 March 2013 | Policy Forum

Legal Trade of Africa's Rhino Horns

A trade ban limits supply, therefore raising prices and driving black market poaching.
15 July 2011 | Review

Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth

This review emphasizes the urgent need for interdisciplinary research to forecast the effects of trophic downgrading on process, function, and resilience in global ecosystems.
Christian Ziegler


Related News Coverage

19 November 2014 | Climate

World Parks Congress ends with pledges for expanded protected areas

But attendees fretted over climate change.
7 November 2014 | Conservation

Plan to protect Great Barrier Reef under fire

Australia's Great Barrier Reef is under assault from fishers, agricultural runoff, and coastal development, and now climate change looms as a threat.
25 September 2014 | Biology

Red wolves in the crosshairs

U.S. agency ponders future of innovative reintroduction as animal deaths and controversy mount.
25 September 2014 | Biology

Will 'lazy' fish benefit most from new U.S. marine megareserve?

Obama creates massive protected area in Pacific.
22 September 2014 | Asia/Pacific

New military base could seal fate of Okinawa dugong

Land reclamation needed for a new U.S. Marine Corps air base threatens two of the region's few remaining major beds of seagrass, which few remaining dugong depend on.
5 September 2014 | Biology

California blue whales bounce back

The population of California blue whales is almost as high as it was in the early 1900s—a recovery that should be celebrated as a conservation success story.
1 September 2014 | Asia/Pacific

Indian ecologists decry decision on biodiversity hot spot

India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests shelved a report calling for aggressive measures to preserve the ecology of the Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
29 August 2014 | Environment

An affordable price tag for saving Brazil's Atlantic rainforest

An innovative analysis lays out a plan for Brazil’s diverse and endangered Atlantic Forest.
13 August 2014 | Biology

Too much climate uncertainty to declare wolverines endangered, says U.S. agency

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announces wolverines are not threatened by climate change and don’t need protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

18 August 2014 | Africa

Poaching drives overall elephant decline in Africa

A spike in poaching has tipped the African elephant into decline with as many as 40,000 elephants killed in 2011, a 3% loss to the total number of elephants on the continent.
12 August 2014 | Biology

Scientists want end to traditional trophy fishing of threatened species

A new study argues an international angling group should stop awarding weight-based world records for fish species threatened with extinction.
12 August 2014 | Biology

Hidden bird migrations revealed by DNA

Analyzing DNA in feathers can provide new details about bird migrations.
3 July 2014 | Environment

Rebounding whale populations are good for ocean ecosystems

Growing numbers of large whales may be critical to keeping these environments healthy.

Amy Kennedy/NOAA
30 June 2014 | Environment

More than 200 'significant' marine areas could use some love, panel finds

Scientists and diplomats have identified scores of ecologically significant ocean areas that could benefit from international recognition.
7 March 2014 | News & Analysis

Major Conservation Group Guts Science Team in Strategy Shift

WWF is downsizing the unit and putting many of its scientists into conservations teams.
10 September 2010 | News Feature

Despite Progress, Biodiversity Declines

Science examines the major modifications proposed for six central targets towards the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) goal of a significant slowdown in biodiversity loss.


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