RLE actively participated - with two presentations - in this year’s Boden Research Conference, which took place May 8-9 in Canberra, Australia.
With the mounting pressures of climate change, ecological surprises and rapid collapse of both keystone species and ecosystems are emerging. The Boden Research Conference 2018, held May 8-9 in Canberra, Australia, sought to address this topic and invited both researchers and environmental managers to join in a cross-disciplinary examination of emerging phenomenon –such as death in corals, mangrove forests, giant kelps forests and subantarctic alpine tundra to name a few– which have widespread devastating impacts. By exploring and searching for commonalities among the relationships between stress build-up, critical transitions, tipping points, and collapse; the conference aimed to develop a common conceptual framework for characterizing and understanding these ecosystem changes, as well as to explore our ability (as humans) to predict and manage such events.
A wide array of presentations, among which we highlight those of RLE representatives Prof. David Keith and Dr. Lucie Bland, took place during the event. Prof. Keith´s presentation "Ecosystem collapse: from science to policy" focused on legislation and other environmental policy instruments failing to distinguish collapse from concepts of species extinction, and addressed the reasons why a quantifiable concept of collapse is essential to ecosystem risk assessment with emphasis on how the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) concept in its Red List of Ecosystems are relevant to Australian environmental policy.
Dr. Bland and her colleagues´ presentation "Developing a standardized definition of ecosystem collapse for risk assessment", on the other hand, addressed the difficulty of defining 'ecosystem collapse'. Four recommendations were offered – based on reviewed evidence for ecosystem collapses in two contrasting biomes (marine pelagic ecosystems and terrestrial forests) – for defining ecosystem collapse and apply as a recommended framework in both RLE and national risk assessments.
Ecosystem collapse is an issue of wide public concern with implications for both biodiversity and human well-being. Events like this conference and the increasing amount of research on the nature of the collapse of the ecosystem, are a clear testimony of this fact. Working as a team to further understanding of the underlying patterns and cumulative impacts of climate change, as well as other factors that result in ecosystem collapse is, therefore, of the utmost importance and should be encouraged.
Written by: Lila García and Clara Gómez
Style and Format: Lila García and Clara Gómez
Provita May 30, 2018