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1.  Opportunity or Orientation? Who Uses Urban Parks and Why 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87422.
There is growing recognition that interactions with nature provide many desirable human well-being outcomes, yet increasing urbanization is degrading the quality and quantity of nature experiences. Thus, it has become increasingly important to understand how and why urban dwellers interact with nature. Studies of urban green space use have largely focused on the availability and ease of access to green space, suggesting that greater opportunities to experience such space will lead to increased use. However, a growing literature emphasizes the potential for an individual's nature orientation to affect their interaction with green space. Here we measure the importance of both opportunity and orientation factors in explaining urban park use. An urban lifestyle survey was deployed across Brisbane, Australia in November 2012 to assess patterns of green space use. Participants (n = 1479) were asked to provide information on demographics, private yard use, park visitations in the past week, and their orientation toward nature. About 60% of those surveyed had visited a park in the past week, and while this park user population had significantly greater nearby park coverage (within a 250 m radius; p = 0.006), a much stronger determinant of visitation was their higher nature orientation (p<0.00001), suggesting that while both opportunity and orientation are important drivers for park visitation, nature orientation is the primary effect. Park users also spent significantly more time in their yards than non-park users (p<0.00001), suggesting that yard use does not necessarily compensate for lower park use. Park users with stronger nature orientation (i) spent more time in their yard, (ii) traveled further to green spaces, and (iii) made longer visits than park visitors with weaker nature orientation. Overall, our results suggest that measures to increase people's connection to nature could be more important than measures to increase urban green space availability if we want to encourage park visitation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087422
PMCID: PMC3906185  PMID: 24489913
2.  Contrasting trends in light pollution across Europe based on satellite observed night time lights 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:3789.
Since the 1970s nighttime satellite images of the Earth from space have provided a striking illustration of the extent of artificial light. Meanwhile, growing awareness of adverse impacts of artificial light at night on scientific astronomy, human health, ecological processes and aesthetic enjoyment of the night sky has led to recognition of light pollution as a significant global environmental issue. Links between economic activity, population growth and artificial light are well documented in rapidly developing regions. Applying a novel method to analysis of satellite images of European nighttime lights over 15 years, we show that while the continental trend is towards increasing brightness, some economically developed regions show more complex patterns with large areas decreasing in observed brightness over this period. This highlights that opportunities exist to constrain and even reduce the environmental impact of artificial light pollution while delivering cost and energy-saving benefits.
doi:10.1038/srep03789
PMCID: PMC3896907  PMID: 24445659
3.  Representation of Ecosystem Services by Terrestrial Protected Areas: Chile as a Case Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82643.
Protected areas are increasingly considered to play a key role in the global maintenance of ecosystem processes and the ecosystem services they provide. It is thus vital to assess the extent to which existing protected area systems represent those services. Here, for the first time, we document the effectiveness of the current Chilean protected area system and its planned extensions in representing both ecosystem services (plant productivity, carbon storage and agricultural production) and biodiversity. Additionally, we evaluate the effectiveness of protected areas based on their respective management objectives. Our results show that existing protected areas in Chile do not contain an unusually high proportion of carbon storage (14.9%), agricultural production (0.2%) or biodiversity (11.8%), and also represent a low level of plant productivity (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index of 0.38). Proposed additional priority sites enhance the representation of ecosystem services and biodiversity, but not sufficiently to attain levels of representation higher than would be expected for their area of coverage. Moreover, when the species groups were assessed separately, amphibians was the only one well represented. Suggested priority sites for biodiversity conservation, without formal protection yet, was the only protected area category that over-represents carbon storage, agricultural production and biodiversity. The low representation of ecosystem services and species’ distribution ranges by the current protected area system is because these protected areas are heavily biased toward southern Chile, and contain large extents of ice and bare rock. The designation and management of proposed priority sites needs to be addressed in order to increase the representation of ecosystem services within the Chilean protected area system.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082643
PMCID: PMC3869732  PMID: 24376559
4.  Street lighting changes the composition of invertebrate communities 
Biology Letters  2012;8(5):764-767.
Artificial lighting has been used to illuminate the nocturnal environment for centuries and continues to expand with urbanization and economic development. Yet, the potential ecological impact of the resultant light pollution has only recently emerged as a major cause for concern. While investigations have demonstrated that artificial lighting can influence organism behaviour, reproductive success and survivorship, none have addressed whether it is altering the composition of communities. We show, for the first time, that invertebrate community composition is affected by proximity to street lighting independently of the time of day. Five major invertebrate groups contributed to compositional differences, resulting in an increase in the number of predatory and scavenging individuals in brightly lit communities. Our results indicate that street lighting changes the environment at higher levels of biological organization than previously recognized, raising the potential that it can alter the structure and function of ecosystems.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2012.0216
PMCID: PMC3440964  PMID: 22628095
artificial light pollution; community composition; ground-dwelling invertebrates; high pressure sodium; street lights
5.  Artificial light alters natural regimes of night-time sky brightness 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1722.
Artificial light is globally one of the most widely distributed forms of anthropogenic pollution. However, while both the nature and ecological effects of direct artificial lighting are increasingly well documented, those of artificial sky glow have received little attention. We investigated how city lights alter natural regimes of lunar sky brightness using a novel ten month time series of measurements recorded across a gradient of increasing light pollution. In the city, artificial lights increased sky brightness to levels six times above those recorded in rural locations, nine and twenty kilometers away. Artificial lighting masked natural monthly and seasonal regimes of lunar sky brightness in the city, and increased the number and annual regime of full moon equivalent hours available to organisms during the night. The changes have potentially profound ecological consequences.
doi:10.1038/srep01722
PMCID: PMC3634108
6.  What are the Benefits of Interacting with Nature? 
There is mounting empirical evidence that interacting with nature delivers measurable benefits to people. Reviews of this topic have generally focused on a specific type of benefit, been limited to a single discipline, or covered the benefits delivered from a particular type of interaction. Here we construct novel typologies of the settings, interactions and potential benefits of people-nature experiences, and use these to organise an assessment of the benefits of interacting with nature. We discover that evidence for the benefits of interacting with nature is geographically biased towards high latitudes and Western societies, potentially contributing to a focus on certain types of settings and benefits. Social scientists have been the most active researchers in this field. Contributions from ecologists are few in number, perhaps hindering the identification of key ecological features of the natural environment that deliver human benefits. Although many types of benefits have been studied, benefits to physical health, cognitive performance and psychological well-being have received much more attention than the social or spiritual benefits of interacting with nature, despite the potential for important consequences arising from the latter. The evidence for most benefits is correlational, and although there are several experimental studies, little as yet is known about the mechanisms that are important for delivering these benefits. For example, we do not know which characteristics of natural settings (e.g., biodiversity, level of disturbance, proximity, accessibility) are most important for triggering a beneficial interaction, and how these characteristics vary in importance among cultures, geographic regions and socio-economic groups. These are key directions for future research if we are to design landscapes that promote high quality interactions between people and nature in a rapidly urbanising world.
doi:10.3390/ijerph10030913
PMCID: PMC3709294  PMID: 23466828
urbanisation; ecosystem services; health benefits
7.  Quantifying temporal change in biodiversity: challenges and opportunities 
Growing concern about biodiversity loss underscores the need to quantify and understand temporal change. Here, we review the opportunities presented by biodiversity time series, and address three related issues: (i) recognizing the characteristics of temporal data; (ii) selecting appropriate statistical procedures for analysing temporal data; and (iii) inferring and forecasting biodiversity change. With regard to the first issue, we draw attention to defining characteristics of biodiversity time series—lack of physical boundaries, uni-dimensionality, autocorrelation and directionality—that inform the choice of analytic methods. Second, we explore methods of quantifying change in biodiversity at different timescales, noting that autocorrelation can be viewed as a feature that sheds light on the underlying structure of temporal change. Finally, we address the transition from inferring to forecasting biodiversity change, highlighting potential pitfalls associated with phase-shifts and novel conditions.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.1931
PMCID: PMC3574422  PMID: 23097514
biological diversity; time; legacy data; traits; global change; conservation
8.  Understanding Urban Green Space as a Health Resource: A Qualitative Comparison of Visit Motivation and Derived Effects among Park Users in Sheffield, UK 
With increasing interest in the use of urban green space to promote human health, there is a need to understand the extent to which park users conceptualize these places as a resource for health and well-being. This study sought to examine park users’ own reasons for and benefits from green space usage and compare these with concepts and constructs in existing person-environment-health theories and models of health. Conducted in 13 public green spaces in Sheffield, UK, we undertook a qualitative content analysis of 312 park users’ responses to open-ended interview questions and identified a breadth, depth and salience of visit motivators and derived effects. Findings highlight a discrepancy between reasons for visiting and derived effects from the use of urban green space. Motivations emphasized walking, green space qualities, and children. Derived effects highlighted relaxation, positive emotions within the self and towards the place, and spiritual well-being. We generate a taxonomy of motivations and derived effects that could facilitate operationalization within empirical research and articulate a conceptual framework linking motivators to outcomes for investigating green space as a resource for human health and well-being.
doi:10.3390/ijerph10010417
PMCID: PMC3564151  PMID: 23340602
green space; health; well-being; motivation; relaxation; physical activity; environment; restoration; place; stress.
9.  Organic carbon hidden in urban ecosystems 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:963.
Urbanization is widely presumed to degrade ecosystem services, but empirical evidence is now challenging these assumptions. We report the first city-wide organic carbon (OC) budget for vegetation and soils, including under impervious surfaces. Urban soil OC storage was significantly greater than in regional agricultural land at equivalent soil depths, however there was no significant difference in storage between soils sampled beneath urban greenspaces and impervious surfaces, at equivalent depths. For a typical U.K. city, total OC storage was 17.6 kg m−2 across the entire urban area (assuming 0 kg m−2 under 15% of land covered by buildings). The majority of OC (82%) was held in soils, with 13% found under impervious surfaces, and 18% stored in vegetation. We reveal that assumptions underpinning current national estimates of ecosystem OC stocks, as required by Kyoto Protocol signatories, are not robust and are likely to have seriously underestimated the contributions of urban areas.
doi:10.1038/srep00963
PMCID: PMC3520025  PMID: 23236585
10.  Temporal changes in greenspace in a highly urbanized region 
Biology Letters  2011;7(5):763-766.
The majority of the world's population now lives in towns and cities, and urban areas are expanding faster than any other land-use type. In response to this phenomenon, two opposing arguments have emerged: whether cities should ‘sprawl’ into the wider countryside, or ‘densify’ through the development of existing urban greenspace. However, these greenspaces are increasingly recognized as being central to the amelioration of urban living conditions, supporting biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service provision. Taking the highly urbanized region of England as a case study, we use data from a variety of sources to investigate the impact of national-level planning policy on temporal patterns in the extent of greenspace in cities. Between 1991 and 2006, greenspace showed a net increase in all but one of 13 cities. However, the majority of this gain occurred prior to 2001, and greenspace has subsequently declined in nine cities. Such a dramatic shift in land use coincides with policy reforms in 2000, which favoured densification. Here, we illustrate the dynamic and policy-responsive nature of urban land use, thereby highlighting the need for a detailed investigation of the trade-offs associated with different mechanisms of urban densification to optimize and secure the diverse benefits associated with greenspaces.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0025
PMCID: PMC3169039  PMID: 21429910
urbanization; ecosystem services; human population density; urban densification; urban ecology; urban greenspace
11.  Are soils in urban ecosystems compacted? A citywide analysis 
Biology Letters  2011;7(5):771-774.
Soil compaction adversely influences most terrestrial ecosystem services on which humans depend. This global problem, affecting over 68 million ha of agricultural land alone, is a major driver of soil erosion, increases flood frequency and reduces groundwater recharge. Agricultural soil compaction has been intensively studied, but there are no systematic studies investigating the extent of compaction in urban ecosystems, despite the repercussions for ecosystem function. Urban areas are the fastest growing land-use type globally, and are often assumed to have highly compacted soils with compromised functionality. Here, we use bulk density (BD) measurements, taken to 14 cm depth at a citywide scale, to compare the extent of surface soil compaction between different urban greenspace classes and agricultural soils. Urban soils had a wider BD range than agricultural soils, but were significantly less compacted, with 12 per cent lower mean BD to 7 cm depth. Urban soil BD was lowest under trees and shrubs and highest under herbaceous vegetation (e.g. lawns). BD values were similar to many semi-natural habitats, particularly those underlying woody vegetation. These results establish that, across a typical UK city, urban soils were in better physical condition than agricultural soils and can contribute to ecosystem service provision.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0260
PMCID: PMC3169067  PMID: 21508018
soil compaction; urbanization; greenspace; ecosystem services; urban ecology; land-use change
12.  Emergence of Structural Patterns in Neutral Trophic Networks 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e38295.
Interaction networks are central elements of ecological systems and have very complex structures. Historically, much effort has focused on niche-mediated processes to explain these structures, while an emerging consensus posits that both niche and neutral mechanisms simultaneously shape many features of ecological communities. However, the study of interaction networks still lacks a comprehensive neutral theory. Here we present a neutral model of predator-prey interactions and analyze the structural characteristics of the simulated networks. We find that connectance values (complexity) and complexity-diversity relationships of neutral networks are close to those observed in empirical bipartite networks. High nestedness and low modularity values observed in neutral networks fall in the range of those from empirical antagonist bipartite networks. Our results suggest that, as an alternative to niche-mediated processes that induce incompatibility between species (“niche forbidden links”), neutral processes create “neutral forbidden links” due to uneven species abundance distributions and the low probability of interaction between rare species. Neutral trophic networks must be seen as the missing endpoint of a continuum from niche to purely stochastic approaches of community organization.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038295
PMCID: PMC3416803  PMID: 22899987
13.  Household Factors Influencing Participation in Bird Feeding Activity: A National Scale Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39692.
Ameliorating pressures on the ecological condition of the wider landscape outside of protected areas is a key focus of conservation initiatives in the developed world. In highly urbanized nations, domestic gardens can play a significant role in maintaining biodiversity and facilitating human-wildlife interactions, which benefit personal and societal health and well-being. The extent to which sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors are associated with engagement in wildlife gardening activities remain largely unresolved. Using two household-level survey datasets gathered from across Britain, we determine whether and how the socioeconomic background of a household influences participation in food provision for wild birds, the most popular and widespread form of human-wildlife interaction. A majority of households feed birds (64% across rural and urban areas in England, and 53% within five British study cities). House type, household size and the age of the head of the household were all important predictors of bird feeding, whereas gross annual household income, the occupation of the head of the household, and whether the house is owned or rented were not. In both surveys, the prevalence of bird feeding rose as house type became more detached and as the age of the head of the household increased. A clear, consistent pattern between households of varying size was less evident. When regularity of food provision was examined in the study cities, just 29% of households provided food at least once a week. The proportion of households regularly feeding birds was positively related to the age of the head of the household, but declined with gross annual income. As concerns grow about the lack of engagement between people and the natural environment, such findings are important if conservation organizations are successfully to promote public participation in wildlife gardening specifically and environmentally beneficial behaviour in society more generally.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039692
PMCID: PMC3386264  PMID: 22761872
14.  The Fynbos and Succulent Karoo Biomes Do Not Have Exceptional Local Ant Richness 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e31463.
Background
The Fynbos (FB) and Succulent Karoo biomes (SKB) have high regional plant diversity despite relatively low productivity. Local diversity in the region varies but is moderate. For insects, previous work suggests that strict phytophages, but not other taxa, may have high regional richness. However, what has yet to be investigated is whether the local insect species richness of FB and SKB is unusual for a region of this productivity level at this latitude, and whether regional richness is also high. Here we determine whether this is the case for ants.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We use species richness data from pitfall traps in the FB and SKB in the Western Cape Province, South Africa and a global dataset of local ant richness extracted from the literature. We then relate the globally derived values of local richness to two energy-related predictors—productive energy (NDVI) and temperature, and to precipitation, and compare the data from the FB and SKB with these relationships. We further compare our local richness estimates with that of similar habitats worldwide, and regional ant richness with estimates derived from other regions. The local ant species richness of the FB and SKB falls within the general global pattern relating ant richness to energy, and is similar to that in comparable habitats elsewhere. At a regional scale, the richness of ants across all of our sites is not exceptional by comparison with other regional estimates from across the globe.
Conclusions/Significance
Local richness of ants in the FB and SKB is not exceptional by global standards. Initial analyses suggest that regional diversity is also not exceptional for the group. It seems unlikely that the mechanisms which have contributed to the development of extraordinarily high regional plant diversity in these biomes have had a strong influence on the ants.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031463
PMCID: PMC3292543  PMID: 22396733
15.  Field-level bird abundances are enhanced by landscape-scale agri-environment scheme uptake 
Biology Letters  2010;6(5):643-646.
Despite two decades of agri-environment schemes (AESs) aimed at mitigating farmland biodiversity losses, the evidence that such programmes actually benefit biodiversity remains limited. Using field-level surveys, we assess the effectiveness of AESs in enhancing bird abundances in an upland area of England, where schemes have been operating for over 20 years. In such a region, the effects of AESs should be readily apparent, and we predict that bird abundances will co-vary with both field- and landscape-scale measures of implementation. Using an information theoretic approach, we found that, for abundances of species of conservation concern and upland specialists, measures of AES implementation and habitat type at both scales appear in the most parsimonious models. Field-level bird abundances are higher where more of the surrounding landscape is included in an AES. While habitat remains a more influential predictor, we suggest that landscape-scale implementation results in enhanced bird abundances. Hence, measures of the success of AESs should consider landscape-wide benefits as well as localized impacts.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2010.0228
PMCID: PMC2936161  PMID: 20410029
landscape-scale conservation; peak district; environmentally sensitive area
16.  Effectiveness of Protected Areas in Maintaining Plant Production 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19116.
Given the central importance of protected area systems in local, regional and global conservation strategies, it is vital that there is a good understanding of their effectiveness in maintaining ecological functioning. Here, we provide, to our knowledge, the first such global analysis, focusing on plant production, a “supporting” ecosystem function necessary for multiple other ecosystem services. We use data on the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) as a measure of variation in plant production in the core, boundary and surroundings of more than 1000 large protected areas over a 25 year period. Forested protected areas were higher (or similar), and those non-forested were lower (or similar), in NDVI than their surrounding areas, and these differences have been sustained. The differences from surrounding areas have increased for evergreen broadleaf forests and barren grounds, decreased for grasslands, and remained similar for deciduous forests, woodlands, and shrublands, reflecting different pressures on those surroundings. These results are consistent with protected areas being effective both in the representation and maintenance of plant production. However, widespread overall increases in NDVI during the study period suggest that plant production within the core of non-forested protected areas has become higher than it was in the surroundings of those areas in 1982, highlighting that whilst the distinctiveness of protected areas from their surroundings has persisted the nature of that difference has changed.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019116
PMCID: PMC3084248  PMID: 21552560
17.  Intraspecific Body Size Frequency Distributions of Insects 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e16606.
Although interspecific body size frequency distributions are well documented for many taxa, including the insects, intraspecific body size frequency distributions (IaBSFDs) are more poorly known, and their variation among mass-based and linear estimates of size has not been widely explored. Here we provide IaBSFDs for 16 species of insects based on both mass and linear estimates and large sample sizes (n≥100). In addition, we review the published IaBSFDs for insects, though doing so is complicated by their under-emphasis in the literature. The form of IaBSFDs can differ substantially between mass-based and linear measures. Nonetheless, in non-social insects they tend to be normally distributed (18 of 27 species) or in fewer instances positively skewed. Negatively skewed distributions are infrequently reported and log transformation readily removes the positive skew. Sexual size dimorphism does not generally cause bimodality in IaBSFDs. The available information on IaBSFDs in the social insects suggests that these distributions are usually positively skewed or bimodal (24 of 30 species). However, only c. 15% of ant genera are polymorphic, suggesting that normal distributions are probably more common, but less frequently investigated. Although only 57 species, representing seven of the 29 orders of insects, have been considered here, it appears that whilst IaBSFDs are usually normal, other distribution shapes can be found in several species, though most notably among the social insects. By contrast, the interspecific body size frequency distribution is typically right-skewed in insects and in most other taxa.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016606
PMCID: PMC3068144  PMID: 21479214
19.  Ecosystem service benefits of contrasting conservation strategies in a human-dominated region 
The hope among policy-makers and scientists alike is that conservation strategies designed to protect biodiversity also provide direct benefits to people by protecting other vital ecosystem services. The few studies that have examined the delivery of ecosystem services by existing conservation efforts have concentrated on large, ‘wilderness’-style biodiversity reserves. However, such reserves are not realistic options for densely populated regions. Here, we provide the first analyses that compare representation of biodiversity and three other ecosystem services across several contrasting conservation strategies in a human-dominated landscape (England). We show that small protected areas and protected landscapes (restrictive zoning) deliver high carbon storage and biodiversity, while existing incentive payment (agri-environment) schemes target areas that offer little advantage over other parts of England in terms of biodiversity, carbon storage and agricultural production. A fourth ecosystem service—recreation—is under-represented by all three strategies. Our findings are encouraging as they illustrate that restrictive zoning can play a major role in protecting natural capital assets in densely populated regions. However, trade-offs exist even among the four ecosystem services we considered, suggesting that a portfolio of conservation and sustainability investments will be needed to deliver both biodiversity and the other ecosystem services demanded by society.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.0528
PMCID: PMC2817206  PMID: 19474040
biodiversity; ecosystem services; protected areas; sustainability; land management
20.  Independent colonization of multiple urban centres by a formerly forest specialist bird species 
Urban areas are expanding rapidly, but a few native species have successfully colonized them. The processes underlying such colonization events are poorly understood. Using the blackbird Turdus merula, a former forest specialist that is now one of the most common urban birds in its range, we provide the first assessment of two contrasting urban colonization models. First, that urbanization occurred independently. Second, that following initial urbanization, urban-adapted individuals colonized other urban areas in a leapfrog manner. Previous analyses of spatial patterns in the timing of blackbird urbanization, and experimental introductions of urban and rural blackbirds to uncolonized cities, suggest that the leapfrog model is likely to apply. We found that, across the western Palaearctic, urban blackbird populations contain less genetic diversity than rural ones, urban populations are more strongly differentiated from each other than from rural populations and assignment tests support a rural source population for most urban individuals. In combination, these results provide much stronger support for the independent urbanization model than the leapfrog one. If the former model predominates, colonization of multiple urban centres will be particularly difficult when urbanization requires genetic adaptations, having implications for urban species diversity.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.1712
PMCID: PMC2691005  PMID: 19364751
colonization; dispersal; genetic divergence; genetic diversity; range expansion; urban
21.  The scaling of green space coverage in European cities 
Biology Letters  2009;5(3):352-355.
Most people on the planet live in dense aggregations, and policy directives emphasize green areas within cities to ameliorate some of the problems of urban living. Benefits of urban green spaces range from physical and psychological health to social cohesion, ecosystem service provision and biodiversity conservation. Green space coverage differs enormously among cities, yet little is known about the correlates or geography of this variation. This is important because urbanization is accelerating and the consequences for green space are unclear. Here, we use standardized major axis regression to explore the relationships between urban green space coverage, city area and population size across 386 European cities. We show that green space coverage increases more rapidly than city area, yet declines only weakly as human population density increases. Thus, green space provision within a city is primarily related to city area rather than the number of inhabitants that it serves, or a simple space-filling effect. Thus, compact cities (small size and high density) show very low per capita green space allocation. However, at high levels of urbanicity, the green space network is robust to further city compaction. As cities grow, interactions between people and nature depend increasingly on landscape quality outside formal green space networks, such as street plantings, or the size, composition and management of backyards and gardens.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2009.0010
PMCID: PMC2679924  PMID: 19324636
urban green space; scaling; human population density
22.  Management Effectiveness of the World's Marine Fisheries 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(6):e1000131.
A global analysis shows that fishery management worldwide is lagging far behind international standards, and that the conversion of scientific advice into policy, through a participatory and transparent process, holds promise for achieving sustainable fisheries.
Ongoing declines in production of the world's fisheries may have serious ecological and socioeconomic consequences. As a result, a number of international efforts have sought to improve management and prevent overexploitation, while helping to maintain biodiversity and a sustainable food supply. Although these initiatives have received broad acceptance, the extent to which corrective measures have been implemented and are effective remains largely unknown. We used a survey approach, validated with empirical data, and enquiries to over 13,000 fisheries experts (of which 1,188 responded) to assess the current effectiveness of fisheries management regimes worldwide; for each of those regimes, we also calculated the probable sustainability of reported catches to determine how management affects fisheries sustainability. Our survey shows that 7% of all coastal states undergo rigorous scientific assessment for the generation of management policies, 1.4% also have a participatory and transparent processes to convert scientific recommendations into policy, and 0.95% also provide for robust mechanisms to ensure the compliance with regulations; none is also free of the effects of excess fishing capacity, subsidies, or access to foreign fishing. A comparison of fisheries management attributes with the sustainability of reported fisheries catches indicated that the conversion of scientific advice into policy, through a participatory and transparent process, is at the core of achieving fisheries sustainability, regardless of other attributes of the fisheries. Our results illustrate the great vulnerability of the world's fisheries and the urgent need to meet well-identified guidelines for sustainable management; they also provide a baseline against which future changes can be quantified.
Author Summary
Global fisheries are in crisis: marine fisheries provide 15% of the animal protein consumed by humans, yet 80% of the world's fish stocks are either fully exploited, overexploited or have collapsed. Several international initiatives have sought to improve the management of marine fisheries, hoping to reduce the deleterious ecological and socioeconomic consequence of the crisis. Unfortunately, the extent to which countries are improving their management and whether such intervention ensures the sustainability of the fisheries remain unknown. Here, we surveyed 1,188 fisheries experts from every coastal country in the world for information about the effectiveness with which fisheries are being managed, and related those results to an index of the probable sustainability of reported catches. We show that the management of fisheries worldwide is lagging far behind international guidelines recommended to minimize the effects of overexploitation. Only a handful of countries have a robust scientific basis for management recommendations, and transparent and participatory processes to convert those recommendations into policy while also ensuring compliance with regulations. Our study also shows that the conversion of scientific advice into policy, through a participatory and transparent process, is at the core of achieving fisheries sustainability, regardless of other attributes of the fisheries. These results illustrate the benefits of participatory, transparent, and science-based management while highlighting the great vulnerability of the world's fisheries services. The data for each country can be viewed at http://as01.ucis.dal.ca/ramweb/surveys/fishery_assessment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000131
PMCID: PMC2690453  PMID: 19547743
23.  Geographic range limits: achieving synthesis 
Understanding of the determinants of species' geographic range limits remains poorly integrated. In part, this is because of the diversity of perspectives on the issue, and because empirical studies have lagged substantially behind developments in theory. Here, I provide a broad overview, drawing together many of the disparate threads, considering, in turn, how influences on the terms of a simple single-population equation can determine range limits. There is theoretical and empirical evidence for systematic changes towards range limits under some circumstances in each of the demographic parameters. However, under other circumstances, no such changes may take place in particular parameters, or they may occur in a different direction, with limitation still occurring. This suggests that (i) little about range limitation can categorically be inferred from many empirical studies, which document change in only one demographic parameter, (ii) there is a need for studies that document variation in all of the parameters, and (iii) in agreement with theoretical evidence that range limits can be formed in the presence or absence of hard boundaries, environmental gradients or biotic interactions, there may be few general patterns as to the determinants of these limits, with most claimed generalities at least having many exceptions.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.1480
PMCID: PMC2677218  PMID: 19324809
births; deaths; emigration; immigration; population size; range limits
24.  The Growth of Easements as a Conservation Tool 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4996.
Background
The numerous studies examining where efforts to conserve biodiversity should be targeted are not matched by comparable research efforts addressing how conservation investments should be structured and what balance of conservation approaches works best in what contexts. An obvious starting point is to examine the past allocation of effort among conservation approaches and how this has evolved.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We examine the past allocation of conservation investment between conservation easements and fee simple acquisitions using the largest land trust in operation, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), as a case study. We analyse the balance of investments across the whole of the US and in individual states when measured in terms of the area protected and upfront cost of protecting land.
Conclusions/Significance
Across the US as a whole, the proportion of conservation investment allocated to easements is growing exponentially. Already 70% of the area of land protected in a given year, and half of all the financial investment in land conservation, is allocated to easements. The growth rate of conservation easements varies by a factor of two across states when measured in terms of the area protected and by a factor of three in terms of financial expenditure. Yet, we were unable to find consistent predictors that explained this variation. Our results underscore the urgency of implementing best practice guidelines for designing easements and of initiating a wider discussion of what balance of conservation approaches is desirable.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004996
PMCID: PMC2659785  PMID: 19325711
25.  Psychological benefits of greenspace increase with biodiversity 
Biology Letters  2007;3(4):390-394.
The world's human population is becoming concentrated into cities, giving rise to concerns that it is becoming increasingly isolated from nature. Urban public greenspaces form the arena of many people's daily contact with nature and such contact has measurable physical and psychological benefits. Here we show that these psychological benefits increase with the species richness of urban greenspaces. Moreover, we demonstrate that greenspace users can more or less accurately perceive species richness depending on the taxonomic group in question. These results indicate that successful management of urban greenspaces should emphasize biological complexity to enhance human well-being in addition to biodiversity conservation.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2007.0149
PMCID: PMC2390667  PMID: 17504734
urban greenspace; biodiversity; psychological well-being; Attention Restoration Theory

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