NCEAS News and Announcements

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November 14, 2016

How are the underwater rainforests of the world faring in the face of global change? The NCEAS Global Impacts of Climate Change on Kelp Forest Ecosystems Working Group sought to answer this question by collecting and analyzing kelp forest data sets from around the world and spanning the past half-century to determine long term trends of kelp populations. The working group results identified that kelp in 38% of the regions analyzed are in decline but in other regions, kelp has increased (27%) or shown no detectable change (35%). More>


November 7, 2016

In 2014, the amount of fish consumed from aquaculture surpassed fish consumed from wild capture fisheries for the first time in history. This paradigm shift in global fish consumption has sparked increased dialog regarding the merits and repercussions of “ocean farming,” or mariculture, around the world. In a head-to-head style article for The Marine Biologist magazine, NCEAS Director Ben Halpern and postdoctoral researcher Halley Froehlich argue in favor of the case for offshore aquaculture, citing its efficiency and conservation potential. More>


October 28, 2016

Quickly and easily processed images are important vehicles for the dissemination of information. Even as images help an audience absorb and retain information, they can also influence the way that audience interprets the information – sometimes in unintended ways. In a recent study in The International Journal of Communication, NCEAS Fellow and co-author Stacy Rebich-Hespanha examines the importance of evaluating visual frames in the context of designing a climate change campaign. More>


October 25, 2016

Over the course of a decade, Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and most recently, Matthew illustrated the incredibly destructive power of storm surge and floods even against extensive defensive infrastructure. In collaboration with insurers, engineers and conservationists, SNAPP Coastal Defenses Working Group has now released a pioneering study, Coastal Wetlands and Flood Damage Reduction, that quantifies how much protection natural coastal habitats provide during hurricanes. The study found that, where wetlands remain, they reduced the average damage from Hurricane Sandy by more than 10%: in total, Northeastern coastal wetlands prevented US$625 million in property damages. More>


October 13, 2016

In 2001-2002, warm weather and strong winds descended on Antarctica, producing a single season of unusual and intense melting. For researchers at the two Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites on the continent, the anomaly provided a natural experiment in how these ecosystems will respond to climate change. Today, the LTER Network Communications Office (NCO), operated by NCEAS, announced the publication of four papers in a special section of October’s BioScience, all of which address the ecosystem responses observed at the sites in the months – and years – since that warm season. The long-term data collected at Palmer and McMurdo LTERs have enabled scientists to track the cascading effects of climate variability through both marine and terrestrial Antarctic ecosystems. More>


October 12, 2016

Climate change is likely to alter the hydrological processes of the Amazon River basin, according to the authors of a recently published study by the SNAPP Amazon Waters Working Group in the journal Climatic Change. The study predicts that future trends could result in wetter conditions in the western Amazon and drier ones in the east. More>


September 29, 2016

Decision makers increasingly turn to ecosystem services (ES) decision frameworks to identify which environmental management solutions will produce “win-win” solutions. Most of these assessments, however, have ignored uncertainty. In Conservation Letters, Ben Halpern, NCEAS Director, and his coauthors argue that the reality of uncertainty and imperfect information–and the ways people respond to these risks–must be incorporated into models in order to produce real-world scenarios. More>


September 28, 2016

NCEAS is launching an innovative “Data Task Force” approach to support synthesis research with a new a $2.1 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. In contrast to mining Big Data, synthesis research recognizes the value of small, information rich datasets generated by scientists all over the world. However, collecting, combining, and “wrangling” these many discrete data sets for synthesis presents a daunting challenge. The first Data Task Force will support data collection and management for the newly launched State of Alaskan Salmon and People (SASAP) synthesis project, and in the process, will assess the efficacy of this approach for synthesis research in general. More>


September 27, 2016

A recent article in the Journal of Applied Ecology acknowledges the widening gap between ecological theory and conservation choices in the field. Based on the most recent work in ecology focusing on the functional roles of organisms, NCEAS Postdoctoral Associate Colette Ward and her coauthors suggest that using ecological networks as the basis for conservation targets would improve outcomes –most importantly, preservation of ecosystem integrity. Ecological networks examine the interactions between species and how these interactions impact the overall health of the ecosystem. More>


September 1, 2016

The A.G. Huntsman Foundation today announced that NCEAS Director, Ben Halpern, will receive the the 2016 A.G. Huntsman Award, presented by the Royal Society of Canada. The annual Huntsman award recognizes excellence in research and outstanding contributions to marine sciences by men and women of any nationality. The Foundation lauded Halpern’s work on marine protected areas as having “transformed our understanding of where, why, and how protected areas affect marine species and systems." More>


August 29, 2016

People and goods now move regularly across borders and over oceans. Unfortunately, globalization has also expedited the transfer of plants and animals into new ecosystems where they act as invasive alien species (IAS). These foreign creatures not only wreak havoc on biodiversity, they also threaten individual livelihoods, national economies, and human health. In Nature Communications, the NCEAS Climate Change & Invasive Species Working Group projects that areas with high poverty, high biodiversity, and low historical levels of invasion will be hardest hit by IAS impacts over the next century. More>


August 24, 2016

Twenty years and a host of advancements in DNA sequencing and genetic engineering have moved de-extinction from the fantasy realm of Jurassic Park towards an increasingly feasible conservation tool that could be used to fill functional holes in ecosystems. A new paper in Functional Ecology co-authored by NCEAS director Ben Halpern questions whether de-extinction science will be able to successfully resurrect the ecological functions of extinct species. More>


August 17, 2016

Researchers at the Ocean Health Index distill massive amounts of data into scores evaluating marine health for 220 countries and territorial jurisdictions -- and ultimately, for the globe as a whole. These scores, also called environmental indicators, help scientists clearly and simply communicate information about issues like overfishing and water quality to broad audiences. This simplicity, however, comes at a cost: indicators do not reflect uncertainty. In a recent PLOS ONE paper, NCEAS’ Ocean Health Index team evaluated potential influence of missing data on the uncertainty around the scores from the latest global ocean health assessment. Only 18.5% of the overall global Ocean Health Index score was based on gapfilled data, whereas gapfilling was much more common for territories and smaller regions. More>


August 15, 2016

With over 300 million acres of conservation areas, the U.S. has successfully conserved huge swaths of natural spaces. In the face of rapid biodiversity loss, decline of ecosystem processes function, climate change, and changes in land and water use however, these efforts are simply inadequate. Ultimately, the United States is in need of a comprehensive vision and conservation strategy. Recently published in Bioscience, Jocelyn Aycrigg (University of Idaho), Craig Groves (TNC) and a team of researchers assessed the viability of a creating a national habitat conservation system that is as coordinated, efficient and synergistic as possible. Craig, executive director of the SNAPP program, sees this initiative as the key to meeting the challenges of conserving habitats and biodiversity in the United States.



July 28, 2016

Seascape genetics, a recent offshoot of population genetics, can provide insight into how the movement of an organism impacts dispersal and gene flow on a scale that cannot be determined with other natural or artificial indicators. NCEAS Center Associate, Kimberly Selkoe, and her co-authors recently synthesized 100 seascape genetic studies from the past decade to document trends in taxonomic and geographic coverage, sampling and statistical design, and dominant seascape drivers. Their findings were recently featured in Marine Ecology Progress Series. More>


July 25, 2016

There is anecdotal evidence that land-use has degraded water quality, but a new publication in PNAS by members of SNAPP's Water Security working group provides a first-ever global estimate to understand how much degradation has occurred and, as a result, how much it really increased water treatment costs worldwide. The working group found that watershed degradation has impacted the cost of water treatment for about 1 in 3 large cities, increasing the costs by about half. Added up globally, the team calculated the cost to be a staggering $5.4 billion per year. More>


July 14, 2016

The SNAPP Evidence-Based Conservation working group launched a new online tool that will help policymakers and practitioners easily access and synthesize evidence from thousands of available datasets on the linkages between human well-being and natural ecosystems to make better conservation decisions. The Evidence for Nature and People Data Portal was demonstrated at the North American Congress for Conservation Biology (NACCB). More>


June 30, 2016

NCEAS has been chosen to lead a new project, the State of Alaska’s Salmon and People (SASAP) in partnership with Nautilus Impact Investing in Anchorage, Alaska. SASAP is catalyzing and funding a group of experts with the aim to provide an up-to-date interdisciplinary perspective on Alaska’s salmon systems and the people who rely upon them. Three working groups are currently underway, focusing on 1) salmon distribution and habitat, 2) sociocultural and economic dimensions of salmon systems, and 3) current governance and management of salmon. A Call for Proposals will be issued July 2016. More>


June 29, 2016

The North American Congress for Conservation Biology is hosting its July 2016 congress in Madison, Wisconsin, focusing on "Communicating Science for Conservation Action". SNAPP has organized and is co-leading two back-to-back symposia that will discuss the need for co-production of science between decision-makers, managers, and the scientists. The symposia are titled "Beyond science communication: How managers, policy-makers, and scientists can co-produce actionable science for better conservation outcomes", and will feature lessons learned from collaborative efforts of over a dozen experts. The symposia will take place on July 18, 2016, with part 1 from 1:30-3:30 pm and part 2 from 4:00-6:00 pm, in Ballroom C of the Convention Center. More>


June 23, 2016

NCEAS welcomes Ben Halpern as new Director of NCEAS! On July 1, current NCEAS Director Frank Davis will pass the leadership baton to Ben Halpern and return to his research and teaching at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. Ben has deep roots at NCEAS. His first NCEAS experience was in 1998 -- as a graduate student participating in a synthesis working group spearheaded by Jane Lubchenco. More>



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