Planning for the Large-Scale Conservation of Biodiversity Dimensions

Given monetary constraints, large-scale biodiversity conservation policies need to be selective with respect to the areas and species they prioritize. Macroecological knowledge can help make those challenging decisions.

Biodiversity knowledge gaps can lead to policy inaction, particularly under stringent monetary constraints, and are therefore a major barrier to the success of biodiversity conservation policies. Given the accelerating pressure on biodiversity worldwide, inaction could be extremely costly and overcoming biodiversity knowledge gaps in a timely manner is paramount.

Macroecology attempts to identify patterns that might be universal across ecosystems in order to explain and predict the abundance, distribution, and diversity of organisms over regions and time periods for which we lack knowledge. As a result, macroecology can contribute greatly to the scientific evidence base for national and international decisions aimed at conserving biodiversity and ensuring a sustainable future for our planet. For instance, macroecological tools enable detecting ongoing biodiversity trends, forecasting responses to climate and land use change, and identifying priority regions for conservation.

Much of my research is motivated by the need for a stronger macroecology-conservation practice interface in order to improve our likelihood of successfully preserving the multiple fundamental dimensions of biodiversity.

Rapacciuolo G, Graham CH, Marin, J, Behm JE, Costa GC, Hedges SB, Helmus MR, Radeloff VC, Young BE, Brooks TM. Species diversity as a surrogate for the conservation of phylogenetic and functional diversity in terrestrial vertebrates across the Americas. Nature Ecology & Evolution 3: 53-61.

Rapacciuolo G. Strengthening the contribution of macroecological models to conservation practice. Invited contribution for the Macroecology 30th Anniversary Issue at Global Ecology and Biogeography 28: 54-60

Rapacciuolo G, Marin J, Costa GC, Helmus MR, Behm JE, Brooks TM, Hedges SB, Radeloff VC, Young BE, Graham CH. The signature of human pressure history on the biogeography of body mass in tetrapods. Global Ecology and Biogeography 26: 1022-1034.

Pearse WD, Chase MW, Crawley MJ, Dolphin K, Fay MF, Joseph JA, Powney G, Preston CD, Rapacciuolo G, Roy DB, and Purvis A (2015) Beyond the EDGE with EDAM: prioritising British plant species according to evolutionary distinctiveness, and accuracy and magnitude of decline. PLoS One 10: e0126524.

It’s time to strengthen the macroecology–conservation practice interface, Commentary

Knowledge of species diversity may be sufficient to preserve other dimensions of biodiversity, Nature Ecology & Evolution Blog