Scientists identify 100 questions to conserve global biodiversity

April 23rd, 2009 - 4:33 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 23 (ANI): Conservation experts from 24 world-leading organizations have identified one hundred key scientific questions that, if answered, would help conserve global biodiversity.

The organizations that identified the questions include the WWF (Worldwide fund for Nature), Conservation International and Birdlife International.

Some of the questions include: ‘Are there critical thresholds at which loss of biodiversity disrupts ecosystem functions and services?’ and ‘How effective are different methods for assessing ecosystem services?’

The conservationists are also keen to find out how nanotechnology impacts on biodiversity.

Other contentious topics such as how ocean acidification might shape marine biodiversity and the effects of the changing water cycle on biodiversity - are also on the list.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), loss of biodiversity is accelerating despite a global convention committing governments to halt the decline.

Experts say species and habitats are disappearing so fast there needs to be more effort focused on research that helps scientists understand what’s behind the loss.

But, there is a problem for conservation bodies trying to curb biodiversity loss.

Sometimes, there is a mismatch between the conservation topics academics study and the information conservationists need to help them preserve biodiversity.

The one hundred questions could help address this issue.

“With the current crisis in the loss of habitats and species, it is important that we ensure we are carrying out the most important research,” said Professor William Sutherland of the University of Cambridge, lead author of the study and Miriam Rothschild Chair in Conservation Biology.

“When research is designed to meet the needs of real natural resource protection projects, it can lead to substantial gains for biodiversity,” he added.

To address the mismatch, 761 conservationists from 24 of the world’s leading conservation bodies and 12 academics generated a preliminary list of 2291 questions relevant to conserving global biodiversity.

The group of experts used email voting to short-list the 2291 questions before a smaller group of 44 met for two days at the University of Cambridge to decide on the final one hundred questions.

The questions are not ranked.

The resulting questions are divided up into 12 key sections reflecting issues the conservationists are worried about, such as ‘climate change’, ‘ecosystem management and restoration’, ‘impacts of conservation interventions’ and ‘ecosystem function and services’. (ANI)

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