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CONSERVATION ECOLOGY BIOL 2612

Rajan, Cynthia Yau and Prof Yvonne

School of Biological Sciences The University of Hong Kong

Learning outcomes
Describe the scientific principles that underpin the theory of conservation biology and the social, legal and political frameworks within which practitioners must operate

Know how various factors, individually or collectively, that have lead to the human caused 6th mass extinction crises

Apply reflective and argumentative thinking to find solutions to overcome conflicting scientific, societal and personal views that impact on conservation outcomes

Reference Text Books for BIOL2612

Date Lecturer Lecture Topic Part 1: Biodiversity and Its Importance 17 Jan VT What is conservation ecology? 19 Jan VT The three forms of biodiversity 31 Jan VT How to measure biodiversity? 02 Feb VT How is global biodiversity distributed? 07 Feb VT Why is biodiversity important? 09 Feb VT Climate change and biodiversity Part 2: Threats to Biodiversity 14 Feb CY Extinction processes and rates 16 Feb CY Habitat degradation and loss 21 Feb CY Pollution 23 Feb CY Collection and overharvesting 28 Feb CY Exotic species 1 Mar CY Disease 13 Mar CY Small populations 15 Mar YS Case study: marine and freshwater fishes Part 3: Maintaining Biodiversity 20 Mar CY Zoos and gardens 22 Mar CY Species reintroductions and translocations 27 Mar CY Designing and managing protected areas 29 Mar CY Conservation refugees 03 Apr LK Case study: marine mammals Part 4: Human Dimensions of Conservation 05 Apr VT Conservation organizations and legal foundations 10 Apr VT Economics of conservation 12 Apr VT Conservation and Restoration 17 Apr YS Marine Conservation 19 Apr YS The future of conservation

Readings1 Chapter 1 Chapters 2-5 Chapters 2-5 Chapters 2-5 Chapters 2-5 TBA

Chapters 6,7 Chapters 6,7 Chapters 8-10 Chapters 8-10 Chapters 8-10 Chapters 8-10 Chapters 8-10 TBA

Syllabus Lectures Schedule

Chapters 11-14 Chapters 11-14 Chapters 11-14 Chapters 15-17 TBA

Chapters 15-17 Chapters 15-17 TBA TBA Chapters 15-17

BIOL 2612 Unique Practical's


Thursdays: 1330-1755

Mar 15, 29, Apr 12, 26

This is what we expect you to be at the end of this course

Conservation Biologist/Ecological Economist in GOV/NGO/other organization Serve as medical doctor for Biodiversity crisis Motivated student to pursue higher education in Conservation Biology

Introduction to Conservation Biology

Outline  What is Conservation Biology?  Why we need a Conservation Biology?

What is Conservation Biology?


Conservation Biology = the science of conserving biological diversity Population biology is the study of ecological and evolutionary processes that create and maintain biological diversity. Conservation biology is the application of population biology principles for the management and conservation of endangered or threatened species, biodiversity and natural resources.

What is Conservation Biology?

Conservation biology is not purely descriptive; it is a prescriptive science.

Conservation Biology Goals


1. Document full range of biodiversity 2. Investigate Human impacts on biodiversity 3. Develop practical approaches to prevent species extinction, maintain genetic variation within species, protect and restore biodiversity

Conservation Biology Goals


General goal is conserving natural resources for this and future generations Primary goal is the management of biodiversity for sustainable use by humans

Conservationists who?
Conservationists: advocates or practices the sensible and careful use of natural resources. E.g. foresters, hunters, and farmers Preservationists: advocates for habitat protection from human interference Environmentalists: who are concerned about negative impacts of human on environment Ecologists: who study the relationship between organisms (including human, plants and animals) and environment

Conservationists main task 1

Conservation Biologists view their main task as providing the intellectual and technological tools that will anticipate, prevent, minimize, and repair ecological damage

Conservationists main task 2


Conservation biologists study phenomena such as inbreeding depression, habitat fragmentation, demographic stochasticity, and metapopulation structure in order to better understand the nature and rate of anthropogenically caused mass extinctions.

Conservation Biology: a new discipline


The quickening pace of environmental degradation and biological impoverishment in the 1960s and 1970s would outstrip the ability of the various conservation related sciences, acting in isolation to respond

Conservation Biology: a new discipline

At 5 p.m., 8 May 1985, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at the end of the Second Conference on Conservation Biology

Conservation Biology: an Interdisciplinary Science

Conservation Biology: an Interdisciplinary Science


A case study with biodiversity/environment conservation/restoration in Victoria Harbor

Marine biology Engineering Modeling Conservation Biologists Policy makers

Conservation Biology: Is a Crisis Discipline


Sever Time Pressure time constraints Management without through scientific knowledge Long-term vision

As a Conservation Officer in AFCD what you would do?

The Guiding Principles of Conservation Biology

Evolutionary Change
Evolutionary-Ecological land ethics

Dynamic Ecology Human Change

Ref: Knight 1999

Evolutionary Change


This is based on the work of population geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky. He stated that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution". Evolution is the most plausible explanation for the immense pattern of biodiversity that exists on the planet. The genetic composition of organisms is continuously changing. Consequently the goal of this principle is to allow populations to change in response to environmental changes through adaptations.

(Look at the reading material)

Dynamic Ecology The ecological world is seen as dynamic; largely functioning through nonequilibrium principles.
E.g. Victoria Harbor

Dynamic ecology specifically rejects the equilibrium viewpoint. This non-equilibrium view sees the regulation of ecological structure as not being maintained through internally generated processes but through external processes, in the form of natural processes.

The Human Presence


Humans are participants within both natural and perturbed ecosystems and their presence within ecosystems needs to be recognized and accounted for. Native human cultures form historical components of the landscape and must be explicitly recognized as a form of diversity in the same way that biodiversity is. Conservation efforts cannot wall off nature to safe guard it from humans because: Ecosystems must be seen as open systems, Nature reserves inevitably exist within a surrounding landscape that is intensively utilized by humans. This principle explicitly integrates humans into conservation practice.

Between 1985-87 Conservation Biology emerged as an individual scientific discipline - Biodiversity became its focus