Where are the goal posts now? Setting environmental objectives in novel ecosystems 

The Quantitative & Applied Ecology Group

By Jane Catford (This article was first published in the July 2013 issue of Decision Point, The Monthly Magazine of the Environmental Decisions Group)

In a rapidly changing world full of strange new assemblages of species, the goal posts for conservation aren’t as clear as they once were. What is it we’re trying to conserve, and against what threat? And where do we look for guidance on how to do it when the rules appear to be changing faster than ever? Dealing with novel ecosystems in a time of accelerating change is an enormous challenge. However, two recent collaborations I’ve been involved in have come up with some helpful guidelines on how to proceed. One examines how to predict characteristics of novel ecosystems (Catford et al. 2013, discussed in this story). The other focusses on measuring levels of biological invasion as one way of gauging the extent of…

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