Dr. Rebecca Senior: Using technology and open data to understand problems and provide solutions in conservation

Event time: 
Thursday, December 2, 2021 - 3:30pm
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Event description: 

Please join us for a seminar hosted by the Center for Biodiversity and Global Change, featuring speaker Dr. Rebecca Senior.

BIO: I am a conservation scientist with a passion for using quantitative tools and technology to understand the drivers of biodiversity loss, and to identify pragmatic solutions to mitigate that loss. Now is a pivotal time in human history. Species extinction rates are orders of magnitude above ‘normal’ background rates, driven by humanity’s insatiable appetite for resources. The magnitude of the problem has never been greater, but neither has our ability to tackle it. With better technology, we generate more and better data. With collaboration and ground-truthing, we generate a better understanding of how ecosystems respond to anthropogenic change – the good and the bad – and with that, we can discover what works in conservation.

ABSTRACT: The development of human civilisation in the last few decades has seen a curious juxtaposition of pervasive damage to the natural world, a growing realisation of why this is problematic, and an explosion of technological advances and data availability. In the latter two phenomena rests our hopes of tackling the former. Conservation science is following in the footsteps of medicine in its pursuit of an evidence base. To make conservation work, we first need to know what we’re doing. This is where my talk begins, combining big conservation databases and using new software tools to understand what is being implemented and where. After that, we’ll focus on climate change and land-use change, as two of the biggest drivers of biodiversity loss. Here, technology can play a pivotal role in combining field data and remotely sensed data to understand how climate change and land-use change interact at multiple spatiotemporal scales. The importance of scale has been discussed extensively in the field of ecology, so it is not surprising that scale also informs conservation practice. Thus, we conclude with some thoughts on how some important biological responses operate at different scales, and what this means for conservation practice.

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