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Conservation Research Institute


Early Career Researcher Flash Talks: Abstracts

The Conservation Research Institute Conference 2020

Dr Toby Jackson, Plant Sciences

Tropical forest change detection with repeat LiDAR data​.

Airborne LiDAR has transformed the way we map forest structure and carbon storage. We now have repeat LiDAR data for a few tropical sites, allowing us to detect changes and therefore to study ecological processes at large scales. I will show some examples of this repeat LiDAR data from French Guiana. I will also discuss the questions it can help us address and outline the methods we will need to tackle these questions.

Thea Jung, PhD Candidate, Land Economy

Advancing Decarbonisation Pathways in energy-intensive industries: The Case of Cement

The industry sector accounts for 21% of global GHG emissions and is the largest emitting source after power (24%), agriculture and land-use (24%) (IEA, 2020). To date, progress in decarbonising industrial systems, in particular highly energy-intensive industries such as the cement industry, has been slow. “Rapid and far reaching transitions” (IPCC, 2018) are required to attain the Paris Agreement and limit global average temperature rise to less than 2°C. 

While cement – as key input for concrete – is the most widely used construction material for infrastructures such as bridges, buildings, dams or wind turbine foundations, global cement production accounts for 7% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions and activities along the cement value chain have severe environmental impacts, e.g. on biodiversity loss, waste generation or landfill. Interested in identifying key drivers and barriers of decarbonisation pathways in the cement industry, I discuss the scope and framework of my PhD project where I analyse decoupling trajectories in distinct countries and explore the role of different actors, institutions and innovations in advancing decarbonisation pathways in the cement industry.

Dr Andrew Bladon, Zoology   

How butterflies keep their cool: linking individual thermoregulatory ability and long-term population trends.

Understanding how individual organisms respond to changing temperatures is fundamental to species conservation under climate change. We investigated how a community of butterflies responded to fine-scale changes in air temperature, and whether individuals’ ability to respond is related to their species’ long-term population trends. Across 16 species, mostly considered to be habitat generalists, we investigated the relative importance of two mechanisms available for altering thoracic temperature, fine-scale microclimate selection (choosing small habitats offering a favourable temperature) and behavioural thermoregulation (independently adjusting thoracic temperature beyond that of the local environment). We tested whether species’ responses to changing temperatures, via these two mechanisms, predicted their long-term population trends in the UK. We found significant interspecific differences in the relative importance of the two mechanisms for temperature control, and found that species which are reliant upon microclimate selection have suffered larger population declines in the last 40 years than species which can alter their temperature behaviourally. Our results highlight the importance of understanding how different species respond to fine-scale temperature variation, and the value of taking microclimate into account in conservation management to ensure favourable conditions are maintained for temperature-sensitive species.

Valerio Donfrancesco, PhD Candidate, Geography  

What is ‘coexistence’ between people and large carnivores?

When people and wildlife share a landscape, chances are they will directly or indirectly interact with each other, which will often result in human-wildlife conflicts. Such conflicts and how they’re managed can affect the conservation of wild populations and significantly impact the livelihoods and wellbeing of local people. An emblematic case of these conflicts is the one between farmers and large carnivores. Some form or level of coexistence is usually pursued when addressing human-carnivore conflicts. In this flash talk, I will explore how the concept of coexistence is inherently value-laden. What and whose ideals of coexistence should management promote?