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Bycatch from marine commercial fisheries has been regarded as a global conservation concern for decades. Fortunately, some headway has been made in mitigating bycatch problems in marine fisheries. Freshwater commercial fisheries, however, have been relatively understudied. Although freshwater yields comprise 11% of the global commercial catch, bycatch research focusing on freshwater commercial fisheries represents only about 3% of the total bycatch literature. This paucity of research is particularly alarming given that so many of the world's threatened species live in freshwater. The limited literature that does exist includes examples of population declines attributed to commercial bycatch (e.g., the Yangtze River dolphin) and illustrates that bycatch is substantial in some systems (e.g., lake trout in Laurentian Great Lakes fisheries). Encouraging results from the marine realm can serve as models for bycatch research and development in freshwater and can lead to measurable gains in the conservation of freshwater ecosystems. We summarize existing work on inland bycatch in an effort to draw attention to this understated and understudied conservation problem.
Conservation is ultimately about safeguarding biodiversity by arresting and reversing the impacts of threatening processes. Although data on the distributions of species are increasingly well resolved, the spatial distributions of threats to species are poorly understood. We mapped the distributions of eight major threats to Australia's threatened plants, vertebrates, and invertebrates using the geographic ranges of species affected by particular threats as surrogates for their spatial occurrence. Our results indicate that simply quantifying the proportion of species affected by particular threatening processes does not adequately capture the variation in the spatial extent, prevalence, or predominance of threats to species. Conservation planning is an inherently spatial process; therefore, explicitly considering the spatial dimension of threats could significantly enhance our ability to direct efforts to areas where the greatest conservation outcomes can be delivered.
To maximize the utility of research to decisionmaking, especially given limited financial resources, scientists must set priorities for their efforts. We present a list of the top 40 high-priority, multidisciplinary research questions directed toward informing some of the most important current and future decisions about management of species, communities, and ecological processes in the United States. The questions were generated by an open, inclusive process that included personal interviews with decisionmakers, broad solicitation of research needs from scientists and policymakers, and an intensive workshop that included scientifically oriented individuals responsible for managing and developing policy related to natural resources. The process differed from previous efforts to set priorities for conservation research in its focus on the engagement of decisionmakers in addition to researchers. The research priorities emphasized the importance of addressing societal context and exploration of trade-offs among alternative policies and actions, as well as more traditional questions related to ecological processes and functions.
We describe Group-Advantaged Training of Research (GATOR), a yearlong structured program at the University of Florida that guided graduate student mentors and their undergraduate mentees through the mentored research process. Using the national Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences for an academic year, we found that outcomes for our mentees were similar to those for other programs. We also used an internal survey, combined with qualitative observations, to develop a road map of the mentoring process, which we call the “Metamorphosis of Mentorship.” This model provides tangible steps on the road to becoming a scientist, incorporates reasons mentees stall in research, and suggests ways to overcome mentoring challenges and prevent attrition. The structure and outcomes of this program will be useful to researchers and administrators working to engage undergraduates in scientific research, particularly at large universities where undergraduates are often mentored by graduate students.
Biological invasions and natural disasters are similar phenomena: Their causes are well understood, hut their occurrences are generally unpredictable and uncontrollable. “Both invasions and natural disasters can generate enormous environmental damage, and the frequency of damaging events is inversely proportional to their magnitude. Many nations invest in personnel training, disaster preparedness, and emergency response plans for extreme natural hazards (e.g., earthquakes), despite the rarity of such events. Similar precautions for invasive species (apart from infectious diseases) are not comprehensively applied by any nation, even though the impacts of invasions are less predictable and often irrevocable. Furthermore, the annual combined economic cost of invasions worldwide exceeds that of natural disasters. Preventative management of invasions—like that of natural disasters—requires international coordination of early-warning systems, immediate access to critical information, specialized training of personnel, and rapid-response strategies.