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Responses of ecosystems to elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) remain a critical uncertainty in global change research. Two key unknown factors are the fate of carbon newly incorporated by photosynthesis into various pools within the ecosystem and the extent to which elevated CO2 is transferred to and sequestered in pools with long turnover times. The CO2 used for enrichment in many experiments incorporates a dual isotopic tracer, in the sense that ratios of both the stable carbon-13 (13C) and the radioactive carbon-14 (14C) isotopes with respect to carbon-12 are different from the corresponding ratios in atmospheric CO2. Here we review techniques for using 13C and 14C abundances to follow the fate of newly fixed carbon and to further our understanding of the turnover times of ecosystem carbon pools. We also discuss the application of nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen isotope analyses for tracing changes in the linkages between carbon, nitrogen, and water cycles under conditions of elevated CO2.
The exponential increase in the number and coverage of protected areas worldwide represents the past century's most notable conservation success. Nonetheless, many protected areas are ineffectively managed. Assessments of management effectiveness have generally looked at three areas: design, management processes, and ecological integrity. This article describes these areas in greater depth, discusses some of the differences between assessment approaches, and introduces each of the subsequent four articles on protected area assessments.
Since the mid-1990s, numerous methodologies have been developed to assess the management effectiveness of protected areas, many tailored to particular regions or habitats. Recognizing the need for a generic approach, the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) developed an evaluation framework allowing specific evaluation methodologies to be designed within a consistent overall approach. Twenty-seven assessment methodologies were analyzed in relation to this framework. Two types of data were identified: quantitative data derived from monitoring and qualitative data derived from scoring by managers and stakeholders. The distinction between methodologies based on data types reflects different approaches to assessing management. Few methodologies assess all the WCPA framework elements. More useful information for adaptive management will come from addressing all six elements. The framework can be used to adapt existing methodologies or to design new, more comprehensive methodologies for evaluation, using quantitative monitoring data, qualitative scoring data, or a combination of both.
Assessing the management effectiveness of a protected area system can enable policymakers to develop strategic, systemwide responses to pervasive management problems. The World Wide Fund for Nature International has developed the Rapid Assessment and Prioritization of Protected Area Management (RAPPAM) methodology. This article summarizes results from the implementation of the RAPPAM methodology in Bhutan, China, Russia, and South Africa. Five threats emerged warranting concerted policy effort: poaching, alien plants, tourism, logging, and encroachment. Similarly, five management issues emerged that influence protected area management effectiveness: funding, staffing, research and monitoring, resource inventories, and community relations. By identifying the most pressing issues in protected areas, an assessment of management effectiveness can be used to improve protected area management.
KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife is the governmental agency responsible for managing protected areas in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province, South Africa. The agency recently conducted an assessment of the management effectiveness of all 110 protected areas throughout the province. The assessment highlighted a range of management problems, including poor design and layout of protected areas; staffing problems; and inadequate financial resources, management planning, research efforts, and resource inventories. Major threats include invasive alien plants and the isolation of protected areas, the latter leading to problems in species viability. The assessment was part of a broader systematic conservation planning program being conducted throughout KZN Province; this article concludes with a discussion of how these two assessment processes are being integrated.
Managers of protected areas are under increasing pressure to measure their effectiveness in conserving native biological diversity in ways that are scientifically sound, practical, and comparable among protected areas over time. The Nature Conservancy and its partners have developed a “Measures of Success” framework with four core components: (1) identifying a limited number of focal conservation targets, (2) identifying key ecological attributes for these targets, (3) identifying an acceptable range of variation for each attribute as measured by properly selected indicators, and (4) rating target status based on whether or not the target's key attributes are within their acceptable ranges of variation. A target cannot be considered “conserved” if any of its key ecological attributes exceeds its acceptable range of variation. The framework provides a rigorous basis not only for measuring success but for setting conservation objectives, assessing threats to biodiversity, identifying monitoring and research needs, and communicating management information to nonspecialists.
In tropical ecology, the effect of uneven development of research protocol across faunal groups is a major contributor to the taxonomic bias evident in the contemporary biological literature. Methodological problems can seriously hinder research on certain biotic groups, rendering them unpopular relative to others.
Life sciences and literature have long been seen as disciplines at opposite ends of the spectrum of human creativity. However, even excluding science fiction, the former has often inspired or influenced the latter, and vice versa. One of the more interesting and controversial examples of this was the scientific activity of Claude Bernard (1813–1878) and the writings of Emile Zola (1840–1902). Here we suggest that, although Zola presumably harnessed the physiologist's prestige to lend scientific and topical dignity to his work, the reading of Bernard's work (particularly his Leçons de physiologie expérimentale appliquée à la médecine), in a historical period exceptionally favorable to science, may well have contributed to Zola's ideas and strengthened his genuine interest in science.
This article explains some basic issues and complexities associated with working with K–12 administrators, teachers, and students. It also explains important aspects of schools, teaching, and learning, including state-mandated curriculums and competition for K–12 class time. The author describes current pedagogical strategies for science education, as well as learning modalities and the importance of engaging students in each modality. The article includes an interview with Charles Hopkins, a former superintendent of curriculum and instruction, who gives insightful examples of individuals and groups from outside the school system trying to influence curriculum adoption and implementation.