Conservation Science 2016

What is Conservation Science?

It was the first session of the 2016 Conservation Science course at the University of Edinburgh.  We had a full room and an enthusiastic group of students for our introductory lectures on what is “Conservation Science” and what are some examples of conservation success stories and some of the challenges of conservation in the real world.

For our tutorial discussions we tackled the questions:

1. What is conservation as a field?
2. How do we identify with the big issues in conservation?
3. Is conservation a key issue for society as a whole?

We read the papers:

Soulé, Michael E. “What is conservation biology? A new synthetic discipline addresses the dynamics and problems of perturbed species, communities, and ecosystems.” BioScience 35.11 (1985): 727-734.

Kareiva, Peter, and Michelle Marvier. “What is conservation science?.” BioScience 62.11 (2012): 962-969.

Soule, M. The “new conservation.” Conservation Biology (2013) 27:895-897.

Our take-home message in my tutorial group was that there are many complexities in this field that relates biology to real-world decisions and management of ecosystems.  That we agreed with some points that both Soulé and Kareiva and Marvier made and that we also with agreed with neither on some other issues.  One of the subjects at the heart of our discussion was the role of scientists as advocates and how evidence-based scientific research can be translated into recommendations for policy makers and management. We think that this issue, in particular, might come up again in future discussions in the course.

We are looking forward to next week when we will discuss how we define, monitor and calculate biodiversity change and how this information is summarized for policy makers.  We are also stoked to get out side and begin some data collection using our newly developed Diversity of Pokémon Protocol!  Perhaps we can discover how biodiversity of Pokémon vary across campuses of the University of Edinburgh.


Pikachu a creature based on the alpine-living and cold-loving Pika that is potentially threatened by climate change.

By Isla


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