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Section Update: Europe

ECCB 2018

The marathon race to next year’s European Congress for Conservation Biology (ECCB) in Jyväskylä Finland is gaining speed. The recent deadline for symposia and workshops generated more than 50 applications, ranging from the role of social media, through the development of biodiversity offsetting schemes to management of boreal forests. This interest supports our belief that the conference will attract more than 1,000 participants. It is now up to the scientific committee to evaluate the proposals in relation to the congress theme and the scientific quality. The local organizing committee is making great strides towards offering a unique experience for participants, including an offer of free childcare 100 meters from the venue, exciting excursions, and a truly outstanding carbon offset project where a peat land restoration will be showcased to the participants already at the congress. Further, we will soon be able to advertise a set of high profile plenary speakers and already we have confirmation that the Finnish Minster of Environment, Kimmo Tiilikainen, will contribute. To summarize, go ahead and book your ticket for Finland next June, it will be great!

SCB Members in Europe, Africa, North America, South America and Australia: help us form the Mediterranean-type Ecosystems Working Group! 

Mediterranean-type regions are biodiversity hotspots facing multiple threats from climate change and anthropogenic drivers. The “Ad-Hoc Committee for Mediterranean Conservation” was set in 2012 under the umbrella of the European Section of SCB (SCB-ES) to tackle conservation issues in the Mediterranean regions of Europe. Francisco Moreira is currently the coordinator of this group.

However, Mediterranean-type regions exist not only in Southern Europe but also in North Africa and four other regions of the world (United States, Chile, South Africa and Australia) that span across different SCB Sections. Often, biodiversity threats and conservation issues are shared across these regions.

SCB's structure includes the possibility of setting topical working groups that focus on a topical area relevant to the mission and goals of SCB. In order to propose a working group, twenty active SCB members must express interest and agree to support its formation. A call for interested SCB members in setting such a group was sent in May 2016, but not enough replies were received. We are now sending a new reminder to check if enough SCB members would be interested in joining a Mediterranean Ecosystems Working Group. So, in case you are interested, please contact Francisco Moreira.

 

Ongoing activities on Mediterranean activities within SCB-ES include:

The 100 questions for Mediterranean biodiversity conservation initiativeThe idea is to identify questions that, if answered, would have a high probability of increasing the success of actions targeted at the conservation of biological diversity in the five Mediterranean regions of the world. This initiative started in 2014, is being developed by a group of over 20 people, and we hope to finish it during the next year. With SCB support, we are bringing researchers from Australia and South Africa to Lisbon, to meet with Francisco and colleagues.

Collaboration with the SCB Africa SectionAt the African Congress of Conservation Biology (ACCB 2016) in Morocco, 4-8 September 2016, a round table discussion on “Priority questions for biodiversity conservation on the Mediterranean-type regions of Africa” was jointly organized by the SCB-Europe and SCB-Africa Sections. Following this initiative, Francisco Moreira (SCB-Europe Section) and Nehza Acil (SCB-Africa Section) are trying to identify the relevant questions for biodiversity conservation in Mediterranean North Africa. Ultimately, we aim to contrast the conservation issues across the North and South margins of the Mediterranean Sea.
 

Greek summer school in Conservation Biology 2017

By Ano Pedina, Zagori, Greece

This was the ninth year that the summer school ran with the support from the Society of Conservation Biology, and it was a very interesting class. The program followed the format of previous years with a mix of field courses, lectures and computer labs. And as always, there was a lot of time for students to devote to their projects. This year, we placed a greater emphasis on analysis and modelling. Beyond the team of main instructors (John Halley, Martin Wiemers and Athanasios Kallimanis) this year, we had a visiting lecturer from Turkey (Buhara Yücesan), who spoke about orchids and ways to reproduce them in the lab. And we also had guest lectures from Kiki Kati (that had an early morning session on birds and a talk on conservation experience in Greece) and Haritakis Papaioannou who spoke about the North Pindos National Park. Natasa Tzortzaki contributed also in the lectures, especially in the refresher course and for the R practicals. 

As last year there was a day devoted to the debate which this time revolved around deextinction as a tool for conservation biology. Both teams spend the day preparing and gave a nice performance arguing for their points, and surprisingly (since most of us were and are against the notion) the against team presented a more persuasive argument and were impressively better at the questions and answers and won the debate with a marginal 3:2.

Throughout the project we had several memorable experiences. The one that I will recall for many years was the experience with the use of the smart phone relaying the sound of an Otus scops and the bird flying silently over the students’ heads and landing on the tree in the school’s yard.

As with previous years we had the international dinner. This year it was on Saturday evening, and it was the first international dinner without pizza, even though one of the students prepared something from Germany which was reminiscent of pizza (flammkuchen). Perhaps unexpectedly, none of the student dishes contained meat. Contrary to previous years we had a lot of salads and desserts prepared. All in all, a great deal of fun and it was very pleasurable for all. And the left overs were taken as a snack for the next day trip walking up the mountain from Papigko, which apparently all the students enjoyed enormously. After coming down from the alpine meadows, we did make a small stop by the river which was crowded but still some students enjoyed a quick swim. Without a doubt this was the warmest year we had in the summer school, and the day we went for the Papigko field trip, was the warmest day of the season, so swimming in the cold Voidomatis River was pleasurable, and actually the river side was very crowded with many other people who had the same idea.

As with every class, we had some memorable students. I think that the most cheerful student was Ceren from Turkey, who is working towards a PhD in ethnobotany in the Caucasus. Then there was Neli from Bulgaria, who works with large mammals. Most active of all I think was Thomas from Germany, who is working towards a PhD in forestry in Freiburg. The youngest I think was Elina still an MSc student in forestry from Thessaloniki, who was very experienced with reptiles. Zeljka, who works on the environmental consequences of the renewable energy applications in Croatia, and who had to compete at a running event the day after the end of the summer school. The most artistic was Gina, also from Germany, but who will start a PhD in Prague this autumn, studying freshwater fish in Africa. Her sketches of butterflies could be used to identify the specimen to species level. And the last member of the class was Hennie from Norway, who works with monitoring and analyzing the behavior of bears in Norway.

The whole school was most pleasant. The classes were small but interesting and the discussions relaxed and stimulating at the same time. The projects were also very interesting. We had one on butterflies with students collecting data in the field and analyzing temporal turnover patterns with Martins records from the previous years. Another team worked with reptiles and analyzed spatiotemporal patterns of reptiles and amphibians in two habitats (river and pond) over 5 years using data collected by past students. One student worked on the factors determining the production of berries and the temporal patterns of this production, and the last student examined the factors determining the abundance and diversity of microhabitat structures on large trees.
 

SCCS Tihany, Hungary 2017

The Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS) series started in Cambridge and has expanded with several other locations, including Tihany, Hungary. SCCS is probably the largest international conference in conservation science, where students and early career scientists are welcomed and have the chance to present their research, learn from each other and meet with experts of the field who can offer them guidance in their future careers. From 2015, Hungary joined this inspiring event and organizes a conference, especially for young scientists from all around Europe to build a network among the presented parts of the continent.

The 3rd SCCS Hungary was held in Tihany, between 29th August and 2nd September 2017. Four plenary talks were held by excellent plenary speakers, such as Prof. Dr. Teja Tscharntke (University of Göttingen), Dr. Péter Szabó (Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences), Prof. Andrew Balmford (University of Cambridge) and Dr. György Pataki (Corvinus Business School, Budapest). They touched the fields of landscape ecology, historical ecology, multiple ways of valuation of biodiversity and human-nature relationships, and also #EarthOptimism. Around 30 students took part at the conference, presenting 18 talks and 8 posters. The best student talks and poster were granted by Fauna & Flora International, Oryx and Community Ecology journals. The SCB Europe Section was one of the major sponsors of the conference.

Beside the interesting scientific program, various social events were organized during the five days: visitation to the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden, which is one of the oldest zoological gardens in the world; a guided tour in Tihany, visiting the surrounding area of the venue as it offers many impressive touristic sights, such as the Lavender House, the visitor centre of the Balaton Uplands National Park, the Inner Lake with a restoration of Hungarian grey cattle and European ground squirrel populations and the Golden House geyser cone. The last day a trip was organized to the impressive area of the Kis-Balaton that is part of the Balaton Uplands National Park, where a wetland reconstruction was conducted and led to a rich avifauna.

You can learn more about the conference at its website. If you are a student or early career scientist, we hope to see you next year at the 4th SCCS in Tihany!
 

Communications and Membership Committee:

  • This year we attended to the SCCSs in both Cambridge and Tihany in order to meet the new generations of conservationists and to share with them our student blogging contest. Don’t you know about it? In the SCB Europe Section, we think everybody should know about how interesting your research is. For that reason, we ask the students in the conferences we attended to send us a “pitch” with a summary of what their research is about, or about something they think it is valuable/interesting to highlight about the conference. For the winners, we support them with a mentoring scheme with a communications specialist, who help them to develop a full blog entry that the SCB Europe Section promotes in their blog page and in our social media. We also gift them $100 and a year of free membership in the SCB.

We have awarded 4 students form the SCCS Cambridge for their sinning blog post proposals, you can check out the posts on our blog.

More coming soon as a result of SCCS Tihany.

Next year, we will be at SCCS Cambridge and Tihany, and of course in the ECCB in Jyväskylä, Finland. Look for us and win your prize!

Do you want to write a blog but unfortunately you won’t have the opportunity to attend to one of these conferences? Don’t worry, contact us and let us know what do you want to talk about.

  • In early 2017 we welcomed Nadia to the Communications Team and since then she has been leading our Twitter, which has seen an increase of 100s of new followers since she started leading the account. She has been an amazing addition to the team, bringing great ideas to develop our social media.

We have two new very cool initiatives on Twitter, join us and participate:

  1. Follow Friday (#ff) is a popular hashtag on Twitter that people use to recommend their favorite Twitter users. We are using it to recommend organizations or people working in conservation in Europe to our followers. Our goal is to help our followers to connect with each other.
  2. #ConsPicsEur Look at your better photos about conservation in Europe and share them in Twitter with this hashtag and tagging @SCBEurope. If your photo gets more likes and shares than the others, it will be part of an exhibition in the ECCB2018 in Jyväskylä.

Please, follow us in Twitter:to learn more about these initiatives.

  • We want to make sure that you know everything you need to know about the ECCB 2018, including information about activities, workshops, field trips… but also about Jyväskylä and Finland. If you want to learn more and prepare for the conference, or you want to start networking with the other attendees, joins us in Facebook:
  • And if you want to volunteer with us to spread the word about the work that the SCB Europe Section is doing, the ECCB2018 or what’s going on in conservation in Europe, please, contact us and become part of our Communications and Membership Committee family.

 

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In-depth analysis of Europe’s conservation problems – and how to solve them

The SCB-Europe Policy Committee (PC-Europe) has set out to achieve the first ever analysis of the situation of European biodiversity and conservation that includes the root causes of current conservation issues and future risks.

The analysis builds on the cumulative knowledge existing within PC-Europe. We started with a series of online consultations in January. At a subsequent workshop in February, in Eberswalde, Germany, eleven members of PC-Europe revised the first draft of results. Using the MARISCO method, results were systematised and visualised in a conceptual model of direct threats and root causes for deterioration of biodiversity in Europe (photo 1). We have also started to add information from literature and maps. Building on this, we are in the process of identifying problem-solving strategies, both existing and missing ones. At the ECCB 2018, we plan to present our analysis and open the exercise up to interested congress participants (photo 2).

Photo 1

Photo 2