We are a research group working with Associate Professor Jonathan Rhodes on conservation and ecosystem services science based at The University of Queensland. We are part of the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science and located (mostly) in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
Our research focuses on a wide variety of conservation-related problems, but predominantly within four broad areas:
Drivers of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Change
We are interested in how landscape and climate change drivers determine species’ distributions, the structure of ecological communities and ecosystem service provision. We work at a range of scales from fine scale analyses in urban neighbourhoods to broad-scale global patterns and processes. The approach we take to this is to combine empirical data with state-of-the-art statistical and processes based models to develop understanding of impacts and predictive models to assess impacts.
Conservation Decision-making and Planning
Due to the highly applied nature of our work we believe that it is critical that we make our science as relevant as possible for decisions makers. A key component of our work therefore is explicitly assessing the implications of processes that impact on biodiversity and ecosystem services for decision-making. In general, we address these questions by linking quantitative (usually spatial) models with decision theory and use this to gain insights into the ecological, social and economic drivers of optimal decisions. This requires that we work at the interface between the ecological, social and economic sciences and therefore we collaborate widely across these disciplines.
Value of Information and Optimal Monitoring
A critically important question for conservation biology is the extent to which we should invest in conservation action now, versus investing in learning about the system of interest, so that we can make better decisions in the future. We therefore work on a range of questions related to understanding the value of new information for conservation decision-making. A novel angle to our work is not simply considering learning about ecological systems, but also considering the value of learning about social and economic aspects critical for conservation decision-making.
Environmental Policy Evaluation
One of the major objectives of applied conservation research is to inform policy decisions for greater environmental sustainability. We achieve this by working closely with governments and NGOs and focusing our work around the evaluation of realistic policy options for a wide range of issues that include koala conservation, forest protection and offset policies.