Limitations and Benefits of the Unmatched Count Technique: Considering How We Use New Methods in Conservation

Post provided by Amy Hinsley and Ana Nuno

Esta publicação no blogue também está disponível em português

A New Conservation Toolbox

It is widely accepted that many conservation challenges are directly related to human behaviour. Whether it is the over-collection of a rare orchid by harvesters in Southeast Asia, or the decisions by collectors in Europe to buy and smuggle these orchids home, understanding the extent and nature of these behaviours is essential to addressing the threats they might cause. This has led conservation researchers and practitioners to start looking outside of their discipline, to find methods and approaches from across the social sciences to improve our understanding of these complex issues.

A research assistant carrying out a UCT survey about the use of Traditional Medicine products containing bear bile in China. © Chen Haochun.

A research assistant carrying out a UCT survey about the use of Traditional Medicine products containing bear bile in China. © Chen Haochun.

While this interdisciplinarity is a positive move for conservation, it is important that we treat these ‘new’ methods carefully and understand their limitations. If we don’t, there is a risk that our new toolbox full of exciting methods that sound great on a funding application, may in fact not be making what we do any better, or in extreme cases they may even be making it worse.

With this in mind, a group of conservation social scientists, led by researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Exeter, decided to look in depth into one of these ‘new’ methods, to provide recommendations on when and how it should be used, and when it shouldn’t. Our Open Access article – ‘Asking sensitive questions using the unmatched count technique: Applications and guidelines for conservation‘ – looks at the Unmatched Count Technique (UCT – also called the list experiment), which is increasingly being used in conservation to ask questions about ‘sensitive’ topics. Continue reading

Limitações e benefícios da técnica de contagem de itens: considerações sobre o uso de novos métodos em Conservação

publicação no blogue FORNECIDO POR AMY HINSLEY E ANA NUNO

This blog post is also available in English

Novas ferramentas de conservação

Muitos desafios em conservação estão diretamente relacionados com o comportamento humano. Quer seja a recolha excessiva de uma orquídea rara no Sudeste Asiático, ou a compra e contrabando dessas orquídeas por colecionadores na Europa, entender a magnitude e a natureza desses comportamentos é essencial para lidar com as ameaças que eles podem causar. Isso levou os investigadores e profissionais da área de conservação a começarem a olhar para fora da sua própria disciplina, de modo a encontrar métodos e abordagens das ciências sociais para melhorar a nossa compreensão sobre estas questões complexas.

Assistente de investigação a realizar um estudo recorrendo a TCI sobre o uso de produtos de medicina tradicional com bílis de urso na China. © Chen Haochun.

Assistente de investigação a realizar um estudo recorrendo a TCI sobre o uso de produtos de medicina tradicional com bílis de urso na China. © Chen Haochun.

Embora esta interdisciplinaridade seja um passo positivo para a conservação, é importante tratar esses “novos” métodos com cuidado e entender as suas limitações. Se não o fizermos, existe o risco da nossa nova caixa de ferramentas, repleta de métodos interessantes que soam bem em candidaturas a financiamento, na verdade não melhorar aquilo que nós geralmente já fazemos ou, em casos extremos, até piorá-lo.

Tendo isto em conta, um grupo de cientistas sociais em conservação, liderado por investigadores das Universidades de Oxford e Exeter, decidiu examinar em profundidade um desses “novos” métodos, fornecer recomendações sobre quando e como ele deveria ser usado, e quando não deveria. O artigo, disponível gratuitamente na revista científica Methods in Ecology and Evolution nesta semana, examina a Técnica de Contagem de Itens (TCI), que tem sido cada vez mais usada em conservação para fazer perguntas sobre tópicos “sensíveis”. Continue reading

New Associate Editor: Laura Graham

Today, we are pleased to announce the latest new member of the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Associate Editor Board. Laura Graham joins us from the University of Southampton, UK as an Applications Editor. You can find out a little more about her below.

Laura Graham

“I’m a quantitative ecologist interested in how anthropogenic changes such as climate change and habitat loss affect global ecosystems, and how this in turn affects human well-being. I develop computational methods for spatial ecology to facilitate the reproducible analysis of social-ecological systems and ecosystem services. I’m interested in using novel statistical methods and heterogeneous sources of data to answer applied and theoretical questions.” Continue reading

Methods in Temporal Ecology

Post provided by Althea L. Davies & M. Jane Bunting

This post presents our reflections from two sessions at the first British Ecological Society Annual Meeting since the Palaeoecology Special Interest Group (SIG) was formed. Did the term “palaeoecology” make you want to stop reading? Then you’re not alone – our field of ecology seems to have drifted apart from neoecology over the last couple decades. We seem to have been separated by our choice of methods, rather than brought together by the fascinating, complex and essential challenges of better understanding ecosystem function that we share.

The diversity of talks at BES 2018 showed that ecologists working on time scales beyond the scope of direct study are researching the same urgent, exciting questions as other flavours of ecology. And that they are doing it by using an ever-growing range of methods and technologies. The Thematic Session ‘Advancing Our Understanding of Long-Term Ecology’ showcased advances in studies of long-term ecology. The Palaeoecology Oral Session demonstrated the diversity within this field. We don’t have room to mention all presenters, so we’d like to highlight contributions from two speakers in each session which demonstrate how strong the shared ground between palaeoecology and neoecology is. Continue reading

Meet the Editor: Bob O’Hara

We’re just days aware from the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting. That means it’s time to meet our fourth Senior Editor: Bob O’Hara

What can you tell us about the first paper you published?
I got the sub-species name wrong in the first sentence of the introduction. This is why it’s good I’m not a taxonomist.

Who inspired you most as a student?
I’m not sure. I guess the writers of all those wonderful 70s Am. Nat. papers, when they did theory without the use of computers.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new skill, what would it be?
The ability to be organised. Also hte ability to type without typos.

Continue reading

The BES Macroecology (& Macroevolution) SIG: Who We Are, What We Do and What to Look Out for at #BES2018

Post provided by Natalie Cooper

Defining macroecology should be easy; it’s just ecology at large spatial scales, right? In reality though, it’s a little more complex than that. No-one agrees on exactly how large the spatial scale should be, and many studies that could be macroecology may also be defined as biogeography, landscape ecology, community ecology etc. Working at large spatial scales can also mean working at large temporal scales, often in deep-time. So there’s a lot of overlap with studies of macroevolution both on living and extinct species too.

This breadth of definitions means the BES Macroecology Special Interest Group (or BES Macro as we usually call it) has members with interests across ecology, evolution and palaeontology. Probably the most common statement at any of our events is “I’m not a macroecologist but…”. So, if you’re interested in broad-scale ecology and evolution, in a living or palaeo context, the SIG is for you, even if you don’t identify as a macroecologist! Continue reading

Speed Review at the BES Annual Meeting: Get a Senior Editor’s Opinion on YOUR Manuscript

Coming to the BES Annual Meeting? Planning to submit a paper to a BES journal? Then you should sign up for the Speed Review Session on Monday 17 December! (sign-up sheets will be on the BES Stand in the Exhibition Hall.) Find out more about this session below.

What is a Speed Review Session?

©schlagzahluhren.de

©schlagzahluhren.de

Essentially, Speed Review is a chance for you to get a Senior Editor’s opinion on your manuscript. All you need to do is sign-up and bring along a figure or a key finding from your research to centre the discussion on. Each session will be limited to five minutes, so try to have a succinct summary of your manuscript ready as well. The Editor you speak to will let you know what they think of your paper and try to give you some advice about any areas to highlight or any potential concerns that they might have about it. Continue reading

Meet the Editor: Rob Freckleton

Today, we’re finding out a bit more about Methods in Ecology and Evolution‘s Executive (and founding) Editor, Rob Freckleton.

Please share a [funny] story about a paper you had rejected.
I had a paper rejected (from a journal that will remain nameless) – so I submitted it to Functional Ecology and it won the Haldane prize for best paper by a young author. I had another that was rejected from that journal and subsequently published in Functional Ecology that directly got me a job! Another amusing anecdote from around the same time: a third paper was not rejected, but I was accidentally forwarded some correspondence from the Editor with some (very non-flattering) opinions of me & my co-author… that paper went on to get >300 citations; and the Editor apologised fulsomely and unreservedly, to their great credit. And I’m not specifically knocking the journal in question: I just send a lot of papers there so have a lot of stories!
Continue reading

Meet the Editor: Lee Hsiang Liow

We’re meeting a second Senior Editor ahead of the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting today: Lee Hsiang Liow

What’s your favourite species and why?
Microporella rusti. It is a bryozoan species from New Zealand and is named after a good friend Seabourne Rust who is a Kiwi bryozoologist. Most marine bryozoans are really lovely, but this one is not just that, but a bit weird, because no one has yet seen any brood chambers in the hundreds of colonies we have examined (hey! where did the babies go?). And, by naming this species, I am forever linked with some of the best bryozoologists in the world (Emanuela Di Martino, Paul D Taylor and Dennis Gordon), who are also some of the people I admire most!
Continue reading

Meet the Editor: Aaron Ellison

The British Ecological Society Annual Meeting is fast approaching. Those of you joining us in Birmingham will have a chance to meet our Senior Editors. So, we thought that you might like to get to know them a little bit beforehand.

First up, we’re meeting our newest Senior Editor, Aaron Ellison.

What can you tell us about the first paper you published?
I published my first paper in 1983 (A naturally occurring developmental synergism between the cellular slime mold, Dictyostelium mucoroides and the fungus, Mucor hiemalis). It was based on summer undergraduate research in which I developed a new method to collect cellular slime molds (Dictyostelium spp.) in the field and then worked on culturing them in the lab during the following fall and spring. During this time, I discovered that one of the strains of D. mucoroides only made stalked fruiting bodies in the presence of a fungus, Mucor hiemalis. My first draft was terrible, but I learned a lot through the editing process with my undergraduate mentor, Leo Buss. Continue reading