Global biodiversity scenario assessment with the Red List Index

Presented by:  Piero Visconti, Microsoft Research – Computational Ecology, Cambridge (UK)

Where:  Building 19 (new Centre building) Room #106, JCU, Townsville; with live video-link to UQ GCI Boardroom

 When:  12:00 – 13:00 Thursday 11th October

Abstract: The use of biodiversity scenarios to evaluate the implication of different socio-economic pathways on biodiversity is becoming increasingly common, yet there has been no major attempt to validate models used for projections against observed trends, therefore there is little indication on the reliability ofthese scenario projections. Additionally, there have been very few attempts to project policy-relevant biodiversity indicators such as the Red List Index and the Living Planet Index, and all of these applied to small taxonomic groups or small geographical regions. To address these gaps we compared 3 scenarios of land use and climate change from the Rio+20 study in terms of their impacts on all terrestrial mammals, quantified using the Living Planet Index and the Red List Index. A baseline scenario projecting present demographic and socio-economic trends and 2 mitigation scenarios aimed at achieving the Aichi 2020 targets for biodiversity. We validated our models by comparing observed past trends from 1970 to the present and modelled projections over the same time-period (hindcasts). We show that, contrary to previous studies which used different biodiversity indicators, the mitigation scenarios do not meet theAichi 2020 targets. We also discuss pros and cons of RLI and LPI in the context of informing policy decisions. We conclude by suggesting ways forward to measure biodiversity impacts of future socio-economic scenarios.

Biography: Piero did his PhD at James Cook University with Prof. Bob Pressey, looking at improved methods to schedule conservation actions through time (dynamic conservation planning).  He then moved back to Rome, his home-town, to join the Global Mammal Assessment program, working on scenarios of mammal conservation but also collaborating on projects spanning from red-listing to population biology and macro-ecology. He is now at Microsoft Computational Ecology and Environmental Science, continuing his work on global biodiversity scenarios as well as starting new projects bringing together ecology, technology and crowdsourcing (harnessing the public to gather and interpret data) to address scientific questions and conservation challenges.

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