Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research


CBER News and Events

Lack of Staffing, Funds Prevent Marine Protected Areas from Realising Full Potential

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an increasingly popular strategy for protecting marine biodiversity, but a new global study demonstrates that widespread lack of personnel and funds are preventing MPAs from reaching their full potential. After four years compiling and analyzing data on site management and fish populations in 589 MPAs around the world, Dr. David Gill and co-authors, including Dr Sarah Whitmee from CBER, discovered that shortfalls in staffing and funding are hindering the recovery of MPA fish populations. While fish populations grew in 71 percent of MPAs studied, the level of recovery of fish was strongly linked to the management of the sites. At MPAs with sufficient staffing, increases in fish populations were nearly three times greater than those without adequate personnel. Despite the critical role of local management capacity, however, only 35 percent of MPAs reported acceptable funding levels and only 9 percent reported adequate staff to manage the MPA.

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£5m funding to investigate sustainable and healthy food systems

CBER scientists Georgina Mace, Ben Collen, Richard Pearson and Carole Dalin have been awarded a grant by the Wellcome Trust to evaluate sustainable food systems, healthy diets and the impact of environmental and population changes on food production, as part of a major new international collaborative project led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

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Mapping movements of alien bird species

The global map of alien bird species has been produced for the first time by a UCL-led team of researchers. It shows that human activities are the main determinants of how many alien bird species live in an area but that alien species are most successful in areas already rich with native bird species.

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Gotta Conserve 'em All

CBER PhD Student Fiona Spooner discusses how the release of Pokemon Go can have an effect on conservation, and what can be learnt from the popular game.

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Research Image as Art

When taking pictures photographers try to capture the best angle, the perfect composition, and the ideal light. It is almost as if they were building the image themselves and the result, as we know, can be really impressive. On the other hand, when setting up automatic cameras to record wildlife none of the photographer’s concerns are high in my list of priorities; I’m simply aiming to obtain records of animals. These photographic records are the data I use in my research, and with them I can test hypothesis and describe patterns about the ecology of elusive species. In my PhD, for example, I’m using data from automatic cameras to investigate the effectiveness of parks and natural reserves in protecting large mammals in the Brazilian Cerrado. So, a blurred photo featuring only part of a maned wolf’s body or a distant and dull armadillo almost out of the frame is all I need to identify the species and have the much-needed data for analysis.

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Seirian Sumner joins CBER

Dr. Seirian Sumner recently joined CBER, her work seeks to explore the interface between behavioural ecology, biodiversity and conservation. She uses a combination of field ecology and genomics techniques to address questions about how and why animals live in societies.

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Where, when and what do citizen science volunteers record?

The often opportunistic nature of biological recording via citizen science initiatives can lead to data that are biased towards particular species, places or seasons. However, such biases may give valuable insight into volunteers’ recording behaviour.

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Impact of climate change on Sargassum epifauna

As part of her MRes project with CBER, Jennifer Choyce spent two months in Bermuda looking into the impacts of climate change on calcifying species associated with Sargassum seaweed. Here, she talks about her experience on the project.

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The environmental impacts of alien birds

Thousands of species have been moved by people to areas where they do not naturally occur. These alien species can have negative impacts on the environments into which they are introduced. Given the vast number of aliens, and the broad range of impacts they can have, how do we identify which are the worst in order to prioritise our remedial or preventative actions? One method that shows a lot of promise is the Environmental Impact Classification for Alien Taxa (EICAT).

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