Predicting future trends in biodiversity: understanding the human and environmental costs

Date: Wednesday 27 January 2021, 6.00PM
Location: Online
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The event will be followed by the Annual General Meeting of the RSS Edinburgh Local Group
Dr Charlie Outhwaite, Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, UCL
Global effects of land-use and climate change interactions on local insect biodiversity

Recent studies suggest that insects have experienced large-scale declines. In general, considerable progress has been made in understanding the global responses of biodiversity to major of change. However, few studies consider the potential synergistic interactions between drivers, and those studies that do tend to focus on vertebrate responses. Here, we show that climate change and land use interact leading to greater insect declines in agricultural land uses compared to areas of primary vegetation that have also experienced climate warming. The greatest declines in insect abundance were seen in intensive agriculture in areas that experienced the high climate warming. Importantly, the availability of nearby natural habitat buffered against the negative impact of climate warming, but only in areas of low use-intensity. This ability of nearby natural habitat to buffer negative climate responses in agricultural systems suggests a way to conserve biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes.

Prof Andy Purvis, Life Sciences Diversity and Informatics Division, Natural History Museum
Action now vs action later: can we afford to delay biodiversity conservation?

Faced with increasing pressure and demands from humanity, nature is in alarming decline. Although a suitably ambitious set of 'biodiversity wedges' may be able to bend the curve of biodiversity loss, decision-makers are likely to be reluctant to begin necessarily disruptive measures immediately, because the costs of action will largely have to be paid before the benefits start to accrue. The highly collaborative modelling work I will report, carried out in support of the Dasgupta Review of the economics of biodiversity, integrates economic and biodiversity models to assess the urgency of action. We estimated the costs of delaying biodiversity conservation action by a decade with the cost of beginning immediately, with the constraint that the biodiversity outcomes of both strategies are approximately equal at the year 2050.

Tom McKenna, Economist, Naturescot
Economics and biodiversity - understanding natures contribution to people

Historically, economics has failed to incorporate many of the values that we derive from our interactions with nature. This has led to nature being under represented in decision and has helped to create the joint crisis of biodiversity and climate change. Whilst the natural capital approach is a way of incorporating the multiple benefits and values from nature into decision making, biodiversity still remains hard to represent. Scotland's Natural Capital Asset Index (NCAI) and the eco-metric tool are two ways of incorporating some of biodiversity's value into decision making at the national and local level respectively.
Dr Charlie Outhwaite, Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, UCL

Prof Andy Purvis, Life Sciences Diversity and Informatics Division, Natural History Museum

Tom McKenna, Economist, Naturescot
Dave Ewing for RSS Edinburgh Local Group