What is the best way to get the latest science into the hands of those who might actually use it for biodiversity conservation? In the past, I’d adopted a “trickle-down” approach – publish papers, and then wait, wait, wait for those ideas to hopefully make it to conservation and resource managers, after many intermediaries and over a long time. My collaborators and I grew frustrated at how long it took new ideas – not just our own, but more generally from the literature we knew to be advancing – to improve biodiversity conservation in landscapes where habitat had been lost or fragmented. Specifically in our studies of landscape corridors, new innovations in studies of dispersal, population genetics, mapping, and modeling are improving understanding of how, when, and where corridors are most effective in conservation. At the same time, even as corridors have become increasingly popular in conservation to combat habitat loss and climate change, it was difficult to track down new ideas coming from conservation management that could inform next steps in science to best inform conservation.
We created ConservationCorridor.org to provide a space to bring together the latest science for managers, and the latest conservation innovations for scientists. The idea has been relatively simple – provide regular updates on the latest science and on the latest conservation. These updates are published in short “Digests”, which fit into three categories – Corridor Science, Corridors and Climate Change, and Corridors in Management. We adopted the term Digest to distinguish from a Blog – something we may add later. For now, we developed a plan that we could sustain with regular (~monthly) updates. We also recognized that there was no need to repeat aspects of corridor science and conservation that others are already doing better than we ever could. We advertise “Tools” that are found on many helpful and well-designed websites that provide tools for planning, mapping, and modeling corridors. Already, the benefits of creating the site, including its social media, have provided a platform for more rapid interaction among scientists and managers.
To develop our network, we first publicized ConservationCorridor.org through emails to contacts in academia and management who work on landscape conservation. We specifically asked our academic colleagues to reach out to conservation agencies and NGOs in their region. We started a listserv to publicize Digests monthly. Nearly immediately, we teamed with NatureServe, who launched their related website http://www.landscope.org/focus/connectivity/ at nearly the same time at ours. We recognized our complementary missions, as NatureServe is devoted specifically to training managers in how to implement corridors in real landscapes.
Increasingly, we learn of new topics for Digests, and have engaged our network in writing them. A next step, once we have the capacity to provide daily content and feedback will be to create a blog and allow an ability to comment. With these updates and improvements, we hope to maintain a useful and effective platform for the interaction of scientists and managers, as well as for anyone interested in corridors in general.
Nick Haddad is William Neal Reynolds Professor of Biological Sciences at North Carolina State University and a Leopold Fellow (class of 2008). He is currently a Visiting Professor in Biology at Stanford University, where he is studying the ecosystem services provided by corridors.