seascape models

Species on the Move Conference: some key things I learned.

10-12 February 2016, Hobart Tasmania

Check out the conference webpage and my synopses for more details:

1. Science tells a story and telling stories in itself is a suitable objective for science

A great talk from Emma Lee changed the way I think about science. I come from a very quantitative background, where the point of science is knowledge and improving the future for nature and humanity. But Lee convinced me that telling a story is a suitable goal in itself. People love to tell stories, so much so it is almost a basic human need. Science is the way to come closer to the truth in our thinking and in doing so provide an outlet for people to communicate authentic stories.

2. Climate change impacts on ecosystems have become a personal experience

The effects of climate change are so pervasive now that individuals are noticing it, and often attributing environmental change to climate change. We shouldn’t underestimate the psychological impact of attributing change to climate change.

3. Indigenous people are being pushed for answers on problems they didn’t create

Scientists are working with indigenous people to answer questions about climate change, but scientists come with a very strong idea about the method which can create a communication challenge with indigenous people, particularly when they feel the ‘scientific method’ is pushed upon them. Better communication of climate science, and incorporating alternate cultural view-points is a great challenge for all of us, but one we need to address if we are going to solve the problems climate change is posing. Thanks to Nathalie Pettorelli for this one.

4. Climate change ecology is a young, dynamic discipline and this makes it really exciting to participate in

Young researchers are doing some of the most exciting research in climate change ecology. Jenn Sunday’s plenary was a great example of this. Further, some of the most influential papers have been lead by female scientists, which is not the case in other older fields. I think climate change ecology does not suffer as much from the handicap of sexism as the more ‘established’ fields. The inclusiveness of our field makes it stronger and conferences like this so much more fun and progressive.

5. Climate change impacts and management responses are all about the time-scale

Invasive species are just native species on a shorter timescale. Management also needs to consider time-scales, for instance training managers in the short-term change can help prepare them for longer-term change. Thanks to Nathalie Butt for this one.

6. Mangers are already responding to climate change, even while scientists still argue what the appropriate responses are

Bowman’s talk was a great example of a rapid management response to an extreme fire regime. As scientists, we need to make sure we are engaging with managers and helping them learn about how to respond to change.

Contact: Chris Brown

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