The "Best Practices" for Conservation: Assess and Reliably Predict the Future of Biodiversity

The "Charles Darwin" Department of Biology and Biotechnology at Sapienza has developed the first standard of best practices for the reliable application of predictive models in the study of environmental changes related to biodiversity, in collaboration with an international research team. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, is the first step towards the development of nature conservation and management policies based on rigorous and reliable data and models

Terrestrial ecosystems are undergoing extraordinary changes very quickly, in most cases due to anthropogenic interventions, with important consequences on the ecological balance.

Designing intervention actions aimed at the conservation of biodiversity is therefore today both an unavoidable necessity and a matter of global importance. However, the ability to predict the effects of global change on biodiversity remains limited, mainly due to ambiguous data and the complexity of the system itself.

This is why different studies and approaches often lead to inferences and projections that vary both in terms of size and direction. Hence the need for rigorous standards to improve the development and application of qualitatively better and more reliable models.

This was the "goal" of an international research group, which was also attended by Luigi Maiorano, researcher at the "Charles Darwin" Department of Biology and Biotechnology. After reviewing over 400 studies that used predictive models to assess risks and biodiversity conservation status, researchers developed a set of guidelines to determine which standards are the most stringent among those available to achieve the most reliable results.

As the Good Clinical Practices in the medical field, the guidelines for the environmental sciences will produce standardized models, more easily expendable for the production of reliable and reproducible results that allow to predict how the distribution of a species will change over time, considering the rapid and continuous changes that are occurring in the planet.

"Our final goal - concludes Luigi Maiorano - is to promote the improvement of basic science to support the choices related to environmental policies and to achieve a broad participation in the development of models for the evaluation of ecological systems represents a first important step in this direction. ".



Standards for distribution models in biodiversity assessments - Miguel B. Araújo, Robert P. Anderson, A. Márcia Barbosa, Colin M. Beale, Carsten F. Dormann, Regan Early, Raquel A. Garcia, Antoine Guisan, Luigi Maiorano, Babak Naimi, Robert B. O’Hara, Niklaus E. Zimmermann and Carsten Rahbek - Science Advances  16 Jan 2019:Vol. 5, no. 1, eaat4858 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat4858


Further Information

Luigi Maiorano
"Charles Darwin" Department of Biology and Biotechnology. Sapienza University of Rome

Tuesday, 05 February 2019

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