We hope you enjoy these in-depth discussions of recently published BioScience articles and other science stories. Each episode of our interview series delves into the research behind a highlighted story, giving listeners unique insight into scientists' work.
Resist–Accept–Direct, a Paradigm for Management
33:04Natural resource managers worldwide face a growing challenge: Global change increasingly propels ecosystems on strong trajectories toward irreversible ecological transformations. As once-familiar historical ecological conditions fade, managers need new approaches to guide decision-making. In a special section in BioScience, three dozen authors, led by National Park Service (NPS) ecologist Gregor Schuurman and US Geological Survey social scientist Amanda Cravens, describe the Resist–Accept–Direct (RAD) framework, designed for and by managers. The collection of articles is focused on understanding and responding to the challenges of stewarding ecological systems in a time of intensifying global change. According to the section authors, the RAD framework gives managers three general pathways for responding to change: They can take actions to resist the change, they can accept it, or they can try to direct the change to produce desirable outcomes. The NPS has honed the RAD framework with an expanding circle of parks and adaptation partners over the past half-dozen years, with federal natural resource management agencies collaborating to develop guidance for stewarding transforming ecosystems. The special section can be found in the January issue of BioScience. For this episode of BioScience Talks, we are joined by Dr. Schuurman to discuss the RAD framework and the special section that describes it. More about the RAD framework can be found on web pages maintained by the NPS and USGS.
In Their Own Words: Thomas Lovejoy III (Republication)
45:21The American institute of Biological Sciences, publisher of the BioScience Talks podcast, mourns the loss of visionary ecologist Thomas E. Lovejoy III. Dr. Lovejoy was the AIBS President in 1994. In 2012, he received the AIBS Outstanding Service Award, an award given annually in recognition of individuals’ and organizations’ noteworthy service to the biological sciences. Earlier this year, he joined us for an episode of our oral history series, In Their Own Words, which we republish here in memoriam. A version of this interview was also published in BioScience. Lovejoy died on December 25, 2021 in McLean, Virginia. He was 80.
Coral Reefs: Insults and Prospects
31:44In this episode of BioScience Talks, we're joined by Dr. Michael Lesser, Professor Emeritus at the University of New Hampshire. He's here to talk about his recent BioScience article, which details the ways that coral is affected by nutrients, climate change, and other stressors— and what those interconnected stressors mean for the future of reefs.
Biodiversity Collections Enable Foundational and Data Skills
41:24The task of training an effective cadre of biodiversity scientists has grown more challenging in recent years, as foundational skills and knowledge in organismal biology have increasingly required complementary data skills and knowledge. Writing in BioScience, Dr. Anna K. Monfils, of Central Michigan University, and colleagues identify one way to address this training conundrum: biodiversity collections. Biodiversity collections operate at the nexus of foundational biological practice and contemporary data science, a product of their role as curator of not only specimens themselves but also the specimens' associated data and network of data resources (referred to as the "extended specimen"). The authors describe a module that leverages this feature of biodiversity collections to produce a holistic student learning experience. The module, “Connecting students to citizen science and curated collections," was designed by the authors with six learning goals in mind, ranging from plant specimen collection in the field to the deposition of data in national or international databases. Students also learned about the value of large data sets and the role of community members' contributions to them. The authors reported strong learning results, stating that, according to a postmodule assessment, "the students felt well prepared, very well prepared, or totally prepared to use foundational and emerging plant collecting skills including maintaining a field notebook (89%), collecting specimens in the field (94%), and depositing specimens (89%) and digital data (92%) into national and international data repositories." Joining us on this episode are authors Anna Monfils, Professor at Central Michigan University and Director of the Central Michigan University Herbarium, Erica Krimmel, Information Scientist with the iDigBio Project at Florida State University, and Travis Marsico, Professor of Botany at Arkansas State University and Curator of the Arkansas State University Herbarium. They discussed the learning model they designed from implementation to next steps.
Disease Transmission: The Case of Sarcoptes Scabiei
25:39In this episode of BioScience Talks, we're joined by Liz Browne, who has bachelor of science degree with honors from the University of Tasmania, and Scott Carver, disease ecologist at the University of Tasmania. They discuss the pathogen transmission, and in particular, the way that Sarcoptes scabiei, the mite responsible for mange, passes between members of different species, as well as the implications for epidemiology generally. Learn more in their recent BioScience article.
Values and Water Security in a Dry Era
29:51In this episode of BioScience Talks, we're joined by previous guest Paolo D'Odorico, professor of hydrology and the Chair of the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. We're also joined by Willis Jenkins, Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics at the University of Virginia, where he is also Chair of the Department of Religious Studies. Our guests discuss their recent article in BioScience water security and the ways that our values play into its management, with implications for Indigenous rights, ecosystem health, economies, environmental justice, and more.
Empowering Communities through Local Monitoring
48:35Over recent decades, community-based environmental monitoring (often called "citizen science") has exploded in popularity, aided both by smartphones and rapid gains in computing power that make the analysis of large data sets far easier. Publishing in BioScience, handling editors Rick Bonney, of Cornell University, Finn Danielsen, of the Nordic Foundation for Development and Ecology (NORDECO), and numerous colleagues share an open-access special section (already downloaded thousands of times) that highlights numerous community-based monitoring programs currently underway. In an article on locally based monitoring, Danielsen and colleagues describe the potential for monitoring by community members—who may have little scientific training—to deliver "credible data at local scale independent of external experts and can be used to inform local and national decision making within a short timeframe." Community-based monitoring efforts also have the potential to empower Indigenous rightsholders and stakeholders through their broader inclusion in the scientific process, writes Bonney in a Viewpoint article introducing the section. Moreover, he says, "Indigenous and local peoples’ in situ knowledge practices have the potential to make significant contributions to meeting contemporary sustainability challenges both locally and around the globe." In this episode of BioScience Talks, Bonney and Danielsen join us to discuss the special section as well as the broader future for community-based monitoring.
In Their Own Words: Nalini Nadkarni
1:06:03This episode is the next in our oral history series, In Their Own Words. These pieces chronicle the stories of scientists who have made great contributions to their fields, particularly within the biological sciences. Each month, we will publish in the pages of BioScience, and on this podcast, the results of these conversations. Nalini Nadkarni is a professor of biology at the University of Utah. Note: Both the text and audio versions have been edited for clarity and length.
The Climate Emergency in a COVID Year
32:14In a year marked by unprecedented flooding, deadly avalanches, and scorching heat waves and wildfires, the climate emergency's enormous cost—whether measured in lost resources or human lives—is all too apparent. Writing in BioScience, a group led by William J. Ripple and Christopher Wolf, both with Oregon State University, update their striking 2019 "World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency" with new data on the climate's health. The news is not good. Although fossil fuel use dipped slightly in 2020, a widely predicted result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors report that carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide "have all set new year-to-date records for atmospheric concentrations in both 2020 and 2021." Furthermore, 16 out of 31 tracked planetary vital signs, reflecting metrics such as greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean heat content, and ice mass, have also set disquieting records. However, there were a few bright spots, including fossil fuel subsidies reaching a record low and fossil fuel divestment reaching a record high. In this episode of BioScience Talks, coauthor Jillian Gregg, who is with the Sustainability Double Degree program and the Department of Crop and Soil Science at Oregon State University, joins us to discuss the latest climate update and the urgent actions needed ensure the long-term sustainability of human civilization. Notes: For our discussion on extreme climate event attribution, we would like to clarify that current methods do not assess whether individual events are caused by climate change, but instead assess whether these events (floods, hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, fires) are larger, more intense, or more frequent, as a result of climate change.Links to some of the resources we discuss: Carbon Brief summarizes extreme weather events Al Gore Climate Reality Training Exeter University YouTube on how they are becoming carbon neutral We refer to the "Princeton group," which is the Climate Central Surging Seas site for visualizing sea level rise
Blackologists and the Promise of Inclusive Sustainability
48:14Historically, shared resources such as forests, fishery stocks, and pasture lands have often been managed with an aim toward averting "tragedies of the commons," which are thought to result from selfish overuse. Writing in BioScience, Drs. Senay Yitbarek (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Karen Bailey (University of Colorado Boulder), Nyeema Harris (Yale University), and colleagues critique this model, arguing that, all too often, such conservation has failed to acknowledge the complex socioecological interactions that undergird the health of resource pools.The authors, who describe themselves as Blackologists (“'not simply scholars that are Black but, rather, are scholars who deliberately leverage and intersect Blackness into advancing knowledge production"), elucidate a model in which researchers' life experiences provide "unique perspectives to critically examine socioecological processes and the challenges and solutions that arise from them." In this episode of BioScience Talks, Yitbarek, Bailey, and Harris join us to discuss this model of inclusive sustainability and the ways in which it can be brought to bear in service of ecosystems and the humans who inhabit them. Please visit Dr. Bailey's podcast, The Creature Connection.