About this Research Topic
To halt the ongoing decline of biodiversity, policies and strategies are needed that exclude or reduce harmful influences on ecosystems, such as intensive land use. Such policies range from the establishment of reserves that largely exclude economic activities, to economic incentives for biodiversity-friendly management of private land. Theoretical (modeling) and empirical approaches have been developed to assess the performance of conservation policies, such as their ecological effectiveness (achieving targets) and cost-effectiveness (achieving targets at least costs). A challenge here is the complexity of ecosystems and the multitude of their possible responses to policy-induced land-use changes. Two interlinked dimensions of this complexity are the spatio-temporal heterogeneity of ecosystems and the interaction of the species that are usually organized in ecological networks or metacommunities.
A large body of literature exists about the design of reserve systems for multiple species, taking spatio-temporal heterogeneity into account (known as systematic conservation planning). For the conservation of biodiversity on private lands, substantial theoretical and empirical research also exists, e.g., on market-based instruments like conservation payments, also known as payments of environmental services. Concepts such as zoning, group payments, or agglomeration bonuses have been proposed to address spatial interactions. Most of this literature, however, ignores – or only addresses implicitly – the interactions between the species of concern. Filling this gap requires the integration of knowledge about conservation policy design (be it conservation planning or market-based instruments) and metacommunity theory. These two fields have developed substantially in the past decade but have rarely come into contact with each other.
The aim of this special issue is to move these themes closer to each other by presenting examples in which they have been successfully integrated.
The scope of this topic is policies, such as reserve design or market-based conservation instruments, for the conservation and management of multiple interacting species. Fields of application include biodiversity conservation, management of ecosystem services, and the management of renewable resources. The managed systems may be terrestrial or aquatic. The nature of the tackled topic recommends cross-disciplinary approaches that integrate both the ecological and the socio-economic dimensions, but disciplinary research that has potential for cross-disciplinary extensions is not necessarily excluded.
Besides this, there is no restriction on the type of research – whether it be of a general or specific nature; theoretical or empirical; academic or applied.
Keywords: land use, metacommunity, policy, biodiversity, conservation
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