This week I gave my first lecture with my fellow PhD candidate and Conservation Science Lab member Simone Stevenson! Our lecture was for the first-year undergraduate subject Environmental Sustainability at Deakin University. We introduced students to biodiversity conservation and management for ecosystems, rather than just for individual species, and to how we can use evidence to help improve decision making. Overall it was a nerve-wracking but exciting opportunity!
I started off explaining how species don’t exist in isolation. Species live in ecosystems with a community of interacting species and characteristic environmental conditions. I described how scientists often create conceptual models to help us understand the relationships among key species and pressures.
I finished off with some examples of how focusing on ecosystems has been valuable for biodiversity conservation (i.e. Mountain Ash Forests in Victoria) and management of ecosystem services (i.e. coastal upland swamps providing fresh water for Sydney, NSW).
In Simone’s half she explained the value of using scientific evidence to support management decisions to improve outcomes. She noted that because of the great complexity of ecosystems, there is often a lot of uncertainty in which management actions to take. She provides some examples of useful tools to help minimise uncertainty and support decision-making process, such as models and indicators. She finished up providing an example of evidence-based decision making in practice for managing bowhead whaling in Alaska.