Earth & Environmental Sciences

Focus on Climate Change & Biodiversity

World Environment day has been celebrated on June 5th, since 1974 and engages governments, businesses and citizens to focus their efforts on a pressing environmental issue. Without greater interaction between the science, government and business communities, widespread and effective application of solutions to the SN Sustainable Development Goals will be almost impossible. The theme of this year's World Environment Day is Biodiversity. The 21st Century is becoming known as the century of mega-challenges: climate change, resource scarcity, rising population growth, and urbanisation are all impacting humans and nature in a variety of adverse ways. From its origins in deep time, through its development, patterns and maintenance, to its preservation and importance to society, biodiversity is the foundation that supports all life on land and below water. It affects every aspect of human health, providing clean air and water, nutritious foods, scientific understanding and medicine sources, natural disease resistance, and climate change mitigation.

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Promoting the Importance of Biodiversity to the Wider World

Tackling global challenges with ecological and evolutionary research

One of the youngest Nature Research Journals, Nature Ecology & Evolution launched in 2017 as an online only publication. Despite being one of the newest additions to Nature’s growing family of research journals, the fields of ecology and evolution reach furthest back in Nature’s history, with the first issue featuring an article about a study by Darwin.

“Ecological and evolutionary research is becoming more and more directly relevant to social and global concerns.” Patrick Goymer

Promoting dialogue and collaboration between researchers and policymakers

The broad range of fundamental research covered in Nature Ecology & Evolution impacts almost every one of Springer Nature's Sustainable Development Program, with biodiversity and the global consequences of its depletion connecting all of the journal’s subject areas.

In addition to its core mission of furthering research in every aspect of ecology and evolution, Nature Ecology & Evolution is actively working to promote dialogue and collaboration between researchers and policymakers. Without greater interaction between the science, government and business communities, widespread and effective application of solutions to the SN Sustainable Development Goals will be almost impossible.

Nature Ecology & Evolution intersects directly with many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, including: Zero Hunger (2), Good Health & Wellbeing (3), Life Below Water (14) and Life on Land (15). Amongst some of the journal’s most prominent topics and those regularly reflected across its research, editorial, news and comment are: conservation biology, protected areas, agriculture, aquaculture, endangered species and infectious disease.

Each issue of the journal has added to the range of topics covered within its broad scope. An article in the first issue explored the effect of international trade on biodiversity, particularly in relation to developing countries. What is the impact, for example, of a London office worker buying a morning cup of coffee on the developing world? The journal’s research and analysis of global food and agriculture ranges from honey bees, other pollinators, and the impact of pests on crops, to areas as niche as different styles of agriculture and resulting ecologies either side of the former iron curtain. Coverage of oceans, fisheries and aquaculture spans topics such as the degree to which food security can be satisfied by marine life and the micro-plastic crisis.

One of the pillars of Springer Nature's SDG Program is Climate Change and Nature Ecology & Evolution addresses the biological aspects of this threat. The journal assesses the impact of climate change on biodiversity and how species are both migrating and declining in response to global warming. However, ecosystems such as oceans and forests are not just the victims of climate change but also an important part of the solution through their crucial roles in the carbon cycle.

“Human activity has caused a vast increase in the extinction rate, and the ecosystem services we depend on are severely threatened.” Patrick Goymer

Bringing evolutionary history into health, human behavior and conservation

Nature Ecology & Evolution has less obvious but important links to the UN’s SDGs 11 and 12: Sustainable Cities & Communities and Responsible Consumption & Production. Amongst topics of interest to the journal in relation to cities and urban ecology are the consequences of light pollution and the changing structure of microbial ecosystems.  

Evolution plays a huge role in improving global health and tackling the many challenges associated with this ambition. Since its launch last year, the journal has published extensive original research on the antibiotic crisis as it relates to evolution, varied explorations of disease susceptibility, and the presentation of vaccination and cancer as evolutionary processes.

“antimicrobial resistance crisis, which is an evolutionary problem, rates alongside the climate and extinction crises in terms of existential threat to humanity.”  Patrick Goymer

It also explores the complex subject of human-environment interaction, how this has evolved over thousands of years, and what it can teach us about tackling issues such as climate change.  

Supporting global initiatives

Tackling any one of the SDGs not only involves effective collaboration between different professions, it also requires active and ongoing communication across a network of different global organisations, from research institutions, publishers and funding bodies, to scientific societies and NGOs. Nature Ecology & Evolution works in tandem with many such organisations, inviting and publishing articles, comment and reviews from scientists and practitioners working for bodies such as the IUCN; the Wildlife Conservation Society; the global network of tree diversity experiments: TreeDivNet; and the Cultural Evolution Society. In addition to publishing contributions from these organisations, the journal also facilitates active discussion across its community of readers on significant ecological projects such as the Ocean Health Index and the 2020 target for protected areas on land and sea. By being in active conversation with the people driving these global initiatives and publishing their research, Nature Ecology & Evolution provides a further stage for global collaboration in tackling threats to the world’s ecosystems.

Deepening conversations between science, policy and the public

Having already published significant research in the biological and environmental sciences, Nature Ecology & Evolution has big ambitions for the future. Speaking about his vision for the journal, Chief Editor Patrick Goymer stressed the growing link between ecology and evolution when it comes to tackling some of the most pressing challenges faced by the planet. He and his editorial team aim to integrate more disparate areas of research over the coming months and years. They want to get research subfields such as population genetics, climate science, and evolution and conservation biology talking to each other more. They also want to bring conservation biology into much greater exposure, which will mean publishing more evidence-based research in the field. Goymer is also keen to increase the journal’s health-related content and build its portfolio of research in the applied health implications of areas such as antibiotics and cancer. Finally, in a bid to make more impact on some of the grand societal challenges, the Chief Editor wants Nature Ecology & Evolution to use its coverage and its community to narrow the gap between scientists and practitioners, and reduce evidence complacency.

“Our research should be embedded deep in the world-views of policymakers and public alike, not just as an optional add-on which can be rejected without significant consequences.” Patrick Goymer

Patrick Goymer joined Springer Nature in 2005 as an Assistant Editor at Nature Reviews Genetics and Nature Reviews Cancer. In 2008 he moved to Nature, where he served as Senior Editor covering ecology and evolution, before becoming Chief Editor of Nature Ecology & Evolution in 2016. He has handled primary manuscripts and review articles across the entire breadth of ecology and evolution, as well as advising and writing for other sections of Nature. Patrick completed his DPhil in experimental evolution in Paul Rainey’s lab at the University of Oxford, and did his postdoctoral work on evolutionary and ecological genetics in Linda Partridge’s lab at University College London in association with Charles Godfray’s lab at Imperial College London.

This article was written by Emma Warren-Jones, Director of Edible Content, from an interview with Patrick this year.

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Patrick Goymer, PhD

Chief Editor, Nature Ecology & Evolution

Blogs for the research community

The Future of the book and the environment

Why the wide appeal and trusted nature of books can help provide solutions that can be implemented anywhere in the world

As an extension of this year's Academic Book Week* theme, 'The Environment,' we asked our book authors who have published research in related fields to share their thoughts on the future of the academic book as it relates to climate change, how they engage with audiences beyond their scholarly circle to make an impact, and much more.

Palgrave author, Robert Brears, discusses some of the biggest challenges the world is facing today and why books are an exceptional medium for tackling these issues with a wider audience. 

>> Read the full article on The Source <<

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Robert Brears

The Editor-in-Chief of the Palgrave Handbook of Climate Resilient Societies Major Reference Work and author of several Palgrave Macmillan books. He is the editor of the Palgrave Pivot Climate Resilient Societies book series

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Some silence, this spring

Chief Editor Heike Langenberg reflects on the theme of Climate Action for Earth Day 2020, at a time when much action has been locked down.

Earth Day is turning fifty this year. At the time of its inception, its primary focus was on environmental problems in the economically more developed world. In 1970, Earth Day activities galvanized action: educational debates at universities across the US, termed Teach-Ins, played an important role in initiating a range of science-based policies in the US, such as the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts . At the time, Rachel Carson’s warning of a “Silent Spring” – a decline of the natural world brought about, potentially, by the overuse of pesticides – was ringing in people’s ears.

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The theme of this year’s Earth Day is “Climate Action” – while the world is in lock-down to avoid the spread of COVID-19. In the face of the virus, the FridaysForFuture climate demonstrations have fallen  largely silent (although some activities continue online). But so have airports and roads.

In my London garden, this beautiful spring is rich with singing birds. The most notable silence is the lack of the usual constant, distant hum of air traffic noise, reduced to levels not seen since the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull a decade ago brought European flights to a halt in an equally warm and sunny month of April. Out in the Essex countryside there seem to be more bicycles out than cars, on usually traffic-heavy main roads. Industrial activity, electricity demand and the transport sector more generally have been cut back. All this is helpful for climate change mitigation, and for the enjoyment and appreciation of nature’s beauty - for those whose circumstances allow them to go out to exercise. At the same time, the measures come at a high cost to the economy as well as individuals.

Yet the dent in emissions may not even be sufficient. The estimated reduction in carbon dioxide emission, compared to the global total in 2019, only amounts to about two thirds of what would be needed – every year from now on – to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 oC above preindustrial levels, according to an analysis in Carbon Brief. There are many uncertainties listed in this analysis. But if the estimated magnitudes are just roughly right, the implications for what “Climate Action” may mean, if it is to be meaningful, are sobering.

Carbon dioxide emissions do not cover all the greenhouse gases, either. Methane emissions, for example, are not necessarily reduced under the lock-down conditions; indeed, industrial methane emissions may even increase.

Meaningful climate action will require making trade-offs. Perhaps Earth Day under lock-down is an invitation to reflect. Now is the time to think deeply about how we can find a balance between equity, global welfare and individual freedom in the course of climate change mitigation. We need to find a way to apply the insights and innovations that are coming out of unprecedented global-scale restrictions on societies. And we should ensure that Climate Action is hard-wired into the global economy as it is being rebuilt.

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The trade routes that threaten biodiversity

One of the major threats to biodiversity worldwide is international trade. To figure out where the drive for these goods is coming from, researchers traced the production of goods in one country to consumers in another. This video shows how consumers in the US and Japan are endangering animal species in 'threat hotspots'.

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