Tourist Behavior Affected by Climate Change

by Bryn Edwards

A study from the 2017 Journal of Sustainable Tourism proposed a psychological explanation for tourist behavior, in particular the effect climate change has on vacation locations. This is a promising development in terms of changing future behavior to further minimize damage that tourism has on native environments and ecosystems. Tourist behavior associated with travel to threatened locations can be attributed to reactance theory, which tells us that people inherently put worth on their freedom, and do not want that freedom taken away. Threatened destinations are alluring because people are more motivated to visit a place if they will not have such freedom in the future. Continue reading

The Best Way to Regulate the Indigenous Dugong Harvest is to Let Tradition Run Its Course

by Wendy Noreña

Indigenous communities around increasingly finding that their traditional fishing practices clash with new, externally-imposed conservation policies and societal expectations. Finding an appropriate answer to these disagreements is difficult, especially since there are not enough data about most traditional, or even modern, marine fisheries to be able to create accurate scientific models that could help guide potential management strategies. Marsh et al. (2015) investigate the indigenous Dugong harvest in the Torres Straits, an area that spans the ocean space between Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Northern Australian coast. Based on Marsh et al.’s preliminary research, the harvests here have been taking place for 4,000 to 7,000 years and have been “substantial,” for 400 to 500 years. With concerns about the conservation of ecosystems becoming more prevalent and politically involved, more and more people in Australia and PNG are calling for a ban or for restrictions to Dugong harvests. So far, regulations have already been set in place to limit hunting in certain areas and with certain equipment, but, because of the Australian Native Title Act, the Torres Strait islanders are lawfully allowed to hunt in what is known as their, “sea country,” as long as they follow a few restrictions. Marsh et al. argue that previous studies which stated that dugong harvests are largely unsustainable are actually incomplete due to the absence of good population and hunting data. Marsh et al. estimate that the Dugong harvest is sustainable and suggest that typical conservation methods should not be used to manage the Dugong harvests. Instead, they suggest that until sufficient data is available to use more popular management methods, a cultural reinforcement strategy currently in use, which involves ancient, traditional limitations on when, where, and how many Dugong can be harvested, should be implemented to manage this harvesting activity. These cultural reinforcements, driven by the indigenous communities themselves, must be coupled with detailed hunting reports as well as collaborations between government officials and indigenous leaders to create a more efficiently tailored management system for the dugong harvest. Continue reading

Community Composition is Different at Forest Edges, but Carbon Storage Remains the Same

by Stephen Johnson

Forest fragmentation is one of the leading ways that humans alter natural habitat. Forests are frequently fragmented as land is cleared piecemeal for the expansion of agriculture, logging, and human settlement. Often, rather than clearing an entire forest, fragments of forest are left embedded in a matrix of agricultural and other habitats. As an increasing percentage of the world’s forests are fragmented, it is crucial to understand how forest fragments function. Fragments are subject to a variety of influences, most notably edge effects. Edge effects occur at the edges of two habitats, and include altered microclimate, reduced biodiversity, and vegetation changes. These edge effects can bring about altered species communities, which in turn could affect the amount of carbon that can be sequestered near forest edges. As forest fragmentation continues, a greater percentage of forest will be exposed to edge effects, potentially inhibiting forests’ ability to act as carbon sinks. To understand these effects, Ziter et al. (2014) examined how tree species composition and carbon storage capacity change with proximity to forest edge in large and small fragments. Using tree measurements and allometric data in the literature, they determined how much carbon was stored, and which species were present. Using linear mixed models and multidimensional scaling, they found that community composition shifts with proximity to the forest edge. Despite this shift, however, carbon storage did not decrease closer to the edge. Continue reading

Large Forest Blocks are Essential for Biodiversity Protection and Carbon Storage

by Stephen Johnson

Habitat loss is the primary threat to the survival of most tropical biodiversity. Typically, this habitat loss is driven by deforestation for agricultural use. However, deforested landscapes are rarely homogenous fields with low diversity; most often, forest fragments are left embedded in a matrix of varying types of agriculture, from open field monocultures, to pastures and forest-mimicking shaded plantations. The process of fragmentation has a significant negative effect on the biodiversity present in the area; however, fragments are often able to support a variety of species, as are some types of agriculture, such as agroforestry. Less is known about the capacity of such landscapes to sequester and store carbon. What little has been done has focused on carbon in agroforestry systems, with promising, though mixed, results. Continue reading

Biodynamic Wine is More Sustainable, Spanish Study Finds

by Adin Bonapart

A 2014 study by Villanueva-Rey et al. found that environmental impacts from viticulture are substantially reduced with biodynamic practices, as opposed to conventional methods. The environmental impact reductions obtained from biodynamic grape-production systems are attributed to an 80% decrease in diesel fuel, pesticides, fertilizers, and other external inputs. Diesel use is the main source of environmental impacts for viticulture, and is up to 4 times lower in biodynamic systems resulting from differences between mechanized farming techniques in conventional vineyards and the implementation of artisanal methods in biodynamic wine-growing. Continue reading

Yale Attempts to Produce Environmentally Conscience Graduates

by Margaret Loncki

Administrators at Yale University strongly believe that something needs to be done about imminent threats it faces as a result of climate change. Rachelle Dejong, a research associate at the National Organization of scholars, describes the importance of behavioral manipulation and social psychology in changing the behavior of college students. Yale administrators believe that appealing to one’s moral side is not enough to change student’s behavior in the long run. Instead, students must want to engage in sustainable behavior rather than being forced into it. When forced to make these changes, resulting behavior appears to be temporary rather than the long lasting changes that Yale hopes to produce. Continue reading

From Primary Predator to Picked-on Prey: Shark Fishery in the Pacific Ocean

by Hannah Tannenbaum

In 2001 sharks were first listed as endangered species, and since then several measures have been enacted towards their protection. However, the majority of shark fishing is an incidental byproduct of purse seine and long-line fisheries which operate outside of national Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). Therefore the effectiveness of international treaties banning shark finning is hard to discern. Another major difficulty in assessing the effectiveness of conservation is the paucity of data on shark population size and structure. Clarke et al. (2013) collected and analyzed onboard observer data on shark catches from 1995–2010 in order to evaluate the threat to sharks from commercial fishing, and determine changes in shark populations after finning bans were established. The authors analyzed data on blue, oceanic whitetip, silky, and mako sharks because of their tendency to appear as bycatch in the Pacific tuna fishing industry. Through the analysis of observer data, no clear trend of reduced catches was found consistently for any species, any area, for either type of fishery. The authors suggest that shark retention bans may have a greater impact on population size than finning bans, and that management and monitoring must be made more consistent in order to properly evaluate conservation. Continue reading