Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any scientific information contained within this essay should not be treated as fact, this content is to be used for educational purposes only and may contain factual inaccuracies or be out of date.

Adapting Conservation Practice In The Face of Climate Change

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Studies
Wordcount: 1285 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

Reference this

Adapting Conservation Practice In The Face of Climate Change

Colloff et al., 2017 remark on how lack of stakeholder engagement in many conservation initiatives can setback Transformative Adaptation. There is much literature to support this statement. For example, regarding species reintroduction, many stakeholders fear a radical change to the status quo (Arts et al., 2011) and lacking effective consultation often leads to resentment and feelings of disempowerment (Cairns & Hamblin. 2007). Therefore, rigorous consultation between key stakeholders is paramount. Otherwise, stakeholders could act uncooperatively or even destructively. This is exemplified by the slow progress associated with the Irish Sea Eagle reintroduction, where insufficient initial consultation led to some landowners illegally persecuting the raptors (O’Rourke. 2014). Colloff et al highlight another hindrance to Transformative Adaptation, “insufficient monitoring” of conservation projects. They suggest more rigorous, long-term monitoring is essential for conservation practice in the face of anthropogenic climate change.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

Jordan & Hoffmann. 2017 compliment the sentiments of Colloff et al in proposing Transformative Adaptation, that requires long term follow-up of ecosystem functions, implemented on a large spatial scale. They propose designing “Climate Future Plots” (CF plots), theorized to improve climate resilience of ecosystems, making them “climate ready”. CF plots would help tackle vagaries associated with ecosystem responses to climate change, whilst determining the best conservation methods. Expansion of habitat is integral, facilitating increased genetic diversity of plants, thus improving their resilience to climate change. Colloff et al claim anthropogenically induced ecosystem change is always “unpredictable and irreversible”, however there are select examples which contradict this statement (Terborgh & Estes. 2010). 

The collapse and revival of Yellowstone’s ecosystem proves that the course of habitat change can be understood and reversed (Monbiot. 2013). Wolves were extirpated from the National Park in 1926 and their 69-year absence adversely impacted the ecosystem (Terborgh & Estes. 2010). The resident Elk population increased to unnaturally high levels, resulting in overgrazing. Subsequently, due to lacking tree sapling recruitment, beavers could no longer feed or build dams and declined (Beschta & Ripple. 2006). This reduced Cutthroat Trout populations, because the absence of beaver dams and riparian woodland increased river water velocity, reducing the availability of suitable spawning grounds (Monbiot. 2013). Consequently, trout populations dwindled and species reliant on them, such as Bald Eagles, also declined. This negative process reversed following the reintroduction of wolves in 1995. The ‘landscape of fear effect’ prevented deer from stagnating in certain areas, keeping animals on the move and causing them to completely avoid particular locations (Manning et al., 2009). Resultantly, more trees became available to beavers, which recolonised the park (Beschta & Ripple. 2012). The return of riparian woodland and dams caused rivers to meander again, which increased trout abundancy and consequently, Bald Eagles increased (Monbiot. 2013). Wolves impacted species ranging from small birds to Grizzly Bears, by allowing increased growth of berry producing vegetation (Bridgeland et al., 2010). Through interspecific competition, wolves reduced Red Fox populations, causing increases in ground nesting birds. Ironically, even elk benefited, because wolves essentially reduced intraspecific competition for food between individuals and led to genetically stronger stock due to preferentially hunting weaker deer (Beschta & Ripple. 2012).

Yellowstone illustrates how it is possible to reverse negative ecosystem change in certain circumstances. However, the authors validly emphasise ecosystem changes will become increasingly irreversible due to the combined effects of climate change and other anthropogenic stressors (Colloff et al., 2017). A stark pre-historical example is the Woolly Mammoth extinction. The end of the Younger Dryas 11,500 years ago, heralded rapid global warming, causing tundra to convert into boreal forest and swamps, habitats insufficient for Woolly Mammoths (Nogués-Bravo et al., 2008). However, suitable habitat remained in northern Siberia and Alaska during extinction. Although climate change reduced the mammoth’s tundra habitat, it was the combination of this with hunting by humans, which drove the species to extinction. Equivalent Modern-day examples, such as the rapid decline of Monarch Butterflies (Davis & Dyer. 2015), further emphasise the urgent need for Transformative Adaptation proposed by Colloff et al.

Word Count (Excluding Title and Bibliography): 654


  • Arts, K., A. Fischer and R. van der Wal (2012). Common stories of reintroduction: A discourse analysis of documents supporting animal reintroductions to Scotland.
  • Beschta, R. L. and W. J. Ripple (2006). River Channel dynamics following extirpation of wolves in northeastern Yellowstone National Park, USA. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 31 1525 – 1539.
  • Beschta, R. L. and W. J. Ripple (2012). The Role of large predators and trophic cascades in terrestrial ecosystems of the western United States. Biological Conservation 142 2401 – 2414.
  • Bridgeland, W. T., et al. (2010). A conditional trophic cascade: Birds benefit faster growing trees with strong links between predators and plants. Ecology 91(1) 73-84.
  • Cairns, P. and M. Hamblin (2007). Tooth and Claw: Living Alongside Britain’s Predators. Dunbeath: Whittles Publishing.
  • Colloff, M. J., et al. (2017). Transforming Conservation Science And Practice For A Postnormal World. Conservation Biology31(5) 1008-1017.
  • Davis, A. K. and L. A. Dyer (2015). Long-Term Trends in Eastern North American Monarch Butterflies: A Collection of Studies Focusing on Spring, Summer, and Fall Dynamics. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 108(5) 661-663.
  • Jordan, R. and A. Hoffmann (2017). Creating resilient habitat for the
    future: Building Climate Future Plots. 1 – 13. University of Melbourne.
  • Manning, A. D., I. J. Gordon and W. J. Ripple (2009). Restoring landscapes of fear with wolves in the Scottish Highlands. Biological Conservation 142(10) 2314-2321.
  • Monbiot, G. (2013). Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding: Penguin Books.
  • Nogués-Bravo, D., et al. (2008). Climate Change, Humans, and the Extinction of the Woolly Mammoth. PLOS Biology 6(4) e79.
  • O’Rourke, E. (2014). The reintroduction of the white-tailed sea eagle to Ireland: People and wildlife.
  • Terborgh, J. and J. A. Estes (2010). Trophic Cascades: Island Press.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: