Scottish Biodiversity Science Conference 2019
Scottish Biodiversity Science for Nature: novelty, ingenuity and solutions
The Scottish Biodiversity Science conference took place on the 18th of November 2019 at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
This one-day Conference on ‘Scottish Biodiversity Science for Nature: novelty, ingenuity and solutions’ addressed current environmental challenges and discussed innovative methods and technologies that create solutions for biodiversity. Presentations included latest updates on the state of nature and a broad spectrum of transformative, cutting edge science.
The morning session was focused on Data and Diagnostics, the afternoon on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – Science to Solution.
Each session included detailed talks by experts in their fields, as well as short speed talks that allowed us to hear more about exciting projects, new ideas and approaches for biodiversity conservation. A poster session allowed further knowledge exchange during breaks and an award was presented for the best poster. The conference concluded with a drinks reception.
Conference feedback - Many thanks to everyone joining the conference and making it such an interesting and diverse day. If you have any feedback, positive or negative or any suggestions for future meetings an online and anonymous feedback form can be found here.
Copies of the presentations can be requested from Dr Aline Finger by email (email@example.com) or by post (Dr Aline Finger, Biodiversity Scientist, Group of Genetics & Conservation, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20A Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR).
Get an impression of the conference day, written by freelance outdoor journalist Richard Baynes: Who’s right on climate: 200 scientists or a taxi driver?
SBS conference, 18th November 2019
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Chair (morning session):
Dr Rob Brooker - James Hutton Institute
Speakers (morning session):
Welcome: Prof Pete Hollingsworth - RBGE
Introduction: Dr John Kerr - Scottish Government
John is a Scientist and Civil servant with a long standing interest in how we improve the way humans work with and impact on nature. John has recently moved from a science role supporting agriculture to a more policy focused role heading up Agriculture and Crofting policy. John is the current chair of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Science Support Group. https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-kerr-830054b0/
Update: Dr Mark Eaton - RSPB
Mark is Principal Conservation Scientist in the Monitoring section of the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science. He is responsible for overseeing much of the RSPB’s involvement in monitoring of wildlife - through surveys, red-listing, indicators and ‘state of’ reporting - in the UK and internationally. See www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/conservation/centre-for-conservation-science/our-team/mark-eaton/
Update: Dr Debbie Bassett - SNH
Debbie Bassett is Biodiversity Strategy Manager for SNH and was an editor of the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity. She has a background in woodland and freshwater ecology and has in recent years being involved with policy development and implementation to improve biodiversity in Scotland.
Talk 1: Dr Clive Mitchell - SNH
I have over 20 years of expertise in environmental policy and sustainable development. In Scottish Natural Heritage, I'm an Outcome Manager, allocating resources to our priorities for people and nature in rural, urban, coastal and marine settings, including protected areas. I bridge the social and natural sciences, climate change and nature and the geological and biological worlds. As an associate lecturer with the Open University for over 23 years, my viewpoint is global, using a range of frameworks to evaluate policy and practice on the environment and sustainable development from different viewpoints and to understand how the Earth works as a system. I worked for the UK Sustainable Development Commission as team leader for climate change, energy, transport and buildings, acting as a critical friend to Government, exercising the newly acquired scrutiny role and working with civil servants to develop policy.
Talk 2: Rachel Tierney - Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum
Rachel Tierney is the Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum (SBIF) Development Officer and is hosted by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Rachel has worked as a Data Manager for the RSPB, the Data & Liaison Officer for the NBN Trust and for a period was the NBN Trust Interim CEO.
Talk 3: Professor Mat Williams - University of Edinburgh
Mathew Williams is Professor of Global Change Ecology at the School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh. He is an ecosystem ecologist, studying the effect of climate change on natural and managed landscapes across the globe. https://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/homes/mwilliam
Talk 4: Professor Mark Blaxter - Sanger Institute
Talk 5: Dr Kirsty Blackstock - James Hutton Institute
Talk 6: Professor Dan Haydon - University of Glasgow
Dan Haydon is Professor of Population Ecology and Epidemiology at the University of Glasgow. Dan undertook his PhD at the University of Texas, and post-docs at the Universities of Oxford, British Columbia, Edinburgh, and Guelph before moving to Glasgow in 2004. He was the founding Director of the Boyd Orr Centre for Population and Ecosystem Health (winner of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2014), and has since 2010 has been Director of the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine at the University of Glasgow. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and was appointed Director of the Glasgow Centre for International Development in 2017.
Chair (afternoon session):
Dr Jackie Hyland
Dr Jackie Hyland is a medical doctor specialising in public health medicine with a special interest in health equity and environmental health. Jackie advises on health aspects of environmental protection including contamination of air, land and water. She also champions the promotion of biodiversity within health and wider public sectors.
She has published on:
- environmental health management
- engagement with stakeholders
- socioeconomic impact of air pollution and health
Jackie qualified in Medicine at the University of Edinburgh and has worked extensively in the NHS as a clinical practitioner and latterly as an Associate Director of Public Health. She has an MBA from Heriot Watt and a Medical Doctorate from St Andrews University.
Speakers (afternoon session):
Talk 7: Professor Nathalie Seddon - University of Oxford
Nathalie Seddon is Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford with broad interests in understanding the origins and maintenance of biodiversity and its relationship with global change. An ecologist by training, her research now focusses on determining the ecological and socioeconomic effectiveness of nature-based solutions to climate change, and how best to increase the influence of robust biodiversity and ecosystem science on the design and implementation of climate and development policy. In 2017, she founded the Nature-based Solutions Initiative (www.naturebasedsolutionsinitiative.org), a programme of interdisciplinary research, policy advice, and education aimed at bringing the equitable protection of nature to the centre of the sustainable development agenda. She is Senior Associate of the International Institute for Environment and Development and a Senior Fellow of the Oxford Martin School.
Talk 8: Dr Richard Lilley - Project Seagrass
Dr Richard Lilley is a Founding Director of Project Seagrass, he is principally responsible for their operations in Scotland. He is also a Teacher of Biology at a secondary school in Edinburgh. He is passionate about education, particularly marine science communication and outdoor learning. His academic research focuses on the sustainable supply chain management of small-scale capture fisheries. Richard is particularly interested in the role of seagrass meadows in providing local/regional food security.
He has over a decade’s experience of working in marine ecosystems. He has worked in the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas, the Andaman Sea and in the North Atlantic Ocean. He is a qualified PADI and BSAC scuba-diving instructor and recreational free diver.
Talk 9: Dr Roxane Andersen - University of Highlands and Islands
Dr Roxane Andersen is a Senior Research Fellow based at the Environmental Research Institute, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, where she leads the “Carbon, Water and Climate” research theme. She coordinates the Flow Country Research Hub, a network of >60 researchers and stakeholders with an interest in the research undertaken in the Flow Country peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland, and she is a member of the Flow Country World Heritage Site Working Group and the Flow Country Rivers Trust. Roxane also chairs Scotland’s National Peatland Research and Monitoring Group, which supports the delivery of Scotland’s National Peatland Plan. Roxane’s own research for the last 15 years has focussed on peatland’s response to disturbance, restoration and climate change. As a “jack of all trade”, she has worked across a range of topics, from mixotrophic microbes to remote-sensing. https://eri.ac.uk/members/roxane-andersen/
Talk 10: Professor Beth Scott - University of Aberdeen
Beth Scott is a Professor in Marine Ecology. She has a multi-disciplinary background in marine ecology, oceanography and fisheries. Her focus has been the spatial and temporal identification of critical marine habitats where mobile predator and prey species interact. Her approach has been to focus on the functional linkages between fine scale bio-physical oceanographic processes and population dynamics of a range of fish, seabird and mammal species through both empirical data collection and modelling approaches. Recently she has been appointed Co-Director for the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) SuperGen Hub (2018-22). She was a member of the Ministerial DEFRA Marine Protected Areas Science Advisory Panel and of Scottish Natural Heritage’s (SNH) Scientific Advisory Committee. She is a Forum Coordinator for Marine Renewable Energy Forum, Marine Alliance for Science and Technology, Scotland (MASTS). https://www.abdn.ac.uk/people/b.e.scott
Talk 11: Sarah Hutcheon - SNH
Sarah Hutcheon has worked in conservation for over 25 years. During her time at SNH she has worked as an Area officer in the Highlands and in the Central Belt. She has managed the Site Condition Monitoring programme, led on freshwater policy, project managed organisational change projects and currently manages the Director Support team for Sally Thomas (Director – People and Nature).
Outlook: Professor Andrew Millar - Scottish Government
Conclusion: Dr Chris Ellis - RBGE
Chris Ellis co-ordinates RBGE’s Scottish Conservation Programme, with personal research interests in the species response to environmental change. This includes the climate change response of Scotland’s globally important lichen diversity, such as our temperate rainforest epiphytes. His research has contributed to major assessments such as the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, the Biodiversity Climate Change Impact Report Card, and the State of Nature Report. Chris works at the interface of science and policy, and among other activities he is the Chair of the SBS Habitats and Species Group, and on the Directorate of ClimateXChange: https://www.rbge.org.uk/about-us/organisational-structure/staff/cryptogamic-plants-and-fungi/dr-christopher-ellis/
The British Ecological Society’s Scottish Policy Group offers a limited number of bursaries (up to £70) for students and early career researchers to cover travel and accommodation. To apply please send a short letter stating why you wish to attend this conference and that you are a BES member (ideally including your membership number) to Maggie Keegan Maggie@britishecologicalsociety.org by 8th November. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
Conference programme and presentations
Scottish Biodiversity Science for Nature: novelty, ingenuity and solutions
18th November 2019, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
09.30 Registration and Coffee
Introduction and Updates
Chair: Prof Rob Brooker, James Hutton Institute (JHI)
10.15 Biodiversity Science for Nature: Welcome from RBGE - Prof Pete Hollingsworth
10.20 Conference Introduction - Dr John Kerr, Scottish Government
10.30 State of Nature Summary - Dr Mark Eaton, RSPB
10.40 Scotland’s Aichi reporting - Dr Debbie Bassett, SNH
Data and Diagnostics
Chair: Prof Rob Brooker, JHI
10.55 The Climate Emergency - Dr Clive Mitchell, SNH
11.10 Scottish Biodiversity Data - what do we need? - Rachel Tierney, SBIF
11.25 Comfort break
11.35 Biodiversity from Space - Prof Mat Williams, University of Edinburgh
11.50 The Darwin Tree of Life project: Genomes for biodiversity - Prof Mark Blaxter, Wellcome Sanger Institute
12.05 Putting the ‘social’ into socio-ecological systems - Dr Kirsty Blackstock, JHI
12.20 Some contemporary directions in landscape epidemiology - Prof Dan Haydon, University of Glasgow
12:35 5x2min Speed talks:
- How to identify a beaver: Using genetics during the Scottish beaver reintroduction - Dr Jean-Marc Costanzi, RZSS
- Free Access to Earth Observation Sensors: NERC Field Spectroscopy Facility - Andrew Gray, NERC Field Spectroscopy Facility in Edinburgh
- Rethinking DNA barcoding: Are nuclear genome sequence data good in telling plant species apart? - Wu Huang, RBGE
- Engaging Communities with Decision-making and Nature - Dr Antonia Eastwood, Hutton
- Niches for Species, a multi species model to guide woodland management - Dr Alice Broome, Forest Research
12.45 Lunch and poster viewing (including poster competition)
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – Science to Solution
Chair: Dr Jackie Hyland, SNH
13.45 Understanding the value of and limits to nature-based solutions in a warming world - Prof Nathalie Seddon, University of Oxford
14.00 Underwater gardening: bringing biodiversity back to our oceans - Dr Richard Lilley, Project Seagrass
14.15 A blanket to keep us cool: Restoration stories from the Flow Country - Dr Roxane Andersen, UHI, Thurso
14.30 Interesting physics, interesting ecology: Designing marine ecosystems of the future - Prof Beth Scott, University of Aberdeen
14.45 Evidence and research priorities - Sarah Hutcheon, SNH
14.55 Comfort break
15.05 5x2min Speed talks:
- Integrating species conservation and ecosystem restoration: Exmoor ponies - Deborah Davy, University of Glasgow
- Using species distribution modelling to further the understanding of maerl bed distribution around Scotland - Cornelia Simon Nutbrown, SNH / RBGE
- Moving species - How can conservation translocations work best for nature? - Dr Martin Gaywood, SNH
- B-Lines- enhancing habitat for pollinators along the John Muir Way - Suzanne Burgess, Buglife
- The appliance of science post-2020 - Dr Susan Campbell, SG
Outlook and Conclusion
Chair: Dr Jackie Hyland, SNH
15.15 Where next? - Prof Andrew Millar, Scottish Government
15.25 Announcement of poster prize winner, and presentation of an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society
Concluding remarks - Dr Chris Ellis, RBGE
15.45 Departure for those catching trains etc.
15.45-17.00 Drinks reception
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