New publication on market-based instruments for fisheries

This week members of the Conservation Innovation lab, Erin Murphy, Dr. Miranda Bernard and Dr. Leah Gerber, published ” Evaluating the role of market-based instruments in protecting marine ecosystem services in wild-caught fisheries,” in Ecosystem Services. This work emerged from a partnership between the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and Dr. Kevin J. Dooley, of The Sustainability Consortium.

The movement from single-species to ecosystem-based fisheries management indicates the importance of ecosystem-level thinking for achieving sustainable fisheries; however, it is not clear that fishery-specific market-based instruments effectively align with the principles of the ecosystem-based approach. In this study, we review the written indicators of seven market-based instruments to evaluate the level of protection they provide to marine ecosystem services that may be impacted by fisheries. We found that many of the ecosystem services, which may impact during their operations, are not completely protected by the instruments written indicators. Through this analysis we hope to promote a dialogue between scientists and decision-makers to encourage the use of ecosystem service indicators in market-based instruments used to promote sustainable fisheries.

This work was funded by the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes.

Costing plastic pollution interventions

Members of the conservation innovation lab recently published “A decision framework for estimating the cost of marine plastic pollution interventions”, in Conservation Biology. This paper, published with members of the Plastic Pollution Emissions Working Group, presents a framework for evaluating the net cost of marine plastic pollution interventions. We also applied the framework to two quantitative case studies and four qualitative case studies to explore how context of implementation influenced net costs.

Download the paper here: Murphy et al. 2021

Good luck Dr. Bernard!

The lab sent Dr. Miranda Bernard off to the Duke Marine Lab to start her Smith Fellowship this week. Though her passion and supportive nature will be missed in the lab, we are all very excited to see what this next chapter of her career brings. Good luck Miranda! We love you!

Summer 2021 Graduate Grants – Request for Proposals (RFP)


Figure. The three core values embraced by the ESSA community will have a ripple effect from the student to the global scale.

The Earth System Science for the Anthropocene (ESSA) community has a call for Summer Graduate Grant proposals! Any interested graduate students currently enrolled at ASU who need summer support for research, materials, hiring undergraduate research assistants, stipends, etc. are encouraged to apply!

See the request for proposals here.

And contact for more details.

New publication on sustainable fisheries

Lab members Erin Murphy, Leah Gerber, and Miranda Bernard published a new paper, Applying a jurisdictional approach to support sustainable seafood, in Conservation Science and Practice. Seafood certification and ratings systems have established strong benchmarks for sustainability, but alone they are not sufficient for ensuring sustainable seafood consumption. In this paper, the authors propose that market‐based approaches and ecosystem‐based governance initiatives are integrated using a jurisdictional approach. Jurisdictional approaches are place‐based initiatives deployed in key commodity producing regions to drive sustainability through aligned incentives among government, market, and producer actors.

This research emerged from the Conservation International-ASU partnership.


Citizen scientists help document ASU flowers and pollinators

Bumble bee approaching white flowerThroughout April, which is also Earth Month and Citizen Science Month, the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes invites the ASU community and the entire state of Arizona to participate in a citizen science project to help us document flowering plants and pollinators on ASU’s Phoenix-area campuses.

Watch the promo video.

Pollinators are vital to healthy ecosystems. Birds, bats, butterflies, bees and many other species are necessary for the health of flowering plants, food crops and the global economy.

We simply could not live without them.

As part of this initiative, citizen scientists will use their smartphones to snap and load photos of flowering plants and pollinators via the iNaturalist app.

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Article: The Inequities of Access to Nature

Landscape photo of a wetland with flowers on a sunny dayIn January 2021, Katie Surrey (PhD student, Biology and Society) and Zackary Graham (PhD candidate, Animal Behavior) published a piece on Medium that outlines the racial inequalities behind the concept of accessing nature, and how the benefits derived from being in the outdoors are unequally experienced by all members of the population. The piece emerged as the result of the graduate seminar course that is offered by the Animal Behavior department every semester. This year the class focused on reviewing and discussing urban wildlife ecology studies through the lens of racial inequities, as highlighted in a recent paper published by scientist Dr. Christopher Schell, (et. al., 2020). Katie and Zack wanted the important and relevant discussions being held in the seminar to extend beyond the (virtual) classroom walls and conceived of this piece as part of their final class project. With input and support from colleagues, the final article supplies a brief summary of the existing scientific literature on the many physical and psychological benefits of regular access to nature and emphasizes how future studies need to consider the implications of racial discrepancies and historical disenfranchisement in the form of redlined cities. Continue reading

New Paper Published on the Impacts of Whale Watching in Panama

Lab students Arielle Amrein and Katie Surrey on a boat in Panama

Lab students Arielle Amrein and Katie Surrey on a boat in Panama. Photo credit: Dr. Leah Gerber

Two Conservation Innovation students (Arielle Amrein, MS and Katie Surrey) co-authored a paper that was recently published in Frontiers in Marine Science, presenting the results of their pilot study that was conducted last summer in Las Perlas archipelago, Panama. The study was a result of the ASU collaboration with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), and the research team and co-authors included Dr. Leah Gerber (Center for Biodiversity Outcomes), Dr. Hector Guzman (STRI) and Dr. Susana Cardenas (USFQ). The project assessed how local whale watching activities were affecting the behavior of the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) population. 

Whale watching is a popular ecotourism activity around the world and is a significant source of income for local communities, and provides financial and educational support for conservation efforts.  However, as the sustainability of whale-based ecotourism depends on the behavior and health of whale populations, it is crucial that ecotourism industries consider the impact of their activities on whales. Previous research has determined that animals experience stress due to high frequency and proximity of human activity, and although Panama implemented regulations in 2007 that prohibits whale-based tourism from disturbing whales, (which is explicitly measured by changes in whale behavior), there is no systematic monitoring of whale watching activity to enforce the regulations, and as a result there is currently little compliance from tour operators and tourists. The unmonitored activities of these boats often bring them in close range of the whales who are usually breeding mothers with calves, which may have long-term effects on the overall survival of the individuals and thereby threaten the conservation of the species. Continue reading

Contributing to the Development of an Anti-Racist Biology Cirriculum

Over the past few months, the ASU RISE (Research for Inclusive STEM Education) Center has held workshops and seminars aimed at addressing racial inequities within academic biology. The purpose was to help the ASU community identify many of the existing inequities that are perpetuated on academic campuses, and to work on producing innovative research on ways to make undergraduate STEM classrooms more inclusive, as well as educating STEM faculty about how they can better serve all students. Several of the participants, including Conservation Innovation lab graduate student Katie Surrey, and organizers collaborated to write this summary of the important discussion points that emerged from the discussions.

Olivia Davis interns with Defenders of Wildlife

Despite it being a very unconventional year, lab members are still seizing opportunities to advance their research. One Ph.D. student, Olivia Davis, spent this past summer and fall as an Endangered Species Policy Intern with the Center for Conservation Innovation (CCI) at Defenders of Wildlife. For her position, Olivia is a member of the policy team, participating in weekly meetings about current projects the group is working on. She also has the opportunity to attend CCI team meetings, All Staff meetings with the whole organization, and started to develop a chapter of her dissertation. Olivia is studying endangered and threatened species recovery planning, and this internship gave her the opportunity to collaborate with professionals outside of academia on this topic. While she was supposed to complete this internship in Washington, D.C., it didn’t damper what she gained from the experience.
“I’m so fortunate to have still had the opportunity to intern at Defenders, even with COVID changing so much about how all jobs have been operating,” she said. “Even though we weren’t in person, my team has been so friendly, welcoming, and inclusive. It was great to learn more about how a conservation NGO works, and what a career in this role could look like.”
As part of her internship, Olivia also wrote a blog post about success stories in the Endangered Species Act, drawing on her field experiences in Alaska when she was an undergraduate student at The College of New Jersey studying stickleback fish.
“I love writing, and science communication is definitely something I want to prioritize in my career. I’m so glad I had the chance to work with Defenders on this piece to help teach science and non-science audiences about the importance of saving endangered species.”  You can read her blog post here: INSERT BLOG
Olivia has loved her time at Defenders so far, and hopes to keep collaborating with them as she moves forward in her career.
“I think it’s important for all scientists, especially in conservation, to work with other organizations and agencies to help achieve our goals. When it comes to saving endangered species, we need all the help we can get.”

New memo on recycling in Arizona

In September, graduate students from the Conservation Innovation lab published a memo addressing how to reinvigorate recycling in Arizona through state-level policy reform. By interviewing recycling coordinators from across the state, they learned that the majority of municipalities have been forced to alter their programs due to changing international markets and a lack of state-level support. Despite these challenges, interviewees view an investment in the recycling sector as an opportunity to improve the economic, environmental and social well-being of their community.

In response to these challenges, the authors identified ways Arizona policy-makers can reinvigorate recycling in Arizona.

To support this effort, please sign this petition asking the state to fund the recycling program and share this graphic on social media.

This memo was written by Erin Murphy, Miranda Bernard, Infynity Hill, Alex Tunas-Corzon and Levi Helm.

Graduate and postdoctoral fellowships with The Nature Conservancy

Sprout and morning mistDuring the past few years, we at the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes have had the pleasure of collaborating with The Nature Conservancy’s NatureNet Science Fellows Program and various ASU units to fund two postdoctoral research associates.

The NatureNet Science Fellows Program has continued to expand and again this year they have opened the fellowship to applicants from all accredited universities with the opportunity to receive research grants.

New this year, masters and PhD students are eligible to apply in addition to postdocs. Also, TNC is now fully funding these fellowships. The RFP closes on January 1, 2021.

Help us spread the word with your research network and any potential applicants who would be a great fit. Research stipend amounts for each category appear below and are available on the website, along with a program overview, project list, eligibility requirements and application instructions.

If you have any questions, please contact Kassie Morton, Global Science Project Manager, Global Science, The Nature Conservancy at

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Talk: Knowledge to outcomes in biodiversity conservation

Green young toucan standing on tree branchOn Wednesday, October 21, 2020, 6:00-7:00 p.m. PST, Dr. Leah Gerber delivered a virtual talk titled “Knowledge to outcomes in global biodiversity conservation.” This talk was part of the New Mexico State University’s Climate Change Education Seminar Series.

About this talk

Global biodiversity loss is occurring at an unprecedented rate. Approximately 1 million species are threatened with extinction and many species have gone extinct in the past decade.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report offers an integrated overview of where the world stands in relation to key international goals, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The IPBES report also represents the first assessment of indigenous and local knowledge on a global scale. In this talk, I will summarize estimates for the global status of biodiversity and ecosystem change, the implications for people, policy options and likely future pathways over the next three decades if current trends continue.

As all SDGs depend on biodiversity, I will also discuss trade-offs and synergies in progress toward achieving the goals.  Finally, I will discuss research needs for ensuring a sustainable pathway toward achieving SDG, Aichi and climate goals.

Watch this presentation.

Best practices for actionable science

Fish swimming and palm trees against sunsetASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Founding Director Leah Gerber recently published an academic article titled “Producing actionable science in conservation: Best practices for organizations and individuals.”

The publication was co-authored by ASU School for the Future of Innovation in Society Graduate Research Associate Chris J. Barton, American Museum of Natural History Biodiversity Scientist Samantha H. Cheng and ASU School of Public Affairs Associate Professor Derrick Anderson.

The team interviewed 71 biodiversity researchers to identify and analyze these specific trends and came up with six best practices associated with actionable science or scientific data and models supported by conservation science.

These six best practices are listed as (1) engaging in collaboration, (2) practicing empathy, (3) building trusting relationships, (4) employing diverse communication methods, (5) incentivizing actionable science and (6) providing resources for actionable science to early‐career researchers.

True to our center’s mission, the authors hope to push for a greater emphasis on translating scientific research into action. Their framework will help researchers better understand how to adapt their work to advocacy.