Publications


LeilaSievanen(smallest)Environmental anthropologist Dr. Leila Sievanen, formerly a Leslie Lab postdoc, just published an article in Maritime Studies based on research conducted with Heather and others in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Citation: Sievanen, L. 2014. How do small-scale fishers adapt to environmental variability? Lessons from Baja California Sur, Mexico. Maritime Studies 13:9.

The abstract follows:

Many fisheries stocks and the livelihoods of those who make their living from fishing are in decline, and these declines are exacerbated by uncertainties associated with increased climate variability and change. Social scientists have long documented the importance of mobility and diversification in reducing the risk and uncertainty associated with climate variability, particularly in the context of small-scale fishing. However, it is unclear how these traditional mechanisms are buffering fishers againstthe varied stressors they currently face, including those associated with environmental variability. This paper examines how fishers on the southern gulf coast of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur perceive and respond to stressors associated with normal environmental variability, how their ability to adapt is spatially distributed, and what threats they perceive to their continued ability to adapt. Understanding the adaptation strategies and everyday vulnerabilities that fishers face can elucidate problems associated with current fisheries management and the underlying factors that cause vulnerability, and also help decision makers, including fishers themselves, develop more effective adaptation strategies in the face of climate change.

Heather_Leslie_headshot_aug09Heather Leslie, assistant professor of environmental studies and biology, says it’s a mistake to assume market forces and sustainability must always be at loggerheads. In a recently published paper in Ecological Applications, Leslie and a group of researchers showed that small-scale fisheries near La Paz, Mexico, could earn a premium for fish that fit nicely on a plate, leaving larger fish to sustain the population. Read more….

Click here to download the paper!

Read the Q & A with lead author and former Leslie lab postdoc, Sheila Walsh Reddy. Sheila is a senior scientist with The Nature Conservancy, focusing on how ecosystems and economies are interrelated and how to improve environmental decision making.

Other contributing authors include Brown economist Sri Nagavarapu, Brown applied mathematician Martin Maxey, former Brown undergraduate Allison Wentz, and Dr. Octavio Aburto of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

To learn more about ongoing analyses of coupled social-ecological marine systems in the Gulf of California and elsewhere, please contact project leader Heather Leslie at Heather_Leslie(at)brown.edu.

Heather and colleagues from a diversity of academic, private, and non governmental institutions just published an article in Conservation Biology on the power of linking good stories and good science. Featuring the story of Cabo Pulmo, a marine conservation success story from Mexico’s Gulf of California, the authors reflect on the diverse roles that stories can play in advancing conservation science and practice:

“As scientists, we are part of these stories and often in the best position to tell them (Baron 2010a). Stories represent an opportunity for scientists to connect their work to the wider world, if they have the patience and creativity to write narratives that include tension (Franklin 1994; Olson 2009) and put people front and center (Kristof 2009)…

We believe there are benefits to connecting conservation science and stories, in terms of evaluating and achieving conservation effects and disseminating those outcomes to other practitioners and the public. But conservation scientists will only know this is true if they engage in these activities more frequently and with greater intent and then systematically analyze the effects. To our knowledge, this has not yet occurred.

Unsubstantiated conservation stories are a danger and could damage the credibility of conservation science or distract policy makers from the magnitude of conservation challenges, but we believe conservation science and practice would be enriched by more efforts to thoughtfully connect science and stories.”

Read more

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Leslie, H. M., E. Goldman, K. M. McLeod, L. Sievanen, H. Balasubramanian, R. Cudney-Bueno, A. Feurerstein, N. Knowlton, K. Lee, R. Pollnac, and J. F. Samhouri. 2013. How good science and stories can go hand‐in‐hand. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12080  (published online 5.21.2013)

Download this and other publications by Heather Leslie under ‘Publications’

Former Brown undergraduate Joey Bernhardt and Prof. Heather Leslie just published a synthetic review on ecological resilience to climate change in the Annual Review of Marine Science. The abstract follows; navigate to the site to see the full review, or contact Heather for a PDF.

 

Abstract. Ecological resilience to climate change is a combination of resistance to increasingly frequent and severe disturbances, capacity for recovery and self-organization, and ability to adapt to new conditions. Here, we focus on three broad categories of ecological properties that underlie resilience: diversity, connectivity, and adaptive capacity. Diversity increases the variety of responses to disturbance and the likelihood that species can compensate for one another. Connectivity among species, populations, and ecosystems enhances capacity for recovery by providing sources of propagules, nutrients, and biological legacies. Adaptive capacity includes a combination of phenotypic plasticity, species range shifts, and microevolution. We discuss empirical evidence for how these ecological and evolutionary mechanisms contribute to the resilience of coastal marine ecosystems following climate change–related disturbances, and how resource managers can apply this information to sustain these systems and the ecosystem services they provide.

Ocean Health Index provides first global assessment combining natural and human dimensions of sustainability

Sustainable management of a huge, complex and valuable resource such as the ocean requires a comprehensive metric that did not exist until now. In the Aug. 16 edition of Nature a broad group of scientists including Heather Leslie, the Sharpe Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology, describes the Ocean Health Index. The index rates coastal places, from regions to nations, on 10 goals: artisanal fishing opportunity, biodiversity, carbon storage, clean waters, coastal livelihoods and economies, coastal protection, food provision, natural products, sense of place, and tourism and recreation.

To learn more about how the index can be applied to assess the effectiveness of ocean management and guide future stewardship efforts, read a recent Q&A with Heather and related articles from the NY Times and Nature News, or contact the authors.

Sandy Andelman of Conservation International offers a compelling perspective piece, based on more than 20 years in the field, on why conservation scientists need to move away from business as usual, in our science, our communication, and our on the ground action. Download or read the  Nature article at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v475/n7356/full/475290a.html?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20110721

Natural Capital: Theory and Practice of Mapping Ecosystem Services, by Peter Kareiva, Heather Tallis, Taylor H. Ricketts, Gretchen C. Daily, and Stephen Polasky, Eds. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011. 391 pp.
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The taste of fresh strawberries. The sounds of the surf and kids playing on a packed shoreline. Warm sun on your back as you kayak across the bay. These visceral summer experiences, just ahead for many of us, are what Natural Capital is all about: How does natural capital—or ecosystems and the many species and processes that are part of them—generate benefits for people? And, vitally, how will management, climate change, and other perturbations influence the provision of these benefits in the future? Through careful analysis and illustrative case studies, Natural Capital demonstrates how explicit consideration of these benefits, along with how and where they are produced, will enable us to more proactively and effectively sustain the world’s ecosystems and the human communities that rely on them.


Click here to see more amazing photographs by Jan Sochor, the photographer whose work was featured in the review.

Marine scientists at Brown University have determined that the size of rocks in rocky intertidal areas is important to the survival of a common marine animal, the acorn barnacle. The bigger the rock, the less its temperature fluctuates during hot spells. That’s better for the barnacle, which needs rock temperatures to not exceed a certain range to survive.

In field tests, the scientists learned that air temperature peaks were far more prominent in southern New England, meaning that rock, or substrate, size plays an even larger role in barnacle habitat.

The research is important for many reasons. First, it shows that the survival of barnacles, described as the popcorn of the sea for its status in the marine food chain, can depend on the size of the rock on which it attaches itself. In southern New England intertidal zones, where smaller rocks predominate and summertime temperatures can spike, this has clear consequences.

Secondly, climate projections show mean air temperatures continuing to rise in New England, which could affect barnacles’ habitat, especially in southern waters. Thirdly, it opens a window into another aspect of the marine intertidal environment – the size of substrates – that influences the viability and perhaps variety of animals living there.

As Keryn Gedan, lead author of the paper in Ecology who earned her doctorate at Brown and is now a postdoc at the Smithsonian Research Center in Maryland, put it: “Hot spots and cold spots occur naturally due to variations like rock size and orientation. It’s important to understand where these hot and cold spots occur in order to predict the ecological effects of climate change and the temperatures that organisms experience.”

Heather Leslie, a marine ecologist and a co-author on the paper, said the study suggests that “all rocky shores are not the same. Physical characteristics like rock size can dictate how (animal) communities can function.”

Gedan, Keryn B., Joanna Bernhardt, Mark D. Bertness, and Heather M. Leslie. 2011. Substrate size mediates thermal stress in the rocky intertidal. Ecology 92:576–582. [doi:10.1890/10-0717.1]

Download the paper now, or go to http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/10-0717.1

A team of experts led by Brown University has a plan to advance President Obama’s directive to manage the nation’s waters better. In a paper in Conservation Letters, Leila Sievanen and Heather Leslie – along with a number of other natural and social scientists – offer several recommendations based on a two-year investigation of marine management efforts by more than two-dozen local and regional groups from California to Maine. For more on this study, please see http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2011/04/oceans or contact Heather_Leslie(at)brown.edu

Citation: Sievanen, L., HM Leslie, JM, Wondolleck, SL Yaffee, KL McLeod and LM Campbell. 2011. Linking top-down and bottom-up processes through the new US National Ocean Policy. Conservation Letters.DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2011.00178.x

Download a copy of the paper here.

For more on the science and practice of ecosystem-based management, see the recent book by Leslie and collaborators, Ecosystem-Based Management for the Oceans.

Click here for more on the collaborative project that produced this paper.

Science Careers hosts an array of resources for folks interested in scientific careers in academia, government and the nonprofit and private sectors. They’ve just published a new guide to making the most of research and professional development opportunities, from your undergraduate years on.

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