Paleontological Research Institution

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    Data from: Conceptions of long-term data among marine conservation biologists and what conservation paleobiologists need to know
    Smith, Jansen; Stephen R. Durham; Gregory P. Dietl (2017)
    Marine conservation biologists increasingly recognize the value of long-term data and the temporal context they can provide for modern ecosystems. Such data are also available from conservation paleobiology, but the enormous potential for integration of geohistorical data in marine conservation biology remains unrealized. The lack of a common language for data integration and a tendency in each field to measure different variables, at scales that may differ by orders of magnitude, make integration difficult. To better understand how conservation paleobiology can maximize its potential, we conducted a survey of marine conservation biologists working in the United States. The respondent population included 90 marine conservation biologists from a variety of workplaces (e.g., governmental, academic) and experience levels (<5 years to >25 years). Survey responses indicated that our fields share common conservation goals (e.g., conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services) and use long-term data in similar ways (e.g., to establish baselines and elucidate trends and patterns). Respondents, however, mostly considered “long term” to refer to decadal timescales and rarely mentioned geohistorical data. Overall, the survey results suggest conservation paleobiologists have much work to do before geohistorical data are regularly accepted and applied in marine conservation biology. We highlight four takeaways from the results of our survey that can help conservation paleobiologists integrate their data into marine conservation practice. 1) Conservation paleobiologists must improve their communication with marine conservation biologists inside and outside of academia. 2) One of the most promising areas for integration is investigating climate change and its ecological implications. 3) The types of long-term data that marine conservation biologists want and need are deliverables conservation paleobiologists can provide. 4) Conservation paleobiologists must be proactive in addressing the barriers that hinder the application of long-term data in conservation practice.
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    A survey assessment of perspectives on geohistorical data among oyster restoration professionals in the United States
    Durham, Stephen; Dietl, Gregory (2013-07)
    Conservation paleobiology aims to apply data from geohistorical records, such as fossils and their associated sediments, to the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Integrating geohistorical data into conservation/restoration practice, however, has proved difficult. In order to better understand how geohistorical data can be more effectively integrated into the conservation/restoration of an ecologically, economically, and culturally important group—oysters—a web-based survey was conducted to assess the awareness and understanding of geohistorical data, and perspectives on their use in restoration, among oyster researchers and restoration practitioners in the United States. The 97 survey responses demonstrate overall willingness to use geohistorical data in oyster restoration, but also highlight knowledge gaps. For instance, although many respondents understood some uses for geohistorical data, e.g. providing baseline information, few respondents mentioned others, such as reconstructing historical ranges of variation of ecosystem attributes. Respondents were also generally unaware of the full range of restoration metrics that can be measured from geohistorical records. The responses further suggested how geohistorical information might both reinforce and expand the information currently available to oyster restoration professionals. For instance, only half of respondents indicated that their baseline information pre-dates the 20th century, but geohistorical records of oysters can provide data on timescales ranging from decades to millennia. Finally, it is argued that to raise awareness of this underutilized information and address respondents’ doubts about geohistorical data’s completeness, precision/accuracy, and relevance in a rapidly changing, human-dominated world, increased collaboration between conservation paleobiologists and conservation/restoration scientists is needed.