Scientia Issue #117
REVELATIONS IN CONSERVATION & SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
Our ever-growing human population has led to drastic declines in Earth’s biodiversity, through various factors including climate change, habitat destruction and pollution. In fact, studies have estimated that Earth is losing species at a frequency of somewhere between 100 and 1000 times the normal background extinction rate, plunging the planet into its sixth mass extinction event. Therefore, concentrating our research efforts on preserving and restoring biodiversity, while also developing more sustainable ways to feed the increasing human population, is now more vital than ever before.
In this crucially important edition of Scientia, we feature a diverse collection of promising research projects, on topics including conservation, sustainable agriculture and ethical meat and dairy production.
In our first section of this edition, we showcase the latest advances in conservation science. Here, we meet researchers who use population genetics to boost numbers of freshwater organisms, while in another article, we meet a scientist who is developing innovative ways to help trees survive and thrive in urban settings.
One of the most significant ways that humans negatively impact the planet’s biodiversity is through our food production. In fact, agriculture takes up almost 40% of Earth’s total land area, which has led to widespread habitat destruction worldwide. The extensive use of toxic pesticides has further exacerbated the problem, particularly for insect populations. Thus, many researchers are now developing more sustainable ways to grow food, whilst also ensuring our food security into the future. Climate change is an additional challenge that must be overcome, as our agricultural systems are extremely vulnerable to rising temperatures and extreme weather.
This is the theme of our next section, where we highlight the latest innovations in sustainable crop science – from investigating the cultivation of alternative crops that support pollinators and improve soil quality, to developing crops that are resilient in the face of climate change.
Continuing with the theme of sustainable agriculture, our last section deals with the ethical and sustainable production of meat and dairy products. Here, we showcase the work of several researchers who are developing effective solutions to our unethical treatment of livestock, from reducing the prevalence of disease amongst poultry and cattle, to investigating hunting as an alternative to intensive farming practices.
Meet The Team…
Dr Nelly Berg
Dr Catriona Houston
Margaret Unkefer, MSc
Sherwin Barretto, PhD
Chris Harrison, PhD
Miriam Grace, PhD
Stephen Nottingham, PhD
Carol Marzuola, MSc
Emma Withers, PhD
Jessica Bristow, PhD