Introducing the CCI Seminar Series: Kicking off with emerging science on threats to wildlife

In the Center for Conservation Innovation (CCI) at Defenders of Wildlife, we work at the intersection of conservation science, technology, and policy to develop creative solutions to the biggest challenges facing wildlife. But we’re not the only ones doing cutting-edge research and development for conservation and, knowing that, we see one of our roles as being a convener of ideas from all areas. To that end, we’re launching the CCI Seminar Series, where we will bring in speakers from academia, the private sector, and government to talk about emerging ideas in conservation. In addition to a breadth of the topics and speakers, we’re hoping to bring in a diverse audience to connect people across all sectors and topics to accelerate the spread and adoption of new ideas.

We’re kicking off the Series with a talk on brand-new — not even published (but soon to be) — science of conservation, Quantifying Threats to Improve Species Recovery, from Dr. Matthias Leu (College of William Mary) and Dr. Aaron Haines (Millersville University of Pennsylvania). You may recognize this topic as similar to the project that several CCI interns focused on over the summer; turns out, we weren’t the only ones thinking about threats to species! Matthias, Aaron, and their undergraduate students have been working for years to extract data from more than 1,000 documents and find new insights. After discovering the overlap of our interests, we hosted the team at Defenders’ headquarters in Washington, DC, to brainstorm how to join forces to discover new solutions.

Today, Matthias and Aaron launched the CCI Seminar Series by sharing their findings from the past few years of research. One of their results? In 1975, habitat destruction was far-and-away the most important factor for listing species, but by 2017, habitat destruction was joined by two equally important threats…stay tuned to find out what those are as the research is published! Their conclusions and recommendations will be key in helping agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service better prepare for protecting species, and ultimately for recovering these species.

For the next CCI Seminar, we’ll turn towards technology and its applications to wildlife conservation. CCI is currently working with an undergraduate class at the University of Maryland’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab on several semester-long projects on technology design for conservation. Our second CCI Seminar Series in early December will feature teams from the class sharing their innovative work on improving how people interact with the web applications and other technologies that help improve conservation. As the conservation community increasingly develops and integrates technology into our approaches, well-designed tech is more important than ever for benefiting wildlife. Stay tuned for details in November — we hope you will join us!