Browsing by Subject "Luonnonsuojelubiologia"

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  • Jokinen, Maarit (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Research and evaluation are crucial components of evidence-based policy, decision-making and effective conservation management. As research consumes the same limited resources that could be used for conservation, it should provide as valuable and useful information as possible. This requires framing research questions to be relevant to both researchers and users of the information. A general problem is that researchers may be detached from conservation policy and practice, and thus do not recognize information needs. Furthermore, measuring and predicting effects of conservation is not an easy task. The spatial scale considered, and whether the costs and side effects are taken into account, may affect the conclusions. Effective conservation has population-level effects, but accurately measuring population change requires adequate resources and both ecological and statistical expertise. In addition, as societal actions and change in human behaviour are needed to bring about the desired changes, interdisciplinary approaches are needed for finding solutions to conservation problems. In this thesis, I use the conservation of the Siberian flying squirrel (Pteromys volans) in Finland as a model case for developing more effective conservation research. As an arboreal species, the flying squirrel is threatened by forest habitat loss and degradation. I evaluate the ecological effectiveness of species protection regulation along with the side effects it has had on forest owner attitudes toward the species. I use species distribution modelling (SDM) to predict the occurrence probability of the species in Finland. I also evaluate the methods and results of the species monitoring scheme by using information from the SDM and modelled relationship between the species observed occurrence and abundance. I found that the effectiveness of the prior approval system for forest management on flying squirrel nest sites was low but made the species a symbol of broader socio-political disputes. Conservation ineffectiveness is partly due to insufficient restrictions for forest management, but also due to lacking occurrence information. I found that species occurrence probability is explained by several environmental variables, but the ability of SDM to predict occurrence at specific sites and years remains limited with available data. I also found that the design of the population monitoring scheme does not allow reliable inference of the change in population size from the collected occurrence data. To conclude, the effectiveness of both conservation measures and research related to the evaluation and monitoring of the effects of conservation − including the population monitoring scheme – have suffered from shortcomings. Certain relevant study questions have been ignored, the monitoring scheme suffers from methodological problems, available data are not analysed or synthetized, or results have not been provided in usable form. In addition, the connection between available information and conservation policy and practice is very weak: even the most usable and objectively relevant information may not have substantial instrumental value. Much stronger partnerships between policymakers, managers and researchers of various disciplines is needed to increase the effectiveness of conservation and conservation research.