Climate change vulnerability assessments for Willamette Valley, Oregon
To finish the Conservation Management certification at UCD, all participants had to work on a one-year minimum group project with other students which was done in direct partnership with a non-academic conservation organization. My group chose to conduct a climate change vulnerability analysis under the guidance of Defenders of Wildlife and Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. We used NatureServe’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index to assess 46 focal species in the Oregon Willamette Valley Ecoregion. By manipulating parameters and inputs, we not only highlighted which species and taxon were most vulnerable to climate change impacts but also the ecological reasons why. We also developed our own vulnerability rubric to assess 27 Conservation Opportunity Areas within the ecoregion. Both our species- and place-based analyses were intended to help our partners understand the parameters that give rise to climate change vulnerability or resiliency and prioritize management efforts for species and places.
Evaluation of a popular conservation management approach: Open Standards
After completing the class requirements of our Conservation Management certificate, a group of grad students, along with our mentor Dr. Mark Schwartz, decided to formally write-up our assessment of the relatively new and popular Open Standards approach and its companion software platform, Miradi. We used case studies from our classes that involved different conservation projects of different scales and focuses to evaluate OS and Miradi. Overall, we found that OS was a very good conservation management approach but we did highlight some needed changes that would better accommodate the wide range of conservation goals and projects that practitioners face.
Guidelines in appropriate skill development for conservation grad students
Inspired by a forum and workshop hosted by UCD entitled “Graduate Education for Conservation Professionals,” seven grad students and Dr. Mark Schwartz started analyzing adverts for conservation jobs to determine what necessary skills might be for young conservation professionals. We distinguished between non-profit, government, and private sectors but also sought to highlight the most translatable skills. We used targeted interviews from established conservation professionals to buttress our analytical findings. Our paper, which was soon made publicly accessible by the publishing journal (a victory for us!), is meant to serve as a guide for graduate students interested in non-academic positions but also for those who wish to continue in the applied conservation world even as professors. This “side” project influenced all the authors directly in how we view our skillsets and we hope that it will continue helping like-minded grad students all over.
Conservation Bytes blog entry written by myself and two of the other co-authors