For an up-to-date list of all my publications, please see my google scholar page.
Feeding the world without losing our remaining biodiversity is one of the great challenges facing humanity. If our future global population ate more seafood from aquatic farming, or aquaculture, to meet their protein needs, we may be able to substantially reduce one of the biggest environmental impacts of meat production – land use – without giving up meat entirely. These changes in diet are already happening. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food industry in the world, now producing more biomass than both beef cattle and wild-catch fish. Though there are well-documented issues with aquaculture industry, as there are with terrestrial meat production (such as the degradation of rivers and streams from livestock), these land use savings make this an idea worth considering as a way to reduce pressure on natural ecosystems.
(Disclaimer: This work came out of my time with the Science for Nature and People Partnership SNAPP https://snappartnership.net/and was funded by TNC, WCS and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation. I received no funding from the aquaculture industry.)
Runge, C.A., Gallo-Cajiao, E., Carey, M.J., Garnett, S.T., Fuller, R.A. & McCormack, P.C. (2017). Coordinating Domestic Legislation and International Agreements to Conserve Migratory Species: A Case Study from Australia. Conservation Letters. click here for pdf and here for full text
Conserving migratory species requires many different people collaborating across international, national, state and local jurisdictions. A lot of migratory species legislation operates at the international or national scale, but in many countries environmental powers are held by lower levels of government. For instance, in Australia, most of the decisions about land use (and thus habitat loss) are made at the local and state levels. We looked at Australian environmental legislation and found that despite migratory species being specifically listed in federal legislation, only about half of the species (mostly shorebirds and seabirds) are actually covered at the federal level. It’s not all bad news though – in this paper we outline ways that migratory species can be protected, effectively and efficiently within the current (albeit imperfect) Australian legislature.
Runge, C.A., Tulloch, A.I.T., Gordon, A. & Rhodes, J.R. (2017). Quantifying the conservation gains from shared access to linear infrastructure. Conservation Biology. click here for pdf and here for full text
Reducing the area impacted by development (such as mining) is one of the best ways to minimise trade-offs between people and nature. In this paper, we found that when mining companies collaborate to build shared links from mine to port (these could be road, rail, electricity lines etc) biodiversity loses, agricultural losses and capital costs of that infrastructure were reduced by over 65%. Despite the appearance that sharing infrastructure is a win-win scenario, there’s a lot of reasons why mining companies might chose not to build shared infrastructure. Government policy will often be needed to guide mining companies to make decisions that minimize biodiversity losses.
Runge, C. & Tulloch, A.I. (2017). Solving problems of conservation inadequacy for nomadic birds. Australian Zoologist. click here for pdf
Runge, C.A., Watson, J.E.M., Butchart, S.H.M., Hanson, J.O., Possingham, H.P. & Fuller, R.A. (2015) Protected areas and global conservation of migratory birds. Science, 350, 1255-1258. click here for pdf and here for full text
Migratory species depend on a suite of interconnected sites. Threats to unprotected links in these chains of sites are driving rapid population declines of migrants around the world, yet the extent to which different parts of the annual cycle are protected remains unknown. We show that just 9% of 1451 migratory birds are adequately covered by protected areas across all stages of their annual cycle, in comparison with 45% of nonmigratory birds. This discrepancy is driven by protected area placement that does not cover the full annual cycle of migratory species, indicating that global efforts toward coordinated conservation planning for migrants are yet to bear fruit. Better-targeted investment and enhanced coordination among countries are needed to conserve migratory species throughout their migratory cycle. Read more
Runge, C.A., Tulloch, A.I.T., Possingham, H.P., Tulloch, V.J.D. & Fuller, R.A. (2015) Incorporating dynamic distributions into spatial prioritization. Diversity and Distributions.
Many species move around the landscape, and this adds an extra dimension of complexity to their conservation. At the same time, the movements and ecology of these species are often poorly understood. Just how much information do we need on the movements and ecology of dynamic species to make sensible conservation decisions? In this paper we outline a simple approach to incorporate dynamic movements into conservation planning for data-poor species, and discover how we go about conserving them when we are not quite sure which is the most effective conservation approach. We show that incorporating movements makes for good conservation decisions. Download pdf
Runge, C.A., Tulloch, A., Hammill, E., Possingham, H.P. & Fuller, R.A. (2015) Geographic range size and extinction risk assessment in nomadic species. Conservation Biology, 29, 865-876.
In a world where the money available for conservation is never enough, we need to prioritise which species we choose to conserve. One of the main ways this is done is to work out the extinction risk for each species (e.g., IUCN Red List) and then spend money on the ones most likely to disappear. But we often don’t have very much information to help us decide how at risk a species is, and so just base the decision on the area of its distribution (geographic range size), with the idea being that species with a small distribution are more at risk than those that occupy a big area. However many species move around and can contract down to very small areas at times, making them very vulnerable to threats during that time. Read more Download pdf
Runge, C.A., Martin, T.G., Possingham, H.P., Willis, S.G. & Fuller, R.A. (2014) Conserving mobile species. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 12, 395-402.
Migratory species move around the landscape, and to conserve them properly we need to coordinate conservation actions across all parts of their seasonal range. In our paper we talk about just what it is that makes conserving mobile species (such as migrants and nomads) such a complex problem. We describe some conservation tools that incorporate the unique needs of mobile species and what we can do when we have very little information. Read more Download pdf
Brown, C.J., Bode, M., Venter, O., Barnes, M.D., McGowan, J., Runge, C.A., Watson, J.E. & Possingham, H.P. (2015) Effective conservation requires clear objectives and prioritizing actions, not places or species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112, E4342-E4342.
Maps of ‘priorities’ for conservation are popular product of conservation research. One approach is to make ‘hotspots’ maps of species richness, or rare species, or rare species that have low protection (e.g. Jenkins et al. 2015 PNAS). However, such approaches defy decades of research on conservation planning. Read more
Runge, C.A. (2015) Conserving migratory and nomadic species. PhD Thesis. University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
My doctoral research, completed in 2015 at the University of Queensland in collaboration with A/Prof Richard Fuller and Prof Hugh Possingham, examined the conservation response to ongoing declines in migratory species, explored how current approaches account for the unique needs of migratory species and developed ways to improve them. I discovered major gaps in global protection, and developed tools for improving conservation of migratory species in two ways: prioritizing actions across species and designing conservation networks. Conservation management must be integrated into human land use for these species to persist, and new, dynamic, whole-of-landscape actions are urgently needed. My thesis combined conservation planning and policy, ecology, and spatial and statistical analysis.