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Behind the Science: Research Reports

Research by Conservancy scientists help inform others working on conservation issues.

Conservancy scientists play a dual-role in advancing conservation science – developing cutting-edge research and tools, and communicating their results to a wider audience. Recent reports written by Conservancy scientists will help others in conservation biology and beyond learn from our hits and misses.

Islands of Life
The Great Lakes harbor more than 32,000 islands, the largest collection of freshwater islands in the world. These islands provide stopover sites for migratory birds and homes to a diverse range of species. But, these oases are threatened by incompatible development and agriculture, invasive species, and other modern pressures. Collaborating with partners from Canada and across the basin, the Conservancy’s Dr. Dave Ewert helped the team inventory, rank and prioritize Great Lakes islands for conservation action. View the Google Earth application.

Protected Lands = Protected Waters?
That’s the question asked by a team of Conservancy scientists working with Trustee Dr. Dave Allan when analyzing results from the Conservation and Recreation Lands database. The team concluded that areas along rivers are generally underrepresented compared to other protected lands. Habitat loss along rivers typically impacts local and downstream water quality, downstream flooding, fisheries quality and productivity, fishing access, recreational boating quality and access, along with wildlife habitat and corridors. The report says that initiatives like the state’s Natural Rivers Program help increase biodiversity in priority aquatic areas. Learn more by reading the report.

Land Conversion More Likely Near Natural Areas
Dr. Daniel Kramer of Michigan State University and Dr. Patrick Doran of The Nature Conservancy were curious about the potential downside of land protection activities. They discovered that land parcels within two kilometers of protected areas, such as nature preserves, were more likely to be developed than parcels further away. The results stress the importance of a well-designed system of protected areas with adjacent buffering areas, and the impacts of existing and future threats. Read the journal abstract for this study.

Preserves Used as Study Sites
Conservancy preserves primarily benefit nature, but they also can serve an educational role. Dr. Anna Fiedler worked in collaboration with the Conservancy to investigate the effectiveness of fen restoration techniques to benefit prairie fen plants, insects and natural processes. This research is guiding restoration efforts now at Conservancy preserves. In addition to her groundbreaking research, Dr. Fiedler will further her passion in conservation education and outreach by developing a website on prairie fens that will help teach others about the importance of restoring and protecting these special wetlands.

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