Research into the interlinks between biodiversity patterns, processes, threats, conservation and human welfare

Welcome to the lab of Camilo Mora at the Department of Geography, University of Hawaii. The Mora lab focuses on interconnected lines of research aimed to understand how biodiversity patterns are generated and modified by human activities and in the process identifying the conditions where suitable conditions for both, humans and biodiversity, are met.

Biodiversity patterns and processes

Describing and explaining biodiversity patterns are longstanding goals in ecology. Interest in these topics has gained momentum due to escalating anthropogenic impacts, and the need to prioritize limited conservation resources on key areas and ?hotspots? of extinction-prone species. This line of research uses meta-analytical approaches to describe patterns and test the causality of potential hypotheses. We use a combination of spatial statistics, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and modeling techniques to construct accurate patterns and develop rigorous tests of mechanistic hypotheses. Ultimately, we seek to provide a global unified pattern of marine and terrestrial biodiversity.

Biodiversity threats

Many marine and terrestrial species are threatened with extinction due to human related threats such as overexploitation, habitat loss and climate change. Unfortunately, there is significant uncertainty over the actual causality of these threats, which in turn has generated controversy and possibly hampered the development of mitigation policies. This part of our research uses field studies and experimental approaches to evaluate the effects and mechanisms through which human-related threats lead to population declines and threaten species with extinction.

Assessment of conservation strategies

The implementation of conservation strategies should be preceded by rigorous science if such strategies are to be effective. Unfortunately, such basic science is being developed at the same time that biodiversity is being lost. This has prompted the creation of regulations with weak underlying scientific support or without assessments of feasibility under different socioeconomic conditions; hence, the success of such regulations is an open question. This research line aims to evaluate the effectiveness of management and conservation strategies that are in place for the protection of biodiversity. We use meta-analytical approaches and scientific surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of existing strategies in terms of compliance, enforcement and biological response.

Social-ecological systems

Ultimately, achieving a world that is sustainable depends on understanding the interlinks between ecosystems and attributes of human societies. Unfortunately, social systems are just as complex as ecosystems and they both require different endeavors of research that remains for the most part isolated. This research line aims to bring together expertise on social, economic, political and ecological systems to understand the mechanistic pathways between attributes of human societies, biodiversity stressors, biodiversity loss and human welfare.