The Science Of Scientific Writing    Set B      Paragraphs: Intro to Readers' Expectations    The Landmark  What makes a landmark?   Exercise 1 Quiz   Landmark should appear early    Exercise 2    A kick in the tail    A plan for writing landmark-final paras     Exercise 3   Exercise 4   Exercise 5    Exercise 6     Final Page.

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OVERVIEW: The way to well-written science

How to do the Course


PART I: Paragraphs and Sentences

SET A: Paragraphs: The Maps Behind Them

SET B: Paragraphs: Using Maps to Meet Readers' Expectations

SET C: Paragraph Coherence and Cohesion

SET D: Sentences

SET E: Scientific Sections (including Methods)

SET F: Scientific Sections: The Discussion

SET G : Scientific Sections: The Introduction

SET H : The Paper as a Whole

*Exercise 2*

Earlier we looked at the pattern of landmark sentences in the Introduction to the paper below. Now you will do the same for its Discussion.

Copy and paste the text into a Word document, and mark (using bold formatting) what you consider to be the landmark sentence for each paragraph. Save and email me the the document.

Biodiversity Conservation in Local Planning

James R. Miller et al., 2008, Conservation Biology, 23, 53-63


Biodiversity conservation appeared to be a relatively minor consideration in local land-use planning, when it was considered at all, in the jurisdictions we surveyed. Few of these planning departments allocated much staff time to conserving biodiversity—typically <5% and in a sizeable number of cases, none. Few respondents reported that comprehensive plans or ordinances set specific goals for conserving native plants and animals. In general, few jurisdictions took such basic conservation actions as controlling the spread of invasive species or maintaining habitat connectivity. Although a variety of planning tools and economic incentives were used to address habitat protection, any one of these was typically used only in a small minority of jurisdictions. Cross-jurisdictional collaboration for the purpose of conserving biodiversity over broader spatial scales was infrequent.

Most jurisdictions in these regions emphasized protection of open space and the creation of parks and greenways to meet objectives that included biodiversity conservation; fewer have enacted ordinances requiring developers to help meet this objective. There is some doubt as to the degree to which open space and parks achieve habitat protection (Lerner et al. 2007). Meeting this goal ultimately depends on factors such as parcel size, levels and types of human use, the presence of sufficient resources to meet the requirements of native species, and the nature of the surrounding landscape (Lindenmeyer et al. 2007; Miller 2007).

Protecting water quality was a prevalent objective, as reflected in comprehensive plans, ordinances, and other actions. This was likely in response to provisions of the Clean Water Act, the primary federal statute that addresses point and nonpoint water pollution in the United States. State environmental regulatory agencies are delegated power by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enforce provisions of the act as appropriate given specific conditions in each state. Addressing objectives related to water quality, however, will not necessarily translate to improved conditions for native species (Karr & Chu 1998). Planning departments in the Seattle region had a much greater focus on aquatic and streamside habitats and on habitat conservation generally. Again, this emphasis was likely driven by the listing of salmonid species under the Endangered Species Act and related state mandates. This designation gives the National Marine Fisheries Service the power to regulate activities that may affect these species adversely. Still, actions intended to address the well-being of these species will not necessarily benefit species occurring in other habitats.

Planning for biodiversity, when it did occur, rarely extended beyond the boundaries of individual jurisdictions. Respondents to our survey reported that their departments regularly engaged in cross-jurisdictional collaboration, but typically not for the purpose of protecting native habitats and the species that depend on them. The higher levels of cross-jurisdictional conservation planning in the Seattle MSA were likely in response to Washington State's Growth Management Act. Adopted in 1990 the Growth Management Act requires cooperation among counties and municipalities to counter threats to the environment and quality of life posed by uncoordinated and unplanned growth (Azerrad & Nilon 2006). Elsewhere, the bureaucratic structure for broad-scale planning frequently exists in the form of state planning offices, regional councils, and metropolitan planning organizations (Michalak & Lerner 2007), but these governance bodies often have very weak, if any, regulatory power, rely on voluntary compliance, and have little enforcement power (Bollens 1992). A more stringent, regulatory approach involving incentives and mandates may be necessary to achieve higher levels of jurisdictional collaboration in conservation planning (Wilkinson et al. 2005; Baldwin & Trombulak 2007).

The pervasive lack of emphasis on biodiversity conservation we observed appears to be more the rule than the exception in the United States (Beatley 2000; McElfish 2004; Duerksen & Snyder 2005). The need for a far greater integration of conservation practices in local planning than is evident in our data is brought into sharp focus when one considers that the amount of developed land in the United States is projected to increase in area by 79% during the next 2 decades (Alig et al. 2004).

What can be done to foster a greater emphasis on biodiversity conservation among local planning departments? We found a significant relationship between the presence of a staff specialist in biodiversity conservation and higher levels of conservation activity in a department. The vast majority of respondents also indicated educational opportunities in biodiversity conservation were available to their personnel, and most suggested that more staff training would increase conservation planning efforts. Yet we did not find a significant relationship between departments employing personnel with training in ecology or conservation biology and any of our measures of conservation action. We conclude that jurisdictions that have made biodiversity a priority are also the ones with a specialist on board, and if it is not a priority, educating staff members seems unlikely to elevate conservation efforts in a meaningful way.

Our respondents overwhelmingly replied that prioritizing biodiversity conservation will require increased funding and greater support from local governments and the public. This suggests the need to educate government officials about the role of local planning in preserving biodiversity, and there is clearly an important role for conservation scientists in imparting this message (Broberg 2003).Ultimately, broader support for conservation planning must be predicated on a well-informed public, but education in the conventional sense will not be enough to engender such support (Thompson 2004). It has been suggested that one way to foster greater support for conservation among the public is to emphasize the connections between biodiversity and quality of life (e.g., Daly & Klemens 2005; Balmford & Cowling 2006; Miller 2005). The recent engagement of disciplines such as conservation medicine (Aguirre et al. 2002) and conservation psychology (Saunders et al. 2006) in work on this topic is an encouraging trend and has much potential for advancing our understanding of factors that can promote a more widespread conservation ethic.

Compared with increased support, access to science-based information was a lesser concern but was still seen as a barrier in many of the jurisdictions we surveyed. It is noteworthy that academic institutions were infrequently cited as a key information source in 2 of the 3 regions, and departments that relied on the content of scientific journals to guide their efforts were in the minority everywhere. Planning departments more frequently relied on local experts, nongovernmental organization, and state agencies. The recent development of state wildlife action plans by natural resource agencies across the United States may be a particularly useful source of information for planners in terms of species distributions and ways to mitigate threats to biodiversity posed by development (Michalak & Lerner 2007). There is evidence to suggest, however, that the relevance of such guidelines could be greatly improved by engaging local planners in a dialogue regarding their informational needs (Azerrad & Nilon 2006).

Whether or not planners have access to existing information, there are still critical gaps in our knowledge regarding the conservation practices that are being implemented in local planning. Little empirical work has been done to evaluate these practices and there are numerous questions that need to be addressed. For example, how effective are the various planning tools and economic incentives being used to achieve conservation goals? How should the effectiveness of conservation actions be measured? Does open-space protection really benefit native species?Milder (2007) provides guidelines for the optimal location of different types of conservation development in the landscape, depending on goals and patterns of urbanization. This same sort of guidance is needed for a variety of other planning tools. There is also a need to address questions at the scale of individual sites—the scale at which local planners typically work (Forman 2002; Azerrad & Nilon 2006). For example, what is the optimal arrangement of elements in a conservation subdivision, and how does this change depending on the context of the site? Investigation of these and related topics could benefit from collaborative efforts involving conservation ecologists, economists, social scientists, medical researchers, and design professionals.

If conservation biologists are serious about achieving a more pervasive emphasis on biodiversity in local planning, it is essential that they gain a deeper understanding of the various dimensions of land-use planning and become involved in the process. Broberg (2003) suggests that ecologists could contribute to land-use planning in several ways: by educating members of planning staffs and governing bodies engaged in land-use decisions, serving on a planning commission, participating at public hearings, and serving on citizen review panels for land-use regulations and policies. Another way for conservation scientists to interact with planners is to attend their regional or national conferences and to present relevant information there. Such forms of engagement will afford opportunities to bring both our scientific credentials and contributions as concerned citizens to bear on this crucial issue.