Monday, May 20, 2024

Winner announced for early career practitioner award – The Applied Ecologist

EcologyWinner announced for early career practitioner award – The Applied Ecologist

We’re excited to announce Molly Mitchell as the winner of the 2023 Chico Mendes Prize, celebrating the best Practice Insights article in the journal by an author at the start of their career.

Winner: Molly Mitchell

Article: A marsh multimodel approach to inform future marsh management under accelerating sea-level rise

About the research

How do you make good decisions about managing resources when those resources are changing? This is the issue with which coastal managers have been struggling as sea level rise alters shorelines around the world. Tidal marshes are key ecosystems for conservation as they provide food and habitat for many species as well as helping improve water quality but managing them have become increasingly difficult as they are responding rapidly to accelerated rise in sea levels by building up sediment and moving further landward.

A marsh in front of a bulkhead that will drown with sea level rise

In this Practice Insights, Molly Mitchell and colleagues work with land managers to build an estimate model of marsh migration to help prioritise management areas and ensure the conservation of this important ecosystem. They co-designed their research methodologies with stakeholders by combining predictions from five different marsh ecosystem models (that predict marsh migration) with the stakeholders’ own assessments of the condition and resilience of existing marshes to implement a decision-making framework that create management recommendations.

Marsh Migration Corridor Envelope (MMCE) shown in green. The darker the green colour, the more consensus there was between models. Large areas of green are good targets for conservation consideration.

The Editors found this study to be a superb example of how to bring cutting-edge science into on-the-ground management of an important ecological problem, while ensuring that local perspectives and knowledge contribute to the design of meaningful solutions. Editor-in-Chief Professor Marc Cadotte was especially impressed, not only by the inclusion of local stakeholders which reiterated the value of scientific methodologies, but with how the authors coupled this with a need to consider social justice by including social and economic spatial layers in land protection and purchase recommendations.

About the winner

ESE_Chico Mendes_headshot_square

Molly developed her interests in the connections between water and land while working in a marine ecology lab in college, and continues to be fascinated by the interconnectivity between different parts within a system and their associated feedback loops. Though her current work now focuses more on the interaction between human communities and natural resources, Molly still views the system as a complex connection between the physical, environmental, geological and social characteristics.

Find the winning article: “A marsh multimodel approach to inform future marsh management under accelerating sea-level rise”, as well as the shortlisted papers for the 2023 Chico Mendes Prize in this virtual issue.

Molly’s blog post about the research can also be found here.

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