What is the Center for Integrative Conservation?
The Center for Integrative Conservation (CIC) was established in 2012 to bring together scientists at XTBG working on topics related to the conservation of species and ecosystems. It aims to combine and coordinate state-of-the-art techniques in ecology, biogeography, climate change biology, systematic, genomics, remote sensing, and spatial modeling into an effective tool for conservation. The main focus is on tropical China and Southeast Asia, but the CIC also aims to contribute to national and global conservation strategies. The major outputs from the Center include scientific publications, demonstration projects, practical advice, technical training, and policy papers for the government. CIC consists of seven Research Groups and the XTBG Herbarium (HITBC), covering a range of disciplines, including plant taxonomy, animal ecology, biogeography and phylogeny. The XTBG Herbarium (HITBC) combines practical support roles with its own research.
What is Integrative Conservation?
A dictionary definition of the word integrative is ‘combining and coordinating diverse elements into a whole’. Integrative Conservation therefore aims to combine and coordinate the diverse elements of biological conservation into an effective tool for protecting species and ecosystems. These elements include traditional ecological field studies, biogeography and systematics, remote sensing, molecular genetics and metagenomics, mathematical modelling, and environmental education.
Who is in the Center?
There are 30 staff in the CIC, including 7 professors. The previous CIC director (2012.6-2019.4) was Professor Lixing Gao. The current CIC director is Professor Quan Ruichang, and Professor Kyle Tomlinson is the deputy director:
Professor Quan Ruichang, the director of CIC, is an expert on behavioral ecology, animal-mediated seed dispersal (birds and mammals), biodiversity conservation;
Professor Lixing Gao, his major research interests include biodiversity conservation and terrestrial ecology in tropical East Asia, plant-animal interactions, and the impacts of climate change;
Professor Li Jie, who works on the plant phylogenetics, biogeography and conservation biology;
Professor Kyle Tomlinson, the deputy director of CIC, researches on landscape conservation, forest ecology, savanna ecology, functional trait diversity;
Professor Ma Youxin, who mainly engages in land use change ecological impact, landscape pattern and ecological process, regional ecological security and sustainable development, global change;
Dr. Alice Hughes, who works on impacts of climate change on species distribution and biodiversity in Southeast Asia;
Dr. Bai Yang, who researched on ecosystem processes, ecosystem services, and management;
Dr. Li Lang, who is focusing on phylogeny and biogeography and other fields of research;
Dr. Yu Wenbin, who works on evolution of plastome in parasitic plants, systematics and evolution of the large hemiparasitic genus Pedicularis L. (Orobanchaceae), and conservation biology of endangered species;
Dr. Song Yu, Focusing on the mechanism of functional traits determination and differentiation among tree species of Machilus and Phoebe (Lauraceae) in tropical and subtropical Asia;
Dr. Zuo Yunjuan, who works on phylogeny and biogeography of angiosperms in tropical areas;
Tan Yunhong, Youth Scientist group PI in CIC, researching on floristics, taxonomy, systematics of tropical plant;
Li Jianwu, whose research interests are tropical plant taxonomy, especially for family Orchidaceae.
Why does XTBG need a Center for Integrative Conservation?
Conservation has been a major focus for XTBG throughout its 53-year history, but the recent transformation of much of the natural forest in the vicinity of the Gardens into monoculture rubber plantations has highlighted the urgency of conservation action in one of China’s major biodiversity hotspots. XTBG is currently better known for its research in forest ecology and plant resource sciences, but it is intended that the Center will give conservation science a similar influence and reputation. The Center will also support the expansion of existing efforts in environmental education.
What projects is the Center involved in currently?
The major initiative was the ‘Zero Extinction Project’, which aimed to prevent extinctions in Xishuangbanna’s diverse native flora by assessing conservation needs, identifying forest fragments worthy of protection, and targeting the Garden’s ex situ collections (in the seed bank and living collections) at the species most needing attention. And now CIC works on status, trends, threats and conservation in limestone karst in tropical China. The project is intended to produce a complete and up-to-date karst map and biological database, which will include complete vascular plants and vertebrates, and highlight threatened species.