Effective management of biodiversity is increasingly reliant on the transfer and application of scientific research to inform conservation planning and policy.  ECOS operates as a bridge been multi-disciplinary biodiversity studies and the subsequent use of data in biodiversity management.  Our partners span a range of conservation roles from research providers to policy makers and practitioners, working to transcend traditional barriers and support the impact of applied conservation science.

For examples of applied conservation science informing biodiversity management, look below.

Natural History Collections

Natural history collections help us to understand and catalogue changes in biodiversity over time; a key element in predicting likely future impacts of environmental change.  The curation of comparative materials for conservation research and public education provides a critical dual function in applied conservation science.

Managing genetic diversity

Species conservation increasingly integrates management of populations in the wild with those in captivity.  Understanding the diversity and origins of animals held in breeding programmes is important in planning translocations and reintroductions.  ECOS partners apply conservation genetic analysis to inform management across many species of flora and fauna.

Assessing Biodiversity

Understanding what biodiversity exists in a particular environment is fundamental to habitat and species conservation.  A major goal of the Convention on Biological Diversity is to promote conservation and sustainable use in countries rich in biodiversity but poor in resources. To assist in this aim, ECOS partners carry out highly collaborative inventory research with a strong element of training and capacity building.

Collecting specimens at Loch Fada, South Uist


Corophium volutator from Uist

Saline Lagoons

Saline lagoons are shallow bodies of salty water which are wholly or partially separated from the nearby sea. In some lagoons the saltiness of the water can fluctuate dramatically over time and in others there can be a distinct salinity gradient from almost marine conditions to almost freshwater conditions as distance from the influence of the sea increases. This rare and vanishing habitat is recognised under the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan and is considered a priority habitat (‘in danger of disappearance’) under the European Habitats Directive. The threats to saline lagoons include sea level rise, pollution and human disturbance.

The Uists are known to have some of the finest lagoons in Europe but until recently there was insufficient knowledge of the plants and animals living in them to inform a strategy for monitoring the conservation status of these internationally important sites. Members of ECoS have been working together to gain a better understanding of the Uist Saline lagoons.  The team has now secured a voucher collection of the specialist, rare and potentially threatened invertebrates and plants that live in these lagoons to inform future conservation practice.The work has established several new records including the tube dwelling polychaete worm Ampharete acutifrons and the non-native barnacle Austrominius modestus which has gradually been spreading around the British Isles but has not previously been recorded from the Uists.