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Queen Mary Global Policy Institute

Queen Mary biodiversity research secures policy impact funding

Natural Environment Research Council grants enable researchers from Queen Mary University of London’s Biology department to protect biodiversity, address the challenges of climate change, and achieve policy impact.

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Source: cocoandwifi via CC0
Source: cocoandwifi via CC0

The COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference reached an historic agreement to protect 30% of the planet's land and 30% of its oceans by 2030, as well as a host of other targets. The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which was adopted after two weeks of negotiations in Montreal, is seen as being as significant as the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Biodiversity, or the variety of plant and animal species on Earth, is in decline at an alarming rate, with scientists estimating that one million species are at risk of extinction due to changes in land and sea use, climate change, and pollution.

In this context, the recent successes from Dr Axel Rossberg, Dr Matteo Fumagalli and Professor Christophe Eizaguirre from the Biology department at Queen Mary are significant in terms of policy impact as they have all received grants from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to support their research and the translation of it into policy.

Professor Eizaguirre's grant will focus on filling major gaps in conservation of sea turtles in the face of global warming by developing new molecular diagnostic tools to determine the sex of neonate. This is essential, as sex is determined by temperature, and at the current rate of climate change, it is predicted that more than 95 per cent of sea turtles may be females by the end of the century, leading to the extinction of these species.

Dr Fumagalli's grant will pilot the design, implementation, and deployment of a novel deep learning algorithm for population genomic data. By estimating the migration rate of mosquito populations (the vectors of many human diseases) among villages, they will assist predictions on the spread of resistance mutations and support molecular surveillance and intervention strategies at local scale.

Dr Rossberg has been awarded funding by the NERC's Nature Positive Finance program for his research project on mediating the first transaction of Biodiversity Stewardship Credits (BSCs). These credits offer a solution for private sector organisations that must account for biodiversity conservation in their business activities.

These grants are examples of the efforts conducted at Queen Mary University of London, and in the context of the COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference agreement, to demonstrate a commitment to protecting biodiversity and address the challenges of climate change.

These research and conservation efforts will provide valuable insights and tools for protecting vulnerable species and ecosystems, while also promoting well-being, economic growth and innovation. The information and tools developed from these research grants will aid in the implementation of the policies and goals outlined in the GBF, such as the "30 by 30" goals and the conservation and restoration of degraded ecosystems. These tools will also help in monitoring and evaluating the progress of these policies, and making necessary adjustments for their success.

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