In a series of interviews on the lead up to COP26 in Glasgow, we are chatting with academics whose research is focused on sustainability and tackling climate change.
Samantha Suter is a current PhD researcher working on Combining Citizen Science and Remote Sensing Approaches for Habitat Monitoring
Could you briefly describe the main topics/themes of this event, which research areas does it cover?
The activity aims to discuss climate change and biodiversity loss in relation to the Northern Brown Argus Butterfly; a UK priority species experiencing population declines and range restriction. The purpose is to educate children on the important habitat features a species needs to survive in an area and how these features are threatened by human activities and climate change. The mapping activity demonstrates how researchers at the university can map the important habitats for priority species using a table-top version of a computer-based mapping software to predict where priority species can live to protect their environments. By having the public participate in the mapping activity this demonstrates how mapping priority habitats is further advanced with public input through a citizen science method.
How does it relate to the COP26 agenda? Why is it interesting and what is its geographical reach?
As the Northern Brown Argus is threatened by rising temperatures, this activity directly relates to the COP26 Agenda. The mapping activity will demonstrate how the Northern Brown Argus habitat features and distribution has changed in response to climate change through temporal examples (past, present, and future predicted distribution). By using one indicator species this can explain the wider issues of a warming climate, how this may further affect all other biodiversity in the future, and why the overarching research is vital to identify habitat for vulnerable species to increase their conservation. The reach is nationally across Scotland, however, once the citizen science survey and online mapping method have been completed there is potential for further reach across the UK.
How do you think the attendees can enhance their knowledge and engagement with the topic before the event? Any sources of interest to read before the event?
Attendees may improve their knowledge on how climate change and habitat loss affect vulnerable species in the UK by googling a range of organisations such as Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife, and Buglife. On these websites there will be information about the threats posed to vulnerable species and ways these are being mitigated. There are a range of ways that the public can get involved in the important work these organisations do.
What do you hope the outcomes of this event to be? Is it simply educational or with the purpose of influencing the policy-making process, etc?
The activity aims to be both educational and influential. By engaging with the activity, I hope people will gain a greater awareness about the biodiversity issues we face in the UK, which in turn may foster a desire to participate in wider schemes, such as the citizen science survey I am creating or different methods of conservation within other organisations. Hopefully by partaking in the activity participants will feel intrigued to further engage with my wider research, helping to map the habitats of priority species and play an active role in the conservation of the UK’s native wildlife.
How can attendees follow up after the event and engage with the topics raised?
Handouts will be available at the event which details how participants can stay engaged with the topics covered and the wider research, largely by following on Twitter. Also signing up to Butterfly Conservation’s newsletter will allow attendees to be made aware of developments in the citizen science survey and how they may be able to participate when the survey is fully developed.
The activity is designed to be a stall at the COP26 Climate Action Day 6th November 2021, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Crichton Campus, Dumfries.
Part of the COP26 activities at the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow