The overarching goal of conservation biology at Princeton is to foster research that makes significant strides in identifying, understanding, and reducing the threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services. To do so, we employ field work, modeling, theory, and meta-analytical synthesis. Much of our work is interdisciplinary, combining the natural sciences with the social sciences to develop realistic solutions, and we work closely with many other departments on campus. Many EEB faculty, postdocs, and graduate students also work directly with governmental and non-governmental organizations to tackle conservation problems in many parts of the world. Our faculty study topics as varied as the conservation of endangered species, the effects of climate change on species and ecosystems, the impact of modern agriculture on biodiversity, disease dynamics, the design and management of protected areas, and the sustainable use of common-pool resources such as fisheries.
Populations and species have been disappearing at ever-greater rates, raising the specter of a sixth mass-extinction event. Research at Princeton seeks to go beyond simply documenting this crisis by using information on the drivers and distribution of biodiversity loss to develop innovative conservation and restoration strategies.
Land-use change is the major driver of loss of biological diversity. It often brings significant benefits to the local human economy, but these come at a cost that creates many of the tensions between environmentalists, local communities, and sectors of society driven by the extractive industries and agriculture. A central goal of conservation biology is to find ways to balance land uses such that we create win-win approaches that benefit both biological diversity and alternative human land uses.
Although a major focus of conservation science has been to document the deleterious impacts of humans on the biosphere, a more optimistic research agenda focuses on how to rehabilitate degraded ecological systems and restore their functionality. Our faculty lead diverse initiatives at the interface of ecology and society in tropical Africa, Asia, and the Americas.