Biodiversity on the brink: evaluating a transdisciplinary research collaboration
Mitchell, M and Moore, SA and Clement, S and Lockwood, M and Anderson, G and Gaynor, SM and Gilfedder, L and Rowe, R and Norman, B and Lefroy, EC, Biodiversity on the brink: evaluating a transdisciplinary research collaboration, Journal for Nature Conservation, 40 pp. 1-11. ISSN 1617-1381 (2017) [Refereed Article]
Global biodiversity is facing an extinction crisis. Australia has one of the highest terrestrial species extinction rates in the world. Scientists, policy advisors and governments have recommended that the issue be addressed at a landscape-scale, while noting that there are significant knowledge gaps that are hampering implementation of such an approach. From 2011–2015, the Australian Government funded a transdisciplinary research program, the Landscapes and Policy Hub, to meet this need. Transdisciplinary research is widely acknowledged as essential to address the complexity of contemporary environmental problems. Given that such research programs are in their infancy, it is important to evaluate their efficacy and provide an empirical basis for improving their design. This paper presents an evaluation of the strategies fostering transdisciplinarity adopted by the Landscapes and Policy Hub. A heavy emphasis on communication, with skilled knowledge brokering, regular face-to-face meetings using participatory activities and shared field engagements enhanced transdisciplinary interaction between researchers and research users. However, establishing a fully integrated interdisciplinary research program remained a challenge. Efforts to enable shared conceptual frameworks to emerge through adaptive application of theory in practice could have been balanced with increased effort at the outset for researchers and research users to collaboratively formulate shared research questions, leading to the establishment of teams that could address these questions through cross-mobilisation of interdisciplinary expertise.