Meredith Root-Bernstein

Meredith Root-Bernstein

AgreenSkills session, year: 1st session, 2016

Receiving laboratory: SADAPT Science for Action and Sustainable Development: Activities, Products, Territories Versailles-Grignon

Country of origin : Denmark




Mobility project

Improving conservation in agricultural landscapes: Can we close the Value-Action Gap?

The project seeks to understand the factors motivating famers’ management practices, including the adoption of practices that are conservation friendly. This research will contribute to a general framework for conceptual models of the relationship between values and actions in conservation. The project seeks to understand, using questionnaires, interviews and both quantitative and qualitative analysis, farmers’ own views about whether they and their peers are primarily motivated by values and personal decision-making practices, or by governance and collective values and decision-making practices; or indeed, by both, in different circumstances. The primary study site is in central Chile, where a weak environmental and conservation policy is not integrated into agricultural policy. We will compare a control site with two sites with site-specific programs implementing different forms of integration between conservation and agriculture. In addition to general insights into values, actions and decisions by farmers, the project will also provide useful insights into how to work with Chilean farmers to apply some of Meredith’s ongoing research on restoration and conservation in the region.

Biography & research interests

I started out with an interdisciplinary degree combining animal behaviour and social sciences at Princeton, and then went on to do a masters degree by research in animal social learning in Zoology at Oxford. But I was looking for a field that was less conservative and more interdisciplinary, so next I did an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management, also at Oxford. As for many people, this course changed my view of conservation and reoriented my career. After that, I did a PhD in Ecology at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, where I became increasingly engaged in Chilean conservation issues, especially in the overlooked central Mediterranean-climate zone. I have focused on the ecology of ecosystem engineers—first the degu (Octodon degus), a native rodent, and now the guanaco (Lama guanicoe), and the espino tree (Acacia caven). Simultaneously, I have pursued qualitative and quantitative approaches to understanding social aspects of attitudes towards nature and conservation in the region. My first post-doc at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, with funding from the Chilean government (FONDECYT), focused on functional ecology and ecosystem services of the espinal silvopastoral system, dominated by Acacia caven. Then I moved back to the School for Geography and the Environment at Oxford University, with a Career Development Fund Fellowship, during which time I started my research on guanacos and also started a collaborative project on practice and governance in multifunctional wetland conservation in the Po Delta, Italy. Following this, I was a post-doc in the Aarhus University Research on the Anthropocene team, an interdisciplinary project combining ecological and anthropological views of the Anthropocene, and focusing on rewilding and multi-species anthropology. During this time I continued my Italian and Chilean projects.

Selected publications

Root-Bernstein, R., & Root-Bernstein, M. In press. From Compositional Chemical Ecologies to Self-Replicating Ribosomes and on to Functional Trait Ecological Networks. In Evolutionary Biology. Pontarotti, P., ed.;
Root-Bernstein, M., Valenzuela, R., Huerta M., Armesto, J., Jaksic, F. 2017. Acacia caven nurses endemic sclerophyllous trees along a successional pathway from silvopastoral savanna to forest. Ecosphere online first;
A’Bear, L., Hayward, J.C., & Root-Bernstein, M. 2017. Conservation science and contemporary art: thinking about Tenerife. Leonardo 5(1), 27-30;
Root-Bernstein, M., & Jaksic, F. 2016. Oportunidades y desafíos para cambios adaptivos en el sistema silvopastoral de Chile central [Opportunities and challenges for adaptive change in the silvopastoral system of central Chile]. In Postigo, J.C., & Young, K.R. Eds. Perspectivas socio-ecológicas, actividades productivas y cambios globales en América Latina;
Root-Bernstein, M., Guerrero-Gattica, M., Piña, L, Bonacic, C., Svenning, J.-C., & Jaksic, F.M. 2016. Prospects for a model of rewilding-inspired transhumance for the restoration of a semi-arid silvopastoral system. Regional Environmental Change 130, 54-61;
Root-Bernstein, M., Frascaroli, F. 2016. Where the fish swim above the birds: configurations and challenges for wetland restoration in the Po Delta, Italy. Restoration Ecology. Online first;
Barca, B., Lindon, A., & Root-Bernstein, M. 2016. Environmentalism in the crosshairs: perspectives on migratory bird hunting and poaching conflicts in Italy. GECCO. 6, 189-207;
Root-Bernstein, M., & Svenning, J.-C. 2016. Prospects for rewilding with camelids. Journal of Arid Environments, 130, 54-61;
Root-Bernstein, R., & Root-Bernstein, M. 2016. The Ribosome as a Missing Link in Prebiotic Evolution II: Ribosomes Encode Ribosomal Proteins that Bind to Common Regions of their Own mRNAs and rRNAs. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 397, 115-127;
Root-Bernstein, M. 2016. Personal reflections on natural history as common ground for interdisciplinary multispecies socio-ecological research. Geo: Geography and Environment 3(1), e00015;
Root-Bernstein, M., & Jaksic, F. 2015. Ecosystem process interactions between central Chilean habitats. Global Ecology and Conservation (GECCO) 3, 776-788;
Lindon, A., & Root-Bernstein, M. 2015. Pheonix flagships: Conservation values and guanaco reintroduction in an anthropogenic landscape. Ambio 44, 458-471;
Root-Bernstein, M, & Root-Bernstein, R. 2015. The Ribosome as a Missing Link in the Evolution of Life. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 357, 130-158;
Root-Bernstein, M., Bennett, M., Armesto, J., & Ebensperger, L. 2014. Small mammals as indicators of cryptic species diversity in the central Chilean plant endemicity hotspot. Global Ecology and Conservation (GECCO) 2, 277-288;
Root-Bernstein, M., & Ladle, R. 2014. Multilinguismo nas ciências ambientais: Ahora ya! (Multilingualism in environmental sciences: It’s about time!) Ambio. 43(6), 836–837;
Root-Bernstein, M. 2014. Nostalgia, the fleeting and the rare in Chilean relationships to nature and non human animals. Society & Animals 22, 560-579;
Root-Bernstein, M., Root-Bernstein, M., & Root-Bernstein, R. 2014. Tools for thinking applied to nature provide an inclusive pedagogical framework for environmental education. Oryx. 48(4), 584-592.

Awards & patents

2017. National Geographic Society/Waitt Grant awardee.
2016. Selected for associate editor mentorship programme, Journal of Applied Ecology.



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