China’s biodiversity conservation policies are an essential component of the global effort to maintain the planet’s ecosystems in the twenty-first century. This is especially true for migratory species conservation. However, there is little research on the mechanisms by which ecologists and wildlife biologists meaningfully impact Chinese land use planning and management policy. Research suggests that the science-policy interface in China differs in important ways from that in the West, meaning that non-Chinese conservation scientists working on global challenges need a China-specific understanding of how their research can best influence policy. This is particularly true of migratory shorebird researchers throughout the East Asian Australasian Flyway (EAAF), who in recent years have increasingly poured their energies into transnational scientific collaborations involving colleagues in China, the most important country along most EAAF shorebirds’ migratory routes. Chinese coastal wetland conservation policy is a central determining factor in the future of several declining shorebird species, which rely on the mudflats of the Yellow Sea to refuel during their migratory journeys between Siberian breeding grounds and Australasian or Southeast Asian wintering grounds. The severity of conservation threats has driven development of transnational scientific collaboration in the form of global collaborative institutions, standardization of protocols, and informal networks of data sharing and co-authorship.
My research seeks to uncover how EAAF shorebird scientists can influence Chinese coastal wetland conservation policy, paying particular attention to the impact of transnational scientific collaborations on policy influence. I will employ process-tracing methods on a single case study, the conservation of Tiaozini wetlands in Jiangsu Province, to test various hypothesized causal mechanisms that may explain how transnational collaboration would improve the policy influence of shorebird science. When analysed in light of other ongoing conservation efforts in China, this case study will shed light upon the factors shaping the interface between ecological science and Chinese conservation policy. This study will yield insight into how the global scientific community can best support their Chinese colleagues in influencing domestic policy that will advance ecological conservation worldwide.