Monday, November 30, 2009

The Death of Environmentalism

I'll mention this essay, The Death of Environmentalism, a couple of times tomorrow. Although it is primarily directed at the global warming crowd there are a lot of lessons here that apply to conservation biology. Even if you don't agree with what they say I think you'll find it quite thought provoking.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Conservation monitoring seminar in Bren

Friday, Dec. 4, 2009
1:30 - 2:30 p.m.
Bren Hall 1424

"Optimal Monitoring for Conservation"

Hosted by Bruce Kendall


Conservation science is booming, but how rigorously are we making our decisions? In this talk, I will discuss how my research group has been using decision-theory tools to pose and solve a variety of real-world conservation problems. More specifically, this talk will focus on our work on optimal monitoring. Forget everything you learned about statistics and monitoring for pure ecology, and think about questions such as: How much data we need to make decisions? Is monitoring sometimes too expensive? Do null hypotheses have any place in applied ecology? I conclude that applied monitoring is first and foremost an optimization problem.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Easement Incentives

With a title like 'Easement Incentive Cosponsors in the 111th Congress' I think I'm going to have to tag this 'boring but important'. There's lots of information at the Land Trust Alliance:

The enhanced tax deduction for conservation easement donations has helped America’s land trusts work with farmers, ranchers and other modest-income landowners to increase the pace of land conservation by at least 250,000 acres a year! But unless Congress acts, this important conservation tool will expire at the end of 2009!

Fortunately, majorities of both Democrats and Republicans in the House have co-sponsored legislation to make the easement incentive permanent!
An amazing 261 Representatives from all 50 states -- including majorities of both parties -- have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 1831! Senate legislation, S. 812, now has 38 co-sponsors.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Into the future

Just because we aren't invited to the party doesn't mean that we can ignore what goes on there.

The Convention on Biodiversity has a pretty nice and, I think, fairly easy to navigate website with a whole lot of information.

You can find out just what goes on at those parties....

You can check out progress towards the 2010 Biodiversity target.

You can see plans for the 10th Convention of the parties to be held in Japan in 2010.

2010 will also be the International Year of Biodiversity and there are some details about that.

And much, much more.

(Oh, and they still have the wonderful theme song from Bonn archived. All together now.....).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reef Check California Job Posting

Job announcement: Southern California Volunteer Coordinator for
Reef Check California Program

Review of applicants will commence on November 30, 2009.

Applicants should submit a CV and cover letter via email to

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shagged by a rare parrot

You wouldn't believe the number of people that sent me a link to this clip when it appeared on YouTube. Or maybe you would...

For more Kakapo fun, including more inappropriate mating attempts, check out this video of a video at the Te Papa museum in Wellington, NZ.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Biodiversity and climate change

Boundary between the Mfungabusi Forest, Zimbabwe, and surrounding farmland highlights the contrast between protected and nonprotected landscapes.

In last week's Science there was an interesting 'Perspectives' article on Biodiversity and Climate Change.

Kathy Willis and Dr Shonil of Oxford University suggest that predictions made over the last decade about the impacts of climate change on biodiversity may be exaggerated.

They suggest that ‘we should expect to see species turnover, migrations, and novel communities, but not necessarily the levels of extinction previously predicted’.

I think their final paragraph, and final sentence, is particularly thought provoking.:
The results also highlight a serious issue for future conservationists: the urgent need to develop a research agenda for regions outside of protected reserves in human-modified landscapes. Although every measure should be put in place to reduce further fragmentation of reserves, we must determine what represents a "good" intervening matrix in these human-modified landscapes. Furthermore, with the combination of climate change and habitat destruction, novel ecosystems are going to become increasingly common. Their conservation will require a whole new definition of what is "natural".

Friday, November 13, 2009

Conservation and Restoration Ecology Seminar Series.

This Monday Nov. 16th (6-7pm) seminar series will feature a double-header on
Eel Grass Research and Restoration
Carol Blanchette and Jessie Alstatt

Seminars are in Rm 1013, Harder South.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Endangered species

The Fish and Wildlife service keep a nicely organized webpage on endangered species that makes it easy to pull out virtually any statistic you might want. Although they don't have a listing by administration they do have a listing by year and 2009 has seen the addition of one animal, the Reticulated flatwoods salamander (due to taxonomy change - one species was divided into two and so a new listing is required), and two plants the Slick Spot Peppergrass and Phyllostegia hispida - a member of the mint family with no common name.

Good news today as one more species was removed from the endangered species list - the Brown Pelican was removed - and for genuine recovery reasons too!

And a correction. Just because I just heard about it doesn't mean this news was quite as minty fresh as I thought. The announcement by the Obama administration that it will take steps to confront the candidate species backlog actually dates back to September this year.

The law says Interior must issue a "finding" -- a decision on whether a species deserves a listing -- 12 months from its receipt of a listing petition. But petitions are going unanswered for an average of 11 years, the center says, and often are not addressed until forced by a judicial order.

The Obama administration says it is going to change how candidate species are handled. The Fish and Wildlife Service, the Interior agency responsible for the management of endangered species, is working on an accelerated listing process, said Doug Krofta, the service's listing chief. With new techniques and more funding, Krofta said, the service can trim the candidate list by 25 percent by the end of 2010.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Forty-eight parrots

Michael Gilpin wrote an interesting essay for Conservation Biology about parrots, spotted-owls, fruit fly bristles and the origins of population viability analysis. It's only a couple of pages and is full of interesting details.
Forty-eight parrots and the origins of population viability analysis

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Although the Freakonomics books are probably rightly criticized for some oversimplifications, I find the blog to be absolutely fascinating. I'd call it my favorite way to waste time on the internet except that I'm not sure it is a waste of time, I always learn a bunch of stuff I didn't know, and didn't know that I didn't know.

Justin Wolfers, one of the regular contributors, has a 6 part series on the economics of happiness which reanalyzes the traditional story.
Great stuff - and although it might not seem relevant to conservation biology it is very much central to the biggest picture

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Marine Ecosystem-Based Management Consensus Statement

Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS) provided a great definition of ecosystem-based management in their Consensus Statement.

"On March 21st, 2005, COMPASS released a Scientific Consensus Statement on Marine Ecosystem-Based Management. This document, signed by more than 220 scientists and policy experts from academic institutions across the U.S., highlights current scientific understanding of marine ecosystems, explains how this knowledge shapes the call for a new management approach, and provides a definition for what the scientific community envisions when it recommends "ecosystem-based management" for the oceans."

National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

This center is a part of your university! Check out their website. Here is their mission statement.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ecosystem management in Madagascar during global change

An interesting article on Madagascar's efforts to prioritize areas to manage in the face of climate change and deforestation.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More food for thought (and a picture of a sloth)

Two species of three-toed sloth — 15 million years of evolution.

A great News Feature in the journal Nature in 2007 about Conservation Priorities: What to let go summarizes some of the key work in this field of research.

It expands the idea of Conservation priorities into two areas we have not discussed yet - taking account of taxonomic distinctiveness (hence the sloth) and cost

“You could make an analogy with art,” says Isaac. “You are in a spaceship leaving Earth with three paintings. Do you take three Rembrandts, or do you take one Rembrandt, one Leonardo and one Picasso?”

Monday, November 2, 2009

Snowy Plover docents wanted

Calling all community members:
Can you spare 2 hours per week? We need your help! Train to become a Snowy Plover Docent and help us protect this threatened species at Sands Beach, Coal Oil Point.

The next training will be offered Sat., November 7th, 2009,
9AM, at the Cliff House. During the training, we provide a DVD featuring the collaborative researcher projects at Coal Oil Point, a presentation about plover ecology and natural history, instruction about the docent role, AND a brief tour of the plover site. Biking and driving directions are below with instructions.

If you have any questions, please call
(805) 893-3703 or email:

Jennifer Stroh
Snowy Plover Docent Program Coordinator

Only 1 in 3

Only 57% of Americans believe there is solid scientific evidence that the Earth's atmosphere is warming, said a recent poll of 1,500 people by the Pew Research Centre for the People & the Press.

That is a fall of 77% from 2007. The number of people who believe that human activity is causing global warming also fell to just 36%.

Just to put that in perspective about a third of Americans believe in ghosts (34 percent) and UFOs (34 percent), and about a quarter believe in astrology (29 percent), reincarnation (25 percent) and witches (24 percent). ie between a quarter and a third of Americans will believe in any old crazy crap.

James Hoggan, a PR executive and author of Climate Cover-Up, blamed an intense lobbying campaign against global warming legislation now before the Senate. "I would say a big part of this problem is this campaign to mislead Americans about climate science," he said. "This is a very sophisticated group of people who know how to create doubt and confusion and they have done a very good job of it."