Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Good news to finish

From today's Guardian:

The number of mountain gorillas living in the Virunga Massif in central Africa has soared by 26.3% since 2003, according to a new census. The increase in numbers from 380 to 480 individuals is thanks to "immense" efforts to reduce poaching and disease, scientists said – but should not be read as a sign that the fight to save the highly endangered species is over.

The mountain gorillas of the Virunga Massif are making a comeback for a variety of reasons, said Robbins. One key driver is the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, which started to engage local communities in projects that would help them to develop economically in 2003. "Many of these communities now keep bees to make honey or make handicrafts for tourists. They don't need to poach."

Monday, December 6, 2010

More Food for Thought

So what's next in conservation? What new ideas will become part of our common lexicon in five, ten or twenty years? asked twelve experts from The Nature Conservancy to weigh in on the future of protecting nature. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Business as usual in Cancun

Members of the Sierra Club in CancĂșn make their feelings clear about countries they say avoid the issue of climate change.

Environment ministers from around the world flew in to Mexico yesterday for the final days of the climate-change talks in Cancun, which threatened to fracture over Chinese-led demands for concessions from the West. As a sign of the work still to be done, only 170 words out of 1,300 on two pages of a key text were undisputed on the "shared vision" of what delegates hoped to accomplish.

Keep up with the official news here, and the reporting via a Google news search.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Biodiversity and human disease

The loss of biodiversity -- from beneficial bacteria to charismatic mammals -- threatens human health. That's the conclusion of a study published this week in the journal Nature by scientists who study biodiversity and infectious diseases.

The animals, plants, and microbes most likely to disappear as biodiversity is lost are often those that buffer infectious disease transmission. Those that remain tend to be species that magnify the transmission of infectious diseases like West Nile virus, Lyme disease, and hantavirus.

but note that:

In contrast, areas of naturally high biodiversity may serve as a source pool for new pathogens.  

News report at ScienceDaily and original paper in Nature: Impacts of biodiversity on the emergence and transmission of infectious diseases

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Santa Barbara MPA's

The Future of Our Ocean Depends on YOU!
Please Attend December 15th Meeting in Santa Barbara to Adopt Marine Protected Areas

With your help, history will be made on December 15th in Santa Barbara, when we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to safeguard Southern California's oceans for future generations by adopting a series of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along our coast. After more than two years and hundreds of hours of stakeholder negotiations, public testimony and agency input, the CA Fish and Game Commission will hold its final public hearing in Santa Barbara to consider and vote on what small sections off the Southern California coast (from Point Conception to the Mexican border) will be established as MPAs. The package of MPAs most likely to be adopted by the Commission, the "Integrated Preferred Alternative" (IPA) proposal, is a compromise between conservation and fishing interests. However, despite the fact that this proposal would set aside only a fraction of the ocean for protection while leaving nearly 85% open to fishing (including the vast majority of popular fishing spots), vocal opponents are still calling for less protection and even attempting to undermine the process entirely. For this reason, it is absolutely critical that we have an overwhelming showing of public support for MPAs at the December 15th hearing. Channelkeeper encourages our community to attend the meeting and voice support for the Commission's adoption of the IPA as the bare minimum level of protection for our invaluable ocean and coast. Please RSVP here to let us know that you plan to attend this historic meeting on behalf of our marine life and so that we can share more meeting details as they become available (e.g. meeting time, etc.)

The Details:
Fish and Game Commission MPA Adoption Hearing
December 15, 2010
Hotel Mar Monte
1111 East Cabrillo Blvd.
Santa Barbara

Please email or call us at 805.563.3377 ext 2 with any questions or for more meeting details.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Notes on the future

Some links to the papers I mentioned in the last class. First up, anyone interested in environmental science should take a look at The Death of Environmentalism. 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.

The three papers on the future of Conservation Biology I mentioned are: