Habitat destruction and species extinction are occuring at unprecedented rates. Some scholars estimate that as many as 1,000 species are driven to extinction each year. This catastrophe is due to human population growth and inefficient use and management of our natural resources. Some argue that extinctions have always occurred (remember the dinosaurs) and are nothing to worry about. While it is true that millions of species extinctions have occurred over the past billions of years, they never occurred as quickly as they are now. Also, just because extinctions sometimes occur “naturally” doesn’t mean they are a good thing. There are lots of reasons to protect the biodiversity of our planet.
Why do I care about protecting biodiversity?
First, I’m a biologist…it is my profession to study causes and functions of species diversity. The loss of species directly threatens my livelihood. Second, I love natural habitats. The diversity of nature enriches our lives and inspires our thoughts. Third, natural systems feed, clothe and protect us. Photosynthetic organisms remove carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen, forests hold and filter water for us to drink, and most of our medicines were originally discovered in plants, animals and fungi.
What can YOU do to save the world’s biodiversity?
Act Locally! Think Globally!
There are some easy everyday activities that you can do to protect your local and global environment: CONSERVATION TIPS
You can also help groups that are trying to rescue our planet’s biodiversity by volunteering for them, getting involved in their legislative efforts, and/or donating much needed financial assistance. Here are links to the websites of organizations that have demonstrated their ability to do effective conservation on local and global scales.
What am I doing to conserve the world’s biodiversity?
In addition to my activism as a private citizen concerned about habitat destruction, I have a professional commitment to conservation.
This professional activism involves two approaches. Promoting Animal Behavior as a Valuable Tool for Conservation Biology
The discipline of animal behavior has been neglected in the multidisciplinary field of conservation biology. There are a number of historical reasons and common misconceptions that explain why this is so. I have engaged in three activities to convince conservationists of the value of having an animal behaviorist on their conservation team, and to encourage animal behaviorists to apply their work to conservation problems. (see curriculum vitae for complete listing)
Organizing and/or Participating in Conservation and Behavior Symposia 1988 Second International Cracid Symposium, Caracas Venezuela
1995 Conservation and Behavior in the Wild, ABS meeting, Lincoln Nebraska
1997 Conservation and Behavior in Zoos, ABS meeting, College Park, Maryland
Editing and/or Writing Published Works on Conservation and Behavior My major published contribution to the role of behavioral study in conservation is a multiauthor volume entitled Behavioral Approaches to Conservation in the Wild. Published in 1997 by Cambridge University Press, and coedited by Janine R. Clemmons and Richard Buchholz.
Chairing the Animal Behavior Society‘s Conservation Committee The Animal Behavior Society (ABS) recognizes the importance of conserving biodiversity for our profession. They have authorized the Conservation Committee to construct a web page (coming soon!) that provides information for those interested in the role of behavior in conservation work. We have also been asked to identify and invite special conservation plenary speakers for the ABS meetings in 2000 and 2001. The committee is pleased to announce that Dr. Dee Boersma (past president of the Society for Conservation Biology) will speak on the role of behavior in conservation at the 2000 meetings at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. There will also be an open paper session on conservation for anyone that might want to speak on the subject. See the ABS website for more details about the meeting. Conservation Research and Training
My research experience in conservation dates back to when I was in high school and assisted a Bronx Zoo study of the nutritional requirements of hand-raised birds. Since that time I’ve worked on the conservation of cracids (curassows, guans and chachalacas) in captivity and in their natural habitats in South America, cooperated with state wildlife managers to understand the impact of rodents on the restoration of bottomland hardwood forests in Louisiana, helped a graduate student translocate nestlings of the endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, studied the effect of inbreeding on climbing and foraging in White-Footed Mice, and the effect of harvesting introduced guava trees on native plants in Hawaiian forests.
In the future I hope to work with students interested in reintroducing endangered species to the wild, understanding the effects of habitat fragmentation on behavior, detecting behavioral characteristics of extinction prone species, investigating the role of disease in conservation, and exploring the role of seed dispersal and predation on forest diversity and restoration.