Monthly Archives: January 2007

What is your ecological footprint?

This coming week (on Monday, Jan 29) we will discuss ecological footprints in class, and read a small sample from a burgeoning literature in the field. Four papers are up on Blackboard for you to download.

Here are the citations for the two main papers for discussion:

  1. M. Wackernagel, and 10 co-authors. 2002. Tracking the ecological overshoot of the human economy. PNAS 99:9266-9271.
  2. M. Luck, and 3 co-authors. 2001. The urban funnel model and the spatially heterogeneous ecological footprint. Ecosystems 4:782-796

I have also posted a couple of additional papers, for further reading – but note that if you search for the phrase “ecological footprint” on Google Scholar, you will get a few thousand hits! And if you find something more interesting than these papers, or a different take on the concept, do share!

While these papers illustrate the use and application of the concept to regional and national scales, you can go figure your own individual ecological footprint at the Earth Day Footprint Quiz. I would like you all to do that, and share what you think of this particular tool. Play around with it – change some of your responses, or your location, and see what happens to your footprint? Does it change? How? Why?

Then go explore the website of Redefining Progress, the organization behind the ecofootprint quiz. The thing that caught my eye, and is on my list of things to read this week is their new report: The Ecological Fishprint!

On the other hand, the reconciliation ecology perspective, as articulated by Dr. Michael Rosenzweig (quoting a Chinese maxim) says, “The careful foot can walk anywhere“!

Farmers and conservationists in a rare alliance

Here’s another interesting reconciliation story that was in the NYT over the winter break:

Farmers and Conservationists Form a Rare Alliance

Correction Appended

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — The standoff here between farmers and environmentalists was familiar in the modern West.

With salmon and wildlife dwindling in the Skagit River Delta, some environmentalists had argued since the 1980s that local farms should be turned back into wetlands. Farmers here feared that preachy outsiders would strip them of their land and heritage.

This year, though, the standoff ended — at least for three longtime farmers in this fertile valley, who began collaborating with their former enemies to preserve wildlife and their livelihoods.

The Nature Conservancy, which usually buys land to shield it from development, is renting land from the three farmers on behalf of migrating Western sandpipers, black-bellied plovers, dunlins, marbled godwits and other shorebirds.

Go read the whole article, and come back here / to class to talk about it. One caveat is that the NYT requires registration to view many of these articles, so you’ll have to register, or try to access it through the Madden library.

Assisted migration – a conservation strategy?

If, like me, you too are in the habit of picking up a free copy of the New York Times which we get every day on campus here at Fresno State (and if you are not in the habit – what is the matter with you?), perhaps you also look forward to the Tuesday edition which contains the special section Science Times. You might have noticed that today’s edition had a great front page story extremely relevant to reconciliation ecology and the first discussion we had of the topic yesterday: how to address the challenge of climate change driving geographical shifts in ecological zones and species ranges? And in this particular case (the example in the article is the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly from our own region) the article addresses the challenge of preserving complex processes such as seasonal migration.

The article (well written, as always, by the excellent Carl Zimmer, who also blogs The Loom on Science Blogs) raises many interesting issues and also points to several recent papers in the literature which promise to be good fodder for discussion in our class in the coming weeks. I will try and make the papers available on Blackboard soon, but meanwhile, do go read this article and post your thoughts on the issues here in the comments. Or, if you really have a strong opinion, post it in a separate posting!

For additional discussion on this topic, you might also check out the Ecolog-L listserv, where someone just started a thread on this NYT article. I subscribe to the list, and encourage you to join it as well – but you can also follow this particular discussion thread via the list archive if you don’t want to subscribe to the list.

Welcome, Spring ’07 Class

Welcome to the class blog for Reconciliation Ecology (BIOL 260T), a graduate seminar course exploring what we know about evolutionary ecology in human dominated landscapes.

This blog is an experiment in enhancing student participation and learning, and is meant to function as a class group blog, where postings will be made by me (the instructor) and all the students currently enrolled in the course. It is also currently closed to the outside world, but that may change depending upon how the students feel about it.

To get things started, I will soon post general class information: the syllabus, reading lists, and logistical information. So look around, make yourself at home, and as a student, start learning how this blogging thing works! I will tell you more about what I expect you to do here as authors yourselves.