Monthly Archives: March 2007

Poster Abstract

UPDATE (from Madhu, 03/14/07): Karl has revised the abstract, and you can see his new edit below the fold. And you know where to get the version open for collaborative editing, right?

While thanking Karl for the revision (which he had posted as a separate blog post, but I have incorporated it within this one), let me also offer some suggestions for making the collaboration more efficient, and keeping things better organized. First, let’s limit the collaborative editing and revising to that document, and not create a new blog post every time it is revised. If you want to carry on an online discussion, let’s use the comments thread for this post for that purpose. For example, if you make substantial changes to the abstract/paper, and want to let everyone know, you could leave a short comment to that effect here. Unless you want me to start a google group for this class as well. But I don’t think it is necessary, and keeping discussion for this class limited to the blog will help minimize potential confusion with the other class paper some of us are working on this semester. Does that sound good?

Karl’s original post (03/11/07): I have started the abstract. Please provide comments and recommendations. We also need to present some preliminary results and a conclusion. Also if anyone knows how to post a word document on the Blog then we can all start writing it online.

Reconciliation Ecology. Changing Landscapes and Sustainability: Fresno’s (city & county?) ecological footprint and the affects of urbanization. Department of Biology, California State University, Fresno, USA.

Urbanization is currently a common trend seen in California, which transforms natural landscapes and can significantly affect biodiversity and ecosystem services. Located in the heart of California, Fresno County stretches from the Sierra Nevada to the Costal Range and contains the sixth largest city in California and some of the most fertile agricultural lands in the world. The growth rate in Fresno County is currently 1.9% and it is estimated that the county’s population will increase by 479,407 people (58%) from a population of 821,797 in 2000 to a population of 1,301,204 by 2025. To meet the demands of an increasing population the Fresno County General Plan allows for new development on 37,737 acres of land which will result in a loss of 2.9% of agricultural lands. Here we examine Fresno’s ecological footprint and the ecological impact of urbanization. The ecological footprint is a measure of how much biologically productive land and water an individual, a city, a county or a region uses to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb the waste it generates, using prevailing technology and resource management.

Revised text from Karl, on 03/14/07:

Provided below is a new draft of our abstract. I removed the section that describes an Ecological footprint and I think that we should end the abstract describing our investigation and include preliminary results. What do you think?

Urbanization is currently a common trend seen in California, which transforms natural landscapes significantly affecting biodiversity and ecosystem services. This trend has been well documented and analyzed in large metropolitan areas such as the San Francisco Bay region and Phoenix, Arizona. However, in the Central Valley of California, areas such as Fresno County only brief amount of information are known about the ecological effects of urbanization. Fresno County is located in the heart of California, stretching from the Sierra Nevada to the Coastal Range. It contains the sixth largest city in California and some of the most fertile agricultural lands in the world. The growth rate in Fresno County is currently an annual 1.9% and it is estimated that the county’s population will increase 58% from a population of 821,797 in 2000 to a population of 1,301,204 by 2025. Such an increase would certainly place more stress on the environment. To meet the demands of an increasing population the Fresno County Office of General Planning allows for new development to occur on 37,737 acres of land, which will result in a loss of approximately 2.9% of agricultural land. This set projection raises the question: What will be the effect(s) of losing agricultural land? In this investigation we examine Fresno County’s ecological footprint and the impact of urbanization upon agricultural land.

Friday Hooters

If there is any single common cultural thread that is widespread across the increasingly diverse blogosphere, it is that many blogs feature some sort of photographic feature on fridays – usually something with a critter theme, and most commonly the critters are cats. Well, not to be left out here at this blog, let me introduce our first such friday photo feature, the 2007 Hooters calendar! Look below the fold for the image.


Spreadsheet for Ecological Footprint

Spreadsheet for Ecological Footprint (EF) is has been created, read below for more.

I just made a spreadsheet that lists the topics and the people who are researching each one. The sheet also contains additional columns for websites to be pasted into, so if anyone wants to look at the resource that other people are using it is possible to get an idea.

The title of the spreadsheet is Topics for EF Fresno, it should be accessible via this link. If this doesn’t work I’ll try to post the adjustments or some other link but the title is still “Topics for EF Fresno.” I did try this link in a preview and it seemed to work, but inform me if it doesn’t work.


The Dynamics of Social Extinction (and other things to ponder for fun on a weekend…)

While catching up with some blog reading as I sit here nursing my cold/sore throat this Saturday morning, I found a variety of interesting articles, some highly relevant to our conversations here in Reconciliation Ecology – so let me share a couple of these with you.

First, via The Tangled Bank, the latest edition of which is @ Neurotopia, I’d like you to read this thought-provoking piece on The Dynamics of Social Extinction. Its a nice summary of a symposium talk at the recent AAAS meeting (held not too far from us in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago) by one of my postdoc mentors, Dr. Charles Redman, director of the Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU. I would like us to dwell upon some provocative questions raised in this article (both by the author and by Dr. Redman) about sustainability and resilience of societies. You’ve heard me bring up the idea of resilience in class several times, and Dr. Redman is part of the Resilience Alliance, which promotes interdisciplinary thinking and research in this important area. I hope we will sink our teeth into the topic some more over the coming weeks, and you may consider it as part of the background perspectives for our collective class project.

Next (also via Tangled Bank), if you want a depressing story (and who doesn’t love a depressing story on a sunny California Saturday, right?), check out this follow-up to what was apparently an Earth-Day inspired attempt to recycle tires (yes, them rubber circles covering the limbs of your vehicles) into coral reefs (yep, the very same biodiverse habitat of poor lost Nemo!). I had never heard of this spectacular eco-engineering effort before, and it makes me wonder – how many ways can we come up with to foul up this planet, even when we try to save it?!

Finally, since the subject of religion seems to keep coming up in some of our class discussions, and you may actually read this on a Sunday, I should share this from the always soft-spoken Pharyngula!

Happy reading…

[P.S.: In case you haven’t looked on Blackboard yet, I uploaded a paper for Monday’s class, and some other reading material)

Parks, people, and conservation – how do we know if parks work?

Dr. Stoner started the class of with a great presentation on conservation and park management in Africa. She provided a background on global biodiversity. There is a definite link between the growth of the human population and the decline in species. This is probably due to the fact that humans have encroached on more and more land, decreasing the amount of land for wildlife to survive on. Furthermore, people have degraded the few habitats that are left.

It is clear that species need to be conserved. But why and how should we do this? Dr. Stoner discussed two reasons that are on the opposite ends of the spectrum of why people should conserve species diversity. The first is that species have intrinsic value, meaning, they have the right to exist. Granted, this reason may not persuade the majority of people to conserve species. However, if those species served some kind of useful purpose, humans might be more inclined to want to save them. This is the second reason people might want to conserve biodiversity.

This brings up the issue of how we should go about conserving biodiversity. One way is to protect large areas of land. The “Yellowstone Model” was brought up in the presentation as an example of how parks were first protected. In its early years, Yellowstone was protected vigorously and people were kept out or the park. Even American Indian tribes that were known to inhabit the park were relocated.
In Africa, this type of enforcement has been hard to keep which has lead to so called “paper parks.” These are areas of land that are supposed to be protected but actually have little enforcement. Another problem in Africa is that large areas that are protected are not always very high in biodiversity. Also, only small areas of land that are high in biodiversity are protected. This is probably because these areas are also high in human populations. Dr. Stoner discussed that since there are new approaches to conservation that involve the support of the local people and give biodiversity an economic value.

Data to determine whether any approaches to conservation are working is hard to come by. There have been studies to show that protected areas experience fewer declines than non-protected areas. However, protected areas still experience decline.
The question was asked in class as to whether we really needed data to protect these parks. It seems like the data are necessary to show that protected areas are improving the status of biodiversity. Also, funding sources might be more likely to fund conservation if it could be shown that their money is not going to be wasted on something that is not going to solve the problem. Something needs to be done about the lack of monitoring in protected areas. One reason protected marine areas are doing well may be because they are constantly being monitored (for fisheries). A possible solution for land based parks may be to have tourists and rangers record what they see. This would provide more data for protected parks even if it were not perfectly accurate.

Another big topic discussed was how to change the behaviors of the people that live around protected areas. What is needed to change attitudes and behaviors? Is it community outreach, incentives, ownership of the land? I think there is really no way to tell this because programs are started and when it seems like it might not be doing well all the funding pulls out. We will not be able to tell if a method works if it is not allowed to be evaluated over a long period of time.

There were many other topics touched on in class, such as religion, economics and politics. It seems that these topics are always going to tie into what we discuss in class. However, I found the discussion on religion to be interesting. On one hand, should we discuss conservation with religious people in a bible friendly way so that they might be more inclined to preserve the environment while still respecting their beliefs? Or, is that approach dishonest because it leaves out major scientific contributions like evolution and manipulates people to get a desired effect? What do you think?

Monday’s (03/05/07) Project Discussion

Here are some of the work we need to do for Monday’s project discussion.

I think that our project and discussion needs some anchoring and direction. As a means of trying to accomplish this task, I will submit a few papers to Dr. Katti, which he may post on Blackboard. The papers describe the calculation methods and what they represent in each scenario (city vs country). Hopefully, you will all read these and from that point we can figure out the factors what we will be using in our project.

For Monday’s project discussion we need to fully (or in large part) figure out as a group, the factors for calculating the ecological footprint of our area. This brings me to my next point, we need to settle on the area whose footprint we are calculating. As I have come to understand, we were going to calculate the footprint of the Fresno’s metropolitan area, including Clovis. In addition, we can also calculate the footprint of CSU Fresno to see if its growth correlates to the grow of the city. The other option to juice up our paper is to figure out the footprint of agriculture in the out laying area. We can than compare this footprint to the metropolitan footprint to see how changing from one type of land use, ag to urbanization compares.

So once again, Monday’s project discussion should focus on listing the factor we need and the possible sources from which we can obtain them.

Ecogeeks on Biodiversity

I just found a hip/cool video about biodiversity via Evolving Thoughts over on Scienceblogs.

The original website accompanying the video has a fair amount of textual stuff as well on What is Biodiversity?. For more educational (edutaining?) material along similar lines, check out the Ecogeeks website where you will find their podcast of other similar videos, from something called The Wild Classroom!