Category Archives: biodiversity

Presenting the first fruit of a sabbatical – “Cities and Biodiversity Outlook: Action and Policy”

As regular readers (and friends/followers on Facebook and Twitter) may be aware, I am currently on sabbatical from my teaching responsibilities, and am trying to make the most of this year to maximize my productivity in terms of research, catching up with paper writing, and science communication, here on the blog and elsewhere. The blogging has been rather light over the past few months as I have been traveling and getting involved in some fascinating collaborations which haven’t left me much time to write. I hope to make up for that over the coming weeks and months, especially now that I’ve moved my blog to be part of this Coyotes Network. Nice to be part of so many exciting and invigorating collaborations on all fronts! I was so ready for it after 8 years of the teaching and scholarship grind…

My sabbatical started with a lovely two months in Stockholm, working with my friend and colleague Thomas Elmqvist to put together the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook (CBO) for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). A Professor of Ecology at the Stockholm Resilience Center, at Stockholm University, Thomas is also the chief scientific editor of this effort bringing together some 150 scientists and practitioners from the urban ecology disciplines (yes takes multiple disciplines to study the ecology of cities) to make the first comprehensive assessment of the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services in cities throughout our increasingly urbanized world. Here is Thomas explaining the mission and context of the CBO:

[vimeo 42603843]

It was quite an inspirational and productive way to begin my sabbatical – to go to a city that was so different in so many ways from Fresno, to explore a new country, to meet some fantastic new colleagues and friends from distant lands, and to engage in such a stimulating exercise as assessing the world’s urban ecosystems to help identify ways to better manage them for long-term sustainability. I may write more about these experiences and share photos from the trip as time allows.

By the end of my nearly two months there, we had finalized the text of the CBO’s first major document: the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook: Action and Policy. This is our distillation of the current scientific understanding of urban ecosystems and biodiversity, and various ways cities can and are addressing the challenge of managing cities for sustainability. We synthesized insights and case-studies from the collective expertise of our 150-odd collaborators to produce a document that is intended to help ordinary citizens and urban planners, policy makers, and non-government practitioners grapple with the challenges and opportunities of global urbanization. As such, it is a relatively concise, well illustrated document written for non-expert readers – something for which my blogging had prepared me rather well, I realized. A more detailed Scientific Assessment, comprising of chapters covering different aspects of the urban ecological challenges, and detailed case-studies, written by the world’s leading experts in urban ecology, is currently being compiled and will be released sometime in spring 2013, as a print and an open-access e-book. Stay tuned for announcements about that.

Meanwhile, after spending a couple of weeks in Germany attending conferences, giving research talks, and catching up with some old friends, I wound up in India preparing for the official launch of the CBO at the 11th Conference of Parties (COP 11) of the CBD. The first public presentation of the CBO was a keynote talk by Thomas at the 2012 Urban Biodiversity and Design Conference in Mumbai on 10 October 2012. Then we moved to Hyderabad where the CBO was formally launched at last on 15 October 2012, at the Cities for Life Summit organized as part of COP 11. Here is Thomas (in the middle with the CBD Executive Secretary Mr. Braulio F. de Souza Dias on his left) showing it to the media at the launch press conference:

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That was when I finally got to see our work in print – quite nice colorful print too – and was pleasantly surprised to find myself listed among the 10 lead authors of the CBO! I honestly hadn’t really paid attention to the authorship of this report because it had been such a rich community exercise. In addition, since COP 11 was in India, and a large contingent of government officials, biodiversity scientists, and NGOs from all over India were in attendance that day, we simultaneously released another document: Urbanization, ecosystems, and biodiversity: Assessments of India and Bangalore. A smaller group of us (primarily Harini Nagendra, Maria Schewenius, and I) wrote this during a frenzied few weeks – and through an insane flurry of emails – after the CBO: Action & Policy had gone to the printers. Our initial print run of a 1000 copies of both the documents was exhausted within the hour, with journalists at the press conference fighting for the last copies of the India Assessment! I don’t think any of us were quite prepared for such an enthusiastic reception – but it has certainly reenergized the team working on the Scientific Assessment to complete the overall CBO mission.

A few hours ago, I had the opportunity to present an overview of the CBO at the December 2012 meeting of the Central Valley Café Scientifique in Fresno, to a very interested local audience of science enthusiasts and concerned citizens. Here are the slides from my presentation (adapted from Thomas’ keynote talk in Mumbai):

[slideshare id=15479286&doc=cbo-valleycafesci-dec2012-121204021824-phpapp02]

I was once again surprised, and gratified, by the keen interest and sharp questions and comments from the audience in the vigorous discussion that followed. But I really shouldn’t be surprised – after all, we are all city dwellers, so who among us wouldn’t be interested in learning about the state of our own home ecosystem? I hope the key messages (the CBO has 10 of them) we worked so hard to craft over the summer in the Stockholm archipelago, will percolate and spread beyond last night’s immediate audience and start to reach those involved in the governance of Fresno and Clovis (and other cities). I am now hoping to meet the mayors of both cities so I can present them with copies of the CBO: Action and Policy.

We urban ecologists have done our best to put together this report – now we must ensure that our messages translate into real world action in cities worldwide if we are to contain some of the alarming trends of urbanization’s impacts, and create better habitats for ourselves and for other species on an urban planet. Let me leave you with that thought, and with some links for further reading and action:

On the economics and growing pains of farming and consuming organic foods

I had the radio on while on a prolonged cleaning mission at home yesterday afternoon (having run out of the usual podcasts I listen to under such circs). I had what seems like a small moment of cognitive disssonance when, while jumping back from, and then stomping out a nest of Black Widow spiders hiding behind a trashcan in a dark corner of the laundry room, I caught fragments of a conversation on the radio about earth- and biodiversity-friendly organic farming practices.

The show was a world of possibilities, something I hadn’t heard before on our local NPR station. The fragments of conversation I caught were interesting enough that I had to go look for the whole hour online. And it turned out to be an hour well-spent, as I think you may agree too. Its about the growing pains of organic farming, especially in the current economic recession.

The second half of the program is particularly interesting when two organic dairy farmer from Northern California are interviewed. Fascinating if (like us) you try to consume organic foods as much as possible (or as much as the wallet permits), and even more so if you dabble in organic farming. We’ve been enjoying quite a harvest of veggies from our own, and several neighbors’ urban backyard farms – which has definitely eased the pressure on our furloughed bank balance this summer.

The dairy farmers raise one important question in response to complaints about how expensive organic produce is: why do consumers never complain about the ridiculously high prices of the latest iPhone/Droid/Wii or other gadgets they line up to purchase on the first day, but don’t want to pay a buck or two extra for food they actually put in their bodies? In a country where conventional industrial farming has been subsidised heavily to keep supermarket prices low low low, it has become rather hard for us to imagine – and pay for – the real costs of farming organically. The same advertising driven marketplace that plies us with cheap unhealthy foods also mesmerizes us with the shiny tech baubles to the point where our family budgets have become strangely skewed, with food eaten at home – which should be the very core of our lives – taking up a mere 7% of our paychecks on average, which is less than half what we pay to drive around our farflung suburbs! Take a look at this graphic of where the average US household paycheck is spent:

Where does the money go?
Click on the image (or here) for a larger version, courtesy of Visual Economics 

The other interesting question to ponder (and hope about) is whether the recession is changing people’s priorities in ways that might actually lead to healthier eating! I raised a related question in my reconciliation ecology class when I last taught it two years ago, thus: will the recession encourage more people to start growing their own vegetables in their gardens? I think, tentatively, that we have the answer now in the growing urban farming movement around the US, with more and more people like us growing our own veggies, and more often organically than not. I think the scale problem of organic farming – that it doesn’t scale up very well when you think of the mass market – actually works in our favor here, because we are scaling down to small yards where it is easier, and cheaper, to grow a healthy crop organically.

The recession may also give us some pause before plonking down the credit card for the latest non-food consumer items or gadgets. Although mainstream economists do not like that because they tell us we have to keep buying stuff in order to keep the economy running and growing again! And the sales figures of the new iPhone 4 (for example) don’t suggest that such discretionary consumer spending is down all that much even now. But, if you do cut down on this part of your budget, is it likely that some of the savings may actually go towards healthier organic foods? After all, healthier eating should also lead to lower healthcare costs in the longer run. Is there any evidence that people are changing their spending patterns, especially on food, in this more rational direction? Or are our brains too irrational and too severely manipulated by advertising and farm subsidies to be swayed away from all the shiny and “cheap” unhealthy highly processed/industrial edible food-like substances (to borrow Michael Pollan’s phrase) filling the supermarket aisles and food courts of America?

I’ll stop rambling now and let you listen to the conversation on the show. Let me know what your thoughts are too.

Organic agriculture has grown up.  A once-marginal movement of plucky and slightly eccentric home gardeners has bloomed into mega-farms that ship around the world selling at premium prices.  In this program we’ll examine both ends of the organic industry food chain — a mid-size organic farming family and the world’s largest organic food retailer.  We’ll see what growing mainstream has done for – and to — organic farmers, and what remains to be done to give farmers and consumers the sustainable food system we urgently need.
This program is funded by listeners like you.

Blake and Stephanie Alexandre, Alexandre  Family Dairies
Walter Robb,  Co-CEO,Whole Foods
Host: Mark Sommer
Senior Producer: Gregg McVicar
Associate Producers: Naihma Deady, Matt Fidler
Production Engineer: Michael Schwartz
Music in this program: “The Sinking Ship” – Jerry Douglas – Sugarhill Records; “A United Earth I” – Alan Stivell and Youssou N’Dour – Putumayo World Music; “The Bounty Of The County” – David Gans – Perfectible Recordings; “Commodity Cheese Blues” – Wade Fernandez – SBW; “One More Cowboy” – Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks – Surfdog Records.
Duration: 55 Minutes
Original airdate: 
Tue, 2010-08-10

How the wealth of your neighborhood and the water in your yard affect bird diversity

I wrote the following essay summarizing some early conclusions from the Fresno Bird Count for the April issue of the Yellowbill, the newsletter of Fresno Audubon. My student Brad Schleder presented some of these results as part of his masters thesis exit seminar earlier this week, and we also had a poster at the College of Science & Mathematics research poster symposium earlier today. So I thought I should also share this essay with you here:

The American West faces a water crisis. Drought, urban growth, climate change and the continued demands of agriculture have combined to heighten the competition among water users. In California’s San Joaquin Valley, court-ordered water diversions under the Endangered Species Act have radically decreased water deliveries to many Valley farmers. A recent settlement providing for the restoration of the San Joaquin River and ongoing drought (in a region subject to repeated cycles of drought) have only exacerbated public debate about water and spurred the search for ways to conserve it. Valley farmers are experimenting with dry land farming methods, while valley cities are seeking ways to reduce urban water use. In the Fresno-Clovis Metropolitan Area, the City of Clovis already meters water use (but has relatively low water rates) and the City of Fresno will start metering water in 2013. How does our use of water (amount and method of use) affect other species such as birds that also occupy our urban landscapes? What can we do to improve the environment for ourselves and for sustaining biodiversity in the long run?

The Fresno Bird Count (FBC, was established by my laboratory at Fresno State in spring 2008 to begin long-term monitoring of bird species in the Fresno-Clovis metro area in part to address such questions about human actions and their effects on biodiversity. The FBC was modeled after the Tucson Bird Count which is now in its 10th year, as a citizen science project where volunteer birders from the community collaborate to gather data on bird distribution and abundance using statistically rigorous sampling and standardized census methodologies. As in Tucson, our volunteers count all the birds they can detect while standing at pre-determined fixed locations for 5 minutes each (i.e., a 5-min point count; see the FBC website for details of the protocol). Each point is a randomly selected location within a 1 km X 1 km square cell that is part of a 460 square kilometer (approx. 178 square miles) grid covering most of Fresno-Clovis and some outlying areas. In the first two years of the FBC, we have managed to survey about 180-200 of these points, and are seeking more volunteers to expand our coverage, because the more finely we can cover the highly variable urban landscape, the better our understanding of just what constitutes habitat for birds in the city and how various bird species use the spaces and resources we leave for them.

The FBC started with two broad goals: to keep track of how many birds of which species occur in the area and how their numbers change under ongoing urban growth; and, to provide basic bird data for more detailed studies focused on the connections between what we do in the urban environment and how birds respond to resulting changes in habitats. The first of such studies has just been completed by my graduate student and FBC coordinator Brad Schleder in the form of a Masters thesis. Brad focused on how we water our lawns and yards, and how the resulting residential landscapes attract different kinds of birds. After spending much of last summer driving around the city to various bird count locations to measure aspects of the habitat such as the number of trees, canopy cover, amount and height of grass, and degree of watering, Brad found some interesting patterns that may give pause even to some long-term birdwatchers living in the area. Of course, it may not surprise you to learn that we find more species of birds towards the north and north-west, in a slight trend of increasing diversity as we approach the river. On the other hand, would you have guessed that bird diversity is a good indicator of the wealth of a neighborhood? That indeed seems to be the case: more species of birds are found in wealthier neighborhoods than in poorer ones, and this is a pattern I’ve also found in Phoenix, Arizona! The reason here may have something to do with how people water their household landscapes. Brad found that poorer neighborhoods don’t water their yards quite as much as wealthier ones. This surprised us because, without metering, the cost of water is not a constraint for residents in Fresno – yet we already see a pattern predicted to occur as a result of metering! Perhaps the direct cost of water is not the only thing affecting the habitat in poorer neighborhoods; rather, landscaping one’s yard and maintaining it regularly is a costly enterprise regardless of how much water costs. If anything, the metering of water (if coupled with a rate structure designed to encourage water conservation) will only add to the burden and exacerbate the contrast in landscapes between rich and poor parts of the city! And the birds will likely notice the changes in the urban landscape and respond by changing their residential address too.

These first results from the FBC support a conclusion that is emerging from similar studies in other cities throughout the US: that biodiversity in cities is unevenly distributed, and tends to favor the rich. In other words, in addition to economic hardship, the poor also face an environmental injustice because birds (and other wildlife) will also flock preferentially to the richer neighborhoods where they may find more diverse landscaped yards with plenty of water and food. That may not be good news for Fresno and other valley cities facing tough economic challenges right now, with high levels of unemployment and rising poverty. Yet, there is also an opportunity here for city planners and developers to rethink the pattern of urban growth and plan for amenities such as more public parks and roadside landscaping that will support more biodiversity and provide greater access to nature for those who may need it the most in these troubled times.
Published in the April issue of the Yellowbill.

The Jane Goodall of Ants: Mark Moffet on the real illegal immigrant threat to the US and other ant adventures

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mark Moffett
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Fox News

If you enjoyed that, you might also want to catch the following videos of Moffett’s two earlier visits to the Colbert Nation:

On why the Chinese might get along well with ants:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mark Moffett
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Fox News

and selling Stephen Colbert on the charm of frogs:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mark Moffett
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Fox News

Posted via web from a leaf warbler’s gleanings

Having Your Land & Sharing It, Too: A World of Reconciliation Ecology

The California State University, Fresno Consortium for Evolutionary Studies, Tri Beta Biology Honors Club, and the Department of Biology invite you to a special public lecture on March 16, 2010, at 7:30 PM in McLane Hall, room 121, as part of our ongoing Evolutionary Biology Lecture Series.

Eminent evolutionary ecologist Prof. Michael Rosenzweig is renowned for his contributions to the theoretical and empirical foundations of evolutionary ecology. He founded and continues to edit the academic journal Evolutionary Ecology Research. He is the author of a several books including “Species Diversity in Space and Time“, and the popular “Win-Win Ecology” where he lays out his perspective on conserving biodiversity in places where we humans live and work, not just in remote protected areas. This approach, which he called Reconciliation Ecology, draws upon principles of evolutionary ecology in an interdisciplinary framework to develop new solutions to reconcile human development with biodiversity conservation on our planet.

Given the recent spate of depressing news about conservation in the US (about which I have recently complained, nay ranted right here on this very blog) it is my pleasure to invite you to this talk about reconciliation ecology, which is sharply relevant right now. And since this is a public lecture, please feel free to share this announcement, and bring bring your friends and family along too!

Here’s the abstract of his talk, and you can download the flyer via the link below:

Life is in peril. A mass extinction threatens to take more than 90% of the world’s species. Evolution will not be able to replace these species, neither in kind nor in number. Our religious and ethical responsibilty to protect our world is challenged as never before.
But there is good news: we can prevent this mass extinction with a method called Reconciliation Ecology. Reconciliation Ecology means working out ways for us to have our land and share it too.

Reconciliation Ecology is not a pipe dream. It is widely practiced all over the world. And it is successful. Reconciliation ecology puts nature back into the everyday lives of people, surrounding us with living wonders we usually associate with a vacation in a National Park. It is not expensive and it redesigns our own habitats so that we can keep them, keep living in them, keep using them for our needs, keep earning profits in them… while at the very same time making them havens for wild species of plants and animals.

The new habitats we engineer to satisfy both our desires and the needs of nature will not resemble those of a thousand years ago. This will surely put new evolutionary pressures on the species we harbor. They will change in ways we are only beginning to study. But surely it is better to meet them halfway, better to give them a chance to adapt to us, than to let them vanish utterly and leave our grandchildren with an impoverished world that bears evidence that we did not choose to fulfill our responsibilities.

Scientia Pro Publica #18: the last of the oughties edition!

028CF91C-54C2-4589-B5AF-CDD794950600.jpegWell, this carnival doesn’t really have much to do with the impending end of the oughties decade, but since everybody seems to be going on about it, compiling decadal reviews and best-of lists, I just tossed it up there. Caught your eye, didn’t it? But didn’t turn you off, I hope… 🙂

So, welcome to this (late) winter solstice edition of Scientia Pro Publica, and dig into a fair helping of hearty reading matter to keep you company by the fireside as this winter rolls you over into the double digit years of the new millennium.

Let us begin, for this is the holiday season, with some thoughts about food: about the diversity of our food sources, about how much we waste, and about how often we are hoist by our own petards in attempting to manage our precious natural – esp. food – resources. Let’s start with Jeremy Cherfas, who has over the past year taken us along on the journeys of N. I. Vavilov, that pioneering explorer and champion of agricultural biodiversity. Vaviblog makes for very interesting reading indeed, especially for someone like me who doesn’t know much about Vavilov. But here, Jeremy rather uncharacteristically lets loose with a rant about the difficulty of pinpointing the exact location of one of Vavilov’s collections in the Sahara, and takes us through the frustrations of finding information in GeneBank and other online databases that are supposed to make the life of the modern keyboard explorer much easier than that of people like Vavilov who, you know, actually went out to the frikking Sahara in pursuit of interesting plants! Without, mind you, GPS or iPhones or laptops, as one of his commenters reminds us. Still, what’s the point of all this talk about making information accessible to everyone if one can’t pinpoint and georeference where Vavilov found a particular plant a century ago? I want my data instantly, don’t you? Well, if you’re carried away by expectations of CSI like speed in modern data acquisition, let Heilochica bring you down to earth with a (hopefully) comprehensible explanation of something complicated!

But let’s stick with Jeremy a while longer and visit his another blasted weblog to read about a recent PLoS paper on how much food is wasted in America; some sobering statistics there, to be sure, plus the disquieting observation that there is no incentive in this country for anyone in the food industry to stop producing, consuming, and wasting food, environmental and human health consequences be damned! Ponder that while you tuck into the holiday treats. And if you have to bake wheat-alternative cookies because you or someone you know is allergic to gluten, Eric Olson shares a scitimes video about Celiac disease, which may be the most under-diagnosed health problem in America today (and something I’d never heard of back home in India!).

Meanwhile, we are losing the sources of biodiversity that form the basis of our food security, even as we blithely overproduce and throw away food! What’s a conservationist to do to change such odd human behavior? Well, not what they did in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, where they encouraged coconut farming as a way to lure people away from fishing in order to relieve pressures on fish stocks! Find out what happened on the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog, in another post by Jeremy about the law of unintended consequences! Which bring me to the question from one of my own recent posts: what is it with these Pacific island nations and their penchant for such tragicomedies?

Lest you think this carnival is turning into mostly a one-man-show, let me assure you that there is plenty more that came not from Jeremy’s keyboard! For instance, continuing with fishy business, here’s a post that makes this one something of a meta-carnival, a Fishy Friday roundup of fish in tanks! And if you ever found yourself agreeing with Bertie Wooster’s assessment that Jeeves’ superior intellect was a result of a diet rich in fish, you may be underestimating his (Jeeves’ not Wooster’s) neuroplasticity, the subject of a fascinating interview with Michael Merznenich at SharpBrains on the applications of neuroplasticity to keep all our minds sharp even as we age.

Then there is Mama Joules with two poisonous posts: first, a disturbing one about the dangers of lead poisoning in your home, and the still high childhood exposure rate even years after lead based paints were banned in the US. Followed by a lovely introduction to venom & vomit in Tarantulas! Gotta love them.

Given the brouhaha over the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, I’m a bit surprised at the lack of submissions about anthropogenic global warming/climate change! Perhaps we are all over-saturated with COP15 coverage? Still, there is no shortage of controversy, genuine or manufactured, when it comes to climate change, as these two posts show: a kind of curiously provocative post that suggests nuclear energy may still become part of our green energy future – safely(?) (I have a more cynical take on the subject as I think we are addicted enough to energy in our technology-dependent societies that we are near a threshold where the marginal benefit of nuclear energy will outweigh the risks regardless of the environmental consequences. But that’s me being Grinchy again). Meanwhile, challenges us to ignore the pseudo-controversy over climate-gate and consider the climate change problem in the framework of Pascal’s wager: act as if anthropogenic climate change is real because the risks of not believing it are too great! Interesting thought that – and one that James Randi might consider, having rather startlingly fallen prey to AGW denialism in a manner worrisome to his most loyal supporters.

But, enough with the controversies and bad news. Let’s celebrate the season while we still can, while there still is enough biodiversity to stimulate, delight, and challenge us. For even as we worry about losing species, we continue to discover delightful new ones, like the world’s tiniest orchid that GrrlScientist (matriarch of this carnival) writes about. At the other end of the organismal size spectrum, Kevin Zelnio wonders why we don’t have even larger whales? What keeps the blue whales, for example, from evolving to even larger body sizes? Not the fluid dynamic challenges of using a volkswagen sized heart to pump blood, or the constraints of depending on the tiny krill for food – but a recent paper suggests it may be that their mouths would have to be too big (may already be too big, proportionally) to keep that humongous body fed! That’s why I love reading about evolutionary trade-offs and constraints, and allometry!

Let me leave you with two more posts that share the physical, emotional, and intellectual excitement of studying life on this planet of ours. Over on NCF’s blog eco logic, Manish Chandi describes his unexpected delight in discovering brooding geckos and gorgeous snakes while on a short focused ethnographic research trip to Chowra island in the Nicobar archipelago. And Hielochica expresses her excitement in studying hydrothermal vents – which she considers a mysterious love-child of geology and biology! What could be more fun than that?

So have a happy and safe holiday my friends, and I wish you all a wonderful, productive new year full of many an unexpectedly delightful discovery. And don’t forget to ring in the new year with the next edition of Scientia Pro Publica: issue #19 will be curated by GrrlScientist and Bob O’hara (submit entries per instructions here) and hosted at the latter’s Deep Thoughts and Silliness,

Roots and Shoots: Moyers interviews Goodall

I somehow missed this on Bill Moyers’ Journal a few weeks ago: his excellent extensive interview with Jane Goodall, along with a profile of her wonderful program Roots and Shoots. Fortunately (and unlike so much other good stuff on PBS that is not on YouTube or embeddable – why, PBS, why?), the entire interview is available, so I can share it here – watch and get inspired!

Let’s start with Roots and Shoots:

And here’s the interview, in two parts:

We love you too!

A short and sweet exhortation from Oscar Fernandez (Biol 110, Human Ecology) for all of us!


What you and I do to each other is fair game because we belong to the same gene pool. But did you ever think at some point that all of our infighting is effecting everything else? CO2 emissions are endangering species such as the Emperor penguin, koalas, arctic foxes, and many other not so well known organisms stowed away in the Arctic and Antarctic. Emperor penguins, like the adorable ones pictured above, have less space to, uhm, procreate because global warming is melting away ice platforms that act as their habitat. Arctic foxes are being out-competed by the warm climate adapted Red foxes. Lets not forget about the Koalas either. Global warming is reducing the availability of the euphoric and very intoxicating Eucalyptus leaf that keeps them dizzy and feeling o.k.! Come on people, we need to become better managers of this planet.

The PEST solution is the best solution for conserving biodiversity!

My friend the tropical rainforest ecologist and eco-restorer T R Shankar Raman of the Nature Conservation Foundation shares this wonderful news of a brand new approach to conserve biodiversity by focusing significant economic resources to incentivize nations to protect evolutionary processes! Here’s an excerpt from TRSR’s blog post on this market based initiative at eco logic, the NCF’s blog:

In what is being heralded as one of the most visionary efforts in recent times to stem the extinction crisis, a collaborative effort by ecologists and economists from India, Brazil, and the USA has developed a novel solution for biodiversity conservation. Announcing this amidst great excitement today at a packed press conference at the Carneghee Lemon Hall at Park Avenue in Washington, D. C., senior scientist of the Natural Conservation Fund, Dr Ramon Gonsalves, said, “This is the solution. With this, the great wave of extinction will soon be behind us.”

[via The PEST solution | eco logic]

You simply have to go read the rest of this! NOW!

Last chance to be shagged by a rare parrot!

And it looks like this parrot, also of remarkable plumage, definitely was not “tired and shagged out after a long squawk” then, eh?! Television viewers in the UK have been fortunate these past few weeks, since the BBC has been airing the new documentary series “Last Chance to See” where Stephen Fry joined zoologist Mark Carwardine in retracing a journey the latter shared with the late Douglas Adams when they went around the world looking for species literally on the brink of extinction! Adams and Carwardine then wrote one of my favorite books about nature and wildlife conservation, full of delightful stories of strange animal behaviors and wry observations on the business of conservation in different parts of the world. Among the latter, my favorite was probably when they compared the govt. bureaucracies of post-colonial nations to headless chickens that continue to thrash around pointlessly even after being decapitated! Nevertheless, this snippet (and others like it on Youtube which is all that’s available to those of us outside the UK) from the new series suggests that 2 decades on since the original journey, some of these wonderful creatures are still hanging on, i.e., Carwardine did get more chances to see them. I hope our future generations do as well! And I hope we get to see this series on television in our part of the world soon also.