“Frontier Justice”

This article is suitably flippant about people dying. A hunter -sorry – poacher in Kruger National Park was killed by hippos and eaten by lions: “While authorities may have their hands full when it comes to stopping hunters, there remains a more natural form of justice, lurking among the wildlife so often pillaged–and in this case justice, like dinner, was served.” Ugh.

Posted by Tim on March 30th, 2010 • • Comments Off

Friday Insanity 2.28

The importance of tagging things is becoming obvious. I had to go through every video to ensure this hadn’t been posted. On a separate note, could they have maybe gotten somebody a little less abrasive t narrate this thing? Like Gilbert Gottfried?

Posted by Tim on March 25th, 2010 • • Comments Off

Threats to World Economics

This is an interesting conceptual map of risks to the world economy. Biodiversity loss is included, though I bet a lot of conservation biologists would disagree with the missing links. Biodiversity could certainly be used as an investment in infrastructure (ecotourism, ecosystem services), preventing food price volatility, transnational crime and corruption and international terrorism (Somali pirates), and how on earth did they leave out Pandemics? The really interesting thing, though is their plot of likelihood and severity. Biodiversity loss is about midrange in the likelihood scale, but fourth-lowest on the severity scale. Meanwhile, asset price collapse is listed as the highest likelihood and highest severity. It’s an fascinating view on how economists think about biodiversity loss.

Posted by Tim on March 24th, 2010 • • 2 comments

Between an endangered rock and a critically endangered hard place

We teach and talk about ecology as a tale of balance: the decline of one population generally leads to the increase in another. Nature abhors a vacuum. The cycling of predators and prey. Unfortunately, that complexity leads to a lot of problem in application. I can’t think of a better example than Macquarie Island, where cats were introduced about a century ago. The cats then destroyed the local community of birds. Unfortunately, when managers removed all the cats, the rabbits took over. There have been a bunch of similar stories on unanticipated ecological results and other catch-22s recently. Where I work, it’s not clear whether management should focus on the endangered San Joaquin kit fox or its prey, the endangered giant kangaroo rat. Managers in Washington are facing the same problem with orcas and Chinook salmon (you’ll recall that managers in Oregon had no such qualms about killing California sea lions that were eating salmon). Or take this study that shows prescribed burns in the Western U.S. could actually decrease our carbon footprint. Consider that swift populations in the UK are declining due to housing renovation projects.

There’s an emerging science on ecological traps, where changes in habitat (generally human-caused) lead to novel environments that appear to be high quality for a species, but are in fact low quality. In the Negev desert, for example, managers establishment of pits and dykes to increase moisture in certain areas led to increased mortality for an endemic lizard. The increased moisture led to trees, which served as perches for shrikes, who preyed on the lizards. The lizards had no exposures to trees and so didn’t anticipate the negative consequences.

In a recent discussion section for our wildlife ecology class, students were asked to draw parts of the Yellowstone ecosystem, to try to understand the consequences (direct and indirect) of removing wolves. After a sufficient number of convoluted arrows had been added among humans, wolves, elk, aspen, beaver, fish, soil, &c. &c., one student shouted “It’s all connected, man!” A total Berkeley moment.

Posted by Tim on March 23rd, 2010 • • Comments Off

News Roundup

  • The return of wolves is not just a problem in the U.S. Grey wolves in Eastern Germany are increasing their population size and expanding their range.
  • Katherine Belov and colleagues at the University of Sydney appear to have found a population of Tasmanian Devils that are immune to devil facial tumor disease, a transmissible cancer that’s decimated (literally) the species.
  • Dave Melhman (TNC) has done a fantastic job blogging the State of the Birds 2010 report.
  • The IUCN on restoring bison in North America.
  • It’s March Madness, time, and the NCAA seems to have a lot of endangered species in its bracket. Those not yet extirpated from the tournament: Baylor bears, Kentucky and Kansas St Wildcats and Northern Iowa Panthers. Lobos, terrapins, grizzlies, owls, bears, and spiders all apparently not covered under the Endangered Species Act. Obama should send out an executive order.
Posted by Tim on March 22nd, 2010 • • Comments Off

Whose side are you on, Internet?

All of you out there with consblog.org as your homepage will be dispirited to learn that, in biodiversity battle, the forces of darkness have brought the fight to the Web. The BBC, reporting from CITES in Doha, uncovers online lion cub auctions. Lovely.

Posted by Brian on March 22nd, 2010 • • 1 comment

Another sad loss

Former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall passed away over the weekend. He did as much as Muir and Roosevelt to create the Myth of Wilderness that inspired so many Americans, helping to enact the Wilderness Act in 1964 and helping to create Redwood National Park, Cape Cod National Seashore, and Point Reyes National Seashore. He fought in WWII. He led a lawsuit in the late 1970s against the government on behalf of Navajo uranium miners. The Udalls are one of the great (perhaps unsung) political clans of the country. He was a Great American, and one of my heroes: “Over the long haul of life on this planet, it is the ecologists, and not the bookkeepers of business, who are the ultimate accountants.”

The University of Arizona houses his manuscript collection.

Bob Edwards remembers Steward Udall: “I have lived in Washington, DC far too long to have political heroes, but Stewart Udall was the model of what a public servant should be.”

Posted by Tim on March 22nd, 2010 • • Comments Off

Holy Moley Friday Insanity Extra

The entirety of “Our Vanishing Wilderness” is

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Posted by Tim on March 18th, 2010 • • Comments Off

Friday Insanity 2.27

Posted by Tim on March 18th, 2010 • • Comments Off

News Roundup

  • I don’t know how long it’s been up, but the University of Wisconsin has a huge collection of digital archives relating to Aldo Leopold. You can see his original Forest Service working papers and things.
  • The likely extinct Yangtze River dolphin is becoming extinct in our minds, as well.
  • An eloquent call for evolutionary biologists to be included in conservation. A lot of the points are accurate, but it’s frustrating to work with paleontologists who work on the time scale of “everything goes extinct. You need to worry about lineages.” But what about THE PANDAS???
  • File under: Only Joel Berger. He and Jon Beckmann published a piece recently in Conservation Biology showing that towns focusing on energy extraction around Yellowstone had a disproportionate rise in human sexual predators. Ladies and gentleman, your newest ecosystem service.
  • The Interior Department recently listed 48 species in Hawaii as endangered and is trying to put in place a landscape-scale plan for their recovery, rather than a species-by-species plan. That raised the number of listed species under Obama from 2 to 50.
  • A longish article on the black market in bushmeat trade in the United States with a shout out to a certain JB.
  • Beware the pizzly bear.
  • Edward Tufte’s epic book on multiple regression, now on-line.
Posted by Tim on March 18th, 2010 • • Comments Off