Craig Leisher

Craig-LeisherCraig Leisher is Senior Advisor on Conservation and Poverty Issues. He works to build a better understanding of how conservation initiatives generate tangible benefits to people and nature.


Craig's Posts

Mola Mola: The Weirdest Fish in the Ocean?

When it hatches, this species is the size of a pinhead but will grow to be the heaviest bony fish in the ocean—and the weirdest. Meet the Mola mola.

Posted In: Fish
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Leech Logic and the Need for Conservation Baselines

For 2,000 years people thought leeches cured just about any ailment. Silly? Blogger Craig Leisher argues that conservationists often take a similar anecdote-based approach, which is why the field desperately needs solid baseline data.

Posted In: Science
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A Conservation Scientist’s Advice on “Green” Light Bulbs

LED? CFL? What’s the best light bulb for the environment? Scientist Craig Leisher has been experimenting with light bulbs in his own home, weighing the pros and cons. His message: don’t be an early adopter.

Posted In: Sustainability
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Winter Weight Gain and Why There Are More Plants and Animals in the Tropics

Have you packed on a few extra pounds this winter? Blogger Craig Leisher says that’s only natural–and the reason why may also help explain why the diversity of life in the tropics is so rich.

Posted In: Biodiversity
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An Ounce of Prevention Worth a Pound of Cure? Not for Poverty and Conservation

When a conservation project focuses on “poverty,” should it focus on poverty reduction, poverty prevention, or both? Social scientist Craig Leisher argues that we should focus on poverty reduction wherever the natural resources are heavily degraded…and poverty prevention wherever they are not.

Posted In: Human Well-Being
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Are Latin America’s Protected Areas Effective at Conserving Nature?

Protected areas are the single most important conservation strategy in the world, and Latin America has the most land within protected areas of any region of the world. But are Latin America’s protected areas effective at conserving nature inside their boundaries?

Posted In: Protected Areas
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Remembering Alfred Russel Wallace

Remembering Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer of evolution and conservation great, on the centennial of his passing.

Posted In: Exploration, Science
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Is China’s Coastal Aquaculture Production a House of Cards?

No country exports more shrimp than China. Yet how sustainable is shrimp aquaculture production in China? Conservancy senior social scientist Craig Leisher looks to the literature for answers, and what he finds isn’t promising.

Posted In: Agriculture, Science, Water
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Weird Nature: A Bat that Eats Scorpions

Many bat species are well known for eating flying insects. This one eats scorpions. How can it detect prey on the ground at night? How does it avoid being stung? Our blogger takes an in-depth look at the pallid bat, and finds that the answers are even weirder than you think.

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Book Week: ‘Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty’

Nature Conservancy senior social scientist Craig Leisher reviews “Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty” by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo.

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The Horseshoe Crab: World’s Most Successful Animal

Move over, cockroaches. Blogger Craig Leisher argues that it’s the horseshoe crab that’s the ultimate survivor. But can this ancient species survive a new list of human-induced threats?

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No Surprise: Protected Areas Work

Ferraro, P. et al. 2013. More strictly protected areas are not necessarily more protective: evidence from Bolivia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, and Thailand. Environ. Res. Lett. 8 025011 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/025011.

Do protected areas that are more strictly protected (IUCN category I-IV) have less deforestation than less strictly protected areas (IUCN category V-VI)?

The short answer is yes but not always.

This might sound like another we-just-proved-the-world-is-round analysis, but this recent study is authored by some of the more rigorous thinkers in conservation. It sets a new standard for accuracy and precision in estimating avoided deforestation from protected area status.

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How to Measure Human Well-Being in a Conservation Project

By Craig Leisher, Senior Social Scientist  Measuring human well-being might at first seem impossibly complex. It’s subjective and varies greatly from person to person, right? Dark chocolate is vital to my well-being, for example, but it may not be so for all. After two decades of work and two Nobel Prizes, human well-being can in […]

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Nearsightedness and Nature-Deficit Disorder

Why are 80% of kids in Singapore nearsighted? Perhaps it’s a nature-deficit disorder. 

Singapore has one of the highest rates of nearsightedness or myopia in the world, and parts of China and Taiwan are not far behind.

Most people assume it’s just genetics. 

And there’s certainly a lot of evidence suggesting a genetic link. In Australia, for example, if both parents have myopia, a child is eight times as likely to have it as well, and if both parents have severe myopia (at least -6 diopter), a child is 22 times as likely (Ip et al. 2007).

People of Chinese origins are particularly prone to myopia (Pan et al. 2012).

But here’s the Singapore twist. The city-state is a melting pot of Chinese, Indian and Malay ethnicities. Yet Singapore has a far higher myopia prevalence rate than India or Malaysia and a slightly higher rate than China.

Genetics almost certainly plays a role in myopia, but families generally share not only genes but also environments.

While our genetic DNA in “pen” and cannot be changed, some of our genes are written in “pencil” and can be rewritten by environmental factors.

Worldwide, there’s an urban-rural divide in myopia rates. In Nepal, for example, urban children age 15 have a 27% prevalence rate while it is less than 3% for rural children the same age (Pan et al. 2012).

So what’s different for many urban kids? 

Posted In: Science
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