Tag: Craig Leisher

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Debate: Randomized Control Trials in Conservation

In the medical field, randomized control trials (RCTs) are widely used to eliminate bias and demonstrate causality. Does a certain medication actually work, and will it work across all populations of people? To answer these questions, medicine has relied on RCTs for the past 50 years. But are RCTs an effective way to measure the success of conservation strategies? Does conservation need RCTs?

Craig Leisher, senior social scientist, advocates for RCTs, saying they can help show that conservation strategies actually benefit people. Eddie Game, conservation planning specialist, argues that RCTs are unrealistic and unnecessary for conservation.

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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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Discovery: New Cave Fish Species Sees “Light of Day”

Deep inside a remote cave in northern Vietnam, Craig Leisher aimed his headlamp at the water. Several small, strange-looking fish flashed by. He readied his butterfly net and quickly tried to scoop one up but missed. He tried again.

Leisher eventually caught four species of fish. Further analysis revealed that two species were already known to science, one was a new species and one was a mystery.

The new species, Schistura mobbsi, has no eyes, no pigmentation and a limited ability to sense motion. It is a type of loach — a river-dwelling genus that includes both subterranean and above-ground species.

Leisher and ichthyologist Maurice Kottelat recently published the discovery in Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwaters … 10 years after the fact.

Why did it take 10 years for Schistura mobbsi to make its public appearance in the scientific literature?

Let’s re-wind.

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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? 

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This Week on Cool Green Science: Change & The Eastern U.S. Forest

Too many deer. Logging one tree to save another. Beavers versus old growth. Welcome to forest conservation in the Anthropocene. Beginning Monday, July 21, join us for a provocative 5-part series exploring the full complexity facing forest conservation in the eastern United States.

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Osprey Cam: Watch Our Wild Neighbors
Watch the ospreys live 24/7 as they nest and raise their young -- and learn more about these fascinating birds from our scientist.

What is Cool Green Science?

noun 1. Blog where Nature Conservancy scientists, science writers and external experts discuss and debate how conservation can meet the challenges of a 9 billion + planet.

2. Blog with astonishing photos, videos and dispatches of Nature Conservancy science in the field.

3. Home of Weird Nature, The Cooler, Quick Study, Traveling Naturalist and other amazing features.

Cool Green Science is managed by Matt Miller, the Conservancy's deputy director for science communications, and edited by Bob Lalasz, its director of science communications. Email us your feedback.

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Creating a Climate-Smart Agriculture
Can farmers globally both adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change? A new paper answers with a definitive yes. But it won't be easy.

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