Tag: biodiversity

Seeds on Loan, Solar Windows & At-Risk (and Way Cool) Birds

Also in our best of the web: NOAA nods to saltwater sport fishers, springtime rattlesnake confab, golf courses for conservation, and a bit more TED-tweaking.

Full Article

Island Biogeography Theory Misses Mark for Tropical Forest Remnants

Species losses due to habitat fragmentation may be less bleak than predicted under the island biogeography theory, says a study of bat biodiversity in Costa Rica and Panama.

Full Article

Plant Zombies, Cannibal Tadpoles & the Fading Tuatara

Also in our best of the web: punk frogs, sea serpents on video, sadistic trolls (really), Masai fencing innovation, and Peter Matthiessen remembered

Full Article

Amphibian Invisibility Cloak, Resilient Bats, and Terror Birds

Also in our best of the web: taxonomy appreciation day, donor-funded science, rainwater harvesting, and snowy owls.

Full Article

Insect Soup, Deep Ocean Restoration, Twerking Spiders & More

Also in our weekly best of the web: Why “climate change = impending disaster” doesn’t work; drones search for rare pygmy rabbits; and why scientists should talk to reporters.

Full Article

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.

Full Article

The Amazing Lemming: The Rodent Behind the Snowy Owl Invasion?

Lemmings shape nearly every aspect of arctic ecosystems. Could their recent abundance also be a key factor in the snowy owl invasion occurring in the eastern United States?

Full Article

Cool Green Review: The Drunken Botanist

Raise a glass to the diverse plants behind every glass of beer, wine and bourbon! A New Year’s Eve review of Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist. Enjoy responsibly!

Full Article

Does Biodiversity Really Protect Us From Disease?

The idea has gone mainstream over the last year — but new scientific evidence might dash hopes that conservation could be directly relevant to human health.

Full Article

New Report: What Will the Urban Century Mean for Nature?

Can biodiversity thrive in an increasingly urban world — or are the predictions of disasters destined to be correct? A new UN report co-authored by TNC’s Rob McDonald has some surprising answers.

Full Article

Saved by Chance: The Incredibly Strange Story of the Pere David’s Deer

The Pere David’s deer may be the only species saved because someone broke a wildlife law. It now is a creature of British deer parks and Texas wildlife ranches, facing a secure future far from its native habitat. What lessons can we learn from this near-collision with extinction?

Full Article

‘Let’s Get Back to Ecology’: A New Interview with Peter Kareiva

Nature Conservancy Chief Scientist Peter Kareiva recently gave an interview to Biodiverse Perspectives, a blog written by more than 100 graduate students in biodiversity science around the world. It’s an excellent Q&A, with one of the best distillations yet of Kareiva’s thinking on conservation’s focus on biodiversity versus the benefits of a broader focus on ecology.

Read the full interview here. But here’s a quote to whet your appetite:

“I have what some think is a heretical view of biodiversity.  Look – I do want to prevent extinctions.  But I think what should be a reasonable concern for biodiversity has turned into a numerological and narrow counting of species, and has led to an over-emphasis on research aimed at rationalizing why biodiversity should matter to the general public.  Ecology matters to the general public because ecology is about water, pests and pestilence, recreation, food, resilience and so forth. Perturbations to ecosystems in the form of massive pollution, land conversion, harvest, species loss can all distort ecology.  But focusing so narrowly on producing graphs that on the horizontal axis display number of species and on the vertical axis report some dependent ecological function (that is distantly related to human well-being) strikes me as not worth so much research.  Let’s get back to ecology – understanding how systems work, what controls dynamics, the role of particular species as opposed to the number of species, to what extent do ecosystems compensate for species losses, what factors contribute to resilience, whether there really are thresholds – all those are terrific research questions.  Counting species, and trying to produce what is, as far as I can tell, usually very weak evidence for the relationship between biodiversity per se and ecological function is off-track.

“Early on in my job at TNC I presented to business leaders some of the empirical data plots from classic biodiversity and ecological function studies. These are studies we all interpret as strong evidence for the importance of biodiversity. I can tell you unequivocally when they saw the actual data they were totally unimpressed and unconvinced. It caused me to look more objectively at the data.”

As always, let us know what you think in the comments.

Full Article

Parasites, Poverty and Biodiversity

Conservationists lamenting the diminished focus on biodiversity in an increasingly ecosystem service dominated field can take succour from a study by Matthew Bonds and colleagues published in PLoS Biology.

The interesting take-home, which is actually a side event in the paper, is that the loss of biodiversity (species richness of plants, mammals, and birds), increases the burden of vector-borne parasitic diseases amongst a country’s human population, which in turn increases poverty.

Full Article

Everyday Nature: The Microbes Around (and In) Us

Try this: close your eyes and conjure up an image of a “biodiverse ecosystem.”

What do you see?

Perhaps a tropical rainforest, dewy vines glistening, howler monkeys calling through the trees, and butterflies flitting in the sun-dappled heat?

Or maybe you pictured a coral reef, replete with white-tipped reef sharks, sea turtles, brain coral, and giant iridescent clams? Admittedly, tropical ecosystems in places such as Costa Rica and Indonesia do contain a stunning array of macro-biodiversity– that is, larger plants and animals.

But what about the little guys?

Microbes make up the vast majority of life on earth, and they are ubiquitous; a single teaspoon of your backyard soil may harbor millions of individual organisms and upwards of 100,000 unique microbial taxa.

Full Article


Featured Content

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 at the Conservancy, and edited by Bob Lalasz, its director of science communications. Email us your feedback.

Editors’ Choice

Where Have The Monarchs Gone?
Monarch butterflies are disappearing. What's going on? Is there anything we can do about it?

North America's Greatest Bird Spectacle?
The Platte River is alive with 500,000 sandhill cranes. Learn how you can catch the action--even from your computer.

The Strangest Wildlife Rescue?
Meet the animal that was saved from extinction because someone broke a wildlife law.

Latest Tweets from @nature_brains

Categories