What we’re reading- Nov 8, 2013

Ivory Crush
Ahead of next week’s post, information on the US Fish & Wildlife Service plan to destroy six tons of stockpiled ivory, in an effort to send a message about the recent, sharp rise in global poaching that has devastated rhino, tiger, and elephant populations.

Denali National Park Gets ‘Google Street View’
Take a tour of Denali from the comfort of your warm, cozy bed. Or from your cold, boring grad student office where you’re working late at night. Whichever suits you.

Five Species You Thought Were Endangered That Really Aren’t
Slate may need a new fact checker as the humpback whale, cloud leopard, and komodo dragon are all listed endangered by FWS, while the polar bear is listed threatened. Explore FWS protected species here.

A Positive Perspective on Grad School
Great perspective on grad student life, highlighting that grad school is about getting paid to learn about what you love!

Elephant Behavior following Culling
Culling has long-term implications of elephants’ social behavior and may affect the health of populations.

Eles in Non-Protected Areas
Non–protected areas not only provide connectivity for elephants, but year-round habitat for some individuals.

Conservation Kickstarter: 14 Days to go
Our colleague Karen DeMatteo has raised 40% of her goal in her Kickstarter campaign to support conservation work on Argentinian felids and candids.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. I was disappointed to read the article about Endangered species “myths”. It advances a conception of rarity that has no ecological basis and will hinder the public’s acceptance of species that are deserving of protection. As I noted in a comment on the original article:

    There is more to rarity than counting the number of animals left of a given species, in fact overall numbers are largely irrelevant. Ecologically relevant rarity takes into account local population sizes, habitat specificity, and geographic range. Does the extinction of a species in one region matter if there are many left in a completely different region? I would argue yes, for cultural, genetic, and evolutionary reasons and to preserve the integrity of ecological communities, off the top of my head. It would be unfortunate if we all conceived of rarity as this article does.

    1. Thanks for your comments David. You bring up some great points. The main point of the article was to clear up some misconceptions that the public has about certain species. Determining if a species is threatened or endangered does involve more than just raw numbers, such as % declines in X number of years and I am guessing the article is using IUCN redlist standards which incorporates metrics like that. It also now is more complicated like you bring up, with some populations belonging to the same species, yet being genetically distinct in some way, and therefore represent an important population to preserve genetically. Another factor is that some species (like the clouded leopard) may indeed be endangered, however, we just do not have enough data yet to support its status.

      I don’t see a huge problem with the public thinking some species are more in decline than they actually are. The reverse, in my opinion, is a much worse problem. With the case of a species like the polar bear, I actually think this is good. In the past, many species have received attention only when they are at critically low levels. I think it is much better for the attention to be received now to prevent polar bears from the decline that is anticipated from climate change (if this is possible).

      Thanks again for your comments.


      1. Exactly! Of all the misconceptions regarding the biodiversity crisis, why take the time to write an article about how things are rosier than they appear and do so in a manner that relies on an irrelevant concept of rarity!

  2. Gator Woman says:

    Now if only we could get to them, before the animal is separated from its parts.

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