Rhino Conservation: Dehorning Demand

There are five living species of rhinoceros: black (Diceros bicornis), white (Ceratotherium simum), Javan (Rhinoceros sondaicus), Indian (Rhinoceros unicornis), and Sumatran (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) rhinos.  And not too long ago there was a woolly rhino (Coelodonta antiquitatis) that roamed northern Eurasia until it went extinct ~14,000 years ago.  The IUCN lists black, Javan, and Sumatran rhinos as…

CRISPR for Conservation

I’ve got this feeling that CRISPR is the next PCR.  Have you ever met someone who was an early adopter of PCR?  No, I mean an early adopter of PCR where the technique required three water baths, a swivel chair, a stop watch, and AN ACTUAL PERSON to move the reaction tubes between water baths every…

Is Krill the New Palm Oil?

For Earth Day 2016, I wrote about how growth of palm oil plantations has removed habitat for many tropical species, and that plantations are expanding globally as demand for cheap oil increases.  But if demand for these cheap oils does not decrease, what other sources are available?  Some consider krill oil a potential replacement or…

FWS Gives Conservation Scientists a To Do List

The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that they were changing how they prioritized species to be listed as threatened or endangered of extinction under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  (Here’s the final rule in the Federal Register- 81 FR 49248).  The Service claims that changing how 90-day petitions and 12-month status reviews are…

Keep Wildlife Wild: Don’t Feed the Animals

I was having lunch with several wildlife managers during the 24th International Conference on Bear Research and Management, and asked them, “what is the one conservation message you want to get out to the public?”  And I loved this response from Colleen Olfenbuttel (North Carolina’s bear and furbearer manager): “Keep bears wild.” There are several…

Charismatic Megafauna Conservation vs Charismatic Megafauna Conservation

Prioritizing research efforts and on-the-ground action is essential for conservation, but also incredibly hard.  There’s plenty of debate about how best to set conservation priorities: save everything, triage/mathematical formulas for decisions, how to weigh expert opinion and societal values, etc.  Since conservation decisions can have real consequences for protecting species (and local human communities and…

Human Scrambled Wildlife Populations

Last week I was at a conference on the genomics of admixed populations. What is admixture? Admixture is a within species process that occurs when two (or more) populations that previously diverged come back into contact and mate. Thus the offspring have genetic signatures from the original populations. A particularly engaging session at the meeting…

Rewilding: restoring lost species to save ecosystems

At first they were just shadows, dark impressions glimpsed through the mist. Is that really…? Could it be…? As we moved a little closer one of them turned to the east, to face the rising sun. His profile was unmistakable, the curved horns and humped shoulders proclaiming “bison”! And not just any bison, but free-ranging European bison, grazing…

Why should we care about cryptic species?

Today’s post is prompted by a conversation I had with a man I sometimes see at the local dog park. Early one morning a few weeks ago, while our pooches played, we discussed species concepts. This man expressed his frustration at his biologist friends’ constant efforts to describe and delimit species. This obsession with naming…