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…

What We’re Reading: Jan 1, 2016

Effects of Poaching on Elephant Social Hierarchy African elephants have a fission-fusion society important to their fitness and centered around the oldest individual, the matriarch. Poaching targets individuals with large tusks and therefore has the potential to disrupt social structure by removing important females. This study found that elephant social structure is resilient to such…

What We’re Reading- Dec 17, 2015

Twitter on Blast Two opinions came out this week lamenting the over use of Twitter at scientific meetings. Specifically, Conservation Bytes and Small Pond Science note they feel the quality of scientific meetings has decreased with increasing electronic use, including tweeting. There’s really a lot to think about in these two posts. For sure, the…

Behind the Paper: Spatial Assignment Not as Accurate as Promised

Imagine that you are an airport security screener in charge of searching for and identifying wildlife products and you came across 100 bear paws. Trade of all eight bear species is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and trade of severed paws is illegal. There are a number of questions…

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…

What We’re Reading: Nov 20, 2015

When Do Dingos Stop Being Dingos? Oh the messy, messy history of the dog family. Adding a new layer of complexity into the overarching story of recent divergence and anthropogenic backcrossing comes a tale from Australia’s dingos (Canis lupus dingo). A new paper (sub) measured the proportion of domestic dog in dingos across the continent….

What We’re Reading- Oct 9, 2015

Australian Bush Poetry Not so much to read, but watch this video of scientists reciting The Old Grey Box of Heathcote Town while showing figures of ecological research that supports the poem. Elephants and Cancer Peto’s Paradox is an observation that the incidence of cancer does not correlate with body size at the species level….

Where to Save Elephants Now

Imagine trying to protect all the elephants across sub-Saharan Africa. With poaching for ivory at its all-time worst, this is a real problem conservationists face. African elephants (both forest and savanna species; for differences read here) are under a huge and imminent threat, with real potential of extinction in the foreseeable future (some estimates are as…

What we’re reading: March 20, 2015

Hunting as a Driver of Selection in Red Deer Male red deer (Cervus elaphus elaphus)who survived hunting season were found to have strong fine-scale habitat shifts to areas with more cover (less horizontal line sight). By tracking deer that were ultimately either hunted or survived hunting season, Lone et al. were able to see exactly…

Behind the Paper: Finding Friendships in Secretive Elephants

Despite being the largest land animals, two species of wild elephant still have many mysteries. Even today, where you can connect with people across the world in seconds, where we have Google images of every corner of the planet, there are still unexplored mysteries. One of these mysterious species is the African forest elephant, recently…

What we’re reading: Nov 7, 2014

Education and Positive Conservation Outcomes This paper (open) describes a community outreach program specifically aimed at reducing poaching of five ungulate and one rodent species in a reserve in Thailand. Pressure dropped by a factor of four and was not correlated with park patrol. The six species increased significantly over the course of the study…

What we’re reading: Aug 8, 2014

Hybrid Songbirds use Hybrid Migration Routes Neat new paper (open) shows that hybrids between two subspecies of Swainson’s thrushes, show intermediate migration routes from the parental species. Additionally, the authors estimate that selection against hybrids is strong and postulate if migration may constitute an ecological pressure driving speciation. Many Genes of Small Effect This blog…