What We’re Reading- March 17, 2017

An Endangered Generalist?  Soon after germination orchids must be colonized by fungi whose hyphae both enter orchid cells and create an extensive mycorrhizal network in the soil, thereby transferring nutrients to the plant.  Orchids may be mycorrhizal generalists able to associate with many different fungal species, or specialists only able to associate with one or a…

What We’re Reading- Jan 6, 2017

Pangolin Trade Network All species of pangolins are endangered throughout their range, due in large part to poaching for their meat and scales.  Using media reports, a team of researchers identified approximately 65,800 individuals were harvested and seized between 2008-2016 although the level of harvest not detected remains unknown.  Notably, only 117 individuals were reported poached in the…

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…

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…

Top Ten Facts About Wildlife Trade

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Dr. Susan Lieberman speak at North Carolina State University. She is the Vice President of International Policy of the Wildlife Conservation Society and has worked in international conservation, science, and policy for more than 25 years. Recently, she was appointed to the U.S. Presidential…