Biodiversity & Conservation Biology

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1 Biodiversity & Conservation Biology Note: You may not have all these slides in your handout some slides are in my presentation only. If you see any new slides, just read through them and make sure they make sense to you. Global biodiversity is threatened by the extinction of more & more species Biodiversity is a measure of the number and abundance of different species in a given area Rapid extinction of species can reduce local and global biodiversity irreversibly why is this important? What is the value of species biodiversity?

2 Do we really have a biodiversity crisis? Isn t extinction a natural process?? Species come and species go don t they??

3 Extinction is a natural phenomenon What is so different about current extinctions? Current rate of extinction is very high and Current rate of extinction is associated with the behavior of just one species.yes, you guessed it: Humans! The Global Biodiversity Crisis Major threats to global biodiversity: habitat destruction & pollution introduction of non-native species over-exploitation of wildlife

4 Habitat Alteration by Humans is the Greatest Threat to Biodiversity Burning of rainforest land to clear for farming Urban development Strip Mining Logging Pollution: toxic waste disposal, oil spills Burning of fossil fuels contributes to pollution and Global Warming Non-native Species Can Wreak Havoc on Ecosystems The spread of Non-native (aka Exotic or Alien) species has increased as humans have become more mobile In some cases the introduction of an exotic species was done deliberately, in others it has occurred inadvertently

5 What is the story with Cane Toads in Australia??! Cane toads were introduced to Australia from Hawaii in the 1930 s to control the Cane Beetle, which was destroying the Sugar Cane crop. What happened? Asian Longhorn Beetle has arrived in Massachusetts! The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) is an invasive pest from Asia that came to the United States concealed in solid wood packing material (the pallets and crates used to transport goods from overseas). The ALB attacks and eventually kills American hardwoods, such as maple, ash, birch, willow, poplar, and elm trees by boring into trunks and branches during its larvae stage. Early detection of infestations and rapid treatment response are crucial to successful eradications of the beetle. Human transport is a prime source of ALB infestation. So it is important to refrain from moving wood out of ALB quarantine areas. If the ALB were to become established here it could be one of the most destructive and costly invasive species ever to enter the United States. It threatens urban and suburban shade trees and recreational and forest resources valued at hundreds of billions of dollars. Quoted from:

6 Other Infamous Aliens Rabbits introduced to Australia by Brits, for food and sport hunting (1859) Rabbits did what rabbits do they multiplied rapidly Overpopulation of rabbits ensued (no natural predators in Australia) and vegetation became overgrazed in many areas, leading to desertification of grasslands Overexploitation of Wildlife has also accelerated extinctions Hunting of various species for sport and/or profit has decimated several species to dangerously low numbers African Elephants (hunted esp. for ivory tusks) Black Rhinoceroses (hunted for their horns) Siberian Tigers (hunted for their fur & claws) Whales (hunted for blubber/oil & meat)

7 U.S. Protection of Endangered Species Endangered Species Act (1973): to protect plant or animal species in danger of extinction Authorizes National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to ID and list all endangered & threatened species Prohibits catching or killing of protected animals, prohibits uprooting of protected plants on Federal land. Prohibits sale or trade of any part of a protected species Prohibits Federal Gov t. from carrying out any project that jeopardizes an endangered species Requires US Fish & Wildlife to prepare Recovery Plans for all protected species Worldwide Protection of Endangered Species Conservation/preservation Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) WWF, Nature Conservancy, Conservation Internat l, Friends of Earth, Greenpeace Internat l, etc. International Whaling Commission (IWC) (1946) Imposed moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986 due to pressure from environmentalists and several countries, including US Japan, Iceland & Norway have continued to commercially hunt whales Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (1974) Prevent sale/purchase of endangered species (or their products) Helped stop poaching of African elephant (1989) by proposing worldwide ban on all sale, import, & export of ivory Ban was successful - price of ivory fell & poaching declined greatly

8 World Conservation Union (1948) (aka IUCN: International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) What is the IUCN? From The world s largest and most important conservation network. brings together 82 Countries, 111 government agencies, more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. The Union s mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable. What Does the Union do? Supports and develops cutting-edge conservation science; implements this research in field projects around the world; and then links both research and results to local, national, regional and global policy by convening dialogues between governments, civil society and the private sector. In its projects, the Union applies sound ecosystem management to conserve biodiversity and builds sustainable livelihoods for those directly dependent on natural resources. The Union is actively engaged in managing and restoring ecosystems and improving people s lives, economies and societies. As the world s largest environmental knowledge network, the Union has helped over 75 countries to prepare and implement national conservation and biodiversity strategies. The Union also has the official status of Observer at the United Nations General Assembly. What should a Recovery Plan consist of? What would you suggest if you were a wildlife biologist that was asked to come up with a recovery plan for the Siberian Tiger? What would this plan have to include?

9 Strategy for Conservation #1 In situ conservation preserves biological diversity in the wild Ex) Est. parks & reserves to protect endangered species and/or entire ecosystems Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) The Emerald Necklace park system, Boston/Brookline Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation and Recreation State Parks U.S. National Park Service World Conservation Union (IUCN) Hotspot Approach to Preserving Habitats A high priority of in situ conservation is the identification & protection of sites with a high concentration of species diversity Biodiversity hotspots are the most biologically diverse areas of the globe. They usually have a large number of endemic species (meaning they are found nowhere else in the world).

10 Many protected areas have multiple uses Several Nat l Parks also used recreationally Nat l Forests may be open to regulated logging, grazing, farming Wildlife refuges may have mineral, oil, or gas development Refuges may also allow hunting or be used by the military Strategy for Conservation #2 Ex situ conservation preserves biological diversity in humancontrolled settings Ex) captive breeding programs / zoos seed banks Millenium Seed Bank Project (UK) Norwegian project underway Black-footed ferrets born in a captive breeding program at the National Zoo, Washington DC Golden Lion Tamarin, National Zoo, Washington DC ConservationAndScience/ EndangeredSpecies/CapBreedPops/ default.cfm

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