Conservation Biology BIO 4422 & 5422 Dr. Eric Linder.

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Conservation Biology BIO 4422 & 5422 Dr. Eric Linder

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  • Conservation Biology BIO 4422 & 5422 Dr. Eric Linder
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  • Conservation Biology In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we only understand what we are taught Baba Dioum
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  • Conservation Biology What is Conservation Biology (not) Environmentalism Philosophy and social movement Game Management Biological Preservation
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  • Conservation Biology What is Conservation Biology? It is largely a response by biologists to the current biodiversity crisis This crisis is largely a result of the dramatic population growth AND the increased standard of living desired by so many More later
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  • Conservation Biology Con Bio is a synthetic field that applies principles of ecology, biogeography, population genetics, economics, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and other theoretically based disciplines Started in the 1980s But didnt people practice conservation before then? YES
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  • Conservation Biology Three important distinctions 1) includes, and has been partially led by, major contributions from theoretically oriented academicians 2) previous motivation was largely to maintain high yields of desired products 3) recognizes and embraces the contributions of nonbiologists
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  • Conservation Biology What is the goal? Understanding natural ecosystems will enough to maintain their diversity in the face of known (and unknown) threats E.g. intelligent and informed management decisions
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  • Conservation Biology What is the goal? Maintain diversity (genes, populations, species, habitats, ecosystems, landscapes, and ecological processes) What are Ecological Processes? E.g. natural selection, biogeochemical cycling, photosynthesis, energy transfer, hydrologic cycles
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  • Conservation Biology In summary Con Bio attempts to keep normal evolutionary processes working within a functioning ecological setting
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  • Conservation Biology Another paradigm Hutchinson described the natural world as an ecological theater serving as the stage for an evolutionary play Thus, Con Bio wishes to retain the actors (species) in the evolutionary play and the ecological stage on which it is performed
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  • Conservation Biology Historical Perspective Conservation in the US Compared to European landscapes, North America was relatively pristine However, many extinctions had already occurred reducing the megafauna diversity
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  • Conservation Biology Early colonists cleared the extensive eastern hardwood forests for timber (ships, raw timber, and charcoal) and agriculture Later forests again exploited for railroads and buildings After several hundred years, concept began to emerge
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  • Conservation Biology Romantic-transcendental Conservation Ethic (based upon writings of RW Emerson and HD Thoreau) in the 1850s Nature had a quasi-religious aspect Later John Muir used this argument to establish National Park system
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  • Conservation Biology Resource Conservation Ethic Popularized by Gifford Pinchot at the turn of the 20 th century greatest good for the greatest number for the longest time Nature was a combination of useful, useless and noxious items USFS (and BLM) and multiple-use concept
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  • Conservation Biology Evolutionary-ecological Land Ethic Aldo Leopold although trained in resource-based conservation, saw it as inadequate and scientifically inaccurate Furthermore, the development of ecology and evolution demonstrating the nonrandomness of processes and patterns
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  • Conservation Biology We can see each of these three views in various organizations (e.g. USFS, Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy) Current conservation efforts represent a more balanced view than the extremes
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  • Conservation Biology Early 1980s many edited books came out demonstrating the losses of biodiversity and habitat In 1985 the Society for Conservation Biology was formed and established the journal Conservation Biology Some universities have established conservation biology majors and graduate program emphasis
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  • Conservation Biology Guiding Principles of Conservation Bio Principle 1: Evolution is the basic axiom that unites all biology Principle 2: the ecological world is dynamic and largely nonequilibrial Principle 3: human presence must be included in conservation planning Table 1.1
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  • Conservation Biology Principle 1: Evolution is the basic axiom that unites all biology Con Bio must take evolution into account when trying to develop solutions to ecological problems E.g. the genetic composition of populations is dynamic. Thus, it is not the goal to stop the changes, but rather ensure they have the ability to change and adapt
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  • Conservation Biology Principle 2: the ecological world is dynamic and largely nonequilibrial If the world were in equilibrium and static, Con Bio would be easy At some spatial or temporal scale, all systems become dynamic Exercise: think of a ecosystem and then think of a natural disturbance
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  • Conservation Biology It is important to remember that just because systems are in nonequilibrium, that does not mean species are either unpredictable or ephemeral
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  • Conservation Biology Principle 3: human presence must be included in conservation planning Any conservation efforts that do not account for humans (either as the cause of the problem or part of the solution) are doomed to fail
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  • Conservation Biology Benefits to acknowledging people First, can incorporate indigenous knowledge Second, areas must be user-friendly Allow some limited multiple use Educate users on scientific rationale Third, aboriginal people have a right to their traditional lands
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  • Conservation Biology E.O. Wilsons four postulates 1) diversity of organisms is good 2) ecological complexity is good 3) evolution is good 4) biotic diversity has intrinsic value
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  • Conservation Biology Common Aspects of Conservation Biology A discipline responding to an immense crisis By definition, information is frequently incomplete and sometimes missing Typically is politically and economically charged Asked to provide quick, clear, unambiguous and scientifically defensible Is this realistic?
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  • Conservation Biology Fig 1.9
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  • Conservation Biology Common Aspects of Conservation Biology An Inexact Science The nature of ecological systems is complexity and variability Uncertainty is inherently part of ecology and conservation, and probabilistic, rather than prescriptive answers to problems are the norm
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  • Conservation Biology Common Aspects of Conservation Biology An Inexact Science Consequently, Con Bio scientists rely largely on quantitative approaches Unfortunately, this can result in a credibility gap Simple ecosystems are incredibly complex!! WHY?
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  • Conservation Biology Common Aspects of Conservation Biology Consequently, Con Bio should think in terms of the precautionary principleor First, do no harm
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  • Conservation Biology Common Aspects of Conservation Biology A value-laden science Science is value-free Should scientists lend their expertise to the debate (whatever it is) However, objectivity should never be compromised, or all credibility is lost
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  • Conservation Biology Common Aspects of Conservation Biology A science with an evolutionary time scale Traditional resource management typically attempts to maximize the current yield The goal is to simply retain the diversity of structure and function, forever think north Atlantic fisheries
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  • Conservation Biology Common Aspects of Conservation Biology A Science of Eternal Vigilance Even protected areas may not remain protected Think of ANWR
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  • Conservation Biology the big problem Expanding human demands Why is the environment is such trouble? Simply the collective impact of 6B+ people and their desire to live a good life
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  • Conservation Biology the big problem
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  • Hectares needed to support current lifestyle
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  • Conservation Biology the big problem Humans continue to co-opt more and more of the worlds primary productivity For example, 35% of ocean shelf and 60% of freshwater production are for human use Overall, somewhere between 20-32%
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  • Conservation Biology the big problem The ecological footprint is not equal across countries or within countries Fig 1.4
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  • Conservation Biology the big problem Remember, humans are part of the problem, but we are also part of the solution (a better one for us) Optimistic view 1) worlds growth rate slowing (education is key) 2) can change our consumption patterns Consider U.S. and Germany (or the UK)
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  • Conservation Biology Questions for Discussion 1) how would you explain the significance of human population growth and human ecological footprint for biodiversity conservation?
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  • Conservation Biology Questions for Discussion 2) what would conservation practice be like if we primarily followed the principles of Pinchots Resource Conservation Ethic? How would it differ from the present day focus of Conservation Biology? Is the present focus of conservation biology preferable to the Romantic- Transcendental Conservation Ethic? How?
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  • Conservation Biology Questions for Discussion 3) How would you answer a conservation skeptic who asserted that because ecological processes are non-equilibrial, conservation of current communities is misguided since they are destined to change?
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  • Conservation Biology Questions for Discussion 4) Why are multiple disciplinary perspective important in conservation biology?
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  • Conservation Biology Questions for Discussion 5) How are the views of conservation biology and conservation practice similar among the four essayists featured in this chapter similar? How are the different?