General call for ConservationBytes.com contributions

10 08 2010

After just over two years running this blog, I’ve now built up a pretty good audience of conservation-interested people. The blog now has a monthly view rate of over 12,000 and >80 e-mail subscribers, so the material is being viewed far and wide. I want to thank all of you for your interest and comments.

It seems appropriate then to put out a general call for ConservationBytes.com contributions. I’ve had several guest posts now from students (Fishing for conservationMake your conservation PhD relevant), postdocs (Coming to grips with the buffalo problem) and colleagues (Interview with a social [conservation] scientist, Put the bite back into biodiversity conservation), but these have come to me fairly haphazardly. I’d therefore like to invite short articles from the CB readership to expand the topics covered and provide a more interactive conservation discussion. Read the rest of this entry »





Conservation quotes: Attenborough to Irwin

6 08 2010

© smh.com.au

Over the years I’ve collected various conservation biology-related quotes that have caught my attention, for whatever reason. I thought that it would make an interesting blog post (although I agree that quotes are a very weak form of wit). Regardless of their import, I hope you enjoy them and perhaps at least find them interesting, if not wise.

It is that range of biodiversity that we must care for – the whole thing – rather than just one or two stars.

David Attenborough, BBC Interview

It’s a moral question about whether we have the right to exterminate species.

David Attenborough, BBC Interview

The only way to save a rhinoceros is to save the environment in which it lives, because there’s a mutual dependency between it and millions of other species of both animals and plants.

David Attenborough, BBC Interview

The ‘control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man.

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

The more you know about a species, the more you understand about how better to help protect them.

Alan Clark

As we race toward the future, we must never forget the fundamental reality of our situation: we are flying blind.

Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski & John Peterson Myers, Our Stolen Future

Just imagine the banner headlines if a marine biologist were to discover a species of dolphin that wove large, intricately meshed fishing nets, twenty dolphin-lengths in diameter! Yet we take a spider web for granted, as a nuisance in the house rather than as one of the wonders of the world. And think of the furore if Jane Goodall returned from Gombe stream with photographs of wild chimpanzees building their own houses, well roofed and insulated, of painstakingly selected stones neatly bonded and mortared! Yet caddis larvae, who do precisely that, command only passing interest.

Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

Read the rest of this entry »





August issue of Conservation Letters and more citation statistics

3 08 2010

Trash fish © A. Lobo

The latest issue (Volume 3, Issue 4 – August 2010) of Conservation Letters is now available free-of-charge online. This issue’s papers include 1 Mini-Review, 2 Policy Perspectives, 6 Letters, 1 Correspondence and 1 Response:





Linking disease, demography and climate

1 08 2010

Last week I mentioned that a group of us from Australia were travelling to Chicago to work with Bob Lacy, Phil Miller, JP Pollak and Resit Akcakaya to make some pretty exciting developments in next-generation conservation ecology and management software. Also attending were Barry Brook, our postdocs: Damien Fordham, Thomas Prowse and Mike Watts, our colleague (and former postdoc) Clive McMahon, and a student of Phil’s, Michelle Verant. At the closing of the week-long workshop, I thought I’d share my thoughts on how it all went.

In a word, it was ‘productive’. It’s not often that you can spend 1 week locked in a tiny room with 10 other geeks and produce so many good and state-of-the-art models, but we certainly achieved more than we had anticipated.

Let me explain in brief why it’s so exciting. First, I must say that even the semi-quantitative among you should be ready for the appearance of ‘Meta-Model Manager (MMM)’ in the coming months. This clever piece of software was devised by JP, Bob and Phil to make disparate models ‘talk’ to each other during a population projection run. We had dabbled with MMM a little last year, but its value really came to light this week.

We used MMM to combine several different models that individually fail to capture the full behaviour of a population. Most of you will be familiar with the individual-based population viability (PVA) software Vortex that allows relatively easy PVA model building and is particular useful for predicting extinction risk of small populations. What you most likely don’t know exists is what Phil, Bob and JP call Outbreak – an epidemiological modelling software based on the classic susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered framework. Outbreak is also an individual-based model that can talk directly to Vortex, but only through MMM. Read the rest of this entry »