The human-leopard conflict in India… who are the victims?

Conflicts between humans and leopards in India have increased in frequency over the past few decades, due to habitat fragmentation and a decrease in human tolerance towards wildlife. To assess the long-term effects of this conflict, researchers studied two distinct regions in India to track the opinions of local communities on leopards. The researchers compared local sentiment about leopards to records and found that local opinions are related to distance from leopard habitat and history of attacks: the region in which humans live in closest proximity to the leopards’ habitat (Pauri), has had many more attacks and people hold much more negative views towards leopards.

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The biodiversity emergency: what can we all do?

There is a biodiversity crisis. The repercussions of species and habitat loss are everywhere: Animals (giant pandas or bees), and places (coral reefs), are experiencing negative human-related impacts. This means more than just loss of physical beauty; all habitats and species are interconnected, so a loss of something as seemingly small as a bee population will reduce pollination of plants that we eat. There is hope of recovery, but it begins by motivating people to help. As the world is becoming more urbanized and disconnected from nature, where does motivation for environmental conservation and stewardship come from?

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Pollution to Solution: Can We Get Rid of Plastics in Our Oceans?

The issue of marine plastic pollution has become a pressing, global concern. A few organizations have been created over the past few decades that have tried to address the threat of marine pollution, but none have been solely dedicated to the issue. This has led to a lack of dedication towards the issue at the international scale, and only recently have increased measures been taken to address marine plastic pollution. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was created by world leaders in 2015, and since then a number of conferences and independent initiatives have taken place across the globe to promote ocean health. Gatherings like the United Nation’s Oceans Conference and statewide bans on plastic bags can provide the groundwork to evolve these agreements and engage governments and communities to work to reduce marine plastic pollution.

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Captive breeding: Saving species from extinction or sending them there?

In the midst of the sixth mass extinction, conservation efforts are more important now than ever. Captive breeding programs aim to supplement wild populations with individuals born in captivity. Seems great, right? Well… maybe. Despite good intentions, captive breeding and release programs can have permanent harmful effects on the world’s most vulnerable species. This recent study explores the demographic and genetic effects of a common conservation practice.

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The global buzz: A call to restore insect biodiversity

Insects are in decline worldwide. Without a rethinking of current agricultural practices and a bucking of trends in urbanization, biodiversity of insects is threatened globally. Insects are the structural and functional base – the linchpin – of all ecosystems. We are part of those ecosystems. Unlike the vastness of climate change and its many aspects, the solutions to the problem of insect declines are readily available. With proper perspective, appreciation, and respect for the roles insects play in ecosystem integrity, human health, and economic markets, we can reverse course.

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Genetics and bee conservation: telling the full story of a species’ decline

We’ve all probably watched bees engage in pollination as they move from flower to flower collecting pollen. This process is essential to the reproduction of many plants, including crops. When most people think of pollinators, they think of the honey bee (Apis mellifera). However, more than 20,000 species of bees have been described—all of which are pollinators! In fact, honey bees are actually native to southeast Asia and have spread across the globe due to human activities, potentially competing with other bees. Despite the honey bee’s ubiquity and popularity, native bees are important pollinators because ecological adaptations that differ from those of honey bees. For example, the tongues of many native bees such as bumble bees can reach the nectar of longer flowers for pollination better than the honey bee.

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Preserving Culturally-Important Xochimilco Wetlands Requires Policy and Personal Change

Created by the Aztecs in 500 CE for agriculture, Xochimilco is an area of culturally important wetlands in southern Mexico City. Despite its cultural and economic importance, this area is experiencing wetland degradation and loss due to urban development and water quality issues. Even with a high level of local concern about wetland degradation, little effort will be made toward conservation without a change in public policies regarding local infrastructure and development.

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The Novel Axolotl: A Conservation Paradox

The axolotl is a special kind of salamander. Unlike other salamanders, this species maintains its juvenile morphology and remains aquatic its entire life. This unique “forever-young” feature is one reason axolotls are so widely popular. In fact, the axolotl is the most widely distributed amphibian worldwide because of its attraction as a pet and its status as a model organism in biomedical research. At the same time, this species is on the verge of extinction in its native habitat, giving it the unique status of a “conservation paradox”.

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Using Big Data Analytics to Enhance Conservation Efforts

“Big data” is a term that is on the rise as the amount of data that is being collected increases at an ever growing rate across all fields. The wildlife and conservation biology field is no exception, especially as technology, such as camera trap imagery, is being more widely used. With vast data collection comes the need to analyze it in an effective manner, especially as the growth of data can far surpass the traditional resources available for analysis. Technology has emerged that is able to tackle big data and produce analyses faster than previously possible, providing opportunities to enhance conservation efforts.

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