Conservation Science Blog

New research relevant to conservation in western North America

The Conservation Science Blog is intended to bring new and relevant research to the attention of conservation scientists, and facilitate discussion on how to apply this science to further conservation goals in western North America.

The Impact of Conservation on the Status of the World’s Vertebrates

A new study published in the journal Science shows the number of vertebrate species that are threatened worldwide is increasing, but that conservation activities are mitigating these losses. However, the (many) authors conclude that conservation efforts may not be sufficient to offset the main drivers of biodiversity loss. The full article can be found here.

Posted in Endangered species management |

Preserving biodiversity may reduce prevalence of infectious diseases

A new review in the journal Nature examines the evidence that high biodiversity helps reduce the transmission of infectious diseases. These include both human diseases such as Lyme disease that are transmitted via wildlife, as well as diseases of native plant and wildlife species. Although many questions remain about the generality of relationships between biodiversity and disease, it appears that ‘weedy’ species that persist even as biodiversity is lost are typically more competent vectors of disease than other species. Thus biodiversity loss may increase the relative abundance of species that can amplify disease transmission. An analogous effect may be seen in the human ‘microbiome’, where overuse of antibiotics can allow an increase to harmful levels of organisms that are normally kept at low densities by a diverse microbial community within the human body. The authors conclude that “despite remaining questions, connections between biodiversity and disease are now sufficiently clear to increase the urgency of local, regional, and global efforts to preserve natural ecosystems and the biodiversity they contain.”
The full paper is here.

New blog reports on policy work of the Society for Conservation Biology

We’re showcasing a guest blog in the right sidebar of the page, a new blog ( ) that presents the latest news on the policy activities of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB). The purpose of this blog is to make SCB members and the wider public aware of the variety of policy work being done by SCB’s global organization, regional sections, working groups, and chapters, and to facilitate dialogue between SCB members on how to make the society’s activities more effective at advancing our mission of conserving biological diversity.

New review draws lessons from wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies, US southwest, and Scandinavia

A new review paper by noted conservation geneticists Bob Wayne and Phil Hedrick, which is forthcoming in the journal Heredity, compares the genetic consequences of wolf recovery strategies in the Northern Rocky Mountains, southwestern U.S., and Europe. The review provides insights that may help enhance prospects for successful recovery of other wolf populations in the western U.S. In combination with other recent genetic research which has developed new methods for evaluation of the level of genetically-effective dispersal between wolf populations (see previous post.), our increasing knowledge of the conservation genetics of wolves should allow development of quantitative recovery goals and rigorous monitoring protocols for wolf recovery programs, as is required by Section 4(1)(B) and (4)(3) of the Endangered Species Act.
The full paper is here.

Posted in Endangered species management |