Protecting Life on Earth: An Introduction to the Science of Conservation

Protecting Life on Earth: An Introduction to the Science of Conservation

Language: English

Pages: 232

ISBN: 0520264320

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Written to be accessible to any college-level reader, Protecting Life on Earth offers a non-technical, yet comprehensive introduction to the growing field of conservation science. This multifaceted exploration of our current biodiversity crisis delivers vivid examples throughout, including features on some of nature’s most compelling wildlife. Beginning with a brief introduction to environmental history, the text introduces the central concepts of evolution and ecology, and covers several major issues related to the conservation of biodiversity including extinction, climate change, sustainability, conservation law, and invasive species. It also touches on adjacent disciples such as economics and sociology as they relate to conservation. The text even includes practical advice on the decisions we make every day—how we spend our money, where we live and work, what we eat and buy. Throughout, Protecting Life on Earth underscores the ways in which our future is tied to that of Earth’s threatened species, and demonstrates exactly why conservation is so vitally important for us all.











critics. Even among supporters, there are some ecologists and environmental groups that have difficulties with it, for reasons including the following: (1) its focus on species makes it too narrow when preservation problems are so large, (2) a more ecosystem-based approach would be preferred, (3) the act is more reactive than proactive in its protection, and (4) the focus on individual species on the brink of extinction often leads to costly and drawn-out legal battles. On the detractors’ side,

located in the Pacific Ocean about 1,600 kilometers west of the South American continent and just below the equator. The islands have been of interest to biologists because of their unique flora and fauna. The most famous biologist to study on these islands was Charles Darwin. The unique species and communities that Darwin and many others studied are now threatened by large numbers of alien plants and animals. Humans have been introducing species to the islands since the early 1800s, and endemic

of the pre-zygotic isolating mechanisms at work keeping the two populations apart. Eventually, the divergence is great enough between the two populations and they are no longer able to mate. We can then declare them to be two different species. The second camp is a departure from gradualism and was championed by Niles Eldredge and the well-known Harvard professor Stephen J. Gould. Eldredge and Gould both studied fossils and were convinced that the fossil record revealed a different evolutionary

to go to a stream that has trout in it and dive into the water with a mask and snorkel. Then, every time you see a rainbow trout, record three pieces of information: water temperature, speed of the stream (water velocity), and the amount of shade above the 68 e c o l o g y : i n d i v i d ua l s a n d p o p ul a t i o n s Percent shade itself on hot rocks, or would you look for it in wet places, such as under a rotten log? The answer depends somewhat on the species of salamander, but in

simple equation, we have the following: # of individuals gained – # of individuals lost = change in population number 74 The change in population number is also referred to as the population growth rate, abbreviated by the symbol r, so our formula becomes the following: e c o l o g y : i n d i v i d ua l s a n d p o p ul a t i o n s If you think about it, you may recognize that the population growth rate (r) is going to vary among species. For example, r will be larger for houseflies than it

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