Posts Tagged ‘conservation’

A Quick Note on Commonsense in Conservation

Getting past the vitriol in the current conservation dialogue has become increasingly difficult.  Finally, Heather Tallis, Jane Lubchenco and hundreds others have written a commonsense essay that goes beyond the apparent need for confrontation.  I was delighted to see several members of Arizona State’s Center for Biodiversity Outcomes as original signatories.

Please read the essay in Nature at:

You can also sign the petition at:


Center for Biodiversity Outcomes at Arizona State

This fall, I have the privilege to work with Leah Gerber and others in the newly established Center for Biodiversity Outcomes at ASU.  The formal launch of the Center will happen November 13th and 14th with Georgina Mace delivering a public lecture.

The mission of the Center is to enable the discoveries and solutions needed to conserve and sustainably manage the Earth’s biodiversity in a time of rapid biophysical, institutional, and cultural change.

The recently built website for the center can be found at:



Forthcoming article in Environmental Modelling

As we put a bow on 2013, I wrapped up my fall semester with the acceptance of an article to the journal Environmental Modelling and Software.  With colleagues Jacopo Baggio, Kenny Salau, and Marco Janssen, we ran some agent-based modeling simulations for an article entitled “Modeling Decision-making across Habitat Patches:  Insights on Large-Scale Conservation Management”.  The gist of the article was to understand how environmental managers could intervene in a mosaic of connected landscapes for conservation.  We looked at predator-prey dynamics with carrying capacity.  Our goal was to compare management success at helping to sustain both species based on taking a local or global perspective and based on monitoring vegetation levels, prey populations, or predator populations.

Based on the model’s simulation results, we find that a global perspective (looking across the network) results in better outcomes than looking at an individual habitat patch (which is what many land managers end up doing in the real-world).  This, of course, is not surprising.  We also found that if managers were constrained to only monitor one population, they did best by looking at prey population levels.  This seems to be because its intermediary position provided insight into levels higher and lower on the food chain.  However, this goes against some theoretical perspectives that articulate monitoring at the lowest level (vegetation).

Our next step is to try to find real-world data to ground our models in empirical results.  We also hope to overlay a network of managers to see how their interactions affect outcomes and whether they are contingent on source-sink dynamics or other network possibilities.  Stay tuned.


National Park Twins

In my free time for extra writing, I’ve been dwelling on the idea of a travel book that focuses on what I call National Park Twins.  The idea is to look for places that may be a bit off the beaten path, that share the beauty and grandeur of many of the national parks without the crowds.  Anyone that has been stuck in a “bear jam” in Yellowstone or Glacier understands what I’m talking about.  In many cases there are great options with similar scenery in nearby public lands – land that is national forest, BLM managed, in state trust, but readily available for hiking, camping, climbing, hunting, and so on.  These places may lack interpretive signage and have only primitive services, but they have spectacular sights, open space and few people.

Some examples:

The Everglades and Big Cypress (photo from National Geographic)

Big Cypress

The Grand Canyon/Arches/Bryce/Zion and The Wave/Antelope Canyon/Grand Gulch (photo from National Geographic)

The Wave

Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness (photo from Backpacker Magazine)

Bob Marshall

In each case, these are photos from the National Park Twin.  While it’s not possible to see Old Faithful, Going-to-the-Sun Road or Bridal Veil Falls at the Twins, you are often surrounded by wilderness and solitude rather than RVs and hundreds of people.

Give it a shot.  Get off the asphalt and hit the dirt.