Editor: Jane Villa-Lobos
PRESERVING GENETIC DIVERSITY
Leading scientists in the area of agricultural research sounded the alarm on the potential disasters facing the world's food supply at a symposium, "Genetic Diversity: Saving the World's Food Supply", on June 19 hosted by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, a consortium of donors that provides $300 million a year spread among 17 centers for agricultural research in developing countries. Also released at the symposium was a special double issue of DIVERSITY magazine on plant resources in Latin America containing articles by many of the world's leading experts on plant conservation, in which they confirm that the destruction of plants containing genes of future harvests is occurring at such a rapid rate that massive famines are possible unless the trend is reversed. It is critical, say these experts, that the international agricultural community mobilize and accelerate efforts to find, store, and safeguard this irreplaceable genetic material.
The World Bank symposium speakers included: Dr. H. Garrison Wilkes, University of Massachusetts; Dr. John Dodds, International Potato Center, Lima, Peru; Dr. Masaru Iwanaga, International Center for Tropical Agriculture, Cali, Colombia; Dr. Donald Winkelman, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Mexico City; and Carlos Arbizu, University of Ayacucho, Lima, Peru. The symposium, chaired by Dr. Peter Day, Center for Agricultural Molecular Biology, Rutgers University, was followed by a summation by Dick Van Sloten, International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, Rome, Italy.
Dr. Wilkes' spoke on genetic erosion, the loss of plant species, many of which have not yet been collected or catalogued, and which is threatening the world's food supply. Experts predict that by the year 2050, a quarter of the world's plant species may vanish as a result of replacement by more marketable varieties, deforestation, overgrazing, water control projects, air pollution, and urbanization. Wholesale loss of irreplaceable plant diversity has the potential to destabilize the world food supply. He recommended that one important way to lessen the vulnerability of our food supply is through plant breeding, which requires the use of naturally diverse plant species. However, more support is needed for plant breeders and gene banks. Presently, there are only 3,000 plant breeders in the U.S., fewer than there were in 1960. Dr. Dodds stressed the need for research to develop varieties of plants which are resistant to insects, thus saving the environment from pesticides. One example is the "hairy potato", developed by scientists at the International Potato Center in Lima, which protects itself by putting up a protective barrier of tiny hairs on the leaves of the plant. The barrier kills insects on contact, but is harmless to humans and wildlife.
With millions of people in the developing world starved for protein, beans are essential to survival. However, every time Latin American or African farmers harvest a crop of dry beans, they automatically lose 13 - 25% of the crop while it is being stored due to bean weevils. Dr. Iwanaga discussed the efforts of breeders at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Cali, who have found a safer and cheaper way to repel the weevil than spraying with insecticides. A wild bean plant found in Mexico over twenty years ago was discovered to contain a high degree of resistance to weevils never before found in cultivated beans. In 1990, breeders successfully transferred the weevil- resistant trait into common dry beans. This weevil-resistant bean plant could save poor Latin American and African farmers $100 million dollars a year. Similarly, one menace, the Russian wheat aphid, ravages the fields of wheat and barley throughout the world, with losses to the U.S. crop totaling over $300 million in the last five years. Without using pesticides, the only practical way to stop the insect's continued spread is through plant breeding. Dr. Winkleman illustrated the importance of seed banks, such as the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center near Mexico City, which has a collection of over 90,000 wheat varieties. Researchers there have identified sources of resistance from among their collection of wild varieties of wheat. The next step is to move that genetic resistance into high yielding varieties that are commonly grown in the U.S and around the world, preventing further wheat production losses. The final speaker, Mr. Arbizu, showed slides of forgotten crops of the Andes which farmers in the Andean highlands have domesticated and which have sustained an Indian population of more than 15 million people for three thousand years. He explained that many of these crops can be grown under extreme conditions and are believed to have the potential to be grown in other parts of the developing world. However, these crops are quickly disappearing due to environmental change, overpopulation and encroachment of modern agriculture. Unless efforts are made within the next 25 years to conserve them, it is likely that their rich genetic diversity will perish.
The symposium highlighted a few examples of efforts to preserve genetic diversity to save the world's food supply, and inspired the audience to read the numerous articles in the special issue of DIVERSITY which focuses on Latin America, one of the centers of origin of the world's cultivated plants. Many of the world's most important food crops, as well as those plants important for industrial, nursery, and medicinal uses are found in the Latin American centers of origin. With the current rapid rate of forest destruction in Latin America, it is essential that efforts be made to safeguard these irreplaceable plant genetic resources.
The Botanic Gardens Conservation Secretariat, a world-wide organization promoting plant conservation in botanic gardens, has produced a 22 minute video, "Variety - The key to life", as a teaching resource for introducing students 12 years and above to the subject of biodiversity by examining the amazing variety of plants on earth. It looks at the factors responsible for the decline of biodiversity - building developments, pollution, population growth, climatic change, forest clearance, - and outlines the essential role botanic gardens are playing in conservation for purposes such as agriculture, medical research and eduation. For further information, write: Botanic Gardens Conservation Secretariat, Descanso House, 199 Kew Road, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3BW, England.
Biodiversity and Conservation is a new quarterly international journal devoted to the publication of articles on all aspects of biological diversity, its description, analysis and conservation, and its controlled rational use by man. Research papers on biodiversity and conservation and contributions which deal with the practicalities of conservation management, economic, social and political issues and with case studies are welcome. The Editors encourage contributions from developing countries in order to realize proper global perspectives on matters of biodiversity and conservation. For subscription information in the United States and Canada, write: Journals Promotion Dept., Chapman and Hall, 29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001-2291; for the rest of the world, write: Journals Promotion Dept., Chapman and Hall, 2-6 Boundary Row, London SE1 8HN, England.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has an opening for an Endangered Species Botanist for Texas, starting September 1, 1991. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the primary federal agency responsible for implementing the Endangered Species Act. The incumbent will be stationed at the Service's new Austin Field Office and will be responsible for all aspects of the Texas plant endangered species program. Primary duties will include evaluating species for inclusion on the endangered species list, developing recovery plans for listed species, supervising or conducting recovery projects, providing technical botanical assistance to Service field offices in Arlington, Houston and Corpus Cristi, and coordinating endangered plant activities with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and other agencies and organizations.
General qualifications include: a master's degree or
equivalent job experience in botany; background in plant
taxonomy/ecology; general knowledge of the Texas and Southwestern
floras; knowledge of the federal Endangered Species Act; and good
writing and editing skills. Prior job experience with a federal
or state conservation agency is desirable but not required.
Grade/Salary: Beginning GS-9, $25,717. Full performance level is
GS-11, $31,116. For application procedures and information,
please contact: Charles McDonald, U. S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, P. O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103; (505) 766-3972.
La Selva Jungle Lodge, located in the Amazon basin of
Ecuador, has a position available immediately for an entomologist
or botanist to work on a butterfly farm in Ecuador. The pilot
project, which breeds butterflies for exportation in pupae to
exhibition centers around the world, is an ecologically sound,
extractive use of the rain forest. Starting salary is low, but
commensurate with experience. Room and board included. Great
position for advancement and career opportunity. If interested,
write La Selva, Av. 6 de Diciembre 2816 y J. Orton, Quito,
Ecuador; Tel: 598 2 550 995 or 593 2 545 425. For quick results:
Fax 011 593 2 563 814 or 011 593 2 554 686.
Conservation International has three positions for immediate hiring: Regional Specialist for Central America, Regional Strategic Planning Coordinator, and Regional Coordinator - Environmental Monitoring. The Regional Specialist for Central America will be located in the Washington, D.C. office with frequent travel to Central American field sites, and will be responsible for coordinating regional and country conservation activities within the Central American region - Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. The Regional Strategic Planning Coordinator will be responsible for the coordination of the in-region strategic planning activities of the Environmental Strategic Planning, Monitoring, and Information Dissemination component of the Programa Ambiental Centro America (PACA) and will be located in Central America (city to be determined). The Regional Coordinator - Environmental Monitoring will be responsible for the oversight of the activities in Central America of the Environmental Monitoring program of the PACA project and will be located in San Jose or Turrialba, Costa Rica or Guatemala City, Guatemala. For more information on the first position, contact: Abbe Reis, Conservation International, 1015 18th Street, N.W., Suite 1000, Washington, D.C. 20036, Fax: (202) 887-5188; for the second position, contact: Abbe Reis or David Kauck, Regional Coordinator, PACA, Apartado 3571, San Jose, 1000, Costa Rica, Fax: (506) 24-50-57; for the latter position, contact Ed Backus (Washington address) or David Kauck.
Anon. 1991. African elephant proposed for reclassification
to endangered. End. Species Tech. Bull. 16(4): 6-7.
Anon. 1991. Alaskan birds not recovering. Marine Cons. News 3(2): 15. (From 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill)
Anon. 1991. From global crisis towards ecological agriculture. Declaration of the International Movement for Ecological Agriculture. The Ecologist 21(2): 107-112. (Statement drawn up at a meeting of the Int. Mvmt. for Ecol. Ag., held in Penang, Malaysia 10-13 Jan. 1990)
Anon. 1991. Seven California species proposed for listing during March 1991. End. Species Tech. Bull. 16(4): 3-4.
Anon. 1991. Shark conservation: a worldwide concern. Marine Cons. News 3(2): 9.
Anon. 1991. Unique debt swap to protect forest. The Canopy Spring: 1-2. (Children's Rainforest in Costa Rica)
Altieri, M.A. 1991. Traditional farming in Latin America. The Ecologist 21(2): 93-96. (The benefits of diversity)
Anderson, C. 1991. Keeping new zoo diseases out of the wild. Washington Post June 3: A3. (Reintroduction programs)
Archer, M. 1991. Life's scroll of prophecy: conservation and the fossil record. Aust. Nat. Hist. 23(8): 654-655. (Putting a species' current status in the proper context)
Bass, G. 1991. Weapons against extinction. Wildlife in North Carolina March: 8-13. (Laws relating to endangered species)
Baumer, M. 1990. Agroforestry and Desertification. Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, The Netherlands.
Berger, J. and Wehausen, J.D. 1991. Consequences of a mammalian predator-prey disequilibrium in the Great Basin Desert. Cons. Biology 5(2): 244-248. (Implications for conservation and restoration)
Bergman, C.A. 1991. The bust! Audubon 93(3): 66-76. (Illegal trade in parrots at the Texas-Mexico border)
Boussard, L. 1991. Life list, U.S.A. Wilderness 54(193): 17-21. (Current listing of (official) endangered and threatened species in the U.S.)
Bryant, P.J. and Remington, J. (Eds.) 1990. Endangered Wildlife and Habitats in Southern California. Natural History Foundation of Orange County, Newport Beach, CA. 114 pp.
Burrows, W.H. 1991. A question of balance. Search 22(2): 46-48. (Tree-clearing and education in Australia)
Callicott, J.B. 1991. Conservation ethics and fishery management. Fisheries 16(2): 22-28.
Connelly, J. 1991. The big cut. Sierra 76(3): 42-53. (Logging old growth forest in British Columbia)
Conniff, R. 1991. RAP: on the fast track in Ecuador's tropical forests. Smithsonian 22(3): 36-49. (Rapid Assessment Program)
Cook, L. 1991. In Ghana, tree and trust take root. The Canopy Spring: 7. (Environmental stewardship by local villagers)
Cousins, S.H. 1991. Species diversity measurement: choosing the right index. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 6(6): 190- 192.
Davis, W. and Henley, T. 1990. Penan: Voice for the Borneo Rainforest. Western Canada Wilderness Committee, WILD Campaign, Canada. 159 pp.
DocTer International Institute for Environmental Studies. (Preparer). 1991. European Environmental Handbook. DocTer International U.K., London. 1100 pp.
Donnelly, M. 1991. U.S. censures Japan for hawksbill trade: sets precedent in wildlife law. Marine Cons. News 3(2): 8.
Earley, L.S. 1991. Going, going...? Wildlife in North Carolina March: 14-19. (Endangered species in North Carolina)
Earley, L.S. 1991. What the bones tell. Wildlife in North Carolina March: 30-35. (Lessons from previous extinctions)
Eiswerth, M.E. (Ed.) 1990. Marine Biological Diversity: report of a meeting of the Marine Biological Diversity Working Group. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Woods Hole, MA. 57 pp.
Gaski, A.L. 1991. U.S. cites Japan as a violator for sea turtle trade. TRAFFIC (U.S.A.) 11(1): 3.
Goldsmith, E. and Hildyard, N. 1991. "World Agriculture: Toward 2000", FAO's plan to feed the world. The Ecologist 21(2): 81-92.
Goulding, M. 1990. Amazon: The Flooded Forest. Sterling Publishing, New York. 208 pp.
Greenberg, R. 1990. Southern Mexico: Crossroads for Migratory Birds. Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Washington, DC. (Booklet in English or Spanish)
Grup Balear D'Ornitologia I Defensa de la Naturalesa. 1990. El Archipielago de Cabrera, un Parque Nacional en Litigio. Editorial Moll, Mallorca, Spain. 181 pp.
Guzman, H.M. 1991. Restoration of coral reefs in Pacific Costa Rica. Cons. Biology 5(2): 189-195.
Hallock, L.L. 1991. Ash Meadows and recovery efforts for its endangered aquatic species. End. Species Tech. Bull. 16(4): 1, 4-6.
Hannam, I. 1991. Laws for trees - regulation or co- operation? Search 22(2): 51-52. (Australia)
Hansen, A.J., Spies, T.A., Swanson, F.J. and Ohmann, J.L. 1991. Conserving biodiversity in managed forests. BioScience 41(6): 382-392.
Heneman, B. 1991. Who fights for the Persian Gulf? Marine Cons. News 3(2): 1, 11, 14.
Houston, D.B., Schreiner, E.G., Moorhead, B.B. and Olson, R.W. 1991. Mountain goat management in Olympic National Park: a progress report. Natural Areas Journal 11(2): 87-92. (Removal of an introduced animal)
Hughes, A.L. 1991. MHC polymorphism and the design of captive breeding programs. Cons. Biology 5(2): 249-251. (Major histocompatibility complex)
Jaenike, J. 1991. Mass extinction of European fungi. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 6(6): 174-175.
Johnson, K.A. 1991. Bear trade galls conservationists. TRAFFIC (U.S.A.) 11(1): 1-2.
Kinnaird, M.F. and O'Brien, T.G. 1991. Viable populations for an endangered forest primate, the Tana River crested mangabey (Cercocebus galeritus galeritus). Cons. Biology 5(2): 203-213.
Kochalka, J. 1991. Hallazgo del genero Chrysometa (Araneae: Tetragnathidae) en Paraguay. Bol. Mus. Nac. Hist. Nat. Parag. 10: 23-32. (Habitat of Chrysometa threatened by deforestation)
Limpus, C.J. and Miller, J.D. 1990. The use of measured scutes of hawksbill turtles, Eretmochelys imbricata, in the management of the tortoiseshell (bekko) trade. Aust. Wildlife Research 17(6): 633-639.
Loman, J. and Von Schantz, T. 1991. Birds in a farmland - more species in small than in large habitat islands. Cons. Biology 5(2): 176-188.
Mace, G.M. and Russell, L. 1991. Assessing extinction threats: towards a reevaluation of IUCN threatened species categories. Cons. Biology 5(2): 148-157.
Marshall, G. 1991. FAO and forestry. The Ecologist 21(2): 66-72. (FAO's policies promote forest destruction)
Marshall, N.T. and Moyer, D. 1991. Increased demand for U.S. native herbs causes concern. TRAFFIC (U.S.A.) 11(1): 2-3.
McCann, J. 1991. Samana Bay - a paradise waiting to be protected, or exploited? Marine Cons. News 3(2): 5. (Dominican Republic)
McCarthy, J. 1991. Sites of Special Scientific Interest: the British experience. Natural Areas Journal 11(2): 108-113.
McLeod, C. 1991. Going, going, gone? Nature Canada 20(2): 11-12. (Eastern cougar may still be alive in New Brunswick)
Miller, K. and Tangley, L. 1991. Trees of Life: Saving Tropical Forests and Their Biological Wealth. Beacon Press, Boston, MA. 218 pp.
Myers, N. (Compiler). 1990. The Wild Supermarket: the Importance of Biological Diversity to Food Security. WWF, Gland, Switzerland. 32 pp.
Nadolny, C. 1991. The dilemma of rural tree clearing. Search 22(2): 43-46. (Australia)
Nehlsen, W., Williams, J.E. and Lichatowich, J.A. 1991. Pacific salmon at the crossroads: stocks at risk from California, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. Fisheries 16(2): 4-21. (214 stocks of 7 species)
Nickens, E. 1991. Vanishing landscapes. Wildlife in North Carolina March: 24-29. (Endangered habitats in North Carolina)
Noon, B.R. and Young, K. 1991. Evidence of continuing worldwide declines in bird populations: insights from an international conference in New Zealand. Cons. Biology 5(2): 141-143.
Packer, C., et al. 1991. Case study of a population bottleneck: lions of the Ngorongoro Crater. Cons. Biology 5(2): 219-230.
Payne, J. 1990. Wild Malaysia: The Wildlife and Scenery of Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak, and Sabah. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. 208 pp.
Percy, S. 1991. Villagers will have a stake in Indian forest. New Scientist 130(1770): 16. (Forestry project of Britain's Overseas Devel. Admin. in Karnataka, India)
Pickard, J. 1991. Sheep and rabbits - the biological chainsaws. Search 22(2): 48-50. (Australia)
Reinthal, P.N. and Stiassny, M.L. J. 1991. The freshwater fishes of Madagascar: a study of an endangered fauna with recommendations for a conservation strategy. Cons. Biology 5(2): 231-243.
Reyna de Aguilar, M.L. 1991. Seminario [de CITES] sobre proteccion de las plantas [en Caracas, Venezuela, 2-5 Julio 1990]. Pankia, Bol. Inform. Jard. Bot. La Laguna [El Salvador] 10(1): 3-4.
Rodwell, J. 1991. Where the wild plants are. New Scientist 130(1770): 33-36. (Plant conservation implications of Britain's new vegetation survey)
Sankaran, R. 1990. Status of the swamp deer Cervus duvauceli duvauceli in the Dudwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 87(2): 250-259. (Declining due to movement from protected areas, India)
Sharpton, V.L. and Ward, P.D. (Eds.) 1990. Global Catastrophes in Earth History; An Interdisciplinary Conference on Impacts, Volcanism, and Mass Mortality. The Geological Society of America, Inc., Boulder, CO. 631 pp. (Special Paper 247. Contains several papers that address historic mass extinctions)
Strier, K.B. 1991. Demography and conservation of an endangered primate, Brachyteles arachnoides. Cons. Biology 5(2): 214-218. (Muriquis in Brazil)
Taylor, K. 1991. The bird black hole. BBC Wildlife 9(5): 324-329. (Birds used for target shooting in Malta)
Topik, C. 1991. Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy join forces to conserve biological diversity. End. Species Tech. Bull. 16(4): 8.
Tyler, M.J. 1991. Where have all the frogs gone? Aust. Nat. Hist. 23(8): 618-625.
Van Tighem, K. 1991. Last-ditch effort. Nature Canada 20(2): 40-45. (Restoring wildlife habitat in Southern Alberta's irrigation district)
Venters, V. 1991. The race to save life on earth. Wildlife in North Carolina March: 2-7.
Vrijenhoek, R.C. and Leberg, P.L. 1991. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater: a comment on management for MHC diversity in captive breeding populations. Cons. Biology 5(2): 252-254. (Response to paper in same journal by Hughes)
Walgate, R. 1990. Miracle or Menace? Biotechnology and the Third World. Panos Dossier, London. 182 pp.
Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources. 1991. State of Washington Natural Heritage Plan. 1991 Biennial Final. Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA. 141 pp.
Weiss, S.B., Rich, P.M., Murphy, D.D., Calvert, W.H. and Ehrlich, P.R. 1991. Forest canopy structure at overwintering monarch butterfly sites: measurements with hemispherical photography. Cons. Biology 5(2): 165-175.
World Conservation Union. 1990. Conservation Atlas of Tropical Forests: Asia and the Pacific. Simon & Schuster, New York. 256 pp.
World Wide Fund for Nature. 1990. WWF Support for Global Wetlands Conservation. WWF International, Gland, Switzerland. 20 pp.
Yonzon, P.B. and Hunter Jr., M.L. 1991. Cheese, tourists, and red pandas in the Nepal Himalayas. Cons. Biology 5(2): 196-202. (Cheese production for Western tourists has led to a decrease in the red panda population)
Young, N.M. 1991. Species in peril: Gulf of California harbor porpoise. Marine Cons. News 3(2): 4. (The vaquita, Phocena sinus)
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