In This Issue
- Museum Data Found Useful for Conservation Planning
- Conservation Group Purchases Pristine Tropical Island
- Training Courses
- Information Highway Hi-Lites
- Current Literature
Researchers at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution have recently shown that museum collection data can be useful in making conservation decisions. In the paper "Amazonian Biotic Data and Conservation Decisions" published in the latest issue of Ciência e Cultura Journal of the Brazilian Association for the Advancement of Science (1999)1, scientists from the Departments of Vertebrate Zoology, Entomology, Botany, and Anthropology compare recently assembled data sets on various Amazonian taxa to primates, an indicator taxon in which distributional data are thought to be relatively complete and unbiased. The data used in the analyses include one group of amphibians, two groups each of fishes and flowering plants, and four groups of terrestrial arthropods, all of which are well known taxonomically.
Statistical and graphical methods indicate that some of the taxa in the data set are adequately sampled at the species level (heliconias, the plant genus Talisia, certain fish genera from both large and small rivers, the frog genus Leptodactylus, and primates); other taxa are not adequately sampled (the arthropod genera, Agra, Batesiana, Deinopis, and Hemiceras). Geographic ranges for all taxa also appear to be undersampled, including those for the indicator group.
Amazonian bird, heliconiine and ithomiine butterfly, and primate data are generally considered more robust than data for other Amazonian groups, and these groups are generally used preferentially in making conservation recommendations. However, the authors emphasize that there are several taxonomic groups, other than birds, butterflies, and primates, with adequate museum-associated data to use for species richness analyses at the level of the Amazon basin. Species richness is an important piece of information used in making informed conservation decisions. There are many other groups in Amazonia that remain undersampled, yet incomplete data can also be used effectively in conservation planning.
For information on obtaining reprints of "Amazonian Biotic Data and Conservation Decisions," contact W. Ronald Heyer, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, MRC 162, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC 20560; E-mail: email@example.com.
1 Heyer, W.R., J. Coddington, W.J. Kress, P. Acevedo, D. Cole, T.L. Erwin, B.J. Meggers, M.G. Pogue, R.W. Thorington, R.P. Vari, M.J. Weitzman, & S.H. Weitzman. 1999. Amazonian biotic data and conservation decisions. Ciência e Cultura Journal of the Brazilian Association for the Advancement of Science 51(5/6):372-385.
In what will be one of its most important land acquisitions to date, The Nature Conservancy announced its intention to purchase Palmyra Atoll, the last intact marine wilderness in the U.S. tropics. The atoll, located 1,052 miles south of Hawaii, consists of 680 acres of land and 15,512 acres of pristine coral reefs, emerald islets and turquoise lagoons. Palmyra is the only nesting habitat for migratory seabirds and shorebirds within 450,000 square miles of ocean.
Acquisition of the atoll by the Conservancy is being made possible by the generosity of Palmyra's current owners, the Fullard-Leo family of Hawaii. To ensure the atoll's preservation, the family has signed a purchase agreement with the Conservancy to sell Palmyra for considerably less than its $47 million asking price. The Conservancy will have until the first quarter of 2001 to raise the money to purchase and close on the property. Before agreeing to sell the atoll to the Conservancy, the Fullard-Leo family received a number of offers for commercial developments at Palmyra, including a repository for spent nuclear fuel and a major resort and casino development.
Palmyra provides habitat for remarkably diverse assortment of coral and marine species. Species from both the eastern and western Pacific meet in the waters around Palmyra, including a diverse assortment of coral. The atoll's reefs support three times the number of coral species found in Hawaii and the Caribbean, and five times the number of species found in the Florida Keys. Other marine species found around Palmyra include pilot whales, bottle-nosed dolphins, hawksbill turtles, black-tip sharks, tiger sharks, manta rays and giant clams. The globally threatened green sea turtle nests on Palmyra's white sand beaches. The atoll also is home to the world's largest land-based invertebrate, the coconut crab, so-named because of its ability to crack open a coconut with its huge claws.
The vegetation provides forage and shelter for thick flocks of birds. Resident species include the world's second largest colony of red footed boobies, second only to the Galapagos Islands; brown boobies and masked boobies; white terns and sooty terns. Palmyra also provides a solitary and vital rest stop for migratory bird species, such as the bristle-thighed curlew. The curlew, which is listed as a species of concern, migrates from Alaska to French Polynesia and other areas in the Southern Pacific. Some 4,000 miles from Alaska, Palmyra is the first place the bird rests on its journey. Only 6,000 of these birds are thought to exist. Several hundred curlews spend the winter on Palmyra.
In addition to raising the money to cover the costs of acquiring Palmyra, the Conservancy will begin immediately working to produce a management plan for the atoll. Priorities for the atoll include protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat and determining how best to manage public access to the atoll. For more information on The Nature Conservancy and the purchase of Palmyra Atoll, visit http://www.tnc.org/palmyra/.
The Global BioDiversity Institute (GBDI) is an organization that provides up-to-date information and training in biodiversity and biotechnology to scientists, lawyers, intellectual property professionals, government officials, and other stakeholders in developing countries to stimulate economic development and biodiversity conservation. GBDI offers a wide range of training courses that result in better use and conservation of biodiversity and improved sustainable economic development in rural communities of the developing world. GBDI and the University of Botswana announce the training course "Southern Africa Biodiversity, Biotechnology and Law" to be held August 14 - September 7, 2000, at the Botswana National Productivity Center (BNPC) in Gaborone, Botswana. For more information on this training course and others, contact GBDI at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.gbdi.org.
The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) and the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) have officially launched their new web site http://www.popplanet.org to examine the relationships among population, health, and environmental issues. Popplanet.org will feature an on-line moderated Bulletin Board where notices can be posted, ideas shared, and questions asked. Discussion topics include environment and health issues, water pollution and scarcity, land resources and degradation, protection of biological, flora and mineral resources, and environmental health impacts. Visitors can post questions, opinions, experiences, and observations about population-health-environment projects, research and data, and can network with other visitors.
PopPlanet.org addresses three regions and features nine countries in a briefing book format (in English, Spanish, and French) that will include data and information on key trends for each region and country. The briefing books will provide an overview and in-depth analysis of regional and country-specific information on the varied and complex relationships between population, health, environmental quality and sustainable economic and human development. The diversity of topics in the briefing books addresses forestry and desertification, biodiversity, energy, environmental health, environmental law, cultural resources, ecotourism and sustainable development issues. Currently, the regional briefing books cover Africa (Madagascar, Tanzania, and Nigeria), Central America (Costa Rica, Belize, and Guatemala), and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines).
A new web resource is available on Environmental Values and Policy Making. The Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs (New York) launched a project in 1998 on "Understanding Values: A Comparative Study of Values in Environmental Policy Making in China, Japan, India, and the United States." This multisite, multiyear collaborative research project is designed to help explain and compare values held by diverse constituencies in each of the four countries and their role in environmental policy making. The new web resource that draws from this project is available at http://www.cceia.org/environment.htm. Information at the site includes (1) brief descriptions of the project's specific case studies, collaborating researchers and institutes, (2) interviews with the project researchers, (3) notifications and reports of environmental values seminars and events hosted by the Carnegie Council, (4) a detailed description of the project methodology, and (5) project papers available to download in PDF format.
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Filippi, E., and Luiselli, L. 2000. Status of the Italian snake fauna and assessment of conservation threats. Biol. Conserv. 93(2):219-225.
Floater, G.J., and Zalucki, M.P. 2000. Habitat structure and egg distributions in the processionary caterpillar Ochrogaster lunifer: lessons for conservation and pest management. J. Appl. Ecol. 37(1):87-99.
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Forcada, J. 2000. Can population surveys show if the Mediterranean monk seal colony at Cap Blanc is declining in abundance? J. Appl. Ecol. 37(1):171-181.
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Gómez-Hinostrosa, C., and Hernández, H.M. 2000. Diversity, geographical distribution, and conservation of Cactaceae in the Mier Y Noriega region, Mexico. Biodivers. Conserv. 9(3):403-418.
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Mac Nally, R., Soderquist, T.R., and Tzaros, C. 2000. The conservation value of mesic gullies in dry forest landscapes: avian assemblages in the box-ironbark ecosystem of southern Australia. Biol. Conserv. 93(3):293-302.
MacIver, D.C., and Urquizo, N. 2000. Atmospheric change and biodiversity: co-networks and networking. Environ. Monitoring Assess. 61(1):93-100.
MacKinnon, J. 2000. New mammals in the 21st century? Ann. Mo. Bot. Garden 87(1):63-66.
Madigan, M.T. 2000. Extremophilic bacteria and microbial diversity. Ann. Mo. Bot. Garden 87(1):3-12.
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McAllister, L.S., Peniston, B.E., Leibowitz, S.G., Abbruzzese, B., and Hyman, J.B. 2000. A synoptic assessment for prioritizing wetland restoration efforts to optimize flood attenuation. Wetlands 20(1):70-83.
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