Conservation Biology

Conservation biology addresses the preservation of species and their habitats throughout the world. Techniques used in these endeavors include genetics, vegetation restoration, wildlife management and other natural resource management activities. During the last 10,000 years, species extinctions have been occurring at an alarming rate, due to the human population explosion, and resulting habitat destruction for agriculture and other human purposes. The importance of conservation biology is underscored by the fact that an estimated 1800 populations per hour are being lost at the present pace of ecological damage. Conservation biology seeks to maintain populations of plants and animals, with an emphasis upon rare and endangered species. 

An intrinsic part of conservation biology is identification of species interactions, in order to understand the core elements of preserving an intact habitat in its full functionality.  Equally important is an understanding of genetic diversity within each species and the population dynamics that underlies the progression of species numbers from one generation to the next. Conservation biology is practiced by governmental agencies, but also by private organizations, since key element of land ownership are often privately owned; coordination of a regional strategy among landowners is vital for the preservation of biological corridors. Captive breeding programs are used as a defense of last resort in the preservation of a species.

  • Habitat fragmentation Featured Article Habitat fragmentation Habitat fragmentation

    Habitat fragmentation involves alteration of habitat resulting in spatial separation of habitat units from a previous state of greater... More »

  • Overfishing Featured Article Overfishing Overfishing

    Overfishing is the human act of extracting aquatic (that is, marine and freshwater) fauna from natural water bodies at a rate greater than the reproductive and recruitment... More »

  • Burnt Cape Featured Article Burnt Cape Burnt Cape

    The Burnt Cape is a limestone barren headland on the extreme northwest of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, Canada. The prevailing harsh cold climate and [calcareous]... More »

  • Long-finned pilot whale Featured Article Long-finned pilot whale Long-finned pilot whale

    The long-finned pilot whale (scientific name: Globicephala melas) is one of two species in the genus Globicephala. The pilot whale is so named because when swimming, the groups... More »

  • Orangutan Featured Article Orangutan Orangutan

    The largest of the Asian primates, the orangutan, belongs to the Hominidae (or Great Apes) family whose members also include humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas.  While fossil... More »

  • Macaroni penguin Featured Article Macaroni penguin Macaroni penguin

    The Macaroni penguin (scientific name: Eudyptes chrysolophus) is is one of seventeen species of flightless birds in the family of penguins. It is one of six "Crested... More »

  • Declining grassland biodiversity Featured Article Declining grassland biodiversity Declining grassland biodiversity

    Declining grassland biodiversity is a major ecological issue, although it has received only a small fraction of the attention given to forests or wetlands, by... More »

  • Bats' worth to agriculture Featured Article Bats' worth to agriculture Bats' worth to agriculture

    Bats Worth Billions to Agriculture: Pest-control Services at Risk Pest-control services provided by insect-eating bats in the United States likely save the U.S.... More »

  • Oldest Known Wild Bird in U.S. Featured Article Oldest Known Wild Bird in U.S. Oldest Known Wild Bird in U.S.

    Oldest Known Wild Bird in U.S. Returns to Midway to Raise Chick The oldest known U.S. wild bird—a coyly conservative 60—is a new mother. The bird, a Laysan... More »

Recently Updated
Namibian savanna woodlands Last Updated on 2015-07-25 20:49:25 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Namibian savanna woodlands ecoregion covers the Great Escarpment that delimits the interior of southern Africa from both the Kaokoveld Desert and Namib Desert. This broken and deeply dissected escarpment is an area of high endemism for plants, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds. The northern area of the ecoregion, the Kaoko escarpment, is an endemism "hotspot" (an area of extremely high species richness and endemism). The Namibian savanna woodlands comprise a land area of approximately 87,100 square miles. This northern area is poorly protected and is under threat from poaching, off-road driving, and to a lesser extent from farming, and resultant habitat fragmentation;  much of this destabilisation in the Angolan portion of the ecoregion stems from the Cuban mercenaries... More »
Kaokoveld Desert Last Updated on 2015-07-14 14:38:13 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Kaokoveld Desert represents the northern area of the vast Namib Desert. It is a harsh, arid landscape of rugged mountains, gravel plains and shifting sand dunes. Surface water is scarce, with only one perennial river flowing through the region, the Kunene River. However, the dry riverbeds transecting the area are the lifelines of the desert. They are well vegetated and are home to large mammals such as African Elephant, Black Rhino and Giraffe. The remainder of the landscape is poorly vegetated and extremely arid. Coastal fogs allow a range of interesting, desert-adapted animal species to survive in this low-rainfall environment. The relict gymnosperm Welwitschia mirabilis, which represents the sole surviving member of its family, is found throughout the ecoregion. The Kaokoveld Desert is well protected in... More »
Kalahari xeric savanna Last Updated on 2015-07-10 18:01:28 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Kalahari xeric savanna is an ecoregion in southern Africa characterized by a harsh climate, where temperatures may vary by 44°C from night to day, and rainfall is infrequent. Rain appears only during the austral summer on the reddish-brown Kalahari sands , pelting the savanna with violent, localized storms. Although this area is semi-arid, there is an impressive diversity of migratory birds and large mammals, both herbivorous and carnivorous; in fact, 550 different vertebrates have been observed in the Kalahari xeric savanna.  This ecoregion is classified within the Deserts and Xeric Shrublands biome. A considerable fraction (approximately 18 percent) of the Kalahari xeric savanna is protected. Where lands are not protected, overgrazing has often severely degraded habitat. Fences are a significant... More »
Highveld grasslands Last Updated on 2015-07-07 21:46:02 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Highveld grasslands ecoregion covers a large portion of west-central South Africa. Grasslands all over the world have experienced dramatic habitat destruction as a result of anthropogenic changes. The Highveld grasslands are no exception, with agriculture severely fragmenting this once-expansive region. This ecoregion now provides the last remaining stronghold of a number of grassland species that have suffered major reductions in abundance in the grassland biome, and which are consequently threatened with extinction (e.g. the Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradisea). There is a relatively biodiverse vertebrate fauna, with 608 taxa recorded. This ecoregion is part of the Montane Grasslands and Shrublands biome, within the Afrotropics Realm. The ecoregion draws its name from the high interior plateau known as... More »
Habitat fragmentation Last Updated on 2015-07-04 14:10:43 Habitat fragmentation involves alteration of habitat resulting in spatial separation of habitat units from a previous state of greater continuity. Figure 1. Aerial photograph of dry forest scrub in southern Zambia, fragmented by agricultural land conversion. 2008. Source: C.Michael Hogan This phenomenon occurs naturally on a geologic time-scale or in unusual and catastrophic events: however, since the Holocene era, humans have produced dramatic and swift transformation of landscapes throughout the world, resulting in a level of habitat fragmentation that has induced worldwide reduction in biodiversity and interuption of  sustainable yields of natural resources. Humans produce habitat fragmentation chiefly from agricultural land conversion, urbanization, pollution, deforestation and introduction of alien species; ironically, both human caused... More »