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.
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...
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National MonumentLast Updated on 2014-07-23 19:37:23The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument is the single largest conservation area under the U.S. flag, and the largest marine conservation area in the world. It encompasses 137,792 square miles of the Pacific Ocean – an area larger than all the country's national parks combined. If they were laid atop the continental United States, the Northwest Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) would cover a distance equal to that between New York City and Omaha, or Boston and the Florida Everglades.
The NWHI coral reefs are the foundation of an ecosystem that hosts more than 7,000 species, including marine mammals, fishes, sea turtles, birds, and invertebrates. Many are rare, threatened, or endangered. At least one quarter are endemic, found nowhere else on Earth. Many more remain unidentified or even unknown to science. Many of the islands and shallow water environments are... More »
Amphibian ecology and evolutionLast Updated on 2014-07-23 18:38:53
Amphibians are found in ponds, streams, wetlands of all types, under rotten logs, in leaf litter, in trees, underground, even in pools of rain water inside large leaves. However, they are not able to osmoregulate in salt water and, therefore, are not found in the ocean. Although some amphibians defy the rules and thrive in cold or dry conditions, the group reaches its highest diversity and numbers in warm, humid climates.
In the wet tropics, amphibians remain active all year around, but in the temperate zone, winter temperatures cool their bodies, forcing them to become inactive.
In the autumn, environmental cues direct amphibians to find moist, sheltered places like muddy pond bottoms or deep leaf litter to hibernate.
The wood frog (Rana sylvatica) has the most northerly range of any amphibian, crossing the Arctic circle, into the Mackenzie River valley in the Northwest... More »
Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, South AfricaLast Updated on 2014-07-10 16:27:07
The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park (32°06’25’’E to 32°56’46’’E. and 26°51’26’’S to 28°29’07’’S) is a World Heritage Site. There are few comparable protected coastlines within the tropics as pristine as St. Lucia's. The Park is one of the outstanding natural wetland sites of Africa. It lies on a tropical-subtropical interface with a wide range of terrestrial, wetland, estuarine lake, coastal and marine environments, which are scenically beautiful and basically unmodified by people. These include coral reefs, long sandy beaches, coastal dunes, lake systems, swamps, and extensive reed and papyrus wetlands, critical habitat for a range of species from Africa's sea, wetlands and savannas. The interaction of these environments with major floods and coastal storms in the Park's transitional... More »
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine SanctuaryLast Updated on 2014-07-10 16:22:15
The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is one of 13 sanctuaries in the National Marine Sanctuary System created under the U.S. Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act. The sanctuary's goal is to promote comprehensive and coordinated management, research, education and long-term monitoring for the endangered humpback whale and its habitat.
The Hawaiian Islands are the world's most isolated island archipelago, born of ancient volcanoes and inhabited by animals and plants derived from ancestors that found their way here over thousands of miles of ocean. According to scientists, the shallow, warm waters surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands constitute one of the world's most important habitats for the endangered humpback whale. Nearly two-thirds of the entire North Pacific population of humpback whales migrates to Hawai`i each winter. Here,... More »
Wetland protection for reptiles and amphibiansLast Updated on 2014-07-10 16:08:27
Wetlands serve as critical habitat for many species of amphibians and reptiles, collectively known as herpetofauna, or “herps". Their reliance on wetlands makes herps especially vulnerable to the loss and degradation of wetlands; indeed, global population declines in reptiles and amphibians may be related to changes in the quality and availability of wetland habitat.
All amphibians rely on wetlands to some extent. Many species lay gelatinous eggs under water, whereas others, like certain salamanders, lay their eggs on moist land. After hatching, many young amphibians enter an aquatic larval stage, which can last from several days to many months (or even several years, as is the case with the Pacific giant salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus). On becoming adults, most amphibians adopt a facultatively terrestrial lifestyle, and may use both wetland and upland... More »
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