planetwide conservation

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 8 09:13:39 CST 1999

    I think Dr. Shuey has raised some important issues
(no need to be red-faced, many of us in this forum make
mistakes or get a little wound up when firing off e-mails about things
that concern us deeply).
     I understand that most money is probably now being
directed toward ecosystems rather than species, and that
makes sense.  But there is still a lot being spent on
individual species as well, with success stories such as
the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and being from Kansas,
the come back of whooping crane is of special interest
to me.
     My concern is that we might be neglecting certain
important species either because they aren't appealing
to the public (bats, spiders, snakes, many "bugs",
etc.), or because they are located in third world
countries which lack the resources we have.  We lament
the loss of the passenger pigeon and dusky seaside
sparrow (especially those of us in the U.S.).  However,
I just don't want to wake up 10 years hence and find
that the "bumble-bee bat" of Thailand has gone extinct
because it's not cute like seal pups and wolf cubs, and
it's not in North America where we tend to spend too
much on certain species (my subjecive opinion).
     From the standpoint of worldwide biodiversity, the
bumble-bee bat probably should be given more attention
than something like the dusky seaside sparrow.  It's not
as cute and doesn't live in the U.S., but the tiny
populations of this bat are the mere remnants of a
substantial "chunk" of chiropteran evolutionary history,
and on top of that it's the smallest of all mammals.
      I understand that conservation resources are never
enough and everyone has there own particular areas of
responsibility (geographically, and sometimes
taxonomically).  However, from the perspective of
someone who classifies all organisms, particularly at
higher taxonomic levels, I think certain "remnant"
species should be looked at carefully to make sure they
don't get overlooked just because the public isn't
interested and they (and even some biologists) don't
always realize that taxonomic diversity is extremely
uneven in its distribution (aardvarks vs. some beetle
genera, to use an extreme example).  Anyway, I look
forward to studying some of the papers that have been
suggested and the internet site (British Museum site if
I recall correctly).   The switch to  concentrating on
ecosystem preservation is of great importance, but we
still do spend funds on individual species.  Hopefully
we can expand the financial "pie" for all this work, for
a shrinking pie will inevitably lead to unproductive
bickering.  If the public's fascination with dinosaurs
generates more funding for biology, I think that's
great, but I am anxious to get back to bacteria,
invertebrates, and other things the public has
relatively little interest in.
                         Cheers, Kenneth Kinman

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