Conservation Biology

Monique Reed monique at MAIL.BIO.TAMU.EDU
Tue Aug 22 11:09:21 CDT 2000

We don't currently have such a course per se, but I've done some work with the local Conservation Biology Society, and I have a few ideas that may work.  These are mostly in line with teaching students how to look, how to sample,  how to find answers, and how to retrieve and store data.

In no particular order:

Habitat asessment:  water sampling--(DO, turbidity, bacteria, algae) , soil sampling, vegetation transects, % cover, botanical specimen preparation, etc.  Field note how-to's.

Taxonomy unit--make and practice with dichotomous keys, intro to identification guides for different regions and groups, salient things to look for in different groups, how to read a  monograph or other taxonomic article.

Computer unit--biodiversity websites, bioinformatics such as databases, mapping, GPS, etc.

Animal population assessment--bird watching/catching/banding techniques, mammal capture techniques, tracking, radio-collar & GPS use, insect catching/lighting, bat observation, basic herpetological techniques

Invasive species unit:  kudzu, nutria, giant water spangles, Lygodium, starlings, Japanese beetles--whatever is in your area.  Combine with a visit to a local USDA/APHIS office, if possible

Mapping and landforms unit--vegetation regions of the world &vegetation maps, local plant communities, topo map reading, soil maps, erosion, watersheds, aquifers, etc.

Film day:  selections from _Private Life of Plants_, _Life on Earth_, or other good documentary about the biota.

Legalities unit--CITES, Endangered Species Act and species recovery plans, Wetlands regulations---what the laws say, how they're interpreted, where they are lacking.  Hands-on work with the documents and with red tape involved in obtaining domestic and foreign collection permits.

Field trip:  visit a local Nature Conservancy property, a wildlife reserve, a controlled burn, or (if you're lucky enough to have one) a local herbalist/wisewoman/tribal elder/conservationist who really knows the local plants and animals.

Ongoing project:  development of a local landscape or vacant area into a wildlife-friendly zone with native plants (especially for birds, mammals, butterflies, hummingbirds), soil improvement, exotic eradication.  You can probably find someone in the local community who is willing to offer their property as a lab.  If you can't actually do this, an on-paper plan for rendering the campus, a local golf course, a ranch, etc. more native-friendly is good, too.

Monique Reed
Texas A&M

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