[Taxacom] Conservation

Richard Jensen rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Fri Apr 27 07:37:50 CDT 2012

I disagree with the notion that conservation is a religious concept.  
Yes, most religions refer to stewardship, responsible use, or similar 
ideas, but one does not have to be a follower of any religion, or 
believe in any religious entity in order to recognize the simple logic 
of conservation.


Dick J

On 4/27/2012 8:23 AM, Chris Thompson wrote:
> Ken, Stephen, et alia:
> Yes, you are both right and right-on.
> However, a few other things need to be mentioned.
> We are supposedly scientists first and need to recognize that
> "conservation," is really a religious concept. That is, man has a
> responsible to "god," to maintain the world as "god" created the world.
> So, "conservation" is focused on preserving, on extinction, how to stop that
> process, etc.
> But as scientists we should be recognizing that extinction is a natural
> component of Evolution. So, there has been, is and will continue to be
> extinction.
> But your points are right on. From our species perspective we need to
> "conserve" what are the best and most important elements of the
> biodiversity. And "best" is defined in respects to our species. So, polar
> bears are wonderful indicators of climate changes, but honey bees are far
> more important to our world, etc. So, losing polar bears will not affect us
> as much as losing honey bees. To the poster child/organism for conservation,
> climate change, environmental quality preservation, etc., should be the
> honey bee (or other little pollinators), not large showy, but irrelevant
> mammals.
> BUT the aspect that is overlooked, forgotten about by the conservation
> community is NEW biodiversity. How many new species are evolving. That is,
> "birth rate" of new biodiversity is far more important than "death rate"
> [extinction]. Yes, there is a real problem also with new biodiversity as it
> is difficult to distinguish between what is newly discovered and what is
> newly evolved, etc.
> So, the most pragmatic course is as Stephen writes, maintain the largest
> most diverse range of habitat types and hope we preserve enough source
> material to maintain the evolutionary process of creation and extinction!
> Sincerely,
> Chris
> from home
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ken Kinman
> Sent: Friday, April 27, 2012 12:38 AM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: [Taxacom] Conservation
> Hi Stephen,     Agreed, a mixture of both strategies would be best.
> However, at present there is too much emphasis on particular taxa that are
> the favorites of researchers with the inside track on funding.  Those
> studying wolves or polar bears can still get excessive funding to keep
> renting helicopters to basically repeatedly harass, trap, collar, and
> "study" them over and over again for decades, while other taxa are ignored.
> Another field that is even more over-funded is dinosaur research, just
> because people find them fascinating.  Dinosaurs may draw some young people
> into the field of biology, but that does not justify the excessive spending
> of funds on dinosaur research rather than studying species which are still
> living.  I still believe that dinosaur specimens should be preserved in
> museums, but the extremely time-consuming process of preparing huge dinosaur
> carnivores and herbivores should be put off until the future, and that more
> of those biologists should be encouraged to study poorly-studied species of
> living species (and I am not talking about wolves and polar bears which have
> been studied excessively), but especially taxa that are neglected (even if
> the masses do not find them as interesting).  No wonder the phylogeny of
> invertebrate phyla is so poorly understood.            ------------------Ken
> -------------------------------------------------------------Stephen
> wrote:an alternative strategy is to conserve habitats/ecosystems, based on
> their
> overall biodiversity, rather than try to prioritise particular taxa. The
> only
> losers in this case would be threatened phylogenetically isolated taxa in
> not
> very diverse habitats ... I'm not sure off hand if there would be many of
> these?
> Still, probably a mixture of both strategies would be better still ...
> Stephen
> ________________________________
> From: Ken Kinman<kin... at hotmail.com>
> To: taxa... at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Sent: Friday, 27 April 2012 3:42 PM
> Subject: [Taxacom] conservation
> Hi Donat et al.,      Well, my opinion is still (although not popular with
> some
> biologists) is that some taxa should be given higher priority for
> conservation
> efforts than others.  The question is just what are most of these species
> which
> are going extinct every day or every year.  If a few dozen species among
> speciose (and perhaps oversplit) taxa of beetles or flies or nematodes or
> other
> fast radiating taxa (some angiosperm genera) are lost, is that as important
> as
> the loss of even a single species of species-poor taxa (especially those of
> relevance to those humans who financially support conservation efforts).
> Not
> that I would be as inclined as some humans to lean toward conservation of
> certain butterflies or birds just because they are "attractive", but rather
> that
> taxa with relative few species that are threatened should have higher
> priority
> than taxa with many taxa.      For example, should we devote limited
> resources
> protecting any
> particular species of the genus Rattus?  Some may be endangered, but that
> genus
> is so species-rich that loss of any particular species is hardly to be
> compared
> with the loss of a species of any primate species (especially a species of
> great
> ape) or a monotypic bat family such as Craseonyctidae (which could disappear
> due
> to continued neglect).  With increasingly high extinction rates, we must
> make
> conservation decisions based on overall diversity, NOT merely numbers of
> species
> (some of which may have radiated rapidly recently but inevitably subject to
> natural extinction anyway because that is how natural selection works over
> the
> long term).  The potential extinction of a single species of great ape
> should be
> treated with more alarm than that of a dozen species of Rattus or other
> speciose
> genera of beetle, flies, or nematodes.  Making decisions on absolute numbers
> of
> species is short-sighted in my opinion.  So, "ivory-tower" strategies may be
> good if
> they concentrate on species-poor taxa, but not so good just because a
> particular researcher has a fascination with a species-rich group and simply
> has
> better connections that give them more access to federal research funding.
> And
> some mammal species (wolves and polar bears) get way too much funding
> compared
> to other mammal species (especially compared to the southern hemisphere).
> Funding priorites are still skewed in terms of both geography and diversity.
> -------------------Ken Kinman
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Richard J. Jensen, Professor
Department of Biology
Saint Mary's College
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Tel: 574-284-4674

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