[Taxacom] Conservation

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Fri Apr 27 17:56:35 CDT 2012

Surely the rate of new biodiversity evolution is many orders of magnitude less than potential or actual extinction rates? 

From: Chris Thompson <xelaalex at cox.net>
To: Ken Kinman <kinman at hotmail.com>; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
Sent: Saturday, 28 April 2012 12:23 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Conservation

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 

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 

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!



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

wrote:an alternative strategy is to conserve habitats/ecosystems, based on 
overall biodiversity, rather than try to prioritise particular taxa. The 
losers in this case would be threatened phylogenetically isolated taxa in 
very diverse habitats ... I'm not sure off hand if there would be many of 
Still, probably a mixture of both strategies would be better still ...


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 
biologists) is that some taxa should be given higher priority for 
efforts than others.  The question is just what are most of these species 
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 
fast radiating taxa (some angiosperm genera) are lost, is that as important 
the loss of even a single species of species-poor taxa (especially those of
relevance to those humans who financially support conservation efforts). 
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 
taxa with relative few species that are threatened should have higher 
than taxa with many taxa.      For example, should we devote limited 
protecting any
particular species of the genus Rattus?  Some may be endangered, but that 
is so species-rich that loss of any particular species is hardly to be 
with the loss of a species of any primate species (especially a species of 
ape) or a monotypic bat family such as Craseonyctidae (which could disappear 
to continued neglect).  With increasingly high extinction rates, we must 
conservation decisions based on overall diversity, NOT merely numbers of 
(some of which may have radiated rapidly recently but inevitably subject to
natural extinction anyway because that is how natural selection works over 
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 
genera of beetle, flies, or nematodes.  Making decisions on absolute numbers 
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 
better connections that give them more access to federal research funding. 
some mammal species (wolves and polar bears) get way too much funding 
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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