LB1C. Stay Current—Seeking Biodiversity

2022-08-24. Up to 135 U.S. tree species face extinction—and just eight enjoy federal protection. [] By Gabriel Popkin, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Top threats include invasive pests, climate change and habitat loss…

2022-08-16. Killing of Ranger Protecting Rhinos Raises Fears for Conservation Efforts. [] By Rachel Nuwer,
The New York Times. Excerpt: The fatal shooting of the head ranger at the Timbavati reserve in South Africa has stoked concerns that organized poaching syndicates are targeting wildlife protectors.…

2022-07-21. Monarch Butterflies Are Endangered, Leading Wildlife Monitor Says. [] By Catrin Einhorn, The New York Times. Excerpt: North America’s monarch butterfly, whose showy looks and extraordinary migration have made it one of the continent’s most beloved insects, has been classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s most comprehensive scientific authority on the status of species. …The numbers of Western monarchs, which live west of the Rocky Mountains, plummeted by an estimated 99.9 percent between the 1980s and 2021. While they rebounded somewhat this year, they remain in great peril. Eastern monarchs, which make up most of the population in North America, dropped by 84 percent from 1996 to 2014. The new designation of endangered covers both populations. …Monarch caterpillars depend on milkweed, the only plants they can eat. After leaving their overwintering grounds, which for most monarchs are concentrated in just a few hectares of forest in central Mexico, females deposit eggs on milkweed plants from Texas to as far north as Canada in a multigenerational journey. …American farmers turned to crops that were genetically modified to withstand glyphosate, a herbicide that is used in the weed killer Roundup. “Glyphosate was suddenly sprayed over vast acreage of farm in the Midwest,” Ms. Walker said. “That took out a lot of the milkweed plants that the monarch caterpillars rely on.” …Monarch experts are eager to enlist the public’s help in saving the species. Their message: Plant milkweed that’s native to your region, which probably means avoiding tropical milkweed (it can do more harm than good, especially in the South). Swamp milkweed is an attractive, easy-to-grow variety native to all but the most western areas of the contiguous United States. That’s for the egg-laying and caterpillars. The butterflies need nectar, so plant native flowers that bloom when monarchs are in your area.…

2022-06-09. A Wild Hope. [] By Kai Kupferschmidt, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Two decades after it disappeared in nature, the stunning blue Spix’s macaw will be reintroduced to its forest home. CURAÇÁ, BRAZIL—In 1995, conservationists and scientists embarked on a desperate attempt to save the world’s rarest bird, a blue-gray parrot called the Spix’s macaw. …By the mid-1990s only a single individual remained alive in the wild, close to this dusty, small town in northeastern Brazil. …Now, conservationists are attempting to undo that fate. On 11 June, …they plan to release eight Spix’s macaws from captivity into the wild. Twelve more are supposed to follow at the end of the year and still more in the years to come. If everything goes according to plan, these birds will be the vanguard of a new population of Spix’s macaws in their natural habitat.…

2022-06-01. How the Bramble Cay melomys became the first mammal lost to the climate crisis. By Hannah Seo, The Guardian. Excerpt: No one knows how the Bramble Cay melomyses – rodents with large, liquid eyes and reddish-brown fur, small enough to fit in the palms of your hands – ended up on Bramble Cay. The cay is speck of land about 50km (31 miles) off the coast of Papua New Guinea, at the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef. …in 2015, the Bramble Cay melomys became the first mammal to go extinct directly because of human-caused climate breakdown. …Bramble Cay is only a little larger than an average US shopping mall. The highest point is about 10 feet above sea level. …The tiny cay and its essentially trapped inhabitants were susceptible to even small changes in the surrounding ocean. Climate change and rising sea levels led to salt-water intrusions throughout the island, choking much of the flora – in the decade between 2004 and 2014, the volume of leafy plants on Bramble Cay shrank by 97%. Storm surges also winnowed down the population, sweeping animals out to sea. When biologists returned in 2002 and 2004, only about a dozen melomyses could be found…. [

2022-04-27. From King Cobras to Geckos, 20 Percent of Reptiles Risk Extinction. By Catrin Einhorn, The New York Times. Excerpt: About 20 percent of reptile species risk extinction, mainly because people are taking away their habitats for agriculture, urban development and logging, according to the first global reptile assessment of its kind. From inch-long geckos to the iconic king cobra, at least 1,829 species of reptiles, including lizards, snakes, turtles and crocodiles, are threatened, the study found. The research, published Wednesday in Nature, adds another dimension to a substantial body of scientific evidence that points to a human-caused biodiversity crisis similar to climate change in the vast effect it could have on life on Earth. … [] See also Science Magazine article.

2022-03-03. This Map Shows Where Biodiversity Is Most at Risk in America. By Catrin Einhorn and Nadja Popovich, The New York Times. Excerpt: …places in the lower 48 United States most likely to have plants and animals at high risk of global extinction. …Animals like the black-footed ferret and California condor are represented, but so are groups often left out of such analyses: species of bees, butterflies, fish, mussels, crayfish and flowering plants. Not included are gray wolves, grizzly bears and other wildlife not at risk of global extinction.… []

2022-01-31. Massive wolf kill disrupts long-running study of Yellowstone park packs. By Virginia Morell, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Hunters are killing gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains in numbers not seen since the animals were driven to near extinction in the continental United States in the 20th century. The killing of more than 500 wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming in recent months…threatens to undermine a decades-old effort to restore the predators to the landscape and disrupt a long-term Yellowstone research project that has produced influential findings on how wolves help shape ecosystems. Researchers and conservation groups are calling on government officials to rethink the hunts, which have eliminated about 16% of the wolves living in the three states. …The killings are the result of a change in legal protections for Canis lupus. For decades, the wolves were strictly protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), but more than 10 years ago successful restoration efforts prompted federal officials to ease protections and give state governments a greater say in managing the species. …several states have legalized or expanded wolf hunts. Legislators in Montana, for example, last year set a goal of shrinking the state’s wolf population to “at least 15 breeding pairs,” the minimum required by the ESA; state rules allow a person to kill up to 20 wolves each season. Idaho also aims to shrink its wolf population and has set no kill limits. Wyoming has nearly achieved its goal of maintaining just 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone (where hunting is barred). Biologists say the recent killings won’t cause the regional extinction of wolves, …. []

Cover of Losing Biodiversity online book

Non-chronological resources

WildFinder – a map-driven, searchable database of more than 26,000 species worldwide. Discover where species live or explore wild places to find out what species live there. 

Center for Biological Diversity —

International Biodiversity Observation Year (IBOY) 

New Satellite Maps Provide Planners improved Urban Sprawl Insight

The Race Against Extinction–Biodiversity and Endangered Species. The Center for Biological Diversity.