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Powerpoint Presentation: Conservation

 

Ecology Index

Ecology : Introduction
The competitive exclusion principle
Ecological Succession: Lake - Woodland Transition
Populations and Sampling
Modelling Population Growth
Biodiversity and conservation
What can be done to stop the loss of biodiversity?
The Carbon Cycle
The Nitrogen Cycle Flow Chart
The Nitrogen Cycle
Eutrophication
Methanogens and Biogas

Topic Chapters Index

 

International agencies

CITES (The Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species)

Set up in 1988 to control and encourage the sustainable exploitation of species.

The CITES conferences determine the status of a species and whether or not its exploitation requires regulation.

Species are placed into different appendices depending on their status

  • Appendix 1: Total ban on exploitation
  • Appendix 2: Limited exploitation subject to quotas.
  • Appendix 3: Species requiring protection in certain states only

Species are regularly reassessed.

Reference: CITES website

 

WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature formerly World Wildlife Fund)

Set up in 1961 as a non-governmental organisation

  • Raises funds for conservation.

  • Lobbies parliaments for conservation.

  • Runs education programmes.

  • Provides advice to government conservation agencies

  • Raises awareness on conservation issues.

Reference : WWF website

 

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature

Set up in 1948 to co-ordinate the activities of national conservation agencies. Its work establishes the status of endangered species and publishes this research in the Red Data Books.

Reference : IUCN website

 

ECOLOGY

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Conservation Alternatives

In situ conservation: Nature reserves and national parks

Setting up wild life reserves is not just a matter of building a fence around an area and letting it grow "wild":

  • First the area that is suitable for the creation of a reserve has to be identified and delimited. This requires surveys to collect data on key species.

  • Property may have to be expropriated.

  • A legal framework may need to be set up to control human activities in the area and in it's immediate surroundings (e.g. hunting, fishing, agriculture, industry and tourism)

  • Policing the area may also be necessary.

  • If part of the area has been degraded due to bad land use it may need restoring. (e.g. 90% of tourist do not wander more than 100m from their cars, the placing of car parks can greatly influence the impact of visitors)

  • Alien species that have penetrated the area may need excluding or eliminating. (e.g. foxes and cats from Australian wild life sanctuaries).

  • Constant management will be needed to maintain the habitat of the species being conserved. This may mean arresting natural succession (e.g. sheep are used to graze chalk downland in the UK to maintain a short turf rich in a specialised flora).

 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of in situ conservation?

In situ means conserving species where they are naturally found. This is preferable for several reasons:

  • The species will have all the resources that it is adapted too (species in captivity have to adapt to special diets and artificial environments e.g. green houses and aquaria).

  • In situ species will continue to evolve in their natural environment, captive organisms are buffered from environmental changes.

  • In situ species have more space.

  • Bigger breeding populations can be kept in situ.

  • It is cheaper to keep an organism in situ.

 

However there are problems

  • In situ it is difficult to control illegal exploitation (e.g. poaching)

  • In situ the environment may need restoring and alien species are difficult to control.

 

Ex situ conservation: Captive breeding

Animals maintained in zoos and wild life parks are ex situ, especially when they are not in their original biogeographic zone. Originally created as an amusing distraction for the general public, today their role is also to educate and provide a pool of animals for captive breeding and potential reintroduction to the wild.

These attempts have not always been successful:

Example: The Hawaiian goose was practically extinct in the wild when 12 birds were taken into captivity and a population of 9000 was released back into the wild. The experiment failed because the original cause, rats, had not been eliminated. The rats eat the eggs and the nestlings of the geese.

Example: Pere David's deer was a native species of China. In 1865 18 were taken into zoological collections. Meanwhile it became extinct in the wild. By 1981 there were 994 individuals scattered through zoological collections.

  • Captive breeding of endangered species is a last resort.

  • These species have already reached the point where their populations would not recover in the wild.

  • It works well for species that are easily bred in captivity (e.g. geese and deer) but more specialised animals are difficult to keep.

  • Isolated in captivity they do not evolve with their environment

  • They have a very small gene pool in which to mix their genes. Inbreeding is a serious problem. Zoos and parks try to solve this by exchanging specimens or by artificial insemination where it is possible.

  • In vitro fertilisation and fostering by a closely related species has even been tried (e.g. a calf of the Indian Guar - large species of cattle - was born to a domestic cow).

  • Even if it is possible to restore a population in captivity the natural habitat may have disappeared in the wild.

  • Species that rely on this much help are often considered to be "the living dead".

 

Botanical gardens

  • Botanical gardens show the same problems as captive breeding of animals.

  • Originally the role of botanical gardens was economic, pharmaceutical and aesthetic.

  • The range of species collected was limited.

  • The distribution of botanical gardens reflects the distribution of colonial powers. Most are found in Europe and North America. Plant diversity, however, is greatest in the tropics.

 

Seed banks

  • Seeds can be maintained for decades or even centuries if the conditions are controlled.

  • < 5% humidity and -20°C.

  • Not all species are suited to this treatment.

  • Seeds need to be regularly germinated to renew stock or the seeds will eventually loose their viability.

  • Seed banks are at risk from power failure, natural disasters and war.

  • Duplicate stocks can be maintained.

  • Seeds kept in seed banks do not evolve with changes in the environment.

 

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