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Gary Fleming leads a small party across the tall bluffs, through the thick forest, and down the steep ravines that characterize the Virginia side of the Potomac River just north of Washington, DC. Fleming points to the stately beeches, plentiful tulip poplars, and majestic northern red and chestnut oaks that cover the hillsides, as well as to the understory of mountain laurel, sugar maples, and bladdernut. He revels in describing the Virginia bluebells, Dutchman's breeches, wild blue phlox, sessile trillium, and other wild flowers that carpet the forest floor here every spring in various shades of yellow, red, and blue.
Animals possess a rich repertoire of behaviors, each generated by the orchestrated activity of assemblies of neurons. Neuromodulators, and particularly monoamines, have been found to play a role in the recruitment of such assemblies. The role of specific monoamines in the modulation of behavior has been particularly well studied using invertebrate animals as models. In these animals, the neuronal assemblies underlying a behavior often consist of fewer neurons than those in vertebrates, and in many cases the activity of specific neurons can be causally linked to the expression of a specific behavior. In this overview, we illustrate the concept of chemical orchestration of behavior, using well-studied models of how monoamines modulate complex and long-lasting behaviors in invertebrate animals.
Marine predators attract significant attention in ocean conservation planning and are therefore often used politically to promote reserve designation. We discuss whether their ecology and life history can help provide a rigorous ecological foundation for marine reserve design. In general, we find that reserves can benefit marine megafauna, and that megafauna can help establish target areas and boundaries for ecosystem reserves. However, the spatial nature of the interplay between potential threats and predator life histories requires careful consideration for the establishment of effective reserves. Modeling tools such as demographic sensitivity analysis will aid in establishing protection for different life stages and distributional ranges. The need for pelagic marine reserves is becoming increasingly apparent, and it is in this venue that marine predators may be most effectively used as indicator species of underlying prey distribution and ecosystem processes.
High levels of solar radiation (direct and reflected off snow) can be absorbed by green leaves in the winter. However, the energy that is absorbed by these leaves often cannot be used through photosynthesis under winter conditions. Most colored objects would simply bleach if faced with the same conditions, because light-absorbing pigments pass energy on to oxygen, forming reactive oxygen species that destroy the pigments. Two key means by which overwintering leaves prevent reactive oxygen-mediated damage have been identified. One, used by all leaves in the winter, involves the employment of xanthophyll carotenoids in a photoprotective process whereby the light energy absorbed by chlorophyll is converted to heat and dissipated harmlessly. The other, found in some evergreen species but not in overwintering annual or biennial mesophytes, involves the degradation of proteins responsible for generating high-energy electrons, thereby suppressing transfer of these electrons to oxygen.
Wolf management can be controversial, reflecting a wide range of public attitudes. We analyzed wolf management case histories representing a spectrum of approaches in Canada and the United States. During the early 20th century, wolves were considered undesirable. They were subject to persecution and were extirpated from large areas of their original range. With increased environmental awareness in the 1970s, attitudes toward wolves began to change. Wolf conservation became a focus of public interest, providing conditions that favored regional wolf recovery. However, in regions where livestock production or big-game hunting is valued, wolves have continued to be controlled by management authorities or through the actions of individual citizens. With US wolf populations recovering in the conterminous states, a rule was approved to delist the species from endangered to threatened status under the Endangered Species Act. Notwithstanding the intent of legal instruments, history has demonstrated that societal values ultimately determine the survival of species such as the wolf.
Environmental research in agriculture is today largely reactive, focused on problems at small scales and conducted within narrow disciplinary boundaries. This approach has worked to abate a number of environmental problems created by agriculture, but it has not provided effective solutions for many of the most recalcitrant ones. Furthermore, the approach fails to position agriculture to deliver new environmental benefits that the public and policymakers increasingly demand. A new vision is needed for environmental research in agriculture—one that is anticipatory; promotes long-term, systems-level research at multiple scales; better incorporates important interactions between the biophysical and social sciences; and provides for the proper evaluation of deployed solutions. Achieving this vision will require major changes in funding strategies, in institutional reward structures, and in policies that presently inhibit collaborations across disciplinary and institutional boundaries. It is, nevertheless, time to act.
Many museums and academic institutions maintain first-rate collections of biological materials, ranging from preserved whole organisms to DNA libraries and cell lines. These biological collections make innumerable contributions to science and society in areas as divergent as homeland security, public health and safety, monitoring of environmental change, and traditional taxonomy and systematics. Moreover, these collections save governments and taxpayers many millions of dollars each year by effectively guiding government spending, preventing catastrophic events in public health and safety, eliminating redundancy, and securing natural and agricultural resources. However, these contributions are widely underappreciated by the public and by policymakers, resulting in insufficient financial support for maintenance and improvement of biological collections.