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Protecting areas to preserve biodiversity raises equity concerns for local and indigenous peoples. Conservationists and peoples' rights advocates are often at odds, whether miscommunicating or working in direct opposition. Policies for simultaneously safeguarding cultural and biological diversity can be achieved.
Speakers at the “Macroevolution: Evolution above the Species Level” symposium, held at the National Association of Biology Teachers annual meeting last October, focused on macroevolutionary processes, the evolution of key innovations and major lineages of organisms, and the evidence for these processes.
The demand for accurate forecasting of the effects of global warming on biodiversity is growing, but current methods for forecasting have limitations. In this article, we compare and discuss the different uses of four forecasting methods: (1) models that consider species individually, (2) niche-theory models that group species by habitat (more specifically, by environmental conditions under which a species can persist or does persist), (3) general circulation models and coupled ocean–atmosphere–biosphere models, and (4) species–area curve models that consider all species or large aggregates of species. After outlining the different uses and limitations of these methods, we make eight primary suggestions for improving forecasts. We find that greater use of the fossil record and of modern genetic studies would improve forecasting methods. We note a Quaternary conundrum: While current empirical and theoretical ecological results suggest that many species could be at risk from global warming, during the recent ice ages surprisingly few species became extinct. The potential resolution of this conundrum gives insights into the requirements for more accurate and reliable forecasting. Our eight suggestions also point to constructive synergies in the solution to the different problems.
We synthesize our findings of studies in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, southeastern Alaska, to elucidate interactions and linkages among terrestrial, lake, stream, and marine intertidal ecosystems as the landscape evolves following ice recession. Development in each ecosystem is initially dominated by physical processes. Over time, biotic control becomes increasingly important, although the extent of biotic control varies among ecosystems. The changes occurring in the four ecosystems are linked by landscape processes, with the nature and strength of these linkages changing through time. Change in one ecosystem has a major influence on the nature and direction of change in other ecosystems. Soil development and woody biomass accumulation on land provide an inertia that is unmatched in stream, lake, or intertidal systems. It is important that researchers and managers understand this science of change, at different spatial and temporal scales, in order to predict future states of ecological systems. The dynamics of change that we document at Glacier Bay during primary succession have important implications for managing the system with respect to anthropogenic change.
China's rapid development is influencing global patterns of resource use and their associated environmental and geopolitical impacts. Trend projections suggest that China's rise will have unprecedented impacts on the rest of the world. I examine three key drivers affecting China's emergence (scale of development, government policy decisions, and globalization), along with four factors that may constrain development (environmental degradation, political instability, coal and oil consumption, and carbon dioxide emissions). China's rise represents a tipping point between fossil fuel–based economies and still emergent sustainable alternatives. Policy precedents between the United States and China over the next decade may well determine the future course of global sustainability.
The key biodiversity areas (KBA) approach aims to identify globally important areas for species conservation. Although a similar methodology has been used successfully to identify Important Bird Areas, we have identified five limitations that may apply when considering other taxa: The KBA approach is overly prescriptive in identifying important conservation features, is inflexible when dealing with landscape connectivity, creates errors by applying global criteria without input from local experts, relies on post hoc consideration of implementation opportunities and constraints, and fails to automatically involve implementation agencies in the assessment process. We suggest three modifications to the present approach: (1) Provide training in regional conservation planning for local stakeholders, (2) expand the Alliance for Zero Extinction program to include a broader range of threatened species, and (3) allow local stakeholders to nominate KBAs on the basis of their own regional conservation assessments. These modifications would build on the expertise of those promoting the KBA approach and help maintain the diversity of methods that are needed to conserve biodiversity effectively.
This article reports on a study that assessed knowledge of and misconceptions about natural selection in second-semester biology majors in two classes characterized by different instructional strategies. The active-learning class achieved significant postcourse gains in the number and diversity of key concepts of natural selection employed in evolutionary explanations and exhibited significant decreases in misconception use. Compared with the traditionally taught class, the active-learning class was characterized by fewer misconceptions and greater mean key-concept diversity scores. Nevertheless, both classes demonstrated inadequate postcourse levels of evolutionary understanding: After a year of college biology, 70 percent of students in the active-learning group and 86 percent in the traditionally taught group employed one or more misconceptions in their evolutionary explanations. Faculty in upper-division courses must be prepared to address students' misconceptions and provide additional opportunities for improving student understanding of natural selection.