October 2011 Archives

Campus is open

Screen shot 2011-10-31 at 7.48.56 AM.png
That's a screen shot from the Emergency Closings page for the Storrs campus. As you can see, campus is open, so we will have class this mornning.

BUTThere are still trees and powerlines down. Please travel safely, and if you don't feel safe traveling to campus, don't risk it. We can catch up later.

Project #2 due date -- Postponed!

If you're reading this, you probably already received an e-mail from me telling you that I've postponed the due date for Project #2. Since many of us have no power at home (I'm typing this from my office on campus), it makes sense to give everyone an extension and to reschedule the dates associated with Project #3 too.

Stay warm and stay safe.

Ecological restoration

I've also posted notes for this week's lecture on ecological restoration. Some of what we talk about will seem familiar, but "assisted migration" may be a new concept to many of you (or at least a new name for a concept with which you're already familiar).

Invasion biology

If you have power and are able to see this message, you can also head over to the detail page on tomorrow's lecture on invasive species to download notes and check out the selected references. If you have time, I particularly encourage you to look at the Schlaepfer et al. paper. It has some pretty provocative ideas, and I think we'll want to spend quite a bit of  time discussing them.

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Notes on landscape change posted

One of the biggest challenges facing ecosystem management projects is developing appropriate metrics for success. Often, a previous historical condition of the ecosystem is chosen? But how to choose the right baseline? It's not an easy question to answer. We'll explore some of the issues and examine a particularly bold suggestion for the U.S. Come prepared to argue about Pleistocene re-wilding. It's nothing if not a provocative idea.

Project #2 posted

I've posted the assignment for Project #2 and links to some associated resources that you'll need. If you have a chance, take a look at the assignment before class tomorrow. We'll talk about it first thing.

We'll finish our overview of ecosystem management on Monday, and we'll move on to discuss landscape change and how it affects the choice of conservation objectives. You'll find notes and suggested reading on the detail page for Wednesday's lecture.

Ecosystem management notes posted

I've posted notes on ecosystem management. We'll get started on that discussion tomorrow, but before we dive in too deeply, I want to return to a couple of topics related to the diversity/productivity lecture Mike gave on Monday. I want to spend a little time talking about diversity, productivity, stability relationships and why they do (or don't) matter for conservation biologists.

If you look at the lecture schedule, you'll also notice that I modified the dates of Project #2 and Project #3 a bit. Each of the dates associated with those projects has been pushed back by one lecture period, except for the peer evaluations of Project #3. By shifting the dates a little, I have a chance to give you a bit more of my perspective on ecosystem management before asking you to evaluate a plan on your own.

The beauty of science

One of you pointed out that there's a series of videos on YouTube featuring the voice of Richard Feynman, a brilliant physicist and an extraordinary communicator and teacher. The video below has little to do directly with the subject of this course, but in it Feynman conveys the wonder and beauty of science and captures the magic that drew many of us to it.

Please let me know if you run across anything else you'd like to share with others in the class, and I'll post your contributions here.

Wolves and the public trust

I forgot to point out this paper when it came out last week. Since we've been talking about wolves, I thought you might find it interesting.

Rescuing Wolves from Politics: Wildlife as a Public Trust Resource

  1. Jeremy T. Bruskotter,
  2. Sherry A. Enzler,
  3. Adrian Treves
Science 333:1828-1829; 2011


Extinction risk and conservation priorities

I've posted the notes on other, non-PVA, approaches to estimating extinction risks. As we've seen, PVAs require a lot of data, and for many species of concern, the data may not be available. We'll take a look at a couple of alternatives that don't require as much data and see how well they perform.

Then we'll talk about how we use assessments of extinction probability to set conservation priorities. I think you'll find the conclusion counterintuitive.

Case study notes

I've posted notes and readings for the next case study, which synthesizes a lot of the issues we've talked about so far. We'll talk more about the challenges of defining ESUs, we'll talk about why it might (or might not) be important to do so, we'll talk about a different approach (RMUs, yes another acronym), and we'll talk about one approach to setting priorities. There are quite a few readings associated with this case study, but none of them are very long.

Project #1 grades

Everyone should have received an e-mail from me yesterday afternoon with comments, peer evaluations, and a grade on Project #1. I meant to post an explanation of my scoring scheme before returning the projects, but I thought it was more important to get the projects return than to post the explanation. You probably won't see this before I describe the grading scheme in lecture, but here it is for your reference:

I spread grades out more broadly than the typical scale:

90-100: A
85-89:  A-
82-84:  B+
75-83:  B
70-74:  B-
Fortunately, I rarely have to worry about anything lower than a B- in this course. I'll use a 10-point scale for your peer evaluations.

9-10: A
8:    B
I don't anticipate scores lower than 8. I will have brief comments on your peer evaluations and a score returned to you before Monday, but it may be the weekend before I have a chance to compile them.

Systematics notes posted

I've posted notes for our discussion of systematics on Wednesday. I haven't suggested any particular readings for this lecture, but you might want to glance through Leonard and Wayne (2008) and read the "distinct population segment" of the Federal Register proposal to delist the western Great Lakes DPS. That's a concrete example of how some of the principles apply, and it would be good to discuss them.

You can find a link to Leonard and Wayne (2008) on the detail page of Monday's lecture.


The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) began its meetings earlier today. I have a short post (with links) at Uncommon Ground.

A few readings on Great Lakes wolves

I'm still reading your projects. I hope to have all of them graded by the end of the day tomorrow. My comments will be embedded in the files using the Comment feature in Microsoft Word. Your peer evaluations will be attached on pages following the text of the paper. I'll be sending each of you a short note about the evaluations you did by the end of the week. Depending on how my day goes tomorrow, it may be late Tuesday before I e-mail papers back to you. In addition to my own reading of the paper, I have to attach peer evaluations to each one, which will take a little bit of time.

Tomorrow's lecture will focus on the issues raised in your papers. Please come prepared to share your thoughts about the issues. I added a list of papers concerning the taxonomic status of the Great Lakes wolves to the lecture detail page for tomorrow. I don't expect that you will have read any of them before tomorrow (though I'd be delighted if you had), but I provide the links because I thought you'd find them interesting.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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