June 2010 Archives
From PHD Comics
Image via Wikipedia
I really like this idea. It's a great way to motivate landowners to protect endangered species on their land. I see only one flaw. For the plan to work, the government has to commit money to endangered species protection that might have been used for other purposes. Possingham's idea is a very creative way to give landowners the incentive to protect endangered species, once money is available for endangered species protection. The challenge is finding a way to make that money available.
PROFESSOR Hugh Possingham's idea is simple - it is called endangered species lottery.
First, the government creams off $20 million from taxes on gambling revenues as a prize. The names of Australian endangered species are written on balls and put in a barrel. On Melbourne Cup day the environment minister draws a ball from the barrel live on television just before the big race.
Landholders who have populations of the winning species on their property are given a slice of the $20 million pie, with more money apportioned for larger populations
And then there are folks like Toby Bridges, who runs a website called Lobo Watch, which is decidedly anti-wolf.
"I agree that we are going to have some wolves, but I can tell you that if we have more and more wolves, people are going to start doing something about them," said Bridges. "People are going to take things into their own hands and solve the problem."
And what does Bridges think might happen?
Bridges' blog bumped the discussion to a new level June 5 when he posted a warning that hunters might consider using Xylitol artificial sweetener to poison wolves.
"Wolf control now has a new, until now secret, weapon." Bridges wrote. "I have a feeling that if Molloy goes against the wishes of today's hunters, there's going to be a whole lot of very sweet gut piles and wolf-killed carcasses dotting the landscape this fall. Along with some supplemental feeding of wolf pups come next spring."
Xylitol can be lethal to dogs, wolves, foxes and other canines by causing a sudden drop in blood sugar, often followed by fatal seizures or liver damage. Bridges said he wasn't calling for people to poison wolves, but predicting some would.
Authorities in Montana are watching.
"The question I would ask, if a guy's not saying or advocating he's going to do it, why would he put it out on his website?" Darrah said. "It would be illegal to put it out purposely to kill wolves or any animal. The standard line from Fish, Wildlife and Parks would be if you take Xylitol or any other poison and lace meat with it and put it out there to kill wolves, that's a crime. This has been put out by Lobo Watch as a way to kill wolves. If wolves start dying as a result of this activity, that's where I'd look first."Let's hope that Darrah doesn't have to go looking for creeps who would use xylitol to kill wolves.
Charles Heiser was born in Cynthiana, Indiana in 1920. He received his A.B. (1942) and M.A. (1943) from Washington University in St. Louis and his Ph.D. from the University of California in Berkeley in 1947. In that same year he joined the faculty of Indiana University.
His early research was with sunflowers (Helianthus), a genus that includes several cultivated plants as well as a large number of wild species. Through these studies Heiser first became interested in natural hybridization and its evolutionary significance and later in the origin of domesticated plants. The latter in turn led to consideration of the origin of agriculture. In addition to sunflowers he has also become an authority on a number of other plants, mostly ones of economic importance, such as chili peppers, naranjillas, various gourds and the totora. In recent years much of his research has been involved with plant breeding.
He has served as president of the following organizations: American Society of Plant Taxonomists (1967), Society for the Study of Evolution (1974), Society for Economic Botany (1978) and the Botanical Society of America (1980). He also has received the following honors: Guggenheim Fellowship (1953), Gleason Award of the New York Botanical Garden (1969), Merit Award of the Botanical Society of America (1972), Distinguished Economic Botanist from the Society of Economic Botany (1984), Pustovoit Award from the International Sunflower Association (1985) the Asa Gray Award from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists (1988) and the 2002 Raven Award presented by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists. In 1987 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
In addition to his scientific papers, he has written six semi-popular books dealing with useful plants and related subjects. Twenty nine students have received their doctoral degree under his direction.
Here's a little of what he has to say:
What's happening here? I've seen plenty of articles mentioning the Santa Barbara spill. But why aren't there journalists digging into these resources? Don't tell me it's not that big of a story. It has been THE lead story on the evening news of virtually ALL television news shows since late April with segment and after segment, story after story being done.
I think there are two things at work here. First, there are so few science and environmental reporters left that nobody has the resources to afford the time to dig into the past. And second, in the age of the internet, most reporters probably view Wikipedia as good enough.
- Scholarly Communication at Texas A & M
- Mark Kleiman
- Sandwalk (Larry Moran)
- Science Insider
- Knight Science Journalism Tracker
California Digital Library is regarded as a single consortium, it currently has an 88% discount.
Without seeing the contracts it's difficult for an outsider to be sure, but I have a couple of thoughts: (a) A 7% annual increase in subscription prices is about twice as much as I would think could be justified under the present financial circumstances. (b) It is difficult to believe that NPG is stupid enough to have undersold their product by 88% to CDL until now.
A fourth-grader in Beesville, Texas appears to have been the victim of a cruel hoax.
On June 5th the local newspaper in Beeville, a small town in Southern Texas, published a story about a local 4th grade student who had it said had just won the Junior Division of the National Science Fair for a project entitled "Disproving Global Warming." The student, Julisa Castillo, had received a package containing a trophy, medal, and plaque, along with a letter purporting to be from an official at the National Science Foundation and announcing her selection as the first place winner out of 50,000 projects entered from 50 states.
There is no "National Science Fair". The closest thing is Intel's International Science and Engineering Fair, which used to be known as the National Science Fair. The award letter came on what looked to be official National Science Foundation letterhead, but according to Marla Zacharias, head of media and public relations at NSF, "The letter is not authentic, Linda [Slakey] had no knowledge of it, and it amounts to fraudulent use of our name and logo."1 The incident has been referred to NSF's inspector general. Stay tuned. And click through to the Yale Forum for more details.
Why boycott NPG?
NPG has insisted on increasing the price of our license for Nature and its affiliated journals by 400 percent beginning in 2011, which would raise our cost for their 67 journals by well over $1 million dollars per year.
400 percent!!?? I can't imagine circumstances that would justify such an increase. I can imagine what would motivate it. NPG is a subsidiary of Macmillan Publishers, a subsidiary of Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. Somewhere up on the food chain some beast is putting pressure on Nature to return more revenue. Sounds to me as if it's time that we do what we can to starve the beast.
Maybe it's because it felt so good to get this proposal out the door. Maybe it's because I'm so excited about it. Maybe it's because the weather is so beautiful. Whatever it is, I had a very good run this afternoon, a personal best. Four miles at 7:36/mile isn't going to win me any races, but it still feels pretty good.
Graphic from the National Snow & Ice Data Center
Right now you're getting a blank feed. Now suppose you subscribe to the Atom feed that I send to FeedBurner:
Right now you'll find a feed with 15 entries. If you're subscribed in an RSS reader, you might want to check your feed address and move it to the second one. I don't know what's up with FeedBurner.
[T]he gold standard for independent scientific assessment on an international level. Its reports are the outputs of a formal, intergovernmental process.Tomorrow, representatives of countries from around the world will meet in Busan, South Korea to decide whether to create an IPCC for biodiversity - the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Here's hoping the meeting is successful. The challenges facing an IPBES are enormous, but as Nature concludes in its editorial, if IPBES flourishes, "[r]egular assessments by the IPBES should help our planet's biota to flourish too."
In a study published a couple of days ago in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jonathan Hickman and colleagues present data showing that emissions of nitric oxide from soils invaded by kudzu are more than twice those from non-invaded soils. Since nitric oxide is a major contributor to ozone formation, increases in its emission could lead to an increase in the number of days with unhealthy concentrations of ozone. The authors conclude:
Kudzu's impact on the atmosphere will be most important in areas that are distant from urban centers, and particularly in landscapes where little fertilizer is added to soils, such as the forested areas of southern Appalachia. Our model results suggest that as kudzu spreads further into these and other areas, the accompanying increase in NO emissions may increase ozone concentrations and the frequency of high ozone events. Future analyses of the economic and environmental impacts of invasive species should take the effects of these species on air quality into account.The article is available open-access on the PNAS site.
Image of kudzu invasion from Robert L. Anderson, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org (http://www.invasive.org/species/subject.cfm?sub=2425)
What does any of this have to do with that attractive frog to the left?
Well, Reynolds introduces Chapter 7, of presentation zen DESIGN by talking about how important focus is in a presentation. At the bottom of the page he has a boxed paragraph describing a photograph similar to the one here.
The photo on the opposite page is of Agalychnis callidryas or the red-eyed tree frog. This cute little reptile really jumps out at you doesn't he? Paradoxically...And the paragraph continues. Something else jumped out at me. You may be thinking that I mistyped "reptile" when I meant "amphibian", but no. "Reptile" is in the original. I know I'm being too much of a scientist. It doesn't matter that frogs are amphibians rather than reptiles when the point is that "this cute little animal really jumps out at you", but I can't help myself.
Can it hurt to get little details right when doing so doesn't distract from the larger picture? Isn't that part of what Reynolds preaches, embracing constraint?
Photograph from www.naturephoto-cz.com
The two papers are (drum roll please):
Jane E. Carlson and Kent E. Holsinger Am. J. Bot. 2010 97: 934-944. Published online May 12, 2010; doi:10.3732/ajb.0900348
[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]
- Kathryn E. Theiss, Kent E. Holsinger, and Margaret E. K. Evans
Am. J. Bot. 2010 97: 1031-1039. Published online May 21, 2010; doi:10.3732/ajb.0900260
[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]