Summer Reading Group

Updates / Papers / Comments for the UW Forest  & Wildlife Ecology summer reading group.

We will meet every other  THURSDAY at 4pm


Grab a paper and a pitcher – see you on the Terrace!




(in the Rathskeller in case of rain)

Next Week’s paper:

REVIEW: Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?
Anthony D. Barnosky et al.

in NATURE 3 MARCH 201 1 | VOL 471


Palaeontologists characterize mass extinctions as times when the Earth loses more than three-quarters of its species in a
geologically short interval, as has happened only five times in the past 540 million years or so. Biologistsnowsuggest that a
sixth mass extinction may be under way, given the known species losses over the past fewcenturies and millennia. Here
we review how differences between fossil and modern data and the addition of recently available palaeontological
information influence our understanding of the current extinction crisis. Our results confirm that current extinction
rates are higher than would be expected fromthe fossil record, highlighting the need for effective conservation measures.



One Response to “Summer Reading Group”

  1. coocoo-cachoo June 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    For those who didn’t get to join us last time – here’s a rundown of the reading group paper #1:

    A horizon scan of global conservation issues for 2010

    Sutherland et al., in TREE online early,
    available here

    A couple themes emerge from this paper. First the cynical – wow, what a way to ensure annual publication in TREE! And, wow, now I know where to turn for my next big grant justification.

    The amazement – the few of us there were actually amazed by how amazed we were by this paper. Half the big issues on the horizon were things we had never imagined – serious, did you know that people are thinking of diffusing global temperature increase by shooting aerosols into the stratosphere to scatter sunlight?! Or that nanosilver particles are in practically everything and probably washed into water everywhere?! Such examples bring up the big take-home I got out of this paper – Crazy @#*! can happen when brilliant minds think in a vacuum and innovate ways to solve one problem by inventing a new one! It’s astounding the great lengths to which we push science to solve things like global climate change – like stratospheric aerosols, burning biochar, innovating climate-resistant crops. And so many ‘solutions’ seem to be offered without thought to the interconnectedness of ecology and the potential for far-reaching impacts – I mean really, with the history of invasive species, does introducing species to novel climate zones really seem like a fool proof way to avoid mass extinctions due to climate change? Yet, all the while, we seem entirely unwilling to take on the smallest inconvenience or make the most minor changes in our daily lives, despite the possibility of making real differences in important things like plastic production, energy consumption, carbon footprints, etc.. (For example see this NY Times article about hoarding incandescent light bulbs out of fear of being forced to use fluorescents with ‘less pretty’ light.)

    But finally the hopeful – I thought one of the coolest parts of this paper was the topic of expanding scientific involvement and research capabilities through mobile technology. There is a really exciting future in things like mobile phone apps for citizen science and sensors that might allow real time data collection on a global scale!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: