Navigation Links
Natural history dying of neglect
Date:3/27/2014

Natural history provides essential knowledge for human wellbeing, yet its research, use and instruction in academia, government agencies and non-government organizations is declining drastically.

Simon Fraser University ecologist Anne Salomon is among 17 authors of a new paper that claims this decline in the developed world could seriously undermine the world's progress in research, conservation and management.

The paper, Natural History's Place in Science and Society, evaluates the state of natural history research and use today. The journal BioScience has just published the paper online.

Natural history is the study of the fundamental nature of organisms, and how and where they live and interact with their environment.

According to the study, natural history collections have stopped expanding. The number of active collections of preserved plant specimens has dropped since 1990 in Europe and North America.

The authors say 75 per cent of emerging infectious human diseases, including avian influenza, Lyme disease, cholera and rabies, are linked to other animals at some point in their life cycle. Control strategies rely on knowledge of the hosts' natural history.

The authors note there are all kinds of examples throughout history of how the world could have avoided natural resource-based calamities, had it paid attention to natural history's fundamentals.

"Natural history knowledge is vital for making wise management and conservation decisions. Without it, we can make major blunders that can have extreme costs to nature and people," says Salomon.

For example, opossum shrimp were introduced into British Columbia's Kootenay Lake and other lakes in the western United States in the 1960s as food to boost the production of salmon.

But instead of acting as food, the shrimp migrated to deep water to avoid being eaten by fish during the day and returned to lake surfaces at night to feed on the same food eaten by juvenile salmon.

Salmon numbers ended up declining, triggering declines in bald eagles and tourists. Ironically, scientists already knew the vertical migration pattern of these introduced shrimp. So had the details of the shrimp's natural history been acknowledged, the authors write, their introduction's outcome could have been predicted.

Natural history-based field observations that usefully represent the real world underpin successful biological modeling, which is becoming increasingly more sophisticated.

"With our pressing need to make ecology a more predictive science, natural history has taken a back seat to modern ecological modeling and molecular techniques," explains Salomon. "This cultural shift in the ecological sciences has changed the skills we value and, consequently, the skills we teach in ecology. Yet, natural history is the starting point for all progress in ecology."

Joshua J Tewksbury, a natural history professor at the University of Washington who also works with the WWF International in Switzerland, led the study.

With the release of this paper, the authors have established an online forum to broaden discussion about natural history's research relevance and solicit new research ideas.

"Our hope is that this forum becomes a starting point for the next set of collaborations, initiatives and action," says Tewksbury. "We hope forum-related ideas can spread to inform, energize and integrate different audiences who are passionate about the future of natural history."


'/>"/>

Contact: Carol Thorbes
cthorbes@sfu.ca
778-782-3035
Simon Fraser University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Natural plant compounds may assist chemotherapy
2. Decline of natural history troubling for science, society
3. New database features 710,000 natural history records from Canadian Museum of Nature
4. Natural selection has altered the appearance of Europeans over the past 5,000 years
5. Deer proliferation disrupts a forests natural growth
6. From artificial to natural, the food industry makes a major shift
7. Rewards facilitate human cooperation under natural selection
8. Natural engineering offers solution against future flooding
9. Using engineering plus evolutionary analyses to answer natural selection questions
10. Natural History Museum, London, yields remarkable new beetle specimens from Brazil
11. 5,900 natural gas leaks discovered under Washington, D.C.
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/7/2016)...  Syngrafii Inc. and San Antonio Credit Union ... integrating Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ eSignature "Wet" solution into ... result in greater convenience for SACU members and ... existing document workflow and compliance requirements. ... Highlights: ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... The Department of Transport Management (DOTM) ... million US Dollar project, for the , Supply ... Enrolment, and IT Infrastructure , to ... implementation of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous renowned international vendors participated ... was selected for the most compliant and innovative ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... LONDON , June 2, 2016 ... Systems, Manned Platforms, Unmanned Systems, Physical Infrastructure, Support & ... intelligence provider visiongain offers comprehensive analysis of ... that this market will generate revenues of $17.98 billion ... Systems acquired DVTEL Inc, a leader in software and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Houston ... with the Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as ... the agreement, Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship ... and connectivity with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and ... with the Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016  The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a university ... to harness living systems and biotechnology, announced its winning ... New York City . ... showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during the ... MoMA,s senior curator of architecture and design, and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, today announced ... has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I am thrilled ... COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific integrator, Hays ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company ... to the medical community, has closed its Series A ... Nunez . "We have received a commitment ... capital we need to meet our current goals," stated ... us the runway to complete validation on the current ...
Breaking Biology Technology: