February 5, 2013

Outside the Box

As some of you may recall, my last blog highlighted climate change news stories.  Most of those were somewhat depressing, so this time around I picked pieces that are lighter, but compelling nonetheless.  These stories involve innovation, collaboration, artistry, and insights into how we humans view (and fund) conservation endeavors.  I hope you enjoy these picks as much as I do – let us know what you think!  So, without further adieu….

1. This first story comes from National Public Radio (NPR), and this is one I would recommend LISTENING to instead of reading.  In the piece, host Scott Simon interviews Greg Budney, audio curator for the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.   For the past 80 years, the library has archived over 9,000 wildlife sounds, which include mammals, birds, insects, and amphibians – “voices of the world”, not just human voices.  It is the largest and oldest global diversity archive of not only audio but also video.  This immense undertaking is the result of coordinated collaboration between scientists and volunteers/citizen scientists.  It is a site that I can easily and gleefully get lost in, and it’s impossible for me to pick my favorite video or audio clip.  Do you have any favorites?

2. Here at CBI, we are always interested in stories related to mapping, and “Miss Piggy’s Version of Global Warming:  What About Me?” fits the bill.  Again, the piece comes to us from NPR.  In it Robert Krulwich introduces us to a clever and, as he says “selfish”, way to think about global warming.  It’s an interactive map found on the New Scientist’s website.  On it, you can click on any location around the world and instantly get a graph showing how temperatures have changed in that exact region since the early 1950’s.  Pretty cool!  Actually, maybe it would be more scientifically accurate to say ‘Pretty warm’!  Once you take the time to sample around the globe, you’ll see that while there are some locations that have gotten colder, most have warmed.

3. “All Things Bright” comes from the University of Washington’s Conservation Magazine and highlights a study done by Prokop & Fancovicova in the journal Animal Conservation.  The results of the study are a bit dismaying, but not entirely surprising.  The authors looked at whether the public, specifically young people (ten to twenty year-old students) place differential priority on protecting species that are colorful and showy vs. those species that are more camouflaged….fade into the background, if you will.  Younger people were chosen for the study because people often form attachments and feelings about nature at a young age.  As you might likely predict, the students favored protecting the more beautiful, showy species over the less conspicuous ones.  While this may be bothersome (at least to me), it is important knowledge to have for conservation campaigns hoping to garner public support.

4. It’s likely that this last piece, posted by Megan Gambino in the Smithsonian online magazine, will either thrill you or beget nightmares….depending on how much you do or don’t appreciate insects.  Italian artist, Lorenzo Possenti, has crafted very large, very detailed sculptures of a variety of insects, including grasshoppers, cicadas, and dragonflies.  His exquisite artwork is on display at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.  The exhibit, called “Bugs….Outside the Box”, is on display through May 12, 2013.  I loved the gargantuan insects and wish I lived closer to the exhibit so I could bring both my kids to view it…..hmmm…maybe it’s time for a road trip down south!

About the author:
Gwynne Corrigan, M.S.
Director of Communications, Project Manager, Team Lead- Communication & Engagement
Gwynne is a Social Media & Communications Coordinator with CBI, involved with a variety of projects doing outreach, communications, research and editing. Her educational background is in ecology and biology with a particular interest in endangered species.
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