Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Eco-Inspiration 6: Confession

Alright guys, I have a confession to make.  I have never actually finished reading A Sand County Almanac.  Those of you who know the book are, I'm sure, instantly scandalized.  The much acclaimed work by visionary and Land-Ethic developer Aldo Leopold has been inspiring conservationists and green warriors since 1949.  I have owned not one, but two copies of this book.  I leaf through it and sort of treat it like poetry.  It is, after all, beautifully written.  But for some reason, I have never read it cover to cover.  I am always so moved and uplifted by Leopold's words, and I have decided that this spring I will read this book!  So, with blog as my witness, I will finish this book by the end of the spring quarter (June).  Once I have finished, I will report back with my feelings about the text and how reading it straight through differed from my cafeteria style readings of the past.  Anyone else want to read along?

In keeping with the theme, I thought I would share with you all one of my favorite passages from the book.  This is equal parts sad and inspiring to me, as it really sets into clear context what we stand to loose if we do not make concerted efforts at conservation.  I hope you enjoy it.
The last Passenger pigeon. Crd. Wikipedia
"Our grandfathers were less well-housed, well-fed, well-clothed than we are. The striving by which they bettered their lot are also those which deprived us of [Passenger] pigeons. Perhaps we now grieve because we are not sure, in our hearts, that we have gained by the exchange. The gadgets of industry bring us more comforts than the pigeons did, but do they add as much to the glory of the spring?

Monday, April 1, 2013

EcoNews Round-up: April 1, 2013

Along the trail in Cache Creek Canyon Regional Park
Happy April!  I've got some fun things planned for spring on the blog.  Hopefully, you will see these coming up in the next few weeks (sneak peak of a new travel post via this pretty picture).  For the moment, I wanted to share with you all some more of the interesting science news I have been hearing lately, or at least thinking about lately, as some of it is not super-duper recent.  Spoiler alert, none of these are April Fools Day stories (or are they...).

This is a little less "breaking news" at this point, but I couldn't resist telling you guys about how amazing dung beetles are!  These little guys are using light from the Milky Way to navigate around their habitats!  The point of this navigation is to roll the dung ball (a precious resource!) away from the dung pad in as straight of a line as possible.  This helps the beetles avoid competition from their potential dung ball stealing fellow.  This Science Friday story is worth a listen for several reasons, not the least of which is the great explanation by the study author and the amazing mental image of a dung beetle wearing a Milky Way obscuring hat (just listen, believe me).  These sorts of findings are adding to the growing field of sensory ecology.  Researchers are learning about how organisms perceive the world, and how that world view, or umwelt, impacts the ecology of different species.  It's more than just cool facts too!  Sensory ecology can be used to help plan protected areas or understand the impacts of a new development.