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Conservation Biology

Conservation Biology - Introduction

by Kristin Lundstrom,
Manager of Teacher Services, Education Department, California Academy of Sciences

Hello. I think we'll get started. I apologize for a late start here but we have a few more exciting technical parts to the presentations so it took us a little longer. I'm Kristin Lundstrom, Manager of Teacher Services. I'd like to welcome you to the Conservation Biology Forum. It's great to see you all here. I'm going to make a few quick announcements before we start. I'd like to thank, as always, our funders, the Pfizer Foundation, Inc., Genentech Incorporated, and Access Excellence, the Alza Corporation, in honor of Rudy Peterson, and Mrs. Jack Hensill.

I hope you all have your teacher packets. They contain agendas and articles from the speakers who you'll be hearing from today. We're really pleased that we've been able to post the Microbes BioForum. It's now live on the web, and we'll do our very best to post Conservation Biology as soon as we can.

Before I introduce today's moderator, I'd like to read you a brief quote. This is the first paragraph from Chapter 2, "The Obligation to Endure" in Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring which she wrote in 1962. She says, "The history of life on earth has been a history of interaction between living things and their surroundings. To a large extent, the physical form and the habits of the earth's vegetation and its animal life have been molded by the environment. Considering the whole span of earthly time, the opposite effect, in which life actually modifies its surroundings, has been relatively slight. Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species, man--and I would like to insert humankind--acquired significant power to alter the nature of his--and I will add her--world."

Today, as we approach the new millennium, we still seem to be struggling with many of the same environmental challenges that Carson brought to our attention almost forty years ago. Fortunately today, there are many creative and passionate scientists, professionals, and concerned citizens who have dedicated their lives to the discipline of Conservation Biology.

What is Conservation Biology? Last summer, I was really fortunate to be able to participate in San Francisco State's "Conserving Biodiversity," a week-long field course offered through the University's mountain campus in the Sierra Nevada. One of our required readings was from Richard Primack's' A Primer of Conservation Biology which included the following definition: "Conservation Biology is a multidisciplinary science that has developed in response to the crisis confronting biological diversity today." That is a quote from Soule in 1995. "Conservation biology has two goals: First, to understand the effects of human activities on species, communities, and ecosystems, and second, to develop practical approaches to preventing the extinctions of species, and if possible, to reintegrate endangered species into a properly functioning ecosystem."

At today's forum, we will hear from scientists who will share their knowledge and perspectives about Conservation Biology, projects nationally and internationally. My hope is that they will inspire you to take this information back with you to your classrooms and share it with your students.

It is now my pleasure to welcome Tom Moritz, who will be introducing the speakers and moderating this afternoon's panel discussion. Tom is currently the Head Librarian at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Yesterday he flew to San Francisco from Italy where he was attending a Biodiversity and Conservation Information System meeting made up of a consortium of non-governmental organizations. As you can imagine, he's probably dealing with a bit of jetlag but we've got plenty of coffee here for him.

Up until December of last year, we could claim Tom as our own librarian here at the Academy. We have Tom to thank for the incredibly successful Biodiversity Center here on our main floor, which I hope you all have visited at some point or will visit today. Tom is a graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and he's done graduate work in the Library and Information Science at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and in Chinese Regional Studies at the University of Washington's Jackson School of International Affairs. He has been concerned with the environment since working as a teenager on trail crews in Los Padres National Forest in the 1950's and he's also been an activist. In 1975, he took his first professional job as a reference librarian at the National Natural Resources Library of the U.S. Department of the Interior. He has since worked as a librarian at the University of Washington and has done contract work for the National Academy of Sciences, U.S. EPA, and NOAA.

I would now like to welcome back to the Academy, Tom Moritz.

BioForum is funded in part by: Genentech, Inc.; ALZA Corporation in honor of Rudy A. Peterson; and Dr. and Mrs. John S. Hensill.

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