Sunday, November 3, 2013

Conservation research and education

"...I am large -- I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman knew that he, and all of us, are complex beings full of internal inconsistencies and complexities. Conservation biology, as an academic discipline and in practice, is not that different from Whitman's observation about the human condition. It's a multifaceted, interdisciplinary arena for study and for action, and it necessarily contains multitudes. Conservation can mean conserving wild, untouched places but it can also refer to designed streams within an urban matrix that simply slow water down or process nutrients without offering much habitat to stream-dwelling species. At their core, all conservation actions are focused on increasing the ability for species, habitats, and processes that have existed to continue to exist in some context.

My lab at Clemson University focuses on a broad range of conservation issues that can be thought of under the umbrella of global change (large-scale issues such as urbanization, climate change, and others). I plan to use this space to discuss that research as well as other conservation-focused research the captures the broad range of studies and actions that make up conservation biology.

I am also active in involving students in studies of conservation and ecology. This blog offers an opportunity for me to discuss my experiences with those students, but it will also serve as a platform for the students to convey their thoughts and experiences. Toward that end, the first series of posts represent guest posts by seven students enrolled in my Creative Inquiry course. This course is focused on how landscapes affect amphibians, and the enrolled students are focusing on two primary issues: managed forests of the coastal plain and exurbanization in the Blue Ridge Mountains.