- Biodiversity: Conserving Endangered Species (Green Technology)
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- 12 Innovative Ways Technology is Saving Endangered Species | TreeHugger
Some examples of the main conservation problems with possible solutions through the application of synthetic biology are as follows: a habitat conversion by creating or modifying microorganisms that consume hydrocarbons in order to clean up oil spoils [ 24 ] or by using systems to produce man-made palm oil and so reducing tropical forest alteration [ 25 ]; b overexploitation, where production of materials that can substitute rhino horn ivory or deep sea shark squalene [ 26 ]; and c invasive species, where the use of chromosome alterations and gene drives to stop reproduction in these species.
The latter is yet associated with esthetic, moral, and ethical issues in which Piaggio and colleagues [ 23 ] call for a robust decision-making and a risk-assessment framework in the application of synthetic biology to conservation concerns. Track plates offer a further efficient method to detect wildlife, and they have been used in an array of ways to monitor several animal species. Back in the s, such tools commonly comprised an aluminum plate in a plywood box, and usually, a bait was placed near the back of the box.
Other tracks of mammals were and are created by using, for instance, smoked kymograph paper [ 28 ] sand, ink-coated tiles [ 29 ], mineral oil mixture and carbon black [ 30 ], or contact paper and dispersed printer toner [ 31 ]. They specifically looked at whether breeding phenology of a generalist predator was associated with human responses to climate change. Environmental conditions can be diverse as a result of new extremes temperature and precipitation patterns and novel assemblages and interaction species due to the human-assisted spread of exotic species [ 34 ].
A study on Canada lynx Lynx canadensis ; [ 35 ] assessed behavioral differences with changing environmental conditions by developing a multiscale prediction model of lynx distribution and found within their results that individuals tend to use more mature, spruce-fir forests than any other structure stage or species. The authors, through the insights gleaned from their approach, state that understanding and predicting habitat use is essential in conservation management, particularly for species that are threatened or endangered.
The world is facing an alarming loss of biodiversity, where inflation of extinction rates is mainly driven by human actions [ 37 ]. Zoos and aquariums have taken different conservation actions to mitigate threats to species and their extinction in the wild. They have contributed to the genuine improvement in IUCN Red List status of species through captive breeding and reintroduction conservation measures [ 38 ]; however, their contribution to conservation of species goes further than that.
The use of technology in educational settings, such as guidebooks and handled computer tour guides in museums or tourist destinations, is becoming more common nowadays. Zoological parks and aquaria institutions have long used technology to promote conservation education. The increase of digital technologies use offers the public a more meaningful animal encounter, while building a higher interest in educational activities, conservation campaigns and in conservation itself [ 39 ]. Some institutions allow and invite visitors to take immediate conservation action on an issue of their choice by directly contributing money [ 6 ].
Live web cameras operated by zoos display videos of the animals at the zoo on websites, which are available to the general public. For example, the Dublin Zoo has live webcams to see live footage of the animals from wolves, penguins, elephants, and from the African Savanna area. This technology explicitly seeks to motivate conservation awareness through appealing experiences, which bring animals and humans together.
Further applications of technology in captive environments, such as animal behavior and animal conservation, have the objective to increase animal welfare and to benefit scientific research on many areas. For instance, animal cognition research, which benefits significantly from the use of technology, can be an effective way to evaluate the mood, behavior, and welfare of zoo-housed animals [ 40 ].
In a recent study [ 41 ], researchers measured anxiety responses to noisy, unpredictable, and repeated events on simple cognitive tasks in three different primate species: chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes , Japanese macaques, Macaca fuscata , and western lowland gorillas, Gorilla gorilla gorilla.
Another application in welfare research is to provide the captive animals with more control over their environmental enrichment and surroundings.
Biodiversity: Conserving Endangered Species (Green Technology)
Control of environmental elements, such as access to outdoor areas or to privacy, temperature, sounds, and with nontechnological objects can be one of the keys to improving their welfare [ 42 , 43 ]. The use of animal-attached technology by researchers in zoos has increased remarkably over the last 10 years. Devices such as GPS are applied in zoos to examine questions about patterns of movement, activity levels, or habitat use. This technology has also been used in assessing relationships among animals. A study on African elephants [ 45 ] collected GPS coordinates to calculate the average distances between individuals with the aim of determining the social structure of individuals to potentially improve management in determining appropriate group setting to ensure the individual and group well-being.
Accelerometers are also used in zoo animals to regularly monitor baseline patterns of behavior and to detect signs of discomfort or disease. Researchers illustrate [ 46 , 47 ] the value of collecting data from captive individuals. For instance, technological devices are commonly calibrated in captive animals before using them in wild counterparts, this involves time-synchronizing behavioral observations with the associated device readings [ 47 ]. The use of technology in conservation should be seen as force that can transform the work of researchers from across all fields interested in the protection of species.
A species is what it is inseparably from the environmental niche into which it fits. Particular species may not be essential in the sense that the ecosystem can survive the loss of individual species without adverse effect. But habitats are essential to species, and an endangered species typically means an endangered habitat.
Species play lesser or greater roles in their habitats. This leads to an enlarged concern for the preservation of species in the system. It is not merely what they are, but where they are that one must value correctly. This limits the otherwise important role that zoos and botanical gardens can play in the conservation of species. They can provide research, a refuge for species, breeding programs, aid for public education, and so forth, but they cannot simulate the ongoing dynamism of gene flow over time under the selection pressures in a wild ecosystem.
They amputate the species from its habitat. Extinction is a quite natural event, but there are important theoretical and practical differences between natural and anthropogenic human-caused extinctions. Artificial extinction, caused by human encroachments, is radically different from natural extinction. Relevant differences make the two as morally distinct as death by natural causes is from murder. Though harmful to a species, extinction in nature is seldom an evil in the system.
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It is, rather, the key to tomorrow. The species is employed in, but abandoned to, the larger historical evolution of life. There are replacements. Such extinction is normal turnover in ongoing speciation. Anthropogenic extinction differs from evolutionary extinction in that hundreds of thousands of species will perish because of culturally altered environments that are radically different from the spontaneous environments in which such species are naturally selected and in which they sometimes go extinct. In natural extinction, nature takes away life when it has become unfit in habitat, or when the habitat alters, and typically supplies other life in its place.
Artificial extinction shuts down tomorrow, because it shuts down speciation. Natural extinction typically occurs with transformation, either of the extinct line or of related or competing lines. Artificial extinction is without issue. One opens doors; the other closes them. In artificial extinctions, humans generate and regenerate nothing; they only dead-end these lines. Through evolutionary time nature has provided new species at a net higher rate than the extinction rate; hence the accumulated global diversity.
There have been infrequent catastrophic extinction events, anomalies in the record, each succeeded by a recovery of previous diversity. Although natural events, these extinctions so deviate from the normal trends that many paleontologists look for causes external to the evolutionary ecosystem—supernovas or collisions with asteroids.
Typically, however, the biological processes that characterize Earth are both prolific and have considerable powers of recovery after catastrophe. Uninterrupted by accident, or even interrupted so, they steadily increase the numbers of species. An ethicist has to be circumspect. An argument may commit what logicians call the genetic fallacy in supposing that present value depends upon origins.
Species judged today to have intrinsic value may have arisen anciently and anomalously from a valueless context, akin to the way in which life arose mysteriously from nonliving materials. But in an ecosystem, what a thing is differentiates poorly from the generating and sustaining matrix. The individual and the species have their value inevitably in the context of the forces that beget them.
There is something awesome about an Earth that begins with zero and runs up toward five to ten million species in several billion years, setbacks notwithstanding. Several billion years' worth of creative toil, several million species of teeming life, have been handed over to the care of the late-coming species in which mind has flowered and morals have emerged. On the humanistic account, such species ought to be saved for their benefits to humans. On the naturalistic account, the sole moral species has a duty to do something less self-interested than count all the products of an evolutionary ecosystem as human resources; rather, this host of species has a claim to care in its own right.
There is something Newtonian, not yet Einsteinian, as well as something morally naive, about living in a reference frame where one species takes itself as absolute and values everything else relative to its utility. In addition to the deeper ethical principles at issue in conservation of species, questions of pragmatic strategy arise. One strategy proposed when there are limited resources is to sort jeopardized species into three groups: those that are probably going extinct even if we try hard to save them, those that will probably survive without our help, and those that will probably go extinct unless we intervene.
This strategy is called triage. An alternative, or complementary, strategy is to focus more on endangered ecosystems than on single species, an approach that may result both in more effective management and in more efficient use of resources. Another strategy discourages claiming biodiversity as a national resource while thinking of conservation in other nations in terms of foreign policy, for if biodiversity is the common heritage of humankind, all nations share duties to protect it. Cairns, J. Czech, Brian, and Krausman, Paul R. Ehrlich, Paul, and Ehrlich, Anne.
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Conserving Earth's Biodiversity. Washington, D. Pimm, S. Extinction by Numbers. Polasky, Stephen, ed. Rojas, Martha. Rolston, Holmes, III. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Shouse, Ben.
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Tilman, D. United Nations Environment Program. Convention on Biological Diversity, 5 June Learning apps provide a huge, varied audience with access to big data. Scientists and non-scientists alike can use their smart devices to share, inquire about, identify, and use wildlife photos taken by thousands of users worldwide. The popular iNaturalist app has also incorporated algorithms to train software to recognize species automatically to speed identification for many common species.
The more structured Global Biodiversity Information Facility provides free online access to occurrence records on nearly two million species , data that permit broad-scale analyses and that would otherwise be impossible to assemble. The huge Zoological Information Management System ZIMS database on the diets, health, genetics and breeding pedigrees of 21, species of captive animals , while not free, is now available to other wildlife institutions.
The unprecedented availability and reduced cost of aerial imagery —collected by sensors on small unmanned aerial vehicles UAVs, or drones, to count individual trees of target species , satellites to analyze site- to regional-scale forest change , or anything in between —continue to revolutionize not only the collection of habitat data but also the monitoring of habitat at ecosystem and landscape scales.
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Open-access online mapping and data sharing platforms apply novel data storage and analysis capabilities to help anyone observe large-scale changes in vegetation over time. Map 4 Environment serves as a repository for spatial data sets and offers non-experts simple tools to share and manage the data and produce maps online. Also for non-technical users, Collect Earth allows teams with local knowledge to monitor land use change using point sampling tools and a large compilation of high-resolution images.
Combining remote sensing imagery with other types of data can facilitate monitoring, especially over vast areas or in remote areas with rugged terrain. With sharks threatened by overharvest, researchers compared simultaneous locations of satellite-tracked fishing vessels and tagged shark locations to examine proximity and potential threat to sharks from accidental or deliberate catch. Research linking high-resolution imagery to detect high-carbon tropical forests with camera trap photo data to assess species presence showed that high-carbon forests support more wild species.
For finer-scale monitoring, scientists in Australia outfitted UAVs with video cameras and artificial intelligence algorithms to identify individual koalas during aerial surveys to improve monitoring of populations of hard-to-find species over time.
12 Innovative Ways Technology is Saving Endangered Species | TreeHugger
Recent tech developments encourage everyone to help advance biodiversity and ecological research, as well as draw attention to threats and changes to natural systems. Online and mobile sharing of data and photos , in particular, have expanded the opportunities for citizen scientists to learn about the species around them, assist research projects, and feel part of a learning community. Scientists analyzed georeferenced bird photos shared by hundreds of people through the eBird app to document seasonal changes in bird distributions. Crowdsourcing data collection and processing can also be as simple as enticing volunteers to walk around, collect environmental data on their phones, and submit samples of the soil on their boots to help researchers analyze pathogen distribution.
Processing the mountains of data generated by drone flights, camera traps, and databases presents a challenge for cash-strapped conservationists and researchers. Some have turned to citizen scientists to help identify target species, including Amazon trees and African elephants, in photos and videos. The resulting abundance or demographic data can be used to focus conservation efforts on key locations, but maintaining data quality collected by citizen scientists requires careful planning and effort.