Multinational research: protecting ecology means understanding people, too

ng-time, experienced biologists have been studying the ecological problems for decades.

More than one half of the Senior Executive Service members at the Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency are expected to retire by the end of this year, Fitzgerald said, citing a Renewable Resources Foundation survey done in 2003.

The report also said the interior department also will lose more than 60 percent of its program managers, the forest service will lose more than 80 percent of its entomologists and 49 percent of its foresters, and the EPA will lose 45 percent of its toxicologists and 30 percent of its environmental specialists.

Its good timing for students as well, they say.

Students are hungry for this kind of program, Stronza said. They will address issues of invasive species, declining range size and diminishing species populations, poverty and social conflict, over-exploitation of resources, land-use change and habitat loss. These are big challenges some of the most vexing challenges of the 21st century.

The two call their five-year project "Applied Biodiversity Science: Bridging Ecology, Culture and Governance for Effective Conservation." They put heavy emphasis on applied. They have targeted the U.S.-Mexican border, Central America, the Caribbean basin, the Western Amazon and Gran Chaco, a sparsely populated area between Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia.

If you picture the three sides of a triangle conducting interdisciplinary research, partnering with local communities and organizations, and putting theory into the practice of conservation the space inside the triangle is what we call applied biological science, Fitzgerald said.

Students in the program will do complementary research on either biological or social aspects of conservation in the study regions. They also must complete an internship with a conservation organization and go t

Contact: Kathleen Phillips
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications

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