The Fight Against Extinction

Listen 48:35
orangutang in Close-up Photography

Around the world, at dawn, something magical happens. As the sun rises, nature seems to wake up, and different species break into a chorus of song and call. These “dawn choruses” are one way we experience the rich tapestry of life all around us. But that tapestry is wearing thin, as species disappear from our planet at an increasingly fast rate.

On this episode, we take a look at biodiversity — the variety of life on earth. We talk about why it matters, how it’s being threatened, and what people are doing to better understand and protect it. We explore the legacy of the late biologist E.O. Wilson, who popularized the term “biodiversity,” and speak to conservation scientists about their efforts to protect “biodiversity hotspots.” Also, the challenges affecting natural history museum collections, and the fight against the growing threat of species extinction.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We talk with conservation ecologist and Duke University professor Stuart Pimm about the legacy of his longtime friend and colleague E.O. Wilson, and what it will take to protect and preserve biodiversity on the planet.
  • What does studying biodiversity look like in the field? It starts with data — collecting lots of data. We hear from four students who participated in the “Paint Rock Forest Dynamics Project” and their efforts to tag every tree over a centimeter in diameter in a forest.

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