Monday, March 28, 2011

The Peregrine Fund teams with royal foundation

The Boise, Idaho-based conservation organization focused on birds of prey recently signed a two-year renewable agreement with The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation-USA. Albert II became His Serene Highness The Sovereign Prince of Monaco in 2005 and established the foundation in 2006. According to a press release:
The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation works internationally to support ethical and sustainable projects and has undertaken numerous bird and animal life preservation projects including a breeding program in the Mediterranean Basin for the endangered Bonelli's Eagle; an assessment of the polar bear health in the polar regions; and the monitoring, in Africa, of the Niger Giraffes.
The agreement spells out the organizations' shared goals, and it calls for teamwork in conducting research and raising funds. A coordination committee will include a representative from each group.
"The Peregrine Fund is pleased to bring its conservation expertise, proven success, and focus on birds of prey to this joint initiative with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. Birds of prey, as far-ranging, top predators are acutely sensitive to environmental change and serve both as sentinel species that reveal conservation needs, and as umbrella species that help protect biodiversity," said J. Peter Jenny, president, The Peregrine Fund Inc.
Some of the Fund's projects that might benefit from the partnership include

- a climate change initiative focused on the Gyrfalcon (shown right), which breeds exclusively in the Arctic where the effects of climate warming are predicted to be greatest

- a biodiversity initiative in Madagascar to develop community-based conservation areas protecting habitat for endangered species that exist only on the island

- a species-restoration project to save the critically endangered Ridgway's Hawk on Hispaniola, Dominican Republic, in the Caribbean.

Gyrfalcon photo courtesy of The Peregrine Fund

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Invasive species not more troublesome than in home ranges

Many birders chafe at any species labeled "invasive" or nonnative. We point to House Sparrows or kudzu (below) as species that compete with natives, often to the detriment of the latter. We often think of the invasives as out-of-control marauders that run rampant after finding new territories to exploit.

A recent worldwide study organized by Stan Harpole, assistant professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology at Iowa State University, found somewhat mollifying results:
"There is this assumption that when plants invade a new area that they become much more abundant in the new area than they were in the native areas," said Harpole. "It turns out that, on average, they aren't any more abundant away from home than they are at home."
The 70 researchers at 65 sites around the globe found that a "rule of 10s" can apply to invasive species, Harpole said.
"Of, say, 100 plants that arrive in a new area, only about 10 percent of those will survive without being in a greenhouse or some other controlled area," he said. "Of those 10 that can survive, only about 10 percent of those really cause problems.

"When you think about all the species we've brought over from other areas, relatively few have become serious pest species. The problem is we've brought over so many that quite a few have become major problems and they get a lot of attention."