Global Versus Local Conservation for Endangered Bird Species
Since the Endangered Species Preservation Act was signed into law in 1966, local and global endangered species lists have emerged as useful tools for protecting threatened animal and plant populations. Prioritizing resources is essential, however, and local situations don’t always reflect global realities — a species could be threatened in one area but plentiful overall, or locally plentiful but in danger worldwide.
A 2010 paper from researchers at Michigan State University, Cornell University, and other institutions, “Global Versus Local Conservation Focus of U.S. State Agency Endangered Bird Species Lists,” highlights the challenges of coordinating small-scale and large-scale endangered-species lists. The study was published in PLoS ONE, a peer-reviewed, open-access online publication.
Central to the researchers’ work is the concept of “responsibility.” It refers to a region’s capacity to sustain a particular species and the proportion of the global population that occurs there. Some of a region’s species could be at high local risk, but low global risk; others are at low local risk, but high global risk; others are endangered both locally and globally, particularly if the population is small and concentrated in one region.
Key findings include:
- In 25 states, more than half of the species on local lists were at low risk globally.
- In 9 states, more than half of the species on local lists were at a high risk globally.
- Only 13 of 47 state lists (28%) included any bird species were at a high risk globally, yet low risk locally.
Overall, the researchers found that most state lists were dominated by species that represent local but not global conservation significance. The study concludes by weighing possible approaches to better prioritizing local lists to reflect global situations.
Tags: biodiversity, conservation
Note to instructor: The suggested assignments are designed for flexibility. They can be used in whole or part and can be adapted to a particular task â€” for example, the newswriting assignments could be applied to the writing of the headline, the lead, the nut graph or the full story. Material from the assignments could also be combined with other material, for example, in the writing of a background, feature or local-angle story.
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the issue-related New York Times article titled "No Endangered Status for Plains Bird."
- If you were to rewrite the article based on knowledge of the study, what key changes would you make?
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.