EEB 489: Conservation and the Endangered Species Act (Spring 2008)

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This semester we will examine the status of conservation in the United States, through a detailed examination of the role that the Endangered Species Act has played. We will read a pair of books that resulted from "The Endangered Species Act at Thirty project". Volume 1 (Goble et al. 2006) focuses more on political issues relating to the Act; volume 2 (Scott et al. 2006) focuses more on the biology. But the two topics are inextricably linked and collectively the two volumes provide a comprehensive overview of the state of conservation in the country, with chapters by many of the leading players involved with putting conservation into action.

To learn more about the project that these books arose from, you can check out this YouTube link.


Note that the chapters are not long and the pages are not large, so the readings are not as onerous as they might look. We're going to switch back and forth between the two volumes in order to keep thematically related chapters together, so make sure you are reading the correct chapters from the correct volume each week.

Week Who Topic Reading Notes
23th Jan Chris History of rare species protection Vol.2 Chapters 1-3
30th Jan Michael What has been protected? Vol.1 Chapters 1-3
6th Feb Laura The listing record Vol.1 Chapters 4-6
13th Feb Vanessa Protecting habitat Vol.1 Chapters 7-8; Vol. 2 Chapter 13
20th Feb Sue Private lands Vol.1 Chapters 9-11 Case study of ESA applied to private landsPdficon small.gif
27th Feb Jason Who does conservation? Vol.1 Chapters 12-15
5th Mar Kristina The science of nature protection Vol. 2 Chapters 6-8
12th Mar ---- NO MEETING: SPRING BREAK ---- Speaking of Am. Pronghorn protection
19th Mar Musa Science in the real world Vol. 2 Chapters 9-10
26th Mar Benjamin T. Defining population units Vol. 2 Chapters 11-12
2nd Apr Jessica Values Vol.2 Chapters 4-5, 14-15
9th Apr Polik Incentives to do good Vol 1. Chapter 20; Vol. 2 Chapters 16-18
16th Apr Benjamin P. Conservation in human landscapes Vol. 2 Chapters 19-22
23rd Apr Nicola Looking forward Vol. 1, Chapters 16-19
30th Apr Chris Next generation initiatives Vol. 1 Chapters 21-24 I'm willing to switch dates (but prefer not to)


If you have any information related to the course (e.g., relevant news items, related web links, etc.), feel free to post it here. Please put the date first, then your name, following the format shown below; be concise; and organize the list so that items are in reverse chronological order. If you're not an EEB graduate student, then you can email items to me and I will add them, but please send them to me in the right format.

4/23 Posted by Nicola: Here are some links to "ESA-like" laws around the world: [1] [2][3] [4][5]

4/17 Posted by Chris: This is the paper about agriculture that I mentioned in class this week: Green et al. 2005. Farming and the fate of wild nature. Science 307: 550 - 555.

4/17 Posted by Nicola:The delicate balance between humans and conservation of natural resources ...[6]

3/1 Posted by Chris: New York Times article on agriculture and endangered species .... is this critical habitat? In Tennessee, 2 Endangered Groups Meet by Chance

2/27 Posted by Chris: BBC News article on wolf de-listing: Grey wolf 'no longer endangered'

2/10 Posted by Chris: This news piece on NPR, Calif. Farmers Struggle with Reduced Water Supply, talks about the endangered Sacramento Delta smelt.

2/10 Posted by Chris: This paper from last summer relates to some of the bigger-picture issues we've been discussing in class: Kareiva, P., S. Watts, R. McDonald, T. Boucher. 2007. Domesticated nature: Shaping landscapes and ecosystems for human welfare. Science Science 316: 1866-1869.

And this one discusses the effectiveness of conservation policies in Europe: Donald, P.F., F.J. Sanderson, I.J. Burfield, S.M. Bierman, R.D. Gregory, Z. Waliczky. 2007. International conservation policy delivers benefits for birds in Europe. Science 317: 810-813.

1/20 Posted by Chris: This week's New York Times magazine has an article that mentions one of the concerns about the effectiveness of the ESA: the move by certain landowners to ensure that their land does not become suitable for rare species so that they do not become subject to the Act's provisions. The NYT article is here. Abstracts for the original research articles that are mentioned are here and here. This issue will come up later in the course.

1/8 Posted by Chris: For additional information on the ESA check out the links under "Course History" (below). You'll find the syllabus and readings from the version of this course that we did in 2004 (before the Goble and Scott books were published). Many of these papers are worth reading, especially if you are planning a career in conservation.