Study Guide

Conservation Biology

Conservation Biology Introduction

Life on Earth is in danger. Serious danger, and not from asteroids or aliens or anything else from a science fiction movie. Life on Earth is threatened by us, Homo sapiens, human beings.

Habitat destruction is rampant, wreaking havoc across the globe. Invasive species are spreading into new uncharted territory. Climate change is looming ominously over the planet like a college application deadline. Species are going extinct like it's going out of style. People, we have a crisis on our hands: a biodiversity crisis.

We hate to toot our own horns, but humans are really good at life. Not just the board game, but actually surviving, making babies, building cities, and driving cars. Our ever-increasing human population puts a lot of pressure on other species and their habitats. We all need to eat, drink, and take showers, or the world would be a much smellier place. The amount of land and water it takes to sustain a person's lifestyle is called his or her ecological footprint. Ecological footprints can be measured for individual people, cities, and countries. The ecological footprint of the United States is so large, it would take five Earths to support us if everyone in the world lived an American lifestyle. If you're reading this on Earth 5, you probably should have walked to work today.

Conservation biology is the study of the threats to life on Earth and the science of preserving biodiversity—protecting threatened species and helping recover endangered species. Conservation biologists use a variety of techniques to figure out which species are in trouble and what to do about it.

Conservation Biology Resources

Websites

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Dinner, anyone?

Ecological Footprint
How big is your ecological footprint? Hopefully it's not clown-shoe size.

IUCRN
Check out the IUCN Red List. Not quite the red carpet, but close.

Nature
See what conservation biologists do at The Nature Conservancy. You know you want to.

Conservation
Conservation International has projects all over the world. Explore where they work.

Clean Air Act
Curious about the Clean Air Act but don't speak legal jargon? Learn about it in plain English.

NPS
Explore your National Parks, or plan your summer vay-cay.

Endangered Species List
See which species in your state are on the Endangered Species List.

National Geographic
Read about animal conservation through National Geographic.

Videos

TED Talk
Watch Greg Stone talk about the successful conservation of an island nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean combating sea level rise.