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Archive for October 2010

Jon McRoberts from Texas Tech University talks about ocellated turkeys. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the special characteristics of this game bird and the challenges of doing field research in the jungles of Mexico. Ocellated turkeys are one of only two species of turkeys in the world (the other is the North American wild turkey) and live in a relatively small (50,000 square mile) area in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, northern Belize and northern Guatemala. They can live in diverse habitat types, from arid brushlands to mature rain forests, but little is known about their ecology and life history. Jon McRoberts will help fill that gap with his four-year research project in Campeche, Mexico.

Jon McRoberts is a doctoral candidate in wildlife science at Texas Tech University. He was the sixth generation to grow up on the family farm in Lewis County, Missouri and moved to Columbia, Missouri in 2001 where he did his undergraduate research at the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources where he helped care for two captive river otters and spent 8 months studying wildlife management in South Africa. He graduated in 2005 with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife and was named The Outstanding Graduating Senior in the department. After college he spent time working in China with the Smithsonian Institution researching giant panda reproduction and conservation. Currently, in addition to his dissertation research, McRoberts is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at Texas Tech and is involved with a variety of additional research projects ranging from wind-energy conservation efforts to developing aerial survey methodology to detect wildlife. In his free time Jon enjoys hunting, fishing, live music, wild game cooking, following Missouri Tiger sports, and spending time on the family farm. Jon’s principle research project and the focus of his dissertation is the ecology and management of the ocellated turkey on the Yucatan Peninsula. He spends half the year in the jungles and agricultural fields of Campeche, Mexico and hopes to help conserve this unique species. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on October 25, 2010.

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Ray Victurine, Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Conservation Finance Program Director, talks about economic incentives to promote wildlife conservation. He describes to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme a number of examples, including Wildlife Friendly certification and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) program, among others.

Ray Victurine heads WCS’s global efforts to develop sustainable financing opportunities that explore market mechanisms to meet conservation objectives and contribute to sustainable development in global areas of biodiversity importance. Additionally, he leads WCS’s initiatives to engage with companies and governments in an effort to balance conservation and development interests through mitigating and compensating for impacts. He is actively involved in the emerging markets for ecosystem services, including work on REDD, biodiversity offsets and water, as well as exploring development of other innovative financial mechanisms for conservation. For instance, he is President of the board of the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network. He has contributed to the design and development of a variety of endowment funds and conservation funding institutions around the world, including creation of the first land trust in East Africa. Ray's Ph.D. studies were in economics and geography and he also holds a Masters degree in agricultural economics, emphasizing natural resources and with a research focus on water resources management. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on October 18, 2010.

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Robert Wintner gives an insider’s view of the fishes he knows on Hawaii’s coral reefs. He reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme why Hawaii’s coral reefs are so special, how the marine aquarium trade threatens their future, and how Maui County’s recent legislation could lessen the negative impact. Did you know the Hawaiian cleaner wrasse, a prime target for the aquarium trade, sets up “cleaning stations” on the reef, akin to service stations on American highways? Reef fish then wait their turns for this unusual fish to remove its parasites and other debris. Unfortunately, once the Hawaiian cleaner wrasse is removed from its natural habitat, it rarely survives and other fish suffer.

Robert Wintner is owner of Snorkel Bob shops in the state of Hawaii, Executive Director of the Snorkel Bob Foundation and an advocate to protect Hawaii reefs. He is also the author of several books, including the most recent, Some Fishes I Have Known, a photo essay that provides an intimate look at a vast array of creatures of the coral reef. The Snorkel Bob Foundation focuses on near shore reefs, and Wintner has been the lead advocate for eliminating and/or regulating the aquarium trade in Hawaii. From 2007 to 2010, he led legislative campaigns at the Hawaii State Capitol and in Maui County, which brought the plunder from aquarium trade into the light of day. However, with what he sees as a grim reality of empty reefs facing the people of Hawaii, Wintner will continue his legislative efforts. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on October 11, 2010.

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Rene Umberger, dive master and activist, discusses the marine aquarium trade in Hawaii and its impact. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that every year, over 30 million fish are plucked from their coral reef homes for use in the aquarium hobby, with over 1,500 species targeted. Nearly all, 98 percent, of these saltwater aquarium animals are wild caught because captive breeding is difficult, if not impossible. She also notes that the Hawaiian islands are a key source of reef fish for the aquarium trade because of its many endemic species. However, over the last 20 yrs, the state has seen declines of 14 to 97% of aquarium fish species outside of protected areas. Millions of Hawaii's reef animals are collected annually, although nobody knows exactly how many because collection reports are not always filed and none are verified against the actual catch.  In fact, experts estimate the true catch may be 2 to 5 times higher than 500,000 to 1 million fish reported.

Rene Umberger has logged over 10,000 dives as a scuba instructor and dive guide on Maui since 1983.  Her concern for Hawaii's coral reefs led her to develop projects to address impacts to these fragile ecosystems.  These include partnering with marine tourism, conservationists and educators to create interpretive materials and environmental standards for marine tour operations (which have since been adopted statewide). She’s also developed and organized, in partnerships with local fishing supply stores and the NOAA Hawaii Marine Debris Action Plan, underwater clean ups that have removed and partially recycled over 4000 lbs. of Ulua fishing gear from entangled corals along heavily fished shoreline sites. In recent years her work has focused on educating Hawaii's communities and leaders on the impacts of the aquarium trade and advocating for strong protections for Hawaii's coral reef wildlife. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on October 4, 2010.

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