IA 401 International Perspectives

Fall, 2001

Module: Biodiversity and Sustainability

 

Instructor: Garrett E. Crow, Professor of Plant Biology

 

Assigned Readings: USDA Plant Hunters (by Kaplan)

Pollinators, Flowering Plants and Conservation (by Kearns and Inouye)

Syllabus

Links to Countries

Links to Biodiversity Web sites

Perspective

"Every country has three forms of wealth: cultural, material and biological. The essence of the biodiversity problem is that biological wealth is seriously undervalued by most peoples and governments" (E. O. Wilson, 1992).

 

Resolution:

1. Biodiversity: survey the world's fauna and flora (major ecosystems of world)

2. Create biological wealth (ecotourism/medicinal plants etc.)

3. Promote sustainable development (corn and cows are not enough)

4. Save what remains (conservation biology)

5. Restore wildlands (restoration ecology)

 

Module Aims:

Develop and appreciation for biological diversity

Examine its role in the overall attempt to living in a sustainable world.

Approach

Biodiversity:

What do we mean by "biodiversity"?

Historical perspective-exploration and exploitation of earth's biodiversity

How scientists approach the classification of the earth's biodiversity

Ecological principles

The Biosphere's major ecosystems

Create biological wealth:

Ecosystems are being destroyed at a phenomenal rate to promote

"economic progress".

What is the value of our biological resources as intact ecosystems?

Botanical sources of pharmaceutical products.

Ecotourism: appreciating the native ecosystems has become an important

source of foreign revenue for many developing countries.

Promote sustainable development:

Sustainable agriculture/forestry: impact of agricultural practices in various parts of the world. Are we using ecological principles to make wise decisions? Are there consequences of planting monocultures of exotic, fast-growing trees as opposed to the value of utilizing native forest trees? Dilemmas due to short-sightedness? (Construction of large reservoir in drier portions of Ghana enhances agriculture/provides increased habitat for snail carrying Schistosoma parasite, resulting in very high rate of schistosomaisis in children living along the lake).

Globetrotting and Biodiversity:

 

Former Soviet Union-European Russia, Siberia, Crimea, Abkhazia (Caucasus Mts.)

Bolivia - Andes to Amazon

Costa Rica-Jewel of Mesoamerica