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Save all species

What would it take to save all species?
Let's answer this question and work together to protect all living things from extinction.

If you have questions or suggestions about this inititive, please contact
John Pickering (pick@discoverlife.org -- 706-254-7446)

Updated: 14 November, 2017

Discover Life will coordinate teams of thinkers, philanthropists, and media specialists at a dozen or so regional meetings in 2017 and 2018 (see Events). We will dream big and build the framework of a 30-year plan to protect all species. Our goal is to ensure that by 2050 the world has the scientific knowledge, environmental policies, protected areas, trained resource managers, technology, funding, and above all, public and political support to protect species.

Inspired by E.O. Wilson's recent book, Half-Earth -- Our Planet's Fight for Life, in which he calls for half the planet to be devoted to preserving nature, we propose to work together with others to save all species. Our meetings will address how best to inventory representative taxa across the globe, identify the areas that we must protect, and provide what it takes to do so. Key components of our plan include Large Ecological Studies of Species (LESS), including the proposed Texas Biological Survey, and our educational inititive, Transform Education and Mastermind Solutions (TEAMS).

Our meetings will include ones that focus on specific threats and potential solutions for saving continental, island, freshwater, and marine species. They will consider what taxa we should use to best inventory the world's biodiversity and identify enough potential parks and protected areas to save all species, including rare and locally restricted endemics.

Because the task of inventorying all species is huge and could take centuries at the current rate of study, we propose to inventory only a dozen selected taxa that will enable us to speed the selection of the areas that we must protect. We will consider the feasibility of using amphibians, ants, bees, birds, bivalves, corals, fish, macro fungi, moths, vascular plants, and a few other candidate taxa. Participants will outline how best to complete a global inventory for each taxon and analyze results across them. Topics will include developing inventory protocols; integrating information from the literature, natural history collections and databases; supporting high-quality data collection by researchers, students and citizen scientists, and training enough taxonomists to complete the scientific description of species within the selected taxa.

In addition to biodiversity inventories that tell us where best to protect species, there are a multitude of other social, political, financial and educational challenges that we must overcome to actually save them. These include helping indigenous people who use areas that we wish to protect and reducing invasive species, pollution, poaching, trade in wildlife, and numerous other threats. In addition to the usual suspects invited to conservation meetings, we hope to broaden participation to include economists, human demographers, trade negotiators, and others who can help us save species. For example, we plan to invite military veterans who are working toward using green burial cemetaries as hallowed sanctuaries to honor veterans and protect nature.

By the end of our meetings, we will have detailed written plans for Save all species, LESS with the Texas Biological Survey, and TEAMS. We invite everyone to join us in these initiatives and help us succeed.

Suggested reading:

  • Briggs, J.C. 2017. Emergence of a sixth mass extinction? Biological Journal of the Linnean Society XX:1-6. pdf
  • Ceballos, G., P.R. Ehrlich and R. Dirzo. 2017. Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines. PNAS www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1704949114 E6089-E6096. pdf
  • Ellison, A.M. 2016. It's time to get real about conservation. Nature 538: 141. pdf
  • He, F. and S. Hubbell. 2013. Estimating extinction from species–area relationships: why the numbers do not add up. Ecology 94 (9): 1905-1912.
  • Jenkins, C.N., K.S. Van Houtan, S.L. Pimm and J.O. Sexton. 2015. US protected lands mismatch biodiversity priorites. PNAS 112 (16):5081-5086. pdf
  • Pickering, J., D. Madamba, T. Staples and R. Walcott. 2016. Status of moth diversity and taxonomy: a comparison between Africa and North America north of Mexico. Southern Lepidopterists' News 38 (3):241-248. pdf
  • Pickering, J., T. Staples and R. Walcott. 2016. Save all species -- Moths light a way? Southern Lepidopterists' News 38 (4):331-336. pdf
  • Pollock L.J., D.F. Rosauer, A.H. Thornhill, H. Kujala, M.D. Crisp, J.T. Miller, M.A. McCarthy. 2015. Phylogenetic diversity meets conservation policy: small areas are key to preserving eucalypt lineages. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 370: 20140007. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2014.0007 pdf
  • Willis, K.J. (ed.) 2017. State of the world's plants. Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. 100pp. stateoftheworldsplants.com pdf
  • Wilson, E.O. 2016. Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life. Liveright Publishing Corp., N.Y.

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