Wildlife Search and Rescue

Between the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the more recent spill off the coast of Brazil, we all have environmental disasters on the mind. Some of the most compelling images from that first spill were animals affected by the resulting pollution.

Rebecca Dmytryk has been a wildlife rescue worker for over 30 years. She was on the front lines during the Gulf Oil Spill, among other recovery missions, and she has agreed to talk with us more about caring for animals in situations like these. Her new book, Wildlife Search and Rescue: A Guide for First Responders, aims to prepare rescue workers to deal with wildlife emergencies.

  • What was it like to be right in the middle of things as the Gulf Oil Spill was happening?

As with any major environmental disaster it was extremely sad to witness the catastrophe firsthand. But, being on the frontlines also meant we had the opportunity to save lives. I think that’s a big part of what kept us going emotionally – knowing that we were making a difference in the lives of many individual animals that would have otherwise perished. Continue reading

Conservation Biogeography

This past spring, Wiley published the first comprehensive review of the field conservation biogeography, aptly named Conservation Biogeography. To find out more about this field, we sat down with one of the book’s two editors, Dr. Robert J. Whittaker (the other being Dr. Richard J. Ladle), and asked him some questions about the genesis of their book and what can and should be done by both scientists and citizens to preserve our planet.

  • What is conservation biogeography?
    In a nutshell, it is the study of the dynamics of species distributions individually and collectively, at all scales of analysis, to inform conservation policy.
  • When was the sub-discipline of biogeography known as “conservation biogeography” developed and by whom?
    This has quite a lot to do with the International Biogeography Society, which was founded about 10 years ago, and which included a focus on conservation in its core mission statement. The second meeting of the society was dedicated to Conservation Biogeography and several chapters of the resulting conference publication Frontiers of Biogeography: New Directions in the Geography of Nature (Lomolino, M.V. & Heaney, L.R. 2004, Sinauer) were on the theme of Conservation Biogeography. In 2005, the journal Diversity and Distributions identified itself as a journal of conservation biogeography, carrying our 2005 paper (Whittaker et al. 2005) in the first issue.1

Continue reading

An Horizon, a Porthole, and a New Book

Janine Selendy is what one might call an “accidental altruist.” Early in her teen years, she came face-to-face with the astonishingly poor living conditions faced by people living in Iran. This pivotal experience led Selendy away from her intended career in diplomacy and into a very busy life aimed at changing people’s lives at the level of their basic needs.

Selendy initially set out to become a doctor, and she soon began to participate in environmental health work such as the cleanup of PCBs in the Hudson river. However, the more she interacted with scientific literature, the more frustrated she became that the literature seemed filled only with negatives and problems, yet rarely addressed solutions or emphasized what was already being done about these problems.

To fill this gap, Selendy founded Horizon International, a non-profit organization based at Yale University which addresses health, environmental and poverty issues. In an era before the internet, Selendy also capitalized on the power of television to enlighten and inform a wider audience on these important issues, and to date she and her team have produced over twenty documentaries.

Next, Selendy and the leaders of Horizon International also sought and received funding from the National Science Foundation to create a program that would provide educational games and multimedia for young people. They named this website “Magic Porthole” because, “if you come in here, you don’t know what you’re going to find next!”

Amidst all of this activity, Selendy has also managed to find the time to edit a book, Water and Sanitation Related Diseases and the Environment: Challenges, Interventions and Preventive Measures, which will be published by Wiley next month (July 2011). The book chapters are authored by an array of high-profile scientists and public health leaders and cover topics that range from “water and war” to “diarrhea and nutrition.”

Selendy discusses her history, work, and aspirations in live interview hosted on the website VoiceAmerica.com. Listen and download the MP3 here.

Read a more detailed biography of Selendy here.

Find out more about Selendy’s book here.