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UA prof to discuss ways to help local wildlife thrive

Citizen Staff Writer



A University of Arizona researcher will offer tips Tuesday night on how you can protect wildlife species without leaving your neighborhood, or even your backyard.

Michael Rosenzweig will discuss reconciliation ecology at a UA Flandrau Science Center science cafe event that begins at 6 p.m.

Rosenzweig defines reconciliation ecology as the science of inventing, establishing and maintaining new habitats to conserve species diversity in places where people live, work or play.

Humanity controls 90 to 95 percent of the Earth’s land surface area, leaving precious few wild areas for the planet’s plethora of species to use to thrive – or even survive, he said.

“If we take 90 percent, we lose 90 percent of Earth’s diversity,” said Rosenzweig, UA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of the Tumamoc: People and Habitats project.

“That’s mass extinction in the works, much worse than you read about in newspapers,” he said.

“No species is safe. They are all endangered,” he said. “We could lose common ones.”

But unlike most ecologists, he has good news for the future of the planet’s diverse array of species.

“The problem is our attitude. We’ve said, let’s save this, let’s preserve that, and not worry about the other 90 or 95 percent, and assume we have a license to trash it,” he said.

Our strategy over the past 100 years has been to set aside land in reservations like national parks and not touch it. But that only saves less than 10 percent for the designated use of nonhuman species, he said, which is not enough.

He said a different approach will work.

“We’re not trying to save habitats that haven’t already been saved, but we are trying to approach the habitat we live in, work in, farm and ranch, and approach them with a new attitude,” he said. “We don’t have to walk with jackboots on the face of the Earth; we can use ballet slippers.”

Making areas that man controls – including cities such as Tucson – habitats to better accommodate and support species will help them thrive, he said.

“We’re not going backward to historic habitats,” he said. “We’ve got to do the right thing by life at the same time we do the right thing by ourselves.”

For example, planting desert scrub will help Gambel’s quail thrive in your neighborhood, he said.

Researchers can provide recipes for changes that can make neighborhoods a place where diverse species can hang out and propagate, he said.

“We can tell homeowners what they need to do to increase the number of hummingbirds and other species on their property,” he said.

A variety of species of hummingbirds will select your property as a place to flourish if you provide feeders spaced carefully apart, he said.

Rosenzweig said he will offer a number of local strategies during his reconciliation ecology science cafe presentation Tuesday.

UA prof to discuss ways to help wildlife thrive at science cafe Tuesday


What: Flandrau Science Center science cafe event

When: 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Cushing Street Bar & Restaurant, 198 W. Cushing St.

Topic: Reconciliation Ecology: Yes We Can!

Presenter: Michael Rosenzweig

Cost: Free. Food and beverages available for purchase.




The thriving science cafe events are likely to continue even though some Flandrau Science Center public outreach has been ordered curtailed, said Sam Kane, associate director for marketing.

University of Arizona President Robert N. Shelton Feb. 2 announced that Flandrau, along with other UA museums and public outreach programs, would close in an effort to cut costs.

While details of that announcement have not been finalized, Kane said, “We anticipate continuing the Science Cafe as an outreach of the Flandrau Science Center.”

Kane said attendance has exceeded 100 at the last two of the monthly events.

“It’s really been growing,” he said.

The monthly science cafes are casual forums where people meet to discuss a particular science topic with a UA scientist in a relaxed atmosphere.

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