Saturday, April 30, 2011


Today, at our youth meeting, we talked about developing the biodiversity blog, the local May 22 Youth Conference at Ashbury, and the 2012 COP11 trip to India. Chafic showed us a baby bearded dragon too!  We then had a pizza lunch at Macoun Marsh.  Stay tuned for more updates.  

Friday, April 29, 2011

Scientists scramble to save dying amphibians

Treefrog image by Michael Leveille

In forests, ponds, swamps, and other ecosystems around the world, amphibians are dying at rates never before observed. The reasons are many: habitat destruction, pollution from pesticides, climate change, invasive species, and the emergence of a deadly and infectious fungal disease.  To read more see Rhett Butler's article at

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


COME SKYPE WITH US- Our next youth and biodiversity meeting is this Saturday morning (10:00am Eastern Canada time).  Confirm your interest at if you are interested in communicating your conservation efforts with us.  This is the International Year of Forests and we are especially interested in forest projects!


IMAGE ABOVE: One-horned rhino, or Indian rhino (Free licence image)

Excellent news for rhinos!  A new census shows that Nepal's one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) population has increased by 23% since 2008 even in the face of poaching. In total 534 rhinos survive in Nepal, a rise of 99 individuals from 3 years ago.  Please read Jeremy Hance's excellent article ( here:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Aichi Biodiversity Targets (Source: CBD)

Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society

Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use

Strategic Goal C: To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity

Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services

Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building


Monday, April 25, 2011

Elephants: the gardeners of Asia's and Africa's forests

An interesting article that is both thought provoking and educational by Jeremy Hance.

Ivory market at Lagos airport in Nigeria. Photo by: D. Stiles.

Macoun Marsh over Easter weekend (Canada)

Here are a few photos from my favourite marsh:

Flock of common redpolls in front of our outdoor observatory.  We feed them nyjer seed before they head back up north for the summer.

An Easter(n) Cottontail!

Siberian squill

Juncos stay from fall to spring, then they leave for the summer.

Coltsfoot flowers are now common.

Painted turtles love the mid-day sun.

Friday, April 22, 2011


In celebration of Earth Day I wanted to share some of my favouite images of nature I have taken over the past few years. 

Black-throated Green Warbler (Dendroica virens) Canada

Turkish Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) Lebanon

A ride through the Macoun Marsh (Canada)

Morpho caterpillar- Costa Rica 

Cactus flower, Lebanon

Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

South Lebanon

Stavanger shore in Norway

Porcupine, Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada

Milbert's Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis milberti) Macoun Marsh, Canada

Nature-theme cart in Costa Rica

Happy Earth Day!

Obama focuses on climate change in Earth Day proclamation

After a long absence of speaking directly to the issue of climate change—he did not mention it once in his State of the Union speech in January—US President Barack Obama used his Earth Day proclamation to focus on it. Read more at

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute for Earth Day

The Smithsonian has been in Panama for 100 years.
They have been studying and protecting the biodiversity here.
Their Earth Day theme for 2011 is "A Billion Acts of Green".
They will be having beach clean ups and much more.
Check it out for yourself by clicking on the link above.

Mr. Panam

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more. The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.

G. Nelson (former governor of Wisconsin)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Richard Branson's pet lemur project is a terrible idea

Richard Branson's plan to introduce lemurs on one of his private islands in the Caribbean is a terrible idea.  To read why, see Rhett A. Butler's article at


This begins our 9th spring at this site!  We celebrated by cleaning up our wetland area and eating cake!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The saola: rushing to save the most 'spectacular zoological discovery' of the 20th Century

This female saola named 'Martha' was captured in 1996 in Laos by local villagers, and transferred to a nearby menagerie, but survived only a few weeks. Copyright 1996 by William Robichaud/WCS.  Permission also from

The saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) may be the most enigmatic, beautiful, and endangered big mammal in the world—that no one has ever heard of. This shy ungulate looks like an African antelope—perhaps inhabiting the wide deserts of the Sahara—but instead it lives in the dense jungles of Vietnam and Laos, and is more related to wild cattle than Africa's antelopes.  To learn more about this beautiful animal see:

Earth Month with Earth Rangers Rangers is a non-profit organization that works to inspire and educate children about the environment. At, kids can play games, discover amazing facts, meet animal ambassadors and fundraise to protect biodiversity.Link
This Earth Month, Earth Rangers is giving kids across Canada the chance to win a family
eco-adventure to the Canadian sub-arctic this summer with the Whales, Trails, and Polar
Bear Tales Contest.

Entering the contest is easy, just set up a Bring Back the Wild™ campaign at and choose one of four animals and their habitats to help protect:
the Jefferson Salamander, the Peregrine Falcon, the Grizzly Bear, or the Wolverine.

The contest will award four families of four across Canada the opportunity of a lifetime
to travel for a six days and five nights stay at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in
Manitoba. The Centre is where hundreds of scientists and their students come to learn
about northern plants, animals and climate.

Families will get the chance to kayak with the beluga whales, go on a tundra buggy ride
to spot polar bears, explore the Boreal forest, go fossil hunting and so much more!

So jump on over to to enter the contest now!

Saturday, April 16, 2011



This small amphibian is found throughout Central America.  It enjoys humid lowlands and forest. It lives on a specialized diet of ants and bugs.  Males are very territorial, guarding small territories.  Image: Mike Leveille 


• Fundraising $100,000 to build an Outdoor Classroom and develop an environmental area at the Macoun Marsh, used by Canadian school children from across the Ottawa region. Over 1300 species have been described here.
• Promoting our prototype project across Canada. In 2008, science teachers from across our country visited our study site, and were encouraged to participate in similar projects with their students.
• Connecting with Daniel Bisaccio from Brown University (Through the CBD) who developed the First Youth Symposium for Biodiversity in Mexico in 2005.  Youth from 9 countries attended that year.  
• Creating Biodiversitymatters and hosting the 2nd International Youth Symposium in Ottawa. We invited projects from 10 countries to participate- Albania, Barbados, Bolivia, Cameroon, Canada, Honduras, India, Japan, Mexico, and USA.  Over $70,000 was fundraised for the Symposium, and youth involved promoted it nationally and internationally through a variety of media, including television, radio, newspapers and the Internet. In 2008, five Canadian youths attended TUNZA in Norway to promote our work and invite delegates to attend the Symposium.
 • Our Symposium team developed a wide array of events, workshops, team building activities, special guests from all levels of government including the CBD.
• Creating the Youth Accord for Biodiversity, which has been translated into 25 languages and has over 5000 signatures of support from 83 countries. The Accord was written by youth from Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Uganda and USA.  The Accord was presented at major venues. One youth was flown to Belgium by the European Union for a Green Week event to promote our work. The Accord can also be successfully be adapted to any level of government – Our New Brunswick members helped to create the New Brunswick Youth Biodiversity Accord which has received 15 endorsements from youth and citizen-based groups from around the province.
• Attending and participating in COP10, where our Accord was presented, and where one of our members was invited to the High Level segments and had the opportunity to share our work with Ministers/ leaders. We communicated COP10 issues and produced an Accord poster to help raise awareness. Our Accord can be used in schools to develop policy and programs by youth. 8 members (+2 Chaperons) of our team were accredited and financed by us to participate at COP10, connecting to other international groups, such as the new organization GYBO (Global Youth and Biodiversity Organisation).  The International Youth Statement on Biodiversity developed in Nagoya was in-part developed out of our original Youth Accord described above. 
• Developing a communication blog for international youth at  Other recent groups we are connected with include youth from Australia, Panama, Spain, Tanzania, and Uganda.
• Helping to develop a pre-COP11 event in Auroville India for 2012, named the Third Youth Symposium for Biodiversity. 
•We also continue to develop local events for youth here in Ottawa, Canada.  We are planning an event on May 22 (on International Biodiversity Day)

Biodiversity improves water quality through niche partitioning

The first study to rigorously show how biodiversity improves water quality is published  in Nature1. It offers proof that biodiversity helps ecosystems to withstand pressures such as pollution.  See


April 30th, 2011 (10-12 noon)
We will meet at ASLA School in Ottawa, CANADA and skype with international youth.  Top subjects will be our local Biodiversity youth event at Ashbury College and the 2012 COP11 event in Auroville, India. 

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust News (UK)

William and Kate special adoption - With less than a month to go until the big day, many Royalists are trawling through the wealth of Royal Wedding souvenirs and commemorative items available to buy as an enduring reminder of William and Kate’s big day. However Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey, Channel Islands, is offering an imaginative alternative to the run of the mill mugs and cufflinks. See
Image from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Pro-deforestation group calls for weakening of U.S. law against illegal logging

Believe it or not, a group that lobbies on behalf of forestry conglomerates in Indonesia and Malaysia is calling on the U.S. to roll back legislation intended to fight illegal logging.  Please see:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Macoun Marsh Update- Ottawa, Canada

Here are some critters from my favourite marsh!  These images were taken in the past 2 days.  Temperature high both days about +8°C.  Mike L.

Turkey Vulture

One of 3 confirmed Cottontails seen tonight.

Coltsfoot flowers

Saw-whet owl pellet

Mating Purple-rimmed carabus beetles

A blue-spotted salamander quickly moving!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

International Course on Networks in Ecology (BRAZIL)

This is the last announcement of the *International Course on Networks in
Ecology*, to be held in *Brazil* in *September 2011*.

This will be an intensive course with an innovative format, presented by an
outstanding group of internationally recognized researchers in the field.
We will select 20 students from Brazil and 20 from abroad; *all their travel
and living expenses will be funded by FAPESP,* within its International
Advanced Science Course Program.

Due to delays in circulation of some journals in which we placed
announcements, we have extended the application deadline to *APRIL 30*.

May I ask you to circulate this among colleagues and especially graduate
students and postdocs who might be interested? I am also attaching our
poster, in case you would like to circulate or affix this.

Further information is in our course website,

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fund for Costa Rica

The Fund for Costa Rica is a non-profit, non-governmental organization which promotes biodiversity conservation in Costa Rica.
You can contact the Fund for Costa Rica in Costa Rica at: or 506.224.5703.

Do you know what the practice of Hima is?

Hima, practised for over 14,000 years in the Arabian Peninsula, is believed to be the most widespread system of traditional conservation in the Middle East, and perhaps the entire earth. See

Biodiversitymatters goals

Our Biodiversitymatters goals are three-fold- 1. Local biodiversity-related youth gatherings and public education, 2. Networking with international youth groups through our blog, to share success stories and discuss issues, 3. To assist teams in the development of international youth events as is planned in India in 2012. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Students present their Macoun Marsh work at the Canadian Museum of Nature (Ottawa, Canada)

Today a group of Grade 6-7 students from St-Laurent Academy in Ottawa presented their Macoun Marsh research at a public venue in the Canadian Museum of Nature.  They displayed their journal work and research and prepared samples of pond water to show visiting families.

Fresh pond samples were prepared by youth.

Painted turtles are now emerging from the marsh.

Male red-wings are setting up their territories.

Blue-spotted salamanders are starting to emerge from the soil.  They prefer very wet days.