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Techniques to find out which species are endangered

Techniques to find out which species are endangered



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Most countries have a list of endangered species and international organisations too issue such lists of vulnerable and endangered species.

What mathematical or statistical models are those estimates based on?

Regardless of which techniques the lists use, what are some of the most popular mathematical models to find out whether a certain species is endangered or vulnerable given the population and/or other environmental data in the academic literature? What is the state of the art currently?

Especially, if I want to learn the models at an intermediate and then advanced level (I already have training as an Economics student on mathematical and econometric modelling), what are some books/ other sources you would recommend?


Based on the IUCN Criteria for endangered status there are two broad categories of models to help in determining endangered status. Note that no one methodology is used to determine the status of any species. Rather, a panel of experts consider all available evidence (including numerous modelling studies) and essentially make a determination based on their own judgement.

  1. Range Estimates
    Estimating the range of a species uses two primary techniques. The first is an expert range maps drawn by people very familiar with the species distribution, which involves essentially no modelling. The 2nd is ecological niche modelling, aka. species distribution modelling. See 1 and 2 for introductions on the latter. Note that the IUCN guidelines have criteria based on total range size, and well as the amount of fragmentation and patchiness of the range.

  2. Population Size Estimates
    Since it is usually impossible to count all individuals of a species, models are used to estimate total populations. These usually fall in the realm of mark-recapture models. There are numerous variations on the basic model form which account for things like an open population, varying birth and death rates, and varying capture probabilities.

1: Elith, Jane, and John R. Leathwick. "Species distribution models: ecological explanation and prediction across space and time." Annual review of ecology, evolution, and systematics 40 (2009): 677-697. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.110308.120159
2: Araújo, Miguel B., et al. "Standards for distribution models in biodiversity assessments." Science Advances 5.1 (2019): https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aat4858.


Wikipedia has an article on the IUCN Red List Categories, There are some formulae there that show how the category is determined.

For example: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endangered_species_(IUCN_status)


15 Ways to Help Protect Endangered Species

There are various steps you can take to protect endangered species and their precious habitats. For example:

15 Actions to Protect Endangered Species

1) Learn about endangered species in your area. Teach your friends and family about the wonderful wildlife, birds, fish and plants that live near you. The first step to protecting endangered species is learning about how interesting and important they are. For more information about endangered species, visit endangered.fws.gov

2) Create a backyard wildlife habitat. Put bird feeders and other wildlife attractants, such as bird houses and baths.

3) Establish a pollinator garden with native vegetation in your yard. Native plants provide food and shelter for native wildlife. Attracting native insects like bees and butterflies can help pollinate your plants. Avoid planting invasive species. Non-native plants can overtake and destroy native species on which animals depend.

4) Minimize use of herbicides and pesticides. Herbicides and pesticides are hazardous pollutants that can affect wildlife at many levels. Reduce use of fertilizer. Excess fertilizer will likely wash into streams and rivers and may lead to amphibian deformities and deaths.

5) Reduce your use of water in your home and garden so that animals that live in or near water can have a better chance of survival. Don’t dump paint, oil or antifreeze or other chemicals, which pollute the water and can harm people and wildlife. Keep litter and pet waste out of the street drain, which often washes into rivers, lakes or the ocean.

6) Place decals on windows to deter bird collisions. Millions of birds die every year because of collisions with windows. You can help reduce the number of collisions simply by placing decals on the windows in your home and office.

7) Slow down when driving. Many animals live in developed areas and this means they must navigate a landscape full of human hazards. So when you’re out and about, slow down and keep an eye out for animals. Don’t litter because trash can attract wildlife to the roadside.

8) Recycle and buy sustainable products. Buy recycled paper and sustainable products like Forest Stewardship Council wood products and shade-grown coffee to save rainforests.

9) Don’t litter/otherwise destroy sensitive habitats, which may be home to native/visiting species that are endangered or threatened.

10) Organize or participate in a “clean up” campaign of an important habitat in your area. (Be sure to work with appropriate city officials/environmental organizations.)

11) Never purchase products made from endangered species like ivory, coral and tortoise shell. Buy exotic plants and animals only from reputable stores.

12) Report any harassment of threatened and endangered species. You can find a list of state wildlife departments at http://www.fws.gov/offices/statelinks.html

13) Visit a national wildlife refuge, park or other open space. These protected lands provide habitat to many native wildlife, birds, fish and plants. Get involved by volunteering at your local park or wildlife refuge. To find a wildlife refuge near you, visit http://www.fws.gov/refuges/ To find a park near you, visit http://www.nps.gov To learn more and get involved, contact the Endangered Species Coalition at

14) Be Vocal. Write a letter to your local newspaper urging support of important species protection measures. E-mail your Congressional representatives asking them to support the Endangered Species Act.

15) Join others (and organize) in the annual Stop Extinction Challenge. Organized by Endangered Species Coalition (usually in August).


Follow the Footprints

Over time, the game scouts who worked with them repeatedly asked why they didn’t just follow the animals’ footprints. It turned out the scouts could learn a lot more from the footprints than simply where the animals were going.

“To our amazement, these indigenous experts were able to identify not only species, but also individuals, just from their footprints,” said Alibhai. “Time and again they would find a footprint, tell us the name of the rhino, and then track that animal down to prove the point.”

The pair spent years on painstaking attempts to track footprints with techniques such as tracing them with acetate or developing roll after roll of celluloid. Two developments in the mid-1990s changed everything: the advent of digital cameras and their discovery of JMP Software, the statistical analysis software unit of the SAS Institute, which enabled them to develop sophisticated statistical models.

Those technologies led to the development of FIT, which today is able to use photos to classify footprints by species, individual, sex and age-class.

“It does everything from image manipulation, to the analytics, to mapping distributions,” said Alibhai.


Auburn's EcoDogs sniffing out endangered species

(PhysOrg.com) -- These dogs seek out animals in the woods, but they aren't your typical hunting dogs. They have been trained to find endangered species so Auburn University researchers can document the location and number of the rare animals.

The question is, how do you put dogs on the trail of unusual, elusive critters that few humans have seen? The dogs aren't looking for animals per se, but are trained to find where the animals have been, that is, by finding their excrement … or, in other words, the poop or scat.

Todd Steury, assistant professor of wildlife ecology in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, has started a program, EcoDogs: Detection Dogs for Ecological Research, to study "greatest conservation need" species.

"Alabama is home to 117 endangered species, which is third in the United States behind Hawaii and California, and numerous other species are at risk," Steury said. "But little is known about these species, including where they are located, the habitats they occupy, and how many individuals of a species exist."

Sophie, a 15-month-old black Labrador retriever, is trained to find scat from eastern spotted skunks, while Bishop, a 3-year-old black Labrador retriever, is trained to find scat from striped skunks. Both can also detect scat from black bears. The program recently added five new dogs as well.

"We are especially interested in the eastern spotted skunk," Steury said. "It is very small like a squirrel and is very susceptible to predators. Over the past two years, we have taken more than 600,000 photos with game cameras and we only got two photos of eastern spotted skunks."

The goal, he says, is to find populations large enough to study with additional techniques such as trapping and attaching radio transmitter collars.

"We want to find out what is reducing the populations," he said. "Is it disease? Is it predators? We need to know the reproduction rates. We then can address issues that cause animals to become endangered."

EcoDogs, which began one year ago, is the only program of its kind in the Southeast and is one of four such efforts in the United States. Two are located in Washington state and one in Montana. EcoDogs is a collaborative project between Auburn's School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine's Animal Health Performance Program, which includes the Canine Detection and Research Institute and the Sports Medicine Program.

"The dogs are housed at the veterinary college where we provide care and prepare them for this type of work," said Rob Gillette, director of the Animal Health Performance Program. "Our first priority is the dogs' care and making sure they are in proper condition. The dogs love doing this."

The college has handlers who train the dogs and accompany Steury and his graduate students to the research sites. This summer they will use the dogs to study black bears near Apalachicola, Fla., to learn more about human and bear interaction near new and proposed developments. Steury also wants to count black bears in the Mobile River Basin near Mobile.

"Each animal's scat contains DNA specific to that animal," he said. "By collecting scat samples, we can get a population count for a certain location. This will allow us to formulate an estimate for a much larger area."

The dogs, always teamed with a handler, can work up to four hours a day covering 12 miles in a zigzag pattern around the edges of a triangular area. Dogs usually detect the scat within 15 meters, sometimes up to 100 meters, and will sit down when they find the appropriate scent. A GPS collar allows trainers to keep up with the dog's location and it records the dog's path which can be viewed later on a computer.

"If we see sudden or irregular paths on the GPS, this can indicate where the dog detected the scent of the scat," Steury said.

He says the training time takes three to six weeks for the first scent and then a few days for additional scents. Samples of scat are collected from zoos and other wildlife organizations.

"We try to obtain scat from 10 to 20 individual animals of the species we want to study," he said. "The dogs are exposed to those samples and rewarded for finding them. We also expose them to scat from other animals, such as deer, but we don't reward them for finding those droppings. This teaches the dogs to ignore those scents."

Auburn researchers are also interested in finding scat from endangered long-tailed weasels in Alabama.

"We have been able to take only one photo of a long-tailed weasel in our game camera surveys, and there have been only eight reported road kills in Alabama since 1988," Steury said. "Getting samples of its scat is a problem because only one zoo in the U.S., in North Carolina, has a long-tailed weasel in captivity. We will try to use scat from several kinds of weasel so we can create a ‘weasel dog' to detect scat from any kind of weasel. Hopefully this will help lead us to a long-tailed weasel."

The dogs, he says, could also help prove or disprove stories about possible mountain lion sightings in Alabama.

"We would like to train a dog to find mountain lion scat," he said. "We hear stories that mountain lions have been seen here, but Alabama is not in their range. Most likely people have seen large bobcats or even coyotes. I would be very surprised if mountain lions are found here."


Notice of petition finding.

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list three species of lampreys: Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentata), western brook lamprey (Lampetra richardsoni), and river lamprey (Lampetra ayresii), as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We find that the petition and additional information in our files does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing these species may be warranted. We will not be initiating a further status review in response to this petition. We ask the public to submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning the status of or threats to the species. This information will help us monitor and encourage the conservation of these species.

The Kern brook lamprey (Lampetra hubbsi) was also identified in the petition. However, this species is being addressed in a separate finding, which is being prepared by the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office in California, and is not addressed in this notice.


Undergraduate research

Now at CSU, Mason is translating her passion into a degree in biology. In her undergraduate research as part of Kristen Ruegg’s lab in the Department of Biology and the Bird Genoscape Project, she focuses on streamlining the technique used to extract DNA from blood samples.

“Noelle’s undergraduate research will have important implications for our lab, and the field as a whole,” said Marina Rodriquez, a Ph.D. student in Ruegg’s lab. “Her work on DNA extractions will allow researchers to get higher DNA yield and quality from small amounts of blood.”

This research is especially important when studying birds because many of them are very small-bodied and extracting blood can be difficult.

Mason working in Ruegg’s lab.

“For genomic research, every sample is precious, and it’s important to make sure we’re extracting DNA as efficiently as we can,” said Teia Schweizer, the lab and collections manager in the lab and Mason’s direct supervisor.

Mason is also highly regarded by her colleagues for her work ethic and enthusiasm.

“She is constantly coming up with ways to improve her research, whether through methodology or putting in extra time to make sure everything is going smoothly,” said Rodriguez. “The time and effort she puts into her work is very impressive for her stage as a researcher. Her willingness to present her work and receive feedback is also impressive for her stage.”

Mason hadn’t initially been excited about birds, but was very interested in the genomics side of CSU’s bird-related research. As a part of Ruegg’s lab, however, she has found a new interest in avian conservation.

“I knew [this type of research] existed, but in very rare corners of academia, and I didn’t realize that it existed at CSU,” she said. “Now I’ve really come to enjoy working with birds and find myself looking at birds like wherever I go.”


10 Easy Things You Can Do to Save Endangered Species

1. Learn about endangered species in your area. Teach your friends and family about the wonderful wildlife, birds, fish and plants that live near you. The first step to protecting endangered species is learning about how interesting and important they are. Our natural world provides us with many indispensable services including clean air and water, food and medicinal sources, commercial, aesthetic and recreational benefits. For more information about endangered species, visit endangered.fws.gov and join our activist network to receive updates and action alerts.

2. Visit a national wildlife refuge, park or other open space . These protected lands provide habitat to many native wildlife, birds, fish and plants. Scientists tell us the best way to protect endangered species is to protect the places where they live. Get involved by volunteering at your local nature center or wildlife refuge. Go wildlife or bird watching in nearby parks. Wildlife related recreation creates millions of jobs and supports local businesses. To find a wildlife refuge near you, visit www.fws.gov/refuges/ To find a park near you, visit www.nps.gov To find a zoo near you, visit www.aza.org.

3. Make your home wildlife friendly. Secure garbage in shelters or cans with locking lids, feed pets indoors and lock pet doors at night to avoid attracting wild animals into your home. Reduce your use of water in your home and garden so that animals that live in or near water can have a better chance of survival. Disinfect bird baths often to avoid disease transmission. Place decals on windows to deter bird collisions. Millions of birds die every year because of collisions with windows. You can help reduce the number of collisions simply by placing decals on the windows in your home and office. For more information on what you can do, check out these tips from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

4. Native plants provide food and shelter for native wildlife. Attracting native insects like bees and butterflies can help pollinate your plants. The spread of non-native species has greatly impacted native populations around the world. Invasive species compete with native species for resources and habitat. They can even prey on native species directly, forcing native species towards extinction. For more information about native plants, visit https://www.plantsocieties.org.

5. Herbicides and pesticides may keep yards looking nice but they are in fact hazardous pollutants that affect wildlife at many levels. Many herbicides and pesticides take a long time to degrade and build up in the soils or throughout the food chain. Predators such as hawks, owls and coyotes can be harmed if they eat poisoned animals. Some groups of animals such as amphibians are particularly vulnerable to these chemical pollutants and suffer greatly as a result of the high levels of herbicides and pesticides in their habitat. For alternatives to pesticides, visit https://www.beyondpesticides.org.

6. Slow down when driving. Many animals live in developed areas and this means they must navigate a landscape full of human hazards. One of the biggest obstacles to wildlife living in developed areas is roads. Roads divide habitat and present a constant hazard to any animal attempting to cross from one side to the other. So when you’re out and about, slow down and keep an eye out for wildlife.

7. Recycle and buy sustainable products. Buy recycled paper, sustainable products like bamboo and Forest Stewardship Council wood products to protect forest species. Never buy furniture made from wood from rainforests. Recycle your cell phones, because a mineral used in cell phones and other electronics is mined in gorilla habitat. Minimize your use of palm oil because forests where tigers live are being cut down to plant palm plantations.

8. Never purchase products made from threatened or endangered species. Overseas trips can be exciting and fun, and everyone wants a souvenir. But sometimes the souvenirs are made from species nearing extinction. Avoid supporting the market in illegal wildlife including: tortoise-shell, ivory, coral. Also, be careful of products including fur from tigers, polar bears, sea otters and other endangered wildlife, crocodile skin, live monkeys or apes, most live birds including parrots, macaws, cockatoos and finches, some live snakes, turtles and lizards, some orchids, cacti and cycads, medicinal products made from rhinos, tiger or Asiatic black bear.

9. Harassing wildlife is cruel and illegal. Shooting, trapping, or forcing a threatened or endangered animal into captivity is also illegal and can lead to their extinction. Don’t participate in this activity, and report it as soon as you see it to your local state or federal wildlife enforcement office. You can find a list of state wildlife departments at https://www.fws.gov/offices/statelinks.html.

10. Protect wildlife habitat. Perhaps the greatest threat that faces many species is the widespread destruction of habitat. Scientists tell us the best way to protect endangered species is to protect the special places where they live. Wildlife must have places to find food, shelter and raise their young. Logging, oil and gas drilling, over-grazing and development all result habitat destruction. Endangered species habitat should be protected and these impacts minimized.

By protecting habitat, entire communities of animals and plants can be protected together. Parks, wildlife refuges, and other open space should be protected near your community. Open space also provides us with great places to visit and enjoy. Support wildlife habitat and open space protection in your community. When you are buying a house, consider your impact on wildlife habitat.


Tracking down endangered species

Documenting the location and number of rare animals isn’t an easy task - by definition there just aren’t that many of them around. That’s why researchers at Auburn University, Alabama, have turned to man’s best friend to lend a helping hand – or more accurately, a helping nose. The school’s EcoDogs project trains detection dogs to find endangered animal species, or rather their sign (read excrement), in the field to aid researchers in their goals of ecological research, management, and conservation.

The dogs are trained to find the excrement (or scat, poop, do-do or whatever you want to call it) of endangered species because the critters themselves can be too elusive. Few people have even seen many of the animals being “hunted” and very little is known about them – including the habitats in which they live.

The dogs’ incredible sense of smell and their ability to discern individual scents, even when they are masked by other odors, are why Todd Steury, assistant professor of wildlife ecology in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, enlisted the canines for the EcoDogs program to study "greatest conservation need" species.

"Each animal's scat contains DNA specific to that animal," he said. "By collecting scat samples, we can get a population count for a certain location. This will allow us to formulate an estimate for a much larger area."

EcoDogs, which began at Auburn University one year ago, is the only program of its kind in the Southeast and is one of four such efforts in the United States. Two are located in Washington state and one in Montana.

"Alabama is home to 117 endangered species, which is third in the United States behind Hawaii and California, and numerous other species are at risk," Steury said. The goal, he says, is to find populations large enough to study with additional techniques such as trapping and attaching radio transmitter collars.

"We want to find out what is reducing the populations," he said. "Is it disease? Is it predators? We need to know the reproduction rates. We then can address issues that cause animals to become endangered."

In the field

The college has handlers who train the dogs and accompany Steury and his graduate students to the research sites. The dogs can work up to four hours a day covering 12 miles in a zigzag pattern around the edges of a triangular area. Dogs usually detect the scat within 15 meters, sometimes up to 100 meters, and will sit down when they find the appropriate scent. A GPS collar allows trainers to keep up with the dog’s location and it records the dog's path, which can be viewed later on a computer."If we see sudden or irregular paths on the GPS, this can indicate where the dog detected the scent of the scat," Steury said.

Training

Sophie, a 15-month-old black Labrador retriever, is trained to find scat from eastern spotted skunks, while Bishop, a 3-year-old black Labrador retriever, is trained to find scat from striped skunks. Both can also detect scat from black bears. The program recently added five new dogs as well.Using samples of scat collected from zoos and other wildlife organizations training time takes three to six weeks for the first scent and then a few days for additional scents.

"We try to obtain scat from 10 to 20 individual animals of the species we want to study," he said. "The dogs are exposed to those samples and rewarded for finding them. We also expose them to scat from other animals, such as deer, but we don't reward them for finding those droppings. This teaches the dogs to ignore those scents."

Debunking mountain lion myths

Aside from sniffing out the location of known endangered species, the EcoDogs program could also help prove or disprove stories about possible mountain lion sightings in Alabama."We would like to train a dog to find mountain lion scat," he said. "We hear stories that mountain lions have been seen here, but Alabama is not in their range. Most likely people have seen large bobcats or even coyotes. I would be very surprised if mountain lions are found here."


Techniques to find out which species are endangered - Biology

© Photo by Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark

National Geographic Photo Ark

The National Geographic Photo Ark is a multiyear effort that aims to photograph every species living in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries, inspire action through education, and help save wildlife by supporting on-the-ground conservation projects.

Joel Sartore: Photo Ark Founder & Photographer

Joel Sartore started the Photo Ark in his hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, over a decade ago. Since then, Sartore, a world-renowned photographer, has visited 40 countries in his quest to create a photo archive of global biodiversity, which will feature portraits of an estimated 12,000 species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. Once completed, the Photo Ark will serve as an important record of each animal’s existence and a powerful testament to the importance of saving them.

To date, Joel has completed portraits of more than 8,000 species. No matter its size, each animal is treated with the same amount of affection and respect. The results are portraits that are not just stunningly beautiful, but intimate and moving. “It’s the eye contact that moves people,” Sartore explains. “It engages their feelings of compassion and a desire to help.”

Projections of Photo Ark

On Saturday, August 1st, 2015, Photo Ark images illuminated the Empire State Building in a first-of-its kind live video projection that showed beautiful, inspiring imagery of endangered species to the world as never seen before.

For the first time in New York City history, this stand-alone, architectural projection art event featured towering images of endangered species—more than 350 feet tall and 186 feet wide, and covering 33 floors—on the south façade of The Empire State Building in an art event meant to draw attention to the creatures’ plight against mass extinction.

Using 40 stacked, 20,000-lumen projectors on the roof of a building on West 31st Street, illuminated the night with live video projections, including (an 8 minute environmentally-focused tableau, combined with iconic imagery of endangered species, that made each 15 minute cycle running throughout the night a unique experience).

Video: Projections of the Photo Ark (2 min)

Help Save Endangered Species

The National Geographic Photo Ark harnesses the power of photography to document species, inspire action, and help save wildlife by supporting on-the-ground conservation efforts. You too can make an impact in your own backyard!

Here are some ways you can take action today:

  • Know your impact: What is your carbon footprint? Find out and learn how you can lessen your impact on the planet.
  • Be pollinator-friendly. You can help save butterflies, bees, birds, and other pollinators by planting local plants and milkweed in your garden at home and encouraging your neighborhood to do the same.
  • Explore volunteer opportunities with local wildlife rehabilitation centers in your community.
  • Learn as much as you can about your favorite animal so that you can form an educated opinion about the issues, and brainstorm how we can all coexist. Learn more.
  • Spread the Word. Help raise awareness through social media by using the hashtag #SaveTogether.
  • Make a donation. Donate to Photo Ark here .

#SaveLACougars

Mountain Lions in Los Angeles

Mountain lions are at risk of disappearing from the Santa Monica Mountains due to loss and fragmentation of habitat by roads and urban development – and and are running out of time!

Mountain lions are a part of California’s natural heritage and having them disappear from the Santa Monica Mountains would be a great loss. Losing a key predator can also be devastating to the entire ecosystem. Although we use mountain lions as the poster child, this is about reconnecting an entire ecosystem for all wildlife—and people!

Building A Wildlife Crossing

One of the #SaveLACougars initiatives is to support the building of what potentially could be the largest wildlife crossing in the world and the first of its kind in California to help save a population of m ountain lions from extinction— and to reconnect the Santa Monica Mountains ecosystem for all wildlife. This campaign focuses on building a wildlife crossing over the 101 freeway at Liberty Canyon, for animals to use to safely cross above 10 lanes of LA traffic.

Save LA Cougars VR

The Save LA Cougars VR experience places you right in the story, allowing you to see the world from a mountain lion’s perspective, showing how we can help them survive by restoring some much needed balance in our relationship with our wild neighbors.

Filmed on location in Los Angeles and the Santa Monica Mountains using advanced stereoscopic virtual reality cameras, 3D modeling and full immersive sound, the Save LA Cougars VR experience pushes the boundaries of cause-based documentaries.

Watch the 360 video in your browser now!

TEACHER RESOURCES

Photo Ark in the Classroom

The National Geographic Photo Ark is a powerful tool to teach people of all ages about our planet’s amazing biodiversity and foster a real connection to Earth’s wildlife. The project engages students in the classroom through free educational materials and activities, and inspires the public through special exhibitions, books, TV specials, features in National Geographic magazine, and events around the world. An interactive digital experience allows people to engage with Photo Ark content on our website, explore animals in the collection, and share information about endangered species with their social networks.

Ecosystems and Biodiversity: Annenberg Learner Teacher Resources & Curriculum

Ecosystems & Habitats:

Biodiversity, Extinction, Conservation:

Activity: The Power of Images in Storytelling

The National Geographic Photo Ark is a powerful tool to teach people of all ages about our planet’s amazing biodiversity and foster a real connection to Earth’s wildlife. The project engages students in the classroom through free educational materials and activities, and inspires the public through special exhibitions, books, TV specials, features in National Geographic magazine, and events around the world. An interactive digital experience allows people to engage with Photo Ark content on our website, explore animals in the collection, and share information about endangered species with their social networks.

Activity: The Power of Images in Storytelling

1. Activate background knowledge about the purpose of storytelling.

Ask: What is storytelling and why do people tell stories? Have students turn and talk to a neighbor about the questions you posed. After a couple minutes, invite students to share their ideas with the class. During the discussion, ask:

  • How do people tell stories? (Storytellers use not only written and spoken words but also visuals, like drawings and photographs.)

Have students turn and talk again after you ask:

  • What method of storytelling might a storyteller use if he or she wants the audience to do or feel something? (Answers will vary. Possible answers: Storytellers might use visuals, real-life examples, personal anecdotes, or ask listeners to put themselves in the story.)

2. View video clips of Joel Sartore speaking about photographing animals.

Introduce the video clip “ Grizzlies, Wolves, and Koalas: Conservation Photography ” by explaining that Joel Sartore is a storyteller and photographer for National Geographic. Ask students to think about the following focus questions as they watch the video:

  • How do good photographs help conservation efforts? (Photographs are engaging, make people ask questions, and lead people to care. They also help people make a personal connection with the animals.)
  • Why does Joel Sartore use photographs to tell stories?(He believes that photographs motivate people to care and hopefully make positive changes, like the Australian government passing legislation to protect koalas.)

After viewing the video clip, have students talk to a neighbor about their ideas on the focus questions.

Introduce the second video clip, “ Saving Animals Through Photography ,” by telling students that Joel Sartore is working on a project called the Photo Ark. He is taking photographs of animals in captivity. Ask students to consider the following focus questions while watching the clip:

  • What is Joel Sartore’s goal in creating the Photo Ark? (He is taking photos of all animal species in captivity as a way to document them, especially endangered ones, for future generations and to encourage people to care about them and take action now, before it’s too late.)
  • What techniques does he use to get people to care about the animals, and why does he want them to care? (He photographs the animals on black or white backgrounds so they are viewed equally and without any distractions, such as natural backgrounds. He wants to bring people’s attention to the animal extinction crisis.)

After viewing the clip, facilitate a short class discussion about the focus questions. Have students discuss the role of Sartore’s photographs in the stories he tells.

3.Invite students to interact with Sartore’s photos during a gallery walk.

Tell students they will walk around the room and observe several of Sartore’s photographs from the Photo Ark. Give each student several sticky notes. Ask students to pause at each photo and write or draw how the photo makes them feel. Encourage them to document their reactions, emotions, and questions and leave the sticky note next to the photo. After they have looked at all the photos, invite students to share what they felt and what themes they noticed in the sticky notes left by their classmates.

4. Ask students to write essays in response to a Photo Ark photo.

Tell students to choose a photo with which they feel a strong connection. Ask students to write a short personal essay in response to the following questions.

  • Why does this photo interest you?
  • What story does this photo express to you? Why? How?
  • The goal of Photo Ark is to get people to care about species and want to protect them. In what ways does this photo inspire those feelings in you?

Activity: Park Scavenger Hunt

The wild status of all animals in The Photo Ark (and at the Zoo) is designated by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This list evaluates the wild populations of every known animal and determines population risks.

Use the below ‘Scavenger Hunt Worksheet’ to identify a Photo Ark animal that falls within each category of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species identify the animals, the threats they face and how we can help.


More Information

Science is critical to understanding the needs and status of protected species populations, as well as the threats to their health and well-being. Our scientific understanding of these topics helps us develop and implement recovery efforts for endangered and threatened species. Examples of our work include assessing and monitoring populations, researching disease agents (e.g., pathogens, parasites, and harmful algal blooms), and developing gear modifications to reduce entanglement and bycatch.

Population Assessments

We rely on population assessments to evaluate the status of the endangered and threatened species we manage under the Endangered Species Act. These assessments collect and analyze scientific information on a species’ population structure, life history characteristics and vital rates, abundance, and threats—particularly those caused by human activities.

Our scientists and resource managers develop population assessment reports to inform decisions related to a protected species’ listing status, federal or federally funded activities that may impact a species or its habitat, and acceptable bycatch levels. The reports also inform scientific research and incidental take permits issued to agencies, scientific and academic institutions, and industry. Finally, population assessments allow us to evaluate and determine the effectiveness of recovery measures and to adjust management approaches as needed.

Population assessment depends on collaboration between experts throughout our science centers. We also work closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and many university scientists in the United States and beyond.

Field Surveys

Ship-based and aerial surveys are critical to achieving our marine mammal and sea turtle population assessment goals, which include estimating abundance and examining trends and human impacts relative to management objectives. Our science centers conduct and manage a limited number of marine mammal and sea turtle-focused surveys each year, often with external collaborators. The number of surveys depends on funding and available ship time and flight time.

Ocean Acoustics

The efficiency of sound travel under water has led to increasing concern over how man-made sound potentially impacts the underwater environment. Our scientists support and conduct research to examine these potential impacts on marine animals and to increase understanding of:

How marine animals use sound.

How underwater acoustics can be used to assess marine animal populations.

How and to what degree anthropogenic activities are changing the underwater soundscape.

How these changes may potentially impact marine animals in their acoustic habitat.

What measures can be taken to mitigate potential impacts.

Bycatch Reduction

Reducing bycatch of protected species can improve the recovery of marine mammals, sea turtles, and fish. Together with the fishing industry, we work to minimize bycatch by developing technological solutions and changes in fishing practices. These include gear modifications, avoidance programs, and/or improved fishing practices in commercial and recreational fisheries.

Species Valuation Studies

Species valuation studies assess the national benefits derived from threatened and endangered marine species, including fish, sea turtles, marine mammals, and seabirds. Determining the economic value of protected species helps us determine the benefits and value of our corresponding conservation and recovery efforts.

Climate and Ecosystem Science

Understanding climate change impacts on living marine resource distribution and occurrence patterns is a high priority for NOAA Fisheries. We know relatively little about the effects of global and regional climate dynamics on species distribution, abundance, and prey availability. The Arctic in particular is a window to changing climate patterns and a suitable biological laboratory to observe and record the impacts of receding sea ice, warming sea surface temperatures, and variable energy flow. These impacts all affect key marine ecosystem functions and native tribal communities that depend on Arctic resources for their livelihood and sustenance.

Advanced Technologies

Learn about other advanced technologies used by our scientists—including drones, satellite tagging and tracking, and genetic research—to study marine mammals and other ocean animals.


Watch the video: Videografik: Diese Tierarten sind vom Aussterben bedroht (August 2022).