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Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Is the “hopelessly incomplete” fossil record a little better than we give it credit for?

Posted 19 Dec 2010 / 0

Conventional wisdom has always been that fossils are impressionistic: although they can tell us a lot about the morphology of a great variety of organic structures, it has been assumed that all but the most recent of fossil remains contain none of the original material that made up the fossilized organism. A recent article in Read More

Paleonotology, Taphonomic Processes

Saving Puffins, One Clip at a Time

Posted 15 Dec 2010 / 0

There’s an interesting article in a recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “A Path for Puffins“. The article discusses the campaign to help eradicate an invasive plant species from a somewhat-remote Scottish Island that is home to thousands of puffins. The puffin population was showing steady decline on the island, and an Read More

Articles, Biodiversity Loss, Climate Change, Conservation Biology, Invasive Species, Marine Ecosystems

Man or astrobiology man?

Posted 12 Dec 2010 / 0

This month’s Scientific American had two interesting news stories concerning our scientific obsession with space. The first article, entitled “Defying Politics”, discussed the schizophrenic and wavering manner in which the last two presidential administrations have worked to forge our future explorations of space by reforming NASA. Increasingly, it is clear that our manned space program Read More

Astrobiology, Space Travel

Extensifying Sustainability

Posted 03 Dec 2010 / 0

The Chronicle of Higher Education featured a provocative article entitled “True Sustainability Means Going Beyond Campus Boundaries” in last week’s issue. Author James Proctor argues that campus sustainability has focused too much on the “act locally” principle, leading to sustainable islands of collegiate privilege that do not do much to change the larger global forces Read More

Sustainability

Mirsky on Poop in Space

Posted 29 Nov 2010 / 0

As an ecologist one of my biggest pet peeves is the way that manned space travel is treated in the mainstream media, both fictional and non-fictional. Without going deeply into the details, suffice it to say that our dependence on ecosystem services makes manned space travel of any appreciable duration or distance completely unrealistic. Of Read More

Articles, Astronomy, Ecosystem Services, Space Travel

Using Ecological Footprints to Teach Sustainability

Posted 27 Nov 2010 / 1

Technically- and traditionally-speaking, an ecology course should not really deal too much with policy. A strict definition of ecology should limit the topic to the study of the interaction between organisms and their environment, and for decades now that has meant looking at how non-human animals and other organisms constitute ecosystems. Discussions of policy, economics, Read More

Anthropogenic Change, Biodiversity Loss, Climate Change, Ecological Footprinting, Ecology Education, Ecosystem Services, Environmental Justice, Ethics, MSCI-270, Ecology, Pollution, Public Policy, Quantitative Analysis, Sustainability, Teaching Tools, Web

Reclaiming a Rigorous Definition of “Sustainability”

Posted 18 Nov 2010 / 0

The latest issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment features a great guest editorial by David N. Laband and David B. South entitled “Walking the talk on sustainability”. In this short piece, Laband and South make a point that is brought to light far too infrequently: that we use the word “sustainable” in a Read More

Articles, Environmental Justice, Greenwashing, Quantitative Analysis, Sustainability

Are Eco-labels an Effective Tool for Conservation?

Posted 17 Nov 2010 / 0

On of the things that I like about the Ecological Society of America’s “accessible” journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment is that it always contains an eclectic mix of articles. The November 2010 issue contains an article entitled “Strategic tradeoffs for wildlife-friendly eco-labels” that you just would not see in most academic journals. Authored Read More

Articles, Biodiversity Loss, Conservation Biology, Sustainability

Official video of the International Year of Biodiversity 2010

Posted 17 Nov 2010 / 0

One of my current Ecology students brought this video, produced by the United Nations, to my attention today: I think what is most fascinating about this video is the premise upon which it is built. Using the video screen to represent some sort of biodiversity catalog console, it envisions a time when future generations have Read More

Anthropogenic Change, Biodiversity Loss, Climate Change, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Ecology Education, Ecosystem Services, Environmental Justice, Extinction, Film & Television, Invasive Species, Pollution, Public Policy, Sustainability, Urban Ecology

Delayed Development and Human Evolution

Posted 16 Nov 2010 / 0

For hundreds of thousands of years, Homo neanderthalensis was the dominant hominid species of Europe and the Middle East. Then, somewhere in the range of 80,000 to 50,000 years ago, modern humans (Homo sapiens) expanded out of Africa and came in contact with the Neanderthals. Although there is some evidence of limited interbreeding between Homo Read More

Articles, Development, Homo species, Human Evolution, Radio & Podcasts