Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2004
Field naturalists launch biodiversity lecture series
On Thursday, 16 September, members of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) were privileged to hear a very interesting lecture introducing the theme for this year’s program — “Biodiversity”. At the lecture, Dr. Charles Francis, Chief of the Migrating Birds Section of the Canadian Wildlife Research Centre in Ottawa addressed four questions: What is biodiversity? How does Biodiversity arise? Is Biodiversity of any importance? and What are the main threats to Biodiversity?.
Introduced by MVFN member Dr. Don Wiles, the speaker starting his talk by defining what is a species (this is not always clear). Dr. Francis used examples from a large number of photos and illustrations, many of them from the tropical rain forests of south east Asia, where he has extensive experience. These photos aptly demonstrated the nature of biodiversity and also showed a few instances of species that seem more distinct than they really are.
Noting that there are thought to be about 1.4 million species alive on earth today, the speaker showed how population estimates are made, and speculated on the accuracy of the data. On the development of new species, he pointed out that speciation requires isolation from other populations of similar species.
Dr. Francis noted the greatest benefits derived from biodiversity are efficient use of nutrients and protection against mass extinction of monocultures. He pointed out that the biggest threats to continued biodiversity appear to be destruction of habitat and human over consumption.
A lively question period following the lecture brought out further ideas and more and stimulated further conversation on the subject. Dr. Wiles, in thanking the speaker and presenting him with a gift of local herb and garden products, complimented Dr. Francis on a really a memorable lecture, noted for its incisiveness, its balanced perspective and the excellence of its presentation.
Also at the meeting, MVFN Programme chair Tine Kuiper outlined the up-coming programme, including the annual nature walk on Sept. 19, the annual Fall Colours canoe trip, Oct 3 and the speaker for the next meeting, Thursday, Oct. 21, Mr. Mike Yee, Mississippi Valley Conservation, who will talk on the Biodiversity of the Mississippi Watershed. Please consult the MVFN web site mvfn.ca for further details.