It is always fun when we get to talk to our colleagues about the details of our research. Usually we are asked to speak about one particular project or to help interpret one particular phenomenon. But every once in a while we get a chance to provide an overview or perspective piece on the general state of affairs of a particular overarching environmental challenge or the developments in our field. This last category of talks are the rarest, but in many ways the most fun. Dr. Anderson got just such an opportunity when he gave an invited colloquium to the Sonoma State Biology Department this week entitled It Can’t Happen Here…But Just Did: The Need for and Value of New Tools and Tech for Biological Conservation about the evolving suite of tools we use across our AARR efforts.
He gave his talk on September 18, 2018 as the impacts of Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas and remnants of our summer wildfires across northern California were still unfolding. This was just a few weeks shy of the one year anniversary of the onset of the series of devastating October 2017 firestorms which swept across much of the northern California wine county surrounding the Sonoma State campus. Dr. Anderson’s talk and abstract are below.
It Can’t Happen Here…But Just Did
The Need for and Value of New Tools and Tech for Biological Conservation
We are on the cusp of an amazing era of change for our society and planet; the opening millennium of the Anthropocene, the opening century of the sixth mass extinction event, and a broad-based erosion of the general trust in and support for social institutions and disciplinary experts. At the same time, we are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution which has helped birth a new era of robotic instruments, individualized manufacturing, the open source movement, and crowd sourcing. My Pirate Lab and Aerial and Aquatic Robotic Research group at CSU Channel Islands have worked to harness some of these new technologies to help begin to respond to the daunting challenge of these cumulative threats to our biosphere. I will illustrate the potential value of these new tools via some of our work to measure, assess, and better manage coastal ecosystems. Examples will include monitoring remote South Pacific Atolls with drones and ROVs, developing rapid assessment tools implementable by the general public, remotely quantifying altered animal behavior, discovering archeological ruins in the wake of 2018’s Thomas Fire, crowd-sourcing animal mortality post-fire, open source air pollution monitoring, and opinion polling to better understand the perception of resource management. While not applicable to all conservation situations, this array of emerging tools should certainly be in the quiver of our next generation of conservation scientists.