I popped into Manchester Metropolitan University earlier for this Conservation Research Day.
All of the talks were interesting, and of course I enjoyed the dormouse one, but Carl Jones was the star of the show with his seminar on “Using species work to drive whole eco-system conservation, lessons from Mauritius”.
Carl hails from the Durrell Institute, which was named in honour of Gerald Durrell, the famous conservationist and author. Durrell actually happens to be one of my favourite authors; I devoured his naturalist books while away on fieldwork or short contracts, after hunting them down in second hand shops and online.
Carl spoke articulately and intelligently on the conservation of three extremely endangered bird species on Mauritius. I couldn’t possibly reiterate the whole talk here, but some key ideas that stuck with me include: losing a species is not just the loss of a taxonomic unit but also the loss of ecological function; captive breeding is not a solution, but a step towards a solution; and where possible, release captively bred birds at fledging and in small groups, so they have a chance to learn particular vital skills as naturally as possible.
His presentation also included a shocking illustration of the deforestation on Mauritius since it’s colonisation, and other reminders of why it’s so important to conserve tropical islands.