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Brondizio signs letter calling for diversity in conservation debate

IU professor of Anthropology, Eduardo Brondizio, was one of 240 conservationists to sign a letter to the scientific journal Nature, calling for greater diversity in the global debate about conservation.  The letter was published last week.  In the letter the point is made that the debate has become increasingly polarizing between those who argue that nature should be protected for its own sake, and those who argue that we must also save nature to help ourselves.  The letter says that this situation is stifling communication, inhibiting funding and halting progress.   An approach is proposed that accepts a unified and diverse conservation ethic; one that recognizes and accepts all values of nature and welcomes all philosophies justifying nature protection and restoration, from ethical to economic, and from aesthetic to utilitarian.

The signers write that much of the contention is intensified by the fact that the dispute is dominated by only a few voices, nearly all of them men’s.  They call for a diversity of voices representing a wide range of ethnic, cultural and social perspectives, as well as gender balance.

Out of Africa: The Prequels to Humanity

On Friday May 2nd Dr. David Lordkipanidze gave a presentation on some recent discoveries in the field pre-human history and bio-anthropology. The speaker takes us to Dminisi in the Republic of Georgia to the earliest hominid settlement outside of Africa. This site has been a treasure trove for anthro-biologists not just because it shows the behavior of its pre-human denizens, but because it sheds light on the co-evolution of the human species and the technology they developed. The primary speaker is Dr. Lordkipanidze the Director of the Georgian National Museum in the Republic of Georgia. This lecture is sponsored by The Stone Age Institute’s Program in Human Evolution and recorded on location at Whittenberger Auditorium for Standing Room Only, on WFHB.

IU Anthropologists Will Try Raising Funds Online For Research Project

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Four anthropology students from Indiana University are taking their funding request to the public. Crowd-funding websites like Kickstarter are becoming more and more popular as a way to fund all kinds of projects, big and small.

This group, studying in the lab of evolutionary anthropologist Michael Muehlenbein hopes to continue their study of how tourists and primates interact in South Africa by using these types of funds.

“The whole idea of ecotourism is that you take only photos and leave only footprints. But the reality is that unregulated ecotourism can have a variety of potential costs. One of those costs being the welfare of endangered species that we’re interested in going to visit,” Muehlenbein says.

Diseases transmitted from humans to primates can be disastrous to wild primate populations. Primates can transmit diseases like malaria right back to humans. The goal for these researchers is to study what people know about primate and human diseases and their attitudes towards them. These and other factors can influence disease transmission.

“Humans are attracted to monkeys and apes, they’re cute, they’re fuzzy and they act like us. Non-human primates share a lot of diseases with humans and we know there are a lot of instances of disease transmission from them to humans, HIV being a good example. So, I wanted to wrap my brain around the decisions tourists make that might influence the transmission of diseases like that,” Muehlenbein says.

The students helping Muehlenbein in his research hope to reach out to the community by involving them in the funding and researching process. They plan on using Microryza, a website dedicated to helping smaller science projects reach their funding goals.

Muehlenbein thinks that becoming involved in this kind of research project could mean so much to the science community.

“I think a lot of younger people are not as involved in science as they should be. In general, I think the public loves celebrities, but I think they should love scientists just as much. As a donor, they have an investment more than just money because we have multiple incentives. We want to involve them every step of the way, telling them why we’re doing this, from the inception of the project to the very end,” Muehlenbein says.

The goal is to raise $7,500  to pay for plane tickets and the research would  take about three weeks.

 

By Casey Kuhn

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