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  • Richard Conniff

  • Reviews for Richard Conniff’s Books

    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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Posts Tagged ‘milkweed’

Abundant in the 1990s, Monarch Butterflies Now at Risk of Extinction

Posted by Richard Conniff on August 28, 2014

Monarch butterfly (Photo: Kristofer Rowe)

Monarch butterfly (Photo: Kristofer Rowe)

With Labor Day just ahead, people on both coasts and across the Great Plains should be celebrating the start of one of North America’s great migrations. The spectacle of monarch butterflies working their way back to their overwintering sites, across hundreds or thousands of miles, is the longest known insect migration on Earth.

It’s such a popular event, and the monarchs are so beautiful—their brilliant orange wings bordered with a black-polka-dot hem—that seven states have named monarch butterflies their state insect.

But this year the parade is mostly canceled, and instead environmental groups have petitioned the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to list the monarch butterfly as a threatened species.

The monarchs have been decimated—populations are down 90 percent from their 20-year average. That’s “a loss so staggering,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, “that in human-population terms it would be like losing every living person in

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Conservation and Extinction | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Monarch Butterflies As Canaries in the Cornfield

Posted by Richard Conniff on February 27, 2014

This is a pretty comprehensive account of the monarch butterfly crisis, with lots of links to resource material.  It’s from Lisa Feldkamp of The Nature Conservancy, and it appeared first on TNC’s Cool Green Science blog:

Everyone is talking about the record low count of monarchs at their overwintering site in Mexico, but what does the science say is happening to them and why does it matter?

Monarch butterflies have a special place in the North American imagination. They are beautiful, plentiful, and have a legendary predator-repelling capacity.

They are the state insect or butterfly of seven US states and an important ecotourism resource in Mexico, where millions of monarchs overwinter on oyamel fir trees.

With a range that covers the United States, watching monarchs was once a shared cultural experience, but that is changing fast.

No scientists are arguing that monarchs will go extinct, but numbers are dwindling at an alarming rate.

The most recent overwintering population in Mexico covered about 0.67 hectares of forest – a record low. That’s down approximately 44% from the 2012-2013 overwintering population, which was already very low (Rendon-Salinas 2014).

The record high was in 1996-1997, when the monarchs covered about Read the rest of this entry »

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