Biodiversity is in the news. 2010 is the UN Year of Biodiversity, which has done much to raise public awareness. So inevitably we are seeing more blogs dedicated to the topic.
Yay! But it’s hard to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Google “biodiversity blog” (with quotes) and you get several thousand hits.
Which of those can you put into your RSS reader? Which bloggers are engaging and authoritative but independent?
Here’s a review of the best blogs about biodiversity. I searched high and low with search engines, and used sites such as Technorati, to find them. But more than likely I’ve missed some good ones. Please let me know your favorite biodiversity blog if it’s not included!
I have tried to rank the sites in order of which would be most interesting and useful to the biodiversity community (that’s an in-joke for ecologists!). I based my ranking on:
- Adherence to the principle and philosophy of blogging (an independent, opinionated, non-corporate individual voice).
- Overall relevance and focus on biodiversity.
- Design, scope and general appeal.
I ranked the blogs from 1 to 5 — I couldn’t find ten that matched the criteria. The ranking is subjective. Some of the lower ranked sites might get more traffic than higher ranked sites. Traffic estimates are based on data for June from compete.com.
NOTE: This is intended to be a list of blogs that focus on biodiversity so I did not include the many wonderful blogs that cover conservation, endangered species, global warming, etc.
1. The Sticky Tongue
The Sticky Tongue is a quirky, imaginative approach to informing and educating about biodiversity and conservation. The blog focuses on herpetology. But its Biodiversity Photo of the Day can be anything from the Vancouver Island Marmot (one of the rarest animals in North America) to the critically endangered Lord Howe Island Stick Insect. The blog’s author is Candace Hansen. She has “a passion not just for reptiles but also for all forms of wildlife conservation and animal rights.” In particular, her blog does not preach environmentalism and activism. Rather, she presents the issues, often with a touch of humor, to inform and educate. It’s only been online a short while, but its traffic has grown fast.
Compete.com traffic: ~2,000 per month
2. The Artful Amoeba
Jennifer Frazer is a science writer living in Boulder, Colorado. She dislikes the term “biodiversity” because “it turns people off to the subject” and “It’s too often used for boring platitudes about species richness.” Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in systematics and biotic diversity from Cornell University. She also has a master’s degree in plant pathology with a concentration in mycology (also from Cornell), and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.
Traffic: ~1,000 per month
3. Island Biodiversity Race
Island Biodiversity Race highlights the vulnerability of island biodiversity due to the relatively rapid loss of species from islands. The blog focuses on islands in the Gulf of Guinea, primarily Sâo Tomé. The contributors provide an account of expeditions funded by the California Academy of Sciences, the Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe government and others. The blog is hosted by WildlifeDirect, a Kenya and US registered charitable organization founded and chaired by African conservationist Dr Richard Leakey.
Compete.com traffic (wildlifedirect.org): ~20,000 per month
4. Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog
Mostly, talk of biodiversity concerns natural species and habitats. The Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog highlights biodiversity in a non-natural system — agriculture. This is important because an oft-cited reason for preserving natural biodiversity is to provide a source for new genetic material that could have practical applications, primarily in agriculture. The site’s authors are Luigi Guarino and Jeremy Cherfas, both professionally involved in biodiversity. Their goal is to collect in one place anything they find on the Internet that relates somehow to the notion of agricultural biodiversity. Luigi Guarino is Senior Science Coordinator at the Global Crop Diversity Trust and served as a consultant for the FAO and IBPGR from 1984 to 1988. Jeremy Cherfas is responsible for public relations at Biodiversity International. He has extensive experience as a science writer and editor, for print, radio and TV.
Compete.com traffic (biodiver.se): ~3,000 per month
5. Ohio birds and biodiversity
You don’t think of Ohio as a biodiversity hotspot, but Jim McCormac does a nice job of highlighting his state’s natural beauty and biodiversity. McCormac has made a study of natural history since the age of eight. His goal is to get more people interested in nature. In doing so, he says, “The more of us who care, the more likely that our natural world will survive.”
Here are additional social or news sites that are relevant to raising awareness about biodiversity. (For more complete listing of links to biodiversity sites, check out Wikipedia: Biodiversity.)
David Without Borders
Blog authors David Aimé and David Fabrega call themselves explorers of biodiversity. They use images and video to “gather the most current information from local entrepreneurs, scientists, and communities on biodiversity and sustainable development topics.” They’re blogging during their around the world trip planned to be completed in July 2011.
Biodiversity Media Alliance
This social network site was created IIED, IUCN and Internews to help connect journalists with the biodiversity scientists. Its goal is to increase the quantity and quality of coverage of biodiversity issues in the media. You need to register to become a member. Members can use the blog section to share news, thoughts, ideas and publications, as well as include photos and links to other websites or attachments.
2010 International Year of Biodiversity Australia
The site is a “biodiversity hub” for events in Australia. It is a part of the Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD) International Year of Biodiversity project. The site is a venue for others to promote biodiversity news and events, showcase stories, and share ideas and find events and resources. Although it is not a blog in the strict sense, it is a great site!
Traffic: ~1,700 per month
Mongabayis the most popular website in our list. Since 1999 it has been dedicated to rainforest conservation news and activism. It has done a good job reporting on biodiversity loss.Founder Rhett A. Butler does not have a biology background but he has authored or co-authored several papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. According to the site’s About page, the site has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and has provided advice and assistance to numerous other organizations.
Traffic: ~500K per month
This blog is the work of Dan Rhoads, an American molecular biologist who has moved to the Republic of Cyprus and now works in the biotech sector. As a longtime birdwatcher, Dan is an ardent supporter of the work of BirdLife Cyprus, and this blog now focuses mostly on topics relating to the nature of Cyprus. Dan frequently covers biodiversity issues in his posts.
The Biodiversity crew @ NUS
A news site about staff and students in the biodiversity research focus group at the Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.
Biodiversity Heritage Library
Twelve major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries, and research institutions have joined to form the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Posts are a hotchpotch of quirky insights into the literature and history of biodiversity, such as Book of the Week and links to archives such as Memoirs of the Torrey Botanical Club. 1899-1902 and Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. v.3 (1907).
The Zero Race Blog follows zero emission cars in an around the world in 80 days race. The blog is not about biodiversity as such, but the race aims to ‘raise awareness for Biodiversity Protection. “Each car has the name and the logo of a species that is threatened by climate change,” to show “that electric cars and renewable energies provide a solution to help protect biodiversity.”