|If you were
asked to investigate why a bird species (such as this Cardinal or Eagle) was
declining, you would have to look into a great many factors that might
be causing the problem. Most likely, you would not be able to
gather enough information by just examining the bird itself, such as you
see through your clipboard opening. You would have to conduct
scientific studies of everything that could have had an effect on that
species. For example, you would need to:
||Examine the birds for
disease or toxic poisoning, and check their stomach contents to see what
they had been eating.
both adults and young birds, and check to see if their beaks
were forming abnormally or were weak, causing eating problems.
||Examine birds' habitat or
migratory route and whether there were any disruptive factors involved.
This could involve great distances in your study area.
||Investigate the health of
plants, trees and waterways the birds might have encountered.
||Take measurements of the
acidity in rainfall in bird habitat areas.
||Investigate the health and
abundance of the birds favorite food supplies and whether enough food
was available during all seasons of the year.
||Get a count of numbers of
predators of that bird species and see if there were increased numbers.
||Study the shells of the
birds' eggs to see if their young weren't able to hatch properly.
||Get a count of new
offspring and survival rates.
||Evaluate human impact
factors which may have affected the species (such as urban sprawl,
development, interruption or destruction of habitat that the birds were
dependent upon, pesticides/herbicides that might be involved, etc.)
|Among the above
pictures of natural ecosystems and animals
in their native habitat are some photos of human related
Did you notice the following?:
Crop duster airplane spraying pesticides over fields
Construction of new freeway and roads, severely fragmenting the
Heavy industry with tall smokestacks
Smoggy big city on edge of harbor or waterway
Curved raised causeway over water with city in distance
Suburban single-family housing development with hundreds of new
Heavy traffic and cars as far as the eye can see
Factory at water's edge emitting large amounts of toxic smoke
You can see
that many things must be studied, and many statistics gathered in a
scientific manner in order to evaluate an environmental question
properly. You can't just study one small part without taking into
account All Things Considered. That is good science - that is good ecology.
When a project
is proposed which will affect the environment, laws state that studies
be conducted to evaluate the impact that the project will have on land,
water, air, plants, animals, humans, and the total environment and
balance of nature. These laws are in place for the protection of
the environment and species.
The reports generated from these
studies are called Environmental Impact Reports (EIR) and Environmental
Impact Statements (EIS) In some
cases, it is concluded there will be little to no harmful effects, and
the project will be approved. In other cases where they conclude
some harm will come from the project, recommendations will be made to
mitigate (soften and make less severe) the harmful aspects of the
project so that less damage will occur, or agreement will be reached to
correct the damage that will occur because of the project. In
other cases, projects will not be allowed to go forward because the
scientific studies have shown that species and/or the environment will
be endangered from the project.
* * *
Would you like to investigate some
examples of proposed projects that are in the planning and permit stages
which will affect land, water and biodiversity of species?
and see what recommendations you can come up with for Environmental
Impact Reports for these projects. And remember - all things must