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This video is a great reminder of the immense impact large carnivores have on the environment. The presence of large carnivores increases biodiversity, creates environmental stability and can even impact the topography of a landscape. They may seem scary but they are necessary for a healthy, thriving, complete ecosystem.
BTW... Happy International Day for Biodiversity! Stay different. It helps the planet!
Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity, ensures natural sustainability and provides a greater the opportunity for medical discoveries, economic development, and adaptive responses.
Because PhD students don't do anything halfway, when the new Avengers movie came out (April 30, 2015 #tbtt), we not only saw the Double Feature to allow for a direct comparison of the two blockbusters, we dressed the part! We are what you might call true Marvel fans!
A ban on the hunting of big cats in Zambia, which has been in effect since January 2013, was officially lifted a few days ago. Hunting of leopards will resume at the end of this year/beginning of next and hunting of lions will return about a year after that.
Zambia, however, is one of 5 countries to have lion populations 1000+ individuals strong and, in areas with thriving lion populations, a hunting ban could actually have potentially deleterious effects (and not just on eco-tourism). Studies have shown that the presence of hunters deters poachers, providing protection for the habitat and other animals. Revenue brought in by hunters also contributes to anti-poaching efforts as well as community assistance by providing jobs and other resources.
So, after the realization that a continued full ban in Zambia on hunting for big cats could be damaging for the population (and economy), the government decided to reinstate hunting under the pretense there will be “cautionary quotas.” Tourism and Arts Minister, Jean Kapata, said "safari hunting was profitable and good for off-take of wildlife and could benefit the whole country if well nurtured." The study I just submitted for publication will (hopefully) be used to help with decisions for setting quotas and implementing management to prevent loss of diversity while big cat hunting is permitted.
Scientists measure their impact on the scientific community by their number of publications and how many times those publications have been cited within other publications. To an academic, publications are kind of like a form of notoriety based currency. But it's not just about how many publications you have, the quality and impact factor of the journal it's published in is important as well. Basically, someone who has 3 publications in Nature, Cell and Science (impact factor > 30) is better off than someone who has 20 publications in Animal Biology (impact factor of 0.614). Not only will an article in Nature, Cell or Science get read, and likely cited, by a wider academic audience but publications in those journals are also more likely to be picked up by the media (which could be a good thing or a bad thing...). Journals with an impact factor over 5 can still have a lot of impact, just maybe not expanding into the general public like 20+ journals would. But, in the blossoming age of open-access, its getting a lot easier for anyone, not just academics, to get their hands on scientific literature (which, again, could be a good thing or a bad thing... and could change what we deem as "impact").
Getting published is also a time consuming process. Peer-reviewed journals are considered better than non but can take months for a manuscript to get through the review process. A journal with a quicker turn-around may not have as high of an impact factor, possibly due to more lax or no review process, but could get your results out to the world faster, leading to people citing you sooner. Meaning, for the right study, the benefits from publishing in a mid-tier journal with a quicker turn-around could outweigh the benefits of publishing in a top-tier journal. So, when publishing, a scientist has to weigh the pros and cons of quantity, quality and timing.
I am a biologist and my life is crap!