Biodiversity | St. Louis Public Radio


The fossa is one of the mammals that scientists are studying in Madagascar.
Fidisoa Rasambainarivo

For nearly three decades, the Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis has bestowed its World Ecology Award on prominent biodiversity-minded individuals ranging from John Denver to E.O. Wilson. But this year the center is instead honoring a pair of world-class local institutions — the Missouri Botanical Garden and the St. Louis Zoo — for their critical research and conservation work in Madagascar.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with the center’s interim director, Patty Parker, and with a Malagasy scientist, Fidisoa Rasambainarivo, who is in St. Louis to speak at an upcoming gala where the zoo and garden are being honored.

Commentary: A strengthening storm

Sep 28, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 28, 2012 - TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Peter and I are under the gathering clouds of Typhoon Jelawat, hunkering down with colleagues at the Academia Sinica (the Taiwan National Academy of Sciences).

The wind is picking up and the rain comes in spitting waves. The leading edge is ragged, with rushing, dark, roiling clouds interlaced with brilliant patches of blue, sunny sky. The storm is clearly coming, though its center is still well offshore.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 8, 2011 - The Earth has more than 300,000 known plant species. With such variety, it's possible to believe that plant conservation is not a priority. But for Porter P. Lowry II, and fellow plant conservation scientists, every one of those different species of plants is crucial for life on Earth.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin)

The Missouri Botanical Garden has helped put Charles Darwin’s personal library online for the first time.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 26, 2010 - Once every three months, Peter Raven pays a visit to his dermatologist. Summers spent at 10,000 feet, hiking northern California's Sierra Nevada Mountains and roaming the sand dunes and vacant lots of San Francisco take their toll. "That did a real number on my skin. Of course, nobody thought a thing about the sun in the 1950s," Raven said, describing a boyhood spent outdoors, rearing butterflies, collecting insects and gathering plants.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 29, 2009 - Wednesday evening, an adventure-addicted group of men and women gathered at the Racquet Club on Kingshighway and as things got underway either stood around in the august confines of the reading room or sank into the leathery comforts, the better to welcome to St. Louis the international president of the storied Explorers Club and to hear some good news.

The club's highest honor -- the Sweeney Medal -- is to be bestowed on the chairperson of the St. Louis chapter at a ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York in March.

On Science: Learning what we have to lose

Sep 1, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 1, 2009 - An image captured my eye three weeks ago. It was a photograph of a tiny deer with enormous ears huddled in underbrush, no doubt shivering as it peered up at one of the few scientists ever to see its species. Called a muntjac or leaf deer, it was discovered by modern science 10 years ago in the sparsely explored Himalayan mountain region of northern Myanmar. Just under 3 feet tall and weighing 24 pounds, it is the smallest deer species in the world.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 17, 2009 - The Missouri Botanical Garden celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2009 and is now a world center for botanical research. Its programs operate in 37 countries; its herbarium collection contains more than 6 million specimens, and its 150 scientific staff members not only carry out research on a variety of topics, but offer their expertise to institutions ranging from the U.S. National Cancer Institute to parks and conservation areas worldwide.