11. Birds in the City

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Science: A Candle In The Dark
Episode 11: Birds in the City: social and ecological drivers of urban biodiversity
Airdate: 
22 December
 2015
Host: Dr. Madhusudan Katti
Guests: Pedro Garcia

Topic:  Cities have become the primary habitat for most of humanity. They are also habitat for many other species even as we continue to fragment and destroy and disrupt natural ecosystems across the planet. How well other species manage to survive or not in our cities depends on how we manage the urban landscape, whether mindful of its impacts on wildlife or caring only for human development. Pedro Garcia, currently working with the California Conservation Corps, recently completed a masters thesis project studying the effects of human activities on bird species diversity and distribution in the Fresno-Clovis Metropolitan Area in California’s Central Valley. Here he speaks about how he found a connection with nature while growing up as an immigrant child in a California town, what he has learned about urban reconciliation ecology, and how it relates to his Native American heritage and his current work in conservation.

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The Precarious Night Life Of An Ancient Primate In A Modern City – September 2015 Café

Portrait of a Slender Loris

Portrait of a Slender Loris, © Kalyan Varma.

Welcome back to another year of science conversations as the Central Valley Café Scientifique opens its 9th season on Monday, September 14th, at Peeve’s Pub.

This month, we will travel to the city of Bangalore in India, with one of our own founding members, Dr. Kaberi Kar Gupta, who has recently launched a new project to study one of that city’s tiny nocturnal denizens, the Slender Loris (pictured above). Dr. Kar Gupta studied this species in the wilds of Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in southern India for her Ph.D. (in Anthropology from Arizona State University), documenting its social behavior and mating system for the first time. A sabbatical stint in Bangalore several years ago helped her discover that the species also occurs in urban forests! That unlikely realization led her to launch a new participatory research and conservation project involving a range of citizen scientists and stakeholders with an interest in the history of biodiversity in Bangalore’s past, and a commitment to making the “Garden City” re-earn and maintain that title in the future.

Dr. Kar Gupta will talk about how she came to study this unlikely little primate that continues to cling to the dwindling urban forest in Bangalore, and how citizen engagement with nature is crucial to conserving biodiversity. You can learn more about this work on the Urban Slender Loris Project website, read an interview with Dr. Kar Gupta in a recent Guardian article, and hear her discuss the project with Dr. Kelly Hills on Blog Talk Radio:

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You can also hear her talk about urban ecology in Fresno and Chicago (and Kolkata and Bangalore) on the June podcast of our own radio show, Science: A Candle In The Dark, episode 5.

The Urban Slender Loris Project, as you will hear at the Café next week, is a research and conservation project that depends on public participation. You too might get an opportunity to participate—even from faraway Fresno—soon by contributing to a crowdfunding campaign Dr. Kar Gupta plans to launch in the near future. In the meantime, you can follow the project on tumblr, twitter, and Facebook for updates.

When: Monday, 14 September 2015, 7:00 PM

Where: Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721

Contact: 559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number)

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and share with your friends and family:

6: Humans and Nature in the City – Science: A Candle In The Dark

Photo shows Nature in a Chicago Winter

Nature in a Chicago winter. Photo © Madhusudan Katti, 2013.

Science: A Candle In The Dark
Episode 6: Humans and Nature in the City
Airdate: 
28 July
 2015
Host: Dr. Madhusudan Katti
Guests: Dr. Charles Nilon and Dr. Paige Warren.

Topic: This month, while the Café Scientifique is on its summer break, we bring you a wide-ranging conversation about how humans interact with nature in cities, and how scientists study this human-nature relationship. As Dr. Paige Warren notes early in the conversation, Dr. Charlie Nilon, an African American ecologist, is a pioneer in studying ecology in the context of urban systems where humans interact with nature to determine the fate of biodiversity. Both Warren and Nilon have collaborated closely with Katti over the past 15 years in developing a better understanding of the factors that influence biodiversity in cities. This field, the study of how we humans shape our immediate (and distant) environments, and in turn, how other species respond to our actions, holds a key to the future of biodiversity on our urbanized planet. More importantly, access to nature, and some degree of control on our relationship with nature may also be crucial for human wellbeing in cities, as Dr. Nilon suggests in the second half when discussing the potential environmental correlates of the urban racial unrest in Baltimore and Ferguson this year.

Have a listen, and do share any thoughts you might have about how you relate to nature in your urban (or rural) environment.