University of Vermont

Conservation Lectures: Into the Wild And Back

Joel Berger
Joel Berger, one of the world's leading conservation biologists, and an expert on large animals, will speak at UVM on Sept. 26. (Photo: University of Montana)

Biologist Daniel Janzen asks big questions, like: “How can we insure that tropical wildlands, and all of their biodiversity, are still with us centuries from now?” And to do so, he wonders about the little things, like: “Why do caterpillars eat the plants they eat?”

Wildife scientist Joel Berger wonders at big animals — “I work primarily with species larger than a bread box,” he notes — like mountain goats, African rhinos, and long-eared jerboas — and the even bigger problems they face like poaching and habitat loss. He, too, is “motivated by conservation and finding ways to protect our planet’s spectacular diversity.”

Both Janzen and Berger, two of the world’s leading conservation scientists, will talk at the University of Vermont this month — speaking to the conservation challenges of this time, when “the sheer crush of humanity and our callousness is frightening,” says Berger.

Dan Janzen will speak on “Conserving Tropical Biodiversity,” Thursday, Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. in Ira Allen Chapel.

Joel Berger will speak on “Conservation’s Unwieldy Path — Big Animals in an Increasingly Peopled World,” Thursday, Sept. 26 at 3 p.m. in North Lounge, Billings.

Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Daniel Janzen

For Dan Janzen at least one thing is clear: “My research is done where the organisms are,” he notes. And for many of his 59 years of field research that has been in Costa Rica.

There, Janzen is the architect of conservation in Guanacaste, Costa Rica and the president of the Guanacaste Dry Forest Conservation Fund. In this role, Janzen has facilitated Costa Rica’s willingness to conserve 4 percent of the world’s biodiversity on 25 percent of Costa Rican terrain and sea.

Janzen, professor of conservation biology at the University of Pennsylvania, is a tropical ecologist and biodiversity conservationist; he has published more than 450 scientific papers and books on the interactions of tropical animals and plants and is a world authority on the taxonomy and biology of tropical organisms. In addition, he is a member of the U.S. and Costa Rican National Academy of Sciences.

His talk is sponsored by UVM’s Environmental Program, the Biology Department, the Gund Institute of Ecological Economics and the Department of Plant and Soil Science.

Joel Berger

Joel Berger’s fascination with biodiversity began in Los Angeles — and it has led to fieldwork in Greenland and Siberia, the Arctic, Tibet and Bhutan and Africa.

He has worked on thorny conservation issues such as the controversial topic of de-horning African rhinos to protect them from poaching; predator-prey behavior, starting with the re-introduction of wolves into the Yellowstone Ecosystem; how changing climate affects muskoxen; and why the globalization of the cashmere market affects iconic species of high-elevation Asia, like wild yaks, snow leopards and saiga.

Berger is professor of wildlife at the University of Montana and a senior scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society. He received a lifetime achievement award by the Society of Conservation Biology and the 2013 Aldo Leopold Conservation Award. He is author of two popular books, Horn of Darkness and The Better to Eat You With: Fear in the Animal World.

Berger’s talk is sponsored by the Wildlife and Fisheries Biology Program in UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.

Both talks are part of the University Of Vermont’s Dan And Carole Burack President’s Distinguished Lecture Series.