Claire Kremen, formerly at Princeton University, is a conservation biologist. Meet these latest additions to the CNR Community:
The term “biodiversity” is pretty loaded — what exactly are we talking about?
This word means many things to many people. An all-inclusive definition is “the genes, populations, species, habitats, and ecosystems--and their interactions--that make up the fabric of life.” Humans depend on biodiversity for their own survival, but many human activities cause loss of populations and extinction of entire species.
What ways do you try to reconcile human activities with conservation?
I work to design networks of protected reserves that will maximize the conservation of biodiversity at the lowest cost to humans. I do this work in Madagascar. I also document the relationship between biodiversity and important ecosystem services. For example, wild bee species are important pollinators of California crops, and they depend on their natural habitat. This is extremely relevant, since massive honey bee losses last year have caused shortages in the pollination services that farmers require.
What is the biggest challenge to conservation?
The big challenge is in finding socially equitable mechanisms for sustaining biodiversity, while also sustaining an acceptable standard of living for humans. This challenge is not only scientific, but also deals with defining our fundamental values.