Before stories of beasts and leaves, I wanted to make the case as to WHY beasts AND leaves, and not beasts OR leaves...
During the past couple years, organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew have released reports assessing the current status of biodiversity in the animal and plant kingdoms. The verdict is clear, we are currently facing a biodiversity crisis and humans are to blame. Why is it a crisis? Biodiversity is rapidly declining with extinction rates estimated to currently be at least 1,000 times faster than the natural (aka background) extinction rate. This accelerated rate is comparable to historic mass extinctions and means not just the loss of species, but also the loss of important species interactions and the possible collapse of entire ecosystems. Honestly though, you could read those last two sentences over and over and those words will never leave the impact that they should for a crisis. Why? Because they could not possibly ever truly encompass such a loss or leave you feeling a connection to the species that are being lost. How could they?
Beasts & Leaves focuses on the interactions between the animal and plant kingdoms to put a face on the species that make up Earth's biodiversity and their interactions. My goal is to raise awareness for what we lose when we lose biodiversity - from the charismatic to strange, the well understood to the understudied. What are the relationships that species have with one another? How do these fit into larger ecosystems? What IF we lose them? The challenge to always include one animal and one plant is meant to push the popular boundaries of biodiversity. Often, only one group is presented, and most often people are informed of biodiversity through animal diversity. Selfishly, as a plant ecologist, I want to always incorporate plants as more than just the habitat for the animals and I want to learn more about animal biodiversity beyond what's popular.
So, please join me as I share what I learn about Earth's animals and plants. Hopefully, with time, I will make a strong case that losing biodiversity is so much more than just losing species. It's losing the key interactions that shape the world as we know - environmentally, economically, and culturally.