Given the day and age we live in, conservation of the biological world is a major concern. All forms of life, from algae to insects and from plants to mammals and even human beings, are somehow connected to their environment and to other organisms. This complexity of relationships provides the basis of life on earth, protecting the stability of the entire system, but also the crucial links within. Understanding these relationships between the wide diversity of animals and their environment and the human impacts on them contributes to awareness, appreciation and protection of nature. We offer such understanding by unravelling animal lives in their respective habitats (see orange boxes below to read how), in order to conserve our planet and the life forms inhabiting it.
» This conservation includes the protection of habitats, species and populations, but also maintaining proper soil, air and water quality and climatic conditions. Degradation of the environment in its widest sense adds to the challenges that animals have to cope with to survive and reproduce.
Some animals seem to adapt well and even thrive in human-made landscapes, but every species has boundaries beyond which adaptation is no longer possible and populations will decline or even go extinct. When a habitat is destroyed, it is easy to recognize that species depending on that habitat will not survive. Yet, more subtle changes in habitat quality may also affect the survival of some species, while others remain unaffected.
Understanding animals from a zoological perspective, like we aim to do with this museum, can help in explaining problems that animals face and declines of species. This approach provides the contours of a species’ boundaries to which it can adapt, given the species’ ecology and changes in the environment.
If we understand how change of the environment relates to reduced animal performance, we can also propose measures to recover affected sites and populations. This is the first way in which the zoological museum contributes to nature conservation.
I – What we do
- Study threatened species and similar species that seem unaffected (or species that even seem to benefit) from environmental change
- Studies that integrate the fields of anatomy, physiology, behaviour, ecology and environment
- Propose actual conservation strategies and follow-up
» Of all the animals in the world, most knowledge is available about species of Europe and North-America. Although there is still a lot to discover among the animals of these continents, the basic ecology of the majority of species is by and large known. This may be very different for animals of other continents, many of which have a poorly understood ecology, which seems the case for e.g. Helmeted Currasows (more information will follow in the future).
The exact anatomy of animals can be a great source of information to understand key aspects of their ecology. When species are under threat, knowledge about their ecology is vitally important to consider strategies protecting such species. By providing such knowledge, the zoological museum contributes in a second way to nature conservation. See examples of the Mallard and Eurasian Curlew.
II – What we do
- Study ill-known species
- Unravel unknown aspects of the biology of well-known species
» People protect only what they love, love only what they understand and understand only what they are taught (Baba Dioum, 1968). A phrase that beautifully summarizes the relationship between education and nature conservation. We offer a different way of looking at animals in the context of the environments in which they live, which is appealing to everyone interested in the why and how of animal life.
For many others, a vague understanding of biological complexity (‘there is much more to it than first meets the eye’) or the ability to raise a question of wonder (‘how on earth does this animal do that?’) may already change a person’s perspective on nature conservation. This is the third way in which the zoological museum contributes to nature conservation.
III – What we do
- Workshops & seminars
- Live dissections & live streaming
- Educate guides & making educational materials
- Run the museum website for everyone to visit
- …and seek possibilities for a physical museum!
We are always seeking collaborations or research projects that support conservation initiatives. Contact us for more information.