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Regional Biodiversity Facing Threats

Created: 21 February, 2018
Updated: 13 September, 2023
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4 min read

The San Diego region is ahead of the curve when trying to deal with the current state of biodiversity, but still faces many threats, like pollution.

“The current state of biodiversity in the region is not very good,” said Michael Wall, vice-president of Science and Conservation at the San Diego Natural History Museum. “Pollution is depositing nitrogen into the ground and that increases the number of weeds, and the more weeds it grows on the ground, the more likely to get a fire.”

This was one of the many topics discussed at the State of Biodiversity Symposium held by the San Diego Natural History Museum, also known as The Nat, on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

The agenda included national and regional scientists and conservationists who discussed the latest science, emerging threats, and management success stories in the world of conservation. The panelists talked about the status of the regional conservation and biodiversity research efforts.

“A lot of the things that are happening within our region have a global impact as well,” said Wall. “We don’t feel there is enough attention being paid to the state of the environment and biodiversity. When you listen to the State of the Union, State of the State, and the State of the City addresses, there is very little discussion of what’s going on with the environment and we want to raise that profile within the general public.”

Another threat to the southern California biodiversity that was talked about at the symposium was a new invasive insect called the polyphagous shot hole borer.

This new pest-disease complex is threatening California native forests as well as the avocado industry in southern California.

Shannon C. Lynch, a forest pathologist, was one of the speakers and she talked about her research of factors controlling the landscape spread of this pest-disease complex and best methods for its management.

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“This beetle is invasive and new to the area. It brought a fungal pathogen with it, that is killing all willows and other native trees at the Tijuana River Valley,” added Wall. “This type of beetle that made its way from Southeast Asia to Southern California is causing many problems to the ecosystem and it’s expected to cause cascading effects in birds, mammals and many more.”

The State of Biodiversity Symposium is going to be held each year to increase the public awareness of the threats faced by the biodiversity in the region. The 2018 State of Biodiversity Symposium culminated in a public forum titled Nat Talk.

Nat Talks are held each month and are presented by museum scientists and outside experts from around the country who speak on a wide array of topics including the latest in scientific research, history, art, conservation, and the natural world. Lecture topics often coincide with the latest exhibitions at the museum. These talks are held in the Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theatre located inside the Nat.

“A lot of people don’t know that we do active research at The Nat, we are an academic institution, we have full time scientists that work both here in the museum and out in the field,” said April Green, public relations manager for The Nat. “With the symposium and our monthly Nat talks, we are trying to get our mission message to resonate with the public.”

The Nat’s mission is to interpret the natural world through research, education and exhibits; to promote understanding of the evolution and diversity of southern California and the peninsula of Baja California; and to inspire in all a respect for nature and the environment.

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The Nat is located at 1788 El Prado in Balboa Park, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

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