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Save all species

What would it take to save all species?
Let's answer this question and work together to protect all living things from extinction.

Before the larger workshop outlined below, we will hold a planning meeting at Sam Houston State University, The Woodlands campus, near Houston, Texas, October 6-7 (Friday-Saturday), 2017.

Please contact John Pickering (pick@discoverlife.org -- 706-254-7446)
if you have questions, suggestions, or know about conflicts with other events.

Updated: 11 February, 2017

A team of thinkers, philanthropists, and media specialists will meet in Texas in fall 2017. We will dream big and build the framework of a 30-year plan to protect all species. Our goal is to ensure that by 2050 the world has the scientific knowledge, environmental policies, protected areas, trained resource managers, technology, funding, and above all, public and political support to protect species.

Inspired by E.O. Wilson's recent book, Half-Earth -- Our Planet's Fight for Life, in which he calls for half the planet to be devoted to preserving nature, we propose to work together and recruit others to save all species. The meeting will address how best to inventory representative taxa across the globe, identify the areas that we must protect, and provide what it takes to do so.

We propose to have a three-day meeting of 125 participants, including 20 visitors from outside the United States. We will start with a day of plenary addresses followed by two days of break-out sessions. These sessions will include ones that focus on specific threats and potential solutions for saving continental, island, freshwater, and marine species. They will consider what taxa we should use to best inventory the world's biodiversity and identify enough potential parks and protected areas to save all species, including rare and locally restricted endemics.

Because the task of inventorying all species is huge and could take centuries at the current rate of study, we propose to inventory only a dozen selected taxa that will enable us to speed the selection of the areas that we must protect. Our break-out sessions will consider the feasibility of using amphibians, ants, bees, birds, bivalves, corals, fish, macro fungi, moths, vascular plants, and a few other candidate taxa. Participants will outline how best to complete a global inventory for each taxon and analyze results across them. Topics will include developing inventory protocols; integrating information from the literature, natural history collections and databases; supporting high-quality data collection by researchers, students and citizen scientists, and training enough taxonomists to complete the scientific description of species within the selected taxa.

In addition to biodiversity inventories that tell us where best to protect species, there are a multitude of other social, political, financial and educational challenges that we must overcome to actually save them. These include helping indigenous people who use areas that we wish to protect and reducing invasive species, pollution, poaching, trade in wildlife, and numerous other threats. In addition to the usual suspects invited to conservation meetings, we intend to broaden participation to include economists, human demographers, trade negotiators, and others who can help us save species. For example, we plan to invite military veterans who are working toward using green burial cemetaries as hallowed sanctuaries to honor veterans and protect nature.

To gain widespread support for Save all species, media specialists from Sam Houston State University will film the meeting and we will make it available online. Our break-out sessions will include ones on marketing the initiative, involving print and social media, and recruiting participants. We also will publish a white paper with recommendations from the meeting and establish some governance by which we will proceed after the meeting ends.

This meeting was originally scheduled in December, 2016 in Athens, Georgia to celebrate Discover Life's 4-billionth hit and John Pickering's retirement after 32 years at the University of Georgia. It is supported by Sam Houston State University and Discover Life. We intend to seek 20 international airfares from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Proposed participants: (draft list, *=proposed plenary speakers, $=seeking support for international airfare)

  1. Peter Alden, Concord, Massachusetts
  2. Sandy Andelman, Organization for Tropical Studies, North Carolina [Conservation International, Seattle, Washington]*
  3. Carolyn Anderson, Del Mar, California
  4. John Ascher, University of Singapore$
  5. Vijay Barve, University of Florida, Gainesville
  6. Kamal Bawa, University of Massachusetts, Boston*
  7. Deborah Blum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology*
  8. Art Bogan, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh (Freshwater co-organizer)
  9. Jennifer Bogo, Audubon
  10. Brigitte Baptiste, Humbolt Institute, Colombia$
  11. Tom Bruns, University of California, Berkeley (Fungal co-organizer)
  12. Peter Burn, Suffolk University, Massachusetts
  13. Dora Canhos, Centro de Referencia em Informacao Ambiental, Brasil$
  14. Jim Carpenter, American Museum of Natural History, New York
  15. Gerry Cassis, University of New South Wales, Australia (Island co-ordinator)$
  16. Brian Chapman, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas
  17. Neil Cobb, LepNet, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff
  18. Jerry Cook, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas*
  19. Tami Cook, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas
  20. Bob Corrigan, Encyclopedia of Life, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.*
  21. Alan Covich, University of Georgia, Athens (Freshwater co-organizer)
  22. Gustavo da Fonseca, Global Environment Facility, Washington, D. C.
  23. Jack Dangermond, ESRI, Redlands, California*
  24. Jelle Devalez, University of the Aegean, Mytilini, Greece
  25. Phil deVries, University of New Orleans, Louisiana*
  26. Julie Doherty, Avon Wildlife Trust, England$
  27. John Douglass, Southern Lepidopterists' Society (Moth co-organizer)
  28. Sam Droege. U.S. Geological Survey, Patuxent, Maryland (Pollinator co-organizer)
  29. Rob Dunn, North Carolina State University, Raleigh
  30. Connal Eardley, Plant Protection Research Institute, Pretoria, South Africa$
  31. Rene Ebersole, Ossining, New York
  32. Paula Ehrlich, E.O. Wilson Foundation, Durham, North Carolina
  33. Aaron Ellison, Harvard University
  34. Elizabeth Farnsworth, Mt. Holyoke College, Massachusetts
  35. Daphne Fautin, University of Kansas, Lawrence
  36. John Fitzpatrick, Cornell University
  37. Robin Foster, Field Museum, Chicago
  38. Vicki Funk, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.
  39. Rodrigo Gamez, INBio, Costa Rica$
  40. Wayne Getz, University of California, Berkeley
  41. Rosie Gillespie, University of California, Berkeley*
  42. Patty Gowaty, University of California, Los Angeles
  43. Tom Givnish, University of Wisconsin
  44. Will Godwin, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas
  45. Jane Goodall, Roots and Shoots, Maryland*
  46. Paul Gross, Orlando, Florida
  47. Rob Guralnick, University of Florida, Gainesville
  48. Winnie Hallwachs, University of Pennsylvania
  49. Chad Hargrave, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas
  50. Vrenni Haussermann, Huinay Foundation, Valparaiso, Chile$
  51. Jack Hill, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas
  52. Donald Hobern, GBIF, Denmark$
  53. Jason Hollinger, MushroomObserver, North Carolina
  54. Bob Holt, University of Florida, Gainesville*
  55. Steve Hubbell, University of California, Los Angeles*
  56. Mike Irwin, Schlinger Foundation, Arizona
  57. Dan Janzen, University of Pennsylvania*
  58. Mike Kaspari, University of Oklahoma, Norman
  59. Ian Kitching, The Natural History Museum London$
  60. Dan Kjar, Elmira College, New York
  61. Gary Langham, National Audubon Society
  62. Gretchen LeBuhn, San Francisco State University, California (Pollinator co-organizer)
  63. Davis Lindenmayer, National University of Australia, Canberra$
  64. Hank Loescher, National Ecological Observatory Network, Boulder, Colorado*
  65. Justin Long, Atlanta, Georgia
  66. Jack Longino, University of Utah
  67. Meg Lowman, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco*
  68. Bill Lutterschmidt, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas
  69. Dorothy Madamba, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas
  70. Derek Masaki, BISON, Reston, Virginia
  71. Bob May, Imperial College London and Oxford University, England*$
  72. Ed McNierney, XPRIZE, Groton, Massachusetts
  73. Albert Meier, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
  74. Joe Miller, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia*
  75. Scott Miller, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.
  76. Michael Mirtl, iLTER Chair, Umweltschutz, Austria$
  77. David Mitchell, Integrated Taxonomic Information System, Washington, D. C.
  78. Russ Mittermeier, Conservation International, Washington, D. C.*
  79. Jose Montero, UGA Costa Rica, San Luis, Costa Rica$
  80. Quint Newcomer, Discover Life, Athens, Georgia
  81. Becky Nichols, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee & North Carolina*
  82. Pat Wright, State University of New York, Stony Brook*
  83. John Pascarella, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas
  84. John Pickering, University of Georgia, Athens*
  85. Naomi Pierce, Harvard University
  86. Stuart Pimm, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina*
  87. Anne Pringle, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  88. Zoe Randle, Butterfly-Conservation.org, England$
  89. Pat Raven, Missouri Botanical Garden
  90. Peter Raven, Missouri Botanical Garden*
  91. Leslie Ries, Georgetown University, Washington, D. C.
  92. George Roderick, University of California, Berkeley
  93. Gary Rosenberg, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia
  94. George Russell, Huntsville, Texas
  95. James Rosindell, Imperial College, London
  96. Cristian Samper, Wildlife Conservation Society, New York*
  97. Jose Sarukhan, CONABIO, Mexico*$
  98. John Saul, SAS, Raleigh, North Carolina*
  99. Robert Scholes, Wits University, South Africa$
  100. Jon Seger, University of Utah
  101. Liz Sellars, BISON, Reston, Virginia
  102. Bill Sheehan, Athens, Georgia
  103. Jay Short, Del Mar, California*
  104. Annie Simpson, BISON, Reston, Virginia
  105. Emily Silverman, Fish and Wildlife Service, Patuxent, Maryland
  106. Charles Smith, Encinitas, California
  107. Diane Smith, Encinitas, California
  108. Jorge Soberon, University of Kansas, Lawrence*
  109. Soetikno Sastroutomo, CAB International, Selangor, Malaysia$
  110. Steve Stephenson, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (Fungal co-organizer)
  111. Malcolm Storey, BioImages, England$
  112. Raman Sukumar, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore*$
  113. Bill Sutherland, University of Cambridge, England*$
  114. Larry Thompson, Livermore, California
  115. Ryan Utz, Chatham University, Pennsylvania
  116. Dave Wagner, University of Connecticut
  117. Kevin Weick, Polistes Foundation, Belmont, Massachusetts
  118. John Wenzel, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
  119. Quentin Wheeler, State University of New York, Syracuse*
  120. Brian Wiegmann, North Carolina State University, Raleigh*
  121. Don Windsor, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama
  122. Ed Wilson, Harvard University*
  123. Michelle Wyman, National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington, D. C.
  124. Jim Wong, National Veterans Transition Services, San Diego, California
  125. Richard Wrangham, Harvard University*
  126. George Yatskievych, University of Texas, Austin (Plant co-organizer)
  • General
    • John Pickering, pick@discoverlife.org & 706-254-7446 (co-organizer)
    • Tori Staples, tori@discoverlife.org (logistical questions)
    • Becka Walcott, dl@discoverlife.org (adding/correcting this page)

  • Breakout groups (tentative list)
    • Continental—
      • Ant—
        • Jerry Cook, jcook@shsu.edu
      • Bird—
      • Pollinator—
        • Sam Droege, sdroege@usgs.gov
        • Gretchen LeBuhn, lebuhn@sfsu.edu
      • Fungal—
        • Tom Bruns, pogon@berkeley.edu
        • Steve Stephenson, slsteph@uark.edu
      • Lichen—
      • Moth—
        • John Douglass, jfdouglass7@gmail.com
      • Plant—
        • Albert Meier, albert.meier@wku.edu
        • George Yatskievych, george.yatskievych@austin.utexas.edu
    • Island
      • Gerry Cassis, gcassis@unsw.edu.au
      • Rosie Gillespie, gillespie@berkeley.edu
    • Freshwater
      • Art Bogan, arthur.bogan@naturalsciences.org
      • Alan Covich, alanc@uga.edu
    • Marine
    • Media
      • Deborah Blum, dlblum@mit.edu


  • He, F. and S. Hubbell. 2013. Estimating extinction from species–area relationships: why the numbers do not add up. Ecology 94 (9): 1905-1912.
  • Jenkins, C.N., K.S. Van Houtan, S.L. Pimm and J.O. Sexton. 2015. US protected lands mismatch biodiversity priorites. PNAS 112 (16):5081-5086. pdf
  • Pickering, J., D. Madamba, T. Staples and R. Walcott. 2016. Status of moth diversity and taxonomy: a comparison between Africa and North America north of Mexico. Southern Lepidopterists' News 38 (3):241-248. pdf
  • Pickering, J., T. Staples and R. Walcott. 2016. Save all species -- Moths light a way? Southern Lepidopterists' News 38 (4):331-336. pdf
  • Pollock L.J., D.F. Rosauer, A.H. Thornhill, H. Kujala, M.D. Crisp, J.T. Miller, M.A. McCarthy. 2015. Phylogenetic diversity meets conservation policy: small areas are key to preserving eucalypt lineages. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 370 : 20140007. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2014.0007 pdf
  • Wilson, E.O. 2016. Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life. Liveright Publishing Corp., N.Y.

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