Washington Post interviews Calhoun, Hunter about small natural features

The Washington Post spoke with University of Maine professors Aram Calhoun and Malcolm Hunter for an article about the latest issue of the journal Biological Conservation, which focuses on the big ecological roles of  small natural features. The issue was organized by Hunter, a professor of wildlife resources and Libra Professor of Conservation Biology, who calls the biological significance of small natural features the “Frodo effect,” for the unassuming hobbit who becomes the hero of the “Lord of the Rings,” the article states. Hunter said scientists must invest in small natural features if they want to protect much of the world’s biodiversity. “We tend to focus on birds and mammals, and I love them, too, of course, but really the mother lode of diversity are all these little things,” he said. In the journal, Calhoun, a professor of wetland ecology, defends vernal pools and other neglected parts of nature. Though vernal pools represent a relatively tiny proportion of the landscape, in some ecosystems they can support up to 35 percent of rare species, according to the article. Once you take a look at them, “you have to be impressed,” Calhoun said.