Measuring Nature's Many Dimensions


In a year when NatureServe has launched several significant initiatives, securing a Dimensions of Biodiversity grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) might arguably be the most prestigious.

After centuries of scientific discovery, countless secrets about the planet’s biodiversity remain unresolved. And because most large-scale biodiversity assessments have focused on individual genetic, taxonomic and functional questions, scientists do not yet understand how these different aspects influence and relate to each other.

The five-year initiative kicking off now will use NatureServe data on 13,000 animals in the Americas to analyze how the dimensions of biodiversity relate to each other at hemispheric scales and how ongoing biodiversity loss is likely to change these relationships. Partners from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil, Penn State University, Stony Brook University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison all expect the work will lead to new approaches that more effectively conserve biodiversity’s many facets.

One assured outcome is that NatureServe and its network partners will complete an IUCN Red List assessment for all of the Western hemisphere’s reptiles, advancing conservation understanding while making meaningful progress toward a comprehensive global assessment of these species.