Techno-eco-literacy

 

Jim Robbins' article "Wildlife Biology Goes High-Tech" is an excellent exploration of the explosion of technology used by wildlife biologists these days (HCN, 12/10/12). As someone who has first-hand experience with some of these technologies, I agree that we can now ask critical ecological and conservation questions that we couldn't have approached a decade or two ago. Still, Robbins brings up an important point that there is a line, somewhere, regarding the invasiveness of our studies and whether they benefit the species. Biologists need to honestly evaluate this.

However, Robbins misses a significant use of technology: community outreach. He negatively focuses on how biologists are now tracking animals from their desks, losing their "field" connection to wildlife, and ultimately hindering conservation. He fails to bring up how technology such as remotely triggered cameras can bring people other than biologists closer to the wildlife -- furthering ecological literacy while maintaining "wild" mystery. Organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Cat Conservancy have programs where high school students operate wildlife cameras and the photos are shown in local coffee shops and community centers to increase awareness and foster stewardship of local wildlife. Communicating the importance of wildlife will allow conservation to succeed in the long run, no matter the technology used to get there.

Erica Goad 
Fort Collins, Colorado