Mapping the Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon Through Colonization: An Interview with Ecologist Stuart Pimm

“Martha,” the last known passenger pigeon. Photo by Carl Hansen, Smithsonian Institution, 1985

“Martha,” the last known passenger pigeon. Photo by Carl Hansen, Smithsonian Institution, 1985

The passenger pigeon once numbered in the billions in North America. However, due to habitat loss resulting from european settlement, deforestation, and overhunting; the passenger pigeon population in North America fragmented and never recovered.

Stuart Pimm discusses the importance of understanding the passenger pigeon’s ecological history in the context of the broader history of european colonization in North America.

He is a scientist who strongly believes that we need to engage with these ethical issues and do the best we can to prevent species extinction, global warming, deforestation, and the destruction of coral reefs.

“If we let species go extinct, then we are denying this diversity to our children and grandchildren, to future generations,” offers Pimm.

Pimm is currently Doris Duke Chair of Conservation Ecology in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. He has published more than 250 scientific peer-reviewed articles as well as several books. He also contributes to the National Geographic blog.

Listen right now:

or download an mp3 of the show.

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