Review: Conservation Biology

I recently finished watching the lectures from Sean Anderson’s Conservation Biology class on iTunes U. Compared to the last course I watched, Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior, Conservation Biology is less revelatory and perhaps less interesting for a layperson, but that’s not a criticism of the course itself. Conservation Biology has a much narrower focus, which inevitably means it will have a narrower audience.

What you do get is pretty great for anyone interested in the subject. On the scientific side, concepts like island biogeography and metapopulations are covered in detail. There are also many discussions of conservation history and policy, so you end up with a good understanding of topics like the history of protected areas and the Endangered Species Act. This history helps put the current conservation thought and policy in context. There are also a number of lectures which illustrate conservation principles by focusing on a single species, which are quite excellent.

Overall, I really enjoyed this course. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the topic. Anyone more interested in an introduction to big ideas in science would probably find this class a little too detailed. On a practical note, the lectures aren’t numbered in iTunes and there are lectures from multiple years available. I watched the 2011 series, and a few of them appear out of sequence in iTunes, but this wasn’t an obstacle to understanding or enjoying the lectures.

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