From Plant Press, Vol. 20, No. 1, January 2017.
After 36 years and 383 issues, the Biological Conservation Newsletter (BCN) will no longer be in production. The newsletter began in 1981 with the intent of publicizing more widely the concerns in biological and environmental conservation. Spearheaded by the Smithsonian’s Office of Biological Conservation, the newsletter sought to develop awareness in the minds of colleagues and the general public to the ever-present changes in the environment caused by human activity. At that time, the two topics generating the most concern among conservation biologists was the increasing deforestation of tropical areas and the worldwide commerce in endangered animal and plant species. Since then, other dominating topics include global climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the threat of invasive species.
The main purpose of the monthly newsletter was twofold: (1) to highlight stories of conservation research produced by scientists of the Smithsonian Institution; and (2) to provide a comprehensive list of current literature related to the field of conservation biology. Also included were current news items, information on new publications, fellowships and grants, job announcements, and meetings.
Jane Villa-Lobos edited the newsletter for nearly two decades, effectively pulling together conservation stories and lists of current literature. In 1984, production of the newsletter shifted to the Smithsonian’s Department of Botany. After Villa-Lobos retired, Gary Krupnick, head of the Plant Conservation Unit, took over as editor in 1999. He helmed the newsletter for the remaining 18 years.
Krupnick made several improvements to the newsletter during his service. In 2000, he introduced a new look for the newsletter and developed a newsletter website. The website included archived issues available for browsing, links to other newsletters and journals in the fields of biodiversity and conservation biology, and a searchable bibliography. By the final issue in December 2016, the newsletter’s bibliography had grown to a total of 66,952 references in conservation biology. These references were obtained from a monthly review of new journals and books and from suggestions submitted by subscribers to the newsletter.
When the newsletter began, news of conservation biology was infrequent and difficult to find. In today’s state of electronic media and social networks, conservation stories are now available from multiple sources. Pulling together the current literature section of the newsletter has become overwhelming to a very small staff. What began in the early 1980s as a list of 10-20 references per month has since grown to a monthly list of nearly 500 references. With today’s internet resources, readers now have many options to search for conservation publications, including Google Scholar and the ability to register for email table of contents alerts from most conservation journals.
If you wish to continue reading news about conservation research coming from the Smithsonian Institution, please visit these websites:
The Biological Conservation Newsletter will be archived at https://botany.si.edu/pubs/bcn/index.htm.