Preserving habitats

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Save the planet, one ecosystem at a time ...

handling wildlife in the Pantanal
SUNY Oswego professor and student interact with native species while charting the ecological future of the region.

South AmericaHow much development is too much? Environmental advocates can point to Florida's Everglades, where unchecked human activity has overrun a fragile ecosystem. A similar decision brews over Brazil's Pantanal region, the largest contiguous wetland on earth.

Oswego students, led by professor Cleane Medeiros, heed the call for researchers to study the region's diverse population of flora and fauna as the Brazilian government ponders whether to open the Pantanal to development. This vast, flat region, as large as California, hosts an amazing array of more than 4,000 species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians, birds, and plants.

The primary threat to this region's rich biodiversity is habitat destruction. The biology-focused Global Laboratory equips students with wader boots, shovels, small traps, scales and other measurement tools needed to fight for the survival of highly prized environments -- while powering multinational passion for preserving diminishing world habitats.


And time is of the essence – more than half of the Earth's terrestrial surface has been altered by human activity resulting in deforestation, biodiversity loss, and extinction. Altering a natural habitat, even slightly, can have a domino effect that harms the entire ecosystem. An integrated approach to land use and management based on scientific knowledge is needed to protect and restore the health of ecosystems in areas like the Pantanal, jeopardized by habitat and species loss.

Through monitoring and reporting habitat gains and losses, students become empowered citizens fusing science, cultural studies, political science, history and economics in hands-on practice to save, protect, and preserve worlds large and small.

Left top is the present day Pantanal, bottom is the Florida Everglades, a stark portrait of what can happen to a fragile ecosystem.