The Value of Science

Science is the foundation of our work here at the Xerces Society. It underpins everything we do. We undertake applied research to determine the extent of decline for bumble bees, freshwater mussels, butterflies, and many other invertebrates. We work with landowners and land management agencies to determine where at-risk species occur, so we can target conservation dollars to protect their habitat. We monitor restoration sites to make sure that our efforts produce effective results. Beyond our own studies, we collaborate with scientists at universities around the world to advance the science of invertebrate protection. Whether it is working to protect bees from toxic pesticides, improve habitat for the maximum benefit of pollinators, or understand the influence of climate change on butterflies, we only promote the best evidence-based policies and practices.

Taking a deliberative approach to all of our work and using the best possible science takes extra time and funding, but is the most effective way to achieve lasting change for the future.

Monitoring of freshwater mussels is done to assess the health of populations and their resilience to in-stream restoration. (Photograph by Celeste Mazzacano, The Xerces Society

Monitoring of freshwater mussels is done to assess the health of populations and their resilience to changes to stream habitat, including restoration. (Photograph by Celeste Mazzacano, The Xerces Society.)

We harness the power of thousands of citizen scientists across North America to gather valuable conservation data. Through Bumble Bee Watch, citizens identify the locations of rare bumble bees—the first step in protecting them and managing their habitat. Pond Watch participants help unravel the mysteries of dragonfly migration, and citizen scientists who count monarchs at overwintering sites help us prioritize restoration projects to protect these beautiful butterflies. Engaging others to participate in this essential work is vital to our conservation success, as it vastly increases the amount of data available. It also helps build an ever-greater constituency for insect conservation. But to effectively run these programs takes user-friendly, efficient web platforms and demands staff time to manage the data and communicate back to our citizen scientists.

Everyone wants to plant flowers on farms, along roadsides, in school gardens, and around their yards to help pollinators. This level of enthusiasm is fantastic, but to bring the greatest benefit to bees, people need access to accurate information on what to plant and how. By drawing from academic research and our own planting trials, we provide outreach and education of the highest quality. We also go beyond flowers to provide guidance on creating nest sites for bees and protecting habitat from pesticides.

Enduring protection for the mardon skipper was achieved after a decade of work. During that time regionwide surveys were completed to establish how many skipper were surviving and where they lived, and a multi-year study was done to assess the impacts of fire on its habitat. (Photograph y Rich Hatfield, The Xerces Society.)

Enduring protection for the mardon skipper was achieved after a decade of work. During that time regionwide surveys were completed to establish how many skipper were surviving and where they lived, and a multi-year study was done to assess the impacts of fire on its habitat. (Photograph by Rich Hatfield, The Xerces Society.)

At Xerces we work on solutions. We don’t jump on the latest buzz; rather, we take time to ensure that our actions are backed by evidence. In the conservation world, we are the go-to source for reliable and accurate information on invertebrates, and our outreach and education creates effective results. With your help we have protected dozens of at-risk species and tens of thousands of acres of wildlands that they need to survive. We have worked with agencies and farmers to restore more than 200,000 acres for pollinators. We have trained over 45,000 people through face-to-face workshops, farm tours, field days, and conferences. Our resources have reached hundreds of thousands more—empowering all to be part of the solution.

Bombus affinis_RichHatfield-The XercesSociety

The rusty patched bumble bee has disappeared from nearly 90% of its historic range in the eastern U.S. Many of the places in which it survives were found by citizen scientists. (Photograph by Rich Hatfield, The Xerces Society.)

 

Counting monarchs during the annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count coordinated by the Xerces Society.

Counting monarchs during the annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count coordinated by the Xerces Society. Data from these counts informs planning of conservation efforts. (Photograph by Carly Voight, The Xerces Society.)

 

Protecting rare species often means protecting the wildlands in which they live. (Photograph by Lara Drizd.)

Protecting rare species often means protecting the wildlands in which they live. (Photograph by Lara Drizd.)

by Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director

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