Nature by Numbers | Mary Ellen Hannibal

July 22, 2014 3:42 PM

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Nature by Numbers | Mary Ellen Hannibal

Biodiversity scientists tend to love the outdoors. Ironically, most of their work occurs inside. At the first meeting of the Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Collaborative (TBC3), a three-day workshop held at the Pepperwood Preserve in Sonoma County in July 2010, one of the attending scientists chose not to bunk with the others at nearby lodgings, but instead elected to sleep under the stars. Have sleeping bag, will travel to conferences. At one point during a long discussion about computer models, someone entered the conference room and announced there was a snake outside. Every single person in the room jumped out of their chairs and out the door -- to look at the snake, which was kind of hilariously unmoved by the attention (soaking up the sun).

I felt akin to the snake. Pepperwood is so darn beautiful, and the warm sun, the oak trees with their outstretched craggy branches -- I wanted to stay outside too. But we headed back indoors to discuss "veg models," which, of course, are not perfect red peppers. When the conversation went too far ov...

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