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HABITAT WORLD

Habitat quality is better than quantity for species survival

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Habitat quality is better than quantity for species survival

A new study suggests that improving the quality of existing wildlife habitat is more important than creating new habitat, when attempting to counteract the negative effects of climate change on species survival. This suggests that resources would be better directed towards habitat rehabilitation and reforestation than building new habitat features.

Two main drivers of biodiversity loss are climate change, which causes shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns, and the destruction of natural habitat for agriculture and urban development. However, most studies look at these drivers independently of each other when, in fact, they often happen in combination and can be strongly linked.

In the new study, which received funding through the EU FEMMES project1, scientists used a conceptual model to simulate the effects of a gradual improvement or deterioration in habitat quality over time on a hypothetical regional population. They represented this by changing the total number of individuals that the habitat could support, known as the ‘patch capacity’.

The scientists also considered the effect of decreasing or increasing the total area of high-quality habitat, representing habitat loss or gain. In each scenario, the scientists imposed the same reduction in growth rate for the population to represent a negative response to climate change. The scenarios were compared by calculating the mean time taken for the population to reach extinction.

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SPIRAL ISLANDS / ISLA MUJERES

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General Information about Spiral Island

SPIRAL ISLANDS / ISLA MUJERES

Spiral Island is the name given to two world famous floating artificial islands built by British expatriate and eco-pioneer Richart "Rishi" Sowa.

Sowa, a musician, artist, and carpenter started constructing the original Spiral Island in 1998 in the Maya Riveria of Mexico. The first Spiral island was located in a lagoon near Puerto Aventuras, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico south of Cancún. Rishi began filling nets with empty discarded plastic bottles to support a structure of plywood and bamboo, on which he poured sand and planted numerous plants, including mangroves. The floating bottle island sported a two-story palapa structure, a solar oven, a self-composting toilet, and three beaches. Some 250,000 bottles were used to construct the 66 feet (20 m) by 54 feet (16 m) floating island structure. Rishi planted mangroves to help keep the island cool, and some of the mangroves rose up to 15 feet (4.6 m) high.

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Spiral Island on Floating Bottles

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Richie Sowa (Re)Builds Mexican Island Paradise on 250,000 Recycled Floating Bottles


Spiral Island


If you can’t afford to buy your own tropical island paradise, why not build your own? That is exactly what Richie Sowa did back in 1998, from over a quarter-million plastic bottles. His Spiral Island, destroyed years later by a hurricane, sported a two-story house, solar oven, self-composting toilet and multiple beaches. Better yet, he has started building another one! His ultimate goal? To build the island bigger and bigger and finally float out to sea, traveling the world from the comfort of his own private paradise.

Spiral Island Construction and Steering


The original Spiral Island was (as its successor will be) built upon a floating collection used plastic bottles, all netted together to support a bamboo and plywood structure above. Located in Mexico, the original was 66 by 54 feet and was able to support full-sized mangroves to provide shade and privacy, yet also able to be moved from place to place by its creator as need with a simple motorized system.


Spiral Island Early Stages

An environmentalist to the core, Sowa is also an artist and a musician. More than just the universal dream of an island retreat, Spiral Island is also his vision for low-impact sustainable living. The next version of the island will be built to withstand more treacherous weather than the first and will also be located in a more sheltered part of Mexico’s waters.



The Above Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not video is a great introduction to the island, which conjures images of Gilligan-done-right. Spiral island is able to exist and move about in Mexico in part because it is classified as a ship, not an island, like an atoll out of WaterWorld (only much much cooler). On September 7, 2007 the new Spiral Islander social network utility was opened to the public to allow visitors, Spiral Islanders and friends of Richie Sowa to connect and communicate about the history of Spiral Island and to learn more and discuss Richie Sowa’s new Spiral Island. Want more islands? See these 7 Island Wonders of the World from WebUrbanist.