Conservation biology involves the study of biological diversity. Emphasis is placed on the maintenance and protection of species, the natural processes affecting them, and the habitats and ecosystems they occur in. Significance within this field is often placed on the protection of rare organisms, but increasingly conservation biologists are addressing preservation of functioning ecosystems, often by studying processes or relatively common organisms considered central to ecosystem health. The field of conservations biology is highly interdisciplinary and involves many disciplines including biology, ecology, genetics, economics, law, philosophy, and natural resource management.
Pima pineapple cactus (Coryphantha sheeri var. robustipina, left) is a Federally listed endangered species that is native to southern Arizona. Its endangerment is largely the result of loss of habitat, overgrazing, and competition from non-native species in areas south and west of Tucson. Conservation biologists have been involved in identifying and mapping populations of this species as well as translocating individual plants before their native habitat is further disturbed. (Photo by Tricia Roller, Arizona Rare Plant Committee (2001). Arizona Rare Plant Field Guide: A collaboration of agencies and organizations. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.)