February Book of the Month

Special guest post by Milly, Finance Manager

100 heartbeats, by Jeff Corwin

When I first picked up this book I assumed the title-100 heartbeats referred to the hundred most endangered species on the planet. However, what the title actually refers to is what Corwin deems as the ‘hundred heartbeats club’, in which to become an affiliate there must be less than a hundred members left in the your species. Corwin tells the tail of the drastic population crashes experienced by species all around the world, from the of extinction of the well known Dodo, to the north American passenger pigeon to three species of tigers, the list at times, seems never-ending.

Throughout the book, whenever Corwin mentioned conservation efforts, genetics was a major topic discussed, as our DNA is the underlying thread that weaves our planets web of diversity. As a biology student at Queen’s I found that many topics discussed in BIO 205 (Mendelian and Molecular Genetic)and BIO 206 (Evolutionary Genetics) were also mentioned in this book, including the sad tail of Lonely George and the diseased Tasmanian devils of Australia. Every species is under some sort of attack it seems, whether from climate change, over-poaching, deforestation, habitat fragmentation or the outbreak of new diseases, no species is safe …including us.

However, amongst the grim reality that many species face, there are also stories of success. Stories of devoted researchers, scientists and caregivers that have given their whole life’s work to studying a single species in hopes of understanding what threatens their survival. ┬áTherefore, above anything I took from this book- it was the story of hope. As Corwin emphasizes on the fleeting pages, conservation efforts can begin in “your own backyard, when you let the garter snake slither away unharmed”, change is change, effort is effort no matter how small.