Gave a lecture on “Biodiversity hotspots” in my Ecology class today. In which of course an important component was a ~20-min feature about Baikal and about our grant. My students are by far less cute than Larry’s, but did enjoy the lecture. Sad observation: East Tennessee students were able to answer the question “What is the most famous species flock in Great African Rift Lakes?” (cichlids), but were unable to answer the questions “What area in North America is famous as a biodiversity hotspot?” and “What endemic species flocks is it famous for?” (East Tennessee; salamanders, darters and unionid mussels). How unpatriotic.
We had plans (and I think I mentioned it in BI) to create an exhibit “Biodiversity hotspots” with Baikal and MidAppalachia as features at our Gray Fossil Site Natural History Museum, but there was management change since and I have not discussed it with the new leadership yet. There are some cool connections, most obvious being of course the fact that North American sculpins, including the black sculpin common in our rivers are a close outgroup to the Baikal endemic species flock.