As a possibly novel approach to biodiversity conservation, I suggest that nature can be better served by realizing the co-dependence of a series of "vital sciences" [new term]. I find that the four most essential sciences form a linked team - each providing support for the next in line. Together they cover how we learn about and understand how living beings thrive in nature.
  1. NATURAL HISTORY – This is the skill of getting up close and personal to appreciate adaptations in form and behaviour of species by observing individual organisms in nature. Gaining this basic, inspirational, 'very human' and habit-forming way of living is best started subliminally during childhood.

  2. TAXONOMY – This is a (series of) international legal system(s) for the allocation and management of biodiversity names to enable precise communications about biodiversity. [For example, see the "International Code of Zoological Nomenclature."] Clues to the scientific understanding of evolution are coded into the taxonomic classification by the sequencing of names. Any change in the understanding of the (evolutionary) relationships between species will be cause to alter this sequence. Typically, various scientific interpretations co-exist in many areas: BioLists provides unified, non-contentious, standardized classifications in a time series; each is termed a (specified) "Time-band".

  3. ECOLOGY – This is the study of the interactions between organisms in nature e.g. food webs that determine their numbers and distributions. Usually data-deficient due to weak use of taxonomy, ecology has all but lost its original species-level meaning. There are too few ecologists which means that, typically, they have too little field time to be able to collect raw data for other than niche projects: I indicate below how Biolists can enable them to request specific data from grass-roots sources for major projects.

  4. CONSERVATION - Ecological research and analysis are the ideal sources of ideas and information to be adapted to provide local strategies for biodiversity conservation, that is, for determining actions to rehabilitate damaged habitats. This also applies to organizing and implementing management policies for ecosystems. Ideally, conservation work will be done locally by locals with advice from engaged ecologists.

All vital sciences have been in a defeatist academic culture, probably progressively since the 1970s. All four need to be radically refreshed, and most of todays' ecologists retrained by way of natural history. Happily, starting with natural history, each science will refresh the next in line: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4. Some improvements could happen quickly now with signs that the vital sciences are beginning to confront their real-world responsibilities objectively. This reference contains a welcome, but brutal, U-turn by the environmental sciences in line with concerns over biodiversity and by an already significantly understanding public - understanding enough to be worried, if only subliminally such that it only shows by errant behaviours. However, much important information and advice about the dire straits affecting biodiversity is not reaching academics or influencing the public conscience. Seemingly there is no avenue or mechanism, and no clear leadership happening for such information to get widely known. Looking at local nature could focus community attention on revelant areas for that community. Ultimately, the most relevant and reliable (local) information is what any community can glean directly from nature – attached to named species. Nature doesn't lie, but interpreting it is a hard-earned art that can evolve into, or is otherwise able to be supported by science.

Locally, the public should demand a return to functional Natural History Museums. Dinosaurs, shops, devices and coffee should be shunned where these are taking up space and taking attention away from opportunities to promote local natural history. Timely learning and teaching about local nature, along with ample opportunities for exposure to nature will be needed to prepare the public to play the major role in conservation. Too few professionals, as now, will never be able to record enough local biodiversity information to create enough ecological theory to serve necessary conservation. Interested amateurs, using BioLists and online mailing, will be able to respond to ecologists' requests for local species-related information by creating specified biolists. Have fun with BioLists, but realise that the aim and the need is to strengthen local conservation so as to defeat the Sixth Mass Extinction Event.

My Irish natural history upbringing was profound, with the Belfast Naturalists' Field Club, the Ulster Museum and, the (Royal) Belfast Botanical Gardens (Park) [formerly the Irish equivalent of the London Kew Gardens] and Queens' University all at my doorstep. These supports, aquarium keeping, and good access to diverse freshwater habitats, established my interests in natural history and led me to travel and gain a PhD (1968) in taxonomy and freshwater ecology. This was followed by two decades of research and teaching on four continents, these interests evolved towards conservation and thus, starting in the early 1980s, to what first became SKIS – my "Six Kingdom Indexing System" - a biodiversity data management system, and later with taxonomic databases, to the BioLists System. Early in this process, I set myself free of academic life and government middle-management ties so as to give my allegiance totally to nature. I've been exceedingly fortunate in being able to get onto, and stay on, this freeway with simpler rules such as watch the birdlife, don’t need anything that is not to hand, prioritize growing soil, no car, and, to a reasonable extent, live as I would hope will become sustainable - even where I’ve been 'biolisting' for decades - at Latitude 45° S.