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PhotoDiversity has Values

PhotoDiversity, a concept at the core of the ZLI Mission,
stresses at one level that the natural diversity of light matters
to biodiversity and, is important for every animal that evolved within it.

PhotoDiversity recognizes that full participation in the sciences is particularly important for the sciences of light and life, as a means to improve the kinds of scientific questions we need to ask.

PhotoDiversity also requires ZLI to engage critical issues that scientific research helps to address. Applied photobiology has value ‘for animal welfare and wildlife conservation’ and these goals have real value for every person in our communities around the globe. This page identifies six overtly human issues specifically targeted by our work, and for which we provide a forum for.
(Combating Bigotry, Mental Health, Food Security, Reproductive Health, Agism, Migration)

Combating Bigotry: Animals & Wildlife

Wildlife conservation initiatives can aid healthy community interactions if diversity, inclusion and engagement strategies are followed. At the heart of this is the concept of ‘Cultural Competence’. ZLI’s Beached Campaign is specifically set up to advance inter-cultural competence by focusing on cetacean research emanating from within Japan and New Zealand. Its purpose is to foster dialogue while advancing understanding of marine mammals necessary to their conservation and welfare. Although Beached focuses on whales and dolphins, its material is equally relevant to discussions of farm and zoo animals, along with human interactions with other wildlife classes (insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, mammals etc…).

Cultural competence demands interacting effectively and appropriately with people and communities of differing cultures and backgrounds for the benefit of all. Cultural Competence has four components [1}:

Be conscious of your personal cultural worldview and how it shapes your interactions with others
Consider how your beliefs and values inform those interactions
Seek out and retain information about different cultures and perceptions
Using the other components, develop appropriate methods of communicating across cultures

Animal welfare, wildlife conservation and positive community dialogue are intrinsically connected and necessary for science (so that better questions can be asked and so that science benefits from full participation of Human Resources). ZLI’s Beached Campaign offers a forum for conversation for these subjects.

  1. Mercedes Martin and Billy Vaughn, “Cultural Competence: The Nuts & Bolts of Diversity & Inclusion,” Strategic Diversity & Inclusion Management, February 12, 2007, 31-36.

Mental Health: Animals & Wildlife

Healthy and well treated animals and ecosystems are crucial for mental health. In a very personal setting, companion animals and pets can help alleviate stressanxietydepression, and feelings of loneliness and social isolation. This extends to the communal concept of ‘zoo pets’ and ‘animal adoptions’ at aquariums and zoos. Communities with ‘good zoos’ are much stronger than those that do not care properly for the animals they manage. A crucial reason for ZLI to pursue animal welfare in aquariums and zoos related to the photo biological sciences, beyond our passion and concern for every individual animal, is the need to care for zoo animals as they represent community ‘owned’ pets (ownership in the broadest sense of the term). Real healthy animal individuals, even at a distance, improve the mental health of individuals in a community.

Beyond these immediate connections to animals in our midst, the care and study of animals beyond our local experiences (such as bears), also allows individuals to ‘work through’ anxiety in a much healthier posture than one of distance and denial allows. As much as climate change denial resulted in horrendous policies and costly delays in dealing with environmental challenges, social anxiety due to lack of ecological (and photo biological) knowledge/action also directly contributes to costly wildlife losses by encouraging ignorance and delay.

Significant research suggests that artificial light at night increases anxiety and stress rather than providing the comfort sought by its use. ZLI’s Bearanoia Campaign specifically features bears because of the emotional ambiguity they represent for humans (whether the comfort of Teddy Bears, the terror of Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man Grizzlies or Polar Bears, icons both of climate change action and denial alike), in addition to the sad fact of bear rocking/pacing that connects a mental life in these animals beyond the explicitly physiological. Animal welfare, wildlife conservation and human mental health are intrinsically connected.

ZLI’s Bearanoia Campaign offers a forum for conversation for these subjects.

Food Security: Animals & Wildlife

The importance of insects to human food supply has been well documented, and recently the impacts of artificial light on declining insect populations has solidified understanding of the relationships between artificial lighting at night, and food security. ZLI’s Insect Apocalypse Campaign puts photobiology research relationships in the broader context of hunger and human food security.

The current COVID-19 Pandemic has highlighted another aspect of these relationships, in that biodiversity loss entails the emergence of zoonotic diseases causing secondary effects that impact food security.

Epidemiological and photo-biological research related to nutritional science and ecological food chains are absolutely essential to ensuring food security around the globe.

ZLI’s Insect Apocalypse Campaign offers a forum for conversation for these subjects.

Reproductive Health: Animals & Wildlife

Sustainability refers to the ability of communities and humanity as a whole to live in such a way that enables future generations to do so as well. Sustainable living implicitly requires good reproductive health to ensure that future generations are there at all. Good reproductive health requires firm attention to environmental health, particularly with regard to natural lighting, and so we have ZLI’s Healthy Glow Campaign.

ZLI’s Healthy Glow Campaign focuses on the relationships between environmental conditions and reproductive health, stressing the importance and need for preventative health care and pro-active medical services in an arena so often left to chance.

Reproductive health, and healthy relationships forged through careful attention to environmental conditions, are absolutely essential to sustainable life, sustainable liberty and the sustainable pursuit of happiness.

ZLI’s Healthy Glow Campaign offers a forum for conversation for these subjects.

Agism: Animals & Wildlife

People of every age have value and important contributions to their communities, though this is often forgotten. ZLI’s Otohime’s Time Campaign supports phenological research, stressing the use of light-managed time as a resource and the value animals at every stage of life to healthy ecological functioning and overall fitness of a species in its environment.

ZLI seeks to actively develop programs and engagements of worth across the age spectrum, from the youngest to the oldest members of communities. By strengthening multi-generational connections, ZLI encourages understanding that healthy environments require attention to time.

ZLI’s Otohime’s Time Campaign offers a forum for conversation for these subjects.

Migration: Animals & Wildlife

Migrating wildlife connects specific locations in a manner that reflects the movement of humanity over its span on earth. ZLI’s Save a Billion Birds! Campaign begins with the notion that acting locally creates global change, but it gives special attention to questions of borders, migrants and refugees.

Developed northern hemisphere countries impact wildlife populations of under-developed nations in the south directly, through the local take of migrating animals such as birds and insects within northern territorial boundaries. This in turn has real consequences for the ecology of biodiversity-hot-spots in the south, the resulting pressures of which result in further habitat destruction and encourage forced migration of human populations. The seemingly removed consequences stemming from challenges such as bird-window collisions and other migrant takes, form part of a social justice concern that ZLI works hard to address.

ZLI’s Save a Billion Birds! Campaign offers a forum for conversation for these subjects.

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