Several months into the International Biodiversity Observation Year (IBOY), American mass media coverage of this worldwide initiative is virtually nonexistent. Major publications for general audiences and high-impact scientific journals have not run news or feature articles about a collaboration that involves 45 major projects embracing numerous countries, habitats, and species. Why the silence? Comments by prominent biologists suggest that the answer lies, at least in part, in the very nature of biodiversity and in how it has been studied to date.

IBOY, an assembly under one banner of worldwide projects in basic science, informatics, and education (see "Year of Biodiversity"), faces communication challenges. The problem is that the all-embracing nature of biodiversity makes appreciation of it more difficult to grasp than that of biodiversity's products, such as particular plants or animals.

"We all recognize there's a major crisis in biodiversity," Princeton University associate professor of biology and IBOY steering...

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