On the preservation of species
gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu
Wed Sep 12 05:15:59 EDT 2001
I found "Walker's Lament" very moving and hope he got home in a timely fashion.
"Chris J. Durden" wrote:
> You are quite correct about the magnitude of our changing of our
> habitats. We are indeed changing our niche. Our offspring that prosper will
> be those who do well in a niche that was not ours. There is a good chance
> that they may turn out to by different from us, perhaps even inhuman! This
> is evolution in progress.
> You may have to drive home on the back roads!
> ..........Chris Durden
> At 12:24 PM 9/11/2001 -0400, you wrote:
> >In a similar vein to the post by Mary Beth, I'd like to chew on something
> >public ally. We are expanding as a species, with no particular method to
> >our procreation madness. As we continue to convert large sections of
> >habitat into sterile or artificial life zones, I suppose we must be prepared
> >to accept the possibility that we'll be displacing whole populations of
> >interesting flora and fauna. So, the point is that there is probably a
> >certain amount of species destruction that we have all grown to accept - if
> >not vocally, then certainly by our lifestyles. I would argue, although I
> >don't necessarily embrace this position, that as long as the damages are not
> >catastrophic (elimination of estuaries, rain forest, etc.) to the
> >environment, then this sort of loss is acceptable, and we shouldn't fool
> >ourselves into thinking that we should police against it (less government IS
> >better, BTW).
> >Now, on the other hand it is clear that there will likely be huge and yet to
> >be determined side effects of large scale habitat loss. Who's to say how
> >delicately intertwined the whole thing truly is? Do our planet in fact
> >depend on great diversity in order for the system to remain stable?
> >Personally, I'd like to see us begin to act proactively, rather than
> >reactively. I'd say it's probably a good thing to ensure that virtually
> >every unique habitat is preserved in a large enough section to guarantee
> >it's ongoing survival (at least from human consumption and sprawl). These
> >sections of habitat should be networked together, with corridors sufficient
> >to allow for movement. All human interaction should then be master planned
> >to occur in pockets of concentrated population. There's plenty of room for
> >all of us, if we just stop insisting on having so much "personal space".
> >I fly a lot, and I hike a lot through all sorts of unique habitat. There's
> >amazingly very little of it in many places, and there's no apparent concern
> >about preventing it's continuing elimination. Parks and greenbelts are of
> >little value. Native plants, many of which are considered unsightly, must
> >I think of the incredible estuary that was once Southern California. An
> >otherwise desert scrub land inundated with massive water drainages from the
> >rather high mountain ranges that surround the coastland. This massive
> >amount of water then collected in huge back bays which provided incredible
> >protection for the breeding of large percentages of the birds, fish, and
> >land mammals that inhabited the rest of the region. There were several
> >species of butterfly that were quite common then that have been entirely
> >eliminated or extirpated since. Of these, I think of the Coastal Arrowhead
> >Blue (Glaucopsyche piasus) that used to enjoy the lowlands - but is now
> >apparently long gone. Since the Arrowhead Blue still flies throughout much
> >of montane California, I suppose it's not of great concern to many that the
> >bug can no longer be found at sea level. Also, the loss of this bug is
> >probably not significant to the well being of the planet - except by virtue
> >of what else was lost in the process. But there are very few remnants of
> >the estuaries that were once Southern California, and many of the native
> >plants that thrived here (not to mention the native fauna) are virtually all
> >but gone. Much of this destruction has occurred in my very short lifetime
> >(42 years), and I recall very well the extent of countryside that I used to
> >traverse when driving from my hometown Long Beach to Silverado Canyon - or
> >San Diego (jeez, how much of that is gone now?).
> >We should attempt to identify that portion of the planet that we can afford
> >to destroy, deal with only that portion for our own inhabitation, and leave
> >the rest connected so that it can be allowed to "evolve" (AKA "divine
> >perturbation"). Instead, we're flying by the seat of our pants - listing
> >and acting concerned until someone asks US to find another place to sit and
> >Mark Walker
> >lamenting in Houston, wondering how and when I'll get home...
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: mbpi at juno.com [mailto:mbpi at juno.com]
> > > Sent: Monday, September 10, 2001 1:42 PM
> > > To: LEPS-L at lists.yale.edu
> > > Subject: Re: The Shortage of Taxonomists
> > >
> > >
> > > Hi, all...
> > >
> > > There was an evocative article in the Sunday Chicago Tribune about the
> > > lack of young biologists choosing taxonomy as a profession, opting
> > > instead to become the more glamorous and lucrative "molecular
> > > biologist"
> > > which is currently in vogue.
> > >
> > > This article, along with the fact that the Chicago Field Museum is
> > > expanding their collection storage in an effort to preserve
> > > the thousands
> > > of specimens that are currently being kept in less than "optimum"
> > > conditions, got me thinking about what is fast becoming an
> > > "antiquated"
> > > professional pursuit in the field of Biology.
> > >
> > > At the risk of starting a "war," when one considers the
> > > amount of "space"
> > > required for storage of the thousands of collected specimens, and the
> > > number of undescribed specimens alone within these collections
> > > languishing for "want" of someone to acknowledge and define them, it
> > > appears that the current state of taxonomic research is going
> > > the way of
> > > the dinosaur (!) This is not to underestimate the numbers of
> > > dedicated
> > > taxonomists that have greatly contributed their painstaking
> > > expertise and
> > > research to the overall knowledge and understanding of
> > > species diversity
> > > and ecosystem dynamics. I can't tell you how much I've
> > > learned from this
> > > listserv alone, or the awsome respect I have for the time-consuming
> > > research represented by the many individuals on this listserv....
> > >
> > > But in the context of reality and practicality: we live in a
> > > world that
> > > is on "fast forward," with little time to devote to what most people
> > > would consider the "minutia" of our intertwined existence.
> > > If one were
> > > to examine the dynamics of populations of human beings alone,
> > > it would be
> > > pretty obvious that the dynamics of established populations
> > > as recently
> > > as 100 years ago, have changed considerably in a relatively
> > > short amount
> > > of time. Pockets of former immigrant neighborhoods have been
> > > gentrified.
> > > New immigrants from vastly different cultures have established new
> > > neighborhoods of their own, replacing the once predominant ethnic
> > > population. If we were something other than Homo sapiens, this change
> > > would indicate a "red flag" to the population biologists as a
> > > break down
> > > in the once "established" ecological dynamics, for better or
> > > worse...judged by human standards.
> > >
> > > Personally, I don't think it's possible to collect and define "every
> > > living thing" on the planet earth, nor do I think it's "necessary."
> > > Species come and species go, which is not necessarily a bad thing!
> > > Certainly there are "indicator" species in the many diverse ecosystems
> > > that can tell us which direction their environmental
> > > existence is headed.
> > > These are the species that I would focus my research on
> > > rather than try
> > > to determine all the resident species within a defined
> > > ecosystem. If the
> > > indicator specie's relationship to its environment hinges on some
> > > undetermined factor...be it some other species of plant or insect or
> > > bacteria, then that would be the criteria for determining why the
> > > indicator species is doing well or doing poorly...
> > >
> > > This is not to underestimate the importance of recognizing
> > > the presence
> > > of "subspecies:" If several families of Indo-Pakistani, say, were to
> > > move into a previously all Euro-descended neighborhood, this would
> > > indicate a change in the dynamics of the former community,
> > > along with all
> > > the cultural differences and requirements that would make this a
> > > "distinct group" of individuals within the previously established
> > > ecosystem. The introduction of any change within an
> > > established ecosystem
> > > can also be interpreted as an "indicator" by the transitional
> > > effect that
> > > subsequently erupts. The importance of such a transitional effect can
> > > only be determined by whether or not it becomes an actual established
> > > impact on the prevailing "status quo." (Am I making sense, or am I
> > > getting off on a tangent?!)
> > >
> > > I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it's the predominant
> > > "obvious" that asserts itself in the overall hierarchy of population
> > > dynamics and is what is most easily grasped by those who
> > > don't have the
> > > time or inclination to intellectually pursue the intricacies of the
> > > minutia. Somebody has to do the cooking, cleaning and caretaking!!!
> > >
> > > I'm sorry, but now that I'm out of a job, I've got too much time on my
> > > hands to ruminate (!)
> > >
> > > M.B. Prondzinski
> > > Evanston, IL
> > > USA
> > >
> > >
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