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Thread: Destructive introduction of species in postglacial context

  1. #1 Destructive introduction of species in postglacial context 
    Time Lord
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    The islands of my region (notably Vancouver Island) are said to be in ecological succession, since the ice sheet receded. Spread of pioneer species has been patchy. Many mainland plant & animal species are absent from suitable habitat, though they thrive just across the water. Waiting for a lucky accident, apparently. Spread of species and ecosystems also lags far behind climate, especially in the case of mature forests whose trees live 1,000 or more. The "recent" arrival of Western Red Cedar, for example, crucial to our Native economy, is celebrated in oral legend. Even a casual naturalist soon discovers every species on an island, and, recalling the mainland's diversity thinks, "Hurry up and change."

    Due to lack of biodiversity, some "first in" species have begun to differentiate. The speciating sticklebacks of these island's lakes are often cited. This is precious, I suppose. But the glaciers weren't really long ago (humans settled in as ice receded), so these hints of speciation and growing diversity are analogous to having Pepsi and Coke, and nothing else.

    Sometimes "pristine" just means "purely boring".



    I've half a mind to drive the length of the Island Highway, planting Japanese bamboo and Himalayan blackberry all along the way. Trap & ferry across a pregnant coyote, or a mountain-goat from the mainland.

    Is it unethical?


    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  3. #2 Re: Destructive introduction of species in postglacial conte 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I've half a mind to drive the length of the Island Highway, planting Japanese bamboo and Himalayan blackberry all along the way. Trap & ferry across a pregnant coyote, or a mountain-goat from the mainland.

    Is it unethical?
    It's an interesting question.
    I live just South of Puget Sound and have asked myself similar questions even as I try to eradicate invasive species such as Scotch broom and the Himalayan blackberries. While planting I'm pretty careful to only plants that are native or that I'm willing to control--the couple holly trees are probably my only exception but at least I'll be able to monitor them for another few decades.

    The question is how about plants that would likely transplant themselves there in time as we grow warmer and warmer. Should I example even hesitate to plant giant redwoods, knowing they'll live centuries and probably move this far North in their range if they had the opportunity. Perhaps helping species from more Southern or lower elevations is the most ethical thing to do.

    I imagine Vancouver Island being the ideal place for Species from South of Georgia straight in a few decades. Red Ceder with is practically a monoculture forest in heart of the Olympic National park (which I've hiked across). A few of my favorites--Pacific Wax Myrtles, Gerry Oaks, Tiger Lilies etc.


    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
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  4. #3  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Along the banks of rivers in Colorado and Utah the native cottonwoods have largely been displaced by tamarisk, which grows in dense thickets and which increases the salinity of the soil (by drawing deep salty water up to the surface). The tamarisk invasion is destroying habitat for many species, not to mention obliterating backpacker and rafter campsites and hiking trails. Along the banks where the BLM manages the land you can see pathetic little cottonwood saplings that have been planted in clearings, and a bucket is left beside them so that passing hikers will occasionally give them a drink. But it seems hopeless - the tamarisk is winning.

    Just a cautionary note about unintended consequences of introduced species.
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  5. #4 Re: Destructive introduction of species in postglacial conte 
    Time Lord
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    control--the couple holly trees
    Sorry, holly also propagates through bird poop.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Perhaps helping species from more Southern or lower elevations is the most ethical thing to do.
    If one does anything deliberately.

    I stressed how ...un-robust... the present ecological web is, to point out the danger. The potential magnitude of damage is most great where one truly exotic species (like tamarisk to the NA plains) enters a "simple web". A monoculture forest can be decimated by introduction of a single parasite... so the forest as a whole just dies.

    I think it only a matter of time (like, centuries) before every species on Earth has had a chance in every place on Earth. Ships and airplanes will take care of that. Ultimately, some kind of normalcy will resolve. We can watch this play out at random, or try to manage the transition of our ecosystems to global exposure. Either way is disturbing.

    Lynx_Fox, you didn't mention my favorite tree of your area, madrone (arbutus in Canada). I'm at the cold fringe of its range, so had the pleasure of watching sickly trees just barely alive, now healthy and (like holly) popping up all over. I wonder if the same birds eat both holly and arbutus berries? If so, isn't an overlap safer than a single species?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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