Generation Adaptation cross-post: environmental triage

I’ve got a post up on Gen A about the concept of “environmental triage“.

Adaptation may force some tough choices about species and habitat conservation.

What criteria can we apply?

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4 thoughts on “Generation Adaptation cross-post: environmental triage

  1. john byatt says:

    Some may remember this ….. townsville

    BOB Endean loved his job and dived into it with gusto. It was Bob who made the link between the introduction in 1962 of 1080 dingo baits and the apparent rise in numbers of box jellyfish otherwise known as Chironex fleckeri. Yes, you can’t be blamed for thinking what in tarnation has dingo bait got to do with box jellyfish? Most of us of a certain age will remember more innocent times when we didn’t worry about box jellyfish all that much. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the “boxie” really started achieving outlaw status. What Bob Endean did was draw a link between 1080 baits, dingoes, pigs, turtles and “boxies”. The dingoes started eating the 1080 baits and their numbers reduced. The dingoes preyed on wild pigs. With less dingoes working their patch the pigs went into reproduction overdrive. It is a dirty, but real fact that feral pigs along the coastal areas sniff out and eat the eggs buried in the sand by sea-going turtles. Less eggs equals less turtles. The sea-going turtle as it happens is the natural predator of the box jellyfish (This might explain why so many dead sea turtles have clear plastic bags in their gut) . With turtle numbers reduced via pig predation of the eggs, the box jellyfish had lost its number one predator. There was no where for the “boxie” to go but up in numbers. And it was all because of 1080.

  2. An excellent article. I’ve used the problem of CCD in arguments with denialists. The normal response I get is “why give a sh*t? They’re only bees!”

    Fact is if bees become extinct, humanity could lose up to 40% of its food supply.

    No bees, no throwaway food.

  3. Mike says:

    The idea of environmental triage is one I have discussed casually amongst my friends and colleagues for many years. The big problem with environmentalism around the world has been convincing the masses that it is important to conserve species. The tactic has always been to use the poster animals like the panda, the polar bear, the tiger, and here in Australia, the Bilby. This was a deliberate and legitimate tactic because these animals have charisma and generate a lot of money for that reason. Can you imagine if vultures or hyenas were critically endangered, if they would generate any amount of concern amongst anyone ignorant of the important niches these animals occupy?
    This brings me to my next point. In the article it talks about getting the most bang for our buck and targeting species that provide the most direct benefit. The last part of this concerns me because the criteria that whomever would be making those decisions may not be based on good solid science. The economist might say that the most important species to preserve are the ones that provide the most direct economic benefit. The politician will go down the same path we have before and protect the iconic, because the ignorant public who vote them into office demand it. Some might say that you must protect the keystone species, the ones that, through their actions promote a stable foodweb and maximum biodiversity. Often these are the top predators in an ecosystem. The loss of keystone species can lead to large energy imbalances and biodiversity loss in an ecosystem and even collapse of the entire ecosystem itself. It may well be that the thing we get the most benefit from may not be the keystone in the system, but through protecting the keystone we protect the one that benefits us, but still that isn’t the full picture. To apply environmental triage, those making the decisions need ecologists to not only identify the most important contributors but identify the habitats and the minimum sizes of those habitats that need to be preserved to not only maintain sustainable populations but provide a sizeable buffer and adeqaute connectivity between populations to ensure genetic diversity is maintained.

    • john byatt says:

      Those were mine same thoughts mike but you put it better than i could have, Just where does this animal fit in the scheme of things,

      Eg fruit bats, which everyone wants to decimate at the moment ,

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