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-   -   HOT ISSUE: Should we deliberately move species? (http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/forum/biodiversity/3087-hot-issue-should-we-deliberately-move-species.html)

Staff 07-30-2009 09:03 PM

HOT ISSUE: Should we deliberately move species?
 
HOT ISSUE: Should we deliberately move species?
By ALICIA CHANG, Ap Science Writer Mon Jul 20, 3:52 pm ET

HOT ISSUE: Should we deliberately move species? - Yahoo! News
excerpt from above:
Quote:

LOS ANGELES On naked patches of land in western Canada and United States, scientists are planting trees that don't belong there. It's a bold experiment to move trees threatened by global warming into places where they may thrive amid a changing climate.

Take the Western larch with its thick grooved bark and green needles. It grows in the valleys and lower mountain slopes in British Columbia's southern interior. Canadian foresters are testing how its seeds will fare when planted farther north just below the Arctic Circle.

Something similar will be tried in the Lower 48. Researchers will uproot moisture-loving Sitka spruce and Western redcedar that grace British Columbia's coastal rainforests and drop their seedlings in the dry ponderosa pine forests of Idaho.

All of this swapping begs the question: Should humans lend nature a helping hand?

Equilibrium 07-30-2009 09:54 PM

Those are some pretty bold experiments alright. Biting my tongue and refraining from commenting about lending nature any more helping hands. With friends like us... who needs enemies.

Calliandra 07-30-2009 10:30 PM

What if the existing vegetation is already failing? What about "assisted migration" of desirable natives to fill the void?

Take this situation for example: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/02/garden/02tree.html . The trees have succumbed to a beetle infestation due to warmer winter conditions; reseeding with understory woodland natives in this case would be useless, since the woodland is gone. Conditions have changed and new seed stocks matching the new conditions are needed-- and they need to be brought in quickly. If we don't bring them in ourselves, exotics will move in and take over the niche.

There's a window that opens when conditions change. We need to take advantage of it, or else we'll be struggling against entrenched exotics with no hope of winning.

Climate Change Opens New Avenue For Spread Of Invasive Plants



Equilibrium 07-30-2009 10:37 PM

I can't read your NY Times article. I won't register with them. Can you cut and paste the juicy parts for me. "There's a window that opens when conditions change. We need to take advantage of it, or else we'll be struggling against entrenched exotics with no hope of winning." That's painting with pretty broad brushstrokes I think.

Calliandra 07-30-2009 11:05 PM

The article doesn't address native plants; it's a description of what it's like after bark beetles decimate a region. I thought of it as being a case study for this discussion. Presumably there's a latent seed bank that will burst into action now that the trees are gone. However, if the conditions really have changed so dramatically, then invasive exotics may out-perform the latent natives. If we seeded out-of-zone natives (more grasses and shrubs), or even in-zone sun-adapted natives (whatever would be found in meadows and clearings), they may give the fast-moving exotics a run for their money.

In Green Planet, Rice states "The problem is that the climate is changing so fast that the migration of plants cannot keep up with it."


A House in the Woods, After the Woods Are Gone

By JIM ROBBINS

Published: July 1, 2009


Quote:

TWELVE years ago, my wife and I looked at 11 acres on the outskirts of Helena, Mont. We knew this was where we wanted to build our home. The land was covered with dense forest, including dozens of stately old-growth ponderosa pines.

The rolling property lay on the edge of a small 19th-century gold-mining village, with what was once one of the most productive mines in the state, and just four miles from downtown Helena, where we had lived for 20 years. We would be a 10-minute drive or an hourlong walk through thick woods and meadows on the thousands of acres of forested public land that surrounded the site.
...
Four years ago, the beetles came. First a couple of our oldest pine trees turned red. Alarmed, we quickly cut them down and covered them with black plastic. It’s stomach-churning when the tree reaper comes to claim your forest. One day ivory-colored plugs that look like candle wax are plastered on the trunk, a sign the tree is pumping out resin to try to halt a drilling bug. Sometimes a tree wins by entombing a beetle; far more often the trees lose to the mob assault.

Then things went exponential. One dead tree turned to five and the next year five turned to 30, dying far faster than I could cut them down. Now the mortality count is in the hundreds, more than 95 percent of our forest, and many more in the national forest around us.
...
The beetles aren’t just claiming our forest. A hike to the hilltop behind my house reveals an entire mountain valley covered with dead and dying trees.
...
It’s beyond sad to watch your robust green forest turn red and dead in a matter of a few years. This phenomenon is going on all around the West, from Colorado to Alaska. The forest — the reason many people moved to the small towns and rural areas of the West — is disappearing. It’s happened before, but never to this degree, and there is no end in sight.
Scientists believe the proliferation of beetles is a consequence of a warming climate. Bitter cold temperatures are the only way to keep them in check, and our coldest winter temperatures are now as much as 10 degrees warmer than in the past, which allows the beetles to escape significant winter kill. Now all bets are off. The epidemic will likely be done, experts say, when the bugs run out of food — when they kill all the trees.

Even though this climate-driven, bark beetle outbreak is unprecedented in scope, I understand that insects, like fire, are nature’s way of regenerating a forest. What is good for the forest though, can be hard on a property owner.


hazelnut 07-31-2009 08:31 AM

Quote:

All of this swapping begs the question: Should humans lend nature a helping hand?
__

I think this question begs the fact that what we have left on this planet is a human-made environment. If we don't have intentional efforts to manage the environment what we will have is accidental effects that don't benefit any species.

We do have a mandate for responsible and intelligent action. "Nature" no longer exists without man as part of the equation.

Staff 07-31-2009 02:16 PM

Moving Species to Save Them: Pros and Cons
 
Moving Species to Save Them: Pros and Cons
Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press
Trading Spaces? July 17, 2008 --

Moving Species to Save Them : Discovery News : Discovery Channel
excerpt from above:
Quote:

It's an idea that makes conservation biologists nervous.
There are plenty of risks in moving plants and animals to new locations. They may not survive, or they may become invasive, growing wildly without predators and crowding out natives of their new location.

And it's not possible to relocate every species that may need it, so how to decide who gets moved and who gets left behind to become extinct?
Stanford biologist Terry Root has been traveling the country urging her colleagues to come up with a plan for "triage" to decide which species should be saved from global warming and which can't. After other biologists complained about the word "triage," Root said she now calls it prioritizing which species should be saved.

"We've got to work on the ones we have a prayer of saving," Root said.

Equilibrium 08-02-2009 11:35 PM

Only pointing out a few things from above, some scientists say it may become necessary to move some species to save them... not most scientists. It's an idea not an accepted practice. They are failing to mention the unintended consequences of "assisted colonization" could be devastatingly high. Too risky. They are also failing to mention that even those who are proponents of assisted colonization believe only species at a very high risk of extinction to be suitable candidates.
"The trees have succumbed to a beetle infestation due to warmer winter conditions; reseeding with understory woodland natives in this case would be useless, since the woodland is gone. Conditions have changed and new seed stocks matching the new conditions are needed-- and they need to be brought in quickly. If we don't bring them in ourselves, exotics will move in and take over the niche." I can't read the article. What species of trees and what species of beetle specifically are we talking about. What conditions changed? What species are they considering for their new seed stock? Where is this infestation occurring? What are the reasons being cited for not monitoring the site for invasion... removing any invasives they discover... thus allowing the existing seed bank to repopulate the former woodland?

Calliandra 08-03-2009 01:33 AM

The article did not discuss reseeding. As far as I know, the owners aren't planning to plant anything.

The point is-- it's a place where the woodland died suddenly. The trees died because of a beetle infestation, possibly due to warmer winter temperatures which allowed the beetles to survive the winters, and drier weather which hobbled the tree's defenses. The forest has died before, during droughts; it may come back again, as it has before, if wet weather and cold winters return. Divide Magazine | Helena, MT

But if the warmer and drier conditions are permanent changes, then what will move in to fill the landscape?

TheLorax 08-03-2009 11:27 AM

Tip toeing in here for a moment, species are not going extinct because of climate change. We do not know that warmer temperatures and drier weather in some regions is permanent. It is highly unlikely the death of the trees was attributable exclusively to a beetle whether it be a native or introduced species. We do know that the site is ripe for invasion. I can not read the article either. Was there any mention of monitoring the site and removing the non-natives that will attempt to colonize or is there no interest in attempting to preserve the actual integrity of the site?


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