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Old 06-02-2009, 04:27 PM   #21
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Natural disturbance is very much a part of ecology.

IN fact many of our natural areas are degrading due to lack of natural disturbance.
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Old 06-02-2009, 04:40 PM   #22
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That's great. . . but it doesn't answer my question.

Another example. A glacier retreats, leaving a landscape that nothing nearby has adapted for. But nearby plants and animals start moving in. (A succession of plants are established first in lowlying watersheds; these plants break the stones and decay, causing a buildup of soil in the lowlands, allowing other plants and animals to move in. The "tree line" slowly creeps uphill. Etc etc etc.) None of these animals are, strictly speaking, adapted to this glaciated environment. Instead, they adapt the environment. Are they considered "native" when they move in? Are they considered "native" once they have been there a certain number of years? Does any of this take into account that such glaciated areas are still, to this day, being slowly colonized upwards, as evidenced by the tree line?

I'm okay with perpetually qualifying "native" with "native to bla", but something is sorely wrong with the definition if it can't cover the natural flux of species ranges.
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Old 06-02-2009, 04:52 PM   #23
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I guess the answer is that a "native plant" doesn't necessarily have a particular ecological function in all times and all places. Different definitions of "native plant" might be necessary for different contexts. For instance, if we were tribal ecologists assessing the introduction of Helianthus tuberosus to the northeast as a food crop circa 1000 BCE, we would presumably want to say that that species was not native to the northeast then. But by the definition of "native plant" we use now in North America, Helianthus tuberosus was "native" to the northeast all along!

Humans are also part of nature and therefore human disturbance could be viewed as a natural process. We have to be careful, though. Humans are apparently the only species in the last few hundred thousand years to have solved the riddle of breaking out of a Malthusian population equilibrium. Accordingly, our disturbances today have a much more significant impact than they would have when we were hunter-gatherers with a static population.
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Old 06-02-2009, 04:52 PM   #24
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For the United States mainland, our history is such that we are using European Colonization as our cutoff. Here before the Europeans arrived... native. Here after they arrived, not native. Other Countries have their own histories to enable them to establish their own cut offs. Hawaii is not attached to North America. It has its own history hence its own cutoff. What would be interesting would be to learn what they're using as a cutoff.
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Old 06-02-2009, 04:54 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amelanchier View Post
I guess the answer is that a "native plant" doesn't necessarily have a particular ecological function in all times and all places. Different definitions of "native plant" might be necessary for different contexts. For instance, if we were tribal ecologists assessing the introduction of Helianthus tuberosus to the northeast as a food crop circa 1000 BCE, we would presumably want to say that that species was not native to the northeast then. But by the definition of "native plant" we use now in North America, Helianthus tuberosus was "native" to the northeast all along!

Humans are also part of nature and therefore human disturbance could be viewed as a natural process. We have to be careful, though. Humans are apparently the only species in the last few hundred thousand years to have solved the riddle of breaking out of a Malthusian population equilibrium. Accordingly, our disturbances today have a much more significant impact than they would have when we were hunter-gatherers with a static population.
Thank you!
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Old 06-02-2009, 05:12 PM   #26
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Quote:
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" What would be interesting would be to learn what they're using as a cutoff.


I found 2 references that say the same thing - - their definition is based on HOW it got there, not when it got there.

According to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (2001), an alien species is a species that has been transported to and established in a place outside its native habitat due to the activities of humans. This definition is used by the department because dispersal by humans is much faster than other methods of dispersal, which are usually considered to be more natural.
http://www.geocities.com/i_love_plants/hawaii_essay.html

A native Hawaiian plant (or a plant native to the Hawaiian Islands), botanically speaking, is a naturally occurring plant in a specific area. Native Hawaiian plants arrived on the Hawaiian Islands via natural means such as wind and ocean currents or by birds.

http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-042099-194542/unrestricted/Mla.pdf
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Old 06-02-2009, 05:38 PM   #27
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Looks like they're running with a cut off of about 1,500 years ago. Makes sense to me since that's when the Polynesians first arrived.
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:32 PM   #28
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I would like to apologize to everyone for being so short-tempered today. I should have known to stay away from the forums when I was so short on sleep.
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:44 PM   #29
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These are tough concepts. Many gardeners struggle with them. You are not alone. All is well.
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:16 PM   #30
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so short on sleep.
Is the little one OK?
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