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Opinion: Species Origins DO Matter!

Organisms introduced to new habitats pose a significant threat to the native flora and fauna.

By | September 28, 2011

Wasp carrying pollen of Brazilian pepper tree, Schinus terebinthifolius WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, RAFAEL BARBIZAN SUHS

The argument that introduced species should not be judged on their geographic history ignores biological reasons why non-native organisms pose a particular threat. Unlike native species, non-natives arrive in their new homes with no shared evolutionary history with most other organisms already there. They leave their predators, parasites, and competitors behind, and they often attain huge population sizes, occupy large areas, and heavily impact native species and ecosystems.

Examples abound. Non-native Brazilian pepper changed south Florida’s landscape, shifting prairie to forest. The non-native fire tree altered nitrogen cycling in the Hawaiian Islands. Non-native cheatgrass modified fire regimes in the western United States by fueling more frequent and intense fires that increase its own populations while suppressing native grasses further. The non-native brown tree snake extirpated the forest birds of Guam, and the non-native emerald ash borer threatens to eliminate eastern North America’s ash trees. Invasion by non-native acacia and pine in the South African fynbos, a treeless ecosystem, not only threatens a biome with one of the highest endemism levels on Earth, but also the water supply for irrigation and domestic use—left unchecked, these invasive trees would cause an average loss of 30 percent of the water supply after 100 years.

Brown tree snake, Boiga irregularis
Brown tree snake, Boiga irregularis
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, PD-USGOV-INTERIOR-FWS

In their opinion published earlier this month in The Scientist, Matthew K. Chew of Arizona State University and Scott P. Carroll of the University of California, Davis, suggest “excluding potentially harmful pests” is a valid goal, but that, in time, some non-natives will co-evolve to ‘fit in’ as new—and potentially beneficial—inhabitants. Our research suggests otherwise: surveying records in the United States, we found six times more non-native plant species than native species became ecologically problematic. Clearly, species origin is relevant to conservation. By biological default, non-native species should be viewed as “potentially harmful pests,” and it is prudent to employ the precautionary principle—both before and after non-native species have established populations. Well-documented phenomena such as lag times (where non-native species are long present in low numbers until some mechanism promotes their rapid expansion) and subtle, important impacts such as changed nutrient regimes argue against a “wait and see” approach. Non-natives often arrive with distinct advantages over natives, free from their hometown natural enemies, and are likely to evolve more competitive characteristics, becoming more aggressive invaders. One of the worst possible strategies would be to decrease our vigilance or discount origin in judging threat. Conservationists should beware of non-native species, particularly those with a bad rap for being invasive elsewhere.

Though Chew and Carroll approve of “programs aimed at preventing introductions or eradicating populations of introduced species when it can be done in a dependable, highly targeted manner,” they assert that many efforts against established non-natives are “permanent hopeless wars.” We would point instead to dramatic successes in cases that naysayers initially deemed unwinnable. Consider rats—adaptable, fecund critters that have hitchhiked on ships for centuries and were introduced to Pacific islands as food. Rats are legendary for devastating island biota worldwide. With little experience avoiding predators, naïve island vertebrates such as threatened birds are easy prey for the rodents. The threat was so dire that a few intrepid managers undertook the “impossible” beginning in the 1960s.

FLICKR, REG MCKENNA

Results were unspectacular at first, but a simple revolution in how baits were deployed produced many successes. Conservationists can now boast successful rat eradications on 284 islands worldwide, including several islands around 10,000 hectares in size. Many studies document how native species depressed by rat predation have dramatically rebounded, and in some instances refugia provided by rat-free islands are the only hope for preventing native species extinction.

Eradications of increasing scope do not end with rats. With new technologies and well-planned campaigns, destructive feral goats have been removed from half of the Galapagos Islands, and feral pigs from Santiago, a rugged 585-square-kilometer island in the archipelago. Such feats would have been considered pipe dreams only a decade ago.

Many other invasive species, though not eradicated, have long been controlled at low abundances, thanks to campaigns once discouraged as quixotic wastes of resources. In California, massive European beachgrass stands, replacing native dune plants in a Nature Conservancy reserve, were viewed as an intractable problem because of the Conservancy’s then-policy against using herbicides. A persistent land manager cleared the invasion manually at low cost using convict labor and state public works employees. With most beachgrass eliminated, native vegetation flourishes. In many Kentucky nature preserves, what had seemed an unmanageable invasion of musk thistle has been well controlled for a decade by a land manager who defied skeptics and attacked the problem with the help of volunteer DUI offenders.

Despite these successes, invasion biologists rarely prescribe intensive management for most introduced species, in contrast to Chew and Carroll’s efforts to caricature researchers as agitators for destruction of our study organisms. This is readily apparent from the 336 research articles comprising the 2010 volume of the journal Biological Invasions: 87 percent (n=293) of these papers focus on the biology of non-native species while only 13 percent (n=43) concerned management. Of the 293 papers on biology, 25 percent (n=73) did promote management, but the remaining 75 percent did not address whether management was needed.

Let us be clear, invasion biologists have greatly advanced understanding of the invasion process and ramifications of allowing invaders to persist. Conservationists have shown that we can achieve monumental successes in eradicating invaders and mitigating their impacts. Recent attacks on invasion biology in high-profile academic journals and popular science media will deter continuation of this progress in the study of invasions, as well as our ability to manage them. One of the few areas where all would agree, put best in Chew and Carroll’s own words, is “ecologists, policy makers and conservationists should work to exclude potentially harmful pests.” This goal is achieved by in-depth research on when, how, and why non-native species become detrimental—as invasion biologists are currently doing—and not by raising specious arguments.

Sara Kuebbing is a doctoral candidate at the University of Tennessee where she studies plant invasions. Previously she coordinated an invasive plant outreach and management program for the Vermont Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Dan Simberloff is an ecologist at the University of Tennessee who began studying invasions of insects, plants, and vertebrates in the 1970s.  He is editor-in-chief of Biological Invasions and senior editor of the Encyclopedia of Biological Invasions. Julie Lockwood is an ecologist at Rutgers University.  She is interested in species invasions and extinctions, and how these two forces interact to reshape biodiversity.

Other authors in this article include the following University of Tennessee researchers: M. Noelia Barrios-Garcia, Emmi Felker-Quinn, Martin A. Nuñez, Mariano A. Rodriguez-Cabal, Lara Souza, and Rafael D. Zenni.

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Avatar of: Platycryptus

Anonymous

September 28, 2011

This is a well-written article.  I might add that extirpations of keystone species have a similar effect on ecosystems.  In the eastern United States, for example, we can never recover critical native habitats until we 1) bring back beavers in greater numbers, 2) bring back larger grazing animals like Bison (with their predators), and 3) bring back a substitute for the extinct Carolina Parakeet.  At the same time, land ownership in most areas is very chopped up, and wastelands dominated by invasives like Kudzu (and many others) are prevalent in open areas.

Avatar of: OldTechie

Anonymous

September 28, 2011

Goodness, an article that actually discusses both sides of an issue. Well done!

Avatar of: Matt Chew

Anonymous

September 28, 2011

Whether every article in a journal titled “Biological
Invasionsâ€쳌 (edited and thus necessarily defended by Simberloff) makes
management recommendations hardly matters because the title makes their context
perfectly understandable. 
Invasions are bad things. 
The title was not chosen for its ironic potential.  Founding editor James Carlton made that
clear in his 1999 inaugural editorial, making now familiar claims in now
familiar language: “As a result of instantaneous human-assisted transport,
species are abruptly faced with interacting with new species and new
environments with which they have had no evolutionary history. At least
partially as a result of this, a very large number of these invasions have
caused extraordinary environmental, social, and economic changes. The Earth is
now virtually itching with new invasions at, one might argue, an unprecedented
rate if taken in a global context.â€쳌

 

Kuebbing, Simberloff and Lockwood would have US believe THEY
believe that they are pursuing objectively framed research even though all of
their arguments for doing so invoke threats. The philosophical underpinnings of
invasion biology are and always have been based on the judgment that at some
point in history humans became unnatural, and threatened everything natural.  Before that point everything ecological,
evolutionary and biogeographical happened for the best; afterward everything
humans touched became tainted and disrupted by the association.  Such a position cannot be derived from
scientific findings, but attempts can be made to rationalize it in scientific language.

 

Furthermore, their arguments seem nostalgic and naive in
terms of both natural and human histories (a distinction notable only to
humans).  In the worldview they
seem to offer, pre-human co-evolution was a bucolic, local, cooperative
venture; the advent of humans instituted the apocalypse (a favorite trope of
Simberloff’s mentor E.O. Wilson). 
In that worldview maximizing beta diversity (in short, keeping different
places different) is treated as a self-evident primary planetary objective;
suppressing change detectable at any but geological timescales is another.  But that worldview is unenforceable on
the world.  It turns out that most
people want access to what most other people have.  Experience demonstrates that globalizing the human economy
globalizes the planetary ecology. It turns out that our transportation
technologies have been efficient at moving both ‘target’ and ‘non-target’
items.  Decoupling those
efficiencies is not a simple matter; neither is undoing centuries and even
millennia of commerce. 

 

The local (management) victories Kuebbing, Simberloff and Lockwood claim for invasion biology become meaningless in the context of global biotic redistribution because none entailed eliminating the processes that facilitated the advent in
question.  Rats remain practically
ubiquitous in ports and on ships; the unnoticed arrival of one pregnant female
can be enough to require a whole new eradication effort.  Pigs and other livestock have perennially accompanied
would-be settlers; even today, not all shipping traffic is scheduled and inspected.  In the real world blockades are always porous. 

Commerce entrains biota having no
interest in being moved and dumps them where they must sink or swim.  Such inadvertently abducted and
marooned organisms are individually at great disadvantage, and it has
long been a tenet of invasion biology’s heuristic “tens ruleâ€쳌 that the great
majority succumb.  A
relative few land in surroundings favorable to survival, and even establish
populations, but representing that as a success of any further kind (like
escaping familiar predators) and encouraging people to react to it as “invasionâ€쳌
such seems less than laudable.

 

If we attend to history, we see that every change in regional fortunes
leads to a realignment of trade, and trade realignment inspires new technologies
that entrain different organisms. 
It is that kind of world.  Little
short of worldwide economic collapse offers a prospect of shutting down the
redistribution process.  Some
populations of some species will certainly be considered pests as they find
themselves in conflict with human desires.  Some such pests will be controllable, even eliminable in
economically tolerable ways. 
Others won’t.  But lumping
all such phenomena under the rubric “invasionsâ€쳌 and forming environmentalist
militia movements in response leads us nowhere nearer to understanding,
controlling, avoiding or adapting to them.

Avatar of: Guest

Anonymous

September 28, 2011

Many species that are introduced into new geographical areas fit in benignly.  A few have been beneficial.

If we wished to turn the clock back too drastically in, say, North America we would have no livestock but turkeys.  Many plants were taken back to Europe and Asia from the U. S., and many of our food plants and ornamentals came here from there in the past few hundred years.

Indeed, some plants and animals have caused havoc in new areas.  But where does the false notion come from that all exotic species are deleterious?

Not meaning to be pessimistic, but the more geographical mobility humans have, the more exotic species get moved from place to place. 

Research on how to deal with it may be more practical than efforts to prevent it.  The former advances general discovery.  The latter is little more than a losing battle over the long haul.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 28, 2011

This is a well-written article.  I might add that extirpations of keystone species have a similar effect on ecosystems.  In the eastern United States, for example, we can never recover critical native habitats until we 1) bring back beavers in greater numbers, 2) bring back larger grazing animals like Bison (with their predators), and 3) bring back a substitute for the extinct Carolina Parakeet.  At the same time, land ownership in most areas is very chopped up, and wastelands dominated by invasives like Kudzu (and many others) are prevalent in open areas.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 28, 2011

Goodness, an article that actually discusses both sides of an issue. Well done!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 28, 2011

Whether every article in a journal titled “Biological
Invasionsâ€쳌 (edited and thus necessarily defended by Simberloff) makes
management recommendations hardly matters because the title makes their context
perfectly understandable. 
Invasions are bad things. 
The title was not chosen for its ironic potential.  Founding editor James Carlton made that
clear in his 1999 inaugural editorial, making now familiar claims in now
familiar language: “As a result of instantaneous human-assisted transport,
species are abruptly faced with interacting with new species and new
environments with which they have had no evolutionary history. At least
partially as a result of this, a very large number of these invasions have
caused extraordinary environmental, social, and economic changes. The Earth is
now virtually itching with new invasions at, one might argue, an unprecedented
rate if taken in a global context.â€쳌

 

Kuebbing, Simberloff and Lockwood would have US believe THEY
believe that they are pursuing objectively framed research even though all of
their arguments for doing so invoke threats. The philosophical underpinnings of
invasion biology are and always have been based on the judgment that at some
point in history humans became unnatural, and threatened everything natural.  Before that point everything ecological,
evolutionary and biogeographical happened for the best; afterward everything
humans touched became tainted and disrupted by the association.  Such a position cannot be derived from
scientific findings, but attempts can be made to rationalize it in scientific language.

 

Furthermore, their arguments seem nostalgic and naive in
terms of both natural and human histories (a distinction notable only to
humans).  In the worldview they
seem to offer, pre-human co-evolution was a bucolic, local, cooperative
venture; the advent of humans instituted the apocalypse (a favorite trope of
Simberloff’s mentor E.O. Wilson). 
In that worldview maximizing beta diversity (in short, keeping different
places different) is treated as a self-evident primary planetary objective;
suppressing change detectable at any but geological timescales is another.  But that worldview is unenforceable on
the world.  It turns out that most
people want access to what most other people have.  Experience demonstrates that globalizing the human economy
globalizes the planetary ecology. It turns out that our transportation
technologies have been efficient at moving both ‘target’ and ‘non-target’
items.  Decoupling those
efficiencies is not a simple matter; neither is undoing centuries and even
millennia of commerce. 

 

The local (management) victories Kuebbing, Simberloff and Lockwood claim for invasion biology become meaningless in the context of global biotic redistribution because none entailed eliminating the processes that facilitated the advent in
question.  Rats remain practically
ubiquitous in ports and on ships; the unnoticed arrival of one pregnant female
can be enough to require a whole new eradication effort.  Pigs and other livestock have perennially accompanied
would-be settlers; even today, not all shipping traffic is scheduled and inspected.  In the real world blockades are always porous. 

Commerce entrains biota having no
interest in being moved and dumps them where they must sink or swim.  Such inadvertently abducted and
marooned organisms are individually at great disadvantage, and it has
long been a tenet of invasion biology’s heuristic “tens ruleâ€쳌 that the great
majority succumb.  A
relative few land in surroundings favorable to survival, and even establish
populations, but representing that as a success of any further kind (like
escaping familiar predators) and encouraging people to react to it as “invasionâ€쳌
such seems less than laudable.

 

If we attend to history, we see that every change in regional fortunes
leads to a realignment of trade, and trade realignment inspires new technologies
that entrain different organisms. 
It is that kind of world.  Little
short of worldwide economic collapse offers a prospect of shutting down the
redistribution process.  Some
populations of some species will certainly be considered pests as they find
themselves in conflict with human desires.  Some such pests will be controllable, even eliminable in
economically tolerable ways. 
Others won’t.  But lumping
all such phenomena under the rubric “invasionsâ€쳌 and forming environmentalist
militia movements in response leads us nowhere nearer to understanding,
controlling, avoiding or adapting to them.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 28, 2011

Many species that are introduced into new geographical areas fit in benignly.  A few have been beneficial.

If we wished to turn the clock back too drastically in, say, North America we would have no livestock but turkeys.  Many plants were taken back to Europe and Asia from the U. S., and many of our food plants and ornamentals came here from there in the past few hundred years.

Indeed, some plants and animals have caused havoc in new areas.  But where does the false notion come from that all exotic species are deleterious?

Not meaning to be pessimistic, but the more geographical mobility humans have, the more exotic species get moved from place to place. 

Research on how to deal with it may be more practical than efforts to prevent it.  The former advances general discovery.  The latter is little more than a losing battle over the long haul.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 28, 2011

This is a well-written article.  I might add that extirpations of keystone species have a similar effect on ecosystems.  In the eastern United States, for example, we can never recover critical native habitats until we 1) bring back beavers in greater numbers, 2) bring back larger grazing animals like Bison (with their predators), and 3) bring back a substitute for the extinct Carolina Parakeet.  At the same time, land ownership in most areas is very chopped up, and wastelands dominated by invasives like Kudzu (and many others) are prevalent in open areas.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 28, 2011

Goodness, an article that actually discusses both sides of an issue. Well done!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 28, 2011

Whether every article in a journal titled “Biological
Invasionsâ€쳌 (edited and thus necessarily defended by Simberloff) makes
management recommendations hardly matters because the title makes their context
perfectly understandable. 
Invasions are bad things. 
The title was not chosen for its ironic potential.  Founding editor James Carlton made that
clear in his 1999 inaugural editorial, making now familiar claims in now
familiar language: “As a result of instantaneous human-assisted transport,
species are abruptly faced with interacting with new species and new
environments with which they have had no evolutionary history. At least
partially as a result of this, a very large number of these invasions have
caused extraordinary environmental, social, and economic changes. The Earth is
now virtually itching with new invasions at, one might argue, an unprecedented
rate if taken in a global context.â€쳌

 

Kuebbing, Simberloff and Lockwood would have US believe THEY
believe that they are pursuing objectively framed research even though all of
their arguments for doing so invoke threats. The philosophical underpinnings of
invasion biology are and always have been based on the judgment that at some
point in history humans became unnatural, and threatened everything natural.  Before that point everything ecological,
evolutionary and biogeographical happened for the best; afterward everything
humans touched became tainted and disrupted by the association.  Such a position cannot be derived from
scientific findings, but attempts can be made to rationalize it in scientific language.

 

Furthermore, their arguments seem nostalgic and naive in
terms of both natural and human histories (a distinction notable only to
humans).  In the worldview they
seem to offer, pre-human co-evolution was a bucolic, local, cooperative
venture; the advent of humans instituted the apocalypse (a favorite trope of
Simberloff’s mentor E.O. Wilson). 
In that worldview maximizing beta diversity (in short, keeping different
places different) is treated as a self-evident primary planetary objective;
suppressing change detectable at any but geological timescales is another.  But that worldview is unenforceable on
the world.  It turns out that most
people want access to what most other people have.  Experience demonstrates that globalizing the human economy
globalizes the planetary ecology. It turns out that our transportation
technologies have been efficient at moving both ‘target’ and ‘non-target’
items.  Decoupling those
efficiencies is not a simple matter; neither is undoing centuries and even
millennia of commerce. 

 

The local (management) victories Kuebbing, Simberloff and Lockwood claim for invasion biology become meaningless in the context of global biotic redistribution because none entailed eliminating the processes that facilitated the advent in
question.  Rats remain practically
ubiquitous in ports and on ships; the unnoticed arrival of one pregnant female
can be enough to require a whole new eradication effort.  Pigs and other livestock have perennially accompanied
would-be settlers; even today, not all shipping traffic is scheduled and inspected.  In the real world blockades are always porous. 

Commerce entrains biota having no
interest in being moved and dumps them where they must sink or swim.  Such inadvertently abducted and
marooned organisms are individually at great disadvantage, and it has
long been a tenet of invasion biology’s heuristic “tens ruleâ€쳌 that the great
majority succumb.  A
relative few land in surroundings favorable to survival, and even establish
populations, but representing that as a success of any further kind (like
escaping familiar predators) and encouraging people to react to it as “invasionâ€쳌
such seems less than laudable.

 

If we attend to history, we see that every change in regional fortunes
leads to a realignment of trade, and trade realignment inspires new technologies
that entrain different organisms. 
It is that kind of world.  Little
short of worldwide economic collapse offers a prospect of shutting down the
redistribution process.  Some
populations of some species will certainly be considered pests as they find
themselves in conflict with human desires.  Some such pests will be controllable, even eliminable in
economically tolerable ways. 
Others won’t.  But lumping
all such phenomena under the rubric “invasionsâ€쳌 and forming environmentalist
militia movements in response leads us nowhere nearer to understanding,
controlling, avoiding or adapting to them.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 28, 2011

Many species that are introduced into new geographical areas fit in benignly.  A few have been beneficial.

If we wished to turn the clock back too drastically in, say, North America we would have no livestock but turkeys.  Many plants were taken back to Europe and Asia from the U. S., and many of our food plants and ornamentals came here from there in the past few hundred years.

Indeed, some plants and animals have caused havoc in new areas.  But where does the false notion come from that all exotic species are deleterious?

Not meaning to be pessimistic, but the more geographical mobility humans have, the more exotic species get moved from place to place. 

Research on how to deal with it may be more practical than efforts to prevent it.  The former advances general discovery.  The latter is little more than a losing battle over the long haul.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 29, 2011

Considering that non-native species can create such havoc, what does that say about geneticall modified organisms.  GMOs are essentially brand new species that have no "evolutionary history" at all.  Some amount of non-native species movement has always occured naturally (snowy egrets were blown into Florida by a hurricane for example)

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 29, 2011

My opinion of “invasion biologyâ€쳌 is based on personal experience and direct observation of native plant “restorationsâ€쳌 in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Millions of non-native trees are being destroyed, urban parks have been sprayed with gallons of toxic herbicides, recreational use has been restricted to paved paths behind fenced pens where native plant museums are infested with hardy weeds.  There is no doubt that these “restorationsâ€쳌 have done more harm than good and the results have been barren, weedy messes. 
Unless “invasion biologyâ€쳌 is capable of making the necessary distinction between harmful “invasionsâ€쳌 and natural succession resulting from changed climate, soil, air quality, etc., these costly, pointless efforts must stop.  Children are hungry, the educational system—such as it is—is being gutted, and it’s time for nature to fend for itself.  (No, I’m not a Republican.)
Please visit the Million Trees blog to see photographs of these destructive, restrictive, and fruitless attempts to turn back the biological clock:  http://milliontrees.wordpress.....

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 29, 2011

The attitude expressed by (user moniker) Dr. Bones, is a common one -- namely, that evolution is a matter of, and only of, raw happenstance.  The human species has consciously intervened upon the realm of raw happenstance for as far back as we can trace human behavior.  And acknowledging this blatantly obvious fact is to recognize and accept a far, far broader reality than mere animal and plant husbandry.  Unless we were to exclude humans from being a part of biota. the very migration of humans into virtually all geographical areas has been an introduction of a "foreign" species to a new locale, at SOME time or other.

Humans not only cope (enhance our survivability, or exploit everything around us, depending upon what philosophical school you select) knowingly and intelligently.  We also carry around us, individually and collectively in groups of various sorts, a veritable sphere of life/death/mutual benefit/mutual destruction.  That is, we sometimes wittingly and sometimes unwittingly cause some species to thrive and other species to suffer or go extinct.  We engage in behavior which, as often as not, rewards us in the short term and assures us problems in the longer term.  (We tend to interpret immediate gratification or increased sustenance as being indistinguishable from long term folly.)

But to condemn ALL examples of the human tendency to trial and error as running counter to allowing evolution to follow a purely random course is to picture humans as having just now arrived on Earth from some other planet or multiverse or plain of emergence having heretofore no impact upon evolution.

The only reason we humans have not until now meddled with biology more intrusively than we have is only because we have not until now known as much as we now do.

This process is not going to stop.  And evolution absent mankind's probing and experimenting and engaging in virtually every imaginable way in tampering with the Earth is naive. 

We do not have the power to totally "perfect" evolution any more than we have the power to totally terminate it upon chancing to terminate our own species.

It would by myopic of us to avoid projecting certain human behavior, and seeing that trend line point to some very troubling developments ahead.  For example, some naively argue that Malthus was mistaken in thinking humans will every over-populate Earth.  Trend lines in the disappearance of species, unless disrupted, point to a future with few large mammals, to a food supply that must find some other way than agriculture to keep up.

And that brings me to the point of saying:  If we DO  NOT  tamper with biological specimens and find some better way of growing meat and veggies in ever smaller spaces, under an increasingly hostile (to current ecological biota forms) ecology, we are headed for a very crowded and miserably hungry future.

No philosophy here.  Just projecting current trends... 

 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 29, 2011

Considering that non-native species can create such havoc, what does that say about geneticall modified organisms.  GMOs are essentially brand new species that have no "evolutionary history" at all.  Some amount of non-native species movement has always occured naturally (snowy egrets were blown into Florida by a hurricane for example)

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 29, 2011

My opinion of “invasion biologyâ€쳌 is based on personal experience and direct observation of native plant “restorationsâ€쳌 in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Millions of non-native trees are being destroyed, urban parks have been sprayed with gallons of toxic herbicides, recreational use has been restricted to paved paths behind fenced pens where native plant museums are infested with hardy weeds.  There is no doubt that these “restorationsâ€쳌 have done more harm than good and the results have been barren, weedy messes. 
Unless “invasion biologyâ€쳌 is capable of making the necessary distinction between harmful “invasionsâ€쳌 and natural succession resulting from changed climate, soil, air quality, etc., these costly, pointless efforts must stop.  Children are hungry, the educational system—such as it is—is being gutted, and it’s time for nature to fend for itself.  (No, I’m not a Republican.)
Please visit the Million Trees blog to see photographs of these destructive, restrictive, and fruitless attempts to turn back the biological clock:  http://milliontrees.wordpress.....

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 29, 2011

The attitude expressed by (user moniker) Dr. Bones, is a common one -- namely, that evolution is a matter of, and only of, raw happenstance.  The human species has consciously intervened upon the realm of raw happenstance for as far back as we can trace human behavior.  And acknowledging this blatantly obvious fact is to recognize and accept a far, far broader reality than mere animal and plant husbandry.  Unless we were to exclude humans from being a part of biota. the very migration of humans into virtually all geographical areas has been an introduction of a "foreign" species to a new locale, at SOME time or other.

Humans not only cope (enhance our survivability, or exploit everything around us, depending upon what philosophical school you select) knowingly and intelligently.  We also carry around us, individually and collectively in groups of various sorts, a veritable sphere of life/death/mutual benefit/mutual destruction.  That is, we sometimes wittingly and sometimes unwittingly cause some species to thrive and other species to suffer or go extinct.  We engage in behavior which, as often as not, rewards us in the short term and assures us problems in the longer term.  (We tend to interpret immediate gratification or increased sustenance as being indistinguishable from long term folly.)

But to condemn ALL examples of the human tendency to trial and error as running counter to allowing evolution to follow a purely random course is to picture humans as having just now arrived on Earth from some other planet or multiverse or plain of emergence having heretofore no impact upon evolution.

The only reason we humans have not until now meddled with biology more intrusively than we have is only because we have not until now known as much as we now do.

This process is not going to stop.  And evolution absent mankind's probing and experimenting and engaging in virtually every imaginable way in tampering with the Earth is naive. 

We do not have the power to totally "perfect" evolution any more than we have the power to totally terminate it upon chancing to terminate our own species.

It would by myopic of us to avoid projecting certain human behavior, and seeing that trend line point to some very troubling developments ahead.  For example, some naively argue that Malthus was mistaken in thinking humans will every over-populate Earth.  Trend lines in the disappearance of species, unless disrupted, point to a future with few large mammals, to a food supply that must find some other way than agriculture to keep up.

And that brings me to the point of saying:  If we DO  NOT  tamper with biological specimens and find some better way of growing meat and veggies in ever smaller spaces, under an increasingly hostile (to current ecological biota forms) ecology, we are headed for a very crowded and miserably hungry future.

No philosophy here.  Just projecting current trends... 

 

Avatar of: Dr. Bones

Anonymous

September 29, 2011

Considering that non-native species can create such havoc, what does that say about geneticall modified organisms.  GMOs are essentially brand new species that have no "evolutionary history" at all.  Some amount of non-native species movement has always occured naturally (snowy egrets were blown into Florida by a hurricane for example)

Avatar of: Million_Trees

Million_Trees

Posts: 2

September 29, 2011

My opinion of “invasion biologyâ€쳌 is based on personal experience and direct observation of native plant “restorationsâ€쳌 in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Millions of non-native trees are being destroyed, urban parks have been sprayed with gallons of toxic herbicides, recreational use has been restricted to paved paths behind fenced pens where native plant museums are infested with hardy weeds.  There is no doubt that these “restorationsâ€쳌 have done more harm than good and the results have been barren, weedy messes. 
Unless “invasion biologyâ€쳌 is capable of making the necessary distinction between harmful “invasionsâ€쳌 and natural succession resulting from changed climate, soil, air quality, etc., these costly, pointless efforts must stop.  Children are hungry, the educational system—such as it is—is being gutted, and it’s time for nature to fend for itself.  (No, I’m not a Republican.)
Please visit the Million Trees blog to see photographs of these destructive, restrictive, and fruitless attempts to turn back the biological clock:  http://milliontrees.wordpress.....

Avatar of: Guest

Anonymous

September 29, 2011

The attitude expressed by (user moniker) Dr. Bones, is a common one -- namely, that evolution is a matter of, and only of, raw happenstance.  The human species has consciously intervened upon the realm of raw happenstance for as far back as we can trace human behavior.  And acknowledging this blatantly obvious fact is to recognize and accept a far, far broader reality than mere animal and plant husbandry.  Unless we were to exclude humans from being a part of biota. the very migration of humans into virtually all geographical areas has been an introduction of a "foreign" species to a new locale, at SOME time or other.

Humans not only cope (enhance our survivability, or exploit everything around us, depending upon what philosophical school you select) knowingly and intelligently.  We also carry around us, individually and collectively in groups of various sorts, a veritable sphere of life/death/mutual benefit/mutual destruction.  That is, we sometimes wittingly and sometimes unwittingly cause some species to thrive and other species to suffer or go extinct.  We engage in behavior which, as often as not, rewards us in the short term and assures us problems in the longer term.  (We tend to interpret immediate gratification or increased sustenance as being indistinguishable from long term folly.)

But to condemn ALL examples of the human tendency to trial and error as running counter to allowing evolution to follow a purely random course is to picture humans as having just now arrived on Earth from some other planet or multiverse or plain of emergence having heretofore no impact upon evolution.

The only reason we humans have not until now meddled with biology more intrusively than we have is only because we have not until now known as much as we now do.

This process is not going to stop.  And evolution absent mankind's probing and experimenting and engaging in virtually every imaginable way in tampering with the Earth is naive. 

We do not have the power to totally "perfect" evolution any more than we have the power to totally terminate it upon chancing to terminate our own species.

It would by myopic of us to avoid projecting certain human behavior, and seeing that trend line point to some very troubling developments ahead.  For example, some naively argue that Malthus was mistaken in thinking humans will every over-populate Earth.  Trend lines in the disappearance of species, unless disrupted, point to a future with few large mammals, to a food supply that must find some other way than agriculture to keep up.

And that brings me to the point of saying:  If we DO  NOT  tamper with biological specimens and find some better way of growing meat and veggies in ever smaller spaces, under an increasingly hostile (to current ecological biota forms) ecology, we are headed for a very crowded and miserably hungry future.

No philosophy here.  Just projecting current trends... 

 

Avatar of: Bill

Anonymous

September 30, 2011

It would seem that the more effective we are at enforcing geographic isolation, the more we increase the vulnerability of the indigenous species should our efforts ever fail. Very similar to the earlier misguided efforts to completely prevent forest fires.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 30, 2011

It would seem that the more effective we are at enforcing geographic isolation, the more we increase the vulnerability of the indigenous species should our efforts ever fail. Very similar to the earlier misguided efforts to completely prevent forest fires.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 30, 2011

It would seem that the more effective we are at enforcing geographic isolation, the more we increase the vulnerability of the indigenous species should our efforts ever fail. Very similar to the earlier misguided efforts to completely prevent forest fires.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 1, 2011

"The Earth is not naive"

The "naive" feedback of
the earth is unknown for the moment and the "perfect" being, the man,
shall harmonize (act in rapport with the earth feedback impulse) the speed and
the direction of the evolution so that creation did not react to decelerate. It
is like training.

The man shall reach the power to "perfect"
evolution but not earlier of understanding the "perfect" creation.

The majority of the Genetically
Modified Organisms (including in vitro made man) are inappropriate and the
Earth reacts.

Do not forget the best training
management book: "Every plant which my father in heaven did not plant will
be pulled up." (Matthew 15.13)

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 1, 2011

"The Earth is not naive"

The "naive" feedback of
the earth is unknown for the moment and the "perfect" being, the man,
shall harmonize (act in rapport with the earth feedback impulse) the speed and
the direction of the evolution so that creation did not react to decelerate. It
is like training.

The man shall reach the power to "perfect"
evolution but not earlier of understanding the "perfect" creation.

The majority of the Genetically
Modified Organisms (including in vitro made man) are inappropriate and the
Earth reacts.

Do not forget the best training
management book: "Every plant which my father in heaven did not plant will
be pulled up." (Matthew 15.13)

Avatar of: Alexandru Boris Cosciug

Anonymous

October 1, 2011

"The Earth is not naive"

The "naive" feedback of
the earth is unknown for the moment and the "perfect" being, the man,
shall harmonize (act in rapport with the earth feedback impulse) the speed and
the direction of the evolution so that creation did not react to decelerate. It
is like training.

The man shall reach the power to "perfect"
evolution but not earlier of understanding the "perfect" creation.

The majority of the Genetically
Modified Organisms (including in vitro made man) are inappropriate and the
Earth reacts.

Do not forget the best training
management book: "Every plant which my father in heaven did not plant will
be pulled up." (Matthew 15.13)

Avatar of: Brenda Guhl

Brenda Guhl

Posts: 5

October 5, 2011

Chew and Carroll's essay is too anthropocentric in its view of ecosystems, while at the same time ignoring that there are other anthropocentric points of view on this question:

http://bioblog.biotunes.org/bi...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 5, 2011

Chew and Carroll's essay is too anthropocentric in its view of ecosystems, while at the same time ignoring that there are other anthropocentric points of view on this question:

http://bioblog.biotunes.org/bi...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 5, 2011

Chew and Carroll's essay is too anthropocentric in its view of ecosystems, while at the same time ignoring that there are other anthropocentric points of view on this question:

http://bioblog.biotunes.org/bi...

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