My Latest Musings – 5 October 2014

Hello To All Of My Loyal Readers:

On alternate weeks, I share the URLs to some articles by others that I have found interesting. Here is a list of some recent articles that I’ve read.

For each posting I offer one of many Nature videos created by Mike Foster. Mike is a talented videographer who has produced many very informative Nature videos about the San Pedro River in Southeastern Arizona and places in Mexico.

Mike did a series of videos on the reintroduction of beavers to the San Pedro River which captured my deep interest. I’m listing those videos in this issue of musings.

After a 100 year absence from the San Pedro River of Southeastern Arizona the American Beaver is reintroduced. This video explores the history of the area and how pioneer, mining, military and ranching activities lead to the demise of the beaver presence in the San Pedro River. A thorough investigation of the benefits of the beaver to a riparian area ultimately lead to the reintroduction of the beaver in the late 20th century. Lots of excellent footage of beaver dams, dens and habitat. This video is packed with information on social structure, diet and habits of the American Beaver.

This second video emphasizes the benefits realized by the reintroduction of the American Beaver to the San Pedro River of Southern Arizona as a keystone species for the improvement of the environment and quality of life for other animals. The video considers the reintroduction of elk and moose in the states of Colorado and New Mexico and how these animals benefit from the presence of the beaver in those areas. Beaver diet and lodges are compared and contrasted in the three states. Video features exceptional footage of many animals and landscapes of the Southwest.

Here is Mike’s really cute and very short video of beaver love.

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Perhaps some of you are followers of the eminent ecological thinker, E.O.Wilson. I know I am. Recently, the ecological press has been featuring some of Wilson’s latest thinking. I want to share this with you. Much of which I’ve presented below is paraphrased from the latest press releases.

The question is: “Can the World Really Set Aside Half of the Planet for Wildlife?”

E.O. Wilson has an audacious vision for saving Earth from a cataclysmic extinction event.

“Islandisation” can have a disastrous impact on wildlife, according to Dr Wilson, whose theory of island biogeography is regarded as the authoritative explanation for why confined landscapes inevitably lose species.

Small areas can become islands, and without ‘bridges’  to connect them to similar habitats, species are more likely to become extinct. This is partly because wildlife need to draw from a broad gene pool to avoid the “genetic anomalies” that become more likely when breeding with relatives.

Furthermore, island populations are disproportionately vulnerable to disease, over hunting or catastrophic events like floods or fires and linking habitats together provides a life-line by helping the movement of species and their genes, scientists say.

Dr Wilson’s career has earned him huge credibility. But observers say he will have his work cut out translating his vision into anything approaching reality.

Speaking in 2012, following the publication of The Social Conquest of Earth, Wilson told Smithsonian Magazine that he believes: 

mankind can change from “conquerors to stewards in terms of protection of the planet“.

He said: “It’s been in my mind for years, that people haven’t been thinking big enough—even conservationists. Half Earth is the goal, but it’s how we get there, and whether we can come up with a system of wild landscapes we can hang onto.

I see a chain of uninterrupted corridors forming, with twists and turns, some of them opening up to become wide enough to accommodate national biodiversity parks, a new kind of park that won’t let species vanish.”

“We have the intellectual and moral capacity to do it, but I’ve also felt very strongly that we needed a much better understanding of who we are and where we came from. We need answers to those questions in order to get our bearings toward a successful long-term future, that means a future for ourselves, our species and for the rest of life,” he said.

“In writing ‘A Social Conquest of Earth’, I very much had in mind that need for self-understanding, and I thought we were very far short, and we remain very far short, of self-understanding. We have a kind of resistance toward honest self-understanding as a species and I think that resistance is due in part to our genetic history. And now, can we overcome it? I think so.”

The two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist called his theory ‘Half Earth‘, and said by withdrawing from half of the planet, humans could help prevent the “biological holocaust” we are currently heading for.

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My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.

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