Monday, April 9, 2018

Who has the right & authority to Name Nature ??? (& What's up with Species?)

Anybody else have a Love/Hate Relationship with Taxonomy and Taxonomists ??? 😒
To answer this question in the Post's title, People Do! 😉
Image - Psychology Today
No really, it's true. People have that right. Well, just suppose half the people believe what is said at Genesis 2:19-20 where Man is given the assignment of naming the animals, birds, seas creatures, etc. Then of course there is the present day secular gang who adamantly insists there is no God and deem it their responsibility not only to name, but classify Nature. And voila, we now actually have two opposing ideologically driven sides who are surprisingly on the same page with something. Who woulda thunk it ? 😲 Yeah I know, but like I've always said, both sides are the mirror image of each other. Much to the irritation of the Sciencey gang of course. 😉 Giving common names to living things can run into the hundreds of names on a single organism alone, given all the various languages, cultures, ethnicities and historical civilizations over centuries, etc. One of the strategies that was supposed to simplify things and fix the confusion so that identity of a specific living organism could be universally assured worldwide was to provide scientific names in Latin. Okay that made sense, as long as all peoples agree. But I've found long ago that not even that works. Which brings me to some other puzzling terms & labels in english like, "species," "sub-species," "speciation," "breeds," "races," "cultivators," "hybrids," etc, etc, etc. Different terms, but ultimately in each instance still require all the same mechanisms for which provide changes. How many of you know that there can be upwards of 16 different definitions for the word "species" and that there is no universally accepted answer among scientists and other researchers ??? How many knew there are such things as different species of molecules, chemicals, etc ??? How many of you knew that there is no universally accepted idea on what accounts for "speciation" (which refers to the formation of new and distinct species in the course of evolution) ??? Take a long hard look at our natural world going down hill and you'll soon realize that science clearly does NOT know everything about Nature as they promote themselves as the only authorized keepers of knowledge & truth. I'll provide more examples of more things that bug on this subject down below.

Image - Amazon
But first, Biologist Carol Kaesuk Yoon, who wrote the book, "Naming Nature," which delved into the historical tensions between evolutionary biology and taxonomy. Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) was the Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist, who formalised the modern system of naming organisms called binomial nomenclature. But even Linnaeus struggled in the eighteenth century to define this sciencey word/term "Species" in light of living things tendency to change (mutate) over time while still relying on the usual imperfect human gut felt intuitiveness & common materialistic propensity with making purely visual judgments by mere outward appearances. Later as taxonomy modernized by moving into the laboratories, the results appeared counterintuitive to humanity’s innate predisposition for order in the world. In otherwords things became more muddled and fuzzier than previously thought. But by conceding scientific authority to taxonomists, Dr Yoon then argued, that mankind contributes to their own alienation from nature. No surprise here since the average human being has been indoctrinated into allowing the credentialed (politics, religion, business, scientists, etc) to do all their intellectual thinking, research and personal study for them and accept blindly whatever makes their own personal worldview feel good.

People are no longer interested in going outdoors. It's as if they've been possessed by some alien force, we'll call technology and social media. Who needs a real life when you can have a virtual life with 100s of make believe friends. If they want to see Nature then they Tech companies invented Pinterest, Google Plus, Facebook, etc. They can look at all those pretty doctored up photographs with no titles or description. I'm just not that way, I've got to find out things for myself and verify that they are true. I can't just take some narrator's (David Attenborough, Robert Redford, etc) word or ideological take on the subject. Take my biggest pet peeve here on plant classification manipulation.
What the heck is up with all these Plant Name changes ? 😕
Image - Pacific Horticulture

My number one interest is how we've come by the names given to plants (& how we classify them), since plants are the biggest influence regarding my love and passion for nature. Over the past few years there has been some major upheavals in the scientific name change department. This photo above of a California shrub from my home town is known commonly as Deerweed (Acmispon glaber), but it was formerly known as (Lotus scoparius). Other reclassifications have taken place. Cupressus stephensonii, the species known as Cuyamaca Cypress, which is endemic to the Southern California county I come from, San Diego, has also been reclassified as Hesperocyparis stephensonii. And the list of reclassifying is endless. Rather than rant on this subject anymore, here is an article in Pacific Horticulture: "Why Plant Names Change" which provides a fascinating account on why there have been so many changes. The interesting thing is that it just begs more questions. Take a look at a few of these questions below from a Nursery industry business perspective when it comes to things being labeled accurately that would be of great interest to the home gardener, professional landscaper, and commercial farmer.
The Future of the Taxonomy of Cultivated Plants
"In agriculture and horticulture, at least 80% of taxonomic problems are related to the cultivar. In particular, questions such as (a) “Am I really dealing with a new cultivar?” (b) “To which species does a cultivar belong?” (c) “How can I recognize a cultivar phenotypically, especially if it is a hybrid?” and (d) “Does the cultivar-group system always work?” continually impact on the work of those dealing with the classification and naming of cultivated plant material."
Okay, those are common sense logical questions anyone would ask. Now in this same link above and just below the the abstract which I've partially quoted here above, the article also brings up yet another term to further muddle an already challenging task of separating things into scientific ordered categories and that was the subheading title here:
Cultonomy ??? Yes, Cultonomy focuses more on the classification of cultivated plants or 'cultivators' using only few classification categories. Still, what we really are discussing here are varieties of the same "kind" *cough-cough* "species" of wild parent plant and the various well known vegetable varieties we all know and love from the grocery store. Even though we would never come close to guessing that the varieties listed below all come from the same single cursed invasive parent Mustard plant many gardeners, landscapers, conservationists curse, we should still be amazed at the great "variety" that has resulted from a single plant. The other thing that should impress is the massive amount of informational content within the this wild Mustard plant's DNA for which the epigenetic mechanisms play a major role in accessing Apps, Files, Programs, etc (formerly known as Junk DNA) by turning on or off switches in genes allowing a certain gene or combination of genes to be expressed in various specific ways. 

Whaaaaat ??? You mean all those veggies come from one common ancestral plant we call wild mustard ? Yup it's true! So how is all this possible ? Well, apparently, about 2500 years ago, Brassica oleracea was solely a wild plant that grew along the coast of Britain, France, and other countries around  the Mediterranean. That wild form which still exists today as do other familiar ones known as wild mustard which looks like the one here in the photo to the right and is also a well known weed to most Western Home Gardeners. Yup, this plant has taken over many parts of the southwestern United States on slopes which were once chaparral and especially coastal sage-scrub covered. But what's interesting is that the change within this plant are itself incredibly fascinating. And more incredible are the mechanisms within the genetics (epigenetics) which allow such changes to occur. These changes occur whether dumb luck by changed environmental cues which created the changes or whether they were intelligently directed by humans. Which leads us to more questions. If intelligent humans can purposefully direct and choose for changes in plants and we label to result as a "cultivator" or "variety," how come we don't label (bare with me here) them different species, brees or races ? Why not call different humans "cultivators" (since two intelligent people can make an intelligent choice to have children) or maybe "breeds" like we do with animals ? So we can call we humans collectively a "species," but would different races be "sub-species" ??? Amazing how nonsensical things can become when you layout in the open ? 

You see, nobody here is arguing there is no change out there in Nature, but rather what exactly are the mechanisms for change and why do we humans label things the way we do. I mean is it really dumb luck or rather incredibly amazing complex responses within an organism's genetic makeup to outside environmental cues, purposed or otherwise which result in these changes ??? And why do these changes created by the same mechanisms really constitute all these different labels like a "Species" ??? "Sub-Species" ??? New "Breed" ??? New "Variety" ??? New "Cultivator" ??? Or ????????? 😕 A while back in 2016, there was an article in National Geographic about the change of feather colour in a bird known as Northern Flickers. It was noticed that some yellow Northern Flickers were sporting feathers which were mysteriously changing to a reddish-orange plumage and the theory was that the western Red-Shafted Northern Flickers were mating with the eastern Yellow-Shafted Northern Flickers creating the orange variety. But both these birds live so far apart from one another. So how did this change happen without such cross breeding ??? It was discovered that in some areas the yellow variety of Northern Flickers were eating the red berries of an introduced non-native invasive Honeysuckle. Whatever was in the pigment (rhodoxanthin) within the berries of the Honeysuckle, it had an effect on the colouration of the plumage. It's kind of like when a person eats or drinks too much carrot juice and their skin can turns a bit yellow orange, otherwise known as Carotenosis. 😲 Still, no one has yet placed a new species label on such an effect. At least I've not yet heard of an Orange Flicker species label. But the Northern Flicker story is fascinating and illustrates part  of what makes or causes changes to occur. Here is what Matt Chew, Research Professor of Arizona State University, commented on to the Auduban Society about the term they used, "invasive" (Matt hates this term with a passion).
"The basic finding here is that flickers that eat honeysuckle berries transport rhodoxanthin to their feathers, and ornithologists finally figured that out. Ockham's razor should have been applied to this morphological problem long ago, and at last a simple, obvious solution was recognized. But it's embedded here in a pretty thick matrix of nativist ideology." (Source - Auduban)
Matt Chew referred to William of Ockham (Ockham's Razor) who taught that entities should not be multiplied without necessity. Seriously, dumb luck is said to always be King in creating change. The Science textbooks have always told us that changes over long deep time through random unplanned purposeless mutations (copying errors) coupled with Natural Selection (A label invented for an idea that says randomly generated variation, would be poorly designed (i.e., hindering reproduction capability) and wouldn't get propagated) are what give us different successful species. Except of course when it doesn't work that way. There are numerous well known evolutionary icons out there which are said to illustrate speciation. Darwin's Finches, Stickleback Fishes, Ciclid Fishes, Blind Cave Fish, Peppered Moths (now we have peppered snakes), etc. On the subject here of the Peppered Moths, the classic story goes like this. The peppered moths went from being mostly light-colored to being mostly dark-colored during the industrialization of 19th-century Manchester, England. The phenomena was called “industrial melanism,” and they attributed this to natural selection. The theory went,  that dark-colored moths were supposedly better camouflaged on coal soot polluted-darkened tree trunks and this is what likely helped them to survive predatory birds who couldn't see them. But then later after air quality improved because of clean air legislation in the mid-20th century, the lighter-colored moths became more common again. We are told this is how new species develop. I once had conversation with guy who insisted this is how speciation works. You couldn't convince this guy otherwise. I gave him an illustration of an Earth populated with human beings, half the population being white people and the other half black people. I said what if something caused all the white population of people to be killed off and totally eliminated, this does not mean that suddenly all the black population become a new species. They're still human. Like water off a duck's back folks. And you will still find this story in most all of the biology textbooks teaching this icon of Darwinian evolution. 
Images - Eawag/David Marques

Here's another example above with these three-spine sticklebacks which were introduced to Lake Constance in Switzerland around 150 years ago (a blink of an eye in evolutionary terms). Since then, the fish have apparently begun splitting into two separate types: one that lives in the main lake (pictured above left, female top, male in breeding colours below), and the other that lives in the streams that flow into it (above right). So I guess if the environmental field changes, as in the case of Stickleback fishes, Darwin's Finches, Peppered Moths, Blind Cavefish, etc, all which seemingly changed overnight when the environmental changes occured dramatically, it just question begs why would it occur 10,000 times faster within one or two generations on certain occasions when we were told it took 1000s or millions of years for the lucky development to happen in the first place ??? For example there have been experiments which have shown blind cavefish acquired functional eyes and eyesight in one generation of cross breeding with other different cave fish. They've now discovered that the loss of eyes in fish living in dark Mexican caves was not due to genetic (copying error) mutations, but rather due to genetic regulation or what we call epigenetics. Specifically, methylation of key development genes which originally repressed the eye expression, but which the later experiments revealed could be reversed to express once again the eyesight program. So to bring things up to a level of nonsense again for illustrative purposes, why don't we call blind humans another species ??? I know I know. Matt Chew also hit on another interesting point:

"Importantly, no one has ever justified calling plants "invasive" by any scientific method. That's because it isn't a scientific claim. Although widely endorsed and regularly deployed, it is an egregious metaphor, intended to incite negative sentiment. It is a powerful figure of speech, being used to indoctrinate, not educate. Codified into laws and regulations, it supports a significant chemical biocide industry."
Yup, sure enough, the term "invasive" being used here is a human construct and implimentation of the term really only helps to serve certain specific industrial science business interests for killing an unwanted evil invader. (plant, animal, bird, fish, whatever) 😒 So the manufacture of and use of terms can be used to manipulate meaning and justify a religious belief, polictical strategy, environmental agenda, etc. But now what about these Northern Flickers ???

Image - Michael S. Quinton, National Geographic Creative
Two uniquely different birds, same "kind" or "species" of the Northern Flicker. The one above is northern yellow-shafted flicker with normal coloration flying out of its nesting hole. The red-shafted northern flicker below lives in western North America, far from where the new strangely red-orange northern yellow-shafted flickers live. So for the yellow-shafted northern flicker, “you are what you eat” has proven freakishly true. They ate red berries and pigment changed feather colouration. Same could be said of identical human twins separated at birth. Both live and grow up under radically different environments and although both have identical DNA, the outward appearance & changes can be dramatic. See and watch the video:
How does Epigenetics work ??? 
Image - Michael S. Quinton, National Geographic Creative
The Religious Icon Known as Tree of Life

Illustration -

You may remember from your school science textbooks that iconic Tree of Life proposed by scientists to explain the origin of every living thing ? Classification and labeling within this tree was supposed to hold so much promise in our understanding of life, where it all came from and how it all works. Except that something happened along the way in how we now understand things. With the field of genetics getting past that facricated roadblock called Junk DNA, we've discovered multiple amazing things about the way the genomes of life work and operate and it has dashed many old long cherished scientific myths. For example this iconic Tree of Life no longer looks like a tree, but rather a messy tangle of a black widow spider's web. Now there is more confusion rather than clarity and those begging questions that come along with it. Once again, Matt Chew exposes some uncomfortable flaws with word semantics.

"Words matter. Invasion is a coordinated, purposeful activity. It isn't just a way of expressing how we feel about something showing up where we didn't expect it. To demonstrate that honeysuckle is invading, we need to show that honeysuckle knows where it is, knows there is somewhere else to be, knows how to get there, and intends — as a species, mind you — to take and occupy territory that it does not presently control. Not an easy array of tasks."
Good point on the real meaning of this word/term invasive within the context of blaming an organism for planning, scheming, knowingly intending to accomplish something selfishly evil as any sentient being would do. Unfortunately for the promoters, plants are not sentient beings. To utter such words could actually be considered heretical to Darwinian thinking. But getting back what Matt Chew said about using words/terms being utulized for one's personal agendas:
"a powerful figure of speech, being used to indoctrinate, not educate. Codified into laws and regulations."
It's Matt's words here which inspired me to write about a subject of terminology being used in Science for promoting political, religious or business agendas. A website I sometimes follow, but only rarely comment on is A NEW CENTURY OF FOREST PLANNING. The site for me holds some mild interest with regards to forest management and ecosystem health. Generally there is some interesting discussion on practical management of National Forests which includes a wide array of uses by the public for recreation and commercial usages. The site is often used as a platform of debate between two competing ideologies with opposite worldviews, mostly between a handful of the same regular characters. One side championing Timber Industry business interests and the other Environmental Industry business interests. A post was introduced back on March 1st 2018 by the site's Admin, Sharon, who brought up some outstanding points on what exactly qualifies as a unique species. The subject was about Extinction on the National Forests. If anyone is familiar with the Environmental Movement's tactics on how they go about getting what they want, you'll understand they first need to locate and find a specific subject (animal, bird, amphibian, reptile, plants, etc) to champion and save from extinction. This is where the fuzziness and muddled nature of the definition shell game (word semantics) with regards Species comes into play. In the New Century article on extinction about species in National Forests, an example was provided on a rare "species" *cough-cough* "variety" or "sub-species" of the San Gabriel Mountains Blue butterfly (Plebejus saepiolus aureolus) and this lawsuit was going forward to punish and hold accountible the US Forest Service who apparently allowed this critter to go extinct. Or so we are led to believe. The accusasions came from none other than the Center for Biological Diversity. This professional environmental business organization is known for it's talent in a gaming strategy called, "Sue & Settle." Nobody plays it better than they do.

Greenish Blue Plebejus saepiolus (Boisduval, 1852)

This isn't to minimize the importance of conserving and saving unique animals or plants on Earth, but rather when something is said to go extinct, is it really extinct given the information we now have on genetics or is this just a ploy ? Have these environmental folks actually searched every square hectare of land area to see if it may reside elsewhere ??? Take this butterfly example. What made it distinct from all other butterflies of this same species ??? Was it's unique differences something similar to the dietary changes in the Northern Flicker ??? Or was it some other environmental anomaly which actually made it break off from other butterflies of it's "kind" - "family" - "species" - whatever ??? Interestingly it was never proven or actually listed as a species, but at best seemed to be a "sub-species." An article came out last month (March 2018) in the online journal, Daily Mail, which provided a number of bullet points on this present species crisis and the sixth extinction. It wasn't exactly helpful in enlightening the public about how science defines species. And it was extremely mysterious in informing the public how they arrived at their conclusions. Again, just more murkiness. Here are a few relevant bullet points on the subject of species as they used the term in the article. 

  • "Two species of vertebrate, animals with a backbone, have gone extinct each year"
My Thoughts: The definitions of what exactly constitutes the process of speciation is a mess and lacks clarity in my view. Matt Chew's reference to the deliberate use of the term "invasive" as being politically useful is the same here regarding species going "extinct." In this case, environmental groups will use specific terms which are especially useful for fundraising more money from followers or their political allies who have access to government coffers. But if we apply the above bullet point to the discussion at Forest Policy Planning site, who gets to decide that life forms like the San Gabriel Mountains Blue butterfly (Plebejus saepiolus aureolus) was a species and it went extinct ??? We don't have clarity on what species really means and in the case of this butterfly, it was wasn't exactly classified as a separate species, but at best a sub-species. So when the Center for Biological Diversity says that they have “gone extinct,” how do they know that these butterflies did not simply mingle in with the larger population of the same kind of butterfly somewhere else where they may have hybridized and later separated ??? I’m not trying to make light or fun of the situation here, but just what exactly we are talking about when it comes to species ??? Who'd like to read a fun Butterfly naming species story ??? 

Florida Museum photo by Kristen Grace

In the above photograph,Tom Emmel displays the set of Cyllopsis tomemmeli that he collected as a 17-year-old in 1959, but suddenly today almost 60 years later it is given a name as a new species. But is it really a new species or variety of the same kind of organism ?? Who knows, but the article is interesting and should create more questions about how we arrive at conclusions:
FloridaMuseum: New butterfly species discovered nearly 60 years after it was first collected
  • "There are an estimated 8.7 million plant and animal species on our planet"
My Thoughts: How exactly did they arrive at all these numbers and stats, especially before today's genome mapping tools came out ??? And if these genome mapping tools were used, what were the cutoffs used for determining a new species ??? How exactly are they made & determined ??? Are they applied specifically or broadly across the board ??? It's a lot like reading other science articles with all these deep time dates dealing with millions or billions of years. Mainly we have to take it on faith that the researchers know what they are doing for no other reasons than because they are said to be credentialed.
  • "About 86% of land species and 91% of sea species remain undiscovered"
My Thoughts: How do they know what has or hasn't been discovered and that these percentages are correct ??? I can't do that, so how can they do that ??? I mean these numbers are so specific, but what really is the underlying foundation for them ??? The real percentage numbers could be higher or lower, but how would they even know ??? This reminds me of another dubious science discipline, Astrobiology, and something I read in an online site about extraterrestrial life being out there somewhere in the universe.
“We know there are exterrestrial aliens out there, we just haven’t found evidence for them yet”
If you want to read more of this, here is the link to the DailyMail Online sixth extinction article (HERE). Oh and one final bullet point from the article about this mystical future event alluded to about the coming Sixth Extinction. 
  • "Earth is enduring the sixth mass species extinction which is plunging the planet into 'global crisis', scientists have warned."
My Thoughts: Today, Science has become the head of a modern day doomsday cult. They fingerpoint at the rest of humanity for the present climate change and never once accept or attribute blame to themselves for leading mankind down this path through their own inept scientific understanding and technology built on such ignorance. Traditionally in the past, we've all known of these various oddball religious groups who were often labeled as Doomsday Cults. But now appears the present secular belief system has caught up and have created their own version of a modern day academic Doomsday group think. You cannot read anything these days without this incessant love affair with the celebrated Sixth Extinction. I'm not minimizing the dire downward trend of the planet's ecological health. But I have no need of a scientific paper to tell or inform me that things are changing out in Nature everywhere across the globe for the worse. Take note below of an area of Switzerland, where Trachycarpus fortunei (Chinese Fan Palm) is spreading on the southern side of the Alps in moist forests and building self-sustaining populations.

Image - Vinvent Fehr
Here is a video from the photographer of this photo above
Trachycarpus fortunei (Chinese fan palm) spreading in southern Ticino
There's really nothing more here to explain about the ongoing continual mass confussion of life classification on the part of the Scientifically credentialed. One day proper classification of all living things will come about, but not at the hands of the present Scientific Orthodoxy. I believe scientists have only barely scratched the surface about the informational content of DNA and the infathomable future potential possibility for providing further future change which can give mankind interesting observations for all eternity. I believe that most of the past extinct creatures are in a sense probably still with us today in one form or another. My last post on the extinction of Megafauna well illustrates that many are still with us. Remember the extinct Giant Ground Sloths, well we still have Sloths that exist today, just not giant ones. Remember those Mammoths and Mastodons ??? Yes, these are also gone, but remember scientists have found that the frozen fossil DNA is actually the same almost identical DNA that still exists in today's African & Asian Elephant populations and that at one time they all interbred with one another. If future environmental conditions improve and go back to what they were when Earth was heavily vegetation from Pole to Pole, then the possibility of their gradual return could be a reality. Who knows. Of course we'll need another type of major climate shift. What about Dinosaurs ??? Remember Juarassic Park's sick Triceratops ??? Did it strike anyone else as to the uncanny similarity in it's skin, legs and feet, face, etc to present day Rhinos ??? While many have proposed Rhinos come from a type of Triceratops, I'm going way out on a "Just So Story" limb here and propose that Triceratops actually came from Rhinos. Is it really all that far fetched ??? I know, the Triceratops looks so much more elaborate and complex in it's development. But so does Cauliflower, Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, Kale and Kohlrabi when you compare them to their unremarkable lowly weed parent plant the wild mustard (Brassica oleracea). Maybe like the exotic more spectacular looking cultivators, the various Triceratops were also the dead end hybrids of Rhinos. Pay close attention to this spellbinding talk in the video below, as paleontologist Jack Horner tells us the story of how iconoclastic thinking revealed a shocking secret about some of our most beloved dinosaurs.

So it turns out many of these different fossil dinosaur species, weren't new species after all, but were mere adolescence of the adults. Go figure! 😊 See how easy it is to create a just so narrative ??? Like Jack Horner said, Scientists love to name things. He also said Scientists have egos. Let's face it, there's a lot of fame, glitter and glory out there to be acquired if one get's their name up in lights for a new discovery. Also, future funding and notoriety are great motivation drivers to taxonomic exuberance. Believe it or not, most Evolutionary Bologists admire and follow Rudyard Kipling's lead in this "Just So Storytelling" tactic all the time, so I would encourage you to please read the Wiki article link below on Mr Kipling's Just So Stories children's book. Be careful who you're donating your hard earned money to folks. Species ??? 😏


"Just So Stories" by Rudyard Kipling

No need for any references, you've got enough to chew on, think about, meditate and ponder on for a while 😉
“Sure, you can name a tree, categorize it, safely identify it. But that tree exists, living the fullness of its quiet life, even if in its long history no man ever stood before it and labeled it "Pine." It knows itself already and mysteriously encounters the sun each day, nameless.” Ivan M Granger (poet)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Move over Birds, Bears disperse Berries & other Seeds as well

Think birds are the primary dispersers of seeds? Think again. OSU researchers in Alaska found another animal that might disperse more seeds.
Pixabay / MGN
New research recently released by Oregon State University shows bears in southeast Alaska may be the best contributor for spreading berry seeds. Researchers used motion activated cameras set up in a study area about 30 miles north of Haines. 
“We checked the cameras and the status of the berry clusters approximately once per week.” quote from the study
Image taken on December 26, 2017 by Santee Lakes

Cedar Waxwings eating Toyon Berries @ Santee Lakes

Image by Danilo Carradori - (Fairy Wren)
We all know that birds consume tonnes of seeds, nuts & berries, etc and disperse these seeds to other locations by means of their poop. Just check any fence lines in the rurals or even in urban neighbourhoods of any city and you'll find out just what birds are fond of eating. For me as a landscaper it was annoying to see Brazilian Pepper tree seedling emerging from the bottom of chainlink fence borders. They are a nightmare to control if allowed to grow. Others who live in rangelands whose business is cattle may curse Junipers for spreading across their grasslands, but even here again it's the birds who are at fault. Maybe Cattleman should find economic ways to profit from the Juniper's presence, than blaming them for the invasion in their home territory. It's a common misconception to say that birds are the primary resource for naturally spreading seeds. There is an Oregon State University study that says it’s bears can ddo this through their scat (poop). I'd say both critters do this, but the bear factor is interesting. The Scientists concluded that’s largely in part due to the fact that brown and black bears could consume an estimated 300-400 berries in a single bite of a devil’s club cluster. Hopefully one day somebody renames beautiful things found in Nature which incorporate these otherwise vulgar words/terms "devil," "hell," etc. It's clear that there are a number of ways that seeds from plants in nature become dispersed. Another recent report from Cornell University stated that even Snakes act as 'ecosystem engineers' in seed dispersal. Well, that's what they said 😲 See, the idea is that snakes eat rodents like rats, mice, gophers, etc. These little critters eat seed and often store them in their cheek pouches and if a snake comes along and eats them, then the seeds are eventually released by means of snake poop. Whatever 😏 Anyway it's interesting and a little scary too when you consider the way humans have "reverse engineered" (Oops, recently got in trouble from someone for not using another science-based religious metaphor, "evolutionary degeneration") our planet Earth. It's like slowly dismantling an automobile to see how many parts and components you can remove before the vehicle is incapable of functioning anymore. How's that for this world's settled science? 😒

Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
“In search of the nutrition in devil’s club fruit, we estimate that a single bear can consume over 100,000 devil’s club berries per hour of continuous foraging, and brown and black bears can collectively disperse an incredible 200,000 seeds.”quote from the study
Image by
The Oregon State researcher's data also showed black bears were more likely to eat berries late in the season when Grizzly Bears were trading in the berries for salmon. 😅
Got Kids ? Teach them about Nature 😸

Here's the full article on the interesting study:
The primacy of bears as seed dispersers in salmon-bearing ecosystems 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Southern California: Breathtaking Natural Wonders that will one day Disappear

My Postcard World

In the old days back in the 1950s, animated post cards for travelers were everywhere like this California Natural Wonders postcard. I've always loved the map card's artwork and this one of California is really kool with all the little animated cartoony characters. This map card shows all the different natural wonders throughout California, like the giant redwoods, Death Valley and of course Yosemite National Park, just to name a few. California was always promoted and advertised as a land of wonders and rightly so. But I want to focuss on Southern California and many of the wonders which are now either gone or will be going soon. Did you know that Southern California boast one of the largest Lodgepole Pines ?

Photograph - Bryant Olsen - June 19, 2010 - prefab log cabin kit
Most of us when we think of the lodgepole Pines, we may think of those dense woodlands in the northern reaches like Yellowstone where 80% of forest there is Lodgepole pine. We may also think of where their name comes from because these were used by the Native Americans there who did use them for lodgepoles for the typical Indian Teepee. The density of a Lodgepole Pine forest is such that because of the phenotypic plasticity scenario they often are associated with, competition is so incredibly extreme that all these trees can do is grow up as opposed to out. Hence we get a pole that is so perfect, that many prefab log cabin kit companies use the Lodgepole Pine for this very purpose.

Photograph - Jim Peaco - Yellowstone Sept 1998

Another name for a Lodgepole Pine forest is a Matchstick Forest. Not only because they actually do look like a book of matchsticks, but they are also known to go up in an explosion of fierce forest fire like matchsticks when ignited. Whenever the subject of wildfire comes up together with Lodgepole Pine, you almost always get an associated headline that reads, "Fire Adapted Forests & Fire Ecology." Fire Ecologists are passionate bunch when it comes to wildfire, so much so that they sometimes seem to almost worship fire as the only means for saving a plant community. This doesn't mean that fire cannot be used for good. Because it most certainly can. I know because I've used it on my own  land. But the question is, "Is fire really all that necessary in every and all circumstance and with what frequency ?" Opinions and beliefs among fire ecologists vary. Some say the necessary interval between wildfires should be 30-50 years, other say 70-130 years. Trust me there is no real united consensus among them. How often do you hear or read about them bickering amongst themselves for position as to each one's expertise in the public eye through various journals ? Now take a look at this megafauna dude below known as a Mastadon. He was mainly a browser. Can you imagine what effect he had on keeping forests and chaparral bush habitats open and airy ??? Or what about the giant ground sloth ???

No matter who you wish to believe or follow, almost none of them will acknowledge the benefits of grazing and browsing animals as a means of healthy ecosystem maintenance. Megafauna are almost never mentioned as part of the term "Natural" for no other reason than they no longer exist. Yet we often hear the term, "Pristine Wilderness." This term most generally means untouched pre-European white man landscape. But this also most often gives the impression that the Native American is somehow considered as having a sub-human status. Like a sort of animistic conservation force guiding nature. Indeed, the Native Americans are much revered and worshipped by fire ecologists and even environmental groups because of this ongoing romantacized myth that these people were the ultimate ecological land stewards. When we listen to their public lectures or read their articles in journals, the conversation almost always comes from the standpoint of the methods used by the Indians as land stewards. What has always bothered me is that I know for a fact that the Native Americans were and still are equal to all other human beings. They are prone to mistakes as everyone else. So are we to believe they only lit fires for conservation purposes ? What about mistakes with fire like lighting fires during a Santa Ana wind event to cook supper or deliberate acts of war utilizing fire against other hated enemy tribes ? The list is endless, but apparently if they made stupid mistakes, are we then to believe this too is a part of natural because they were natives??? Now consider this item below.
Champion Lodgepole Pine in San Bernardino National Forest
"Champion Lodgepole Pine"

image -
Wow, now that's not exactly what one thinks of when the image of a Lodgepole Pine comes to mind. The world "Champion Lodgepole Pine" (discovered in 1963) is a magnificent, double-topped tree that towers above the surrounding forest reaching a height of roughly 110 feet. It's age is estimated to be older than 450 years, which means that it germinated about the year 1560 CE. You really have to stand back at a distance to get the full view from across the meadow up there in the San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear. The trail getting there features a wet meadow and other mature conifers including this largest recorded Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) in California! But some puzzling questions come up about the fire ecology dogma we are force fed about what is "natural" & "normal" when it comes to fire ecology. Take a look at those low hanging branches on this massive Lodgepole in the photo taken by Walter Feller above. Are we to believe that no fire blew through here and used those low hanging branches as a fire ladder at any time in it's 450+ years of life from 1650 onward ??? Clearly when this tree was young, the dense branches would have been from the ground up for a 100+ years anyway, with time and age naturally pruning off lower branches eventually. But still, these other giant dead limbs are almost touching the ground, how did all those fires miss this tree ??? There has been some remarkable work done on fire history and it doesn't really jive with all the blind faith dogma we've been fed. Back in February 2017 of this year, the Smithsonian Magazine printed an article about research done which stated that 84% of wildfires in North America were human caused. Interestingly, on the west coast of the United States the percentage is actually 90%. Here's the article below:
SmithsonianMag: Study Shows 84% of Wildfires Caused by Humans
Now back this past September, ScienceMag, did an interview with one of the researchers of that original study, Jennifer Balch, a wildfire ecologist at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Surprisingly, California itself is up around 90% higher than nationwide average of human caused wildfires:
"Nationwide, humans are responsible for starting 84% of wildfires, according to a paper co-authored by Balch, published this past March in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In California, the eastern United States, and the coastal Northwest, people are behind more than 90% of wildfires."
Now here is a breakdown on highest reasons in order of highest stupidy just why many wildfires come about:
"So the breakdown: Of the approximately 1.5 million wildfires in the government record, 25% were burning of trash and debris; about a quarter (22%) were unknown human causes. The next biggest category is arson, [then] heavy equipment, campfires, children, and smokers. Those are the seven biggest categories.  Fireworks didn't rank in the very top for the whole year, but it does pop on July 4th. It’s the day with the most fires. Over 7000 events started on July 4th alone. They were predominantly started by fireworks. It's unfortunate that our Independence Day didn't fall in January or December when it's cooler and wetter.
So now we have to assume that out of all these wildfires, natural wildfire only accounts for a mere 10% which might translate to lightning storms (rarely volcanoes). Most of these occur within the middle of the country along either side of the Rocky Mountains all the way west to the Pacific Ocean. That 10% is still not a lot of wildfire if we want to label something natural in the forest maintenance department. When researchers study wildfire and proclaim it's hallowed importance to mantaining a healthy vegetative ecosystems, rarely do any of them ever account for the historical presence of large animal herds (herbivores like deer, elk, antelope, etc) and possibly even still farther back, the one time extistence of the herbivore megafauna presence which would have kept forests and chaparral bush habitats with well pruned understories.

But it was when Native Americans (also real human beings) finally arrived on the scene, that they then would introduce their reasons for utilizing wildfire, like running buffalo (bison and/or other megafauna) off cliffs and gradually putting pressure on slow moving megafauna species towards extinction through hunting, then yes everything did change. But some are still clinging to this Indian Burn dogma as natural phenomena for no other reason than ideologically driven religious dogma and politics. I'll move on and put other references at the bottom of this post. The final point here is that environmental components and other natural mechanisms now have changed for the worse and unfortunately this Champion Lodgepole tree's good fortune for avoiding catastrophe has run out. No doubt the end is nearer than we think for this tree also. If a catastrophic forest wildfire doesn't take the Lodgepole Pine tree, then perhaps it'll succumb to another fate like that of the last ancient Ponderosa Pine tree in Idyllwild California earlier this year 2017 which finally died and was professionally removed.

Image from
I wrote about this very tree in 2013. In all my searching while I lived up there this was the biggest Ponderosa Pine in all of Idyllwild and before that early logging in the area, such large trees were very common. But here is the last final documentation I am aware of. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. 😞
Saturday in Idyllwild viewing it's most gigantic Ponderosa Pine
Image is mine from 2013 - Idyllwild California
One sad thing for sure we can count on is that this mega-drought is not over and this despite many eco-groups & government officials proclaiming the drought over and all is well, offering proof through photo posting on social media sites of a record year of wildflower abundance. And most bought into that. Scott McLean, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal-Fire said this in June 2017:
“Everybody’s excited about the drought being over but all that moisture enhances the grass crop. It’s denser and higher, and it catches fire very easily."
Yes and the 2017 wildfire season turned out to be another record year of destruction. But lo & behold we are hearing again the drought was not over as propagandized last year. The death of trees will now only escalate. Previous news reports had estimated that 100 million trees in California had died thus far as a result of the 4 or 5 year mega-drought, but now a new report has that firgure at 129 million trees. As a news report just today stated, the warmer temps, lack of rain and snow are allowing more bark beetles to survive, when the normal cold should be killing and reducing their numbers. But that's not happening right now.
"Unseasonably warm and dry winter giving Bark Beetles in the Sierra a second lease on life" ABC30 Action News

More Bad News for another natural icon, Torrey Pines 😬
Photo: Scott Davenport/Flickr/Creative Commons (2013)
Major decline in Torrey Pines & SoCal Forests in general
Sad to imagine decline and general death in Torrey Pines, but it's true. The top photo is a favourite viewpoint for 1000s of photographers, both professional and amateur. Take note of the beautiful iconic scene in the top photo from 2013. Below is a photo of this same geological location as it exists today. Notice the dead trees ? Many blamed drought, but oddly enough down the road at Torrey Pines Country Club and Golf Resort, 66 trees planted many decades ago in association with massive networks of golf course green lawns are dead as well. This is a strange anomaly because the golf course setting creates a wetter climate scenario which is the extreme opposite of the State Reserve circumstance just to the north. Thus far no one is really taking note of the difference.

Broken Hill Sunrise by Phillip Colla (2015)

Other examples are just plain devastation of natural areas by wildfire. In San Diego County, the 2003 Cedar Fire almost completely obliterated the entire Cuyamaca Stat Park. For those who don't know this region in the San Diego Mountains, it was like the Yosemite of Southern California with numerous square miles of no development, just raw unbridled wild old growth forest. It's all gone now and numerous generations after generations will never see Cuyamaca's old growth splender with the exception of old photographs. Go ahead and google it for yourself. Mankind is debating back and forth about whether or not humans are the cause of climate change. No one now disputes climate change is upon us, but rather the argument appears to be who or what is at fault for the climate change. Presently, the Scientific Orthodoxy is fingerpointing at the whole of mankind as fault for climate. Oddly enough there is an element of truth to that.

This Lemming animation above is well known. The animals themselves have often been the subject of overpopulation and mass suicide myths. Interestingly back in 1951, there was a science-fiction piece published entitled, "The_Marching_Morons" which depicted an over-populated planet run by a handful of Elites who viewed the rest of humanity as nothing more than unintellectual morons (compared to themselves) who needed to be controlled. You see, the morons over-populated (prolithic at having babies) Earth as compared to the intellectual elites who didn't procreate as much. Sound familiar ??? Sounds like much of the scientific environmental talking points from scientists who blame global climate change on everyone else but themselves. The sad reality fact is that mankind only follows the bad leadership it has been given. People have been conditioned and trained that way from birth. Secular Science has truly further created a mainly materialist minded human being who only wants more and more THINGS (TOYS) like the wealthy among them have. Mind you, this same materialism infects the conventionally religious among mankind who also have been material minded for many centuries as opposed to anything spiritual. And science for the past 150 years has oblidged their hunger for materialism with their technologically advanced products. Unfortunately these products and other wares demand raw materials taken from Earth's dwindling easy to get natural resources and science has oblidged there as well by providing more efficient technologically advanced destructive means by which these raw materals could be extracted. In so doing they have reverse engineered vast ecosystems across the globe, much of which provide weather and climate controls, clean water filtration and food production by incredibly complex and sophisticated mechanisms for countless 1000s of years which other more responsible parts of science are now only beginning to understand. Yes the average poor slob human beings are viewed as those moron Lemmings and Big Consensus Settled Science represents the Elitists who now attempt to run things and fingerpoint at everyone else as the problem. Really guys ??? 😔😕

I'll add more examples as I have time, but clearly many many more major natural attractions in California will continue to be in decline, despite so-called proclamations from environmental groups that all is well.

Other References on Reason for Decline
What's the real connection between Droughts & Wildfires ?
Burn Baby Burn - Fire Ecologist Celebrate Fire Season

Saturday, January 27, 2018

California Fan Palm Updates

Like most all living things today, the Oasis of Mara in 29 Palms is fighting for it's life on Earth
"The Oasis of Mara was first settled by the Serrano and provided them with food, clothes, tools and housing. In one legend told about the oasis, the Serrano were instructed by a medicine man to plant a palm tree each time a boy was born. In the first year, they planted 29 palm trees at the oasis."
Hi-Desert Star: "Oasis of Mara fights for life"

Hi-Desert Star - June 2017
There is no argument that in this 2017 photo above, these lovely California Fan Palms are struggling to stay alive. The being narative being spun on this is that the desert oasis ecosystem here in 29 Palms is a casualty of the bigger ongoing megadrought which has been effecting all of California over the past five years. What I find odd however is that deserts by definition compared to other ecosystems are generally all about drought in the sense that deserts always experiencee less rainfall, general lack of humidy and lots of heat. So what is drought to most ecosystems is life to deserts. Despite the record rainfall from the last rainy season (winter of 2016/17), the drought pattern is far from over. Most environmental groups proclaimed all was still well in Nature to their followers by posting wildflower images taken on outdoor Springtime field trips on social networks in an attempt to smokescreen the real dire nature of our times. Fact, all is not well and the leadership in these organizations know that. Clearly so far this season, those promised normal rainfall patterns are once again a no show and the weather experts have explained that the negative high pressure pattern over the Pacific is still stationary and stronger than ever. But there is something even more worrying here than declining fan palm trees as you can see in this photo below.

Comelia Botha - April 2015 (AllTrails)
"The mesquite trees in the oasis area are also declining," says Neil Frakes - Vegetation Branch Chief - National Parks
This is definitely even more odd. The native desert Mesquite Trees are in decline at this same Oasis ? 😲 Mesquite, Acacia, Palo Verde and Ironwood are some of the toughest desert trees I know when it comes to survival in the harshest of desert climate conditions. They can take any amount of intense heat the summer sun can throw at them as long as they have available water supply. And normally they do as you can see in the illustration on the right hand side of the page here. Once mature, many mesquite trees have an extremely extensive long deep tap root system which grows down 150' to 200' where many water tables can be tapped into. This allows most mesquite no real need for any available surface water which is usually dependent on rainfall. As long as Mesquite is tapped into an underground aquifer, there should be no problem. But these mesquite in the photograph above are clearly struggling and they are having a tough time in a geologic scenario where for perhaps 1000s of years this desert artesian spring has existed. This oasis is located at the end of the Pinto Mountain fault. Many earthquake faults are natural conduits for moving water where it collects and is moved towards the surface. But this sudden lack of water in an artesian spring on a fault such as Mara Oasis is troubling. Clearly one could understand shallower rooted plants like the California Fan Palms and then Cottonwoods having a rough go of things if the surface water table dropped significantly, but dropping so far down that mesquite start to die off ??? Below is a map of the earthquake faults in and around Joshua Tree National Monument.

National Park Service
Take note of the pinpointed spot located at the entrance of Joshua Tree National Park where the Oasis of Mara is located at the end of the Pinto Mountain Faultline. Below is a definition of just what constitutes an actual artesian spring as opposed to other types of springs or seeps from the US Geological Survey site.
"A spring is the result of an aquifer being filled to the point that the water overflows onto the land surface. There are different kinds of springs and they may be classified according to the geologic formation from which they obtain their water, such as limestone springs or lava-rock springs; or according to the amount of water they discharge-large or small; or according to the temperature of the water-hot, warm, or cold; or by the forces causing the spring-gravity or artesian flow."  (Source: USGS)
Wow 😲😠
Photo credit: Steve Raines - Firefighters on scene during the Oasis of Mara fire. 
ATTENTION UPDATE (March 27, 2018)
 Looks like the Oasis of Mara is now totally gone thru an arson set fire last night (26th). One of the more annoying things is all photos of the Oasis are older photos when it was still vibrant and healthy, no reality of it's poor almost dead condition as of recently. Much the same with the decline of Torrey Pines in San Diego.
 ABC News: Fire at Joshua Tree damages California landmark
Daniel Mayer - July 2009 (Wikimedia Commons)
This photograph above was taken in 2009 and can be found on Wikimedia. What a contrast when we compare this 2009 photograph to the one at the beginning from the Hi-Desert Star's article from June 30, 2017. There was one comment at the bottom of the Hi-Desert Star article which however well meaning, would never be a viable solution to correcting anything at the Oasis.
"I've lived in 29 Palms since the early 1960s and this is by far the worst the Oasis has looked in that time period. Something needs to be done to save what's left. The mesquite needs to be cut way back for starters because it's stealing water from other plants that need it more, like the Palms and the lone Cottonwood. After all, these palms in the Oasis are our namesake."
(Hi-Desert Star's comment section) 

The Mesquite at the Oasis are not the bad guys here. But this is common with many people who by nature will demonize one favoured plant over another less loved plant. I clearly do understand the emotion behind the commenter's feelings about the idea of removing the mesquite to save the much beloved and rarer palm as compared to plants from the pea family, but the mesquite are generally more helpful than harmful. In previous posts I've provided this animated illustration above showing the incredible natural hydrological phenomena mesquite are known for. This natural phenomena is known as, Hydrailic Lift and Redistribution. The Mesquite tree is quite often an excellent important nurse tree for other desert plants like young Saguaros cacti. Likewise so are Palo Verde and other desert trees. They can tap into a permanent water source and lift that deep water to the surface re-hydrating their own lateral rootsystem, thereafter feeding it into the mycorrhizal fungal network grid which may be connected to other plants like the California Fan Palms and/or Fremont Cottonwoods. This phenomena is especially strongest at night. So cutting down the mesquite would offer no value, since the mesquite themselves are clearly struggling and in decline. This would not be so if the water table within the fault were at normal levels. It could be that a lack of rainfall and snow up in the San Bernardino Mountains to the west have not been capable of recharging the Pinto Mountain Fault aquifer because of the mega-drought. But I'm not sure. Or it may also be another natural anomaly which sometimes changes hydrological conduits caused by some major earthquakes which have been known to close off and completely shut down age old artesian Springs, forcing their waters to resurface elsewhere. This actually happened historically with the town of St David Arizona south of Benson where artesian springs and ponds began to appear where they never were previously. However in other townsite areas further south like Charleston and Fairbanks where springs and lush grazing lands once existed in the old west cattle ranching days, they actually began to dry up and disappear after an earthquake. Here is the link below to this event and it's a good read. Mind you, I'm not certain if that happened near 29 Palms, but it's one posibility given the historical seismic activity of Yucca Valley which is aligned with the infamous San Andreas fault.

Tombstone Times: "The Day the Earth Shook in 1887"
How an 1887 Earthquake change a high desert environment into a lush riparian paradise - St. David, Arizona

Other California Fan Palm Updates
“Pygmy Grove” - Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Well in other News, there appear to be a number of people with agendas insisting that the Washingtonia filifera is a non-native invasive brought here from Mexico and planted in numerous brand new locations throughout the Southwestern USA by Native Americans and therefore not Natural. This is a switch since numerous environmentalist groups have often considered the Native American as type of early primitive sub-human animal which was an integral part of North American ecosystems. But as I've stated before, the idea of an "Ecological Indian" is nothing more than a myth. They always were/are real human beings equal to all other cultures and races on Earth. The ONLY real difference between themselves and the white European settlers when they first came to North America was nothing more than differences in education and technology. I don't really wish to focus on this controversy which is mostly time wasting. But apparently there is another ideologue out there, James W. Cornett, an ecological consultant with the city of Palm Springs, who is convinced that the California Fan Palm is actually an invasive, brought here originally from Mexico by native indigenous peoples from the ancient past. While acknowledging they can be spread by animals like birds and coyotes, etc, he blames Native Americans (real people/humans) as the foremost cause for the Fan Palm's presence. Clearly many Natives Americans did farm, plants small gardens and field crops, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that they did spread the Fan Palms to new locations as they did with Elderberry and Prickly Pear Cactus. But we live in times of controversy in the botany world. There's a plethora of individuals out there right now attempting to rewrite classsification history of all manner of plants. Here is his story anyway:

Photo courtesy Elayne Sears
"Did Native Americans introduce Fan Palms to California?"
This is certainly not the first time he has promoted this same line of reasoning since he has done so as far back as back in 1991. Apparently, James W. Cornett  published this same Washingtonia filifera is invasive nonsense in the San Bernardino county Museum Association Quarterly Volume 38 Number 2, summer 1991. But there is another person out there who is dedicated to the saving of the Moapa Palms Oasis, Spencer Winton, who has written numerous articles about justification for the palms long ancient history. He's researched thoroughly and even interviewed the grand parents and great grand parents of many of the Native Americans to this area who have explained the palms were always a major part of life in this area. You can judge for yourself. Here Spencer provides a rebuttal to Cornett's 1991 invasive narative. "The Desert Fan Palm-- Evidence Supports Relict Status"
Another player in the proposed Fan Palm removal has not only been the Government, but also the Southern Nevada Water Authority who has stepped in pushing it's own water rights agenda by using the saving of a native fish, Moapa Dace, strategy for which the Palm Trees are said to be partially the blame for the fish's decline. Here are some pertinent quotes:
"Tensions are running high in the Warm Springs area 60 miles north of Las Vegas, where the Southern Nevada Water Authority bought up land to protect a rare fish but has endangered relations with the locals in the process. 
  Lately, it’s the sound of chain saws that has residents buzzing. Over the past year, workers have cut down some 900 wild palm trees on the fenced, 1,200-acre tract the authority bought in 2007 and now operates as the Warm Springs Natural Area." 
"Before the Southern Nevada Water Authority took a lead role in protecting the endangered Moapa dace, the regional agency was widely considered one of the biggest threats to its survival.  
For decades, the authority has pushed a plan to tap billions of gallons of groundwater across rural Nevada. One of the links in that pipeline network is Coyote Springs Valley, just west of the palm-lined springs and streams at the upper end of the Moapa Valley.  
Authority officials became chief defenders of the finger-length fish under a 2006 federal agreement that also cleared them to pump water at Coyote Springs."
Southern Nevada Water Authority thins palms, upsets Warm Springs residents
By Henry Brean - Las Vegas Review Journal

So 900 Washingtonia filifera or California Fan Palms were cut down and the happy biologists can now snorkle to count how many Moapa Dace actually exist as seen in the photo above where palm stumps are the only visible remnants of the Fan Palm's former existence. It's the same old story, to obtain success with one's favoured agenda, justify it by claiming you just want to save something else. This happens all the time, especially regarding forestry and housing development arguments. Environmental groups do this all the time championing the life of something when something entirely different is on their mind. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't care about saving endangered organisms, we should. But you really have to put those who make claims to be outraged about an endangered creature into perspective when often times their goal is this just another "Sue and Settle" money making scheme to fill their coffers. 

Moapa Oasis & Natural Area, Nevada
Image - Stan Shebs - May 2006

Intro to The Basis for the Current Official Listing of Washingtonia filifera in Moapa Warm Springs Nevada as a 'Non-native' Species - and the evidence which contradicts it

Anyway all these updates make for some interesting reading about California Fan Palm beyond the brief landscaping descriptions referenced in a Sunset Western Garden book. It is interesting that the native Desert California Fan Palm is on the increase in desert areas of Coachella and Imperial Valley and not necessarily by people, but by means of critters. The Mexican Fan Palm on the other hand is out of control, spreading and invading riparian habitats on the western side of the Mountains near the Pacific coast. Here are some other posts I've written regarding California Fan Palms and finally the invasive Mexican Fan Palm.

Getting to the Root of why Natives rule & Exotics struggle or outright fail
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) growth explosion with Mycorrhizal Fungi
"Day of the Triffids" or "Monolith Monsters" ? (Mexican Fan Palm - Washingtonia robusta)
The Fan Palm Oasis in Mum's Front Yard

Photo mine in 2015 (El Cajon, California)
Both Mexican & California Fan Palms, Screwbean Mesquite, Mexican Bird of Paradise Bush, Baja Fairyduster, Laurel Sumac, and Engelmann Oak.