World's Collective Scientific Genius: "Incapable of Identifying Weather Mechanisms Through the Cloud Forest" !!!
|image: David C. Catling (2013)|
An acquaintance from the Google+ gang, Jean-Baptiste Pichancourt, posted a link on his BioCultural Landscapes & Seascapes (BCLS) group page to an article from Yale Environment 360, with the title, "On a Remote Island, Lessons In How Ecosystems Function". The opening caption read like this:
"Transformed by British sailors in the 19th century, Ascension Island in the South Atlantic has a unique tropical forest consisting almost entirely of alien species. Scientists say that what has happened there challenges some basic assumptions about ecosystems and evolution."Anytime or the next time you read words and phrases in any type of science journal or paper like, "challenges some basic assumptions", think of something ideologically driven and/or motivated and a paradigm dogmatically defended. It just doesn't get anymore religious than that despite insistence to the contrary. I would actually be happy if Science were truly ONLY about Physical and Naturalistic explanations, but it's not. The author of this article is Fred Pearce and as the Bio reveals, he is a freelance author and journalist based in the UK. His article on rethinking some of our understanding on invasive & native species sparked outrage by many of his readers who commented on how destructive his viewpoints were on how we should should be researching ways to eradicate what we can identify as an invasive species. The religious dogma with Native Plant Nazis is that there is no such thing as a good non-native plant. Whatever part of the globe a plant Nazi may be found, they resent any outside intrusion of any non-native. I'll deal further with that definition below with my own personal experience of past tunnel-visioned bigotry. I'm not going to deal with the criticism blasted towards the author of this article down which you yourself can read down in the comments section below where numerous anonymous Armchair Ideologue Biologists know more than than the Author. You can read that rubbish for yourself. Plus the incendiary article "Counterpoint: A Dissenting View" which is linked to the article's page. Again, you can read that article as well later.
This was once nothing more than barren
volcanic rock landscape
The Island's Conservation officer Stedson Stroud led the author up the mountain to view the Cloud Forest. Stroud explained to Fred Pearce that many of the endemic plants and other lifeforms seem to get along remarkably well with the motley collection of non-native invaders. He said that the ferns that once clung to the bare mountainside now prosper on the branches of introduced trees like bamboo. Pearce was shown ferns by Stroud that he believes now thrive only on the mosses that grow on such branches. Likewise, there is now a profusion of Ascension land crabs which are the island’s largest native land animals that now feast on the fruits of alien trees like the guava. The only researcher who has studied the land crabs in recent times, Richard Hartnoll of the University of Liverpool, says that the invasive vegetation “increases the area of shade and shelter for crabs, and also provides a large resource of food”, no doubt replacing the island's former scavenging seabird colonies. Author Fred Pearce said that a person might think that this ecological snugness would be of huge ecological interest? Yet, until now, as Pearce and Stroud pointed out, visiting scientists have ignored it. Most researchers who make the long journey the only practical way in to the island, doing so aboard a British military flight, have concentrated on the island’s charismatic populations of seabirds, green turtles, and the handful of endangered ferns. Unbelievable! And all because of Endemic Biota Nazism!
My Own Former Life as a Native Plant Nazi
|Blue Mist (Caryopteris x clandonensis)|
|Washington State University|
|image by W.P. Armstrong|
|(AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY)|
Points missed in the Ascension Island Article
~"But the Royal Navy garrison, established in 1815, set about changing that. First, it put together a farm on the few patches of natural soil on the mountain. Then British colonial botanist Sir Joseph Hooker — a future head of the famous botanical gardens at Kew in London who visited the island in 1843 — came up with the idea of growing trees to green the arid island and increase its rainfall. The idea was that the new vegetation on the mountaintop would scavenge moisture from the passing clouds. Further down the slopes, planting would encourage soil growth. Hooker’s ambition was nothing less than “terra-forming” the volcanic island, says Stroud in a recent paper with David Catling of the University of Washington, Seattle."
"Today, the island has about 300 introduced species of plants to add to its 25 native species, says David Wilkinson of Liverpool John Moores University in the UK. Many are spreading. Above about 660 meters, Green Mountain is completely vegetated, with coffee bushes, vines, monkey puzzle trees, jacaranda, juniper, bananas, buddleia, Japanese cherry trees, palm trees, clerodendrum, green aloe and the pretty pink flowers of the Madagascan periwinkles. And Stroud says the vegetation captures more cloud moisture, just as Hooker had hoped, even though rainfall has declined in the lowlands around."
|(Photo credit: Fred Pearce)|
|Sonoma State University|
|Link and image from invasiveplants.com|
Interestingly, another one of the other reasons this article caught my initial attention is because of a conversation I had with Chris Rohrer who owns, writes and photographs in the LAS AVENTURAS Blog Chris over a decade back, participated in a similar island chain environment where an experiment by the University of Arizona was to vegetate the landscape on a couple of the islands which are in an area further north of Ascension known as Cape Verde. They incorporated Arizona Native Plants on the island like Prosopis juliflora, or Mesquite because of it's deep rooting ability and even Palo Verde. Info on these projects is tough to find, but in a report from the U of A, called Draft Environment Report on Cape Verde (see link below), I found some interesting reasons which the Mesquite was chosen over the native Acacia from Africa. One major reason was that it was much more deeper rooted. That makes sense in a survival game, but there are more important mechanical component reasons for this. Mesquite is one of the best trees for not only Hydraulic Lift and Redistribution which benefit the surrounding plant community with shallower root systems, but it is also one of the best trees (even when dormant) at performing something called Hydraulic Descent. This is where it has the ability to capture and transport excesses of surface water during a rainy season and pump it deep into the earth well beyond where mere geological percolation takes place. The deep earth is the best place to store fresh water and understanding this should factor in to any habitat rebuilding program when selecting first, those dominant foundational plants which will help drive and sustain a ecosystem. Problem is, while some have studied this incredible phenomena, nobody ever really talks about it, references it or teaches it from school textbooks where it needs to be taught at an early age to instill deep appreciation for Earth's brilliantly put together natural environment. Although there are a tremendous amount of papers on these subjects, most seem to be buried and filed away in deep dark archived catacombs in some intellectual dungeon somewhere under, "Of Interesting Note", never to be actually acknowledged or talked about openly in any discussion or restoration program.
Fred Pearce showed that these researchers were missing a golden learning opportunity in rejecting any study of "Green Mountain". And Why is this ? Because they all consider it artificial or unnatural and that such change is suppose to happen on it's own over long periods of deep time or as Pearce put in the use of the term, "ecological fitting" as coined by evolutionary ecologist Dr. Daniel Janzen, where he believes as Fred Pearce put it, "ecological fitting holds that ecosystems are typically much more random. Stuff happens." Stuff Happens ? Our planet doesn't have time to wait and see how stuff will just happen. Humans presently are artificially accelerating the destruction of natural systems through the so-called brilliance of their technological innovative achievements of what is left of the viable biological world at an extremely rapid pace. Doing so in the justification and name of each country's own National Economies. As I've often stated before, when one’s theory-ladened paradigm reduces to random actions for no particular reason, then you've abandoned such excellent sciences like biomemetics and/or Biomimicry which are nothing more than discovering and observing how nature mechanically works and operates, then proceeding to make intelligent practical application in replication of what was discovered and observed. Around the Earth we have what are termed designated Wilderness Areas where there are strict Nazi-like policies of hands off, no disturbance allowed, even to fight wildfires or restore what was lost. They say it is important to allow Nature to take care of itself. I'm afraid such orthodox hardliner rules are going to have to change since globally all ecosystems are in trouble. But this narrow minded tunnel vision focus by a lot of researchers has to be dumped in favour of reality. They need to dump the tunnel vision blinders and start developing the ability to see and focus on an intuitive ecological peripheral vision. If all a person can do is say is “Stuff happens,” then they haven't learned nor explained anything to the rest of the world. Even the island's ecologist Stroud stated, “Green Mountain might help inform strategies to green some deserts or other barren locations in the world.” And even the environmental ecologist Dr David Wilkinson beautifully put it this way:
“Is it possible... to suggest, for example, that large deforested areas of Amazonia could be returned to functioning forest on a 100-year time-scale?”
And Fred Pearce followed up with:
"And maybe not just former rainforests. If a forest can form so quickly and successfully on a volcano in the middle of the Atlantic, they why not in other unlikely places?"
Sarcasm alert! Ah gee whiz, really ? No kidding ? Unbelievable!
Further Reference Reading:
Tropical Storms Linger Longer Over Wet Land & Fizzle Over Dry, But in Truth it's a Universal Phenomena Globally Speaking