Environment, Ecology & Earth's biodiversity - Printable Version

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Environment, Ecology & Earth's biodiversity - sanjay - 04-13-2017

Top predators play very important role in climate change in the environment they lives.They can bring life back to the place they live. They give more lives then they take.
This is an awesome video which confirm this. In this video they show how 14 packs of wolves reintroduce in Yellow stone national park changes the whole ecosystem.

RE: Predator changed the whole ecosystem - Spalea - 04-13-2017

@sanjay :

Great video ! From now only one watchword: let us protect all predators all over the world !

Supreme demonstration, universal value, seriously... How a few packs of wolfs reintroduction can affect the whole nature of a big ecosystem. We must show that for all skeptics.

Forests and Jungles - Tshokwane - 04-17-2018

A biologist believes that trees speak a language we can learn:

I’m in a redwood forest in Santa Cruz, California, taking dictation for the trees outside my cabin. They speak constantly, even if quietly, communicating above- and underground using sound, scents, signals, and vibes. They’re naturally networking, connected with everything that exists, including you.

Biologists, ecologists, foresters, and naturalists increasingly argue that trees speak, and that humans can learn to hear this language.

Many people struggle with this concept because they can’t perceive that trees are interconnected, argues biologist George David Haskell in his 2017 book The Songs of Trees. Connection in a network, Haskell says, necessitates communication and breeds languages; understanding that nature is a network is the first step in hearing trees talk.

For the average global citizen, living far from the forest, that probably seems abstract to the point of absurdity. Haskell points readers to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador for practical guidance. To the Waorani people living there, nature’s networked character and the idea of communication among all living things seems obvious. In fact, the relationships between trees and other lifeforms are reflected in Waorani language.

In Waorani, things are described not only by their general type, but also by the other beings surrounding them. So, for example, any one ceibo tree isn’t a “ceibo tree” but is “the ivy-wrapped ceibo,” and another is “the mossy ceibo with black mushrooms.” In fact, anthropologists trying to classify and translate Waorani words into English struggle because, Haskell writes, “when pressed by interviewers, Waorani ‘could not bring themselves’ to give individual names for what Westerners call ‘tree species’ without describing ecological context such as the composition of the surrounding vegetation.”

Because they relate to the trees as live beings with intimate ties to surrounding people and other creatures, the Waorani aren’t alarmed by the notion that a tree might scream when cut, or surprised that harming a tree should cause trouble for humans. The lesson city-dwellers should take from the Waorani, Haskell says, is that “dogmas of separation fragment the community of life; they wall humans in a lonely room. We must ask the question: ‘can we find an ethic of full earthly belonging?’”

Haskell points out that throughout literary and musical history there are references to the songs of trees, and the way they speak: whispering pines, falling branches, crackling leaves, the steady hum buzzing through the forest. Human artists have always known on a fundamental level that trees talk, even if they don’t quite say they have a “language.”

Redefining communication

Tree language is a totally obvious concept to ecologist Suzanne Simard, who has spent 30 years studying forests. In June 2016, she gave a Ted Talk (which now has nearly 2.5 million views), called “How Trees Talk to Each Other.”

Simard grew up in the forests of British Columbia in Canada, studied forestry, and worked in the logging industry. She felt conflicted about cutting down trees, and decided to return to school to study the science of tree communication. Now, Simard teaches ecology at the University of British Columbia-Vancouver and researches “below-ground fungal networks that connect trees and facilitate underground inter-tree communication and interaction,” she says. As she explained to her Ted Talk audience:

I want to change the way you think about forests. You see, underground there is this other world, a world of infinite biological pathways that connect trees and allow them to communicate and allow the forest to behave as though it’s a single organism. It might remind you of a sort of intelligence.

Trees exchange chemicals with fungus, and send seeds—essentially information packets—with wind, birds, bats, and other visitors for delivery around the world. Simard specializes in the underground relationships of trees. Her research shows that below the earth are vast networks of roots working with fungi to move water, carbon, and nutrients among trees of all species. These complex, symbiotic networks mimic human neural and social networks. They even have mother trees at various centers, managing information flow, and the interconnectedness helps a slew of live things fight disease and survive together.

Simard argues that this exchange is communication, albeit in a language alien to us. And there’s a lesson to be learned from how forests relate, she says. There’s a lot of cooperation, rather than just competition among and between species as was previously believed.

Peter Wohlleben came to a similar realization while working his job managing an ancient birch forest in Germany. He told the Guardian he started noticing trees had complex social lives after stumbling upon an old stump still living after about 500 years, with no leaves. “Every living being needs nutrition,” Wohlleben said. “The only explanation was that it was supported by the neighbor trees via the roots with a sugar solution. As a forester, I learned that trees are competitors that struggle against each other, for light, for space, and there I saw that it’s just [the opposite]. Trees are very interested in keeping every member of this community alive.” He believes that they, like humans, have family lives in addition to relationships with other species. The discovery led him to write a book, The Hidden Life of Trees.

By being aware of all living things’ inter-reliance, Simard argues, humans can be wiser about maintaining mother trees who pass on wisdom from one tree generation to the next. She believes it could lead to a more sustainable commercial-wood industry: in a forest, a mother tree is connected to hundreds of other trees, sending excess carbon through delicate networks to seeds below ground, ensuring much greater seedling survival rates.

Foreign language studies

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Seedling survival is important to human beings because we need trees. “The contributions of forests to the well-being of humankind are extraordinarily vast and far-reaching,” according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization 2016 report on world forests (pdf).

Forests are key to combating rural poverty, ensuring food security, providing livelihoods, supplying clean air and water, maintaining biodiversity, and mitigating climate change, the FAO says. The agency reports that progress is being made toward better worldwide forest conservation but more must be done, given the importance of forests to human survival.

Most scientists—and trees—would no doubt agree that conservation is key. Haskell believes that ecologically friendly policies would naturally become a priority for people if we’d recognize that trees are masters of connection and communication, managing complex networks that include us. He calls trees “biology’s philosophers,” dialoguing over the ages, and offering up a quiet wisdom. We should listen, the biologist says, because they know what they’re talking about. Haskell writes, “Because they are not mobile, to thrive they must know their particular locus on the Earth far better than any wandering animal.”

How trees talk to each other: Talk by Suzanne Simard.

RE: Predator changed the whole ecosystem - Spalea - 03-23-2020

Dereck Joubert: " With the entire world now confronting the unprecedented threat of the coronavirus pandemic, much is being written about the link between the spread of diseases and environmental destruction. Every species depends on the delicate balance within ecosystems – often in quite subtle ways. Just recently, for example, researchers discovered that mongoose transmit more disease in environments that have insufficient predators. Without that ever-looming predatory threat, mongoose are free to spend more of their time on scent-marking to communicate. Those secretions often contain pathogens, so more time spent on scent-marking means more germs are deposited across the habitat. It’s just one small example of how predators are critical for healthy ecosystems – and healthy ecosystems are critical for the health of everything else. "

Interesting isn't ? The human specy is an animal specy like the others, but we have been deliberately upseting the rules for a while for a long time. By watching the apex predators as a threat to absolutely eradicate, perhaps we are favoring the small predators (like the mongoose) proliferation. And...

RE: Habitat Management & Restoration - Rishi - 04-13-2020

Keystone species and trophic cascades - Sully - 06-29-2020

Here is an interesting paper I read a couple months ago on the keystone role of Bison in tallgrass prairie


and here is the most famous example of a trophic cascade 

I have recently finished the book "Serengeti Rules" (I highly recommend it) and will be posting parts from it in this thread about multiple trophic cascades with an explanation of the keystone species and their roles which tie ecosystems together.

RE: Keystone species and trophic cascades - Sully - 06-30-2020

A good illustration from the book showing how the elimination of the disease rinderpest caused a trophic cascade in the serengeti

*This image is copyright of its original author

RE: Keystone species and trophic cascades - Sully - 06-30-2020

Another example of a trophic cascade outlined in the book is that of the keystone species, sea otters. They saw the contrast between an island with otters (covered in kelp forests) and one without (barren and full of urchins). But why was this? Essentially whaling many years before eliminated the prey of orcas, they turned to otters and decimated them. Otters could no longer regulate the urchins who in turn destroyed the kelp forests.

RE: Keystone species and trophic cascades - Sully - 07-06-2020

How beavers, as a keystone species, help salmon 

*This image is copyright of its original author


RE: Keystone species and trophic cascades - Rishi - 07-16-2020

After Kalakkad-Mundanthurai was declared tiger reserve in 1992, river has regained its perennial status.

Though shorter than Cauvery and Vaigai, Tamirabarani has always held a special place in the state. Referred to in ancient texts including the Mahabharata, legend has it that Tamirabarani is where saint Agastya wrote key texts of the Tamil language.

Robert Caldwell, British linguist and missionary, recorded its importance in the 1880s. At the same time, a British collector of Tirunelveli (then Tinnevelly), R K Puckle, warned that large-scale clearing of forests in the Kalakkad area would result in the river losing its perennial status.
Nearly a hundred years later, it seemed the state was going to prove Puckle right. Tamirabarani started turning dry for 4 months every year. People of Tirunelveli and Tuticorin thought their river too was going the way of other state rivers.

But a move to save the tiger inadvertently became a savethe-river policy. The Union ministry of environment and forests declared the Kalakkad - Mundanthurai area as a tiger reserve in 1992.

This meant not only human movement & construction activities into the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) would be restricted, but also requires the government to declare buffer zones outside the core forest where development is regulated.This also helped the river rejuvenate. Wildlife officials formed eco-development committees through which forest dwellers were given alternative jobs. The programme was launched in 178 villages but was later extended to 243 villages around KMTR. Now 34,000 families are getting the benefits - this means they have stopped going into the forest to collect minor forest produce.
Declaring the area as a tiger reserve and keeping it out of bounds for, casual visitors and cattle grazers not only helped the tiger population to rebound but has helped to keep water sources alive and functioning throughout the year.

The protected shola forests have a sponge effect by storing rainwater and releasing it. The soil layers, vegetation and the peat bed all help to keep the river perennial.

In 3 years, there was a noticeable change. A study on water inflow into the Karayar river, a tributary, inside the reserve was taken up.Records show that from 1946 till 1990, the river received only 13,000 cubic feet of water annually . After the area was declared as a tiger reserve, the inflow increased to 23,000 cubic feet."This is continuing even today ," said the official.

Tamirabarani is the main source for drinking and irrigation in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts.The water is also taken through pipelines to Sivakasi, Virudhunagar and Srivilliputhur.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Environment & Ecology - Rishi - 07-16-2020

RE: Environment, Ecology & Earth's biodiversity - Rishi - 07-26-2020

Today 26th July, is International Day for Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystem.

IUCN became a founding member of the Global Mangrove Alliance (GMA). IUCN also partners with WWF-Germany and BMZ in its initiative  Save Our Mangroves Now! With the RAMSAR secretariat, IUCN is also the focal point for the Community of Ocean Action (COA) on Mangroves under United Nation Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14. Finally, IUCN also developed tools to help mangrove managment and restoration activities, such as the mangrove restoration map developed in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy & the University of Cambridge.

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

RE: Environment, Ecology & Earth's biodiversity - Sully - 07-27-2020

Pretty interesting talk about migrations, elk, and predation from wolves and bears in Yellowstone 

RE: Environment, Ecology & Earth's biodiversity - Sully - 08-08-2020

Very interesting find, that biome stability is the best predictor of biodiversity 

Plant richness, turnover, and evolutionary diversity track gradients of stability and ecological opportunity in a megadiversity center


Research on global patterns of diversity has been dominated by studies seeking explanations for the equator-to-poles decline in richness of most groups of organisms, namely the latitudinal diversity gradient. A problem with this gradient is that it conflates two key explanations, namely biome stability (age and area) and productivity (ecological opportunity). Investigating longitudinal gradients in diversity can overcome this problem. Here we investigate a longitudinal gradient in plant diversity in the megadiverse Cape Floristic Region (CFR). We test predictions of the age and area and ecological opportunity hypotheses using metrics for both taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity and turnover. Our plant dataset includes modeled occurrences for 4,813 species and dated molecular phylogenies for 21 clades endemic to the CFR. Climate and biome stability were quantified over the past 140,000 y for testing the age and area hypothesis, and measures of topographic diversity, rainfall seasonality, and productivity were used to test the ecological opportunity hypothesis. Results from our spatial regression models showed biome stability, rainfall seasonality, and topographic heterogeneity were the strongest predictors of taxonomic diversity. Biome stability alone was the strongest predictor of all diversity metrics, and productivity played only a marginal role. We argue that age and area in conjunction with non–productivity-based measures of ecological opportunity explain the CFR’s longitudinal diversity gradient. We suggest that this model may possibly be a general explanation for global diversity patterns, unconstrained as it is by the collinearities underpinning the latitudinal diversity gradient.

RE: Environment, Ecology & Earth's biodiversity - Sully - 08-08-2020

Another interesting study I came across, this time a comparison between a cursorial and sedentary foraging species in their reaction to predators

Non‐consumptive effects between predators depend on the foraging mode of intraguild prey


  1. Predator non‐consumptive effects (NCE) are a suite of phenotypic responses of prey to avoid predation that cascade down food webs and can have a stronger impact than predation itself. However, the role of NCE in intraguild interactions remains understudied. Thus, multi‐species experiments based on species traits are needed to improve our understanding of the impact of NCE on community structure.
  2. We investigated NCE of ants on 17 spider species as intraguild prey (8 cursorial and 9 sedentary) to test the influence of spider hunting mode on the strength of NCE. Sedentary spiders select a habitat patch and wait for prey, whereas cursorial spiders roam around searching for prey. Because actively foraging organisms have higher encounter rates with predators, cursorial spiders should show stronger reactions to ant presence.
  3. We collected cues (footprint hydrocarbons) of the black garden ant Lasius niger on filter papers. Then, we placed spiders individually on the papers and filmed their behaviour once on a paper with cues and once on a cue‐free one. We used the increase in walking activity in the presence of cues as an indicator of avoidance behaviour towards ants.
  4. Cursorial spiders spent a longer time moving and being mobile, and had a higher overall mean mobility when exposed to ant cues compared with blank filter papers, whereas sedentary spider species did not react to ant cues at all.
  5. The avoidance of ant cues by cursorial spiders corresponds to their higher risk of encountering ants compared with sedentary species, in accordance with the threat‐sensitivity hypothesis. Our multi‐species study shows the relevance of NCE for intraguild interactions and highlights the importance of experimental trait‐based approaches to improve predictability of species interactions and the role of NCE in ecological communities