Friday, January 24, 2014

Restoration Quandraries

"Playing God with Nature" can be funny as well as drop-dead serious.  On the funny side of things:

Nature Conservancy scientists are tooth-brushing corals to keep the clean.  A massive nursery effort is working to transplant corals to bleached-reefs.  Coral organisms are symbionts, like lichen.  When the coral are stressed from water pollution, eutrophyication, high temperatures, or acid water (from CO2) they may jetison their symbiotic algae.  So, unlike bleached teeth, a bleached reef is not a pretty sight.  The vainglorious restoration hope is to stay ahead of some of the myriad problems affecting corals, which have seen a 95% decrease in the Caribbean.  If viable breeding populations of the Endangered corals can be maintained, they just might have enough time to evolve or adapt resistance and resilience to climate change.     However, there are not enough sea urchins  in the collapsed-ecosystem of the bleached reef to eat algae growing over the coral.  Some people say the sea urchins got sick, but whatever their problem, nature conservancy divers are forced to go down with toothbrushes to try and save transplanted baby corals. source.  

Audubon magazine reports USFWS using EPA-outlawed rodent poison on breeding bird colonies.  The islands are threatened by invasive mice, but not by eating seabird eggs.  Instead, the profligate creatures entice great horned owls to set up shop.  But Great Horns are Super Predators: when they eat all the mice, they turn to eating shorebird eggs and chicks.  So the fact that poisoning the mice laces them with toxins that bioaccumulate up the food chain is justified -- because the ultimate environmental victims are ecological bullys. (Farallon Islands.)  These photos show the underwater environment.

Speaking of Farallon Islands: instead of eating bycatch (popular in New Orleans now), some advocate repressurizing stunned fish such as this rockfish whose swim bladder has tripled in size, pushing his eyes out of his head.  Yes, they do revive using proper technique. Rockfish are exceptionally long-lived and slowly reproducing so repressurization is probably an ecologically sound, if unlikely, response to catching one.  This is the best blog, BTW for NE Pacific Ocean natural history.
Bighorn sheep reintroduction ends up becoming a feeding frenzy for local Catalina mountain lions.  31 bighorn sheep were reintroduced to the mountains outside tucson, after an unexplained absense since the 1990's.  Since then, 7 (as of this writing) have been eaten by the resident mountain lions, who are being hunted by AZ Game and Fish to try to save the sheep.  The mountain lions, as discerning diners, posted yelp reviews of the "succulent" new menu item, but take exception to the rude retaliation.  And please don't imply them engaging in "High Mountain Lion Activity"!  Delightful dining on the Bighorn Experience dissolves into dangerous experience.  4 out of 5 stars.

No comments: