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  • Monday, December 01, 2008

    Worth A Second Look

    ZEAL TEMPERED BY SCIENCE
    It Pays To Think
    .. Thanks to a post in Protect Your Waters, (the "Stop Hitchhikers" folks,) we learn that six species of plants that were to be exterminated on the Galapagos Islands are in fact long term residents. Fossil pollen shows that they have been on the islands for several thousand years and were not introduced by visitors 500 years ago. You can hear the sixty second podcast HERE.
    .. Of course the finding is one that begs the question: "How long does it take an invasive species to become indigenous?" At the time of their formation there were no species of any kind on the islands. They were 'invaded' by many species and colonized over time.
    .. It's wise to remember that 'invasion' is part of natural selection: whether aided by man or not.
    .. There were no fish in the Firehole River above the falls until invaders were planted. The same holds true for the Gibbon River above its barrier falls. Many waters in Yellowstone were devoid of fish before park managers and other well meaning individuals planted them.
    .. The acceptance of these non-native species has taken less than 100 years. An industry based on their presence is thriving. Feather merchants and guide services reap the rewards of protected invasive species. Indigenous species are being wiped out by acceptable invaders. It's a problem that the "green" fly fisher, park manager, and the general public is loath to address. We sacrifice restoration for recreation, and ecological correctness for economic gain. Such is the state of our mindset and science.
    .. The simple fact of the matter is that "invasive species" are tolerated - nay - welcomed if they prove to be of economic or recreational benefit to a few.
    .. We see at least a double standard at work here. We introduced wolves because they were part of the "natural" environment. We continue to protect Brown Trout because they are invasive and provide an economic component to the park. We value and protect Rainbow Trout because they are invasive and can be caught and released. We admire and protect Brook Trout because they are invasive and provide easy catching for recreational endeavors. We spend millions trying to eradicate the Lake Trout because it's busy exterminating the indigenous Cutthroat in Yellowstone Lake. But we encourage the Rainbow Trout that are doing the same in Slough Creek.
    .. On the other hand -- We were all invaders once!