Pacific salmon run helps shape Canada’s ecosystems

Predators help disperse salmon, nutrient on streambanks

This article describes the results of a study suggesting another “trophic cascade” mechanism by which predators and salmon interact, enriching the diversity of plant-life in the world’s largest old-growth temperate rainforest:

Pacific salmon run helps shape Canada’s ecosystemsBBC News

The annual migration sees salmon return to western Canada to spawn, but many are caught by bears and wolves, which carry carcasses away from the streams.

This allows nutrient-rich plants to thrive in these areas.

Climate Change Takes Toll on Lodgepole Pine

The most abundant of all Western pine falls at astounding rate-

Every Western pine from the Yukon to New Mexico is suffering high mortality from unusually severe attack by native insects, diseases and direct mortality from drought and heat. Lodgepole pine, which often grows in vast almost monocultural stands, is dying too.  Almost anyone who lives in the West knows this. In many places the beauty of the forest has been greatly marred for many miles.

Climate Change Takes Toll on the Lodgepole Pine. By John Collins Rudolf. New York Times.

When lodgepole pine dies, the needles first turn red for a year before they fall off.  While red, they burn with remarkable explosive force.  After they are dead, however, lodgepole and other dead conifers do not burn as fiercely as a green forest.  A common misconception is that they do, a mistake this New York Times article perpetuates. Lodgepole are shallow rooted.  When dead they are easily blown over in windstorms.  If they pile up in large “jackstrawed” heaps, these can burn very hot.  Miles of downed lodgepole also form barriers to wildlife migration.

I took this photo of red lodgepole pine near Stanley, Idaho about 5 years ago. Since then, they have almost all died and many fallen over or cut down. They didn’t burn.

Massive Australian floods were no natural disaster

It is land clearing for livestock-

Despite some recognition today, just one tree is being planted in Queensland for every one hundred cleared to increase livestock grazing.

Yes, it rained a lot for a long time, but cows on huge tracts of “cleared” land made the disaster.

Video. http://suprememastertv.com/save-our-planet/?wr_id=1659

Clearing tropical forests is a lose-lose

It releases a great deal of carbon and produces much less new food than more intensive use of existing croplands-

Lose-lose . . . sounds like a Western land use issue.

Clearing tropical forests is a lose-lose. Michael Marshall. New Scientist.

Posted in Climate change, conservation, Trees Forests. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Clearing tropical forests is a lose-lose

Is the American Chestnut ready to begin its restoration?

The first large scale planting blight resistant chestnut is done-

When the chestnut blight hit in the 1950s, there were probably 3 billion American chestnut trees in the United States. Now there are perhaps only about a hundred trees in its natural range. The demise of the chestnut was a blow to wildlife that ate their prolific and reliable nut crop. The current die off of whitebark pine from a blight and bark beetles is a more recent catastrope.

There is now good news for the return of the American chestnut, The mighty American chestnut tree, poised for a comeback. By Juliet Elperin. Washington Post.  Of course, it will take a hundred years for a widespread restoration, one that will have big ecological benefits.

The American chestnut’s blight resistance was created by crossing it with the highly resistant Chinese chestnut in way that retained essentially all the details of the American chestnut. Perhaps a similar restoration can be done for the whitebark pine, although I suppose the preferred method might be direct genetic manipulation of survivors because of a lack of closely related pines.

I think we will need more and more genetic science to keep our ecosystems from unravelling in this rapidly changing world.

Losing the Whitebark Pine affects much more than grizzly bears

“We don’t know what’s going to happen without whitebark.”-

I know it will soon be functionally extinct, although no doubt some token remnants will be protected from beetles and blister rust. Ecologically speaking, it is already almost gone.

Here is a long essay on its demise and the effects. Feature article in New West. Grizzlies Only Scratch the Surface of What It Will Mean to Lose the Whitebark Pine.  The twisted, threatened symbol of high elevation connects an entire ecosystem. As one biologist puts it, “We don’t know what’s going to happen without whitebark.” By Shauna Stephenson. New West

Grizzly Managers Spin Whitebark Pine Woes: Just How Important is Whitebark to Yellowstone Bears?

Very important.

Interesting post by NRDC’s Louisa Wilcox about how the science shows how critical whitebark pine nuts are for grizzlies and how the managers talk out of both sides of their mouth.

“In its August 9th legal brief challenging the 2009 ruling by Federal Judge Donald Molloy that required relisting of the Yellowstone grizzly bear under the Endangered Species Act, federal attorneys said, “the grizzly does not depend on whitebark pine for its survival. The grizzly is a very successful omnivore, and that…they will somehow be able to adapt to a decline in whitebark pines.” The legal briefs then go on to dismiss the issue of whitebark pine relationships to grizzly bear vital rates, including mortality risks, as well as the reproductive success of females. This argument, as the district court ruled, and I will discuss later, runs counter to the evidence on the record.

Then, just yesterday, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team sent out a press release saying, “the scarcity of whitebark pine cones this year may be driving bears to find food at lower elevations, where there is more human activity, increasing the chances of bear-human interactions.” (This comes in a year when 22 grizzly bears are known to have died, and many human-bear conflicts have occurred — months before bears will den up.)”

Grizzly Managers Spin Whitebark Pine Woes: Just How Important is Whitebark to Yellowstone Bears?.
Louisa Willcox’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC