ecosystem

Landscape Language

Lentic (adj) – relating to still water

Last week’s Landscape Language post was on lotic, or moving, water systems. In comparison, lentic ecosystems refer to still water environments. Lentic systems include all the lakes, tarns, and other still bodies of water in the park. While some organisms can live in both lotic and lentic systems, many adapt to one or the other. What plants or animals have you seen in the park’s lentic environments?

NPS/A Spillane Photo of a still lake surrounded by forest reflecting a view of Mount Rainier. ~kl

In my experience there are two kinds of vegans: the ones who for various personal or health reasons have elected to live a vegan lifestyle but understand that it’s not for everyone, and the lunatics who want to fuck up the entire ecosystem and starve carnivorous animals and ignore the fact that the human race has spent literally THOUSANDS of years domesticating animals for consumption purposes and many of these animals could not survive on their own and would grossly overpopulate if we did not use them for such purposes and there are many species who CANNOT LIVE on a diet without meat.

Giant iceberg’s split exposes hidden ecosystem

Biologists are racing to secure a visit to a newly revealed region of the Southern Ocean as soon as it is safe to sail there. One of the largest icebergs ever recorded broke free from the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula in July. As it moves away into the Weddell Sea, it will expose 5,800 square kilometres of sea floor that have been shielded by ice for up to 120,000 years. If researchers can get to the area quickly enough, they’ll have the chance to study the ecosystem beneath before the loss of the ice causes it to change.

“I cannot imagine a more dramatic shift in environmental conditions in any ecosystem on Earth,” says Julian Gutt, a marine ecologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany.

The calved iceberg is about the size of Delaware. Copernicus Sentinel-1 via BAS

unripe

tangible and conceptual we are, time slows—i write her letters, dip them in honey, then pollinate them, she smells of swamp cypress, i tongue her collarbone; “stay, stay, stay a while,” she says, canopies my sentiments, senses, sentences; asks for a comb, i have my fingers, i liberate her roots, she settles for some excuses, waits for my hypothesis; i rearrange her ecosystem, her chlorophyll—weather changes; she tells me to bring autumn in summer, i come back with incessant rain.

It’s fire season! Fire is one of the most important natural methods of change and it plays a vital role in maintaining certain ecosystems. Prescribed fires are utilized to prevent catastrophic wildfires and to restore health to ecosystems. 💪🏼🔥🌳

Manicured Landscapes vs. Wild Ecosystems

A lot of people don’t realize that there’s a tremendous difference between a wild, natural landscape, and a planted/manicured one.

Tall trees, dense shrubberies, and flowers, planted by people may provide shade and some wildlife value, but they’re not the same as a wild ecosystem.

Most of the plants in these manicured landscapes are usually grown at nurseries. Sometimes they’re even clones or cultivars, not genetically distinct as individuals.  In these human-maintained landscapes, plants cannot reproduce naturally.  Here is a picture of a typical manicured landscape:

The plants in the photo above are all planted; none of them are reproducing naturally as they would in a wild ecosystem.

Just like people, plants and animals have populations with genetic diversity. In a wild landscape, plants and animals alike are able to reproduce naturally, with genetically-distinct individual trees, shrubs, and flowers coming up from seed. These plants are constantly adapting to changing conditions, allowing evolution to take place.  Look at this wild ecosystem:

Ecosystems are dynamic, constantly changing…the big piece of dead wood in the background is part of the ecosystem.  A whole bunch of organisms actually depend on the dead wood. Not only do manicured landscapes keep plants from reproducing genetically, they often remove huge elements of the ecosystem, like large pieces of dead wood, leaf litter, dead plant stalks, and other things that are part of wild ecosystems.

As humans have increased in population, we have increasingly built on more and more of the available land, converting wild landscapes to manicured ones. As we do so, we are taking away the abilities of plants in particular, to reproduce and maintain healthy, genetically diverse populations.

This has severe implications for the plants abilities to adapt to changing conditions, such as those caused by humans, things like global climate change and the introduction of various pollutants.

Please spread this info and please look for these things in your environment.

Please do your part to press, assertively, for leaving more areas wild, even if it’s just a small patch of a yard, garden, college campus, corporate office park grounds, or anything.  These wild areas are critical for preserving and protecting biodiversity, and ultimately, for ensuring the long-term prosperity of humankind.

If we change our aesthetic sense so that we no longer praise (or even demand) the sterile, manicured landscapes like the top photo, and learn to see more of the beauty and depth in landscapes like the picture on the bottom, we will have an immense positive effect on preserving and protecting biodiversity.

Theresa May has announced that, if she remains Prime Minister after June 8th, her government will aim to overturn the ban on hunting foxes with hounds which was introduced in 2004.

Personally, I have a big problem with this.

It’s not that it’s a staggeringly cruel blood sport in which animals are encouraged to rip one another to pieces.

It’s not that it’s an environmental nightmare, where large hunts and shoots - replete with culvert-wrecking SUVs - can wreak havoc with local ecosystems in the name of bogus ‘conservation’.

It’s not that it’s a net-drain on local economies, generating only a handful of part-time jobs which often pay only ‘tips’ from landowners rather than actual lasting contracted jobs - with hunt-goers preferring posh champagne picnics over local produce.

It’s not even that it’s an antiquated social ritual with its roots in the imagined feudal past, which evolved as an elaborate ruling-class masquerade to display exclusive land rights over those of their tenants to other wealthy landholders.

It’s that I positively, deeply, truly, can’t abide knowing that at any given moment, somewhere in the leafy dells of the Costwolds or on the weathered moors of the Peak District, an inbred plutocrat is having fun.

Landscape Language

Terrestrial (adj) – relating to land

Lotic (moving) and lentic (still) ecosystems refer to aquatic environments, but of course there are many terrestrial, or land-based, ecosystems in the park as well. Terrestrial environments can change dramatically with elevation, from lower-elevation forests to mid-elevation subalpine meadows to high-elevation alpine terrain. What terrestrial environment do you like exploring the most?

NPS Photo of Mount Rainier from Sunrise, 9/27/17. A glacier carves a deep valley down the side of a white-capped mountain flanked by forested slopes. ~kl

Fishermen have been pulling in a different kind of catch in the Florida Keys: lobster traps and fishing gear lost at sea.

It’s part of a program called “Fishing for Energy”, a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, NOAA and local fishermen to turn some of that gear into energy.

Ocean debris poses a risk to marine life, with 640,000 tons of fishing gear abandoned each year around the globe. The program runs in ten states on both coasts of the U.S.  powering our world by cleaning up theirs.

For more on this story, check out the latest episode of the NBC on Earth podcast.

“ROAR!! Just kidding, I’m a whale." 

Although humpback whales are large, they only feed on krill and small fish. Photographer Douglas Croft snapped this photo of a humpback whale taking a big gulp of anchovies! Humpback whales and other whales flock to the nutrient-rich waters of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to feed. By winter, most humpback whales leave the sanctuary for warmer waters in Mexico, but some juveniles and non-breeding adults stick around a little longer to take advantage of the over-whale-mingly large feast.

(Photo: Douglas Croft)

Watch out, little purple sea urchins – you’re one of the leather star’s favorite foods! 

This leather star may be scoping out a sea urchin snack in the kelp forest of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Left unchecked, sea urchins will chow down on huge amounts of kelp, so by eating them, leather stars and other sea stars help keep kelp forest ecosystems healthy and balanced. 

(Photo: Chad King/NOAA)