26 July 2014

A fresh slant on native vs invaders

The push for native plants, bees, animals, and, well, closed borders in general is just part of the times we live in. Immigrants bad. Indigenous good.

Emma Marris, author of Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. attended a conference in Montana at the North American Congress for Conservation Biology. 

It's an enlightening read - quick, too. Follow this link to the article Marris wrote for National Geographic.

Excerpts
"As scientists have sounded the alarm about these pests, the public has gotten the message. Citizen groups rip out non-native plants. Native gardens have become increasingly popular, both as ways to celebrate the unique flora of each region and as tiny hot spots of diversity. Native trees provide food for native bugs, which feed native birds. Food chains developed over thousands of years of co-evolution unfold in our backyards. We're even going native in the kitchen, with fine restaurants increasingly focused around locally hunted, foraged, and grown ingredients.
So we've learned, scientists and lay people alike, that native species are good and non-natives are bad.
Julian Olden, a biologist at the University of Washington, Seattle, who co-organized the symposium, recently polled nearly 2,000 ecologists. Among his findings: A substantial number of them said they would immediately eradicate a hypothetical non-native forest plant, even if it were shown to have no effect on the forest. Olden calls this the "guilty even when proven innocent" approach."
...
"How, scientists at the symposium wondered, do you define "native" on a warming planet, when plants and animals are already moving toward the poles or up mountainsides in search of climate conditions they can tolerate? Should we consider them "invasive" in their new homes? Regardless of what we label them, conservationists will be reluctant to remove them from their new environs—to do so would stymie their chances of adapting to the warmer future we're creating.
And then there are the non-natives that we actually like. Most domestic crops are exotic in most of the places they're grown, but there are even wild exotics that "do good," forming useful relationships with native species."
More at the link 

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