Trophic Cascade

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by 9anda1f, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    This is a very moving video that not only describes the beneficial impact of wolf re-introduction to Yellowstone Park, but also points to the impacts of wolf removal in the first place. Reminds me of Toby Hemenway's descriptions of north America's wetlands, slow streams, and edge diversity before the beaver was trapped nearly to extinction.

    https://permaculturenews.org/2014/0...ntroduction-wolves-yellowstone-national-park/ Thanks Craig!

    [video=youtube;ysa5OBhXz-Q]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q[/video]
     
  2. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Isn't it awesome???
    And at only 4 minutes it's a succinct visual bite that beautifully demonstrates how everything is connected more graphically than a lecture could in an hour.
     
  3. Manfred

    Manfred Junior Member

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    No surprise. But don´t forget: The changes in Yellowstone are not finished now.

    It is absolutely clear what will happen in Yellowstone during the next centuries.
    It will develop to what the wolf and beaver dominated areas of northern North America below the timberline looked like before European settlement.
    Closed forested areas with beaver dam flooded valleys in between. And with a very low density of large animals.

    The elk population in Yellowstone already dropped to 20% and due to the reduced food resource the wolf population has also exceeded its peak and is starting to decline.
    The elk population will decline to a couple of hundreds (or even less) and the wolf population will follow closely. In addition the wolfs will start shifting to other prey thus reducing some animal populations now looking abundant.
    It will all stabilize at a low level of big animal populations.

    It is well documented that the first settlers came to a land of low wild animal density and after the hunting for fur animals got to a large scale, the numbers of prey animals soon increased.
    (I am not taking about the coastal hotspots of marine food concentration, but about the domestic areas.)

    Some people in the Alaskan and Canadian wildlife management are concerned since years about the decline of fur hunting, as this reduces the numbers of hoofed animals and by this the main income (hunting tourism) of many people in these areas.

    The question is: Do we want this or do we make ourselves the regulating force in this ecosystem and stabilize the balance where we want it to be.

    That is what permaculture practitioners are doing all day long: Stabilizing their system in a way it produces the maximum yield for them.

    Mark Shepard for example could let his grazing animals eat up all his trees (that is what happened to Yellowstone after the eradication of wolf and mountain lion). It would dramatically reduce his harvest.

    Or he could cull almost all his grazing animals (that is what the Yellowstone wolfs are doing right now) and let his trees grow to a closed forest. This would reduce the solar harvesting efficiency and reduce the yields, too.

    Or he can keep doing what he is doing now: Beeing the human brain behind all of it and stabilizing the balance of trees and grass growth and herbivores to maximize solar harvesting and food yield.

    That is an ability no animal population expect of us has. They are all exploiting their biotope as far as they can, until they are regulated by hunger or cold or predation or illness or…
    We are the one animal that can decide to regulate our number and our actions to a level where we are the factor creating abundance and diversity.
     
  4. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    And trophic cascade from another perspective ...

    https://aeon.co/magazine/nature-and-cosmos/plankton-the-tiny-sentinels-of-the-deep/
     
  5. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    @Manfred:
    "We are the one animal that can decide to regulate our number and our actions to a level where we are the factor creating abundance and diversity"

    I wonder if perhaps it would have worked out better if we (humans) had realised we're not the creators of abundance & diversity, merely the very blessed recipients, & that things would have worked out a lot better if we'd been respectful & intelligent enough, & indeed had the foresight, to limit our god complex to survivable levels of interference?
     
  6. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Researchers are also doing their best to glamorise pteropods, in an attempt to garner public attention and funding. They are trying to rebrand pteropods and their ilk as ‘charismatic microfauna’ and with good reason.

    This is the tragic bit. This is what I mean in my comment above on the wolves video. If it ain't painted up & gyrating it's hips, we ain't lookin'. We are strange creatures indeed ... so bright :) & yet so dumb :(
    Ah ... duality, what a tantalising phenomenon :)
     
  7. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i think your counts are off as to what the land in Yellowstone and elsewhere can support. those are not tiny parks. they have other large herbivores other than elk they can support a large population of wolves, elk, bison, deer, etc. if you want to see an interesting wolf/herbivore dynamic check out any Isle Royal studies by Peterson you can find. i recall him mentioning wolf populations for that island being close to 30 at times. lately, i think the population is down significantly due not to decreasing herbivore numbers but diseases that spread from dogs.

    plus remember that the early settler reports were often vastly wrong about animal and native population counts for the interior. they didn't understand that they were entering/exploring recently abandoned/vacated areas that had been previously full of natives that had perished due to diseases.

    in our area white tail deer are abundant but they cannot keep the woods from returning even faster. i would welcome a return of the wolves.
     
  8. Manfred

    Manfred Junior Member

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    @helenlee:
    That is a philosophic problem. As any other species we cannot exist without having influence on the biotope we are living in. We are part of nature. This has nothing to do with a god complex.

    How should that way of living look like, that would have no influence on all the other life around us?

    Of course there is no doubt humanity is a very destructive force killing of other live forms every day.
    And (except of genetic engineering ) we are not able to create new life forms ourselves.

    But what we can do is to create diversity in our surroundings.

    For example:
    Scientists say, in the region I live, without human influence the determinant biotope would be beech forests that allow almost no light penetration down to earth in the growing season.
    The last relics of these kinds of forests can be found in the north of the Iran, in the middle ranges of the steep mountain slopes down to the Caspian Sea. Scientists and forest officials from all over the world are traveling there to learn about these primeval beech forests.

    Due to the darkness on the ground during half of the year there is only a certain number of plant species and a very little population of big herbivores. But there is huge diversity of fungi, insects and microscopic life forms. There really is not much food for humans, except the beech nuts in mast years.

    Therefore if humans want to live in such an area, they cut down trees, making clearances. That is exactly what my ancestors did here. And these clearings allow for a great number of new live forms to establish in this area. Plants and animals and fungi that else would only be able to live in savannas or steppes or at the edge of forests.
    Be doing this, they dramatically increase the biodiversity of this area, as long as they do not totally eradicate the existing ecosystem.

    Then humans might create artificial ponds to grow fish. This allows water bond species to establish in the area. Again the diversity increases.
    Of course this means a loss of living space for part of the species existing there before. But the total stability of the system increases.

    Shout there ever occur some dramatic event like a flood or fire or a volcanic eruption or … the chance some of the species survive is much bigger than before. And might be this mixture of habitats even creates new biological niches that allow the evolution of completely new species.

    That is what I mean when I say humankind can have a positive, stabilizing, diversifying affect to its biome.
    We can create more diversity in a certain arrea than nature can without us.

    Of course it is much easier to be destructive and turn the whole landscape into a monoculture crop…
     
  9. Manfred

    Manfred Junior Member

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    @Songbird: Here some numbers on elk and wolfs at Yellowstone:

    https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-74drL3FG...ahPDHHuQc/s1600/wolf+recovery+graph_final.jpg


    I guess your white tail are heavily hunted?

    In the Netherlands there is an ugly experiment on what does happen with a population of large herbivores that have no predators and cannot leave the area when overpopulating.

    The Oostvaardersplassen is a nature reserve of 5600 ha were konik horses, heck cattle (a trial to breed cattle back to aurochs) and red deer are fenced in without population regulation.

    They have eaten up almost all the trees there and every winter hundreds of animals are dying of starvation.
    You can find videos of it on youtube.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tofJFxKOVao

    But conservationists there keep claiming this is how nature regulates and humans must not intervene. (Except from collecting the dead animals in the morning, before the visitors come.)
     
  10. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    "That is a philosophic problem. As any other species we cannot exist without having influence on the biotope we are living in. We are part of nature. This has nothing to do with a god complex.

    How should that way of living look like, that would have no influence on all the other life around us?"


    "We are the one animal that can decide to regulate our number and our actions to a level where we are the factor creating abundance and diversity." Manfred


    You answered your own question there :) Now that's permaculture :)

    So all we need to do is remember "decide" is a verb, not a noun :)
     
  11. Manfred

    Manfred Junior Member

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    :y:
     
  12. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    they sound like they really do need some apex predators in there. the soil must be getting really compacted and poor if there are that many animals in there that can kill off trees.

    yes, we have regular hunting, if they were not hunted we'd have even worse looking cedars. already car insurance is so high because of how many people hit them. in bad winters we can have herds of them grazing our trees, but now the trees are mostly tall enough that the deer can only reach so high. we have our gardens that we do most of our veggie growing fenced so they cannot get in. the rest of the gardens i accept that there might be losses at times, but so far the deer have not damaged them much at all. more often they'll walk right over a lot of veggies. i'm experimenting with mixed gardens and wild gardens to see what they do, if i can get crops without fences.

    i'm not sure what the end result of the Yellowstone system will be, but i am glad to see that they do have wolves there.

    up north they have started hunting wolves again now that the population of wolves has increased. i think having some wolves is beneficial as they do kill diseased and weak animals so to keep the overall herd healthy. for deer, elk, or bison i don't think human management is constant or smart enough to do that task well.
     
  13. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    helenlee likes this

    :)
     
  14. Manfred

    Manfred Junior Member

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    @songbird: Your hunting regulations seem to be quite different from ours.

    When you are owner of farm- or forestland here, you are by law member of the local Jagdgenossenschaft (hunting cooperative).
    These cooperatives exist in almost every village and are responsible for managing the local hunting area (consisting of the land of its members).

    The cooperative has to make sure a proper management of the local wildlife and has to pay for damage the game animals cause on farmland and to the trees in the forest.

    If you grow corn for example and the wild boars walk into it and destroy part of your harvest, you report it to the cooperative. The damage is estimated and you are paid for it.
    (If you can´t come to an agreement on the value of the damage, you can call an official assessors for help. Put as the cooperative has to pay for the assessor, too, in most cases you try to get along
    without calling one.)
    The rate of compensation for damage to trees is very low, but there is an official checkup by forest and hunting officials every couple of years. If there is too much damage in the forests of this hunting area, then the minimum quota (the minimum number that has to be shot every year) for roe deer is increased.
    Therefore the cooperative has a strong motivation to keep the damage low.

    The minimum size for a hunting area is 75 hectare. Only if you have that much rounded property, you can leave the cooperative and make up your own hunting area.
    The maximum size of a hunting area is 1000 hectare. If the land of a cooperative is bigger than this, it has to be divided to smaller areas.

    In most cases the hunting areas are let out for rent to a hunter or a group of hunters. The minimum term of lease is 10 years, to make sure proper management.
    A hunter who wants to lease a hunting area must prove a hunting experience of at least 3 years.

    To be allowed hunting at all you first need to pass an official test.
    To be allowed to take part in the test you must take part in a seminar preparing you for it.
    There are commercial providers of such seminars were you can be prepared for the test in a 2 – 3 Week fulltime course. But must hunters prefer the preparation courses provided by the local hunting clubs. These last about half a year and are done in the evening and on weekends.
    You get training on all the hunting-, weapons-, conservation-, food hygiene- etc. regulations as well as on wildlife and plant biology, forestry and so on. You also get practical training in shooting and in safe handling of guns as well in butchering and in maintenance of biotopes and wildlife habitats.
    After passing the test you can buy your official hunting license.
    Than you need to find a hunter owning or renting a hunting area who allows you to hunt there. In most cases you will have to pay a fee and/or help with all the work that has to be done in the hunting area. Building and repairing the stands und huts and traps. Improving the habitat, loading bait sites and so on. Or you can buy permission for hunting single animals from him.

    Of course there are opposed interests involved. The cooperative does not want to pay for much damage. And it does want to get a high rent from the hunters. But hunters will not pay much for a hunting area with a low density of game.
    Therefore you have to find some compromise of what density of game you allow on your hunting area.
    In an area with red tear close do a big city were hunting rates are high you might tolerate more damage on farmland as the price for a higher hunting rent.
    In an rural area with low hunting rent the cooperative´s priority might be to keep the damage as low as possible.
    And of course there might be different interests within the cooperative, too. One member might himself be the hunter renting the area (The I want more game here guy). Another might be a farmer who has little property in the cooperative put has to pay high rents for the farmland he is cultivating in that area (The get rid of all game guy). And there might be an anti-hunting-activist owning land there, too.)
    The meetings of the cooperatives can sometimes be real fun, I can tell you. I am member in 4 of them.

    The cooperatives usually try to get the reparations for crop damage assigned to the hunter in the rent out contract, in order to motivate him to keep the damage as small as possible.
    But more and more hunters are now longer willing to sign such contracts, as the problems with boars making lots of damage are growing each year.
    It is difficult to regulate the boars as night vision scopes are banned as weapons of war und trapping hogs is considered unsportsmanlike amongst hunters and requires an extra official approval.
    If you are not a rich man and have to support a family and them boars make a damage of 10.000 Euros in your hunting area in a single year, than you have a real problem.
    That is wy the hunters aim for contracts that are excluding compensation for damaged crops or at least limiting it to a certain amount per year.


    Wolves:
    In Germany we have always had some wolves immigrating form the eastern European countries since they were killed off here.
    Most of them came through Poland to the former GDR. The GDR-officials had them all shot in order to protect their beloved red deer and mouflon hunting.
    After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the German reunification the wolves soon became protected animals. They managed to establish first packs on the abandoned Soviet military training grounds and form there they are now spreading over the country.
    By now we have 26 known packs or pairs and 3 single wolfs with fixed territories. The total population is estimated to about 150 to 250 individual, depending on whom you ask.

    Farmers loosing animals to the wolf get compensation from government. But there has to be evidence.
    There are also programs that giving grants for improved electric fences in the affected areas.

    In our area there have been first sightings of roaming single wolfs by wildlife cams, but we do not have established wolves by now. I guess they will settle here during the next couple of years.
    I am kind of ambivalent regarding wolves. I really like them and they are fascinating animals. But as a farmer I of course do not want to lose any of my animals to them.

    In the areas were they have already established the observations regarding wildlife and trees damaged by game are different.
    In the core areas of the packs the roe dear seem to migrate. In the bordering areas they get very shy and are much more difficult to hunt although their total number might be stable.
    The red deer concentrate to big fear packs. If one of these big packs stays in your forest in winter, they can do much damage in a short time.
    The mouflons (introduced from the Mediterranean islands as game a long time ago) in an area are soon killed off as far as a wolf pack establishes. Biologists say the mouflons do not have any strategy of dealing with the wolves as in their home areas no wolves existed during their evolution. They are a too easy prey to survive.
     
  15. Manfred

    Manfred Junior Member

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    Here is what boars did to one of my haymaking parcels 3 weeks ago.
    They turned over almost 1 hectare within 2 or 3 nights.
    We have an exceptionally mild winter this year and they can easily dig over the ground as it is not frozen as usual.



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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  16. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    wow! those must be some fat and happy boars after doing all that! we actually are starting to have a wild boar problem here that is starting up, but it has been declared open season on them when seen, so perhaps that will head off the worst of it. we have a lot of hunters.

    yes, the hunting regulations here are much different, as i've read all of Sepps' books that i can get my hands on, i've gotten some descriptions of your land/hunting management over there already, but thanks for the added descriptions. :) 4 of them! that's a lot of meetings. you must have a lot of patience. :)

    the hunting here is state managed and they do surveys on the populations and take into account how many car/deer accidents are reported as to where to increase the hunting licenses issued. it is not unusual for a hunter in this area to have permits for a buck, and several does, and also extra licenses for bow, black-powder, junior (children learning to hunt), etc. so, sometimes you will hear of families having a half dozen deer or more to feed them.

    our property is not a farm (too small see: www.anthive.com/flowers.html there are some panoramic shots in there from the roof), mostly gardens and flowers. the trees are border plantings for some wind protection. the deer will come after them sometimes during the heavy snow winters when they run out of food in the surrounding areas. i've had them bed down at night in the garden to my north from this room (the N. Central Garden). i can hear them out there stomping around. it's about 20ft away. i used to go out to try to protect the trees, but they would come right back after a few minutes as i could not be in all places at once. i also tried many of the other repellents, human hair, soap, urine sprays, cayenne pepper, etc. all of it not worth the bother. now we just fence the trees and gardens we want to be left alone until they get big enough and we also installed some old fencing we were able to scrounge up along the north edge of the property to keep the deer out. that has helped a lot.

    my experiments with wild gardens are also coming along nicely. i don't mind sharing as long as i can harvest some of it when it is ready.

    once the hunters took out the herd ring leaders then they've not since returned as a mob to graze our trees. just a few isolated individuals...

    this year the fun will be rabbits. we have plenty of rabbits.

    we keep no large animals, so wolves would not be a problem for me. i stop at worm farming. that is enough for what i do.
     
  17. Manfred

    Manfred Junior Member

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    Lovely pictures. Especially the Killdeer breeding on your crushed rock.

    :)
     
  18. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    yeah, they are real cuties. what bloke can resist a chick who's all legs? :)
     
  19. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Those are my favourites too :) Absolutely beautiful.
    Some of the ones of the flowers are awesome as well. You have a stunning garden songbird :)
     
  20. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    @Manfred

    Ouch :(
    Bummer about your pasture : /
    I free range my pigs when I have them, & have found the same problem. I keep Large Blacks & Berkshires, & one of the reasons I have heritage breeds is because they're not supposed to root so much. However I've found when I've had wet weather they do still make a bit of a mess of paddocks. In future I'd like to be able to keep them to "rough" paddocks so they can go their hardest, without causing me grief :)
     

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