12 de junio de 2021

A decline in insects

When I was growing up I would commute with my dad to and from his job a lot. He worked throughout the region on construction sites. I was often the one to jump out of the truck at gas stations and clean the windows on our family truck, jeep, or car with the squeegee. A few years ago I noticed how I rarely do this anymore.
There could be several explanations for this. I personally haven't ever had to commute to work, I stopped riding with him as often when I got older, and aerodynamics of vehicles have gotten better. After taking all of this into consideration, I still think there is a notable decrease in insect hits.

I can remember back when you could drive over Mt. Rose highway 431 and hardly see another vehicle sometimes. It was still a one lane road with nothing but sagebrush down to Old Virginia St that you had to take into down town. In just one trip I could count insects hitting the windshield.

If you think about the sheer numbers of increasing vehicles moving around in the world every day it seems like a reasonable assumption. In the Lake Tahoe area specifically, there has been an exponential increase in commuters due to wealth pushing the working class further and further away.

For every lost insect from a vehicle strike, that's one less meal for another creature since this dead biomass is often moved to car washes and sewer drains. There are some years in the Sierras that see amazing butterfly hatches. I something feel like getting a bumper sticker that says "I slow down or stop for butterflies," however, I don't want the trouble of some crazy tailgater interpreting it wrong. As it is, people on the roads around here are already getting unbearably selfish, rude, oblivious and in a such a hurry.

Several national parks clearly mark reduced speed limits indicating that it helps prevent wildlife strikes. I think this is true of insect strikes as well. Vehicles these days are engineered so well that it's easy to feel safe driving fast and it's easy to forget that we share the planet with other life and a whole ecosystem that supports us. On a trip to Canada I was impressed by some of the wildlife corridors they have built around highways. I also like seeing these kinds of studies and things taken into account over near Sagehen.

A quick search on google scholar every once in a while shows more and more studies related to my subjective observations. Here is one I just saw specifically orientated around my hypothesis.
Flying insect abundance declines with increasing road traffic
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/icad.12300

It appears much of the research on this is done in Europe. I remember in the early 90's a group of science students doing some insect studies out in the Royal Gorge area. I wonder what happened to their data.
More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185809

Anotado en junio 12, sábado 18:29 por ipomopsis ipomopsis | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

11 de junio de 2021

Ethics of sharing geotagged and time-stamped wildlife pictures.

As someone who has seen large growth and deterioration of my home town, been overrun by population growth and wealth inequality, and seen my home exploited for monetary gain, I am conflicted about sharing more “Lake Tahoe” online.
Nevada is often ranked the fastest growing region in the USA over the past few decades. The covid pandemic has accelerated this process immensely. This is putting more pressure on the sensitive high desert ecosystems (among other things) .

Here is a list that I am working on of the pros and cons regarding INaturalist.

Pros

  1. Documenting/data collection to keep an eye on temporal and spatial biological changes.
    a. There is a growing number of aquatic and terrestrial invasive species introduced by people coming here. (e.g. https://carsonnow.org/story/10/12/2017/nevada-forestry-white-satin-moth-outbreak-infests-226-acres?page=3 )

  2. Educating people that there is more life out there than they ever imagined.
  3. Making it easier to learn taxonomy and appreciate nature.
  4. Discovering and mapping sensitive and rare species to protect them from development or forest treatments. Also instituting seed banks for reforestation after catastrophic events.
  5. Geospatial data on organisms can be used to define and refine species ranges and habitat associations. These data are very useful in Species Distribution Models, which identify potential habitat distributions and ecological relationships (see Hass and Dragoo. 2017. Competition and coexistence in sympatric skunks. In: Biology and Conservation of the Musteloids, U. Oxford Press).
  6. Photos help distinguish among species, and identify different morphs within species (see Hass. 2020. Nosey Beast. Natural History of the Coatis. Wild Mountain Echoes).
Cons
  1. Opening the door to easily showing everyone where all trails and cool spots are, which makes them more trafficked and often trampled faster than nature can recover.
    a. Higher demand leads to even more trail creation both planned and unplanned. This leads to to “fishbone effect” trails and disturbance. http://encyclopedia.uia.org/en/problem/156567
    b. Each reviled location might not be the posting observer’s favorite spot, but it might be someone else’s favorite spot that you are opening up to more people.

  2. Encouraging some people to go off trail to get selfie-shots.
  3. Opening up nature to the wrong kind of harassing people as described in this thread. https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/encountering-and-dealing-with-unfriendly-people-while-inatting/22348/14
  4. Issues with who is hosting the data and possibility of it falling into corporate hands and licensing for profit.
  5. Someday leading to genocide of a species. Consider that when reading things like this. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01253-y
  6. Some regions of the world have cultures which poach certain species for sport, their dubious mythical powers, or their real or misconstrued to be real medicinal properties.
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer_effect_(physics)

I understand everyone has their own opinions on this. Please consider all pros, cons, ethics, and context (geographic region) before you post a comment. As always, also feel free to send me a private message.

Anotado en junio 11, viernes 17:28 por ipomopsis ipomopsis | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

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