The importance of wilderness

“Wilderness areas act as a buffer against species loss, as the extinction risk for species within wilderness communities is—on average—less than half that of species in non-wilderness communities.” 1

A recent study published in the Journal Nature titled “Wilderness Areas Half The Extinction Risk of Terrestrial Biodiversity” mapped several locations around the world where maintaining wilderness areas should be a priority. The first statement the authors make in the abstract in this paper really hit the nail on the head for me.

“Reducing the rate of global biodiversity loss is a major challenge facing humanity, as the consequences of biological annihilation would be irreversible for humankind. 1

In this single sentence the authors make clear that the steady march of human activity, as currently, conducted could potential be catastrophic to all life on earth.

“Wilderness areas act as a buffer against species loss, as the extinction risk for species within wilderness communities is—on average—less than half that of species in non-wilderness communities.” 1

The paper points to several locations on the plant especially important to protect yet the authors also state that all wilderness areas have intrinsic conservation value thus we can all play a role by supporting local conservation efforts of wilderness area near to each of us. Below we showcase a few wilderness area we have recently spent time in. They are both beautiful as well as safe havens for biodiversity.

Click any photo for slide show.

Absoroka-Beartooh and Lee Metcalf wilderness areas.

References:

1. Reference: Di Marco, M., Ferrier, S., Harwood, T.D. et al. Wilderness areas halve the extinction risk of terrestrial biodiversity. Nature 573, 582–585 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1567-7

For a short summary of the article visit Science daily.

A couple of groups that support the missions of wilderness as a buffer for biological diversity are:
The Wilderness Society
The Half-Earth Project

Swimming through air

An interesting new study by V. B. Baliga, I. Szabo, D. L. Altshuler entitled Range of motion in the avian wing is strongly associated with flight behavior and body mass suggests that rather than the shape of a birds wing per se it is the range of motion in the elbow and wrist joints that determine how a bird swims though the air. Some birds glide smoothly like a bald eagle while other can hover like a hummingbird and this paper suggest range of motion in the joint is the key. A interesting read for those who are interested both in biomechanics and evolutionary biology.

You can find a short summary in Science Daily here.

First Leaves

Along the creek with buds just breaking out a trees first leaves of spring were not leaves at all.

It appeared that sap was flowing and attracting Comma Butterflies (Polygonia comma) of either the Eastern, Satyr or Hoary varieties to these willows just a few weeks ago. In addition to sap the leafless Pussy Willows further up the road were providing an early spring meal of pollen and nectar for the pollinators as well.

The namesake comma, or little c,is visible on both of these guys above.

… and the star of the show and a beautiful lift leaf on any plant.

And after a meal full of nectar a well balanced butterfly diet should include a little mineral as well. This Comma is engaging in a behavior known as puddling which I have observed over and over again but first read about on Piotr Naskrecki’s blog the Smaller Majority in an article entitles What Butterflies Like.

Anyway those first leaves of spring were not leaves at all.

More Sounds of Silence

Sound to take in without sound to block out.

Although I posted this  a week ago I just became aware of this new study on noise in our national parks and thought it important to pass along. The link is below.

https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2017/06/sounds-nature-national-parks-are-being-trampled-noise

Yes it is more than just a feeling ….Noise levels in our wild places are increasing at a rapid pace and what the consequences are only time will tell. Unless we respect that silence it seems it will soon be gone.

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Yes, Silence has a sound that is becoming silenced.
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