Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Did you know ? Earth was once a much Crappier place to live than it is NOW!

(Speaking metaphorically of course)
No, I Mean Nutrients
Now that I have your attention. *smile* 

A few days ago the Science News Wires were a buzz with the latest on the extinction of Megafaunas from an ancient past ice age. Adults, like little kids, are intrigued with all manner of ancient mythical beasts, who while once very real in their past existence, are often times the subject of exaggerated storytelling which sensationalizes and creates a creature with more of ferocious reputation than what probably existed. But I tend to like a more realistic viewpoint in what those ancient animals were truly like. In many ways, I don't find them to be much different in their ecosystem roles than the modern wild animals we have today. They just did things on a grander scale. For example, I've always like Paleontologist, Jack Horner's take on T-Rex perhaps actually being a scavenger as opposed to that ferocious Hollywood Killer. Doesn't it make sense that even in such an ancient ecosystem, such large scavengers would be necessary to clean up the mess of a dead Brachiosaurus carcass which died for whatever reason ? Otherwise such dead carcasses would hang around for days, maybe even weeks stinking up the place, flies everywhere [& who knows how big those things were ?] and perhaps spreading disease. Problem is, most people really want their long held traditional centuries old stories, perhaps for no other reason than for it's entertainment value. You can compare this behavioral fascination with the violence angle to many of the modern Nature TV shows of countless "Crocodile Hunter Wannabes". Have you ever actually paid attention to the subject matter they are they're focusing attention on and the seemingly viciousness of these things when a creature strike out at the Show's Host ? It's all for show of course. It's not like the old days of Mutual Omaha's Wild Kingdom where Marlin Perkins simply showed everyone how the animals lived and what their little niche in Nature actually was. How many film takes do you suppose they had to do in order to get that incredibly vicious response they were looking for from the poor animal ? How much prodding, poking and torment did the poor thing have to endure before it lashed out in defense ? To the film editor though, it was well worth the effort. Well, the Ice Age Megafauna creatures are often depicted the same  way as well, and yet as the article brought out in so many of it's important points, they had so many amazing plant ecosystem maintenance effects back in that very healthy ancient world. Often when a documentary leans to much towards the entertainment angle, they often loose the more important learning features. Sadly, even today's Forested ecosystems are often times barely hanging on as a result of the removal of modern day wild animals through human influence. Reintroduce them and we may see amazing remarkable changes for the better. But it's that human stain that is so hard to rub out. Human's by their very historical imperfect nature are just lousy custodians of Earth. And yes, I'm also including those indigenous folks who are often depicting as being more animal, than ecosystem disrupting humans. Seriously folks, they were human. This has been this way apparently from the beginning according to the research. Where ever humans go and colonize, the natural world collapses locally in that area and degenerates into something less productive.

Chip Clark, Smithsonian's Natural History Museum

Giant Ground Sloth dung found at Rampart Cave 
around the Lake Mead Recreational Area (1938)

So I'd like to focus on the impact of not only megafauna, but also modern animals that we are more familiar with and their influence on a healthy vegetative ecosystem. Much of it has to do with Nutrient Cycling, and you may think of that in the same way as you do when it comes to water cycling. While I also enjoy good stories, fables and myths about ancient creatures and/or ecosystems, I'm always aware that our knowledge is still limited because frankly, no one was actually there as far as being an on the spot eyewitness to record and document accurate account of how life existed in the ancient past. This makes explanations a challenge to be sure. Maintaining many of the stories written about Earth's past requires ample insertion of imagination, something the Scientific Method was supposed to overcome. Unfortunately, we just don't have a time machine to go back and prove what was or what is not accurate in many of the Scientific Papers loaded with assumptions, brought to us by an over zealous Journalism Cult obsessed with exaggeration and embellishment more for it's entertainment value. Still, there are some clues which have been found that provide and element of light being shed on how some creatures lived and influenced their plant system. One of my favourite large ancient creatures from the historic past was the Giant Ground Sloth, whose mummified remains and dung have been documented and found throughout the southwest, especially in Arizona Caves in and around the Grand Canyon & southeastern Arizona where they once lived. I say mummified as opposed to fossils which generally make one think of ancient creatures encased in sedimentary rock, only to have most of their pattern form shapes imprinted with mineral as the organics decayed. One benefit of the mummified droppings is the ability of the research to actually discover just what the diet of a Ground Sloth was. Plants like high desert Ephedra [Mormon Tea or Squaw Tea], Yuccas [Spanish Dagger, Joshua Trees, etc], Mesquite, Acacia, Cactus, and even grasses. There are not many things that I know of that dine on such a diet today. Well, Javelina and Goats could probably come close. What effect has their disappearance been on such ecosystems ? This was actually the point of this study. What impact did their grazing and consumption of plant vegetation, and their feces have on these past plant ecosystems ? The study was not just speaking of grassland Savanna herbivores, but also animals with cast irons guts who preferred the rugged rangy Chaparral plants. The only way to truly illustrate such an example today of an animal with just such a cast iron gut and it's ability to greatly impact something as tough and feisty as a chaparral plant community is to show you how goats are being used by some for fire breaks and chaparral fuel reduction programs. Here is a video which beautifully illustrates an actual present day animal with just such an cast iron gut to take on even some of the nastiest vegetation and the ecosystem effect it can create by doing so. This animal is known as the common Goat! 

This video is about 15 minutes in length: 
 Bill Burrows: "Brush to Product & Going Green"

So in that video, this Holistic Land Management guy, Bill Burrows, demonstrates just exactly how a very large herd of Goats can with very little effort, brutalize and reshape an otherwise tough rangy vegetative environment we all know as Chaparral. Not many animals left today can accomplish this necessary task. But although I found their program to be a bit of overkill in the damage department, nevertheless, we can through imaginative pondering, picture just how Megafauna could have possibly shaped the Earth's environment and all the while spreading vital recycled nutrients and other microbiological organisms throughout the ancient landscape which kept the ecosystem under continual productive enrichment. And of course, such efficient biological chaparral mastication machines would have also been kept in check by the the mega-predators of the day. But back to that August 12th, 2013 article from the University of Oxford, they demonstrated how large animals acted as carriers of key important nutrients to other plants and animals over thousands of years on large continental scales. Here are some important quotes from that source:
"Up until 12,000 years ago, much of the world looked like an African savannah."    
[side point here: I'm not sure I buy into their 'most of world Africa Savanna' imagination here. I believe there were also heavily forested systems like the present Tropical and Boreal Forests we have now, but more open than presently found as a result of rich biodiverse animal presence]   
"For instance, South America was teeming with large animals, described by scientists as ‘megafauna’ – a term for animals with a body mass of more than 44kg (the size of a large dog). These megafauna in South America, which overlapped with the earliest humans, included several species of elephant-like creatures, giant ground sloths, and armadillo-like creatures the size of a small car.  In South America, most nutrients originate in the Andes mountain range and are washed into the forests through the river system.  However, on dry land, these nutrients are in short supply unless they are transported through animal dung and bodies. While small animals distribute nutrients over small distances, large animals have a much greater range. According to the study, the extinctions of large animals 12,000 years ago wiped out one of the main means of transporting nutrients far from the rivers creating a nutrient deficiency which continues to affect plant and animal life in parts of the region today."
Nutrient rich flood plains with their lush plant life
 are understandable, but how did all those important
 nutrients move further inland in drier regions ?
"The study finds that the effect of the mass extinction of megafauna 12,000 years ago was to switch off a nutrient pump – vital nutrients, such as phosphorus, were no longer spread around the region but became concentrated in those areas bordering the floodplains and other fertile areas. It concludes that even thousands of years after the extinctions, the Amazon basin has not yet recovered from this step change. Nutrients may continue to decline in the Amazon and other global regions for thousands of years to come, says the paper." 
The Royal Society: "Ecological consequences of Late Quaternary extinctions of megafauna" 
Okay, so far very interesting. Sounds logical that large megafauna had major impact on Earth's vegetative systems. But this article like many are talking about ancient times, especially with regard to the use of the word/term 'prehistoric'. That word/term for me (and this is for me personally), makes me think of a time prior to human writing and documenting things for which we today have access to. If we could fast-forward a bit by several thousand years to say, just a thousand years ago in North America, then we also have a human population not necessarily documenting through hand written text of what life was back then and the animals which were in much greater abundance that we actually have today. So what impact did the modern animals we know of, have on plant life ecosystems just in the past several hundred years ? I would say plenty. I believe part of the problem we have today are the consequences of irresponsible human behavior which has contributed to modern day extinctions in many areas of Earth's wildlife which no longer impact much of the vegetation. Could this also be another reason for vegetation decline in many areas today ?
 The Royal Society (2009)
"I have never bought into the notion of a "fire cycle" since I started learning about chaparral. It doesn't make sense that nature would evolve to turn perfectly good calories into smoke and heat, instead of life.  I ran across this article recently that indicates what I'm talking about: Ecological consequences of Late Quaternary extinctions of megafauna 
"In my mind the giant megafauna, specifically the browsers, had a huge impact on American ecology."
"Consider the shrub ox, close relative to the musk ox, as a shaper of chaparral ecology. These creatures tend to stand and fight as a herd when threatened, and make easy targets to human hunting techniques."
"From the point of view of Wildfire Science, I suggest that fire itself is unnatural. A biorich environment full of both browsers and grazers would never provide a landscape that would burn."
I don't believe that the megafires which presently bring repeated destruction year after year were a normal ecological component of the past, though there was some fire no doubt prior to human presence as plant systems do have an element of fire recovery strategy encoded within their DNA. But getting back to the past 100+ years, other studies have shown that as recently as a few hundred years ago, though there was fire, not the megafire or forest canopy Fires the globe is experiencing today. (SMU Research: Ancient tree-ring records from southwest U.S. suggest today’s megafires are truly unusual) . The study relied on more than 1,500 years of tree-ring data and hundreds of years of fire-scar records gathered from Ponderosa Pine forests. Once again, what role did millions of then existing large animals play across North America even with the presence of Native Americans ? I previously alluded to this with my post Dances With Myths: Indigenous Native Peoples and Fire Ecology where I attempted to provide a more realistic picture of the average Native American as more of a real human, instead of being who has been romanticized as the ultimate land management Ecologist. Yes, who better than a Native to have a vast amount of knowledge about surviving off the land. But they still clearly had some impact on nature. I just don't believe it was always a positive effect. Take for example a couple of illustrations I used in that post of what the potential for massive animal numbers could have been on an earlier ecosystem even prior to European arrival.

Image - Wiki Commons Crabtree13 (2010)
"Tule Elk, Lake Pillsbury near Hull Mountain, Mendocino National Forest, Lake County, California"
From Wikepedia:
California Tule Elk once numbered over 500,000+ just in the San Joaquin and Central Valleys. This doesn't include the  Roosevelt Elk of the Redwoods or the large Antlered Rocky Mountain Elk of the Modoc Plateau who may also have had  huge population numbers and impacted those ecosystems. 
Ponder this for a moment. What impact on California vegetation would 500,000+ Tule Elk grazing and pooping everywhere have had in the San Joaquin Central Valley along with a few thousand Beaver in a lush well watered Paradise ? Do you think that historical animal rich environment had a huge health impact on the region's vegetation ? As that article brought out from the Chaparral Institute's Richard Halsey referenced, there was far more of an impact than just nutrient recycling. There was also vegetation shaping and influencing which would have also had more of a phenotypic plasticity impact with regards fire ecology. Megafires which also include the present ongoing Canopy or Crown Fires, would have not been helped along by the then prevailing forest or other vegetation design. Here are some helpful quotes from the other article:
"Most of the extinct megafauna were herbivores. I focus specifically on changes in the structure, composition and dynamics of plant communities that can be attributed to the loss of those large herbivores that were present in terrestrial ecosystems at the beginning of the Last Glacial cycle ca 130 ka (i.e. thousands of years ago), but which went extinct before the historical period."   
"Big herbivores have big effects on plants." [side point, as has been illustrated, so can large herds of much smaller animals] "Beyond the direct impacts of herbivory on the physiology, form and growth of individual plants, herbivores shape plant communities in many ways: by reducing vegetation density and creating gaps; facilitating species coexistence; dispersing seeds; suppressing sensitive species; reducing fire potential by preventing accumulation of dry plant tissue; and accelerating nutrient recycling via urine and faeces"
Dropping much further down the paper, we come to the subheading section labeled:
Flammable New Worlds
"The prediction that fire should have increased after megafaunal extinction holds true in most cases where it can be tested, but with much variation in the way in which fire subsequently affected vegetation dynamics. In the northeastern USA, Robinson et al.'s (2005) data are consistent with a pure form of the ‘herbivore replacement’ hypothesis. Burning increased several hundred years after megafaunal extinction, suggesting that plant biomass that had been consumed by herbivores before the extinctions was consumed by fire afterwards, after an interval of increased accumulation of fuel. This did not induce a change in the dominant vegetation type, as would have been the case had fire consumed more biomass than herbivores had formerly done, or selected for plants with very different forms or life strategies."
"Many of these plants were originally most successful in ecological zones that were heavily used by large herbivores, which maintained dry and open conditions and suppressed fire. If these conditions changed as a result of herbivore extinction, and especially if fire became a more significant control of vegetation, ‘megafauna plants’ might have declined as a result."
"Plants species that had depended wholly or partly on large herbivores for seed dispersal should have suffered declines in distribution and genetic variance following megafauna extinction, potentially leading to extinction."
(source)Ecological consequences of Late Quaternary extinctions of megafauna
Credit: Jasper - InciWeb

Understory fire in 2009 Aspen Fire
Grand Canyon North Rim
There is no doubt that the removal of any animals from within an ecosystem would have had consequences which were negative. The open spaces created, the removal of dead or older vegetation would have been eliminated. Hence even plant systems such as the southwest's chaparral plant community would have been much larger as far as old growth than we could possibly imagine today. Such browsing would NOT have had the total destructive effects that fire have. Not that fire wouldn't have happened, but it just would not have had the same modern day destructive effects and would no doubt have been a more rare event prior to the arrival of humans. Also such an ecosystem would have had healthy old growth which would have influenced an also healthy hydrological cycling of rain and a much moister climate with a higher humidity level. Such fires if & when they happened would be more of an understory fire which would have blown a lot of white smoke as opposed to the common big billowing black mushroom clouds we all see presently. I remember during the El Nino wet period between 1978-1983 in the San Jacinto Mountains, when lightning did strike or in the case of some idiot trying to start a fire, all that would result was lots of white smoke. Even the lightning strike by my former home on Table Mountain near Anza CA during one of those Monsoon events merely burned the understory of the Redshank Chaparral, something you would not expect of what most folks consider nothing more than dead rangy brush interior material. I know because I walk over and inspected the area thoroughly when I came back home that afternoon. It was about one acre and all the old growth Chaparral was still perfectly intact,  but with a cleaner carpet understory floor beneath the canopy.

So how do we know all of this and how can we be sure ? As I've previously stated above, the scientific method opportunity for studying Megafauna's presence & effect on ancient ecosystems is gone, and it's almost impossible to gauge the large impact of modern wildlife on vegetation given that most of their once vast numbers have been eliminated. So in many ways the scientific method is still tough to put into practice. Replacing it with a Lab or imaginary computer model is out of the question also. However, we today have animals which humans have selected in vast quantity because of their great economic value for consumerism which do allow us to see an impact either for a positive or a negative effect on vegetation. I've already mentioned goats, but we also have sheep and especially cattle which European Enterprises in the late 1800s provided in such greater numbers than the land could accommodate, that they became the beginning of the end for many ecosystems around the globe. I actually took a few pictures around Lake Henshaw in San Diego County to show a positive impact on shaping vegetation. Unfortunately, most domestic livestock animals have had many of the wild instincts for moving and roaming bred out of them. They are more docile and easier to handle as a result. Unlike the wild animals who keep on the move from predators, these animals tend to stay put and grind vegetation down the the soil. Look at most late 1800s and early 1900s photos and you will see what I mean. This is where humans have to do actual management of them by prodding the livestock along. In the two photos below there are examples of the pruning services for which animals will provide under the proper management. 

Photo Mine (May 2013)
Mataguay Creek looking west towards Lake Hensahw from Hwy 79 in San Diego County
In both photos we have a clear illustration of what large animals can do for a landscapes understory by pruning is up from the ground. Like wild grazing animals, they prefer far more than just grassland diets. Something the early pioneers and some modern day ranching interests just don't get. Although, allowing permanent pasturage in and around riparian ecosystems can have some long term negative effects which could last decades. In historic times past, predators laying in wait near watering hole sources would have kept the situation in check as prey animals would not have lingered for very long after drinking. 
(Negative Effects of Livestock Grazing Riparian Areas)
photo: Mine (May 2013)
For me this is a historical grove of Fremont Cottonwoods south of Cal-Trans Maintenance Yard on California State Hwy 79 just east of Lake Henshaw in San Diego County
Photo Mine (June 2016)
And yeah - Wow! - Just three years later as the extreme drought conditions continue in San Diego County
(Credit: Victoria Sánchez)

Palaeontologists in Argentina
have discovered that dung balls
reveal much about the ecology of
lost world of giant mammals
Interesting and educational, but let's not forget all that processed biomass excreted onto the ground. There is no doubt that large animals as well as other smaller herd animals do their deposit thing while feeding on the move. But someone else had to get that material into the Earth's soil and that is where Megafauna alone providing the vast raw materials for nutrient enrichment still had to have help in this Dung Recycling process. It wasn't enough to have the large, medium or small animals providing the raw materials to lay on the surface. The system required a vast army of insect workers to get that fertilizer deep into the soil where it would doo the most good. Last week the University of Helsinki came out with a nice article about the role played today by dung beetles which is most likely no different than in the historical past. This is the way nature recycles and rebuilds it's soils. Now somewhere there has got to be some practical application here, because chalking all this research up to just mere interesting reading isn't good enough. It offers no of hope of change which is needed to bring the Earth back from the brink. Industrial Farming and Forestry practices under the guise of building economies is literally killing this planet. So when you look at the natural patterns in Nature, we can actually find that they truly are not overly elaborate on the surface in the sense you cannot replicate them and this is important. If you look at and observe the simple holistic patterns in Nature's recycling system, they really are not overly complicated from a replication standpoint. The Industrial Agriculture especially when it comes to livestock management is almost always stationary by keeping livestock locked up in giant confinement houses. Yet if you look at Nature, it's always on the move over open country. Megafauna and the common fauna we have today is also always on the move. The industrial Ag program separates the livestock from it's natural feeding program, from it's fertilizer input onto the soil for in which the land is blessed, except that under the industrial application that concentrated manure now becomes a  liability instead of a blessing. The Orthodox Science which runs this world has effectively broken apart these very simple yet intricately complex carbon cycles that were once the fundamental ways in which Nature recycled it's soils and replenished them. The idea here is to create a terrain in the landscape where the good bugs beat the bad bugs, but the cycling mechanisms which once did this for the most part have disappeared and with it many of the once pristine and healthy ecosystems. Recently, more info on the modern Dung Beetle has been released and it's fascinating. We actually had tons of these little beetles down there in Anza Valley when I lived there, especially around where people had horses or cattle penned up. Very kool to watch and please follow the link below. 


University of Helsinki had a great article Aug 22, 2013 on the benefits of Dung Beetles dining on 'Meadow Muffins' or otherwise known as 'Prairie Pizzas'. 

Beetles Modify Emissions of Greenhouse Gases from Cow Pats
More Illustrations Which Teach

Wild Thyme Farm

Natural Forest Succession Pig Meadow over 21 years
"Just to the west of Ridgecrest Boulevard is Pig Meadow. It was the site of the most recent clearcut, around 1985, just a few years before the property was acquired. It was not replanted after harvesting, and continuous grazing since then kept the area open, leaving only stumps, ferns and grasses. In early 1988, a neighbor's lone 300-pound pig held court in the clearcut, and so it was named "Pig Meadow". By the end of that year, all the livestock was removed, new seedlings rapidly appeared and the transition back into forest had begun."
1988 Liza. Up to this time, goats grazed the high meadow, a wide open grassy field. 
1999 John. No goat grazing over the past 10 years. Young fir trees up to 20 feet high and many bushes have grown up alongside the road and in the meadow. 
2001 Robert and Nesta. Firs have been thinned and limbed up. New firs have been planted in the spaces to complete the promenade. 
2009 John and Nesta. Before the firs have been limbed or trimmed.
"When the property was acquired in 1987, the high meadow was being grazed by the neighbor's free-ranging sheep and goats. With no fences to contain the livestock, the animals foraged deep into the surrounding forest, creating an attractive pastoral landscape. Grazing livestock in a woodland is known as "Silvo-pasturing", as it achieves the dual purpose of growing trees while providing continuous forage for animals. Trees that make it above browsing height can achieve maturity, but relentless grazing prevents any tree regeneration and eliminates most brushy understory species. When the neighbor passed away in 1988, the animals were removed and the fringes of the high meadow started on the path to natural forest succession."
Chaparral Institute
And who gets the blame when things go wrong ? For example, let's jump back up into the Fire Ecology subject. When our modern megafires consume housing and other human infrastructure, who or what generally gets the blame for the disaster ? Do they bring up the fact that humans have altered Earth's environment so badly that it's sophisticated operational maintenance systems have been so thoroughly thrown off balance which has degraded our planet's weather mechanisms so badly, that the fire behavior is not what it once was ? No! There's a sort of an old time religious blame game card being played here. You know, in the old days there was an old expression and I think the Insurance Industry may still use it. Have you ever heard of that saying, "Act of God" ? Do you remember that ? Generally, it's a term used to mask one's ignorance for the inexplicable. The problem now is that modern science has effectively killed God in the minds of many and in it's place we have such expression as "It was the bad weather conditions caused by Climate Change" - "It was the dense Chaparral buildup which caused the severe wildfire"  which in other words essentially translates now as "Acts of Nature". So it's now Nature's fault. It's never the fault of the private property owners who wanted that dream home on a mountainside and hired the local Joe Six-Pack to bulldoze an impossible road access where there was no business having one. It's not the fault of failed prescribed burns which allowed invasive grasses and weeds to grab a foot hold because after all, it was science-based. It's not the fault of the home builders and community planners who altered a river's course in an ancient floodplain. You see where this is going ? There is no reason for debate any longer. Presently, there is so much research information out there now that is good science, which has rightly exposed the corporate influenced science as horribly flawed and shed light on the reality of the way the Natural World actually operates. Below is a prime example of where valuable mob or herd grazing management could and should be utilized, but as per official agenda by the prevailing scientific orthodoxy prescribed burns are the only option on the table. What an incredible waste of good livestock fodder which requires no farmed hay or grain feed. Not to mention the reintroduction of nutrients and microbiological organisms reintroduced into the ecosystems through the animal dung and urine. Plus the ground disturbance of animal hooves. We are not just talking grass as feed, but browsing of shrubs and saplings for which wild animals perform the service as well.
Grazing & Forest Thinning 100+ years Success Story on Montana Ranchland west of St Helena vs US National Forest Service just let Nature do it's thing Strategy
Photo by Jim Priest (2013)
"This is this the best illustration of forest mismanagement I have seen. The land on the right is deeded ground that has utilized managed logging & grazing for over a hundred years. The land on the left is Forest Service ground that hasn't been logged in who knows how long. See the difference? This picture was taken on the ranch I work for west of Helena, Montana."
Jim Priest RV Ranch Company's Foreman
Breaking News: More Burn Baby Burn Hype
Photo: Jesse Miller/UC Davis
"Glade grasslands are fire-adapted ecosystems that contain diverse plant communities. This glade in Missouri has been managed with prescribed fire and mechanical thinning of woody vegetation."
Update Alert! September 20,2017 
U.C. Davis: Ozark Grasslands Experience Major Increase in Trees and Shrubs
Landscape Ecology: Holding the line: three decades of prescribed fires halt but do not reverse woody encroachment in grasslands
I'm going to finish up here for the moment, but I also have a second part on this. The information on this subject  has far too much practical application to allow this to be mere passing interest story. Stay tuned for Part II.


  1. While I agree with this in broad strokes we are CLOSER in geologic time to T rex than Tyrannosaurus Rex was to Brachisosaurus (Alamosaurus was sympatric w/rex in the south and even larger than Brachio though). And we have proof of t rex predation (numerous healed bones of hadrosaurs/triceratops). Sorry to be "that guy" but it just irks my paleo sensibilities.

    It is a bit ironic that we lug around bags of animal shit to fertilize our own gardens. And those shasta sloths munching on all kinds of prickly, burly vegetation- they must have been a sight to behold! An animal like that could be used by people to make fire brakes.

  2. LOL, I know what you mean, I take everything about ancient times with a grain of salt by admitting that even after I listen to or read all the stories, I'll never know for sure what life was truly like unless I was there.

    There are even stories of the Giant Ground Sloth being carnivorous or a meat scavenger. Although, I'll have to go with the diet contents found in the mummified dung. It's incredible how all the nutrient cycling has been brought to a halt with the elimination of animals.

  3. I stumbled upon this and was simply transfixed. Obviously. I thought I wrote it. Thanks for the little quote of mine you included, and the correct reference. It was super nice to be included in a small way in this article. It makes me sad, though, that ecological ramifications of big megafauna seem so readily ignored today. Also confused. It seems so obvious to me. Here is another little tidbit of info on this subject that I'll share. In Southern Humbold County much concern is made about the loss of meadow land. Sometimes referred to as forest encroachment. In the last 80 years we have good documented evidence that meadows are shrinking to nothing. Some say it is due to an interrupted fire cycle. Some say it is because the native grasses have been outcompeted by introduced weeds. To me it seems obvious that 200 years ago cows replaced elk as prime grazers, and starting about 70 years ago the economics of cattle ranching began to erode to the point now where it is not possible to make money cattle ranching in southern Humboldt. Kurt Schasker

    1. Thanks. To be honest, I have not even recently been visiting my own blog lately for some couple of months, not only due to heavy secular work load, but also my disgust with the way bogus leadership which claims to represent Science (in general) is running things on this planet. My more recent disgust was especially evident when I wrote my very last piece on Climate Change and "Ascension Island" . The incredible stupidity and arrogance of those claiming to be experts in the Biodiversity field and what should be done on Earth, where these asinine pseudo-geniuses couldn't see the climate mechanism through the invasive species blinders.

      But I find idiocy in all sectors of human rulership or leadership and I don't care if we are talking about Political, Religious or Big Business [Science] entities. All three are running neck and neck in the whose got the bigger manure sack for brains derby and no matter who wins, the planet just continues to lose, along with all mankind.

      Fortunately for the continued existence of all life, a major change is eminent.



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