Monday, February 22, 2010

Wild Species & Natural Species

In this class we covered a lot to do with animals in their natural environment and the environment itself. COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) was one of the topics. COSEWIC has listed 380 species at risk for extinction including mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, mollusks all across the country. We covered Biodiversity and examples such as how plants draw sunlight for energy to grow then animals consume the plants then other animals and humans consume those animals for food.

Biodiversity also aids in employment (Forestry, agriculture, tourism), has a place in Traditional lifestyle (Country foods, Culture, spirit, etc...). Biodiversity can also change in Genetic diversity through events such as climate change as well as new foods, drugs and industrial processes adding chemicals to an environment. Usually this harms animals and nature by inducing new illnesses and genetic mutations in some cases.

Habitat change such as clearing land for crops, hunting away native species or introducing exotic ones can alter biodiversity. Forestry has three major biodiversity altering factors. One is Logging – change opportunities, another is replanting – change composition, and even fire suppression – affects composition, can alter the biodiversity of an ecosystem. Hydro dams, urbanization and transportation infrastructure intrude upon ecosystems damaging or eliminating them as well as the diversity that once thrived there.

Other factors such as chemicals through hydrocarbon spills and heavy metals, Climate Change with alterations in temperature that bring about the shift and destruction of habitats as well as extinction, are major factors in damaging biodiversity. Invasive species such as purple loosestrife and zebra mussels are examples of non native organisms that were brought in by man and quickly supplanted the native species as the environment offered no predators or deterrents to cope with them. Some 23% of wild flora; 1% of fish are exotics in North America and they pose a threat of eliminating native and endangered species and disrupting habitats.

A more in depth example would be Banff National Park and the interactions of humans and grizzlies. Many bears are killed or removed for public safety (females and cubs most likely) since they have begun to wander into nearby developed areas as numerous venues have opened up, such as: Towns, ski resorts, shopping malls, campgrounds, airstrips, hiking trails, highway, railway lines have sprung up. Genetic isolation due to fragmentation has also occur ed because parts of the park and surrounding area are cut off from on another by the venues mentioned in the sentence before.

One major point was Intrinsic Value, which has four major points:
1. Value based on inherent quality that species, independent of its value to humans
2. Respect for all life around us
3. Regardless of economic or utilitarian value
4. Intangible values (relationship, spiritual, connection, aesthetics...)

My personal conclusion is that people need to start being far more careful about how we interact with ecosystems and how we are harming and may in future harm biodiversity. We are not alone on the Earth and therefore must take precautions and curtsey's toward life around us because were are dependent upon it - such as in the cycle of how energy from sunlight eventually ends up on our dinner plate - and therefoire responsible for its the well-being.

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