Posted by mike on March 03, 2001 at 21:47:03:
In Reply to: Re: the past is a mysterious place... posted by kelphead on March 02, 2001 at 20:06:45:
The Delhi sands flower fly is also protected, and it is not charismatic, but then it is protected because it is supposedly in danger of extinction. Wolves may not be considered cute and charismatic by everyone but many folks are quite fond of them, but even then, their charisma did not win them a place on the endangered species lidt, their perilously low population numbers did. At any rate, one sees a lot more T-shirts with wolves, whales and otters on them than California gnatcatchers, Trask's live-forever or Delhi sands flower flies.
As for "balancing" ecosystems, we are probably near powerless to accomplish that (if it can even be done). We barely know how some of these ecosystems work (we still don't know about certain aspects of the lifecycle of giant kelp!). Our position on this planet can be likened to riding a tiger. That tiger is the planetary ecosystem that gives us food and oxygen. We can't be sure if there always even is such a thing as a "balanced" ecosystem, especially when the background climate is shifting (at least in temperate regions; tropical rainforest appears to be at some sort of equilibrium).
As for the otter/kelp equation, horn sharks are also predators of urchins, and i've seen a good number of big ones this year, but how effective are they really, at controlling urchins? Are urchins their preferred prey any more than they are the otter's preferred food item (which they appear not to be).
Another interesting question arises; otters are supposedly a threat to lobster fisheries. Lobsters tend to be nocturnal while as far as i know, otters are mainly diurnal. Might the two coexist on that account alone?? anybody else care to hazard a guess??
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