Monday, February 07, 2005

Endangered species roundup

A nice piece out of the Great Falls Tribune - Lack of study funding keeps many of Montana's imperiled animals from being delisted describes the status of several endangered Montana species. Also this idiotic quote:

Jay Bodner, natural resource coordinator for the Montana Stockgrowers Association, said one problem with the ESA is that states are grouped together. “We would like to see some recognition that a state boundary is a boundary,” Bodner said. “If we here in Montana have a viable population, we shouldn't be grouped in with those other states.”

It's hardly worth explaining the problem, but here it is: these animals don't know where the border is, and they don't care. A state boundary isn't a boundary. There needs to be consistent management across those boundaries. Since the animals cross state lines, that affects interstate commerce, and the feds will be involved.

And the Great Falls Tribune needs more concise headline writers.

Also in the blogging queue: Scrub-jays fading away: South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Scrub-jays don't do well when development corners them. Not too long ago, nearly a third of the birds lived amid suburban homes, but today all those birds are gone, Bowman said. One Sarasota study that tracked suburban and urban birds found that the jays don't die right away, but they disappear in a generation because their young can't survive in the changing landscape.

It's a story familiar from past posts. Scrub habitat is great for citrus orchards, so it's an endangered habitat, and that endangers huge numbers of species that rely on the unusual combination of factors that make it scrub (regular burning, sandy soil, reasonable water table).

Scrub jays have a complex family life, older siblings care for youngsters until a nest site opens up. Break up the habitat and there are even fewer nest sites, the society gets messed up, and trouble ensues. Protecting the scrub jay means protecting the habitat.

Why do we care about scrub jays? Early humans had a similar social system, where siblings and grandparents provided care until new hunting grounds opened up. So it tells us about our own evolution, indirectly.

Lincoln Journal Star Online - Endangered listing sought for tiger beetle:

More than two years after saying the Salt Creek tiger beetle needed emergency federal protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday announced its intention to list the insect as an endangered species.

Beetle advocates greeted the news with satisfaction that the protection process is moving forward. But they also sounded exasperated that the agency could take so long to protect what may be the rarest insect in North America.

Daily Nebraskan - Future of Salt Creek tiger beetle in question:

“I realized these were very rare after a few years of counting them. Most insects number in the thousands or millions. But these beetles only numbered in the hundreds.”

Unless authorities take drastic measures, these small pockets of insects will die out, he said, because there are not enough animals to reproduce and continue the population.

The beetle is endangered because of the destruction of its habitat -- Salt Creek and surrounding marshes. As Lincoln continues to grow to the north, the salt marsh land continues to shrink.

Familiar? Good.

Tiger beetles are beautiful, and among the fastest organisms in terms of speed relative to body length.