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pleistocene "rewilding"...

Discussion in 'United States' started by patrick, 27 Jun 2007.

  1. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    any of you guys read the lastest issue of scientific american?

    theres an article on a proposed idea to reintroduce animals from the pleistocene to the wild of north america. of course many of these species have long gone extinct, but some have close relatives living elsewhere on the globe. the idea, is that by reintroducing megafauna, north americas ecosytems will become more 'complete' and healthier than they have been for the last 50,000 years.

    bactrain camels, mongolian horses, guanacos and even lions and cheetah will no doubt be able to adapt reasonably well to the temperate conditions (so long as they keep reasonably far south) but what of the poor asian elephants that are proxies for mammoths?

    there's a guy in the UK who plans to do something similar albeit with much more recently exctinct species, such as bears and wolves, that still exist in mainland europe.

    personally, whilst i well and truly understand the science behind it - i can't see such a venture ever developing much beyond a jurassic park type zoo where some of the animals eat eachother - no doubt by the time the elephants start growing extra fur, they will have cloned mammoths anyway.

    still you can't say it wouldn't be fascinating to see how the animals adapted, if at all.....

    whats your thoughts?
     
  2. ZYBen

    ZYBen Well-Known Member

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    i rememeber on a american forum this coming out about a year ago, i think its good, aslong as its contained
     
  3. ^Chris^

    ^Chris^ Well-Known Member

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    Sounds a bit ridiculous to me...i'd definitely like to find out more though. I can't really see it being all that well justified. Surely too much has happened between now and then!

    The idea of doing it in the UK does appeal a bit more though, I remember reading about them planning it for one of the Scottish islands. I think we've got a different scenario to the US though. The animals in the UK's case are still extant, and more recently removed from the natural environment. I think proposed species were Brown Bear, European Wolf, Wisent Wild Boar and maybe Lynx.

    Perhaps it would be money better spent on re-introducing struggling species rather than those that have gone? Wildcats, otters and water voles probably deserve it more.
     
  4. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    very true ponts here chris.

    you have to remember that most of these species are now exctinct, not just in america, but the rest of the world as well. using "stand-in species" may indeed work in terms of replacing certain niches is the environment, but your not actually restoring a natural scenario so much as engineering an entirely new one. the idea that nature is perfectly balanced is not entriely true. is constantly evolving, with new species popping up and others going extinct. humans excelerate this - and in theory, since we are part of nature everything we do (or have done in the past - the very, very distant past, as it may be in this scenario) can be considered natural also. no doubt from here on in us humans will have an even greater impact on evolution than ever before, effectively choosing which species we will allow to become extinct and which we will let live on.

    you may see it as for the last however many thousand years north america has been missing some of its greatest megafauna, or you could imagine that instead its been evolving on without them. psersonally i agree with you chris. before we start taking elephants to america, lets try and secure them a home in asia, and maybe let the americans instead focus on reintroducing the jaguars.

    it certainly would be a very interesting reserve though, and no doubt would make ALOT of money.
     
  5. Zoo_Boy

    Zoo_Boy Well-Known Member

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    i agree pat, as u say these animals became extint ats ice age, thousands of years ago.

    i am asking my slef, did early humans of the ice age, have a impact on animal sere enough to wipe them from these areas.

    even if so it was 1000's of years ago. and the species wiped out, are not the same as for eg, african or asian elephants, nor asian or africn, lion, so we can t just throw these species back into north america.

    but as chris put it, maybe introding be and wolves bck to europed be fesable, as they o died out fran interferance just 100ago.

    but on the flip , i would support a large africa built in north america, a natural wild created with conservation in mind, a 'back-up' serengetti if the real ones dies for eg. rathen a 're-wilding' of n.america

    also, if the above didnt make sense, its either me, or my pc, it keeps dropping out and missing letters here and there, even whole words, sorry, and no it's not just my bad literacy skills lol
     
  6. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    well in the sense of back-up serengetis they kind of already have it-the wilds, san diego wild animal park, etc. you could never recreate an african eco-system in north america, so zoos are effectively as close as youll get, whether theyre conservation centres like 'the wilds, ohio' san diego animal park or animal kingdom in florida.
    as for the idea of reintroducing representative mega-fauna, i think its flawed and will never even get off the ground. its another way, albeit more extreme, of re-engineering nature, and that never works. i accept that humans are extinction mechanisms, but this must be viewed in context. reintroducing tasmanian devils to the mainland as weve discussed here is to me more realistic than the north american plan. north americans would be better off fostering the reintroduction and re-establishment of species with diminished or retracted ranges, such as puma, condors, bears and wolves; the decline of which is directly attributed to man.
    on the subject of the british thing, well, interesting forces are at work there. global warming, and international shipping, has contributed dozens of new species to the south of the uk, ranging from invertebrates from the mediteranean to lizards and birds like the hoopoe expanding north. birds, like the eage owl (i think its the one) and red kite are also reclaiming old territory, spreading, in the case of the owl back from scandinavia which for many decades was their last refuge. this species was absent from britain for many years, its now making a comeback, and so is the red kite.
    on mammals, well, this is a bit more contentious but for a host of different reasons. however, i think, though im sure british farmers may, and rightly so, disagree, that any mammal species wiped out by human impacts in recorded history in britain, do have, ethicaly a place back in england. this could be taken to include brown bears, wolves, lynx, beaver and boar. of corse, any reintroduction would need to be carefully considered, and withut a doubt, would be hotly debated. but with the global extinction crisis returning some animals to their original ranges may be a way of restoring some of the web of life.
    strength in diversity, and a future in biodiversity
     
  7. ^Chris^

    ^Chris^ Well-Known Member

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    The Eagle Owl and Red Kite are two slightly different examples. The owls are back accidentally due to escapees and I think some authorities debate whether there were ever any actual wild British Eagle owls. Red kites never went fully extinct and were introduced from Spanish and Scandinavian birds. The success of the kite project really is great.

    Its interesting that you mention the beavers- they've already started to reintroduce them in areas. The boars have introduced themselves thanks to lots of boar farm escapes. The reintroduction plans would mainly be for the habitat that could still support them, so only really our upland areas and they'd pose no threat to farmland especially. The boars that have introduced themselves are doing damage in some ways because they are close to habitation but they're also thriving.
     
  8. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    well now thats always got me confused about you Zoo_Boy!! sombosy suggests reintroducing megafauna to america, that died out during the last ice age using some of the same species and proxies as others. you say "no" - but then suggest creating a entire serengetti!!!!:confused:

    firstly, a serengetti in america is far less natural - at least the other project involves species that are, to a certain degree, either ex-native species (such as the lion, it was exactly the same species panthera leo) or very similar proxies such as mongolian horses and bactrian camels (both camels and horses evolved on the american continent).

    recreating a serengetti includes introducing animal-types that have never been established there. and the environment would have no adaptations at all for.

    okay sound like i'm backflipping? not really. the science or at least theory behind "rewilding" is actually pretty sound. most scientist accept that early humans were responsible for the mass megafaunal extinctions that occoured outside of asia and africa (the reason being why they survived on those contenents that humans or near-humans had pretty much evolved here, thus the wildlife better adapted to their presence). if early humans hadn't killed off these animals they would still be there today. in short, the environment has changed since then without them, but not THAT much. if raising biodiversity globally is the goal, then reintroducing some of these animals makes perfect sense.

    HOWEVER, the american cheetah was not the same species as the african variety. nor is an asian elephant the same as a mammoth. the project might very well work, indeed i actually think it would work very well - but i doubt it will never be more than a theme park type idea, a "pleistocene park" for tourists and research. and thankgod for that.

    now i'm thinking about it - if i had the money.... imagine how much money you would make from all the ticket sales!!!! ;)

    in essense i think its an interesting idea from a scientfic point of view. no doubt if you were an ecologist, nothing would be more fun than recreating an entire ecosystem of animals from all over the globe. no doubt i can also see the conservation benifits of such for some species. no doubt today, the security of the wild horse's existance in the wild lies just as much with the introduced populations in western europe as it does in its more recently native mongolia. but the mongolian wild horse is probably just a mere subspecies of the wild horse that until historic times roamed much of europe. the tarpan was probably just a different race of the same animal. and they went extinct at the hands of modern man, not a bunch of ice age hunters.

    and i think its around here that i'm drawing the line.

    but its a facinating concept.

    oh and heres the (lousy) website...

    Rewilding Institute Wilderness and Wildlife Conservation
     
    Last edited: 28 Jun 2007
  9. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    when i was in the UK i watched a fascinating doco on the eagle owls, which were expanding their range westward to the UK, flying straight accross the channel., without human intervention ;)
     
  10. ^Chris^

    ^Chris^ Well-Known Member

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    Really? That's very interesting.
    The most famous pair live quite close to me in North Yorkshire, but I always thought those ones were escapees. Must do more research!

    EDIT: If anyone does care (and I appreciate it is getting a little off topic now) there's this The RSPB: Policy: Eagle owls in the UK

    Seems continental birds are making the journey, and decisions are split over the North Yorkshire pair.
     
  11. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    there were a pair nestng on army land somewhere, somewhere bleak.
    in the netherlands, theyre using old quarries. a young male bird fledged in the netherlands was tracked down in spain. these birds fly!
    i was also told by a ZSL keeper that a wild bird turned up on top of the aviary in Regents Park in 2005 too. i just love the power of nature, to recover and restore itself. here in Australia, our geographic proximity to Asia means we could eventually end up with several new birds who migrate down of their own accord. even some bat species, micro-bats from Asia are believed to be recent colonists from Asia too. nature isnt static
     
  12. ^Chris^

    ^Chris^ Well-Known Member

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    Never knew that about that London bird. The MoD pair is the same ones as I'm on about.

    Little egrets are a similar story here. There used to be none, now there's loads just due to natural migration/ range expansion. I guess birds can 'rewild' themselves.
     
  13. bongorob

    bongorob Well-Known Member

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    I've seen that common cranes are again breeding in Norfolk, having re-colonised part of their former range. Little egrets have now bred in many areas along the British coast and like the hoopoe and working their way northwards. Several years ago a female egret escaped from Chester Zoo and returned a year later with a wild male. They nested in a tree alongside the female's former enclosure and successfully raised a family.

    One completely new species for Britian and one making a comeback.
     
  14. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Common cranes- have been present in another part of Norfolk ( and possibly breeding occassionally) for quite a long time now but its been kept very quiet until now. Like the Eagle owls, I believe there is some doubt as to whether the originals were escapees or truly wild birds.

    Eagle owls- the pair were breeding at Catterick army ranges( this is common knowledge, not a secret...) I read that very soon after the TV film on them was shown, somebody shot the adult female of the pair. Do you know if she was been replaced by another and if they are still breeding?

    I believe it isn't proven if the original pair were continental immigrants or escapess?

    Kites- the indigenous welsh population has come back from near extinction and spread widely in Wales through careful protection and management. The english population is totally introduced but has been hugely successful in the Chilterns and now elsewhere too.


    Hoopoe- has always been an occasional breeder in the UK. Is there any evidence to suggest they are breeding more frequently now?

    remember the flip side- some species lost to the Uk, e.g. redbacked shrike, wryneck, kentish plover, haven't so far returned despite the so-called global warming.