[Tweeters] Barred vs. Spotted

Michael Hobbs birdmarymoor at verizon.net
Mon Dec 13 11:32:10 PST 2004

Rob's comments kind of miss the point, in a way, but it points to what I
think is wrong with the Endangered Species Act. Barred Owls appear to be
able to out-compete Spotteds in the current situation because there are few
very large old-growth forest areas remaining. While it may be true that
"even in old growth", Barreds are able to oust Spotteds, I bet those
old-growth stands were small and considerably altered from the
pre-settlement forests.

The Spotted Owl is a good indicator species signifying a healthy old-growth
forest. By focussing very narrowly on their survival, and setting aside
circles of forest around each pair but allowing clearcutting (or even just
selective logging) of the surroundings, we cannot save either the Spotted
Owl nor the ecosystem in which they live.

Sure, they may survive for a while, and maybe even for a (bird) generation
or two. But the forest they live in will change, losing some species,
acquiring others, due to edge effects, and the lack of contiguity for
seasonal migrations, etc.

So when Barreds take over an area, it probably indicates that we've already
lost the old-growth ecosystem that had acted as a barrier to Barreds.

The ESA focusses too heavily on individual species, and in implementation
often on individuals (be they single nests, or leks, or flocks, or packs,
etc). I think we need to identify larger areas of land that can sustain
entire ecosystems, and preserve them, for the most part by keeping people

Systems are dynamic, and change is part of life. But humans are a catalyst
for change that disrupts the usual relationships between elements within
communities. Since the effects of our species are (often) unintended but
(almost always) significant, it really behooves us to try to mitigate them.

== Michael Hobbs
== Kirkland, WA
== http://www.scn.org/fomp/birding.htm
== birdmarymoor at verizon.net

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