FW: [Tweeters] Lyons Ferry..." wild turkey!" - !?

Stewart Wechsler ecostewart at quidnunc.net
Tue Sep 6 11:06:04 PDT 2005

I've been asked a number of times when I'd call an immigrant or introduced
species a "native". Here is my answer:

I'd say that a species can be called native when a new suite of species has
evolved that is adapted to the introduced species, including possibly new
species have split from the introduced parent species creating a new
equilibrium and a new equal or higher level of species diversity for the
area . Think of what occurred in the Galapagos Islands over evolutionary
time as new species arrived then split into new species and presumably old
species went extinct or evolved to adapt to the conditions created by the
immigrant species, including evolving to be adapted to prey on the new
species. I don't know how long this evolution and speciation process
typically takes. I would have no problem with introduced species if they
were introduced at the rate that it takes for evolution to create as many
new species as that species would likely drive into extinction. If anyone
can tell me how many new species evolve in say the Puget Trough per
millenium, I'd tell you how many new immigrant/introduced species I'd
welcome to this area per millenium. I understand that with the rate of
change that humans are creating, especially the humans I call "the
commercial tribe", the rate of evolution may be faster.

I will say that I'm a bit softer on species that arrive on their own steam
without direct human help.

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Webster [mailto:paul.webster at comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2005 10:22 AM
To: Stewart Wechsler
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] Lyons Ferry..." wild turkey!" - !?


The Opperman "Birder's Guide to Washington" (2003) on p. 561 says:
"Introduced from California." Wahl, Tweit & Mladinow "Birds of Washington
(2005) on p. 73 says "Introduced." Apparently they, like Mountain Quail,
were introduced around 150 years ago. Which brings up the question of when
an introduced bird gets to be considered endemic. Never?

----- Original Message -----
From: Stewart Wechsler
To: Paul Webster
Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2005 6:36 AM
Subject: RE: [Tweeters] Lyons Ferry..." wild turkey!" - !?

I fully agree that the grazing, destruction of the shrub steppe and the
rest are worse than introduced wild turkeys, but that doesn't mean that we
should not consider the introduction of this non-native species by the game
department as a good thing. Nor do I think any of those other introduced
game birds a good thing (though I'm not sure that California Quail was
introduced) The Wild Turkey may be the last straw for some native organisms.
Should we not consider this introduction a problem because there are worse

Stewart Wechsler
-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Webster [mailto:paul.webster at comcast.net]
Sent: Monday, September 05, 2005 10:06 PM
To: Stewart Wechsler; tweeters
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] Lyons Ferry..." wild turkey!" - !?

Hi Stewart,

I enjoyed your posting about the Wild Turkey. Ben Franklin liked it so
well that he proposed it as the national bird -- or so the story goes.
Actually, I rather like the Wild Turkey, too, it runs fast, flies low, and
I'm always amazed at how so big a bird can vanish so suddenly when it
decides to disappear. Of course, it isn't native to Washington, but then
neither are Mountain Quail in Western Washington, Chukar, Ring-necked
Pheasant, Gray Partridge, California Quail, or Northern Bobwhite. And it's a
pity the Sky Lark isn't thriving in Washington any longer. I admit it, I
like all these birds.

But I'd agree to banish Wild Turkeys to their native eastern habitats
if ranchers would agree to stop cattle grazing, which has caused far more
change to western ecosystems than the big birds. And maybe they could also
stop destroying the shrub-steppe to plant and irrigate non-native crops. Far
worse than Wild Turkeys, I think.

Paul Webster
----- Original Message -----
From: Stewart Wechsler
To: Bob Flores ; Tweeters ; Inland Birds
Sent: Sunday, September 04, 2005 4:33 PM
Subject: RE: [Tweeters] Lyons Ferry..." wild turkey!" - !?

Others have heard this before. Some may not know that the Wild
Turkey is an introduced species in Washington and west of the rocky
Mountains and likely functions like any introduced species by disturbing the
ecological balance. It is most likely in the process negatively impacting,
and displacing a diversity of native species in different kingdoms (not
including Saudi Arabia, as far as I'm aware) and changing ecosystems that
our native species had been adapted to. Though it is certainly an exciting
bird to see, it disturbs me when an exclamation point is added to sightings
of the "Giant Starlings" as I prefer to call them. The exclamation point
seems to imply a "good" sighting.

Stewart Wechsler
Ecological Consulting
West Seattle
206 932-7225
ecostewart at quidnunc.net

-Advice on the most site-appropriate native plants
and how to enhance habitat for the maximum diversity
of plants and animals
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