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Conservation VS Herclivation

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Xerographica
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Conservation VS Herclivation

Postby Xerographica » Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:21 pm

Did you know that honeybees aren't native to the Americas? Imagine the first bears to discover honey. I'm sure that they were pretty happy about the discovery, except for the part about the stings. I'd sure love to be able to see and know exactly what difference the introduction of honeybees has made, and will make. For example, none of the 1000s of different species of orchids native to the Americas have evolved to be pollinated by honeybees. But there are certainly some native orchid species that can be pollinated by honeybees. Then what?

My best guess is that honeybees in the Americas will lead to a net gain of biodiversity. The bees, given that they are different than the native pollinators, have increased the diversity of the demand for flowers, which will increase the diversity of the supply of flowers.

Except, even though it's likely that the introduction of honeybees to the Americas will result in more biodiversity, their introduction goes against the premise of conservation. Conservationists definitely would not have approved the introduction of honeybees to Americas. They would have vetoed it, which is why I'm not a conservationist. Instead, I'm a herclivationist.

"Herclivation" is another one of my made up words. It represents the idea of deliberately doing things to increase biodiversity.

The difference between herclivation and conservation is perhaps like the difference between consequentialism and deontology. As a herclivationist, I don't have a rule against the introduction of life. My rule is to judge an introduction based on its impact on biodiversity.

Admittedly it's super tricky to precisely predict the outcome of any introduction. We can't precisely predict what would happen if hummingbirds were introduced to Africa and Australia, but we know that doing so would increase the diversity of the demand for flowers, which would increase the diversity of their supply.

What would happen if Tillandsias were introduced to Africa and Australia? Tillandsias are epiphytes that prefer niches that are too dry and bright for most other epiphytes. Right now in Africa and Australia the preferred niches of Tillandsias are largely unoccupied. If Tillandsias were introduced to Africa and Australia, then they would fill these niches and provide shelter and food for a wide variety of animals. Tillandsias would essentially create new niches for more life.

What about introducing kangaroos to other parts of the world? I'm guessing that lions would vote for their introduction to Africa.

In any case, it can't be the rule that an introduction will result in a net loss of biodiversity... otherwise there wouldn't be any biodiversity. Life is synonymous with colonization. If there ever was any life that didn't colonize, then it inevitably learned the hard lesson of keeping all its eggs in the same basket. An underwater thermal vent that forms the foundation of a thriving habitat can cease to function at any time. Just like our planet can be destroyed at any time. The one job that Nature gave us is to distribute life to other planets.

Now you know my opinion on the topic of conservation versus herclivation... what's yours?
Last edited by Xerographica on Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Bombadil » Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:01 pm

I don't think so Xero.. remember there's always a best.. there must be a best.. and the best if spread across the globe will eventually wipe out everything else..

..much like humans are doing.
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Postby Xerographica » Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:28 pm


The "global homogenization" of crops is the result of anything, primarily the government, that prevents the supply from accurately reflecting the diversity of the demand.

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Postby Xerographica » Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:30 pm

Bombadil wrote:I don't think so Xero.. remember there's always a best.. there must be a best.. and the best if spread across the globe will eventually wipe out everything else..

..much like humans are doing.

A plant can't be the best at growing in a shady moist place as well growing in a sunny dry place. This is why we have ferns and cactus.

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Postby Albrenia » Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:44 pm

I imagine one would have to be careful lest new species choke out the native flora and fauna via competition for the same resources.

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Postby Xerographica » Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:51 pm

Albrenia wrote:I imagine one would have to be careful lest new species choke out the native flora and fauna via competition for the same resources.

In the case of the Tillandsias being introduced to Africa/Australia... the competition would be minimal because the preferred niches are largely unoccupied. But in other situations when a preferred niche already is largely occupied, here's one potential outcome...

How do reptiles evolve when another species invades their space? In the case of the Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis) in Florida, its feet evolved to better climb higher in trees to avoid the invasive brown anole (Anolis sagrei). - John Virata

This is similar to how epiphytes grow on trees in order to avoid the fierce competition for ground space.

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Postby Costa Fierro » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:47 pm

New Zealand and Australia are good examples where the introduction of exotic species wrought havoc on native flora and fauna.
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Postby Xerographica » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:10 pm

Costa Fierro wrote:New Zealand and Australia are good examples where the introduction of exotic species wrought havoc on native flora and fauna.

One issue with the cane toads is that few, if any, of the numerous native predators could eat them without dying. But what's fascinating about the cane toads is that they've noticeably evolved in a relatively short amount of time. How long until the cane toads in Australia can be considered a new species? Less than 5000 years? That's around the time it's taken for the dingo...

Based on a comparison with these early fossils, dingo morphology has not changed over the past 3,500 years. This suggests that there has been no artificial selection over this period and that the dingo represents an early form of dog from 4,000-5,000 years ago. They have lived, bred, and undergone natural selection in the wild, isolated from other canids until the arrival of European settlers, resulting in a unique canid. Therefore, it is argued by some scientists that the dingo should be recognised as the distinct taxon Canis dingo.

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Postby Costa Fierro » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:29 pm

You're not getting it. Introducing species for diversity's sake is never a good thing to do, because there is ample opportunity for said species to drastically alter already present biomes and kill off native species.
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Postby Page » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:19 pm

In principle, I agree with you and the comparison you've drawn to consequentialism vs. deontology. As a consequentialist, I reject any rule that can't be justified by its consequences, if someone says "you just don't do x" then I want to know what the potential results of x are, why such a rule exists.

However, in practice I am generally against introducing a new species as a rule, because in practice, the overall consequences of doing so are almost always negative, and we can't predict what kind of domino effect will occur.

Philosophically, I think consequentialism is the only logical approach to ethics, but the problem is that consequences are a chain reaction and it is impossible to know where the consequences of a single action ends.

If there was unanimous or near unanimous agreement among experts that introduction of a new species to an area would be a net positive, I'd be open to it, but this isn't something you do without exhaustive research first.
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Postby Sovaal » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:51 pm

Xerographica wrote:Did you know that honeybees aren't native to the Americas? Imagine the first bears to discover honey. I'm sure that they were pretty happy about the discovery, except for the part about the stings. I'd sure love to be able to see and know exactly what difference the introduction of honeybees has made, and will make. For example, none of the 1000s of different species of orchids native to the Americas have evolved to be pollinated by honeybees. But there are certainly some native orchid species that can be pollinated by honeybees. Then what?

My best guess is that honeybees in the Americas will lead to a net gain of biodiversity. The bees, given that they are different than the native pollinators, have increased the diversity of the demand for flowers, which will increase the diversity of the supply of flowers.

Except, even though it's likely that the introduction of honeybees to the Americas will result in more biodiversity, their introduction goes against the premise of conservation. Conservationists definitely would not have approved the introduction of honeybees to Americas. They would have vetoed it, which is why I'm not a conservationist. Instead, I'm a herclivationist.

"Herclivation" is another one of my made up words. It represents the idea of deliberately doing things to increase biodiversity.

The difference between herclivation and conservation is perhaps like the difference between consequentialism and deontology. As a herclivationist, I don't have a rule against the introduction of life. My rule is to judge an introduction based on its impact on biodiversity.

Admittedly it's super tricky to precisely predict the outcome of any introduction. We can't precisely predict what would happen if hummingbirds were introduced to Africa and Australia, but we know that doing so would increase the diversity of the demand for flowers, which would increase the diversity of their supply.

What would happen if Tillandsias were introduced to Africa and Australia? Tillandsias are epiphytes that prefer niches that are too dry and bright for most other epiphytes. Right now in Africa and Australia the preferred niches of Tillandsias are largely unoccupied. If Tillandsias were introduced to Africa and Australia, then they would fill these niches and provide shelter and food for a wide variety of animals. Tillandsias would essentially create new niches for more life.

What about introducing kangaroos to other parts of the world? I'm guessing that lions would vote for their introduction to Africa.

In any case, it can't be the rule that an introduction will result in a net loss of biodiversity... otherwise there wouldn't be any biodiversity. Life is synonymous with colonization. If there ever was any life that didn't colonize, then it inevitably learned the hard lesson of keeping all its eggs in the same basket. An underwater thermal vent that forms the foundation of a thriving habitat can cease to function at any time. Just like our planet can be destroyed at any time. The one job that Nature gave us is to distribute life to other planets.

Now you know my opinion on the topic of conservation versus herclivation... what's yours?

Conservationism is about protecting remaining natural habitat, not completely removing human civilization.
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Postby Nanatsu no Tsuki » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:17 pm

We have evidence of what can happen when non-native species are introduced to a foreign ecosystem. Not great. Check dragonfish.
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Postby Crockerland » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:24 pm

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Xerographica
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Postby Xerographica » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:22 am

Page wrote:In principle, I agree with you and the comparison you've drawn to consequentialism vs. deontology. As a consequentialist, I reject any rule that can't be justified by its consequences, if someone says "you just don't do x" then I want to know what the potential results of x are, why such a rule exists.

However, in practice I am generally against introducing a new species as a rule, because in practice, the overall consequences of doing so are almost always negative, and we can't predict what kind of domino effect will occur.

Philosophically, I think consequentialism is the only logical approach to ethics, but the problem is that consequences are a chain reaction and it is impossible to know where the consequences of a single action ends.

If there was unanimous or near unanimous agreement among experts that introduction of a new species to an area would be a net positive, I'd be open to it, but this isn't something you do without exhaustive research first.

Do you have any evidence that the consequences of introducing a new species are "almost always" negative? Is there some paper that you can cite? Here's a paragraph from a relevant paper that I would highly recommend...

In summary of my entire argument from evolutionary theory, "native" plants cannot be deemed biologically best in any justifiable way (note that I am emphatically not speaking about ethical or aesthetic preference, for science cannot adjudicate these considerations). "Natives" are only the plants that happened to arrive first and be able to flourish (the evolutionary argument based on geography and history), while their capacity for flourishing only indicates a status as "better than" others available, not as optimal or globally "best suited" (the evolutionary argument based on adaptation and natural selection). - Stephen Jay Gould, An Evolutionary Perspective on Strengths, Fallacies, and Confusions in the Concept of Native Plants

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Postby Xerographica » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:32 am

Nanatsu no Tsuki wrote:We have evidence of what can happen when non-native species are introduced to a foreign ecosystem. Not great. Check dragonfish.

Do you mean lionfish or snakehead fish?

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Postby Esternial » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:46 am

I assume the bees get to vote which plants survive and which ones don't by paying for their votes with mhoney

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Postby Nanatsu no Tsuki » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:47 am

Xerographica wrote:
Nanatsu no Tsuki wrote:We have evidence of what can happen when non-native species are introduced to a foreign ecosystem. Not great. Check dragonfish.

Do you mean lionfish or snakehead fish?


Yes, lionfish. Also known as dragonfish. They have taken over several areas of the Atlantic ocean (particularly Florida waters and in the Caribbean) and it's not endemic to them. This fish is native to the Pacific.
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Postby Alvecia » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:29 am

The two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, and neither one is better than the other when taken to the extremes.

As with most things in life, a healthy balance is the superior option.
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Postby Right wing humour squad » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:44 am

We need to start making robotic replacements for animals as soon as they become endangered.
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Postby Page » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:06 am

Right wing humour squad wrote:We need to start making robotic replacements for animals as soon as they become endangered.


Either you have seen Black Mirror or you need to.
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Postby Xerographica » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:42 am

Esternial wrote:I assume the bees get to vote which plants survive and which ones don't by paying for their votes with mhoney

Heh, mhoney. With bees and hummingbirds it's all about consumer choice. Same thing with the non-native parrots that eat my figs and poop the seeds everywhere here in Southern California. In Australia the native emus would poop the seeds of the non-native opuntia cactus everywhere. All the opuntias created a problem for farmers. Well, human farmers... as opposed to emu farmers. But it's not like emus can fly.

In the wonderful Korean movie Castaway on the Moon, a guy stranded on an urban island started a farm using seeds from bird poop. At least that's what I remember happening.

Not too long ago I was talking with my friend and I asked her whether monkeys ever accidentally poop on each other. She said that they probably have a designated pooping area. I think that I Googled it and found some support for her guess. Some time afterwards I found this...

Sure enough, the team found that medium-sized plant eaters, like wildebeest, zebras, impalas, and warthogs, tend to congregate in the newly cleared areas. They forage slightly more often in these safe zones, and they certainly poop a lot more often there, depositing three times as much dung as in the wooded regions. These animals act as living conveyor belts, moving nutrients away from dense thickets and toward open ones. - Ed Yong, Humans Have Unleashed a ‘Landscape of Fear’

In terms of farming, it makes sense to poop-sow the seeds in areas where the plants aren't already growing. Sow the fig seeds where there aren't already fig trees.

Many fig (Ficus) species are stranglers. Here are a couple pics of Ficus growing on palms here in SoCal...



The Ficus started growing on the palms because that's where the birds pooped the seeds. If this was the tropics, then the Ficus would end up replacing the palms. Again, it's all about consumer choice.

One Ficus that is frequently found here growing on palms is Ficus microcarpa. It is a common street tree. For the longest time its "flowers" weren't pollinated because the necessary wasp hadn't been introduced... but then it was introduced. The wasp pollinated the flowers, the birds ate the fruit and pooped the seeds everywhere. I ran across a relevant study...

Ficus microcarpa is native to temperate and tropical Asia, Australasia, and Pacific regions. It is a popular ornamental tree grown in many warm temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions of the world, where it is widely known to escape from cultivation. It is reported here as being naturalized in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, and Ventura counties, southern California. The invasive spread of F. microcarpa follows the introduction of its host-specific pollinating wasp, Eupristina verticillata; E. verticillata was first reported for California in 1994 from Arcadia, Los Angeles County. The wasp introduction reunited the F. microcarpa host plant–E. verticillata obligate pollinator mutualism thereby enabling the reproduction and naturalization of both organisms in California. A map showing the current distribution of F. microcarpa, citation of voucher specimens, and photographic documentation are provided. - Richard E. Riefner Jr., Ficus microcarpa (Moraceae) naturalized in southern California, U.S.A.: Linking plant, pollinator, and suitable microhabitats to document the invasion process.

What's rather tricky is that this Ficus isn't native to a Mediterranean climate... so how could it possibly naturalize here in SoCal? Even Aeoniums, which are succulent plants that are native to Mediterranean climates, aren't able to naturalize here in SoCal. Well, a quick Google search has revealed one exception but only on the coast. Somebody posted it as occurring in downtown LA but that doesn't count as I'm sure that it receives supplemental water.

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Postby Xerographica » Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:02 am

Nanatsu no Tsuki wrote:
Xerographica wrote:Do you mean lionfish or snakehead fish?


Yes, lionfish. Also known as dragonfish. They have taken over several areas of the Atlantic ocean (particularly Florida waters and in the Caribbean) and it's not endemic to them. This fish is native to the Pacific.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pterois#I ... _and_range

Is it really also known as dragonfish? The lionfish is venomous, so the situation is somewhat similar to that of the cane toad, which is poisonous. But it seems like that the grouper does eat the lionfish. The problem is that the grouper has been overfished. According to Wikipedia the main approach that is being used to deal with the lionfish is to encourage people to eat them. Evidently it tastes good.

My favorite fish is orange roughy, but I haven't eaten it in years because of overfishing. Evidently it used to be called "slime head", which doesn't sound very appetizing, so its name was changed by the US National Marine Fisheries Service. This worked... too well. Maybe they should rename the "lionfish"? I wonder which would be the best way to choose a new name........

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Postby Xerographica » Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:10 am

Alvecia wrote:The two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, and neither one is better than the other when taken to the extremes.

As with most things in life, a healthy balance is the superior option.

In some cases, as in honeybees being introduced to the Americas, conservation and herclivation are mutually exclusive. Herclivation is better because it results in a better balance. More biodiversity inherently means a better balance.

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Postby Alvecia » Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:16 am

Xerographica wrote:
Alvecia wrote:The two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, and neither one is better than the other when taken to the extremes.

As with most things in life, a healthy balance is the superior option.

In some cases, as in honeybees being introduced to the Americas, conservation and herclivation are mutually exclusive. Herclivation is better because it results in a better balance. More biodiversity inherently means a better balance.

Herclivation is merely defined as actively doing something to increase biodiversity. In the situation where introducing new species would reduce biodiversity, then Conversation becomes Herclivation.
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