Ecoknowledge

Ecoknowledge

Some thoughts on ecology, evolution and economics

Posts filed under Ecology

The Maple Leaf Forever

Canadians are passionate about the maple leaf. This is curious since, as a plant species, the sugar maple is not representative of the country.  In fact, maples, in their various forms, are common throughout the northern hemisphere.  So, why Canada? Sugar maples are a common hardwood along the shores of the St. Lawrence River, where… (read more)

Thresholds and what to do when we reach them

During the COVID-19  outbreak, I will be posting information and hosting discussions related to my work with the Parks Canada Agency. The lack of access to internal documents makes this interim measure necessary. The information shared here is not classified.  The opinions expressed do not represent those of the Government of Canada. Well-considered thresholds in… (read more)

Arctic Science Community of Practice

During the COVID-19  outbreak, I will be posting information and hosting discussions related to my work with the Parks Canada Agency. The lack of access to internal documents makes this interim measure necessary. The information shared here is not classified.  The opinions expressed do not represent those of the Government of Canada. One of the… (read more)

Plastics: the problem or the solution?

My wife and I wrap cheese when we put it into our lunchbags.  I use plastic and she uses waxpaper. As the waxpaper is at least twice as thick as the low density polyethylene in my lunch bag, I initially create a smaller waste burden in our local landfill.  Of course, over time, the waxpaper… (read more)

Small but mighty

Mosses stay close to the ground. Their humble habit belies their importance to evolution and ecology. For one thing, they have been on the banner of this blog right from the beginning. I think I instictively chose mosses as the essential combination of biology and physical geography that underpins all the topics dealt with in these… (read more)

Tightening the bolts

Saving a planet is a complex business. World government is already a tricky concept but when you layer that over with the inability of ecosystems to speak for themselves and the concentration of biodiversity near the equator -far from centres of economic and political power- you get a process that has many actors and little… (read more)

Nature needs 59.28%

E.O. Wilson, a Harvard ecologist, has never shied from controversy.  His latest bold statement is found in the title of his most recent book, “Half Earth“, an argument for conserving a substantial portion of the landscape for natural systems to function properly. Previously, we have discussed the early estimates of the percentage of land required for… (read more)

The McCanny Pattern

It began with a mislabelled graph.  My comment on that simple mistake led to my name being linked with those of the leading ecologists of my day and the designation of an entirely new pattern of seed dispersal and survival. I was a graduate student at the University of Western Ontario in 1984 and I… (read more)

Predicting cannibalism

Ecosystems are messy places.  The number of possible relationships between species grows exponentially with every species that enters the system.  A fairly typical foodweb (see image below) of 70 species has 4900 possible predator-prey interactions.  Despite that, food webs are suprisingly predictable. For one thing, most foodwebs have only 10-30% of the possible feeding relationships.  This… (read more)

Wearing out the fabric

The fourth of five fundamental theories in ecology that I outlined in my last post states that landscapes – and the services they offer us -will wear out if too much natural habitat is removed.  The actual percentage of the landscape that qualifies as “too much” is up for debate. The original “percolation theory” simulations… (read more)