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The Voices of Birds and the Language of Belonging – Emergence Magazine
"As we listen and seek to connect, we should remember and honor this difference. At the same time, let us not allow otherness to bar the door to kinship, curiosity, and imagination. There is a bridge. That bridge is made from the gift of our attention. Sometimes attention is focused into science, but mostly it is an opening to the languages of birds in the everyday.

What do we hear in the bird voices of our homes? Every species has a sonic signature, and individuals within species have their own unique voices. In this diversity of acoustic expression are embedded many meanings.

First, the particularities of species, each with its own cadence and tempo. House wren. Bald eagle. Song sparrow. Raven. By noticing and naming, we take the first step into friendship and understanding, crossing the gulf between species. Sound is a particularly powerful connector because it travels through and around barriers, finding us and calling us out of inattention. We walk across town and notice our avian cousins. Kinship and community are no longer just ideas, but are lived, sensual relationships."

...

"With some attention and perhaps the help of a recording device, we can hear the individuality of birds around our homes. But understanding the meanings embedded in these sounds is harder. In the human realm, I can learn the singular voices of people speaking in a foreign tongue, but I’ll completely fail to understand what they say and mean. How much more difficult is the task with creatures separated from us by hundreds of millions of years of evolution.

Yet, attentive bird-listeners hear the edges of meaning. Individuality in bird sounds is not random or accidental; it reveals the personality of each bird. In the society of chickadees, some birds have open and exploratory personalities, others are more careful and precise. The rattle of kingfishers and the wood thrushes’ evening song take on new inflections when birds court and pair. At the nest, we hear information flowing in a stream of sound between mated birds. No two phoebe nestlings beg for food in the same way. When sparrow youngsters babble and practice their songs, they explore acoustic spaces in ways that parallel human speech: improvisational, repetitive, refined by listening to elders. In the trees at dusk, crows warble softly to themselves as they preen. A raven’s call is filled with mocking irony as the bird mimics for its companions the call of a sandhill crane. Parrots laugh, causing those around them to frolic and play. As robins gather on a lawn, a blue jay screams a red-shouldered hawk call, a deception that the bird repeats with great gusto when humans walk under its tree. These are not the dead clankings of machines, nor are they the mere utilitarian grunts of feeding or social tokens of sexual union. These sounds are intricate, layered, responsive, generative, and humorous.

Laboratory studies reveal that bird utterances are imbued with understanding, full of representation, organized by rules, powered by creativity, and shaped by culture and context. Bird sound-making has internal grammatical rules. Their brains learn and innovate. Birds hear and remember nuances of sound, connecting abstract acoustic patterns to the physicality of their ecological and social worlds. They listen to the voices of other species and understand what is meant. Social interaction with kin and neighbors molds the shape of individual sounds and the organization of these parts into a whole.

These scientific studies, valuable as they are in expanding our understanding, have queried bird language in only a handful of species, often with the goal of testing whether specific rules of human grammar also manifest in birds. Thus far, science alone is insufficient to the task of hearing birds. A few dozen experiments conducted by a handful of researchers will not open the ears of the human species to the voices of our cousins. Language-learning is for everyone.

When we understand the meanings of a sound made by a bird, nerves in two different brains touch and signal. The link between nerve cells is made from vibrating air, a connection as strong and real as the chemical links among nerves in a single brain. Bird sounds, then, are sonic neurotransmitters that leap across species boundaries.

When we understand the meanings of a sound made by a bird, nerves in two different brains touch and signal."
birds  sound  listening  multispecies  morethanhuman  2019  language  nature  davidhaskell  understanding  intelligence  biology  communication  wildlife  meaning  kinship 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Magic and the Machine — Emergence Magazine
"Indeed, it is only when a traditionally oral culture becomes literate that the land seems to fall silent. Only as our senses transferred their animating magic to the written word did the other animals fall dumb, the trees and rocks become mute. For, to learn this new magic, we had to break the spontaneous participation of our eyes and ears in the enfolding terrain in order to recouple those senses with the flat surface of the page. I remember well, in first grade, the intensity with which I had to train my listening ears and my visual focus upon the letters in order to make each letter trigger a specific sound made by my mouth, such that now whenever I see the letter K, I instantly hear “kah” in my mind’s ear, and whenever I see an M, I hear “mmm.” If my ancestors once engaged in animistic participation with bent twigs, animal tracks, cliff-faces, and cloud shapes, I learned an analogous participation with the letter shapes upon the page. But notice: while a thundercloud or a raven might utter strange sounds and communicate strange sensations, the written letters always speak with a human tongue.

Hence, far from enacting a clear break with animism, alphabetic literacy can be recognized as a particularly potent form of animism, one which shifts the locus of magic—or meaning—away from our interactions with the more-than-human surroundings to the relation between ourselves and our own signs. Only as alphabetic literacy comes into a previously oral culture (often through Christian missionaries teaching how to read the Good Book) does that culture get the curious idea that language is an exclusively human property. The living land is no longer felt to hold and utter forth its own manifold meanings; the surrounding earth soon comes to be viewed as a mostly passive background upon which human history unfolds."




"For animism—the instinctive experience of reciprocity or exchange between the perceiver and the perceived—lies at the heart of all human perception. While such participatory experience may be displaced by our engagement with particular tools and technologies, it can never entirely be dispelled. Rather, different technologies tend to capture and channel our instinctive, animistic proclivities in particular ways."



"Despite the flimsy gesture toward a kind of magical reality, the fact is that we’re still speaking only to ourselves, to things that we have programmed to talk back to us. And so, after the initial novelty, which maybe lasts about twenty minutes, there’s nothing here that can surprise us, or yield a sense that we’re in communication with beings strangely different from ourselves."



"And maybe this attempt to recreate that primal experience of intimacy with the surrounding world will actually succeed. Certainly it’s giving rise to all sorts of fascinating gizmos and whimsical inventions. But it’s also bound to disappoint. The difficult magic of animistic perception, the utter weirdness and dark wonder that lives in any deeply place-based relation to the earth, is the felt sense of being in contact with wakeful forms of sentience that are richly different from one’s own—the experience of interaction with intelligences that are radically other from one’s own human style of intelligence. Yet when interacting with the smart objects that inhabit the always-online world of the internet of things, well, there’s no real otherness there. Of course, there’s the quasi-otherness of the program designers, and of the other people living their own wired lives; although just how other anybody will be when we’re all deploying various forms of the same software (and so all thinking by means of the same preprogrammed algorithms) is an open question. My point, however, is that there’s no radical otherness involved: it’s all humanly programmed, and it’s inhabited by us humans and our own humanly-built artifacts; it’s all basically a big extension of the human nervous system. As we enter more deeply into the world of ubiquitous computing, we increasingly seal ourselves into an exclusively human zone of interaction. We enter into a bizarre kind of intraspecies incest."



"Yet it’s the alterity or otherness of things—the weirdly different awareness of a humpback whale sounding its eerie glissandos through the depths, or an orb-weaver spider spinning the cosmos out of her abdomen; or the complex intelligence of an old-growth forest, dank with mushrooms and bracket fungi, humming with insects and haunted by owls—it’s the wild, more-than-human otherness of these powers that makes any attentive relation with such beings a genuine form of magic, a trancelike negotiation between outrageously divergent worlds.

Without such radical otherness, there’s no magic. Wandering around inside a huge extension of our own nervous system is not likely to bring a renewal of creaturely wonder, or a recovery of ancestral capacities. It may keep us fascinated for a time but also vaguely unsatisfied and so always thirsty for the next invention, the next gadget that might finally satisfy our craving, might assuage our vague sense that something momentous is missing. Except it won’t."



"Western navigators, long reliant on a large array of instruments, remain astonished by the ability of traditional seafaring peoples to find their way across the broad ocean by sensing subtle changes in the ocean currents, by tasting the wind and reading the weather, by conversing with the patterns in the night sky. Similarly, many bookish persons find themselves flummoxed by the ease with which citizens of traditionally oral, place-based cultures seem always to know where they are—their capacity to find their way even through dense forests without obvious landmarks—an innate orienting ability that arises when on intimate terms with the ground, with the plants, with the cycles of sun, moon, and stars. GPS seems to replicate this innate and fairly magical capacity, but instead of this knowledge arising from our bodily interchange with the earthly cosmos, here the knowledge arrives as a disembodied calculation by a complex of orbiting and ground-based computers."



"There is nothing “extra-sensory” about this kind of earthly clairvoyance. Rather, sensory perception functions here as a kind of glue, binding one’s individual nervous system into the larger ecosystem. When our animal senses are all awake, our skin rippling with sensations as we palpate the surroundings with ears and eyes and flaring nostrils, it sometimes happens that our body becomes part of the larger Body of the land—that our sensate flesh is taken up within the wider Flesh of the breathing Earth—and so we begin to glimpse events unfolding at other locations within the broad Body of the land. In hunting and gathering communities, individuals are apprenticed to the intricate life of the local earth from an early age, and in the absence of firearms, hunters often depend upon this richly sensorial, synaesthetic clairvoyance for regular success in the hunt. The smartphone replicates something of this old, ancestral experience of earthly acumen that has long been central to our species: the sense of being situated over Here, while knowing what’s going on over There."



"And so we remain transfixed by these tools, searching in and through our digital engagements for an encounter they seem to promise yet never really provide: the consummate encounter with otherness, with radical alterity, with styles of sensibility and intelligence that thoroughly exceed the limits of our own sentience. Yet there’s the paradox: for the more we engage these remarkable tools, the less available we are for any actual contact outside the purely human estate. In truth, the more we participate with these astonishing technologies, the more we seal ourselves into an exclusively human cocoon, and the more our animal senses—themselves co-evolved with the winds, the waters, and the many-voiced terrain—are blunted, rendering us ever more blind, ever more deaf, ever more impervious to the more-than-human Earth.

Which brings us, finally, back to our initial question: What is the primary relation, if there is any actual relation, between the two contrasting collective moods currently circulating through contemporary society—between the upbeat technological optimism coursing through many social circles and the mood of ecological despondency and grief that so many other persons seem to be feeling? As a writer who uses digital technology, I can affirm that these tools are enabling many useful, astounding, and even magical possibilities. But all this virtual magic is taking a steep toll. For many long years this techno-wizardry has been blunting our creaturely senses, interrupting the instinctive rapport between our senses and the earthly sensuous. It’s been short-circuiting the spontaneous reciprocity between our animal body and the animate terrain, disrupting the very attunement that keeps us apprised of what’s going on in our locale—the simple, somatic affinity that entangles our body with the bodies of other creatures, binding our sentience with that of the local earth. Today, caught up in our fascination with countless screen-fitted gadgets, we’re far more aloof from the life of the land around us, and hence much less likely to notice the steady plundering of these woodlands and wetlands, the choking of the winds and the waters by the noxious by-products of the many industries we now rely on. As these insults to the elemental earth pile up—as the waters are rendered lifeless by more chemical runoff, by more oil spills, by giant patches of plastic rotating in huge gyres; as more glaciers melt and more forests succumb to the stresses of a destabilized climate—the sensorial world of our carnal experience is increasingly filled with horrific wounds, wounds that we feel in our flesh whenever we dare to taste the world with our creaturely senses. It’s too damned painful. Hence … [more]
animism  davidabram  technology  language  alphabet  writing  oraltradition  secondaryorality  smarthphones  gps  multispecies  morethanhuman  canon  literacy  listening  multisensory  senses  noticing  nature  intuition  alterity  otherness  object  animals  wildlife  plants  rocks  life  living  instinct  internet  web  online  maps  mapping  orientation  cities  sound  smell  texture  touch  humans  smartdevices  smarthomes  internetofthings  perception  virtuality  physical 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Plight of the Platypus
"The more scientists learn about this strange, elusive species, the more concerned they become about its future. But these new insights may ultimately help to save it."
platypus  science  biology  multispecies  animals  nature  wildlife  australia  2019 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Un muro invisible se alza entre los buitres de España y Portugal | Ciencia | EL PAÍS
[via: https://twitter.com/TurbanMinor/status/1113352919301218304

"1/ A vulture can fly up to 400 kilometres each day in search of carrion. Little should it care whether this flight takes it from one country to another. The vultures of Spain, however, skirt around the Portuguese border with uncanny accuracy. [image: map showing the areas inhabited by to carrion birds]

2/ Eneko Arrondo (@BIOEAF), an ecologist at the Doñana Biological Station (@ebdonana), in Spain, was monitoring the distribution of 60 tagged griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) and 11 cinereous vultures (Aegypius monachus) for his PhD project when he noticed the sharp pattern. [image: one photo with what seems to be an individual from each of the bird species]

3/ During a 2-year study period, only 13 birds visited Portugal, and they all quickly turned back, Arrondo and his colleagues reported last year in Bio. Conservation. Why the rest flew close to the neighbouring country, but never entered it, was a mystery. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320717315550

4/ The Portuguese-Spanish border follows river valleys and is not associated with abrupt changes in climate or land-use. What is different on either side, the team learned from Portuguese ornithologists, is the law. [image: map of watersheds on Iberian Peninsula]

5/ Spanish farmers don’t collect dead cattle, but in Portugal, they must bury or burn all carcasses. This leaves no food for vultures, who have learned that the grass is always greener on the eastern side. [photo of birds feasting on a carcass]

6/ A handful of nesting colonies remain in Portugal, says Joaquim Teodósio, a biologist working for the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (@spea_birdlife), but the vultures that occupy them spend the daylight hours abroad.

7/ The reasons for the mismatch are historical. In 2001, Europe’s answer to the mad-cow disease (BSE) crisis was banning the abandonment of dead livestock. Spanish vultures, which account for 95% of all scavenging birds in Europe, suffered especially.
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/ES/TXT/?qid=1456745645114&uri=CELEX:02001R0999-20160203

8/ Conservationists at the time made a strong case against the ban, which convinced European Union 🇪🇺 legislators to delegate the choice to member states. Some countries, like Spain, resumed cattle abandonment under special conditions. Portugal never changed its laws. [photo of a dog and a cow amidst garbage]

9/ Representatives of BirdLife International, a nature conservation partnership, in both countries (@SEO_BirdLife 🇪🇸 / @spea_birdlife 🇵🇹) argue wildlife will benefit from the integration of sanitary policies across European borders.

10/ It's not just vultures at stake: the collection, transportation and disposal of dead animals is costly and polluting. [animated GIF of a smokestack]

11/ One study, published in Scientific Reports, calculated that taking these jobs from scavengers in Spain involved annual payments of around $50 million to insurance companies and the emission of 77,344 metric tons of equivalent carbon dioxide every year. https://www.nature.com/articles/srep07811

12/ Activists in Portugal are pushing for change. They ask for carrion abandonment permits for farmers, or at least for designated feeding stations where dead cattle may be allowed to rot. Until such measures are granted, an invisible ecological barrier hovers above the border. [GIF showing an old-time film "The End" marking]

13/ This story was published in Spanish for El País last year. Lo recordé hace poco por una conversación y quería compartir en inglés. Dejo aquí el enlace: https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/02/15/ciencia/1518707418_741915.html "
spain  portugal  españa  2018  animals  multispecies  borders  law  laws  vultures  carrion  birds  wildlife  nature  morethanhuman  cattle  farming  ranching  brunomartín 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Think Like a Scientist: Renewal on Vimeo
[via: "How the Elwha River Was Saved: The inside story of the largest dam removal project in US history."
http://tlas.nautil.us/video/291/how-the-elwha-river-was-saved

"I know firsthand what a hydroelectric dam can do to the environment. As a tribal member growing up on the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation, the Elwha River and its two hydroelectric dams were in my backyard. Before the dams, whose construction began in 1910, the river was rich with several species of fish, including steelhead trout, and all five species of Pacific salmon. My great-grandfather and tribal elder, Edward Sampson, shared stories with me of catching 100-pound Chinook salmon, then watching the salmon populations decline when the dams came. Salmon have always been culturally and spiritually important to my tribe. They are treated reverently, and celebrated with ceremonies after the first catch of each year.

The Elwha dams were built without fish ladders, gently sloping structures that connect waters on either side of the dam. These ladders are important for anadromous fish, meaning stream-born fish that live part of their lives in the ocean and later return to their natal streams to spawn. Salmons are anadromous, and carry with them marine-derived nutrients that are important to the entire Elwha watershed ecosystem. Salmon carcasses provide nutrients for other wildlife and fertilizer for riparian vegetation.

My work has strengthened my ties to my home.

Without fish ladders, the dams blocked access by salmon to 90 percent of their historic spawning grounds, halted the flow of marine-derived nutrients into the ecosystem, and dramatically reduced salmon populations. They also negated agreements in the tribe’s 1855 Point No Point Treaty, which stated that it would have permanent fishing rights on the Elwha River.

The history of the dam was tightly woven in the history of my own family. My grandfather worked for the company that ran the dams for his entire career, while my grandmother was an activist working to remove the dams and restore the salmon populations. Then, on Sept. 17, 2011, the largest dam removal and river restoration project in United States history was set into motion. Both dams were removed, and the Elwha River began to flow freely again for the first time in 100 years.

My realization of the role people have in ecosystem health, brought about in part by watching my tribe fight for the removal of the dams and the restoration of the salmon, inspired me to pursue a career working in natural resources. I decided to return to my home on the reservation to pursue a degree in environmental science at Western Washington University, after attending the University of Hawaii at Mānoa for two years and studying marine biology. I was hired as an intern for the tribe’s wildlife program in 2014. Four months into my internship, I was hired for a part-time position by the tribe’s wildlife program manager, Kim Sager-Fradkin, while maintaining a full-time student schedule. In addition to a Columbian black-tailed deer mortality study, this program gave me an opportunity to study Elwha river otters and to be a part of an Elwha River Restoration wildlife monitoring project.

I am particularly proud of my involvement in the three-year, collaborative study monitoring Elwha wildlife recolonization. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, the United States Geological Survey, the National Park Service, and Western Washington University were all involved. The study gave me the opportunity to survey beavers, songbirds, deer and elk, vegetation and large woody debris, and small mammal trapping surveys. The experiences I’ve had during this study observing wildlife interactions with the environment over time have reinforced my desire to further my education studying population ecology. Because of this, I will be starting graduate school at the University of Idaho with a newly-funded project to study cougar population size and structure on the Olympic Peninsula.

My work has strengthened my ties to my home. In the years since I’ve returned, I’ve become closer with my tribal and scientific communities, and have grown an even stronger appreciation for the Elwha River ecosystem. The river restoration has been a major success for the Klallam people, and proves the effectiveness of methods for ecosystem restoration that will hopefully be used as a model in other restoration efforts worldwide. And for me personally, the experience of working on this restoration project and seeing firsthand the regeneration of the former lakebeds and of the historic lands of my people has been incredibly reaffirming."]
elwah  elwahiver  washingtonstate  2018  cameronmacias  rivers  nature  conservation  ecosystems  ecology  wildlife  dams  salmon  multispecies  morethanhuman  fish  klallam  olympicpeninsula  clallamcounty  restoration 
february 2019 by robertogreco
anja kanngieser on Twitter: "this is a long thread on #nauru, where i spent last week. nauru is currently most visible as a site for australia’s offshore detention of asylum seekers and refugees. it is also the location of a longstanding #phosphate mine
"this is a long thread on #nauru, where i spent last week. nauru is currently most visible as a site for australia’s offshore detention of asylum seekers and refugees. it is also the location of a longstanding #phosphate mine which covers over 2/3 of the island 1/22

#nauru is experiencing considerable #climatechange. im going to outline some of the social-environmental stresses i observed that nauruans, refugees and asylum seekers are facing, and why we need to talk about #colonialism and #environmental racism for #climatejustice 2/22

#nauru is a beautiful island. its main resource is #phosphate. germany colonised nauru in the late 1800s and in the early 1900s the british found phosphate and started to exploit it for fertiliser and munitions with australia and nz, who became nauru’s trustees in the 1920s 3/22

during both world wars #nauru was a strategic imperial site and was occupied by multiple nations. in the 1960s nauru gained independence and took over mining activities 4/22

these days its extremely hard to get onto #nauru. i was invited to do work on community #mitigation and #adaptation measures. my work involves speaking with community leaders, environment organisations, government workers, activists 5/22

it also involves making #bioacoustic recordings of environments - #nauru's mine, the reef, the lagoon. this means i spend a lot of time listening. this is some of what i was told: 6/22

#nauru is running out of land. there are too many people living on the coast, as topside (the mining site) has not been rehabilitated. its a moonscape up there - huge phosphate pinnacles segregated by steep drops. its hot - it feels like 50 degrees, and its super humid 7/22

no one really goes up there, except people working in the mine, ihms employees and the border force. and refugees and asylum seekers, because thats where the detention centres are. you cant play there or just hang out, its too hot, and if youre not in aircon its unbearable 8/22

#coastal erosion is bad around the north of #nauru. sea walls protect one area but then other areas get flooded. #kingtides flood the single road that runs around the island, meaning people cant get around to access services 9/22

houses on the coast side of the main road on #nauru get #inundated. because of a lack of land, people cant really move far 10/22

much of the ground water in #nauru is #contaminated, by waste, from overpopulated cemeteries leaking into the water lens, run off from the mine and sea water. there is a huge stress on water supplies 11/22

most of #nauru gets its water from the desalination plant, but it takes a long time to get water and if it breaks experts need to be flown in to fix it. not everyone has a water tank, so there are water shortages 12/22

its hard to grow food on #nauru so food is imported. there are long lines of people whenever a shipment of rice is due to arrive. cucumbers cost $13AUD, a punnet of cherry tomatoes $20AUD. people do not earn anywhere near enough money to be able to afford it 13/22

kitchen gardens have been established on #nauru, but they only feed the families that have them, a lot of people feel their soil is not adequate to growing food 14/22

reef fish stocks are depleted on #nauru, so there is a plan to build milkfish supplies in peoples home ponds. as the water is contaminated that means that the fish are contaminated. if people feed the fish to the pigs and eat the pigs, then that meat is also contaminated 15/22

the #phosphate dust from the mine causes respiratory issues in #nauru. it covers houses near the harbour and people refer to it as snow. while primary mining is almost complete, secondary mining is planned. this should last around 20 years, then the phosphate is gone 16/22

#nauru is getting hotter. its so hot that kids dont want to walk to school, which is not aircon. its so hot that no one is really outside during the day. the heat on the coast is not as bad as the heat on topside. but its still hot enough that you dont want to move 17/22

i was told that people remember it being 20 degrees cooler when they were kids. #nauru goes through extreme #droughts 18/22

there are issues with #biodiversity loss and strange movements of sea creatures. i recorded a dusk chorus at a mining site and heard only one bird. at the start of the year dead fish littered the reef. this happens periodically, no one could tell me why 19/22

the noddy birds, which people rely on for food, got a virus earlier this year and there were fallen noddy birds all over the roads. people have spotted orcas in #nauru’s waters. a dugong also washed up on shore. they are not known to inhabit that area 20/22

as i said, these issues affect everyone on #nauru. nauru is highly vulnerable to #climatechange. it is also hugely economically reliant on aid, on the money from the incarceration of refugees and asylum seekers and a rapidly diminishing natural resource: phosphate 21/22

this is why conversations about human rights and environmental justice in #nauru and the #pacific also need to include strong critiques of #neocolonialism, #racism and #paternalism. nauru wasnt always like this. these are ongoing impacts of colonisation 22/22"
nauru  climatechange  globalwarming  2018  anjakannigieser  environment  climatejustice  colonialism  islands  polynesia  australia  newzealand  activism  adaptability  oceans  fishing  health  biodiversity  multispecies  pacificocean  vulnerability  neocolonialism  racism  paternalism  colonization  birds  nature  animals  wildlife  water  waste 
october 2018 by robertogreco
We met the world’s first domesticated foxes - YouTube
"This week, we meet the very cute and very bizarre result of an almost 60-year-long experiment: they’re foxes that have been specially bred for their dog-like friendliness toward people. We do a little behavior research of our own, and discover what scientists continue to learn from the world’s most famous experiment in domestication. The fox experiment continues under the supervision of Lyudmila Trut at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics. Her book “How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog)”, co-authored by Lee Alan Dugatkin, details the history and science behind the experiment."
foxes  animals  domestication  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  2018  pets  morethanhuman  multispecies  wildlife 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Toronto built a better green bin and — oops — maybe a smarter raccoon | The Star
"After the city unveiled its ‘raccoon-resistant’ bins, some feared the animals would be starved out. Journalist Amy Dempsey was examining just that when her reporting took an unexpected path — down her own garbage-strewn laneway. Had raccoons finally figured out how to defeat the greatest human effort in our “war” against their kind? An accidental investigation finds answers amid the scraps."
animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  intelligence  toronto  2018  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  raccoons  wildlife  nature 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Endangered Island Foxes Break Record for Fast Recovery | The Nature Conservancy - California
"Thanks to scientific strategy, the world’s smallest fox has rebounded from sure extinction in just a decade."
foxes  channelislands  california  2018  animals  wildlife  nature  multispecies 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Birds Art Life - Kyo Maclear
"In Birds Art Life, writer Kyo Maclear embarks on a yearlong, big city adventure chasing after birds, and along the way offers a luminous meditation on the nature of creativity and the quest for a good and meaningful life.

For Vladimir Nabokov, it was butterflies. For John Cage, it was mushrooms. For Sylvia Plath, it was bees. Each of these artists took time away from their work to become observers of natural phenomena. In 2012, Kyo Maclear met a local Toronto musician with an equally captivating side passion—he had recently lost his heart to birds. Curious about what prompted this young urban artist to suddenly embrace nature, Kyo decides to follow him for a year and find out.

Birds Art Life explores the particular madness of loving and chasing after birds in a big city. Intimate and philosophical, moving with ease between the granular and the grand view, it celebrates the creative and liberating effects of keeping your eyes and ears wide open, and explores what happens when you apply the core lessons of birding to other aspects of life. On a deeper level, it takes up the questions of how we are shaped and nurtured by our parallel passions, and how we might come to cherish not only the world’s pristine natural places but also the blemished urban spaces where most of us live."
books  toread  kyomaclear  2018  birds  birding  nture  life  creativity  writing  art  urban  cities  observation  wildlife  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  vladimirnabokov  johncage  butterflies  mushrooms 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Critters – Silica Magazine
[See also: https://www.engadget.com/silica

https://www.engadget.com/2018/05/16/engadget-x-silica-magazine-the-critter-issue/

"Over the past few years, Engadget has put more of an emphasis on longform stories. From weekly features on lab-grown meat, dystopian surveillance and world-champion speedrunners, to our multi-part series on the Cyborg Olympics. Some have come from our reporters, others from talented freelance writers, but all have matched our mission to explore technology and its relationship with science, entertainment and culture.

Engadget is not alone in its desire to tell these stories. The world is full of great publications, writers and artists. Silica Magazine is one such publication; an independent periodical that quickly made a name for itself with its mixture of superb storytelling, reporting, art and design. I've personally been a fan for some time, and I'm happy to announce that we're teaming up with Silica for the launch of its third instalment, "The Critter Issue."

From May 21st to May 25th, Engadget will run five stories produced by Silica. Through the week-long takeover, we invite you to explore the questions: How is life defined in a world dominated by human technology? How are we changing it? How is it changing us? And what is happening to life on this planet in all of its natural, artificial and liminal states?

Silica, define 'Silica Mag':

Silica Mag is an online periodical investigating the interplay between the geographic, ecological, and technological phenomena of the modern world. We are a small group that brings together journalists, artists, and academics to produce investigative long-form journalism, substantive digital artwork and pioneering commentary once a year to help drive the discussion around Earth's environment.

We refer to ourselves as "a travel guide to the environmental apocalypse." Our stories seek to take readers on a journey –– physically, digitally and intellectually –– and redefine what it means to bear witness to the destruction of our planet's landscapes.

Our past issues, the Lake Issue and the Homeland Issue, respectively investigated freshwater bodies and uncertain concepts of the new American frontier. This time around we set out to ask: What is wildlife when the world is no longer wild?

Computer, define 'Critter':

A creature, beast or animate entity existing within a society or ecosystem. A zoological agent of change, an unwanted or unnoticed animal, an invading interloper in the age of the Anthropocene.

Silica, define 'The Critter Issue':

Five features: Inside the animal internet, Wonders of Wildlife, Ghost media, Talk to me and 'Til death do us part each ponder what it means to co-exist on this planet with other species -- from peering into the future of animal translation technology, to investigating how digital surveillance is transforming our relationship to the animal kingdom. On-the-ground reports pick apart our complex relationship with the life, death and conservation of wildlife, while a new media artist showcase ponders the reanimation of Earth's extinct species through digital archiving.

In tandem with our launch on Engadget, Silica will be also be publishing a menagerie of commentary, gallery and interactive pieces on silicamag.com. We encourage you to get lost in the wild, wild world of The Critter Issue.

Engadget x Silica credits
Engadget:

Features editor: Aaron Souppouris
Developers: Collin Wu, Stefan Rimola
Copy editors: Megan Giller, Sheila Dougherty
Silica Magazine:

Editor-in-chief: Casey Halter
Creative director: Evander Batson
Editors: Shannon Lee, Josh Segal
Contributors: Dylan Kerr, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Steph Yin
Artists: Bryan Ma, Everest Pipkin, Loren Schmidt, Tea Stražičić"]
multispecies  silica  engadget  morethanhuman  2018  animals  technology  wildlife  nature  anthropocene  environment  ecology 
may 2018 by robertogreco
A Walk with Gavin Van Horn, Editor of City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness on Vimeo
"CHICAGOLAND director Ben Kauffman talks with Gavin Van Horn of The Center for Humans and Nature about coyote encounters in Chicago and the role of storytelling in fostering understanding of other urban creatures."

[See also: http://www.storyforager.com/about/ ]
chicago  cities  urban  urbanism  multispecies  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  morethanhuman  2015  benkauffman  gavinvanhorn  wildlife  classideas  nature 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Children raised by wolves: Spaniard raised by wolves disappointed with human life | In English | EL PAÍS
"Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja was once the “Mowgli” of Spain’s Sierra Morena mountain range, but life has changed a lot since then. Now the 72-year-old lives in a small, cold house in the village of Rante, in the Galician province of Ourense. This past winter has been hard for him, and a violent cough interrupts him often as he speaks.

His last happy memories were of his childhood with the wolves. The wolf cubs accepted him as a brother, while the she-wolf who fed him taught him the meaning of motherhood. He slept in a cave alongside bats, snakes and deer, listening to them as they exchanged squawks and howls. Together they taught him how to survive. Thanks to them, Rodríguez learned which berries and mushrooms were safe to eat.

Today, the former wolf boy, who was 19 when he was discovered by the Civil Guard and ripped away from his natural home, struggles with the coldness of the human world. It’s something that didn’t affect him so much when he was running around barefoot and half-naked with the wolves. “I only wrapped my feet up when they hurt because of the snow,” he remembers. “I had such big calluses on my feet that kicking a rock was like kicking a ball.”

After he was captured, Rodríguez’s world fell apart and he has never been able to fully recover. He’s been cheated and abused, exploited by bosses in the hospitality and construction industries, and never fully reintegrated to the human tribe. But at least his neighbors in Rante accept him as “one of them.” And now, the environmental group Amig@s das Arbores is raising money to insulate Rodríguez’s house and buy him a small pellet boiler – things that his meager pension cannot cover.

Rodríguez is one of the few documented cases in the world of a child being raised by animals away from humans. He was born in Añora, in Córdoba province, in 1946. His mother died giving birth when he was three years old, and his father left to live with another woman in Fuencaliente. Rodríguez only remembers abuse during this period of his life.

They took him to the mountains to replace an old goatherd who cared for 300 animals. The man taught him the use of fire and how to make utensils, but then died suddenly or disappeared, leaving Rodríguez completely alone around 1954, when he was just seven years old. When authorities found Rodríguez, he had swapped words for grunts. But he could still cry. “Animals also cry,” he says.

He admits that he has tried to return to the mountains but “it is not what it used to be,” he says. Now the wolves don’t see him as a brother anymore. “You can tell that they are right there, you hear them panting, it gives you goosebumps … but it’s not that easy to see them,” he explains. “There are wolves and if I call out to them they are going to respond, but they are not going to approach me,” he says with a sigh. “I smell like people, I wear cologne.” He was also sad to see that there were now cottages and big electric gates where his cave used to be.

His experience has been the subject of various anthropological studies, books by authors such as Gabriel Janer, and the 2010 film Among wolves (Entrelobos) by Gerardo Olivares. He insists that life has been much harder since he was thrown back into the modern world. “I think they laugh at me because I don’t know about politics or soccer,” he said one day. “Laugh back at them,” his doctor told him. “Everyone knows less than you.”

He has encountered many bad people along the way, but there have also been acts of solidarity. The forest officer Xosé Santos, a member of Amig@s das Arbores, organizes sessions at schools where Rodríguez can talk about his love for animals and the importance of caring for the environment. “It’s amazing how he enthralls the children with his life experience,” says Santos. Children, after all, are the humans whom Rodríguez feels most comfortable with"
childhood  spain  wolves  españa  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  morethanhuman  feral  animals  wildlife  society  crying  communication  children 
may 2018 by robertogreco
The Story of the Most Common Bird in the World | Science | Smithsonian
"Even if you don’t know it, you have probably been surrounded by house sparrows your entire life. Passer domesticus is one of the most common animals in the world. It is found throughout Northern Africa, Europe, the Americas and much of Asia and is almost certainly more abundant than humans. The birds follow us wherever we go. House sparrows have been seen feeding on the 80th floor of the Empire State Building. They have been spotted breeding nearly 2,000 feet underground in a mine in Yorkshire, England. If asked to describe a house sparrow, many bird biologists would describe it as a small, ubiquitous brown bird, originally native to Europe and then introduced to the Americas and elsewhere around the world, where it became a pest of humans, a kind of brown-winged rat. None of this is precisely wrong, but none of it is precisely right, either.

Part of the difficulty of telling the story of house sparrows is their commonness. We tend to regard common species poorly, if at all. Gold is precious, fool’s gold a curse. Being common is, if not quite a sin, a kind of vulgarity from which we would rather look away. Common species are, almost by definition, a bother, damaging and in their sheer numbers, ugly. Even scientists tend to ignore common species, choosing instead to study the far away and rare. More biologists study the species of the remote Galapagos Islands than the common species of, say, Manhattan. The other problem with sparrows is that the story of their marriage with humanity is ancient and so, like our own story, only partially known.

Many field guides call the house sparrow the European house sparrow or the English sparrow and describe it as being native to Europe, but it is not native to Europe, not really. For one thing, the house sparrow depends on humans to such an extent it might be more reasonable to say it is native to humanity rather than to some particular region. Our geography defines its fate more than any specific requirements of climate or habitat. For another, the first evidence of the house sparrow does not come from Europe.

The clan of the house sparrow, Passer, appears to have arisen in Africa. The first hint of the house sparrow itself is based on two jawbones found in a layer of sediment more than 100,000 years old in a cave in Israel. The bird to which the bones belonged was Passer predomesticus, or the predomestic sparrow, although it has been speculated that even this bird might have associated with early humans, whose remains have been found in the same cave. The fossil record is then quiet until 10,000 or 20,000 years ago, when birds very similar to the modern house sparrow begin to appear in the fossil record in Israel. These sparrows differed from the predomestic sparrow in subtle features of their mandible, having a crest of bone where there was just a groove before.

Once house sparrows began to live among humans, they spread to Europe with the spread of agriculture and, as they did, evolved differences in size, shape, color and behavior in different regions. As a result, all of the house sparrows around the world appear to have descended from a single, human-dependent lineage, one story that began thousands of years ago. From that single lineage, house sparrows have evolved as we have taken them to new, colder, hotter and otherwise challenging environments, so much so that scientists have begun to consider these birds different subspecies and, in one case, species. In parts of Italy, as house sparrows spread, they met the Spanish sparrow (P. hispaniolensis). They hybridized, resulting in a new species called the Italian sparrow (P. italiiae).

As for how the relationship between house sparrows and humans began, one can imagine many first meetings, many first moments of temptation to which some sparrows gave in. Perhaps the small sparrows ran—though “sparrowed” should be the verb for their delicate prance—quickly into our early dwellings to steal untended food. Perhaps they flew, like sea gulls, after children with baskets of grain. What is clear is that eventually sparrows became associated with human settlements and agriculture. Eventually, the house sparrow began to depend on our gardened food so much so that it no longer needed to migrate. The house sparrow, like humans, settled. They began to nest in our habitat, in buildings we built, and to eat what we produce (whether our food or our pests).

Meanwhile, although I said all house sparrows come from one human-loving lineage, there is one exception. A new study from the University of Oslo has revealed a lineage of house sparrows that is different than all the others. These birds migrate. They live in the wildest remaining grasslands of the Middle East, and do not depend on humans. They are genetically distinct from all the other house sparrows that do depend on humans. These are wild ones, hunter-gatherers that find everything they need in natural places. But theirs has proven to be a far less successful lifestyle than settling down.

Maybe we would be better without the sparrow, an animal that thrives by robbing from our antlike industriousness. If that is what you are feeling, you are not the first. In Europe, in the 1700s, local governments called for the extermination of house sparrows and other animals associated with agriculture, including, of all things, hamsters. In parts of Russia, your taxes would be lowered in proportion to the number of sparrow heads you turned in. Two hundred years later came Chairman Mao Zedong.

Mao was a man in control of his world, but not, at least in the beginning, of the sparrows. He viewed sparrows as one of the four “great” pests of his regime (along with rats, mosquitoes and flies). The sparrows in China are tree sparrows, which, like house sparrows, began to associate with humans around the time that agriculture was invented. Although they are descendants of distinct lineages of sparrows, tree sparrows and house sparrows share a common story. At the moment at which Mao decided to kill the sparrows, there were hundreds of millions of them in China (some estimates run as high as several billion), but there were also hundreds of millions of people. Mao commanded people all over the country to come out of their houses to bang pots and make the sparrows fly, which, in March of 1958, they did. The sparrows flew until exhausted, then they died, mid-air, and fell to the ground, their bodies still warm with exertion. Sparrows were also caught in nets, poisoned and killed, adults and eggs alike, anyway they could be. By some estimates, a billion birds were killed. These were the dead birds of the great leap forward, the dead birds out of which prosperity would rise."
sparrows  birds  2018  animals  nature  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  wildlife  multispecies  morethanhuman 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Birds can see Earth's magnetic fields, and we finally know how that's possible
"The mystery behind how birds navigate might finally be solved: it's not the iron in their beaks providing a magnetic compass, but a newly discovered protein in their eyes that lets them "see" Earth's magnetic fields.

These findings come courtesy of two new papers - one studying robins, the other zebra finches.

The fancy eye protein is called Cry4, and it's part of a class of proteins called cryptochromes - photoreceptors sensitive to blue light, found in both plants and animals. These proteins play a role in regulating circadian rhythms.

There's also been evidence in recent years that, in birds, the cryptochromes in their eyes are responsible for their ability to orient themselves by detecting magnetic fields, a sense called magnetoreception.

We know that birds can only sense magnetic fields if certain wavelengths of light are available - specifically, studies have shown that avian magnetoreception seems dependent on blue light.

This seems to confirm that the mechanism is a visual one, based in the cryptochromes, which may be able to detect the fields because of quantum coherence.

To find more clues on these cryptochromes, two teams of biologists set to work. Researchers from Lund University in Sweden studied zebra finches, and researchers from the Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg in Germany studied European robins.

The Lund team measured gene expression of three cryptochromes, Cry1, Cry2 and Cry4, in the brains, muscles and eyes of zebra finches. Their hypothesis was that the cryptochromes associated with magnetoreception should maintain constant reception over the circadian day.

They found that, as expected for circadian clock genes, Cry1 and Cry2 fluctuated daily - but Cry4 expressed at constant levels, making it the most likely candidate for magnetoreception.

This finding was supported by the robin study, which found the same thing.

"We also found that Cry1a, Cry1b, and Cry2 mRNA display robust circadian oscillation patterns, whereas Cry4 shows only a weak circadian oscillation," the researchers wrote.

But they made a couple of other interesting findings, too. The first is that Cry4 is clustered in a region of the retina that receives a lot of light - which makes sense for light-dependent magnetoreception.

The other is that European robins have increased Cry4 expression during the migratory season, compared to non-migratory chickens.

Both sets of researchers caution that more research is needed before Cry4 can be declared the protein responsible for magnetoreception.

The evidence is strong, but it's not definitive, and both Cry1 and Cry2 have also been implicated in magnetoreception, the former in garden warblers and the latter in fruit flies.

Observing birds with non-functioning Cry4 could help confirm the role it seems to play, while other studies will be needed to figure Cry1's role.

So what does a bird actually see? Well, we can't ever know what the world looks like through another species' eyes, but we can take a very strong guess.

According to researchers at the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, whose researcher Klaus Schulten first predicted magnetoreceptive cryptochromes in 1978, they could provide a magnetic field "filter" over the bird's field of view - like in the picture above.

The zebra finch study was published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, and the robin study was published in Current Biology."
birds  science  vision  navigation  2018  animals  nature  wildlife 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit on a Childhood of Reading and Wandering | Literary Hub
"In the most egalitarian of European—and New Mexican—traditions, forests were public commons in which common people could roam, graze flocks, hunt and gather, and this is another way that forests when they are public land and public libraries are alike: as spaces in which everyone is welcome, as places in which we can wander and collect, get lost and find what we’re looking for.

The United States’s public libraries sometimes seem to me the last refuges of a democratic vision of equality, places in which everyone is welcome, which serve the goal of an informed public, offering services far beyond the already heady gift of free books you can take home, everything from voter registration to computer access. I’ve joked for a long time that if you walked up to people in the street and asked them whether we could own our greatest treasures collectively and trust people to walk away with them and bring them back, a lot of people would say that’s impossibly idealistic and some would say it’s socialist, but libraries have been making books free for all for a very long time. They are temples of books, fountains of narrative pleasure, and toolboxes of crucial information. My own writing has depended on public libraries and then university libraries and archives and does to this day. I last used a public library the day before yesterday."



"So let’s begin by recognizing that all this was—and in many moral ways still is—Coast Miwok land, before the Spanish came, before Spanish claims became Mexican claims, before this was considered to be part of Mexico, before it was part of the United States."



"Browsing, woolgathering, meandering, wandering, drifting, that state when exploring, when looking to find what it might be possible to find rather than seeking one particular goal, is the means of locomotion. I often think that hunter-gatherers must move a lot like this, seeking game or plant foods, flexible about what might show up on any given day. I was lucky that children were weeds, not hothouse flowers, in those days, left to our own devices, and my own devices led in two directions: north to the hills and the horses, south to the library."



"These linked paths and roads form a circuit of about six miles that I began hiking ten years ago to walk off my angst during a difficult year. I kept coming back to this route for respite from my work and for my work too, because thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It’s best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking. Walking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart. It strikes a delicate balance between working and idling, being and doing. It is a bodily labor that produces nothing but thoughts, experiences, arrivals. After all those years of walking to work out other things, it made sense to come back to work close to home, in Thoreau’s sense, and to think about walking.

Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts."



"Moving on foot seems to make it easier to move in time; the mind wanders from plans to recollections to observations."



"Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go…"



"Like many others who turned into writers, I disappeared into books when I was very young, disappeared into them like someone running into the woods. What surprised and still surprises me is that there was another side to the forest of stories and the solitude, that I came out that other side and met people there. Writers are solitaries by vocation and necessity. I sometimes think the test is not so much talent, which is not as rare as people think, but purpose or vocation, which manifests in part as the ability to endure a lot of solitude and keep working. Before writers are writers they are readers, living in books, through books, in the lives of others that are also the heads of others, in that act that is so intimate and yet so alone."



"Libraries are sanctuaries from the world and command centers onto it: here in quiet rooms are the lives of Crazy Horse and Aung San Suu Kyi, the Hundred Years War and the Opium Wars and the Dirty War, the ideas of Simone Weil and Lao Tsu, information on building your sailboat or dissolving your marriage, fictional worlds and books to equip the reader to reenter the real world. They are, ideally, places where nothing happens and where everything that has happened is stored up to be remembered and relived, the place where the world is folded up into boxes of paper. Every book is a door that opens into another world, which might be the magic that all those children’s books were alluding to, and a library is a Milky Way of worlds. All readers are Wu Daozi; all imaginative, engrossing books are landscapes into which readers vanish."
rebeccasolnit  2017  children  unschooling  deschooling  parenting  education  libraries  wandering  howwelearn  freedom  autonomy  forests  childhood  novato  california  learning  canon  publicgood  us  egalitarianism  democracy  socialism  thoreau  walking  cv  unknowing  uncertainty  woods  writing  howwewrite  books  literature  stories  storytelling  listening  reading  sanctuary  vanishing  nature  plants  wildlife  multispecies  morethanhuman  society 
april 2018 by robertogreco
ties and insight | sara hendren
"Jill Lepore on the writing of Rachel Carson, in the new New Yorker:
Carson’s father died in 1935, followed, two years later, by her older sister, leaving Carson to care for her mother and her nieces, ages eleven and twelve; she later adopted her grandnephew, when he was orphaned at the age of four. These obligations sometimes frustrated Carson, but not half as much as they frustrate her biographers. For [these biographers], Carson’s familial obligations—in particular, the children—are nothing but burdens that “deprived her of privacy and drained her physical and emotional energy.” They mean this generously, as a way of accounting for why Carson didn’t write more, and why, except for her Sun articles, she never once submitted a manuscript on time.

But caring for other people brings its own knowledge. Carson came to see the world as beautiful, wild, animal, and vulnerable, each part attached to every other part, not only through prodigious scientific research but also through a lifetime of caring for the very old and the very young, wiping a dying man’s brow, tucking motherless girls into bed, heating up dinners for a lonely little boy. The domestic pervades Carson’s understanding of nature. “Wildlife, it is pointed out, is dwindling because its home is being destroyed,” she wrote in 1938, “but the home of the wildlife is also our home.” If she’d had fewer ties, she would have had less insight."
"
care  caring  jilllepore  rachelcarson  children  emotionallabor  vulnerability  science  age  aging  nature  understanding  howwelearn  wildlife  sustainability  biographies  biographers 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Interactive Map: See How Birds Migrate Throughout the Western Hemisphere
[via: https://twitter.com/rileydchampine/status/968553128177143808

"Behold – a triumph in interactive cartography that shows the amazing migration patterns of 7 different bird species. Round of applause for @btjakes for this huge undertaking: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/03/bird-migration-interactive-maps/?beta=true … #WorkAtNatGeo = [animation]"]
birds  data  maps  mapping  nature  animals  migration  wildlife  cartography  classideas 
march 2018 by robertogreco
So what if we’re doomed? (Down the Dark Mountain) — High Country News
" Kingsnorth embraced Jeffers’ inhumanism, and Tompkins his ideas on beauty. But the immensity of the ecocide demands more. Our grief comes from the takers and their modern machine, which is one of violence and injury. If our sanity is to survive the ecocide, we must address these two pains in tandem: grief for the loss of things to come and the injustices that surround us.

We can do this through beauty and justice, which are closer together than they first appear."



"However, he is also arguing for integrity, which is close to Jeffers’ ideal of beauty: “However ugly the parts appear the whole remains beautiful. A severed hand / Is an ugly thing, and man dissevered from the earth and stars and his history ... for contemplation or in fact ... / Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness, the greatest beauty is / Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe.”

Perhaps, then, the way through the ecocide is through the pursuit of integrity, a duty toward rebalancing the whole, toward fairness, in both senses of the word."



"This is no cause for despair; it is a reminder to be meaningful, to be makers instead of takers, to be of service to something — beauty, justice, loved ones, strangers, lilacs, worms."
apocalypse  climatechange  ecology  anthropocene  additivism  2017  briancalvert  paulkingsnorth  environment  environmentalism  california  poetry  justive  beauty  via:kissane  balance  earth  wholeness  integrity  robinsonjeffers  darkmountain  multispecies  posthumanism  morethanhuman  josephcampbell  ecocide  edricketts  davidbrower  sierraclub  johnstainbeck  anseladmas  outdoors  nature  humanity  humanism  edwardabbey  hawks  animals  wildlife  interconnected  inhumanism  elainescarry  community  communities  socialjustice  culture  chile  forests  refugees  violence  douglastompkins  nickbowers  shaunamurray  ta-nehisicoates  humanrights  qigong  interconnectivity 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Animals with Cameras | About | Nature | PBS
"Go where no human cameraman can go and witness a new perspective of the animal kingdom in Animals with Cameras, A Nature Miniseries. The new three-part series journeys into animals’ worlds using custom, state-of-the-art cameras worn by the animals themselves. Capturing never-before-seen behavior, these animal cinematographers help expand human understanding of their habitats and solve mysteries that have eluded scientists until now.

Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan and a team of pioneering animal behaviorists join forces to explore stories of animal lives “told” by the animals themselves. The cameras are built custom by camera design expert Chris Watts to fit on the animals unobtrusively and to be easily removed at a later point. From this unique vantage point, experience the secret lives of nine different animal species. Sprint across the savanna with a cheetah, plunge into the ocean with a seal and swing through the trees with a chimpanzee."

"Episode 1 premieres Wednesday, January 31 at 8-9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)
The astonishing collar-camera footage reveals newborn Kalahari Meerkats below ground for the first time, unveils the hunting skills of Magellanic penguins in Argentina, and follows the treetop progress of an orphaned chimpanzee in Cameroon.

[http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/animals-cameras-episode-1/15926/ ]

Episode 2 premieres Wednesday, February 7 at 8-9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)
The cameras capture young cheetahs learning to hunt in Namibia, reveal how fur seals of an Australian island evade the great white sharks offshore, and help solve a conflict between South African farmers and chacma baboons.

Episode 3 premieres Wednesday, February 14 at 8-9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)
Deep-dive with Chilean devil rays in the Azores, track brown bears’ diets in Turkey, and follow dogs protecting flocks of sheep from gray wolves in Southern France."

[See also:
http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-42660492
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09qqqgr ]
animals  cameras  cameraencounters  video  photography  morethanhuman  nature  multispecies  2018  meerkats  wildlife  dogs  sheep  namibia  chile  argntina  cameroon  chimpanzees  kalahari  cheetahs  southafrica  australia  sharks  seals  faming  baboons  bears  turkey  rays  classideas  pov 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Un albero un anno - One tree one year - YouTube
"Un faggio “speciale" monitorato per un anno intero da un occhio nascosto, che non si chiude mai.
Quattro stagioni che scorrono attorno a un importante crocevia di odori, segnali e messaggi lasciati
quotidianamente dalla straordinaria fauna dell'Appennino.

Quello che vedete qui è solo una sintesi di questa esperienza incredibile.

In questi due anni di lavoro di campo, noi abbiamo compreso che nella vastità della foresta gli alberi non sono affatto tutti uguali.

Ci sono alberi dove deporre le proprie uova o trovare un rifugio sicuro; alberi su cui cercare il cibo o, più semplicemente, grattarsi e lasciare così una traccia del proprio passaggio.

Chissà quanti sono questi alberi...

Ci auguriamo che dopo questi 100 “battiti" guarderete alle splendide faggete vetuste del PNALM con altri occhi!

Grazie per averci seguito ogni settimana e arrivederci a presto,

Bruno D’Amicis & Umberto Esposito
Il team di “ForestBeat"

Un ringraziamento sincero e doveroso va ai Servizi Scientifico e di Sorveglianza del PNALM per la preziosa collaborazione.

A “special” beech tree kept under observation for a whole year by a concealed eye, which never closes.

Four seasons unfolding around a crossroad of smells, signals and messages left behind by the extraordinary wildlife of the Apennines.

What you see here is just a small part of this incredible experience.

In the past two years, we have understood that in the vastity of the forest each tree is unique.

There are trees where to lay your eggs or where to find a safe cover; trees on which to look for food or, simply, to scratch your back and thus leave behind a trace of your passage.

Who knows how many of such trees are around…

We wish that after these 100 “beats” you can look at the gorgeous PNALM beech forests with different eyes!

Thanks for following us every week until here.

See you soon,

Bruno D’Amicis & Umberto Esposito,
The “ForestBeat" team

We want to thank here the PNALM Scientific and Ranger Service for their precious collaboration.

Bruno D’Amicis/Umberto Esposito - www.silva.pictures
Scoprite di più su / Discover more on: www.forestbeat.it
#parcoabruzzo #forestbeat #faggetevetuste #immaginieavventure
@brunodamicisphoto, @silvapictures, @wildlifeadventures"
classideas  multispecies  nature  morethanhuman  wildlife  trees  2017  seasons  animals 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Atlas for the End of the World
[via: https://kottke.org/17/06/an-atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world ]

"Coming almost 450 years after the world's first Atlas, this Atlas for the End of the World audits the status of land use and urbanization in the most critically endangered bioregions on Earth. It does so, firstly, by measuring the quantity of protected area across the world's 36 biodiversity hotspots in comparison to United Nation's 2020 targets; and secondly, by identifying where future urban growth in these territories is on a collision course with endangered species.

By bringing urbanization and conservation together in the same study, the essays, maps, data, and artwork in this Atlas lay essential groundwork for the future planning and design of hotspot cities and regions as interdependent ecological and economic systems."



"The findings of this research are threefold: first, a majority of the ecoregions in the hotspots fall well short of United Nations' 2020 targets for protected lands; second, almost all the cities in the hotspots are projected to continue to sprawl in an unregulated manner into the world's most valuable habitats; and finally, only a small number of the 196 nations who are party to the CBD (and the 142 nations who have sovereign jurisdiction over the hotspots) have any semblance of appropriately scaled, land use planning which would help reconcile international conservation values with local economic imperatives.6

By focusing attention on the hotspots in the lead-up to the UN's 2020 deadline for achieving the Aichi targets, this atlas is intended as a geopolitical tool to help prioritize conservation land-use planning. It is also a call to landscape architects, urban designers, and planners to become more involved in helping reconcile ecology and economics in these territories.

Set diametrically at the opposite end of modernity to Ortelius' original, this atlas promotes cultivation, not conquest. As such, this atlas is not about the end of the world at all, for that cosmological inevitability awaits the sun's explosion some 2.5 or so billion years away: it is about the end of Ortelius' world, the end of the world as a God-given and unlimited resource for human exploitation. On this, even the Catholic Church is now adamant: "we have no such right" writes Pope Francis.7"



"This immense and ever-expanding trove of remotely sensed data and imagery is the basis of the world's shared Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The subject of this cyborgian, perpetual mapping-machine is not only where things are in space, but more importantly how things change over time. Because the environmental crisis is generally a question of understanding what is changing where, we can say that with remote sensing and its data-streams we have entered not only the apocalyptic age of star wars and the white-noise world of global telecommunications, but more optimistically, the age of ecological cartography.

The "judgment and bias" of this atlas lies firstly in our acceptance of the public data as a given; secondly in the utilization of GIS to rapidly read and translate metadata as a reasonable basis for map-making in the age of ecological cartography; thirdly, in our foregrounding of each map's particular theme to the exclusion of all others; and finally in the way that a collection of ostensibly neutral and factual maps is combined to form an atlas that, by implication, raises prescient questions of land-use on a global scale."



"Who are the Atlas authors?
The Atlas for the End of the World project was conceived and directed by Richard Weller who is the Martin and Margy Meyerson Chair of Urbanism and Professor and Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). The Atlas was researched and created in collaboration with Claire Hoch and Chieh Huang, both recent graduates from the Department of Landscape Architecture at UPenn now practicing landscape architecture in Australia and the United States."
biodiversity  culture  future  maps  anthropocene  earth  multispecies  environment  ecology  ecosystems  mapping  data  visualization  infographics  dataviz  bioregions  atlases  geography  urbanization  cities  nature  naturalhistory  california  classideas  flora  fauna  plants  animals  wildlife  morethanhuman  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  economics  endangersspecies  statistics  richardweller  clairehoch  chiehhuang 
january 2018 by robertogreco
An Atlas for the End of the World
"The Atlas for the End of the World is a project started by Penn architect Richard Weller to highlight the effects of human civilization and urbanization on our planet’s biodiversity.
Coming almost 450 years after the world’s first Atlas, this Atlas for the End of the World audits the status of land use and urbanization in the most critically endangered bioregions on Earth. It does so, firstly, by measuring the quantity of protected area across the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots in comparison to United Nation’s 2020 targets; and secondly, by identifying where future urban growth in these territories is on a collision course with endangered species.

There’s lots to see at the site: world and regional maps, data visualizations, key statistical data, photos of plants and animals that have been modified by humans, as well as several essays on a variety of topics.

And here’s a fun map: countries with national biodiversity strategies and action plans in place. Take a wild guess which country is one of the very few without such a plan in place!"

[See also:
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/hotspots_main.html
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/hotspots/california_floristic_province.pdf
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/world_maps_main.html
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/flora_and_fauna.html
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/world_maps/world_maps_biodiversity_planning.html ]
anthropocene  maps  mapping  atlases  geography  urbanization  cities  nature  naturalhistory  california  classideas  flora  fauna  plants  animals  wildlife  multispecies  morethanhuman  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  biodiversity  ecology  economics  ecosystems  endangersspecies  visualization  data  statistics 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Why domesticated foxes are genetically fascinating (and terrible pets) | PBS NewsHour
"Cultures across the globe consider foxes to be incorrigibly wild. In both ancient fables and big-budget movies, these fluffy mammals are depicted as being clever, intelligent and untamable. Untamable, that is, until an unparalleled biology experiment started in Siberia almost 60 years ago.

The tale begins with Dmitry Belyaev, who was studying genetics during a very dangerous time in the Soviet Union. State officials campaigned actively against genetic research with a tactic known as Lysenkoism, under which hundreds of biologists were either thrown in prison or executed. After Joseph Stalin’s death, the government’s grasp on genetic research loosened, and though it was still controversial, Belyaev was finally able to test a hypothesis he had been secretly pursuing.

As director of the newly-minted Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Belyaev was curious as to how dogs first became domesticated. He decided that to fully understand the process, he must attempt to replicate the early days of domestication. He picked foxes for the experiment because of their close family ties with dogs (both are canids). His research team visited fur farms across the Soviet Union and purchased the tamest foxes on hand. They figured using the most docile of the wild foxes for their breeding program would hasten the pace of domestication, relative to the thousands of years it took to breed dogs.

To prove the foxes’ friendly demeanor was the result of genetic selection, Belyaev’s team began to breed foxes that showed opposite traits of the tame pups. Instead of being outgoing and excited by encountering people, these foxes were defensive and aggressive. This result showed certain aspects of the fox’s behavior could be tied to genetics and spotted during breeding.

What does the (tame) fox say?

Unfortunately, Belyaev died before seeing the final results. But today, 58 years after the start of the program, there is now a large, sustainable population of domesticated foxes. These animals have no fear of humans, and actively seek out human companionship. The most friendly are known as “elite” foxes.

“By the tenth generation, 18 percent of fox pups were elite; by the 20th, the figure had reached 35 percent,” Lyudmilla Trut, one of the lead researchers at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, wrote in a paper describing the experiment in 1999. “Today elite foxes make up 70 to 80 percent of our experimentally selected population.”

University of Illinois biologist Anna Kukekova has been studying these domesticated foxes since the late 1990s. Her lab digs into the genes behind the desirable traits in the animals.

One of the lab’s most interesting findings is that the friendly foxes exhibit physical traits not seen in the wild, such as spots in their fur and curled tails. Their ears show weird traits, too.

Like puppies, young foxes have floppy ears. But the ears of domesticated foxes stay floppier for a longer time after birth, said Jennifer Johnson, a biologist who has worked with Kukekova since the early 2000s.

As the researchers peered into the reasons behind the behavioral traits, they found there isn’t just one gene responsible for the friendly and outgoing behavior.

“The tameness (the nice versus mean) is actually separate from the bold animals versus the shy animals, and the active animals versus quiet animals,” Johnson said. “When these [tame and aggressive] animals are bred, we see a lot of interesting new behaviors.”

Johnson said it has been difficult to decipher these genetic secrets, because unlike for humans and dogs, no one has sequenced the genome of foxes … yet. Kukekova’s lab expects to publish a fox genome sometime soon.

Fly foxes, fly!

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the domesticated fox experiment fell on hard times as public funding for the project evaporated. The researchers realized quickly that keeping more than 300 foxes is an expensive enterprise. In the 1990s, the lab switched to selling some of the foxes as fur pelts to sustain the breeding program.

“The current situation is not catastrophic, but not stable at the same time,” Institute of Cytology and Genetics research assistant Anastasiya Kharlamova told BBC Earth last year. Now, the lab’s primary source of revenue is selling the foxes to people and organizations across the globe.

One customer is the Judith A. Bassett Canid Education and Conservation Center, located near San Diego. The center keeps six foxes — five of which are domesticated — as ambassadors for their species, so that people can get an up-close-and-personal view of the animals.

“We have a fox whose name is Boris, and as soon as someone walks in, he’ll run up to them like a dog will,” said David Bassett, president of the Conservation Center. “He wants to be scratched and if you don’t scratch him he’ll make you.”

Want a domesticated fox of your own? Remember these rules. First, bringing one into the United States costs almost $9,000. Several states outright ban people from keeping foxes as pets, including California, New York, Texas and Oregon. And of course, while domesticated foxes are friendlier than those in the wild, they can still be unpredictable.

“[You can be] sitting there drinking your cup of coffee and turning your head for a second, and then taking a swig and realizing, ‘Yeah, Boris came up here and peed in my coffee cup,’” said Amy Bassett, the Canid Conservation Center’s founder. “You can easily train and manage behavioral problems in dogs, but there are a lot of behaviors in foxes, regardless of if they’re Russian or U.S., that you will never be able to manage.”"
multispecies  foxes  animals  2017  wildlife  nature  genetics  domestication  cytology  dmitrybelyaev 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Dioramas : Open Space
"I walk up Twin Peaks to put myself between the ocean and the bay. The elevation bisects San Francisco, and the marine layer coming off the Pacific dissolves into tendrils. I’m scared of heights but feel tethered to the ground from this vantage.

At Glen Canyon I hear coyote pups barking. They are in the brush along Islais Creek, which runs in times of plentiful rain and sustains a lush ecosystem. The coyotes are here; I am here; a man, his baby, and his domestic dog are here; scrub jays, blackberry brambles, joggers, and a pair of red tails circling each other. Along a continuum with the most cooperative impulses of nature at one extreme and our most disruptive social constructs at the other, we humans move backwards and forwards.

I go out of town to look at drier land. Along this road I see small clumps of furry scat at regular intervals yet am still surprised when I encounter a bobcat. I’m sure I leave a trail too, and wonder who investigates it.

The appearance of the sky and the relative humidity and scent of the air are waypoints of memory. The fog, with its subtle variety of color, density, and paths, is a reasonable marker of time and place, but requires attention. At a distance it has a source and a form; up close its boundaries are obscured by constant change; inside it dissipates, particulate. This is a non-binary sort of weather."
elisabethnicula  sanfrancisco  twinpeaks  glencanyon  california  2017  coyotes  nature  wildlife  multispecies 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Robert Macfarlane on Twitter: "The contrast-term to "Kulturfolger" is "Kulturmeider", culture-avoiders, those species that cannot survive in humanly made habitats. https://t.co/MXlpmglEEn"
"The contrast-term to "Kulturfolger" is "Kulturmeider", culture-avoiders, those species that cannot survive in humanly made habitats."

[See also: "Word of the day: "Kulturfolger" - a species that adapts well to living among humans & their habitats (lit. 'culture-follower', German)."
https://twitter.com/RobGMacfarlane/status/912557474242334720 ]
words  german  culture  multispecies  entanglement  humans  nature  wildlife  anthropocene 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Mapping 'Where the Animals Go' Amid Human Disruption - CityLab
"A new book maps how animals navigate a world heavily altered by urban development and climate change."
maps  mapping  anthropocene  nature  wildlife  2017  animals  climatechange  urban  urbanism  jamescheshire  oliveruberti  lindapoon  morethanhuman  animalcrossings 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Animals Week - CityLab
"Urban citizens of all species"

[See also: "When City Life Is Wild: This week, we’re fishing up stories about urban animals of all species."
https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/08/when-city-life-is-wild/536097/

"Curbing Your Dog, All Around the World: This blogger has the inside scoop on cities’ cheekiest signs."
https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/08/dog-poop-signs-around-the-world/535920/

"When Crows Attack: One man is on a mission to map bird-on-human aggression around the world."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/when-crows-attack/536409/

"Will Cities Ever Outsmart Rats?: The age-old strategy is “see a rat, kill a rat.” The new plan is to end an infestation before it ever begins."
https://www.citylab.com/solutions/2017/08/smart-cities-fight-rat-infestations-big-data/535407/

"Urban Monkeys Are Too Chunky: Put down that banana! Eating human food is making the world’s city-dwelling simians sick."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/urban-monkeys-are-too-chunky/536055/

"'We Thought We Would Be Ruled By Robots': American crow populations are swelling in cities. Perhaps by better understanding them we can better understand ourselves."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/we-thought-we-would-be-ruled-by-robots/536118/

"The Deer in Your Yard Are Here to Stay: The deer population of the eastern U.S. has exploded and cities are trying to keep it in check. But the options available to them are limited, and fraught."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/the-deer-in-your-yard-are-here-to-stay/535938/

"Green Roofs Are Saving Birds and Hatching Bird-Watchers: When landscape architects attract flocks to urban centers, city dwellers are keen to look up."
https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/08/green-design-has-changed-urban-birding/535839/
animals  cities  multispecies  2017  wildlife  pets  nature  birds  deer  monkeys  dogs  rats  crows  corvids 
august 2017 by robertogreco
'We Thought We Would Be Ruled By Robots' - CityLab
"American crow populations are swelling in cities. Perhaps by better understanding them we can better understand ourselves."
crows  corvids  cities  nature  multispecies  wildlife  animals  birds  ravens  2017  arielaberg-riger  urban  urbanism 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Towards an Internet of Living Things – OpenExplorer Journal – Medium
"Conservation groups are using technology to understand and protect our planet in an entirely new way."

"The Internet of Things (IoT) was an idea that industry always loved. It was simple enough to predict: as computing and sensors become smaller and cheaper, they would be embedded into devices and products that interact with each other and their owners. Fast forward to 2017 and the IoT is in full bloom. Because of the stakes — that every device and machine in your life will be upgraded and harvested for data — companies wasted no time getting in on the action. There are smart thermostats, refrigerators, TVs, cars, and everything else you can imagine.

Industry was first, but they aren’t the only. Now conservationists are taking the lead.

The same chips, sensors (especially cameras) and networks being used to wire up our homes and factories are being deployed by scientists (both professional and amateur) to understand our natural world. It’s an Internet of Living Things. It isn’t just a future of efficiency and convenience. It’s enabling us to ask different questions and understand our world from an entirely new perspective. And just in time. As environmental challenges — everything from coral bleaching to African elephant poaching— continue to mount, this emerging network will serve as the planetary nervous system, giving insight into precisely what actions to take.

It’s a new era of conservation based on real-time data and monitoring. It changes our ecological relationship with the planet by changing the scales at which we can measure — we get both increased granularity, as well as adding a truly macro view of the entire planet. It also allows us to simultaneously (and unbiasedly) measuring the most important part of the equation: ourselves.

Specific and Real-Time

We have had population estimates of species for decades, but things are different now. Before the estimates came from academic fieldwork, and now we’re beginning to rely on vast networks of sensors to monitor and model those same populations in real-time. Take the recent example of Paul Allen’s Domain Awareness System (DAS) that covers broad swaths of West Africa. Here’s an excerpt from the Bloomberg feature:
For years, local rangers have protected wildlife with boots on the ground and sheer determination. Armed guards spend days and nights surrounding elephant herds and horned rhinos, while on the lookout for rogue trespassers.

Allen’s DAS uses technology to go the distance that humans cannot. It relies on three funnels of information: ranger radios, animal tracker tags, and a variety of environmental sensors such as camera traps and satellites. This being the product of the world’s 10th-richest software developer, it sends everything back to a centralized computer system, which projects specific threats onto a map of the monitored region, displayed on large screens in a closed circuit-like security room.

For instance, if a poacher were to break through a geofence sensor set up by a ranger in a highly-trafficked corridor, an icon of a rifle would flag the threat as well as any micro-chipped elephants and radio-carrying rangers in the vicinity.

[video]

These networks are being woven together in ecosystems all over the planet. Old cellphones being turned into rainforest monitoring devices. Drones surveying and processing the health of Koala populations in Australia. The conservation website MongaBay now has a section of their site dedicated to the fast-moving field, which they’ve dubbed WildTech. Professionals and amateurs are gathering in person at events like Make for the Planet and in online communities like Wildlabs.net. It’s game on.

The trend is building momentum because the early results have been so good, especially in terms of resolution. The organization WildMe is using a combination of citizen science (essentially human-powered environmental sensors) and artificial intelligence to identify and monitor individuals in wild populations. As in, meet Struddle the manta ray, number 1264_B201. He’s been sited ten times over the course of 10 years, mostly around the Maldives.

[image]

The combination of precision and pervasiveness means these are more than just passive data-collecting systems. They’re beyond academic, they’re actionable. We can estimate more accurately — there are 352,271 elephants estimated to remain in Africa — but we’re also reacting when something happens — a poacher broke a geofence 10 minutes ago.

The Big Picture

It’s not just finer detail, either. We’re also getting a better bigger picture than we’ve ever had before. We’re watching on a planetary scale.

Of course, advances in satellites are helping. Planet (the company) has been a major driving force. Over the past few years they’ve launched hundreds of small imaging satellites and have created an earth-imaging constellation that has ambitions of getting an image of every location on earth, every day. Like Google Earth, but near-real-time and the ability to search along the time horizon. An example of this in action, Planet was able to catch an illegal gold mining operation in the act in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest.

[image]

It’s not just satellites, it’s connectivity more broadly. Traditionally analog wildlife monitoring is going online. Ornithology gives us a good example of this. For the past century, the study of birds have relied on amateur networks of enthusiasts — the birders — to contribute data on migration and occurrence studies. (For research that spans long temporal time spans or broad geographic areas, citizen science is often the most effective method.) Now, thanks to the ubiquity of mobile phones, birding is digitized and centralized on platforms like eBird and iNaturalist. You can watch the real-time submissions and observations:

[image]

Sped up, we get the visual of species-specific migrations over the course of a year:

[animated GIF]

Human Activity

The network we’re building isn’t all glass, plastic and silicon. It’s people, too. In the case of the birders above, the human component is critical. They’re doing the legwork, getting into the field and pointing the cameras. They’re both the braun and the (collective) brain of the operation.

Keeping humans in the loop has it’s benefits. It’s allowing these networks to scale faster. Birders with smartphones and eBird can happen now, whereas a network of passive forest listening devices would take years to build (and would be much more expensive to maintain). It also makes these systems better adept at managing ethical and privacy concerns — people are involved in the decision making at all times. But the biggest benefit of keeping people in the loop, is that we can watch them—the humans—too. Because as much as we’re learning about species and ecosystems, we also need to understand how we ourselves are affected by engaging and perceiving the natural world.

We’re getting more precise measurements of species and ecosystems (a better small picture), as well as a better idea of how they’re all linked together (a better big picture). But we’re also getting an accurate sense of ourselves and our impact on and within these systems (a better whole picture).

We’re still at the beginning of measuring the human-nature boundary, but the early results suggests it will help the conservation agenda. A sub-genre of neuroscience called neurobiophilia has emerged to study the effects on nature on our brain function. (Hint: it’s great for your health and well-being.) National Geographic is sending some of their explorers into the field wired up with Fitbits and EEG machines. The emerging academic field of citizen science seems to be equally concerned with the effects of participation than it is with outcomes. So far, the science is indicating that engagement in the data collecting process has measurable effects on the community’s ability to manage different issues. The lesson here: not only is nature good for us, but we can evolve towards a healthier perspective. In a world approaching 9 billion people, this collective self-awareness will be critical.

What’s next

Just as fast as we’re building this network, we’re learning what it’s actually capable of doing. As we’re still laying out the foundation, the network is starting to come alive. The next chapter is applying machine learning to help make sense of the mountains of data that these systems are producing. Want to quickly survey the dispersion of arctic ponds? Here. Want to count and classify the number of fish you’re seeing with your underwater drone? We’re building that. In a broad sense, we’re “closing the loop” as Chris Anderson explained in an Edge.org interview:
If we could measure the world, how would we manage it differently? This is a question we’ve been asking ourselves in the digital realm since the birth of the Internet. Our digital lives — clicks, histories, and cookies — can now be measured beautifully. The feedback loop is complete; it’s called closing the loop. As you know, we can only manage what we can measure. We’re now measuring on-screen activity beautifully, but most of the world is not on screens.

As we get better and better at measuring the world — wearables, Internet of Things, cars, satellites, drones, sensors — we are going to be able to close the loop in industry, agriculture, and the environment. We’re going to start to find out what the consequences of our actions are and, presumably, we’ll take smarter actions as a result. This journey with the Internet that we started more than twenty years ago is now extending to the physical world. Every industry is going to have to ask the same questions: What do we want to measure? What do we do with that data? How can we manage things differently once we have that data? This notion of closing the loop everywhere is perhaps the biggest endeavor of … [more]
davidlang  internetofthings  nature  life  conservation  tracking  2017  data  maps  mapping  sensors  realtime  iot  computing  erth  systems  wildlife  australia  africa  maldives  geofencing  perú  birds  ornithology  birding  migration  geography  inaturalist  ebird  mobile  phones  crowdsourcing  citizenscience  science  classideas  biology 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Urban Nature | WTTW Chicago Public Media - Television and Interactive
"A Wild Plan for San Francisco"
http://interactive.wttw.com/urbannature/wild-plan-san-francisco#!/

"In San Francisco they’re imagining a world in which cars share the road with birds, bees, butterflies, and bicyclists. We cycled a few of the wildlife corridors designated in the city’s Green Connections Plan."



"Hiking Through History in The Presidio"
http://interactive.wttw.com/urbannature/hiking-through-history-presidio#!/

"What did San Francisco look like before Europeans got here? You’ll find the answer in the Presidio. This urban national park has dunes, marshes, a mountain lake, and a plant so rare we can’t disclose its exact location."



"The Streams Below Our Streets"
http://interactive.wttw.com/urbannature/streams-below-our-streets#!/

"Cities once converted streams into sewers to make room for development. But now there’s a growing movement to unearth these buried waterways."
nature  urban  urbanism  cities  classideas  sanfrancisco  presidio  watershed  wildlife  animals  maps  mapping  history  naturalhistory  via:namhenderson 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Forgotten but not Gone: The Pacific Fisher - bioGraphic
"In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, populations of the fisher (Pekania pennanti)—a forest-dwelling member of the weasel and otter family—were in steep decline across much of its native range of northern North America. Both fur trapping and habitat loss from logging and urbanization took a heavy toll. However, once trapping bans and timber harvest restrictions were put in place, the species rebounded in many regions.

Unfortunately, that trend hasn’t carried over to the West Coast of the U.S., where an isolated population of fishers, known as the Pacific fisher, continues to struggle. Scientists estimate that only 4,000 Pacific fishers remain, with just 300 left in California’s Sierra Nevada Range. These individuals now face a new and rising threat: illegal marijuana grow sites that are cropping up on public lands. Growers use poisons to protect their plants from rodents, and these chemicals are indiscriminate killers.

Despite the Pacific fisher’s high vulnerability to extinction, this little-known mammal has yet to receive federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. In the absence of this type of government regulation, an uneasy collaboration among scientists, conservation organizations, and the timber industry has filled in to take its place. For now, these efforts offer hope for the Pacific fisher—but without endangered species status, there are no assurances that current protections will continue into the future."
animals  wildlife  pacificfisher  2017  nature  california  washingtonstate  oregon  alaska  classideas 
june 2017 by robertogreco
The Self-Medicating Animal - The New York Times
"What can we learn from chimps and sheep and maybe even insects that practice medicine on themselves?"



"Animals of all kinds, from ants and butterflies to sheep and monkeys, use medicine. Certain caterpillars will, when infected by parasitic flies, eat poisonous plants, killing or arresting the growth of the larvae within them. Some ants incorporate resin from spruce trees in their nests to fend off pathogenic microbes, employing the same antibacterial compounds, called terpenes, that we use when we mop the floor with the original Pine-Sol. Parrots and many other animals consume clay to treat an upset stomach; clay binds to toxins, flushing them out of the body. “I believe every species alive today is self-medicating in one way or another,” Huffman told me recently. “It’s just a fact of life.”

Capuchin monkeys use poisonous millipedes and citrus as insect repellent. With howler monkeys, self-medication may veer into social engineering. Ken Glander, an emeritus scientist at Duke, thinks that female howlers sometimes seek out foods that change the acidity of their reproductive organs after mating. By changing the pH balance, he told me, these females may promote the success of male over female sperm, resulting in more male offspring. Should one of those males rise in a troop and sire many children, his mother’s genes are also spread with them.

Is what seems to be self-medication simply another instinctual behavior, like the urge to procreate or eat when hungry? Or is it a skill that animals acquire through experience? Most scientists I spoke to pointed out, almost bashfully, that natural selection could produce self-medicating behaviors without the humanlike learning and sharing of expertise that we associate with medical treatment. Animals that happen to eat medicinal plants at the right time might survive more successfully than those that don’t, causing that behavior to spread.

Smaller-brained animals, like caterpillars and ants, are probably self-medicating as a matter of instinct. Even monkeys, with their larger brains, seem to use insect repellents automatically: some drool, writhe and fall into what looks like a trance whenever they encounter a millipede. And yet sheep, which are often considered dimwitted compared to primates, seemingly learn from experience what medicinal plants to draw on and when. There appears to be no hard line in our imagined hierarchy of the animal kingdom, below which self-medication is instinctive and above which medicinal behavior derives from learning.

Chimps and other great apes differ, of course, from many other animals. They have culture that we recognize as such — and Huffman considers medical knowledge part of that cultural inheritance. Young chimps closely watch what their mothers eat, and he suspects that this is how they learn what plants to make them better. Chimps in other troops chew different plants than Chausiku did, suggesting that their medicinal knowledge is specific to their environs, not hard-wired. But not everyone thinks the science is settled.

Moreover, it’s still unclear how an infant watching its mother learns to associate bitter-tasting plants with physical relief, given that the mother, not the infant, is the one experiencing it and that the effect may not be felt until a day or more after dosing. “That’s the puzzle,” the well-known primatologist and author Frans de Waal told me. And how do they discover medicinal plants to begin with, particularly given their usual bitter taste? “It doesn’t sound logical to me,” he said, “but it must have happened, because we see animals flock to certain resources when they’re sick.”"



"It’s worth considering the ways that animals, precisely because of their more limited intellects, might be more doggedly scientific than we are. After all, while animals seem to attend closely to cause and effect, learning from experience, people sometimes indulge a penchant for spinning out grand theories from scant (or no) evidence and then acting on them. Bloodletting, for example, persisted for hundreds of years in Europe even though it almost certainly weakened and killed the sick. It was based on the ancient humoral theory of disease: Illness arose when the body’s “humors,” or essential fluids, were out of harmony, an imbalance corrected by draining blood, among other acts. Other ineffectual and even dangerous treatments include smoking to treat asthma and sexual intercourse with virgins as a cure for syphilis.

Animals no doubt blunder in their attempts to self-medicate. But humans seem to be unique in their capacity for clinging to beliefs and theories about the world, even when facing evidence that refutes them. Consider those religious sects that refuse modern medicine altogether, favoring prayer instead, and whose believers sometimes die as a result. Chausiku and her kind would probably never err in this way, simply because the medicine that chimps practice derives from what they’ve learned through trial and error, not from untested explanations for how the world works.

Historically, some currents within evidence-based medicine — treatment rigorously based on what has been shown to work — can be regarded as tacit recognition of this human shortcoming. Even modern doctors, with their years of training and conditioning, can find it hard not to venture beyond the evidence or get carried away in extrapolations. In a way, the evidence-based mantra is partly an exhortation to be more animal-like. Don’t rely too heavily on theories, assumptions or grand cosmological narratives. Instead, be empirical and focus on what’s right in front of you"
multispecies  animals  nature  wildlife  biomimicry  moisesvelasquez-manoff  2017  medicine  insects  sheep  chimpanzees  instinct  self-medication  michaelhuffman  biomimetics 
may 2017 by robertogreco
What Animals Taught Me About Being Human - The New York Times
"Surrounding myself with animals to feel less alone was a mistake: The greatest comfort is in knowing their lives are not about us at all."



"Animals don’t exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves. The purpose of animals in medieval bestiaries, for example, was to give us lessons in how to live. I don’t know anyone who now thinks of pelicans as models of Christian self-sacrifice, or the imagined couplings of vipers and lampreys as an allegorical exhortation for wives to put up with unpleasant husbands. But our minds still work like bestiaries. We thrill at the notion that we could be as wild as a hawk or a weasel, possessing the inner ferocity to go after the things we want; we laugh at animal videos that make us yearn to experience life as joyfully as a bounding lamb. A photograph of the last passenger pigeon makes palpable the grief and fear of our own unimaginable extinction. We use animals as ideas to amplify and enlarge aspects of ourselves, turning them into simple, safe harbors for things we feel and often cannot express.

None of us see animals clearly. They’re too full of the stories we’ve given them. Encountering them is an encounter with everything you’ve ever learned about them from previous sightings, from books, images, conversations. Even rigorous scientific studies have asked questions of animals in ways that reflect our human concerns. In the late 1930s, for example, when the Dutch and Austrian ethologists Niko Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz towed models resembling flying hawks above turkey chicks, they were trying to prove that these birds hatched with a hard-wired image resembling an airborne bird of prey already in their minds that compelled them to freeze in terror. While later research has suggested it is very likely that young turkeys actually learn what to fear from other turkeys, the earlier experiment is still valuable, not least for what it says about human fears. To me it seems shaped by the historical anxieties of a Europe threatened for the first time by large-scale aerial warfare, when pronouncements were made that “the bomber will always get through,” no matter how tight the national defense."



"For some weeks, I’ve been worried about the health of family and friends. Today I’ve stared at a computer screen for hours. My eyes hurt. My heart does, too. Feeling the need for air, I sit on the step of my open back door and see a rook, a sociable species of European crow, flying low toward my house through gray evening air. Straightaway I use the trick I learned as a child, and all my difficult emotions lessen as I imagine how the press of cooling air might feel against its wings. But my deepest relief doesn’t come from imagining I can feel what the rook feels, know what the rook knows — instead, it’s slow delight in recognizing that I cannot. These days I take emotional solace from understanding that animals are not like me, that their lives are not about us at all. The house it’s flying over has meaning for both of us. To me, it is home. To a rook? A way point on a journey, a collection of tiles and slopes, useful as a perch or a thing to drop walnuts on in autumn to make them shatter and let it winkle out the flesh inside.

Then there is something else. As it passes overhead, the rook tilts its head to regard me briefly before flying on. And with that glance I feel a prickling in my skin that runs down my spine, and my sense of place shifts. The rook and I have shared no purpose. For one brief moment we noticed each other, is all. When I looked at the rook and the rook looked at me, I became a feature of its landscape as much as it became a feature of mine. Our separate lives, for that moment, coincided, and all my anxiety vanished in that one fugitive moment, when a bird in the sky on its way somewhere else pulled me back into the world by sending a glance across the divide."
animals  multispecies  posthumanism  humans  2017  helenmacdonald  crows  corvids  rooks  thomasnagel  birds  nature  wildlife  human-animalrelations  anthropomorphism  human-animalrelationships  nikotinbergen  konradlorenz 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Why Dogs Belong Off-Leash in the Outdoors | Outside Online
"If the owners are responsible, the presence of off-leash dogs can actually make the outdoors a better place"



"Responsible Dog Ownership

“I am a huge believer in enforcement,” says Bekoff, arguing that the best way to retain the privilege to walk your dog off-leash in a place like Boulder is to obey the rules—and have a reason to do so. “You need both the carrot and the stick to alter human behavior,” he continues. Having your dog off-leash means you need to be responsible.

There absolutely are places that dogs should not be off-leash, of course. And there are places dogs should not be at all. But there are also areas where human children should not be permitted to wander unsupervised and areas where humans should not tread at all. But just like laws that govern people are written to respect the decision-making powers of reasonable men, laws that govern dogs should also allow for the reasonable man.

I’m not about to let Wiley run amok in a sensitive bird nesting site or let him loose on a beach full of elephant seals. In fact, please give me a sign warning of those things. But on a backpacking trip, while camping, or just spending time in the mountains, I do want him to be off-leash. He’s happier that way, so I’m happier, too. And I don’t want that freedom to be limited by blanket legislation, personal prejudice, or fear.

It is the burden of any dog owner or caretaker to be responsible and considerate. Just like Americans traveling abroad, each of us is an ambassador for our culture. Every time someone steps in dog poop, that’s someone who’s going to thing negatively about dogs. Anyone who’s ever been bitten is going to feel even worse about them.

You know the saying “that’s why we can’t have nice things”? That’s how I feel every time I see a dog barking incessantly, every time I see dog poop laying around on a trail or sidewalk, and every time an armada of untrained chihuahuas attempts to kill Wiley. They never succeed, obviously, and Wiley is convinced they’re just playing, but a bad dog is the product of a bad dog owner. If you and I want to be able to take our dog places, then it’s up to us to make sure the dog is a positive thing, not a negative. There is no excuse: train your damn dog. And pick up his poop.

Want a real villain in this story of pets in conflict with nature? Domestic cats are reportedly killing 4 billion animals per year in the United States and are solely responsible for the extinction of at least 33 bird species. It’s cats, not dogs, that are our real enemies."
dogs  animals  pets  multispecies  outdoors  wessiler  2016  nature  wildlife 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Coyote Whisperer
"As more and more coyotes move into San Francisco’s urban core, one woman is bent on teaching the city how to peacefully co-exist with the animals."
coyotes  sanfrancisco  multispecies  2016  janetkessler  classideas  sfsh  animals  nature  wildlife 
april 2017 by robertogreco
BBC - Earth - Story of Life
"Download the Story of Life app to explore more than 1000 of Sir David Attenborough’s most memorable moments from his 60-year career exploring the natural world. Explore your favourite moments, watch curated collections from Sir David and others, or create and share your own collections with the world. Available now."

[See also: https://itunes.apple.com/app/attenborough-story-of-life/id1124476992 ]

[via: "How the BBC makes Planet Earth look like a Hollywood movie"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAOKOJhzYXk ]
applications  ios  bbc  android  davidattenborough  nature  wildlife 
february 2017 by robertogreco
How the BBC makes Planet Earth look like a Hollywood movie - YouTube
"The technology behind the cinematic style of the BBC's Planet Earth II.

Check back next Monday for the next episode in this mini-series."
planetearth  bbc  filmmaking  cinematography  wildlife  nature  documentary  2017  cameras  stabilization  history 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Islands | Planet Earth II | BBC America
"For some, remote islands offer sanctuary away from the mainland: the tiny pygmy three-toed sloth only survives because of the peace and safety offered by its Caribbean island home, while seabirds like albatross thrive in predator-free isolation."
islands  nature  sfsh  classideas  2017  planetearthii  bbc  video  towatch  wildlife 
february 2017 by robertogreco
The Case Against Cats - Los Angeles Review of Books
"IMAGINE THERE’S NO CAT. Imagine there’s no mouser, no pet, no fuzzy thing rubbing against your leg, meowing for dinner. Imagine there’s no word for jazz hipsters, nothing to always land on its feet, nothing for animal hoarders to hoard, nothing to dangle from a tree limb telling you to “Hang in there!” Imagine there’re no cat memes, no Grumpy or Nyan Cat, no cat playing keyboard or framed by a misspelled catchphrase. Imagine a world without cats.

It’s not that easy to do. The cat has become ubiquitous in our lives, whether serving as pest repellent, loyal friend and companion, inexhaustible reservoir of metaphor and cultural association, or internet content. This last is the latest, but not the least, of the cat’s accomplishments. Of all the things that get shared, retweeted, liked, favorited, loved, or memed on any given day of our networked lives, up at the top of the list is always cats: cats with their heads between slices of bread, cats trying to fit into a cardboard box, cats riding around on Roombas in shark costumes. Because we love them, we put them anywhere and everywhere, spreading their images far and wide.

Cats are colonizers: this is what they do. They have colonized the internet just as they have colonized so many other habitats, always with the help of humans. This is the lesson of Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer, a new book by conservation scientist Peter P. Marra and travel writer Chris Santella. From remote islands in the Pacific to the marshes of Galveston Bay, Cat Wars traces the various ways in which felines have infiltrated new landscapes, inevitably sowing death and devastation wherever they go.

Perhaps the most famous case of genocide-by-cat is that of the remote Stephens Island in New Zealand. Before the end of the 19th century, it was home to a unique species: the Stephens Island wren. One of only a few species of flightless songbirds, the wren ran low to the ground, looking more like a mouse than a bird. After a lighthouse was built on the island in 1894, a small human settlement was established; and with humans, invariably, come pets. At some point a pregnant cat, brought over from the mainland, escaped and roamed wild. The island’s wrens, unused to facing such a skillful predator, were no match for the feral cats that spread throughout the island. Within a year, the Stephens Island wren was extinct. It would take another 30 years to eradicate the feral cats.

This is not an isolated incident. Cats have contributed to species decline and habitat reduction in dozens of other cases. Because they’re so cute and beloved, we have little conception of — and little incentive to find out — how much damage cats are doing to our environment. When researcher Scott Loss tallied up the number of animals killed by North American housecats in a single year, the results were absolutely staggering: between 6.3 and 22.3 billion mammals, between 1.3 and 4 billion birds, between 95 and 299 million amphibians, and between 258 and 822 million reptiles.

¤

It is undeniable, then, that cats are a menace to animal society, particularly those cats that are allowed to roam free outdoors. We have known this for almost a century. In 1929, the ornithologist Edward Howe Forbush commented that “the widespread dissemination of cats in the woods and in the open or farming country, and the destruction of birds by them, is a much more important matter than most people suspect, and is not to be lightly put aside, as it has an important bearing on the welfare of the human race.” Forbush, having tallied up an impressive anecdotal record of death and destruction, concluded that the cat “has disturbed the biological balance and has become a destructive force among native birds and mammals.” The cat doesn’t much care if its prey is threatened with extinction. Any small mammal, bird, or reptile is fair game, regardless of its rarity.

In one of Cat Wars’s more enlightening analogies, Marra and Santella compare housecats to the pesticide DDT. The cat, they argue, is one of the earliest known invasive species, and invasive species, they argue, are “simply another form of an environmental contaminant; like DDT, they can cause great harm and, once introduced, can be exceptionally difficult to remove from the environment.” Both started out as human technologies used to rid the landscape of unwanted pests, and both came with unintended side effects and unwanted additional destruction in the wild. Given the amount of energy we have devoted to banning DDT and ridding the environment of its consequences, it’s noteworthy that we seem so uninterested in a similar remedy for the scourge of cats, which, by most metrics, are far more destructive. The authors note that, while cats have been implicated in the decline and extinction of some 175 different species, “there are no confirmed bird extinctions from the pesticide DDT.”

The news that housecats are laying waste to wide swaths of biodiversity has not, like revelations about climate change or other ecological evils, led to some kind of scientific consensus about what was to be done. It’s led, instead, to the establishment of two warring camps: the cat people and the bird people. The bird people think that the wholesale slaughter of the world’s bird population is a problem requiring human intervention, namely the banning of feral and outdoor cats, forced sterilization, and euthanization. The cat people are aghast at these solutions, and argue instead that cats, being innate predators, should be allowed to fulfill their natural directive. When University of Wisconsin professor Stanley Temple published a report noting the high number of birds being killed by cats, he was besieged with death threats. “Many Wisconsites (at least those who wrote letters to the editor and hate mail to Temple),” Marra and Santella write, “were much more concerned that cats were being blamed for songbird deaths than with the fact that millions of songbirds were being killed. And some were more troubled about the possibility of cats being killed than they were about the life of a researcher.”

In the ensuing stalemate, legislation has been halfheartedly introduced, allowed to languish in committee, and finally scuttled altogether. Half-measures have been introduced that do no good. Invective has been hurled from both sides with increasing ferocity. And, meanwhile, cats continue to kill all manner of creature of field and stream.

¤

Cat Wars raises an interesting ethical question: is it justifiable to kill one animal because that animal kills other animals in disproportionate numbers? The authors cite Bill Lynn, an ethicist who has supported the culling of one species as a means to protect another, calling such work a “sad good.” But Marc Bekoff, an evolutionary biologist at University of Colorado, Boulder, contends the opposite: that the life of each individual animal must be weighed separate from a concern for species and for diversity. This kind of dilemma — is it morally acceptable to sacrifice the one to save the many, or the many for the one? — has long vexed philosophers of human ethics, and it is fascinating to see it here played out with regards to interspecies warfare.

Rather than explore this difficulty further, though, Cat Wars remains mostly about the war between cat people and bird people. Marra and Santella are clearly bird people. (Marra, after all, is the head of the Smithsonian’s migratory bird center.) The pro-bird, anti-cat thrust of their book is not subtle. “Allowing owned cats to roam freely outside,” they write, is an example of “irresponsible pet ownership,” a message they drive home with increasing emphasis. (Full disclosure: I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m a dog person.)
Cat Wars is one of those strange books, reading which one can feel generally comfortable with the authors’ conclusions while growing increasingly frustrated with their bad faith arguments, rhetorical sleights-of-hand, and other abuses of the reader’s trust. A chapter that focuses on cats as disease vectors is the worst offender. They point out, correctly, that housecats can be carriers of bubonic plague (an Arizona man died in 1992 after catching plague from a cat) as well as rabies, and that Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in cat feces, has been linked to behavioral changes in humans. It’s true, of course, that cats can transmit plague and other diseases, but this trait is not unique to them, nor are toxoplasma cysts restricted to outdoor cats. The haphazardness of these arguments makes the book seem indiscriminate in its anti-cat bias. Repeatedly, Marra and Santella offer rhetorically strong arguments that fall apart under scrutiny. They claim, for example, that “[w]ild birds and mammals […] have rights that do not seem to receive as much attention as the claimed rights of cats to wander freely outdoors.” It’s true that threatened and endangered species are protected under law, as are pets (mostly in the form of animal cruelty laws). But what can it mean to say that other, non-protected birds and mammals have “rights”? What kind of rights? Moral rights? Rights under some unstated but presumed “natural law”? Is this a call to extend legal protection to all American animals? Are all animals created equal? Does the equally invasive black rat lack rights that more charismatic native songbirds have?

Cat Wars also bends over backward to paint cat-owners, particularly those who advocate for outdoor lifestyles, as unstable and poorly educated. As Marra and Santella become increasingly polemical, they resort to refuting a straw-man “leading outdoor-cat advocate’s website” bullet-point-style:
CAT ADVOCATE CLAIMS: Cats have lived outdoors for more than 10,000 years — they are a natural part of the landscape

SCIENCE SAYS: Domestic cats are an invasive species throughout their current range, including North America

This … [more]
cats  colinedickey  2016  literature  petermarra  chrissantella  animals  environment  colonization  books  housecats  pets  multispecies  biodiversity  ethics  billlynn  marcbekoff  life  nature  birds  wildlife  invasivespecies  songbirds 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Chris Hadfield on Twitter: "With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look."
[See also: "99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year: Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs; they reflect our feelings about human progress. Bad news is a bubble too."
https://medium.com/future-crunch/99-reasons-why-2016-has-been-a-great-year-for-humanity-8420debc2823#.tj7kowhpd

"With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look.

1. The Colombian government and FARC rebels committed to a lasting peace, ending a war that killed or displaced over 7 million people.

2. Sri Lanka spent five years working to exile the world’s deadliest disease from their borders. As of 2016, they are malaria free.

3. The Giant Panda, arguably the world’s second cutest panda, has official been removed from the endangered species list.

4. @astro_timpeake became the first ESA astronaut from the UK, symbolizing a renewed British commitment to space exploration.

5. Tiger numbers around the world are on the rise for the first time in 100 years, with plans to double by 2022.

6. Juno, a piece of future history, successfully flew over 588 million miles and is now sending back unprecedented data from Jupiter.

7. The number of veterans in the US who are homeless has halved in the past half-decade, with a nearly 20% drop in 2016.

8. Malawi lowered its HIV rate by 67%, and in the past decade have seen a shift in public health that has saved over 250,000 lives.

9. Air travel continue to get safer, and 2016 saw the second fewest per capita deaths in aviation of any year on record.

10. India’s dogged commitment to reforestation saw a single day event planting more than 50 million trees, a world record.

11. Measles has been eradicated from the Americas. A 22 year vaccination campaign has led to the elimination of the historic virus.

12. After a century, Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves has been proven correct, in a ‘moon shot’ scientific achievement.

13. China has announced a firm date for the end of the ivory trade, as public opinion is becoming more staunchly environmentalist.

14. A solar powered airplane flew across the Pacific Ocean for the first time, highlighting a new era of energy possibilities.

15. Costa Rica’s entire electrical grid ran on renewable energy for over half the year, and their capacity continues to grow.

16. Israeli and US researchers believe they are on the brink of being able to cure radiation sickness, after successful tests this year.

17. The ozone layer has shown that through tackling a problem head on, the world can stem environmental disasters, together.

18. A new treatment for melanoma has seen a 40% survival rate, taking a huge step forward towards long-term cancer survivability.

19. An Ebola vaccine was developed by Canadian researchers with 100% efficacy. Humans eradicated horror, together.

20. British Columbia protected 85% of the world’s largest temperate rainforest, in a landmark environmental agreement.

21. 2016 saw the designation of more than 40 new marine sanctuaries in 20 countries, covering an area larger than the United States.

22. These marine reserves include Malaysia’s 13 year struggle to complete a million hectare park, completed this year.

23. This also includes the largest marine reserve in history, created in Antarctica via an unprecedented agreement by 24 nations.

24. Atmospheric acid pollution, once a gloomy reality, has been tackled to the point of being almost back to pre-industrial levels.

25. Major diseases are in decline. The US saw a 50% mortality drop in colon cancer; lower heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia.

26. Uruguay successfully fought tobacco companies to create a precedent for small countries looking to introduce health-focused legislation.

27. World hunger has reached its lowest point in 25 years, and with poverty levels dropping worldwide, seems likely to continue.

28. The A.U. made strides to become more unified, launching an all-Africa passport meant to allow for visa-free travel for all citizens.

29. Fossil fuel emissions flatlined in 2016, with the Paris agreement becoming the fastest UN treaty to become international law.

30. China announced a ban on new coal mines, with renewed targets to increase electrical capacity through renewables by 2020.

31. One third of Dutch prison cells are empty as the crime rate shrank by more than 25% in the last eight years, continuing to drop.

32. In August went to the high Arctic with some incredible young artists. They helped open my eyes to the promise of the next generation.

33. Science, economics, and environmentalism saw a reversal in the overfishing trends of the United States this year.

34. @BoyanSlat successfully tested his Ocean Cleanup prototype, and aims to clean up to 40% of ocean-borne plastics starting this year.

35. Israel now produces 55% of its freshwater, turning what is one of the driest countries on earth into an agricultural heartland.

36. The Italian government made it harder to waste food, creating laws that provided impetus to collect, share and donate excess meals.

37. People pouring ice on their head amusingly provided the ALS foundation with enough funding to isolate a genetic cause of the disease.

38. Manatees, arguably the most enjoyable animal to meet when swimming, are no longer endangered.

39. Grizzlies, arguable the least enjoyable animal to meet while swimming, no longer require federal protection in US national parks.

40. Global aid increased 7%, with money being designated to helping the world’s 65 million refugees doubling.

41. 2016 was the most charitable year in American history. China’s donations have increased more than ten times since a decade ago.

42. The Gates Foundation announced another 5 billion dollars towards eradicating poverty and disease in Africa.

43. Individual Canadians were so welcoming that the country set a world standard for how to privately sponsor and resettle refugees.

44. Teenage birth rates in the United States have never been lower, while at the same time graduation rates have never been higher.

45. SpaceX made history by landing a rocket upright after returning from space, potentially opening a new era of space exploration.

46. Finally - The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, giving hope to Maple Leafs fans everywhere. Happy New Year.

There are countless more examples, big and small. If you refocus on the things that are working, your year will be better than the last."
chrishadfield  optimism  2016  improvement  trends  humanity  earth  environment  economics  health  poverty  refugees  crime  news  imprisonment  incarceration  prisons  us  canada  india  reforestation  forests  vaccinations  measles  manatees  tigers  giantpandas  wildlife  animals  multispecies  endangeredanimals  change  progress  oceans  pollutions  peace  war  colombia  government  srilanka  space  science  pacificocean  china  energy  sustainability  costarica  electricity  reneableenergy  britishcolumbia  ebola  ozone  africa  uruguay  smoking  disease  healthcare  dementia  mortality  environmentalism  italy  italia  bears  grizzlybears  spacex  gatesfoundation  angusharvey 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Foundation For Deep Ecology
"A voice for wild nature, the Foundation for Deep Ecology supports efforts to protect wilderness and wildlife, promote ecological agriculture, and oppose destructive mega-technologies that are accelerating the extinction crisis."



"The mission of the Foundation for Deep Ecology (FDE) is to support education and advocacy on behalf of wild Nature. FDE carries out this mission primarily through publications, grantmaking, and support of campaigns on particular issues affecting the future of nature and people.

We believe that stopping the global extinction crisis and achieving true ecological sustainability will require rethinking our values as a society. Present assumptions about economics, development, and the place of human beings in the natural order must be reevaluated. Nature can no longer be viewed merely as a commodity—a storehouse of “resources” for human use and profit. It must be seen as a partner and model in all human enterprise.

We begin with the premise that life on Earth has entered its most precarious phase in history. We speak of threats not only to human life, but to the lives of all species of plants and animals, of the entire ecosphere in all its beauty and complexity including the natural processes that create and shape life's diversity. It is the grave and growing threats to the health of the ecosphere that motivates our activities.

We believe that current problems are largely rooted in the following circumstances:

• The loss of traditional knowledge, values, and ethics of behavior that celebrate the intrinsic value and sacredness of the natural world and that give the preservation of Nature prime importance. Correspondingly, the assumption of human superiority to other life forms, as if we were granted royalty status over Nature; the idea that Nature is mainly here to serve human will and purpose.

• The prevailing economic and development paradigms of the modern world, which place primary importance on the values of the market, not on Nature. The conversion of Nature to commodity form, the emphasis upon economic growth as a panacea, the industrialization of all activity, from forestry to farming to fishing, even to education and culture; the rush to economic globalization, cultural homogenization, commodity accumulation, urbanization, and human alienation. All of these are fundamentally incompatible with ecological sustainability on a finite Earth.

• Technology worship and an unlimited faith in the virtues of science; the modern paradigm that technological development is inevitable, invariably good, and to be equated with progress and human destiny. From this, we are left dangerously uncritical, blind to profound problems that technology has wrought, and in a state of passivity that confounds democracy.

• Overpopulation, in both the overdeveloped and the underdeveloped worlds, placing unsustainable burdens upon biodiversity and the human condition.

As our name suggests, we are influenced by the Deep Ecology Platform, which helps guide and inform our work. We believe that values other than market values must be recognized and given importance, and that Nature provides the ultimate measure by which to judge human endeavors."
ecology  wilderness  wildlife  deepecology  extinction  douglastompkins  nature  technology  population  overpopulation  economics  via:ethanbodnar 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Digital Life
"creating accurate 3d models of life on earth"

"Digital Life aims to preserve the heritage of life on Earth through creating and sharing high-quality and accurate 3D models of living organisms. We aim to spur scientific discovery, support wildlife conservation and create educational opportunities.

Digital Life is a non-profit initiative within the University of Massachusetts at Amherst that creates digital 3D models of living organisms to support wildlife conservation, science and education. We are partnering with scientists, zoos, and NGOs to ethically gain access to a wide array of animals for 3D scanning, including endangered species.

Utilizing the Beastcam™ technology, our team of photographers, engineers, modelers and scientists creates high-quality 3D models through photogrammetry - the integration of 2D images to create 3D models. Digital Life’s models are freely available online for public viewing. Over time, we will dramatically increase the number and diversity of models.

With a deeply rooted conservation ethic, an innovative team of experts, unique 3D scanning technology, and a network of science, education and conservation partners, our aim is to become the leader in 3D modeling for life on Earth."
animals  3d  3dmodeling  digital  wildlife  life  multispecies 
december 2016 by robertogreco
The Hummingbird Whisperer - YouTube
"Near the UCLA Court of Sciences, there is a wing-flapping, darting, squeaking colony of 200-plus birds that make their home around the campus office of the “hummingbird whisperer,” as Melanie Barboni is sometimes called."

[See also: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/researcher-s-200-plus-fairy-birds-make-their-home-at-ucla ]
hummingbirds  birds  animals  nature  melaniebarboni  ucla  wildlife 
december 2016 by robertogreco
San Francisco—Still Wild At Heart
"Surrounded by water on three sides, San Francisco was the only California county without a coyote population—until 2001. Coyotes can now be found in almost every corner of the city.

This compelling and sometimes hilarious one-hour film is a virtual case study of the coyote’s arrival in urban America. Unfolding first in San Francisco, it pursues the coyote story across the national canvas—to New York City's Central Park; to Chicago, where more than 2,000 coyotes live today; and to rural California, where sheep ranchers find promise in innovative non-lethal predator control methods to protect their livestock.

We learn how coyotes impact urban and suburban ecosystems, and how we can coexist with them safely. And throughout, this lyrical natural history film features beautiful, original, and entertaining footage of coyotes and other urban wild creatures—quail, foxes, raccoons, herons, opossums, and escaped South American parrots—that survive and thrive in our challenging urban habits."

[Excerpt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNeBBfStBRE ]
sanfrancisco  nature  wildlife  classideas  animals  urban  urbanism 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Arctic Foxes 'Grow' Their Own Gardens
"The little carnivores' colorful dens provide veritable oases in the tundra, a new study says."
foxes  arcticfoxes  gardening  multispecies  2016  nature  animals  wildlife 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Why aren’t coyotes, dingoes and wolves treated like our dogs? | Aeon Essays
"Coyotes, dingoes and wolves are all dogs, as intelligent and loyal as our familiars. Our treatment of them is unconscionable"



"Some dogs exist inside the circle of human domesticity: beloved companions and friends, respected and often pampered. They sleep in our homes, sometimes in our beds. We buy them plush toys. Other dogs live outside, free and independent. They possess the essential cognitive and emotional faculties as our dogs; domestication has introduced refinements, but the raw material was already there. They have personalities, memories, love their pups, and are devoted to their packs. Every so often, they play with toys we don’t bring inside."



"Coyote-killing is different from hunting deer, elk or so-called game birds, traditions that are steeped in an ethos of stewardship, provision and even fairness. It’s killing for fun. YouTube abounds with videos that revel in the death of a coyote; in many parts of the western US, so-called coyote derbies are common, documented in photographs of stacked bodies – the kinds of photos we associate with the rapaciousness of the 19th-century frontier."
coyotes  dingoes  wolves  animals  dogs  multispecies  wildlife  nature  2016  brandonkeim  domesticity 
november 2016 by robertogreco
These Beautiful Maps Reveal the Secret Lives of Animals
"New technology lets mapmakers follow baboons, vultures, and everything in between."

[See also: http://wheretheanimalsgo.com/

"Tracking wildlife with technology in 50 maps and graphics

For thousands of years, tracking animals meant following footprints. Now satellites, drones, camera traps, cellphone networks, apps and accelerometers allow us to see the natural world like never before. Geographer James Cheshire and designer Oliver Uberti take you to the forefront of this animal-tracking revolution. Meet the scientists gathering wild data – from seals mapping the sea to baboons making decisions, from birds dodging tornadoes to jaguars taking selfies. Join the journeys of sharks, elephants, bumblebees, snowy owls and a wolf looking for love. Find an armchair, cancel your plans and go where the animals go."]
maps  mapping  animlas  multispecies  wildlife  books  2016  via:anne  technology  migration  jamescheshire  oliveruberti  birds  oceans  sharks  elephants  bumblebees  owls  seals  baboons 
november 2016 by robertogreco
How the US-Mexico Border Wall Is Hurting Animals
"Eight years ago, while flying 800 feet above the grasslands of southern New Mexico, an unlikely observation changed the course of my life. As I was leaning out the window of a small Cessna above the border of the United States and Mexico, a cold March wind roared through the plane and I could just barely make out the excited words of wildlife scientist Rurik List Sánchez:

“There they are, at the border!”

Bison! We had been searching for them all morning and the day before, and we spotted them just as they were jumping from Mexico to the United States, over a barbed wire border fence that ran between their main food and water resources. I had come to write a story about these unique trans-border bison for Wildlife Conservation magazine, and by slim chance had happened to witness their international journey in real-time. Research in Mexico had shown that this bison band—one of six free-ranging herds left in North America—had been making this journey almost daily for the past half-century as the herd labored to survive the trials of life in an arid land. Spotting them at the border itself had made the long trip from my home in Washington D.C. worth it.

But as I watched those bison, my excitement was tempered by the fear that their greatest trial awaited them on a near horizon. The beginnings of the U.S.-Mexico border wall were already being designed and constructed elsewhere on this 2,000-mile border. How long would it take that barrier to reach this remote grassland and divide the bison’s pond and pasture?

I had followed border policy and wall construction, though not closely, but in an instant as I watched those bison cross the border, the real-world consequences that would follow the building of a border wall came home to me. From that moment, I began to gear my working life toward telling their story, and the stories of all the other countless creatures on the U.S.-Mexico border that would be facing the fallout of this sudden barrier.

The predicament of those bison, and the thousands of other wild species on the border, is just one example of an infinity of barriers that we construct continually through the lives of other creatures. Barriers are all around us.

This reality was brought home to me a couple of days ago, while sitting in my house on the northeastern edge of Washington D.C., shortly after I returned from the Texas shooting of this “Think Like a Scientist” film on barriers. I had received a text from a neighbor: “There’s a vulture feeding frenzy in your front yard!” By the time I looked outside the vultures were gone, but on the road just beyond my front walk sprawled an eviscerated Virginia opossum, killed by a car in the night. I knew this neighborhood opossum and was saddened by his ignoble ending. But there was something more.

The two events, with bison and opossum, though long separated by time and space, were fundamentally linked. Two very important forces often dictate the actions and aspirations of all living things: the need to move, and the obstacles that stand in the way.

There have always been natural obstacles to the movement of plants and animals: climate, mountain ranges, oceans, but the pace of change with these obstructions offers a chance to adapt and therefore often ignites the flames of natural diversity. Human-wrought barriers however, whether they are suburban roads or international border walls, tend to have the opposite effect: They are sudden, defy nature’s logic, and, though some species may see benefits, the overall impact erodes biological diversity.

A cleared forest, a fence, a diverse meadow replaced by monoculture, even the invisible line drawn where a protected landscape like a wildlife refuge transitions into commercial property: All can pose abrupt challenges to survival.

In the borderlands land managers and wildlife biologists are grappling with the fallout of these challenges: a herd of pronghorn dying out on the Arizona border because all the breeding males were trapped on the Mexican side of the barrier; an increase in bobcat deaths on roads in South Texas after border wall construction fragmented their habitat and sent them searching for food, water, and mates.

I imagine the life of my local opossum, the trials that tested his survival, and the death that ultimately came on a suburban street. My neighborhood is filled with barriers, from fences, roads, and buildings, to less noticeable obstructions like bright street lighting that hinders the movements of shy nocturnal creatures, and monocultures of grass that offer little in the way of food resources or cover. Opossum have fared better than most in navigating the maze of our urban world. The IUCN Red List categorizes the species as “Least Concern” because of their adaptability to our fragmented world. But recent surveys done by wildlife biologists in Washington D.C. show opossum populations are declining.

There is, for all living things, a breaking point, where cumulative challenges overwhelm the ability to adapt. In Washington D.C., barriers laid down over centuries have helped reduce the region’s biodiversity to a hardy handful. In the borderlands, political climates are already taking a toll on wildlife as artificial barriers rise in a landscape that has until now been relatively free of them. And in the world at large, human-wrought barriers and obstructions are always rising and falling, appearing and disappearing.

In an era of climate change, what was once a natural factor in the survival of plants and animals has become touched by the chaotic hand of human industry. This nebulous barrier, and how it plays out in the world of wild things, is anybody’s guess. Some scientific models have predicted that in the next 50 years one-third of Earth’s species could go extinct due to humanity’s epic reconfiguring of our planet and its atmosphere. And various models have predicted big climatic shifts for both the borderlands and Washington D.C.—extended drought for the borderlands, intense heat for D.C. From the climate perspective, one of the greatest determinants for the future of the borderlands bison, my local opossum, and indeed all wild species, will be their ability to move and find suitable habitat as climate chaos shakes out. Physical barriers may ultimately prove decisive factors in an extinction crisis.

And human consciousness and care are the fulcrum on which all else rests."

[See also: https://vimeo.com/160397424 ]
border  borders  us  mexico  nature  wildlife  2016  kristaschlyer  politics  policy  multispecies 
november 2016 by robertogreco
How the U.S. Acted Too Late and Almost Lost the Island Fox - The Atlantic
"Some researchers have therefore begun to propose relocating animals across islands—a technique known as genetic rescue. It has worked elsewhere before, and it could inject each subspecies with enough variation to make it more vigorous.

It may seem like the ultimate in modern-day stewardship: Biologists ferrying small foxes across the sea, all for the good of the species. But modern-day ecologists will be repeating a more ancient exercise. While genetic evidence suggests that island foxes floated or swam to the northern islands during the previous ice age, when sea levels were lower, they did not reach the southern islands without help. Between 6,000 and 4,000 years ago, Native people, likely the Tongva, carried island foxes between the islands as companion animals. In particular, it seems increasingly likely that people introduced foxes to Santa Catalina and the southern isles.

In the long view, the story looks less like people disturbing a pristine environment and then rushing to remedy their own failure. Instead, it suggests a longer story of human-fox coexistence. Without human help, there wouldn't be island foxes anymore. And without humans in the first place, these particular kinds of island fox might not have existed at all."
foxes  animals  multispecies  channelislands  california  conservation  wildlife  eagles  pigs  2016 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Bringing Back the California Grizzly | KCET
[See also: http://ww2.kqed.org/science/2016/05/02/grizzly-bears-are-everywhere-in-california-but-the-woods/ ]

"They once ruled most of California, mountains of tooth, claw, and tawny fur that changed the landscape just by living there. Now they exist only on the state flag. The California grizzly, which once roamed the state’s open hills and numbered in the tens of thousands, was finally exterminated in 1924, when the last known griz was shot in Tulare County.

Now, a wildlife advocacy group is getting press for a campaign to bring California’s top carnivore back, or at least to get the state’s government to take the idea seriously. And it’s all part of a broader vision of helping grizzly populations recover across the west.

In a public petition campaign, the Center for Biological Diversity is asking fans of the big bear to urge the California Fish and Game Commission to explore options for bringing the grizzly back to the Golden State. If the Commission decides to heed the petition, that would likely mean ordering the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct a study on the feasibility of reintroducing the grizzly to California."



"“California is key,” says Jeff Miller, a longtime conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity and a fan of large carnivores. “We knew when we petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that any plans to bring back the grizzly would need support from the state of California. So now we’re approaching the state directly.”

One thing’s for certain: even if the bears are reintroduced to the southern Sierra Nevada, the life of a typical California grizzly will be very different from that of its average bear predecessors. Both proponents and opponents of reintroduction agree that the best old-school habitat for California grizzlies just isn’t available right now. That’s because the habitat California grizzlies liked best back in the day is also the habitat California humans like best: the temperate, fertile valleys and hills within a hundred miles of the Pacific coast.

As filmmaker Laura Purdy shows in this short documentary, featured on KCET’s Lost LA, humans and grizzlies were able to coexist for centuries in coastal California mainly because humans hadn’t altered the landscape quite as radically as we have now. In fact, some traditional landscape alterations, such as planned burning, actually made it easier for bears and people to get along.

[documentary embedded]

Planned burning is a little more complicated in prime California grizzly habitat like San Luis Obispo these days, and there are several million more humans in the state now than there were in 1491. Until things change dramatically along the coast, even hypothetical grizzly reintroductions will be restricted to the southern Sierra Nevada and similarly remote places in the state. Grizzlies there won’t be able to dine on dead marine mammals the way their 19th Century forebears did, but between the Sierra’s whitebark pines, whose nuts are a staple for the bears elsewhere, and other food such as meadow bulbs, small animals, and carrion, the Range of Light may well prove a suitable home for the brown bears.

In fact, there’s some thought that grizzlies may even benefit the Sierran ecosystem, by dispersing tree seeds and creating the kind of moderate soil disturbance that is generally lacking in the mountains nowadays.

What about public safety? The thought of bringing back an occasionally cranky, carnivorous species that can reach almost a ton in mass, and which can maintain a speed of 30 miles per hour for a quarter mile of more, has raised a few human hackles in California. But most of the people likely to come into contact with bears transplanted into the southern Sierra seem to be taking a “wait and see” stance. Casey Schreiner, editor and founder of the popular Southern California outdoor recreation website Modern Hiker, says he hasn’t heard a whole lot of reaction to the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition.

"I think you'd probably find that a lot of hikers prefer dealing with the more docile black bears," Schreiner told me. "Black bears, I'm confident around. Grizzlies give me a bit of pause."

“But I think that most of the people who are for the reintroduction are hikers who are more holistically-habitat-minded and understand that it would be good for the overall ecosystem."

For some lovers of large mammals, the return of the grizzly to California might have the ring of inevitability. In a landmark 2001 essay, a team of wildlife biologists — Reed Noss, Paul Paquet, Carlos Carroll and Nathan Schumaker — discussed whether the reintroduction of grizzlies, wolves, and wolverines to California might well be feasible. The gray wolf, which recolonized Northern California in 2014, and the wolverine, which was discovered already living in the Sierra Nevada nearly a decade ago, would seem to have answered part of that question on their own.

Perhaps it's just the grizzly's turn."
california  bears  grizzlybears  2016  history  wildlife  nature  plannedburning  fire  anthropology  edwardwinslowgifford  nativeamericans  nativecalifornians  alfredkroeber  jeffmiller  laurapurdy  documentary  chrisclarke 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Do Crows Hold Funerals for Their Dead?
"Many who have heard the melancholy cry of the mourning dove might wonder: Do birds grieve for their loved ones?

For this Saturday’s Weird Animal Question of the Week Emilie Bouef commented via Facebook: "I heard that ravens do some kind of funeral when one of them dies. I’d love to know more about this."

Calling to each other, gathering around, and paying special attention to a fallen comrade is common among the highly intelligent corvids, a group of birds that includes crows, jays, magpies, and ravens, says Kaeli Swift, a Ph.D student in environmental science at the University of Washington. (See "Are Crows Smarter Than Children?")

But it doesn't necessarily mean the birds are mourning for their lost buddy. Rather, they're likely trying to find out if there's a threat where the death occurred, so they can avoid it in the future.

In a study published recently in the journal Animal Behaviour, Swift found that American crows associate people seen handling dead crows with danger, and can be wary of feeding near such people."
crows  corvids  birds  multispecies  animals  wildlife  culture  behavior  death  funerals  2015  nature  kaeliswift  intelligence 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Lady and the Owl - YouTube
"This short documentary introduces us to the McKeevers, who care for injured owls. They live in the country and have built special cages for different purposes and species. There are many ways of being wounded, yet many ways of being cured

Directed by William Canning - 1975"
nfb  1975  documentary  via:tealtan  multispecies  owls  birds  film  wildlife  nature  animals  nfbc  williamcanning 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Making Room for Cougars in California's Cities | DiscoverMagazine.com
"The big cats are on the rebound in California, but urban development threatens their comeback. Can wildlife crossings under highways ensure their survival?"
cougars  mountainlions  animals  multispecies  cities  urban  urbanism  california  2015  wildlife 
february 2016 by robertogreco
2.5 million animal selfies reveal that nature is still going strong | Fusion
"The photos from camera traps offer scientists a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of wild animals in their natural setting, and in their natural behavior. This can help biologists and conservationists better understand how animals utilize habitat, socialize with each other and even what they eat.

While many of the photos from these cameras are grainy and out of focus, there is a growing movement to use higher quality cameras, such as DSLRs, to create stunning images that are both artistic and informative."
animals  photography  multispecies  ariphillips  nature  wildlife  cameras  cameraencounters  cameratraps 
january 2016 by robertogreco
What’s a Species, Anyways? | New Republic
"The search for the red wolf's origins have led scientists to a new theory about how evolution actually works."



"Evolution had always been represented as a “tree of life,” with animals diverging from each other until each species slotted into a terminal bud. In recent years, however, scientists have begun to adopt a more dynamic view of what constitutes a species. In 2011, Frank Rheindt and Scott Edwards, two researchers at Harvard, published a paper about hybridization in the scientific journal The Auk. They argued that “introgression”—the scientific term for when genes of one species enter the genome of another species through hybridization—had long been “underappreciated” and was, in fact, an “important and pervasive mechanism” in evolution. It allowed for the rapid introduction of “advantageous novelty” into a species’ gene pool. For example, the Neanderthal genes in the human genome affect the outer skin cells that produce hair, which researchers have suggested might have helped Homo sapiens adapt to colder climates when they migrated out of Africa some 60,000 years ago. Another research paper indicated that Tibetans gained the genes that help them breathe at high altitudes from the Denisovans, another ancient and extinct member of the Homo genus.

It is possible, certainly, for distinctive forms to be lost through hybridization. Non-native rainbow trout, for instance, have overwhelmed some of their idiosyncratic relatives in Western streams. But it is also possible for new forms to arise. No animal has demonstrated the rapid evolutionary advantages of hybridization better than the coyote. The coyote was native to the Great Plains but pushed eastward in the twentieth century into wolves’ former range along a front from Texas to southern Canada. The expansion, however, was not in lockstep. The coyotes that spread via Canada colonized new territory at a rate five times faster than their southern counterparts. A research team at the New York State Museum in Albany found that the northern coyotes encountered and hybridized with Algonquin wolves in Canada, producing larger offspring that could more easily hunt deer in Northeastern forests. These hybrid “coywolves” then spread into New York and Maine, states that had lacked wild canids since the nineteenth century. Evolution, a process that typically took thousands of years, had created a new form in a matter of decades. Hybridization held the key."



"To some biologists, the red wolf demonstrates how wrongheaded it is for the Fish and Wildlife Service to organize its conservation efforts around species in the first place, given how fuzzy the concept has proven. “I think it’s nonsensical for us to argue conservation-management practices on the basis of genomes that haven’t been impacted by genes from other species,” said Michael Arnold, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Georgia. “If we do that ... then there won’t be anything conserved.”

Instead, Arnold suggested a whole new paradigm for the natural world: not a “tree of life,” with its ever-multiplying and distinct branches, but a “web of life,” with species continually diverging and recombining over time —a truer picture of what actually happens in nature. He proposed that rather than spending conservation money to preserve what we have defined as a species, the U.S. government should buy up tracts of land and let natural evolutionary processes—including hybridization—run their course.

Scientists had hoped that DNA testing would yield clear definitions for animal species. Instead, it’s revealed just how impossible such precise determinations are. And yet few would suggest jettisoning the concept of a species altogether: It is, as E.O. Wilson wrote, too fundamental to human ideas of nature. The difference would be recognizing that a species is a human construction rather than a biological reality—a shift in perspective that would, if anything, give conservationists more flexibility to pursue their goals. “The Endangered Species Act is tied to typology, where it should be more oriented toward process,” Wayne said.

In this view, the red wolf need not be a paragon of genetic purity in order to deserve protection; it need only fill a niche in its ecosystem that no other animal does. Jenks echoed this point as well. “It should be about what an animal does in its habitat, and preserving that habitat, that ecology,” she said.

What that would mean for conservation efforts on the ground in North Carolina remains unclear. For the Fish and Wildlife Service, rescuing the red wolf from extinction is one of its greatest accomplishments. But as the agency continues to deliberate about the future of the recovery program, it has also signaled that it doesn’t have much heart left in the red wolf fight. This summer, a female red wolf wandered onto a landowner’s property in Hyde County. Typically, Fish and Wildlife employees trapped and removed unwanted red wolves from private property, but the wolves often journeyed back, and fed-up landowners have started to deny the agency access to their land. Rather than skirmish with another angry resident, the agency capitulated. It gave the man permission to shoot and kill the red wolf—a decision that drew the ire of environmental groups, who launched a lawsuit against the agency. On June 17, the man picked up a gun and, for the first time since the 1960s, intentionally took aim at and lawfully killed the red wolf. When he handed the corpse over to the Fish and Wildlife Service, they discovered that the wolf was nursing. Her pups would not survive without her care. "
biology  evolution  science  species  wolves  bencrair  joelsartore  animals  redwolves  coyotoes  dogs  hybrids  hybridism  wildlife  eowilson 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Return of the Wild | Boom: A Journal of California
"Of course, that’s not the only history in California. Two analyses of native languages and literature have found traces of the wolf across nearly the whole state. In 2001, Alexandra Geddes-Osborne and Malcolm Margolin found separate words for “wolf” and “coyote” in many indigenous languages, and a role for wolves in story and ceremonies, in tribes as disparate as the Karuk in the far north, to the Pomo in the center of the state, and the Luiseno in the south.5 More recently, a report by scholars from the Anthropological Studies Center at Sonoma State University found fifteen indigenous languages across the state with different words for wolf, coyote, and dog, and five tribes with traditions in which the wolf features.6

One can go even further back in time, beyond history to prehistory. At the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, little kids stare in horrified fascination at an animatronic saber tooth cat taking down a slightly mangy-looking stuffed ground sloth in the public area. Meanwhile, drawers and drawers of specimens from Pleistocene California—from 10,000 to 50,000 years old—compose a deeper archive. Dire wolves—giant relatives of modern gray wolves, though not their ancestors—are the most common fossils found at the site. Researchers have unearthed the bones of some four thousand individual dire wolves. Presumably, mastodons and ground sloths stuck in the tar were so tempting that they lured the dire wolves to their doom.

A curator at the tar pits looks slightly bemused that I’m less interested in the dire wolves (currently chic thanks to their appearance in Game of Thrones) than regular old Canis lupus. “Does the collection include gray wolves?” I ask.

It does, indeed. We walk down a long, narrow corridor between metal cabinets, open a drawer, and here are riches of wolf bones, looking, as tar pit specimens do, mahogany colored and polished. There are teeth, jaws, and skulls. Nineteen drawers in all. When the first people came to what is now California, there were almost certainly wolves here.

Of course, there are still wolves in California—in Los Angeles, in fact. But these aren’t free-roaming wildlife. They are pets—or prisoners, depending on your point of view. Jennifer McCarthy, a dog trainer, spent four years in Colorado studying and working with captive wolves on a large piece of land. She now applies what she learned there to the dogs of the greater Los Angeles area, including the fully domesticated, nonwolf pooches of celebrities such as Christina Aguilera, the Osborne family, and Renee Zellweger. Some of McCarthy’s less famous clients own wolves or wolf-dog hybrids. For many people, there is an undeniable attraction to being that close with a piece of the wild. But wolves and wolf dogs make notoriously poor pets. They can bite. They don’t follow direction well. Their predatory instincts are strong, and, most of all, they are incredible escape artists. They don’t bond with people the way dogs do. Wolves may sound like a cool companion animal, but they spend their lives trying to be wolves, with sometimes-disastrous consequences.

McCarthy meets me in Redondo Beach at a coffee shop, wearing a black hoodie that says “Wolf Woman” on it. “There are people who live in the city of Los Angeles with 100 percent full-blown wolves,” she says. In one case, she was called to an apartment in Beverly Hills where a wolf had chewed through the floor and escaped into the apartment below.

McCarthy disapproves of breeding and selling wolves and part-wolves. “I really believe these animals were meant to be wild,” she says. “Wolves don’t want a lot to do with us.” But she will try to keep pet wolves from being euthanized, either by working on their behavior or placing them in one of the always-crowded specialty wolf rescues. She also volunteers her time to transport wolves and wolf dogs to shelters when necessary.

McCarthy’s experience with wolves suggests to her that even if they recolonize the state in large numbers, they will stay as far away from people as possible. “I couldn’t picture wolves walking down Santa Monica Boulevard at night, going through garbage cans,” she says.

That’s a job for another California canine: the coyote. Smaller, faster-breeding, and potentially more adaptable, the coyote inherited the lands the wolf left behind when humans exterminated it across most of the country. Coyotes, unlike wolves, are nearly impossible to eradicate. You can shoot, trap, and poison them all day long, and they’ll just keep coming.

In a lot of the native California and Oregon stories in which Wolf appears, he seems to be kind of a straight man to the trickster Coyote, who is sometimes his brother. Geddes-Osborne and Margolin retell a story from the Chemehuevi,7 in which Wolf is a brave warrior who saves the day and his little brother when the Bear people attack. Wolf fights in a magnificent multicolored robe, which becomes the rainbow. He is “wiser, more stately and in charge” than his little brother Coyote. This reminds me of stories from the Northern Paiute, recorded in 1938 by Berkeley anthropologist Isabel Kelly.8 In these stories, Wolf and Coyote are brothers, and Coyote is constantly taking risks out of curiosity, despite the warnings of his sage, conservative older brother, Wolf. Here’s a fragment of a tale told by Bige Archie of the Gidii’tikadu or Groundhog Eater band, in Modoc County, California.

They saw someone camped. Coyote wanted to see whose camp it was. Wolf told him, “Those are pretty bad people; don’t go there.” Coyote thought they might have some ya’pa [camas] roots. “I’ll go anyway,” he said. He went over to the camp. There were some Bear women in there. There was lots of ya’pa drying outside. Coyote found a basket. He scooped up some ya’pa and ran. They came after him; they came close behind him. He threw back the basket and hit those women right on the legs. He didn’t eat much of the ya’pa; he didn’t have time.

There seem to be some essential truths here about the natures of these two canines. It may be debatable whether wolves have more dignity. But they are certainly much more risk-averse. They tend to approach novel situations with the utmost caution; they shun humans; they take a long time to warm up to strange wolves. Coyotes are reckless and innovative, and as a result, humans have never managed to kill them off, in California or anywhere else. Stories about coyotes outnumber stories about wolves in most Oregon and California Indian literatures by a considerable margin. Does that mean there were fewer wolves or just that Coyote is a more compelling character for human storytellers?

Coyotes have adapted to a modern, crowded California. They cross Sunset Boulevard in San Francisco in the afternoon,10 nibble on lychee and avocados from suburban Southern California gardens,11 and forage in Santa Monica’s exuberantly varied and rich trashcans.

I have a hard time imagining wolves in those dangerous, liminal niches. Perhaps when wolves come back to a California vastly more overrun with humans than the one they last knew, they will stay hidden in the kind of remote forests favored by OR7 and his pups—places where you can drive up and down ridges all day and hear nothing but the drone of VHF receiver static, the croaks of ravens, and the scold of nuthatches; places where you know wolves are there, but you never see them. Or perhaps wolves will surprise me and everyone else and push in close to human California, appearing on ranches, in coastal suburbs, and even in major cities.

No matter where wolves live and how many there are, humans will be watching. The leaders of California’s first wolf packs likely will be caught and fitted with transmitting collars, just as in the other western states. The first colonists may well have Twitter accounts, like OR7. One thing is sure. In the first year of their official residence in the state, more will be known about them and written about them than all of the wolf generations before 1924."
californina  wolves  emmamarris  naturalhistory  wildlife  coyotes  trickster  urban  urbanism  nature  animals  history  losangeles 
november 2015 by robertogreco
@justinpickard (A beaver rivals any entity within riparian worlds...)
""A beaver rivals any entity within riparian worlds for mounting stochastic operations and for thriving in stochastic zones—beavers reoccupied Mount St. Helens within months of the eruption and thrive in postmeltdown Chernobyl. When beaver dams break—routinely, unpredictably—they unleash a flood of water and sediment downstream; beavers rebuild dams within days or leave them breached and move elsewhere. Strategies adapting human livelihoods to anthropocene circumstances require that humans pay close attention to other species and notice how they respond stochastically to human actions and ecological forces." —Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and July Cole, ‘Transfiguring the Anthropocene: Stochastic Reimaginings of Human-Beaver Worlds’ (2015) [http://tsq.dukejournals.org/content/2/2/297.abstract ]"
beavers  anthropocene  cleowoelfle-erskine  julycole  manifestdestiny  engineering  technology  stochasticism  wildlife  science  nature  animals  multispecies 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Hiding From Animals - The New York Times
"To witness wild animals behaving naturally, you don’t need to be invisible. As scientists studying meerkats and chimps have shown, with time you can habituate them to your presence. But hiding is a habit that is hard to break. There is a dubious satisfaction in the subterfuge of watching things that cannot see you, and it’s deeply embedded in our culture. When wild animals unexpectedly appear close by and seem unbothered by our presence, we can feel as flustered and unsure about how to behave as teenagers at a dance."



"The uses of hides are as various as their inhabitants. You can sit with a camera hoping for the perfect shot of a passing marsh hawk or owl. You can sit with a proficient naturalist and hear whispered identification tips, or use it as a place to sit down midway through a long walk. Most people sit and scan the view with binoculars for a few minutes before deciding there is nothing of sufficient interest or rarity to keep them there. But there is another kind of hide-watching that I am increasingly learning to love. It is when you embrace the possibility that you will see little or nothing of interest. You literally wait and see. Sitting in the dark for an hour or two and looking at the world through a hole in a wall requires a meditative patience. You have given yourself time to watch clouds drift from one side of the sky to the other and cast moving shadows across 90 minutes of open water. A sleeping snipe, its long bill tucked into pale-tipped scapular feathers and its body pressed against rushes striped with patterns of light and shade, wakes, raises its wings and stretches. A heron as motionless as a marble statue for minutes on end makes a cobra-strike to catch a fish. The longer you sit there, the more you become abstracted from this place, and yet fixed to it. The sudden appearance of a deer at the lake’s shore, or a flight of ducks tipping and whiffling down to splash on sunlit water, becomes treasure, through the simple fact of the passing of time."
multispecies  animals  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  nature  helenmacdonald  wildlife  hiding 
july 2015 by robertogreco
What is it About Animals? |
"We know that animals play important roles in our social, cultural and political lives, as loved ones, friends and companions, workers, ‘livestock’, ‘products’ and ‘commodities’. For instance, in Australia, 63 percent of households include a companion animal, many people living with companion animals consider them to be “family members” (estimates vary between 75-90 percent), and the pet animal industry contributes approximately AUD$4.74 billion annually to the economy (Australian Companion Animal Council, nd).

The bond between many humans and their animal companions is often very strong, invoking emotions of attachment and pleasure. Human–companion animal relationships may allow people to experience themselves and their lives in significantly different ways; ways that are very positive. Humans who describe themselves as ‘animal lovers’ usually see their pets as valued family members, whether (or not) these animals are substitute children, friends, protectors, and/or sources of companionship and affection. Also, plenty of people feel affection or even love towards animals they do not keep as companions or pets, such as native birds that visit them or injured wildlife that they help to care for until they are ready to be released into their habitat.

In this study we want to know how you experience animals you consider important; how you describe and feel about these relationships. We are keen to dig beneath the stereotypes to examine the perceptions of, and meanings attributed to, the relationships ‘animal lovers’ have with their companion animals or any other animals they feel affection towards. That is why we inviting participants to use a range of mediums or formats (e.g. photos, stories, videos, poems, paintings, drawings) to represent their human-animal relationships. Feel free to be creative and have fun."
via:anne  animals  multispecies  pets  niktaylor  heatherfraser  affection  wildlife  companionship  relationship  livestock  friendship  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships 
april 2015 by robertogreco
GEESE.PROJECT
"From unwanted animal towards usable material. Saving geese from destruction factory's."



"In the Netherlands we deal with an overpopulation of wild geese. At first the geese came to the Netherlands only to hibernate but now a days many of them stay the whole year. Not much of a problem would you think, let’s be happy for the geese. They found a place where they feel at home the whole year around!

Off course there’s a but… The geese cause a lot of damage in the agricultural sector, around airports and they disturb the biodiversity. They cause so much damage and commotion that the government decided to reduce the geese population with an amount of 100.000 a year.

What is going to happen with these geese?

The GEESE.PROJECT is about changing perception of an unwanted animal towards usable material. "

[See also: http://geeseproject.tumblr.com/ ]
geese  netherlands  animals  overpopulation  wildlife  nature  biodiversity  materials  via:anne 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Watch the Trailer for Motherboard's Documentary 'The Grind' | Motherboard
"The Faroe Islands are a tiny archipelago in the North Atlantic, and those who live there have always relied on the sea to survive. This includes seabirds, fish, and pilot whales, which the Faroese hunt for food in a slaughter they call "the grind." 

In recent years, activists from the conservation organization Sea Shepherd have conducted extensive campaigns in the islands to attempt to stop the grind. 

In the summer of 2014, we went to the Faroes to see for ourselves how the rural realities of Faroese life conflict with environmentalist idealism, and how the ancient hunting tradition continues to play out in an increasingly modernizing world."
faroeislands  environment  environmentalism  whales  wildlife  nature  2015  via:anne 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Augmented Ecology
"Augmented Ecology is a research platform that tracks developments in an emerging branch of the anthropocene; the intertwining of data and media systems with ecosystems.

[image: “Heat-map for yearly migratory pattern of the Black-throated Gray Warbler on eBird”]

Mapping, visualization and tracking technologies contribute to a more detailed picture of the living and geological landscapes. They help to model, to explore, to research, to protect, to admire, exploit or conserve the natural world by extending our view. By satellite, drone, radio-tag, browser and smartphone, hidden paterns and behaviour are discovered, networks of meaning are formed and participatory science undertaken. These tools are extending our human senses, making visible the daily life of a whale not unlike the way early telescopes made the features of Saturn visible.

[image “Mapping efforts by Google Trek”]

Through epizoic media, drone ecology and satellite sensors living systems seem to be emerging as a subset of the internet of things (IoT). Perhaps this subset could be called an Internet of Organisms (IoO), at any rate it makes for a splendid looking acronym…

The augmentation of natural systems raises some new questions: What changes does the increasing level of media resolution bring to our relationship with the great out-doors and wildlife? What kinds of opportunities do they offer for interaction, research, citizen science or tourism? What is their impact on the political value of the wilderness, both as a global commons and as a refuge away from human society, government and corporate power?

[image “Bengal Tiger Panna 211, the subject of an attempted GPS-Collar hack by cyberpoachers 2014”]

The aim of this research is to highlight how technologies such as remote sensing, tagging, mapping, uav-s, develop a next chapter in our ongoing history of exploration, domestication, exploitation of, and fascination for the dynamic systems we are part of.

[image “SAISBECO facial recognition software for the study of wild apes 2011”]

The wired wilderness is becoming populated by data-harvesting animals, camera-traps, conservation drones, Google Trek adventurers, cyberpoachers and many other forms of machine wilderness. Perhaps Augmented Ecology can be a fieldguide to browse this weird neck of the woods? Surely these developments are worth our deliberate attention - Theun Karelse

This research was triggered by the development of an opensource smartphone application called Boskoi for exploring and mapping the edible landscape undertaken at FoAM. As one of the first participatory apps focussed on nature, it flashed out many issues. The issues surrounding Redlist species were particularly thought provoking and resulted in a session in FoAM’s program at Pixelache festival in 2011 asking: ‘Is there still a privatelife for plants?’ (an adaptation of the title of the BBC natural history series)"
tumblrs  augmentedecology  ecology  multispecies  conservation  technology  anthropocene  mapping  maps  visualization  landscapes  nature  wildlife  droneecology  drones  sensors  ioo  internetoforganisms  sensing  tagging  wilderness 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Trash Animals — University of Minnesota Press
"From pigeons to prairie dogs, reflections on reviled animals and their place in contemporary life

In Trash Animals, a diverse group of environmental writers explore the natural history of wildlife species deemed filthy, invasive, or worthless, highlighting the vexed relationship humans have with such creatures. Each essay focuses on a so-called trash species—gulls, coyotes, carp, and magpies, among others—examining the biology and behavior of each in contrast to the assumptions widely held about them."

[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/579805654065360897
in response to https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/579804681314131968 ]
animals  books  environment  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  multispecies  pigeons  wildlife  urban  urbanism  coyotes  seagulls  carp  birds  fish  corvids  biology  behavior  kelsinagy  phillipdavidjohnson  invasivespecies  feral  nature  2013 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Urban wildlife: when animals go wild in the city | Environment | The Guardian
"Tall buildings, abundant food sources and a lack of predators make modern cities a natural habitat for many birds and animals"



"“This is not a second-rate [version of nature],” he says, as he counts off the owls and woodpeckers that live near his home in Wolverhampton. As Goode outlines in his book, the variety of our cities lends itself to a diversity of species. “Because the city is so heterogeneous, with a great mixture of different ecological conditions, it is not surprising that a considerable variety of wildlife is able to exist.”"

[via: https://twitter.com/junerubis/status/574518136466239488 ]
nature  wildlife  animals  london  cities  urban  urbanism 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Coyote Walks | Tracing paths between city and wild
"“Hal” was the nickname given to a one-year-old coyote that mysteriously appeared in New York City in the spring of 2006. Workers in Manhattan’s Central Park first identified the animal near Hallett Nature Sanctuary— hence the name. In that small oasis, steps away from the hustle of 57th street, they found a small den. After the animal’s discovery a spectacular chase ensued. A police Emergency Service Unit (including helicopter) was deployed in a hunt that lasted about 60 hours. The event inspired local and national news stories. Hal was eventually hit with a tranquilizer dart and taken away to be rehabilitated for re-introduction to the wild. Then, in an unexpected poetic twist, he fell over dead, literally at the moment of being released. Hal had eaten a poisoned rat in the city.

The media attention on the incident and the lack of precedent for managing the chase stirred up a few small controversies. There was a lack of clarity about which city agency had jurisdiction in managing the pursuit in Central Park (while the police were able to respond quickly, Animal Care and Control or the NYC Urban Park Rangers had more relevant knowledge about wildlife). The decision to let Hal go in Putnam county, north of NYC was legally questionable. While Hal had probably come from outside the city, municipal code stated it unlawful to “catch and release” outside city limits. In this case exceptional permission had been obtained from a private landowner. Regardless of the end result, journalists, self proclaimed citizen scientists, real scientists, bloggers, and dog walkers emerged to debate whether Central Park might have the resources to sustainably host a coyote (or for that matter a breeding pair) long term, and what implications it would have for public safety. Several years later, when coyotes appeared in the city again, the capture effort was more evenly coordinated.

coyote1dilrsz2

I grew up in the Southwest US (Santa Fe, NM— where coyotes are ever-present both as biological entities and as cultural signifiers). I witnessed this event in the media while living in New York City, and continued to think about it in the years following. I began to feel that a larger narrative was looming behind the topical debates. The incident threw the relationship of the city-dweller and the natural-world into relief. It wasnʼt an abstract suggestion of interconnection between the two; it was an unmediated instance of collision– one that seemed to initiate a moment of confusion for both. Hal disrupted a normal state of affairs by presenting as an embodiment of something external to our picture of daily life in an orderly civilization. In this he was as comedic as he was threatening. Was this a typical animal or an exceptional one? What was he thinking? And how, exactly, did he find his way into the city?

One way to try to understand this story was to guess about the geography of the journey. The most obvious geographic challenge is the channel of water that separates the island of Manhattan from the mainland of the Bronx– like a moat surrounding a castle. Adrian Benepe, the NYC Parks Commissioner at the time, hypothesized that Hal crossed a small Amtrack trestle bridge over the Spuyten Duyvil Creek at the northern tip of the Manhattan. This became a prevailing theory, but not the only one. Other scenarios were equally possible. For example, if Hal had utilized the long Bronx River corridor as a path, he might have crossed over the Harlem River further south and east. Because there were few eyewitness accounts, no camera traps, and no DNA analysis done on Hal, the definite crossing location will remain unknown. This crossing is a big “plot point” of the story as presented in the media. It came to stand for the dramatic moment in which a cunning trickster privately transgressed from the natural world into the human world. Looking closely at possible routes however, it becomes clear that there were many such crossings.

The Coyote Walks are fueled by curiosity about what it would mean to cross over the line between “the city” and “nature” oneself, to literally connect the two places. The walks are guesses about how Hal entered New York City that are made with reverse human journeys out of the city. They began as a kind of memorial to the incident— walked around the anniversary of Hal’s death and initially called the “laH” journey, a backwards spelling of the name. The Coyote Walk is now a time to pose questions about urban life and nature, to learn from the experience of stepping away from the city, and to consider walking practices (human and animal) as imaginative acts."
animals  urban  urbanism  2015  coyotes  wildlife  nyc  dillondegive 
february 2015 by robertogreco
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