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  • Tigers Are Less Important Than Warblers | Reconciliation Ecology
    sound they spend over 75 of their waking hours foraging for insects and other arthropods but insects predominate in the foliage Since they are not concerned about finding mates or raising young during this season and want merely to survive in good shape for the next summer their other activities preening and maintaining territories through vocal and visual dialogue with neighbors does not take much time Hmm a bunch of small dull birds spending most of their day peering at leaves in search of insects do I seem to be only weakening the defense Not really Consider the fact that each leaf warbler on average eats 3 insects every waking minute this is averaging over all their activities throughout the day Since they forage by picking prey off a substrate mostly leaf sometimes also twigs and flowers the prey largely consists of herbivorous insects In the case of my one hectare on Mundanthurai it is mostly caterpillars eating leaves A single leaf warbler thus eats an average of 180 insects every hour or about 1980 per day assuming an average 11 hour working day from dawn to dusk The six individuals on our plot thus rid the plants of almost 12 000 insect pests every day Multiply that with the number of days 200 250 that they are in residence on that one ha plot and you may begin to appreciate the service they render to all the plants Now I ask you to consider removing these warblers from the study plot since they seem to take away so much research and conservation energy from your more favoured mammals and picture the forest as it may appear in a few weeks time The scenario could become even more dramatic if you in your large mammal chauvinism remove all the other insectivorous birds from the plot as well I estimate each hectare of Mundanthurai s forest has at least 40 insectivorous birds including other warblers and flycatchers both resident and migrant minivets shrikes drongos babblers etc The average number of prey may come down to just over 2 per bird per minute which gives a total of about 5000 insects per hour or 55 000 per day in every hectare of forest Remove those insectivores and don t be surprised if in a few weeks your plants start to appear ragged with their foliage tattered and your endangered langurs become unhappy because so many leaves are now packed with toxic anti herbivore compounds produced in response to caterpillar nibblings and the plants make fewer flowers and fruits as they are forced to spend too much energy in self defense in turn making the nectarivores and frugivores unhappy and regeneration of the forest slows down as fewer seeds get produced and dispersed and the ground starts to dry faster because the canopy is thinner and more sunlight gets in I leave you to work out the rest of the ecological cascade effects on your own For now I d be happy if you simply pause to appreciate the job done by the nondescript little green jobs the leaf warblers and their insectivore colleagues that travel thousands of kilometers every year to eat all those insects Before you start protesting that you will never contemplate removing all those birds and that I am just another doomsayer consider the fact that 80 of the warblers esp the Green leaf warbler which is the most common one here as well as the next most abundant migrant Blyth s reed warbler spending each winter at Mundanthurai come from the forests of the hill regions around the Caspian Sea from Turkey east through Kashmir including bits of southern Russia and Afghanistan Now imagine that these hills breeding grounds for so many migrant insectivores are deforested on a large scale either directly by us or through effects of global climate change cutting down the bird population by 90 Such declines is not very unrealistic as those studying migrant forest birds in the Americas will tell you though they worry more about forests in the wintering areas being cut down rather than in the breeding grounds In fact over the past two decades Americans and Europeans are increasingly facing the prospect of another Silent Spring Not this time due to the factors mentioned in Rachel Carson s clarion call in the 1960s over use of chemicals in agriculture at the height of the green revolutions but to a suite of other human activities that have hit the habitat of avian migrants in both their northern breeding grounds and southern wintering grounds Many species of migrant songbirds which enliven the northern spring after the dreary and silent winters have been pushed to the brink of extinction some like the Kirtland s warbler down to a few scores of breeding pairs over the past two decades even as my ornithologist comrades in the west are racing against time to figure out the causes of these declines so we may try and reverse the process The culprits are of course us humans deforesting the tropical wintering grounds fragmenting the temperate forests into suburban woodlots more accessible to human subsidized nest predators such as domestic cats and other small carnivores wild or feral thriving on our garbage and directly subsidizing populations of non migratory nest parasites like the north American cowbird through back yard bird feeders enabling them to survive the harsh winter and fool over 200 gullible species of songbirds into raising their offspring We seem to be particularly adept at causing damage to the ecological fabric of this planet even when we mean good feed them poor little birdies in the winter or the cute raccoons at night Getting back to our continent where we have no information on population trends of forest birds at all whether resident or migratory in tropical south and south east Asia or temperate Russia Mongolia and Siberia declines paralleling those on the other continents are very much on the cards if indeed they haven t

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/reconciliationecology/2011/04/18/tigers-are-less-important-than-warblers/ (2015-09-25)
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  • September | 2015 | Reconciliation Ecology
    let me know what you think of it too if so inclined Here it is my Hit Single View this document on Scribd Share this Click to email this to a friend Opens in new window Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to share on Google Opens in new window Click to share on Pocket Opens in new window Click to share on StumbleUpon Opens in new window Click to share on Tumblr Opens in new window Click to share on Pinterest Opens in new window Click to Press This Opens in new window Click to share on Reddit Opens in new window More Click to share on LinkedIn Opens in new window Click to print Opens in new window Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on September 12 2015 by Madhusudan Katti Feed your reader RSS Posts Subscribe to Blog via Email Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email Join 30 other subscribers Email Address Search for Recent Posts My Hit Single Are Warblers Less Important Than Tigers Pollen TSUNAMI Happy PollinatorWeek Watching Jurassic Park in Ambasamudram On reaching beyond the low hanging fruit in science education How to live with elephants in the modern wired world Recent Comments My Hit Single Are Warblers Less Important Than Tigers Reconciliation Ecology on Tigers Are Less Important Than Warblers Pollen TSUNAMI Happy PollinatorWeek Reconciliation Ecology on Of wanton plants and prudish immune systems late night thoughts for National Pollinator Week Madhusudan Katti on Watching Jurassic Park in Ambasamudram p51mustang on Watching Jurassic Park in Ambasamudram Watching Jurassic Park in Ambasamudram Reconciliation Ecology on Tigers Are Less Important Than Warblers On the Coyot es Network Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist Coyote Crossing Published on September 19 2015 by Chris Clarke On Forgetting My Field Guide Birds and Words Published on September 16 2015 by Julia Zarankin Making Friends With Crows The Corvid Blog Published on August 2 2015 by The Corvid Blog The Heart of Freedom Cecil the Lion Wild Within Published on July 29 2015 by Jennifer Molidor California note 1 Slow Water Movement Published on July 7 2015 by slowwatermovement Joe Eaton calls Fowl A Review Toad In The Hole Published on July 4 2015 by Joe Eaton There s Gold in Them Hills Dispersal Range Published on June 28 2015 by Meera Lee Sethi The other invisible hand View from Elephant Hills Published on 5 June 2015 by T R Shankar Raman The Silurian Valley spared but will it be conserved Miracle or Mirage Published on December 5 2014 by Patrick Donnelly Lone Pine s lone pine Is Dead InyoOwnWay Published on August 13 2014 by Mike Prather Twitter Tweets by leafwarbler Follow this blog if typeof networkedblogs undefined networkedblogs networkedblogs blogId 4339 networkedblogs shortName reconciliation ecology Archives September 2015 June 2015 April 2015 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/reconciliationecology/2015/09/ (2015-09-25)
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  • June | 2015 | Reconciliation Ecology
    them on an 8 km bicycle ride out of the woods and down the hill into the nearest town for an evening at the cinema that could not have been more different from the experience in San Diego The amazing Sankaran and Kumar who made many a Ph D possible Seen here with our toddler daughter and a Slender Loris they had just caught for Kaberi This theater in Ambasamudram the only one for many miles around was in fact a massive warehouse barn building with a cloth screen strung up at one end flanked by big box speakers sitting on the floor and no seats Instead of seats the enormous bare floor curiously had a rope running right through the middle dividing it into two long halves facing the screen The mystery of the rope was solved after we had rushed in with the throngs waiting in long lines outside it was a barrier to keep the male and female members of the audience separate Obviously with no seats the cinema owners could squeeze in and I do mean that literally as many viewers as was physically possible The cacophonous crowd quieted down as soon as the projector was turned on for this was an audience in perhaps the most cinema crazy state in India having elected multiple film stars as chief ministers of the state The audience reaction to what followed on screen left me even more astonished than the film itself For in that rustic theater packed in like cattle watching a film entirely in American with no subtitles or dubbing this Tamil speaking audience reacted almost identically to the one munching popcorn in the plush stadium seats in California The gasps of awe at the dinosaurs were of course to be expected and relished but what really surprised me were the reactions to the human characters speaking largely incomprehensible American The naughty chaotician s cheesy jokes were laughed at the old grandpa admired and then critiqued and the T rex cheered enthusiastically especially when it ate the lawyer Even though lawyers were seldom as prominent or despicable in rural Tamil Nadu as they are in the States That is when the true cinematic genius of Speilberg hit me for he had in reducing the human characters to simple tropes turned them into human universals that anyone could relate to or revile something that would likely not have happened had he worried about satisfying the picky nerd audience like me instead My hat was therefore off to Spielberg as indeed a truly great B movie director As we cycled back in the night high on the adrenalin rush from the movie and from having battled the throngs in exiting that crazy cinema hall Sankaran and Kumar could not stop talking and asking me about the movie and about dinosaurs and how they had made them come to life on screen We talked about them for days afterwards while catching warblers in mistnets or just walking through Mundanthurai

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/reconciliationecology/2015/06/ (2015-09-25)
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  • April | 2015 | Reconciliation Ecology
    my students are among those less fortunate in today s society and yet we are not doing enough to help them A recent survey at Fresno State tells me that one in three of the students looking up at me in my classroom faces food insecurity they are literally hungry not just for knowledge Another 20 are close to that brink if not over it quite yet Most will stagger to the finish line still hungry graduating under a life sentence of crushing debt It is hard not to find the student debt burden immoral when the Congressional Budget Office announces that the US Department of Education profited to the tune of 51 billion on student loans The actual profit margin has been debated for the accounting may be complex and most of the profit may be based on penalizing graduate students more than undergrads but nevertheless the CBO projects healthy profits from student loans Meanwhile we keep telling kids that they must go to college if they want to be ready for a career taking on loans to invest in their future Even as developed nations like Germany offer free university education American public universities remain underfunded So they keep hiking tuition hire more low wage adjunct faculty and keep salaries for tenured professors but not administrators stagnant Some campuses like my own even charge hidden success fees tacitly acknowledging that normal fees are not nearly enough to ensure our students succeed through an undergraduate degree any more We might as well ask students to plop down their credit cards when they arrive as we put their diploma on layaway to be collected after they ve paid the full price of tuition over 4 6 years How much can or should they care about actually learning anything on an often empty belly given the high price tag on that diploma We have let education become a commodity transaction between overworked underpaid insecure faculty teaching overloaded classes full of hungry indebted students facing uncertain futures Agricultural universities like Fresno State might offer food pantries to help students although charity is the last thing they need The federal government may lower interest rates on student loans Real lasting solutions though require fundamental changes in how we fund and run universities to empower students American society must do some soul searching to decide what the real value of education is not just for the individual student seeking a job but for a once advanced nation that has lost its way Lady liberty may hold a beacon welcoming the hungry tired huddled masses to America In my university classroom though I urge you to send me eager well fed students hungry only for knowledge That is the broader context within which we must try to prepare our students for careers in science encouraging underrepresented minority students with no cultural inheritance of science or even university education at all in their familial backgrounds to get into science PhD programs at a time when we

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/reconciliationecology/2015/04/ (2015-09-25)
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  • September | 2014 | Reconciliation Ecology
    project and its success in saving human and elephant lives shows us that we can in fact reconcile human development through technology with the conservation of nature in the constant journey towards coexistence It is a journey that requires sacrifice and coexistence may have to be paid for in blood but technology can soften the blow even for the most vulnerable among us Share this Click to email this to a friend Opens in new window Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to share on Google Opens in new window Click to share on Pocket Opens in new window Click to share on StumbleUpon Opens in new window Click to share on Tumblr Opens in new window Click to share on Pinterest Opens in new window Click to Press This Opens in new window Click to share on Reddit Opens in new window More Click to share on LinkedIn Opens in new window Click to print Opens in new window Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged coexistence India reconciliation ecology on September 14 2014 by Madhusudan Katti Science needs voices All of them Thank you ehmee by Madhusudan Katti Leave a reply I can t tell you how glad I am as a father of daughters growing up in today s world that we have Emily Graslie s voice inspiring them every day in ways that I cannot building their confidence so they too can add their voices to the conversation as the discoverers and adventurers and explorers they are without worrying about what anyone thinks of them Thank you Emily for this in particular today For more inspiration from this remarkable voice this Chief Curiosity Correspondent for the Field Museum of Natural History find her on tumblr twitter and of course the brainscoop channel Share this Click to email this to a friend Opens in new window Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to share on Google Opens in new window Click to share on Pocket Opens in new window Click to share on StumbleUpon Opens in new window Click to share on Tumblr Opens in new window Click to share on Pinterest Opens in new window Click to Press This Opens in new window Click to share on Reddit Opens in new window More Click to share on LinkedIn Opens in new window Click to print Opens in new window Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on September 10 2014 by Madhusudan Katti Feed your reader RSS Posts Subscribe to Blog via Email Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email Join 30 other subscribers Email Address Search for Recent Posts My Hit Single Are Warblers Less Important Than Tigers Pollen TSUNAMI Happy PollinatorWeek Watching Jurassic Park in Ambasamudram On reaching beyond the low hanging fruit in

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/reconciliationecology/2014/09/ (2015-09-25)
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  • August | 2014 | Reconciliation Ecology
    among the otherwise hardy insects But it cleared the way for reptiles and mammals We don t quite know what caused the Permian mass extinction but massive perhaps sudden climate change may have a played a big role The asteroid that took out the big dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous was a mere lump of rock drifting in orbit around the sun until it fell to Earth and wiped life s slate almost clean for the fifth time Driven by sheer gravity that asteroid had no conscience or remorse about the horrors it would unleash Nor any notion that humanity would eventually evolve in the absence of dinosaurs to become another force of mass extinction Now we find ourselves on yet another brink where our own industrial civilization threatens a Sixth Great Dying Within the past century we have increased the pace of extinction willfully or unwittingly to a level last seen only in the wake of that asteroid We have come so far in building our diverse cultures and technologies achieved so much worth celebrating given our humble origins Yet our biggest legacy may end up as the epitaph for the sixth mass extinction on Earth which will doom us just as surely We like to think of ourselves as creatures of conscience infused with a morality and an intellect that allows us to understand and appreciate our kinship with other creatures But as drivers of this sixth extinction how different are we from that asteroid Will our conscience give us pause and pull us back from the horrors we have unleashed Or will we let our own chapter end abruptly wiping the slate clean again just like that remorseless asteroid chix jpg Share this Click to email this to a friend Opens in new window Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to share on Google Opens in new window Click to share on Pocket Opens in new window Click to share on StumbleUpon Opens in new window Click to share on Tumblr Opens in new window Click to share on Pinterest Opens in new window Click to Press This Opens in new window Click to share on Reddit Opens in new window More Click to share on LinkedIn Opens in new window Click to print Opens in new window Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged anthropocene conservation extinction KVPR on August 31 2014 by Madhusudan Katti Feed your reader RSS Posts Subscribe to Blog via Email Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email Join 30 other subscribers Email Address Search for Recent Posts My Hit Single Are Warblers Less Important Than Tigers Pollen TSUNAMI Happy PollinatorWeek Watching Jurassic Park in Ambasamudram On reaching beyond the low hanging fruit in science education How to live with elephants in the modern wired world Recent Comments My Hit Single Are Warblers Less

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/reconciliationecology/2014/08/ (2015-09-25)
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  • July | 2014 | Reconciliation Ecology
    about alien exotic invaders who must be exterminated Invasiveness is in the nature of the most successful species To know the truth of this one need but look in the mirror We are after all the most successful invasive species now occupying the planet But our success has been the downfall of many other species and we are only just now grappling with the consequences of our invasiveness Yet the most passionate debates about what to do with invasive species heavy with the metaphor of war and genocide and extermination tends to somehow tiptoe around this elephant in the room the fact that we humans are the ultimate invasive species on Earth and are responsible for most other invasions that are destabilizing native ecosystems worldwide Indeed displaced species often form a big part of our own preferred global habitats Cities are where most humans now live where we often first introduce new species and whence some of these species launch invasions into new habitats Indeed cities themselves seem like invasive habitats proliferating in and destabilizing ecosystems around the world Cities must therefore be central to our efforts to address the challenge of invasive species Cities embody the contradiction between our desire to control nature shaping entire ecosystems to suit our purposes and our growing desire to conserve nature and biodiversity How do we reconcile our innate desire to build habitats for our own biological and cultural needs with a growing awareness that perhaps we should leave nature alone It must start with owning our central role in this ecological conundrum It is time we accepted our responsibility as the ultimate invasive species that has moved entire ecosystems around and built new ones It requires us to transform our role beyond the dichotomy of active perpetrator passive bystander in the drama of invasive species We must embrace the role of more deliberate stewards of the lands we now dominate As more people recognize the problems of invasive species many now seek ways to build native species friendly urban landscapes Ecologists are good at understanding the effects of non native species in native habitats and in raising the alarm about invasive species We haven t done enough to actually transform the practices that contribute to the invasive species problem Urban ecologists have been lax in engaging with one group who arguably wield the greatest influence on this challenge gardeners nurseries and landscapers The growing desire to make urban gardens native friendly is constrained by lack of available species options in local nurseries and of expertise in nurturing native species Ecologists must fill this knowledge gap by developing better ways to support native species in urban habitats in partnership with the people who actively transform the landscape Forget leave nature alone in cities we must become better ecosystem engineers designing habitats more consciously to enhance native biodiversity while limiting opportunities for non native species We must also recognize that some non native species have become naturalized to play important roles in their adoptive ecosystems so simply eradicating them is not the ideal solution People move and grow plants and animals to fulfill complex social cultural aesthetic and emotional needs We must develop a broader vision of biodiversity that includes both the ecological roles of species and their cultural resonance for people Balancing these will be key to managing invasive species in and around urban landscapes Humans will continue to move species around despite conservationists and agriculturalists best efforts to limit the movement of exotic species into regions outside their native range Some of these species can and do become invasive in their new habitats As good gardeners in the city we will therefore also have to keep a close eye on all the species in urban ecosystems to make sure they don t escape and start threatening native habitats nearby At the same time it is also worth remembering the plight of the House Sparrow that ultimate city slicker introduced around the world as part and parcel of the global urban template Alarmingly it has recently disappeared quite mysteriously from many of its native cities in Europe and Asia If the species were to somehow go extinct in its native range at least its emigre populations like the House Sparrow diaspora in the Americas may remain the only living populations of a threatened species We therefore have to be careful even in our efforts to eradicate non native species lest we destabilize ecosystems or drive species to extinction in unexpected ways Leaving nature alone is not really a viable option in the social ecological systems we call cities Instead our respect for nature and our growing enthusiasm for enhancing native species diversity must be tempered by Constant Vigilance if I may borrow the wise Mad Eye Moody s words when it comes to the interlopers from elsewhere Share this Click to email this to a friend Opens in new window Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to share on Google Opens in new window Click to share on Pocket Opens in new window Click to share on StumbleUpon Opens in new window Click to share on Tumblr Opens in new window Click to share on Pinterest Opens in new window Click to Press This Opens in new window Click to share on Reddit Opens in new window More Click to share on LinkedIn Opens in new window Click to print Opens in new window Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged biodiversity invasive species urban ecology on July 10 2014 by Madhusudan Katti Do exotic invasive aliens keep you up at night Are they in your neighborhood by Madhusudan Katti 1 Reply Most of us live in cities now which must seem like rather exotic alien habitats to other denizens of our planet full of strange creatures they ve never encountered before By which I mean not just us hairless apes but many other species too from

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/reconciliationecology/2014/07/ (2015-09-25)
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  • June | 2014 | Reconciliation Ecology
    all people made similar arguments in favor of teaching Latin and Sanskrit but society has not collapsed since we stopped making those mandatory in schools Students of history continue to learn ancient foreign languages to decipher old manuscripts and letters and will continue to do so with or without cursive writing being a mandatory part of the grade school curriculum I dare say I also have to call bullshit on the alleged neurological benefits of cursive inferred in this article I don t doubt that cursive writing strengthens certain neural circuits in the brain possibly involving both fine motor skills and cognition Any repetitive task is bound to induce some hard wiring in the brain some of which is no doubt useful for survival in a given civilization But sweeping statements like this raise all kinds of red flags for me Neuroscientists have found that the act of writing by hand builds neural pathways that directly affect a wide range of development including language fluency memory physical coordination and socialization Really Sorry but if you claim that something is crucial to such a wide range of things I d like to see a bit more evidence than this bold inference Since connecting letters increases the speed at which one writes we can infer that cursive note taking would be most beneficial for academic success Writing was invented as a means of communication and has been key to our success no doubt and no doubt learning to do it well has cognitive and social benefits But don t tell me that entire disciplines will disappear or civilization will collapse because some people cannot write in cursive As for academic success tell me which profession has the reputation for the worst handwriting And towards which profession do we encourage our most academically successful students And in which profession could legible handwriting be considered literally a matter of life or death The answer to all three medicine Doctors are allowed to have the worst handwriting on their prescriptions ostensibly because having to learn so much doesn t leave them time to hone their writing skills as well So tell me again how lack of facility with cursive has held back the medical profession in this declining civilization I think our brains are far more flexible than many of us recognize and it can develop and maintain wiring appropriate to a variety of tasks that are relevant to one s life Studies touting the cognitive benefits of handwriting being superior to keyboard use will I suspect be replaced by future studies that find similar benefits to other perhaps not yet invented ways of inputting text As I m sure nostalgists of previous generations would have claimed similar scientific support for teaching their favorite neuromotor skills had neurologists been available to conduct similar studies in the past Isn t there also often a not so faint whiff of cultural and linguistic elitism in this argument for cursive At a time when more first generation and

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/reconciliationecology/2014/06/ (2015-09-25)
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