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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Monday, May 28, 2018

I read Rachel Carson's classic SILENT SPRING about a decade after she published it in 1962..............Like those scientists who in the 1950's were castigated by the Cigarette Firms for showing evidence that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer, Carson was scorned by the Chemical Industry in the 60's for putting forth that laboratory created pesticides like DDT and Chlordane were creating killing malignancies in every living creature from bugs and worms to birds and mammals(including man)............I recall pleading with my Dad not to put Chlordane down on the lawn every Summer to kill the Chinch Bug grubs that ate Kentucky Blue Grass roots.............He thought his Junior High School kid to be a wide-eyed, idealistic kid of the 60's, and went right ahead and sprayed the lawn year after year with the poison...................Little by little, the Robins, Cardinals, Flickers and Blue Jays that were all so common during my Elementary School years, seemed to thin out and virtually disappear as the Summers went by.............And while today, the Organic Farming and Integrated Pest Mangement movements have moved more into the mainstream, the "chemical poisons" like Glyphosate(trade name is Roundup) are still very much with us and continue to be condemed by scientists as a key reason for the disappearance and decline of every type bug, bee, reptile, amphibian and mammal,,,,,,,,,,,,These poisons tend to amp up their potency as they move up the food chain(e.g. mice consume poison, and before dying are then eaten by Foxes, Bobcats, Coyotes, Pumas, Eagles, Hawks, causing reproduction defects and disease like mange leading to death)................."Why care about a silence of the bugs(and other creatures) via pesticide kill?................... "An across-the-board decline in flying insects means that an entire sector of the animal kingdom is in trouble, representing an immense diversity of life-forms, from butterflies and beetles to hoverflies and damselflies"......................."The eminent biologist and Nobel Prize Winner, Edward O. Wilson, who has spent much of his life studying ants, has warned: “If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago"............. "If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos"

The Silence of the Bugs

By Curt Stager
Curt Stager is a professor of natural sciences at Paul Smith’s College and the author, most recently, of “Still Waters: The Secret World of Lakes.”

Fifty-six years after Rachel Carson’s 
“Silent Spring”
 warned of bird die-offs from pesticides, a new 
study  published
 last fall documented a 76 percent 
decline in the
 total seasonal biomass of flying insects netted at 
63 locations in Germany over the last three 
 Losses in midsummer, when these insects
 are most numerous, exceeded 80 percent.

This alarming discovery, made by mostly amateur 
naturalists who make up the volunteer-run
Entomological Society Krefeld, raised an obvious
question: Was this happening elsewhere?
Unfortunately, that question is hard to answer
because of another problem: a global decline of
 field naturalists who study these phenomena.
Most scientists today live in cities and have little
direct experience with wild plants and animals, and
most biology textbooks now focus more on
 molecules, cells and internal anatomy than on the
diversity and habits of species. It has even become
 fashionable among some educators to belittle the
teaching of natural history and scientific facts that
 can be “regurgitated” on tests in favor of

That attitude may work for armchair physics or
 mathematics, but it isn’t enough for understanding 
complex organisms and ecosystems in the real
Computer models and equations are of little use 
without details from the field to test them against.

Are we in the midst of a global insect Armageddon
 that most of us have failed to notice? Here’s
data point: A decades-long decline in plant-
pollinating hawk moths has been reported in the 
Northeast, but its causes and consequences are
uncertain because we know so little about the
ecology of these insects. In days past, compiling
 such information would have made a respectable
life’s work for a Linnaeus, Humboldt or Darwin.
Now such creatures are often ignored because
studying them seems unlikely to generate
 publications, headlines or grants that provide
academics with tenure and prestige.
This leaves us with little more than anecdotal
evidence to work with. A recent story in The 
Telegraph noted that automobile windscreens
in Britain are no longer heavily caked with
 splattered insects. It reminded me of the tiny
 wings, legs and antennas that used to smear the
 front of my car after midsummer drives during
 the 1970s. Nowadays, a drive through northern
 New York, where I live, yields barely a blemish.
Is it because cars are more streamlined? Not
likely. Last July, I examined parked vehicles in
 Saranac Lake and found little or no bug debris,
even on license plates or the blunt fronts of vans.

What’s behind the decline? Probably not climate 
change, according to the researchers in the 
 study who also monitored local weather during 
survey. What about collisions with vehicles?
 Despite my experience and the dashboard 
observations in Britain, one study published in 
2015 estimated that hundreds of billions of 
 are being killed in North America by cars and 
trucks every year. The study’s authors called for 
additional research to determine whether what 
they found is “contributing to the substantial 
declines of pollinating insects occurring on a
 global scale, thus putting the ecological 
functioning of natural areas and agricultural 
productivity in jeopardy.”
Cars were probably not the culprit in the
German study, though, because it focused
on nature reserves where road carnage is
minimal. For some experts, the process of
elimination leaves pesticides among the likely
Rachel Carson quote on the use of pesticides 
and their negative impact on living creatures

Why care about this new silence of the bugs? An
 across-the-board decline in flying insects, if true, 
means that an entire sector of the animal kingdom
 is in trouble, representing an immense diversity 
of life-forms, from butterflies and beetles to 
hoverflies and damselflies. The eminent biologist 
Edward O. Wilson, who has spent much of his
 life studying ants, has warned: “If all mankind 
were to disappear, the world would regenerate 
back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed
 ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, 
the environment would collapse into chaos.”

So there it is. Could it be that whatever might be
causing these insect deaths could be a threat to us
The widely reported decline of honeybees in the 
United States pales in comparison with the
drop-off of bugs in Germany, if not in scale, then
in the loss of biodiversity. Insects represent the
 vast majority of all animal species. Because they
 are pollinators and a vital part of the food chain,
 their absence would strike deep at the roots of life
on earth.

I’m a lake scientist, and my colleagues and I have 
been struggling to explain our own mystery: a 
restructuring of plankton communities in lakes 
worldwide in recent decades, which we’ve 
documented by examining sediment cores extracted
 from lake bottoms. This could signal problems for 
water quality, fisheries or other aspects of lake 
ecology. Had we not taken the core samples, the 
geographic scale of this change might remain 
undetected, because funding and rigorous field 
monitoring of plankton composition in lakes has 
often been lacking.
Some experts have attributed the plankton shift to
climate change, others to nitrogen pollution from
agricultural runoff, but we need more long-term
 field studies to confirm the cause and anticipate
its effects. The German insect data suggest
another possibility. Could agricultural chemicals
 be poisoning aquatic organisms, including
plankton and insects that begin their lives as
aquatic larvae? We simply don’t know.

In Britain, the news report about car-insect
collisions was based on a study that relied on data
 from volunteers who monitored gridlike
“splat-o-meters” on their license plates. We need
 more of this sort of scientist-directed
crowdsourcing. Citizen scientists and a few
 field-research-oriented college communities
like my own at Paul Smith’s College in the 
Adirondacks of New York are turning their yards,
gardens, lakes and forests into long-term monitoring
stations. Online clearinghouses like iNaturalist,
Budburst and the North American Breeding Bird
 Survey compile and archive field data for others
to use, and show that many species are changing
their ranges and migration habits in response to
climate change.

Common in post World War 2, America, the
 DDT truck
coming around every Spring and Summer 
and spraying the neighborhood for mosquitoes

In the United States, research scientists associated 
with a network of more than two dozen long-term 
ecological monitoring centers have also been 
conducting more detailed field research for several 
decades. But these efforts are still not enough to 
keep track of a rapidly changing world. We need
 new crops of professionals trained in field biology 
and ecology to focus on important but less
 charismatic or commercially valued creatures 
than songbirds and honeybees.

In 1996, an editorial in Conservation Biology
warned that “naturalists are dying off,” and asked:
 “Will the next generation of conservation
biologists be nothing but a bunch of computer
nerds with no firsthand knowledge of natural
Two decades later, we are beginning to realize
how lucky we are that dedicated expert and
amateur naturalists remain to observe and record
the distinctive flash of a firefly or the soft
clatter of dragonfly wings. But we need more
of them, and soon.

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