Posts Tagged ‘Biodiversity’

On biodiversity and conservation and the number of frog species

September 17, 2011

One of the politically correct and alarmist themes that pervades the conservation movement is that biodiversity is vital and is dangerously threatened. Generally biodiversity can be considered to include

  1. gene diversity within a particular species, and
  2. species diversity within some particular region
Sometimes having different ecosystems and environments within a particular region is also included as being a form of ecological biodiversity. Yet it has always been inexplicable to me as to why human intervention for the protection of a species which has been out-competed by other species is not considered unnatural and artificial. Extinction of species happens naturally as a consequence of natural selection and evolution as some species succeed and others fail. If species did not fail and become extinct there would be diminishing space for evolution of other species. More species are thought to have become extinct than are in existence today.
I find that there is a fundamental conflict between allowing evolution to happen naturally with successful species (and that includes humans) eliminating unsuccessful species and the conservationist view of interfering with this normal development in favour of artificially maintaining failed species.
Conservationism at heart is a conservative (with a small “c”) and backward looking philosophy trying to prevent development and evolution because of fear. I suppose that is why I find “conservationsim” unattractive – because it is based on fear subordinating actions and that – by definition – is cowardice. King Canute trying to hold back the tide!
As I have posted earlier: The problem is not only that we have not identified all the eukaryote species in existence (and about 1.3 million have been classified and named) but we have no idea whether the number in existence is to be measured in millions or in hundreds of millions. About 15,000 new species are identified and catalogued each year. If  Bacteria and Archaea are added to eukaryotes, the total number of species could be in the billions.
Vub night frog
And with so many species around why should humans interfere to protect some but not others. In fact some species are considered interlopers in some regions and then conservation is all about exterminating these.
We do not know how many frog species exist and new species are being “discovered” continuously. Species thought to have become extinct are rediscovered. Of course a “discovery” of a species has nothing to say about how long that species has been in existence. And the importance of any particular species to the future of humans and the environment humans survive and thrive in is an unknown unknown.
Wired  – which is a very politically correct on-line journal – reports that 12 New and 3 Lost Night-Frog Species Discovered in India. Researchers in India have found a dozen new frog species belonging to the night frog group, named for their nocturnal habits, and rediscovered three species, one of which had not been seen in nearly a century. The findings appeared in the journal Zootaxa on Sept. 15. …… half of the newly discovered species reproduce without any physical contact between the sexes, with the female depositing her eggs on a leaf and the males later fertilizing them.
All the frogs were spotted in a region known as the Western Ghats, a mountain range than runs along the western coast of India that has been identified as one of the ten hottest biodiversity hotspots in the world. Because of the small area they occupy, at least six of the new species are sensitive to habitat loss and will require immediate steps toward conservation.
I find the conclusion that “the new species are sensitive to habitat loss and will require immediate steps toward conservation”  illogical and inexplicable.
Why interfere?
Just the number of articles about frogs in Wired in recent times further deepens the mystery. It only demonstrates all we don’t know that we don’t know. Even if out of fear of what is to come, humans were to try and intervene and protect every discovered species, the intervention would still fail and would not return us to the time of the dinosaurs.

Conservationism – as an ism – has no clear purpose that I can see.

Number of species on the planet is an unknown unknown – so what is the importance of biodiversity?

August 24, 2011
PLoS Biology_front page_2010-03-01

Image by Bettaman via Flickr

The importance of biodiversity and the loss of species as humans take over their habitats is one of the favourite themes of the environmental movement. But I have yet to see a clear exposition as to why the natural loss of species unable to cope with change is something to be opposed. The diversity of life is certainly one of the most striking aspects of our planet and it is not hard to accept that knowing how many species inhabit Earth is a fundamental question in science. In fact, without knowing this number any comments – let alone conclusions – about the danger of loss of species or the importance of bio-diversity to humanity can only be speculation.

The problem is not only that we have not identified all the eukaryote species in existence (and about 1.3 million have been classified and named) but we have no idea whether the number in existence is to be measured in millions or in hundreds of millions. About 15,000 new species are identified and catalogued each year. If  Bacteria and Archaea are added to eukaryotes, the total number of species could be in the billions.

A new paper in PLoS Biology using a relatively new methodology predicts the total number of species that exist. They claim that “the higher taxonomic classification of species (i.e., the assignment of species to phylum, class, order, family, and genus) follows a consistent and predictable pattern from which the total number of species in a taxonomic group can be estimated”. Using this approach they conclude that “there are ~8.7 million (±1.3 million SE) eukaryotic species globally, of which ~2.2 million (±0.18 million SE) are marine. …. (and) some 86% of existing species on Earth and 91% of species in the ocean still await description”.

Mora C, Tittensor DP, Adl S, Simpson AGB, Worm B (2011) How Many Species Are There on Earth and in the Ocean? PLoS Biol 9(8): e1001127. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001127 

But the paper is already facing objections. The methodology – some claim – actually only estmates human activity in classifying species and not the species themselves. It does seem like an extrapolation from “what has been found” to predict “all that can possibly be found” and the argument is somewhat circular and not fully convincing. It brings to mind the quotation from Donald Rumsfeld which he was castigated for but which I am finding increasingly profound:

There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

I think we are still in the state of not knowing what we do not know.

NY Times

“It’s astounding that we don’t know the most basic thing about life,” said Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. On Tuesday, Dr. Worm, Dr. Mora and their colleagues presented the latest estimate of how many species there are, based on a new method they have developed. They estimate there are 8.7 million species on the planet, plus or minus 1.3 million.

In 1833, a British entomologist named John Obadiah Westwood made the earliest known estimate of global biodiversity by guessing how many insect species there are. He estimated how many species of insects lived on each plant species in England, and then extrapolated that figure across the whole planet. “If we say 400,000, we shall, perhaps, not be very wide of the truth,” he wrote. Today, scientists know the Westwood figure is far too low. They’ve already found more than a million insect species, and their discovery rate shows no signs of slowing down.

In 1988, Robert May, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford, observed that the diversity of land animals increases as they get smaller. He reasoned that we probably have found most of the species of big animals, like mammals and birds, so he used their diversity to calculate the diversity of smaller animals. He ended up with an estimate 10 to 50 million species of land animals.

For the new estimate, the scientists came up with a method of their own, based on how taxonomists classify species. Each species belongs to a larger group called a genus, which belongs to a larger group called a family, and so on. .. In 2002, researchers at the University of Rome published a paper in which they used these higher groups to estimate the diversity of plants around Italy. There were fewer higher-level groups than lower ones at each site, like the layers of a pyramid. The scientists could estimate how many species there were at each site, much as it’s possible to estimate how big the bottom layer of a pyramid based on the rest of it. . … The scientists built a taxonomic pyramid to estimate the total number of species in well-studied groups, like mammals and birds. (They) then used it on all major groups of species, coming up with estimates of 7.7 million species of animals, for example, and 298,000 species of plants.

Terry Erwin, an entomologist at the Smithsonian Institution, think there’s a big flaw in the study. There’s no reason to assume that the diversity in little-studied groups will follow the rules of well-studied ones. “They’re measuring human activity, not biodiversity,” he said. David Pollock, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Colorado who studies fungi — a particularly understudied group — agrees. “This appears to be an incredibly ill-founded approach,” he said. There are 43,271 cataloged species of fungi, based on which Dr. Mora and his colleagues estimate there are 660,000 species of fungi on Earth. But other studies on fungus diversity suggest the number may be as high as 5.1 million species. ….

Jonathan Eisen, an expert on microbial diversity at the University of California, Davis, said he found the new paper disappointing. “This is akin to saying, ‘Dinosaurs roamed the Earth more than 500 years ago,’ ” he said. “While true, what is the point of saying it?”

At least it could be argued that there are not less than 8.7 million eukaryotic species. This is not likely to be the end of this story. Nevertheless it does at least show the scale of the problem and that the number of all living species (and not just eukaryotes) is still in the realm of the unknown.

And the importance of the disappearance of unsuccessful species and of the resulting bio-diversity on humanity is still an unknown unknown.

So much for biodiversity!

November 16, 2010
Procambarus clarkii taken near a lake in Giron...

Red Swamp Crayfish: Image via Wikipedia

Spain is preparing to rid its shores of foreign species of plants and animals that are considered a danger to the ecosystem says The Telegraph.

Successful species which threaten weaker species but which are considered “foreign” are to be eliminated by human intervention – and all in the name of biodiversity!

An exhaustive list of non-native species has been targeted for control or eradication by Spain’s Environment Ministry to protect the country’s own flora and fauna.

The inventory of 168 “alien invaders” that were introduced accidentally or deliberately to the Iberian Peninsula and are now not welcome includes the American mink and raccoon, which found their way from commercial fur farms into Spain’s countryside where their population has boomed.

Other species have been introduced intentionally but are deemed a threat to native varieties. The Zebra Mussel and Red Swamp Crayfish have both been identified as causing serious harm to indigenous species and habitats and with causing “a negative impact on agricultural production”.

The Ruddy Duck, introduced to Europe as an ornamental species, is one of the worst culprits because of its aggressive courting behaviour and willingness to interbreed with endangered, native duck species.

Besides the impact on biodiversity and agriculture some species can also cause problems for human health.

The Asian Tiger mosquito originally native to areas of south-east Asia has in the last couple of decades invaded many countries because of increasing international travel and transport of goods. The insect is a vector for Chikungunya fever which can cause severe illness in humans. Invasive plants species, such as the Galenia pubescens and Water hyacinth are choking the sand dunes of southern Spain and clogging water courses.

But not all foreign species are considered a threat. The draft proposal includes a measure that will exempt from extermination those species considered beneficial to the environment. The Barbary Sheep, native to North Africa and introduced to a national park in Murcia, will be offered protection. Certain fish species, notably carp, pike and bass, will be restocked in the rivers Ebro and Tagus.

“COP10hagen”: UN Biodiversity conference is just about money

October 28, 2010

With 2 days left the quotations from news reports today about the goings-on at COP 10 Nagoya are interesting:

  1. Developing nations in Africa and elsewhere in the world have called for a system under which they could seek compensation over benefits derived from genetic resources that originated in developing nations during the age of exploration by former colonial rulers – Yomiuri Shimbun
  2. A Namibia-sponsored proposal to create a benefit-sharing fund was seen as a compromise, as the southern African country characterized the move as softening previous approaches on the issue. Such a fund would be created with a portion of the benefits derived from genetic resources worldwide to ensure fair benefit-sharing. The Namibian proposal is said to have the support of 53 African nations. – Yomiuri Shimbun
  3. International biodiversity negotiations taking place in Nagoya, Japan, have been given a much-needed boost, with the announcement of US$2 billion in funding over the next three years from Japan to help implement the outcomes of the discussions. Nature
  4. While ministers from the developed countries eagerly announced money their countries were contributing, the fact that most of it was a part of aid funds already committed, was not mentioned. The outstanding issue – known as Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) – is the extent to which profits will be shared between poor nations and pharmaceutical and cosmetics firms from rich countries who use developing societies’ traditional knowledge and medicinal plants. Sify
  5. Elsewhere in the EU, governments with shaky budgets – Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain – have been reluctant for the bloc to commit additional funds beyond the roughly €1bn a year that it has spent on biodiversity since 2002. The Guardian

The objectives of this conference are merely vague platitudes. Just as with the UN Climate change conferences it is money that is at stake. 5,000 people have gathered in Nagoya for this conference/ jamboree. But it is likely – hopefully – to be as fruitless as last year’s Copenhagen climate change talks.  Nature reports that “in the corridors, the nickname “COP-10-hagen” is brewing”.

Some species extinction is necessary – and COP10 Nagoya is not

October 26, 2010

Species, like an ideal gas, expand to fill the space available to them. Most species – so far -have had a life of less than 10 million years though some (the living fossils) may exist for hundreds of millions of years. More species have become extinct over the years than are in existence today. It is stated that over 99% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct. The death of a species is nearly always due to competitive pressure from other species or by a change in their surrounding conditions that the species fails to adapt to. There have been at least 5 so-called mass extinctions over geological time — though in each case sufficient species remained so that evolution and development could continue in new directions. If the dinosaurs had not become extinct then man would probably never have evolved. If man ever does become extinct then it will surely provide the room for the possible development of some other species.

Any strategy to try and “guide” the future development of humankind must  – it seems to me – include for the expansion of the species  and cannot be based on the stagnation of the species. It is inevitable that less successful species will die out in the face of this competition. To merely conserve a species to continue its existence in a Zoo (and there is no nature reserve or wildlife park which is not ultimately just a zoo) without any room for the development or growth of that species may satisfy some deep seated aesthetic, human urge, but it is of no significance  in terms of development of either the species being protected or of the human species. Why then is there so much fuss about the possible extinction of some current species today?

Intentionally terminating a species merely for the sake of terminating that species ought then to be “wrong”. And so it is; except when mankind perceives that the quality of life of the human species is jeopardised by the existence of that other species. There are no qualms therefore in the eradication – or the attempted eradication – of parasites, viruses, bacteria or the tsetse fly or certain types of mosquitoes.

That it is desirable that tigers and lions or other species that are threatened by competition with humans continue to exist, is driven primarily by aesthetic values. If human aesthetics desire the preservation of such species in reservations, then that is perfectly allowable. But such “protected” species are effectively frozen in time and have no space for expansion or evolution. They are effectively removed from being active contributors to the “web of life”. Furthermore the dependence of man as a species on the diversity of other existing species is decreasing. As we increase the use of IVF, or genetically engineered crops, or animal-cloning or selective animal breeding programmes, the dependence of mankind on the ad hoc food-chains that exist is reduced. (I observe that the use of the words “natural” or “unnatural” here are meaningless. The intervention of humans in any “natural” process  is not more “unnatural” than breeding cows or creating over 200 breeds of dogs. Since humans are part of “nature” then anything humans do is – by definition – “natural”). As drugs – which may have first been extracted from some particular plants – are synthesised and tailored to meet human needs the dependence upon the plant species disappears.

The objectives of the Biodiversity conference currently being held in Nagoya are the most inconsequential platitudes which are irrational, unscientific and merely exhibit a “woolly” sentimentality.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) entered into force on 29 December 1993. It has 3 main objectives:

  1. The conservation of biological diversity
  2. The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
  3. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

What is not addressed at all is why the conservation (or more correctly the stagnation) of biological diversity is something to be desired and by which species. I take it as axiomatic that the ultimate beneficiary must be the human species – if not necessarily individual humans. (Here too I would observe that it is by ensuring benefits to individuals that we shall probably do the greatest good for the species). The conservation of a species for the sake of conservation is just as wrong as the extermination of a species for the sake of extermination.

The Convention states

As demographic pressures and consumption levels increase, biodiversity decreases, and the ability of the natural world to continue delivering the goods and services on which humanity ultimately depends may be undermined.

This would imply an acceptance that other species exist only to serve the human species. The conclusion then must be that if a species does not contribute to the supply of goods and services for man then it is redundant as a species. If such a redundant species becomes extinct it may be aesthetically displeasing but it is of no consequence for the advancement of the human species. The second objective “the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity” then means that as human ingenuity and intervention ensures the supply of goods and services needed (whether by farming techniques or fish farming or cattle and poultry breeding or by synthetic techniques), then other species which were contributing to such supply become redundant.

The 3rd objective regarding “fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources” has really nothing at all to do with the diversity of species and instead is an issue of distribution of the benefits of exploiting other species. For example, it is the issue of drug companies from developed countries extracting medicinal materials from plants only found in developing countries and of ensuring that monetary benefits also find their way to the country in which the plant grows. But once the medicinal materials can be synthesised the plant – as a species – becomes redundant.

Sometimes it is claimed that  biodiversity is needed to maintain the gene pool. But to what end do we need this gene pool where genes do not cross species boundaries? This makes no sense unless one is trying to ensure the evolution and development of replacement species once humans are extinct. It is also claimed at times that we know so little about the various interactions between species that it would be dangerous to allow any species to become extinct. But this is mere alarmism. Focusing on real benefits to humans in need of food or medicine or water or space would be much more constructive than harping on “not doing something” for fear of unknown and unquantifiable dangers.

The COP10 conference in Nagoya seems to be going the way of the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 – and that is probably a very good thing.

That the success of humans as a species is reducing the habitat for and the viability of other species is obvious.

That this is “unnatural” or undesirable is nonsensical.

Tenacious life: Biological oasis found in Yellowstone Lake

October 6, 2010
att=Yellowstone Lake Aerial

Image via Wikipedia: Yellowstone Lake

From Science Daily:

Montana State University researchers have discovered a rare oasis of life in the midst of hundreds of geothermal vents at the bottom of Yellowstone Lake.

A colony of moss, worms and various forms of shrimp flourishes in an area where the water is inky black, about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and a cauldron of nutrients, gases and poisons, the researchers reported in the September issue of Geobiology.

The vent is close to 100 feet below the surface of Yellowstone Lake and a third of a mile offshore in the West Thumb region. The worms and shrimp live among approximately two feet of moss that encircles the vent. The researchers said that the Fontinalis moss is not known to grow in the conditions they found on the floor of Yellowstone Lake and that a worm found associated with the moss had never been reported in North America. The researchers also noted that this was the first in-depth published study of the biology associated with any geothermal vent in Yellowstone Lake.

“The proliferation of complex higher organisms in close association with a Yellowstone Lake geothermal vent parallels that documented for deep marine vents, although to our knowledge this is the first such documentation for a freshwater habitat”

D. Lovalvo, S. R. Clingenpeel, S. McGinnis, R. E. Macur, J. D. Varley, W. P. Inskeep, J. Glime, K. Nealson, T. R. McDermott. A geothermal-linked biological oasis in Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park, WyomingGeobiology, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2010.00244.x

Science Daily article:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101004141327.htm

200 new species found in Papua New Guinea

October 6, 2010

With the rate at which new species are being found and extinct species are being rediscovered and with unknown marine species being estimated to be between 1 and 10 million and  micro-organism species thought to be in excess of one billion, I am beginning to wonder if humans are not soon going to be crowded off the planet.

From Reuters today: Some 200 news species of animals and plants, including an orange spider, a jabbing spiny-legged katydid (bush cricket) and a minute long-nosed frog, have been discovered in Papua New Guinea‘s remote jungle-clad mountains. A team of international scientists made the discoveries during a two-month expedition in the remote Nakanai and Muller mountains in 2009, Conservation International said on Wednesday. In the Nakanai mountains on New Britain island, the team found 24 new species of frogs, two new mammals, nine new species of plants, nearly 100 new insects including damselflies, katydids and ants, and approximately 100 new spiders.

new mouse genus discovered in new guinea

new mouse genus discovered in new guinea : Stephen Richards

Several of the katydids and at least one ant and one mammal are so different from any known species that they represent entirely new genera, said the scientists.

Scientific American: One of the new genera is represented by a mouse that was found in the Nakanai range at about 1,590 meters above sea level in April 2009. The rare rodent has narrow feet and looks somewhat like known prehensile-tailed species in New Guinea. But its long, half-white tail is one of the striking features that distinguishes it from others in the region.

How exactly is biodiversity a problem?

October 5, 2010

Yesterday The Guardian reported that

While some 230,000 marine species have been recorded there are thought to be at least 1 million species in the sea. Ian Poiner, chair of the Census of Marine Life (COML) steering committee, said: “All surface life depends on life inside and beneath the oceans. Sea life provides half of our oxygen and a lot of our food and regulates climate. We are all citizens of the sea”. To mark the end of the COML project, scientists at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) showed off the results of the Census of Antarctic Marine Life, an inventory of more than 16,000 marine species and the culmination of more than 19 trips into Antarctic waters.

In fact the total is unknown and may be as many as 10 million. The New Scientist points out:

A newly discovered copepod (Image: Jan Michels)

A newly discovered copepod (Image: Jan Michels)

“There are three to four unknown species for every known,” says Paul Snelgrove of Memorial University of Newfoundland in St John’s, Canada.

The Census has so far added 1200 new species to the tally, though that is likely to rise as over 5000 more organisms that were collected have yet to be studied or named. The new species include several that were thought to have disappeared, such as the “Jurassic shrimp”, which was believed to have died out 50 million years ago.

The Census was also able to identify those regions that are richest in diversity, which include the Gulf of Mexico and the Australian coastline. The Galapagos Islands, meanwhile, turned out to have less biodiversity than the chilly South Orkney Islands, in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica.

However, plant and animal diversity looks insignificant compared to the sea’s micro-organisms, which may number 1 billion. Their diversity is “spectacular”, Snelgrove says.

Just a few days ago Science reported that

Diana Fisher and Simon Blomberg of the University of Queensland in Australia carried out a comprehensive analysis of missing and extinct mammalian species. They created a database of all 187 mammal species that have been identified as extinct or possibly extinct, then combed through the literature to find out which ones had been rediscovered. They also included what threats the species had been facing, such as habitat destruction or hunting.

(more…)

Hannibal – killer swan could use insanity defence?

September 17, 2010

A swan dubbed Hannibal is to have blood tests to find the reason for its aggression after it killed 15 other swans in just a few months in a quiet rural pond.

The killer swan attacks other birds by beating them with his beak, wings and feet. Conservationists have even reported seeing him hold the head of rivals underwater until they drown in the pond in the grounds of the historic Pembroke Castle, West Wales.

Hannibal's most recent victim was being treated yesterday at an animal rescue centre

Now wildlife workers are to carry out a series of tests on “Hannibal” after parents expressed concern over the psychological effect it may have on their children if they witness an attack.

Maria Evans, an animal worker at Pembroke Castle’s pond, said: “I’ve never come across such an aggressive bird. He is an absolutely horrible swan and people really don’t like him.

“I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been to pick up dead and injured swans.”

Ruth Harrison, 25, said: ““I’ve seen Hannibal attacking other swans and it is quite unpleasant. Afterwards, he swims around the pond with his wings up, looking so proud of what he has done. And if his victims are injured on the bank, he just won’t let them back in the water.” Hannibal’s most recent victim was being treated yesterday at an animal rescue centre after being saved by a local vet. The swan, called Trevor, suffered terrible injuries to his feet in the attack by Hannibal. Hannibal carried out its first attack in February. Ms Evans said: “The water in the pond is very brackish, salty and not particularly clean, and pollution and lack of nutrients can both be responsible for nasty behaviour in swans.

He may be a serial killer and he may be single-wingedly threatening biodiversity but lack of nutrients and the consequent physiological and psychological stresses might support an insanity defence.

Oh my ! Canada Goose will need a visa for Europe

September 17, 2010
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Biodiversity be hanged ! Alien wildlife must be banned from Europe.

Urgent call on EU to stop billion-euro ‘alien invasion’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11286432

The Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) was the worst culprit, having the biggest impact on both the environment and economy.

Leading experts on invasive species are demanding Europe-wide legislation be put in place by next year to tackle the threat to native wildlife. The researchers want urgent action from the EU to protect Europe’s indigenous species from these “alien invaders”. The scientists are meeting at the Neobiota conference in Copenhagen. They are demanding Europe-wide legislation to be in place by next year to ensure the threat doesn’t worsen. Invasive species are defined as those that are introduced accidentally or deliberately into a place where they are not normally found.

Piero Genovesi is chair of the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG), a global network of experts on invasive species. He told BBC News that the figure of 12 billion Euros represents a significant underestimate of the impact of alien species. “We’re asking the EU to rapidly develop and approve a policy on invasive species, fulfilling the formal commitment agreed by the council of European ministers in June 2009,” Mr Genovesi told BBC News. “This is urgent, we would like this to be in place by next year.”

A Ruddy Duck drake

The Ruddy Duck is just one of more than 1,300 alien species living in Europe which threaten biodiversity.

Scientists gathered at the conference are calling for urgent action by the European Union to implement laws similar to those that already exist in countries like New Zealand and Australia.

Wolfgang Nentwig, from the Institute of Ecology and Evolution in Switzerland has just published one of the first detailed studies of the impact of alien birds in Europe. The Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) was the worst culprit, having the biggest impact on both the environment and economy.

There is something somewhat paradoxical in banning the adventurous and entrepreneurial wild life to protect the diversity of those that are failing !

Update!!

Dr Guy Consolmango, curator of the Pope's meteorite collection

Dr Guy Consolmango

The Catholic church is more open minded than EU scientists. Pope Benedict XVI’s astronomer has said that the Catholic Church welcomes aliens. Highly evolved extra terrestrial lifeforms may be living in space and would be welcomed into the church – “no matter how many tentacles”, the Pope’s astronomer has said.


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