Friday, June 26, 2009

Coffee and Provocation

  • Stupid on a Stick:
    Fetchstix is trying to sell the canine equivalent of a "pet rock." Picture above for the unbelievers. Instead of buying this kind of crap, how about making a gift to a local canine rescue ... or even a human shelter?

  • Revenge of the Deer:
    Feral dogs kill a lot of deer. Now comes a report of deer killing pet dogs. The Missoulian reports that a dachshund was killed by a deer in its yard and that a 3-month-old Yorkshire terrier was stomped to death by a doe.

  • Lynx Return to Colorado:
    Lynx seem to have have finally taken hold in Colorado. The population is still small and perilous, but we have a second generation now.

  • Spotted Owl Nonsense:
    I object to contrived crisis, whether it is on the left or the right. An example of a contrived crisis on the left is the supposed near-extinction of the "Northern Spotted Owl"." Why the quotes? Simple: there is no such species. There is a Spotted Owl, Strix occidentalis, and only a Spotted Owl. They are common, and cross-breed quite freely with barred owls. A "Northern" Spotted Owl is merely a subspecies of a common animal, and a subspecies is, by definition, not a species. Most bird subspecies are virtually undifferentiated from their main types, and that is true for the Northern Spotted Owl, which is simply a Spotted Owl who -- due to geography -- is living around a lot of old growth timber. YES, preserve old growth timber. But be honest that you are preserving the trees for the trees. It is a good enough reason. Spotted Owls can live in virtually any kind of habitat -- old growth, not-so-old growth, and even desert scrub.

  • Termites are Smarter than the Kennel Club:
    Mother Nature abhors long-term inbreeding to the point that female termites are able to reproduce both sexually and asexually. The asexually produced termites (i.e. self-clones) mostly grow up to be queen successors – so-called "secondary queens" – which remain in the termite colony and mate with the king. The result is large broods of babies without the dangers of inbreeding, as secondary queens have no genes in common with their mate.

  • Pepper Moths Return to Pre-Pollution Color:
    Do you remember learning in school about how Pepper Moths in the U.K. had changed their color from mottled white to dark grey-black in order to camouflage themselves better amidst the dirty grime and pollution of the 19th and 20th Centuries? Well guess what? It appears that with cleaner air, the Pepper Moth may be reverting back to its original mottled white! This is not only a positive sign for the environment, but also living proof that Natural Selection is at work all around us.

  • Looks Aren't Everything:
    After two decades of research, John Byers has shown that female pronghorn antelope do not simply select mates with the biggest body or the most impressive horns, but instead select mates with the best vigor and best stamina; traits that will give their offspring the greatest chance of success.

  • Governor Mark Sanford on Bill Clinton's Extra-marital affair:
    "This is very damaging stuff. I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign)... I come from the business side. If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he'd be gone."

  • Alec Baldwin Says "Don't Take the Bait"
    Alec Baldwin says ignore the Sanford mess: "Now is a wonderful opportunity to show the country what Democrats/liberals/progressives/unaligned learned from the Clinton era. Whatever personal problems that public officials deal with privately, leave them alone....The rest of the world is about to kick this country right where it counts when it decides to go off the dollar as the reserve currency, and you want to spend five minutes over the fact that Sanford was cheating on his wife? Don't take the bait. Move on."

1 comment:

retrieverman said...

Spotted owls also crossbreed with barred owls, Strix varia, also known as the "hoot owl."

I think the spotted owl and barred owls interbreed and produce fertile offspring. If that's the case, it's going to be very expensive and time consuming to prevent the owls from interbreeding.

That's because species aren't stagnant gene pools. If they can crossbreed at the margins of their territories, they will. Wolves will breed with coyotes. Bobcats will breed with Canada lynx. Mule deer sometimes breed with white-tails.

This term species is a good heuristic for us to categorize species. However, such strong distinctions are really quite blurred in the wild.