I've already given this very subject a mention sometime back with regards the Tecate Cypress germination project being done at the San Diego Safari Park. I'm impressed with what they want to accomplish and I truly wish them well for success. But I was critical in their old archaic outdated conventional school understanding of germination which was around back in the 1970s when I first investigated specifically Tecate Cypress seed germination. Long time successful Native Plant Nurseries in and around southern California have known many of these things for years, but apparently much of the University grade understanding has not caught up with what even these people know. Of course Nurseries have to maximize their knowledge and what they techniques they use in order to make a profit or they go under. I know for a fact that the majority of the owners of these Nurseries actually try and replicate Nature to an exact science for sure success. Government or Charity Funded Research Programs often don't have the same financial needs for being a viable business or keeping from going bankrupt. They acquire grant monies whether they succeed or fail. So maybe it's a motivational thing. Anyway, if you've got the time, here is subject of the matter, Nature verses science.
|Coast Cholla - Rattlesnake Mountain|
|Photo by Jodi Takei-Peterie, May 26, 2016|
Now right here, I don't see or understand this reliance on this modern day obsession with computer models. Not that computer models don't have a place, but when wisely spent time in the field which creates experience for someone utilizing their brain, meditating and pondering over those observations which ultimately burns the experience into one's memory banks for life. My years of experience tell me that the vegetation habitat for Coastal Cactus Wren Habitat for production of successful cacti colonies needs low growing coastal sage scrub some of which the species were even mentioned in the article. California Sagebrush, California Buckwheat, Black Sage, White sage, Coastal Brittle-Bush, etc. These plants don't get overly large and will not necessarily out compete either Prickly Pear or Coast Cholla Cactus. That's only logical and can be easily verified by outright observation in the field. You also need as far as Geography a south facing slope. A north facing slope will contain other Coastal Sage Scrub large treelike Toyons, Lemonade Berry etc which will overwhelm and dominate the habitat by several feet, or even meters in some cases. Any Cacti would have a tough chance colonizing. But I know this from experience of being outdoors, not because I read about it in a book or surfing the Net. Of course then there is the problem of the habitat dynamics and imputing all that data in that computer. Things have changed and not everything behaves as it once did. Will those data factors be uploaded into the computer simulations like invasive weeds ? The list is endless with no assurance that it'll work except within the mind of the programmer who ever that is. It may have some elementary school value, but young people need to be disconnected from the electronics and shoved out into the real world to experience how Nature really works.
"To this end, we are already propagating cacti to enhance an additional 50 acres (20 hectares) of habitat throughout San Pasqual Valley and utilizing advanced technology such as Geographic Information Systems, spatial analysis, and computer modeling and simulations to help us determine high-priority locations for habitat restoration efforts to maximize the probability of success."
|Ground Squirrel at Torrey Pines State Reserve|
|Torrey Pines State Reserve - California|
"But what determines where a ground squirrel likes to live? Sometimes it seems like they are everywhere: in parks, at the beach, alongside roads, and around our properties. But when it comes to grassland habitats in San Diego County, they’re not always present where you might initially expect them to be. Figuring out where ground squirrels can and prefer to live is especially important when you want to move them to places where they are going to be successful. After all, we want them to establish a new population in a place that will allow them to help the habitat as a whole."So they are determined to restore this Ramona Grassland Preserve and Ground Squirrels need to live there and be a part of that. The idea is if ground squirrels are present, then other creatures like Redtail Hawks, Coyotes and Burrowing Owls will be able to make up part of this living breathing ecosystem also. First I must say that I'm not overly sure that this area was originally grassland in the historical past. I am more inclined to think it as being chaparral in earlier times before European arrival. Much of the original California plant communities were changed from Chaparral to grasslands as a result of human mismanagement in the first place since making a living dealt with raising Cattle. But no matter, if they can create such a well oiled natural community grassland prairie machine then more power to them. The one problem I see are the invasive plants up there at this Preserve. From the photos there are a lot of tall European Wild Oats, Mediterranean Mustard and Star Thistle to name a few. All this is rather tall and crowds out even many of the native wildflowers which Ground Squirrels love. I've never really seen these creatures eat many of these invasives, even the rabbits don't touch a lot of those things. But there were even more quotes.
" . . working on over the last few months is collecting data for the California ground squirrel habitat suitability model in order to determine what habitat variables predict the presence or absence of ground squirrels in a particular area."
"At study sites around the county, we’ve been surveying for ground squirrel burrows and collecting data on the surrounding habitat characteristics, vegetation type, and height in the area and any potential burrow protection observed."
"In addition, we’ve also been taking soil cores to determine soil density and other attributes, which we’ll assess later in the lab. Because ground squirrels are fossorial, we think soil type has a huge influence on their habitat preferences."Now they do acknowledge the plant height problems. This makes sense since Ground Squirrels like an element of observational structure in their communal habitat. In some areas they utilize Elfin Forest lookout perches provided by Chaparral for their lookout Sentinel Post. For the Squirrel community, just like Prairie Dogs or even the African Meerkats, they have a Sentry on duty. Heavy dense tall grassland does not allow for this. Take a look at some of the observations of Prairie Dog Habitat preferences and why they are such.
"Black-tailed prairie dogs inhabit grasslands, including short- and mixed-grass prairie, sagebrush steppe, and desert grasslands. Shortgrass prairies dominated by buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), and western wheatgrass (Pascopyron smithii), and mixed-grass prairies that have been grazed by native and nonnative herbivores are their preferred habitat. Slopes of 2% to 5% and vegetation heights between 3 and 5 inches (7–13 cm) are optimal for detecting predators and facilitating communication."
"Black-tailed prairie dog distribution is not limited by soil type, but by indirect effects of soil texture on moisture and vegetation. Colonies occur in many types of soil, including deep, alluvial soils with medium to fine textures, and occasionally gravel. Soil not prone to collapsing or flooding is preferred. Though they do not select specific types of soil to dig burrows, silty loam clay soils are best for tunnel construction"So a couple of observed logical points here about the Prairie Dogs preferences. Vegetation must be short grass Prairie type habitat with slight slopes or other mounding type areas for observation with regards predators. They are not particular as to soil type, mostly it is vegetation and geography issues. This makes complete sense and there is no reason not to believe that Ground Squirrels look for similar circumstance. Tall Grasslands never work and I have also seen this. If and when I did saw Ground Squirrels as a kid in or around grasslands in areas growing up like El Cajon and Santee, the Squirrels and their community burrows were almost always without fail in the numerous granite boulder outcroppings which appear intermittently inside or around such Southern California grassland habitats. Not only is it burrow protection, but the boulders offered high perches for which to keep lookout for predators. If there were no boulder outcroppings, then at least there was a rise in the landscape as in a slight hill or large mound rising from the flat grassland. They always like the open areas for which to run, even when in mountains. Tall invasive dense weeds and grasses not only prevent this, but they are not necessarily a favourite food source. No amount of Dirt Collection and study in a Lab is going to change what the squirrel prefers or will force him to adapt.
Oh and one more important point of note. They also are most numerous living in among human urban habitat developments. Go figure! I'm sure the main reason for the grassland project however was the benefit to birds of prey like the Golden or even Bald Eagles that reside up there. Although I don't normally think of Bald Eagles as preying on squirrels as much as aquatic prey.
|Photo courtesy of Dr. Roger Banner, USU Extension|
|photo by Cal-photo - Coyote Mellon|
"This vine can be invasive"Really ???? How can a plant become invasive in it's own natural habitat ? Generally if there is some increase it is the result of disturbance or land mismanagement of a Human, not the plant. The other problem with the way things are done within science is that it is biased and heavily influenced by ideology, philosophy and politics in many cases all three categories being blind faith in a sort of religious nature.
|Image - Wikipedia User: Geographer|
I'm here to say that fire is NOT necessary for these trees to actually move and spread their boundaries into wild uncharted new habitats among the chaparral. It is true and you will find the literature everywhere that says Tecate Cypress and Knobcone pine will keep their cones for decades upon decades before releasing seed after such a fire disaster. But as I wrote before from personal experience, there are other factors the experts never think to consider or observe. Like climate and animal or bird foraging.
|Image by Chris Mallek 2015 (Flickr)|
|Image - Chaparral Institute|
Here's a sum up and I'm out of here. Common sense in our modern society is often over ridden by the ideological flavour of the times. Nobody considers questioning some of the nonsense the modern leadership is spouting and I don't care if we're talking politician, scientist, business or religious leadership. When something doesn't remotely seem right, investigate for yourself. Unfortunately Newer Students lack much life experience and are vulnerable to bad influence. They are not taught to use their brains and thinking abilities as much as they were in the past. Of course this also depends much on the instructor. A type of laziness has set in with the introduction of the electronic age. People in all manner of life look like Cyborgs who appear as if fragile to the point of death if you even attempted disconnect them from their electronic devises. People were more likely to enjoy the outdoors before the early 1990s and be interested in ecological issues. That has rapidly waned since the turn of the century. While there are a handful of people concerned about environmental issues, if you have an apathetic public, they are easier to control what information they are fed and will accept. Hopefully some here have become wiser at least on a few local issues.
My sister told me I should create a Facebook Account and write these subjects on Note Pages for people to read and I can receive 100s if not 1000s of "Likes". Seriously, what in the world is a "Like" anyway ? Who wants "Likers" who lazily and passively acknowledge, 'Oh yeah that sounds great, somebody should do something' The Earth needs Doers who get off their Duffers. These application examples can be found worldwide, not just in So-Cal.
BTW, I really do like the San Diego Zoo and wish them success in their hard work. The point is I don't want to see them lose! I enjoy many of their projects and reading about them. So I'm critical of things I believe will hinder that success. I just want more logical common sense input and action while dumping some of the old school thinking. This is why outdoor observation and developing exact techniques which adhere closely to biomimicry of Nature is so important.