Ecology
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Ecology

Concentration of biodiversity

Most of Earth's life is confined to an exceedingly small range. 1.4% of its land area contains half of its biodiversity.

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I need one of these for the oceans too.

Tropic levels

All energy originates in the Sun. Solar energy is picked up by all manner of plants that cover a huge variety of surfaces

Nature is a network that communicates

The sounds of the ecosystem were the original orchestras. The origin of music on earth. May it sing forever.

This is also a great source of recordings

Surely communication has its origins with animals consistently correlating a signal (physical, vocal, etc.) with an action (aggression, submission, etc.).

Their pattern-recognising brains naturally picked up on the new pattern.

Alarm calls

Animals will rely on other animals. Rabbits will rely on the crows to alarm them if a potential predator is coming. It's a network.

Herbivores especially are in this network. In contrast, when a predator shows up, everyone else leaves.

Predators are unwelcome in their own environment. They are constantly harassed by birds.

When a predator walks into a room, everyone else leaves. They stand apart from the rest of the ecosystem.

Co-operation

And predators might follow scavengers who alert them to potential food or carcasses. Scavengers themselves may be unable to tear the skin properly or whatever.

Mating calls

Every little noise in time is filled in this environment. It's like a Hong kong street.

A new little cherper has a marketing problem.

Listen to nature fully and it's so incredibly rich. Literally every nanosecond in any environment is filled with sounds.

The sound of a place tells you about its whole ecosystem. Well except for the hidden ones.

Often, every little noise in time is filled in this environment. It's like a Hong kong street.

A new little cherp-er has a marketing problem.

What are the strategies?

Expand into new frequencies - Many sounds are outside the range of human hearing

E.g. this recording of the Panaman rainforest at night has been slowed down to reveal sounds outside of the range of human hearing,

Amplify it with your surroundings - frogs love drains

Territorial calls

A dogs bark gives a huge indication to its power.

Many animal's call is a reflection of how they fit in their ecosystem. Wolves, gorillas, tigers, lions, crocodiles.

Smells

Robert Bakker, Raptor Red, Robert Bakker

He moves up the sand dune and turns west into a wide valley. Here are posted thousands of messages from other dinosaurs. Challenges from young male Utahraptor. Sexual invitations from deinonych widowers who lost their mates in the flood. Panic signals from Astrodon young, separated from their parents and uncles and aunts. Pompous declarations from acros who boast of their indisputable position as Kings of the Cretaceous.

There are even the small-voiced messages from multis, plant-eating furballs who live in colonies: I've just dug a new burrow here, and all the shrubs within a ten-yard radius are mine.

The young male Utahraptor's mind is swamped with all the messages criss-crossing in claim and counterclaim. It's a cacophony of aromas, like a dozen rap songs sung at once in the language of scent. He tries to read every one. It's a Cretaceous highway of information, all written in shit.

Dung is the queen of media in the Cretaceous. With his voluminous olfactory chambers, the male Utahraptor can distinguish ten thousand different individuals of his own species from their dung-aroma. He can tell whether a young female is alone and available or firmly bonded in monogamous union. He can tell how long the message has been exposed to the sun and rain.

Appearances may be deceiving, and like all raptors the male insists on a dung-document to prove the identity and status of strangers. It will always be this way with long-snouted predators. His distant cousins, the great tyrannosaurs of the later Cretaceous, will have huge snout chambers for their sense of smell. So will the bears and wolves and hyenas much farther in the geological future. Of all the land animals who hunt big game, only one will come along who cannot read the dung-sign -Homo sapiens.

After reading his way through a half-mile of the shit bulletin board, the male raptor comes to a small, brand-new pile of dung, one clearly deposited after the flood, on a high crest of sand. He sniffs. He stares. He paws at the ground to refresh the scent.

It's raptor shit. He sniffs again - it's Utahraptor shit, not the Yellow Snout species but his own red-snouted kind, one who has been eating fresh astro meat with a little iguanodon liver.

Very interesting. He sniffs very slowly, very loudly. There are some undifferentiated signals -raptors whose fecal signature doesn't say whether they are male or female. And the strongest signal comes from adult females - and he recognizes one particular individual.

Very, very interesting.

It's very confusing to a young male, but very exciting too. He turns around, three complete circles, sniffing, and delicately overlays the pile with a message of his own.

I was here after you - I - a young, healthy, unattached male.*

The male begins to follow the trail of that one particular female.

He searches with his nose, trying to untangle a dozen overlapping raptor scent-trails. He's after just one particular family group. He finds them a day later.

Robert Bakker, Raptor Red, p197.

At the beginning of their second month on the moun-tain, Raptor Red notices a new and strange behavior being practiced by her sister. It starts with her sister snuffling the soil with intense olfactory energy, then stamping her foot, growling, pawing dirt over a spot on the ground, and running. Raptor Red has been assuming that it's a danger sign and has been running off with her sister every time. But the sixth time her sister repeats the performance, Raptor Red gets suspicious. Instead of running away, she goes back to the spot where her sister pawed the earth.

Despite her sister's growls, Raptor Red sniff-searches the area. There's a lingering scent, a familiar one. She claws the earth, overturning the sod and releasing more aroma. It's male Utahraptor sign—her male consort! Raptor Red claws the ground furiously and reply-marks the spot with her dung-sign. Then she glares at her sister, who has assumed a nonchalant posture and refuses to make eye contact. She tries to look busy scanning the meadow ahead for imaginary iguanodon herds. if raptors had complex facial muscles, her sister would be wearing a sheepish expression. Raptor Red charges and bumps her sister so hard on the rump that both of them tumble head over tail. For the rest of the day, Raptor Red ignores her sister, refusing to return head-bobs or muzzle-rubs. it's not the last time Raptor Red finds fresh sign from her young male on the ground and in the bark of trees.

Sign-marking chores

Marking territory is part of having a territory for an animal.

Robert Bakker, Raptor Red, p197.

Raptor Red and her sister leave their marks on tree trunks: they place a dung-sign at the base, then reach as high as they can and scratch long wounds in the bark with their foreclaws. Any other raptor can read the message: *We're Utahraptor sisters, and we're* this *tall, so keep away!*

Nature watches you

When you sit outside, birds will watch you. Each time they see you make a move, they will make a noise. And then the other birds respond. So your movements are literally determining sounds of an ecosystem. You, has the largest potential predator in their minds, are the conductor of an orchestra of the birds that are around you.

Invasive species

Invasive species can completely disrupt an ecosystem

For example down in the bush the invasive ferns completely disrupt the forest floor ecosystem. See if you can get some pictures.

For the small creatures living there it's the equivalent of black clouds stretching across our entire country and never leaving. The plants we eat would die, and we'd have no choice but to simply move on.

Feral future

Invasive species may be the injection of robust genes that the environment needs

Invasive species, if successful (particularly in human altered environments), inject some robust plant and animal life into ecosystems.

They will diversify from there, forming new and robust ways of interacting with the environment- including human altered ones.

There's more of this in Feral Future.

So much goes unnoticed

There are worlds beneath our feet that we don’t even pay attention to.

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Incidentally, that plant is also an invasive species. There's an invasion going on.

Life must conform to the Earth

Sometimes the activity of the earth is so slow it can appear to never change in an entire lifetime. At other times it can change with incredible speed - that's a butchered quote.

If the earth suddenly changes, life must adapt.

Including droughts (and famine), floods, heat, cold. Migration.

It's hard for us to understand how much storms must suck when you're stuck outside.

Parasitism

Parasites are annoying and sometimes deadly, but animals often have coping mechanisms, like swimming in suphoric mud or finding an animal that eats them.

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Grooming areas

Robert Bakker, Raptor Red, p46.

Her sister squawks, stands, leans forward, and squawks again. It's a funny sound—loud, but not threaten-ing. Raptor Red stands up too and squawks. The squawk is a rarely used signal. It means I'm here—I won't bite—I'm here. A soft sound of feathered wings comes from the tops of some tall cycad trees. A bounding troop of sinorns, a Chi-nese bird species who invaded the Americas along with the raptors, flit down a few dozen feet in front of the raptor pack. Raptor Red is beside herself with excitement She scrunches down, laying her head and neck along the meadow floor, trying to look as meek and nonthreatening as she can. But she can't control her tail. Its stiff rear end twitches side to side. The sinorns take off immediately. Calm—calm—CALM! she thinks to herself. She closes her eyes. She focuses inward. Her breathing slows. Her tail stops twitching. The sinorns return—Raptor Red can hear them. They are very close. One of the birds pokes its snout up Raptor Red's nostril. Kah-SNEEEZE! She can't help herself. She opens her eyes--the birds are gone again. Calm . . . Calm. . . . She lies motionless for two minutes. Then she feels what she's wanted all day—tiny bird feet walking up and down her back. She winces very slightly as a red-hot spark of pain comes from just behind her shoulders. Then another. Own two at once. But after each spike of pain comes a lingering warm feeling—a mixture of throbbing blood flow and relief. the chicks watch the operation. They've never seen it before. A half-dozen sinorns are methodically surveying Raptor Red's back. Each bird stops every minute or so to reach down, carefully place its beak over a tick, and re-move it with a twisting-backward head movement. 'The chicks charge the birds, hissing. Raptor Red's sis-ter growls an authoritative rebuke. The chicks shrink back, and the birds return. For a wonderful hour the adult raptors get groomed and plucked and bitten and deticked. The sinorns even open the edges of the tick-induced wounds, nipping off infected skin. That really hurts, but the raptors endure it. They've been through it before. They know that a few days in the sun will heal the wounds with hardly a trace. Unfortunately, the chicks are too rambunctious to learn the joys of bird-grooming. When a sinorn alights on a chick's back, the chick tries to bite it. Raptor Red's sister has to interrupt her grooming repeatedly to snarl menac-ingly at her offspring. It's too much for a mother to bear. Raptor Red's sister slowly rises, using smooth movements of legs and back so as not to scare the birds. She flicks out one long hand and flattens a chick to the ground. "Ghurk." The chick gets the message. It lies still. The other chicks stare, speechless. They've never seen their mom so angry before. Thus the chicks learn, reluctantly, to sit still while being serviced by tick-birds. In Raptor Red's mind, this meadow will always be associated with healing ministrations from the sinorns. "Tick Bird Meadow" is a good translation of how her memory labels the locale.

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Say hey to Owlbert Einstein

Curator of the Big Ideas Network

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