Friday, February 15, 2013

Number of Species from Regularly Monitored Taxa in the Chicago Wilderness Region

Work in Progress - I will try to get this finalized in the coming days.... still waiting for feedback from several folks.... I should be able to break out the insects and add more arthropod groups.

Non Native




Reptiles and Amphibia




Plants: Swink, F and Wilhelm, G (1994) Plants of the Chicago Region.  Indiana Academy of Science; personal communication G Wilhelm (Conservation Design Forum) (2013).  Mammals: Greenberg, J A (2002) Natural History of the Chicago Region and  The three non-native mammals in the region are Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), Black rat (Rattus rattus), and the house mouse (Mus musculus).  Birds: Personal correspondence: Judy Pollock (Audubon Chicago Region) Geoffrey A. Williamson, Doug Stotz (The Field Museum) and Sheryl DeVore (2013). Fishes:  Personal communication: Philip Willink (The Field Museum) (2013); Reptiles and Amphibia: Greenberg, J (2002) A Natural History of the Chicago Region.  Karen Glennemeier (Audubon Chicago Region) counts 12 species of frogs and toads in this number. Insects: The number of species here is an approximation made by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  Since Chicago has a high concentration of natural area remnants relative the state of Illinois, there is a probability that it will have many of the states species.  However, the number is possibly a low approximation of that total species tally, as many of insect groups are poorly known. See: Molluscs:  Barghusen, L; Bland, J.; Klocek,R,(2010), A Field Guide to the Freshwater Mussels of the Chicago Wilderness, Field Museum of Natural History, Personal correspondence, Kristen Ross (University of Illinois, Chicago), Lauren Umek (Northwestern University), and Basil Iannone (University of Illinois, Chicago).  
*In many cases the data is for Chicago area is defined as the 22 counties that surround Chicago, including 11 in Illinois, 7 in Indiana, 3 in Wisconsin, 1 in Michigan.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love in a Time of Objects - A Valentine's Day Poem

Love in a Time of Objects
For Vassia

here will be time enough on other days
For talk of Love, and Faith,
And the Gods
And of What Now Must We Do.

Today I remember
How one summer’s evening
On the dunes
The retiring sun lit up your face.
And how you turned from it,
Closed your eyes
And let it burnish you.

And how your feet made
A soft impress upon the wet sand,
And how the birds parted as you walked
And how they closed back in behind you.

And how clay yields to you
Seasons matter to you
Sunflowers nod at you
And you, in turn, turn to them.

Like flame takes to grass
Like wind tugs the leaves
Like grass calls to fire
Like leaves wait for the wind
Like the moon plucks upon the oceans.
Like oceans spread beneath the moon.

One night on a sidewalk in New York
You pulled me to you
And put your lips on my lips
So fiercely that it made me dizzy.

Is all this between objects
Love?  Let’s not talk about that today
Let everything that can, incline towards everything else.

14th Feb 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lincoln Park 9 Feb 2013 (Mainly trees)

Spring Reading List (Provisional)

Human Impacts
The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers, and Defenders of the Amazon, Updated Edition Susanna B. Hecht, Alexander Cockburn
Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England by William Cronon
African Silences by Peter Matthiessen
The State of Our Chicago Wilderness: A Report Card on the Health of the Region's Ecosystems by Chicago Wilderness

Ireland Study Abroad
Connemara: Listening to the Wind (Connemara Trilogy 1) Tim Robinson (you will be expected to read Vol II in Ireland, Vol III when we return).
Travels in Wicklow, West Kerry and Connemara by J. M. Synge
The Way That I Went by Robert Lloyd Praeger
Complete Irish Wildlife (Collins Complete Photo Guides) Introd by Derek Mooney
Killarney National Park: A Place to Treasure by Bill Quirke

Urban Ecology
Urban Ecology: Patterns, Processes, and Applications by (Editor) Jari Niemela
Reading Pack

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ecology’s Image Problem

 “There are tories in science who regard imagination as a faculty to be avoided rather than employed. They observe its actions in weak vessels and are unduly impressed by its disasters” —John Tyndall, 1870

In his 1881 essay on Mental Imagery, Francis Galton noted that few Fellows of the Royal Society or members of the French Institute, when asked to do so, could imagine themselves sitting at the breakfast-table from which presumably they had only recently arisen. Members of the general public, women especially, fared much better, being able to conjure up vivid images of themselves enjoying their morning meal. From this Galton, an anthropologist, noted polymath, and eugenicist, concluded that learned men, bookish men, relying as they do on abstract thought, depend on mental images little, if at all.

In this rejection of the scientific role for the imagination Galton was in disagreement with Irish physicist John Tyndall who in a 1870 address to the British Association in Liverpool entitled The Scientific Use of the Imagination claimed that in explaining sensible phenomena, scientists habitually form mental images of that which is beyond the immediately sensible. "Newton’s passage from a falling apple to a falling moon”, Tyndall wrote, “was, at the outset, a leap of the prepared imagination.” The imagination, Tyndall claimed, is both the source of poetic genius and an instrument of discovery in science.

The role of the imagination is chemistry, is well enough known. In 1890 the German Chemical Society celebrated the discovery by Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz of the structure of benzene, a ring-shaped aromatic hydrocarbon. At this meeting Kekulé related that the structure of benzene came to him as a reverie of a snake seizing its own tail (the ancient symbol called the Ouroboros).

Read on here

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Living Large: One Large Species Doing Many Dangerous Things

Collectively we are a stunningly large species. A way of illustrating the global nature of our species comes from calculations of our own ecological footprint; Invariably we exceed the amount of productive land available to us. For example, the population of the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area contains around 9 million people. The amount of land required to sustain each person (the physical footprint of our buildings, land for agricultural productivity and so forth) is about 20 acres. Collectively this is 180,000,000 acres (281,250 square miles). Illinois's land area is 55,593 square miles, making the ecological footprint of Chicagoans five times larger than the state of Illinois. In fact Chicagoans do not live in Illinois - they live wherever their environmental shadow is cast. In turn, the US population is larger than the country which contains us, and the global population footprint is now larger than the globe. We can overshoot on the global scale only by drawing down on global environmental capital. And the planet may prove to be a rather taciturn banker when accounts come due.
The resource gluttony that got us to this point has had extravagant consequences on a global scale: despoliation of the biosphere, vast eutrophication of the hydrosphere, depletion of soils, and atmospheric changes resulting in climate disruption.
We are in the seemingly paradoxical position of not knowing the number of species on Earth to the nearest order of magnitude (are there 5 or 50 million?) but knowing that we have accelerated species loss to rates comparable to that of a mass extinction event. That extinction is the fate of all species is beside the point, since ultimately the loss is measured in repercussions to us. Not the least part of this is the implication for our ethical self-conception. Is it good to be asteroid-like, comparable to the one that took out the dinosaurs?