Thursday, September 18, 2008

Big Brother to help endangered species

Eyes in the sky to monitor Kangaroo Rats.
By comparing the photos to 30 years of satellite images being released this month by the U.S. Geological Survey, researchers hope to better understand how the population has fluctuated in response to climate change and as the arrival of state and federal canal water turned the arid San Joaquin Valley into a patchwork of intensely cultivated farms and forced Giant Kangaroo Rats to concentrate on higher ground.
Talk about a tight circle of life ...
For food, they pile seeds from native grasses in circles outside their burrows, which provide shelter for the endangered San Joaquin antelope squirrel and blunt-nosed lizards.

Their fat five-inch bodies are a favored source of food for the endangered kit fox.

High rainfall encourages the growth of taller nonnative grasses, which overrun the shorter grasses that kangaroo rats depend on for food. Less food means fewer offspring.

When kangaroo rats decline, so do the endangered native plant and animal species that depend on them for survival, the researchers say.
Welcome to the concept of ecological interdependence.


Philip H. said...

Which is why Interior's current plan to change ESA regulations and let individual agencies make an impact call from their own actions is so horrible. Right now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA) have to review every federal action to see if it poses a threat to listed threatened or endangered species. In doing so, they get to take the wholistic, cumulative view of impacts. Interior (parent department to USFWS) is proposing new regs to allow federal agencies to do that now, so as to "streamline" the process. If you ask me, it could mean the end of such tightly knit ecological relationships as you describe.

Tom said...

Sounds like it. It also seems like there should be some sort of oversight, rather than letting agencies police themselves. That sort of thing always winds up being abused and backfiring.