Poor Europe!

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tsharp
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Re: Poor Europe!

Post by tsharp » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:51 pm

Ed, Don: The way I interpret the map it appears the range of bison excluded the Kaibab Plateau both north and south. Although I admit a more detailed map would help.
TS

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edfrank
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Re: Poor Europe!

Post by edfrank » Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:01 pm

Don,

The map looks as if it excludes the Kaibab Plateau areas from the range of the bison. So the map reinforces your point, rather than disagrees with the statement concerning the lack of native populations in the Grand Canyon area.

Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Don
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Re: Poor Europe!

Post by Don » Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:38 pm

Ed, Turner-
Yes, upon closer inspection, you're both right. I was confounded on the Hornaday map by all the markings on it, obscuring the state boundary lines.
That said, I'm still bothered by the placement of the Hornaday polygon...as near as I can tell, absent a more 'clean' map, the polygon line doesn't follow geographic features that I thought it might. It would have been elegant to have been able to say, "...east of the Rockies", or "...in common with the Great Basin". Likely it's a combination of gradients that make up the habitat requirements of the species...
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

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View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
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Chris
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Re: Poor Europe!

Post by Chris » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:13 pm

Don wrote: Last comment...the dense, rich grasslands that supported the bison east of the Rockies, are currently rare in the Southwest (much more arid), and I don't think were present, probably since at least the last ice age (10,000-12,000 years ago).
I don't know about that. It is hard (at least for me) to picture what many western landscapes looked prior to that massive overgrazing of cattle in mid-late 1800s when grasses were an important component even in "desert" ecosystems Certainly not tallgrass prairie, but Bison lived in dry shortgrass prairie and in the Chihuahua Desert. For example...


Click on image to see its original size
Click on image to see its original size
Left:
Monument No. 35 - Chihuahuan Desert. "The vegetation here has changed drastically during the last ninety-two years. What formerly appears to have been essentially a pure stand of tobosagrass [Hilaria mutica] has now become an open mixture of creosotebush and snakeweed, with no grass."

Right:
Left above: Monument 144 - Sonoran desert: "The former open grassland, free of scrub vegetation except for the long, dark streak in the background indicating a wash or drainage, has been replaced by scrub. "
from Humphrey's 90 Years and 535 Miles: Vegetation Changes Along the Mexican Border
Last edited by Chris on Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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edfrank
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Re: Poor Europe!

Post by edfrank » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:23 pm

Don,

Did you download the pdf? It is a larger scale than the image I included when viewed in acrobat rather than on the web. There also is this document: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17748/17 ... h.htm#map2
THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON. BY WILLIAM T. HORNADAY, Superintendent of the National Zoological Park.

He wrties in it:
UTAH.—It is well known that buffaloes, though in very small numbers, once inhabited northeastern Utah, and that a few were killed by the Mormon settlers prior to 1840 in the vicinity of Great Salt Lake. In the museum at Salt Lake City I was shown a very ancient mounted head of a buffalo bull which was said to have been killed in the Salt Lake Valley. It is doubtful that such was really fact. There is no evidence that the bison ever inhabited the southwestern half of Utah, and, considering the general sterility of the Territory as a whole previous to its development by irrigation, it is surprising that any buffalo in his senses would ever set foot in it at all.
Arizona isn't mentioned at all.
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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edfrank
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Re: Poor Europe!

Post by edfrank » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:35 pm

Plants modify their environment in terms of infiltration, evapotraspiration, evaporative cooling, heat retention, reflectivity, and they even it appears affecting the weather overall in terms of rainfall in some instances. Once established in an area they can often perpetuate themselves under progressively harsher or at least changing large scale base conditions until some event removes them. Then under the new changed conditions they may be unable to reestablish themselves. For example many of the accounts of Isla de Mona in the Caribbean from Columbus and others suggest the island had plentiful water and was wooded. Now it has some stunted trees, brush, cactus, and the usual xeric plant assemblages in a very xeric looking upper plateau surface of the island. It could be just different interpretations of what was plenty of water and wooded, but reading these accounts suggest to me personally that the loss of the forests in the late 1800's caused the change to a xeric environment and depletion of the water supply on the island. Several recent studies have also pointed to the role that forests have in perpetuating their own environment in effect seeding rain clouds. Grasslands also could have potentially been affecting their environment to some unknown extent and that effect has been lost due to the decimation of the native grasslands by cattle grazing. These grasslands may not be able to reestablish themselves today even if cattle grazing was eliminated. The grasses may not be able to compete under these current conditions with the creosote bushes and other xeric adapted plants. I am not sure how to test that idea, but it is not an unreasonable speculation.
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Don
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Re: Poor Europe!

Post by Don » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:19 pm

Ed/Turner-
Upon further reading (what a sad chapter in the history of the American Frontier!), I found the following excerpts from Hornaday quite interesting:


"According to Prof. J. A. Allen the complete disappearance of the bison west of the Rocky Mountains took place between 1838 and 1840."
It would seem that the greed that bordered on contempt was at a fevered pitch, to exterpate a once densely populated ecosystem...

"It is more than probable that had the bison remained unmolested by man and uninfluenced by him, he would eventually have crossed the Sierra Nevadas and the Coast Range and taken up his abode in the fertile valleys of the Pacific slope."
So much for my theory that it was the availability of grasslands that enabled the continued occupation of buffalo/bison...

"The most western point at which I have myself observed remains of the buffalo was in 187[7] on Willow Creek, eastern Oregon, among the foot hills of the eastern side of the Blue Mountains."
I have spent time in this country and can't imagine it having had a grassland sufficient to support abundant herds of buffalo/bison...
Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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Don
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Re: Poor Europe!

Post by Don » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:27 pm

Chris-
From my read on SW grassland ecosystems and the impact of our era of cattle and sheep grazing, it was a relatively quick degradation, and that was with relatively low density cattle populations. To imagine buffalo as far as the eye can see ranging through the arid Southwest, IMHO it could have happened, but only once, with their grazing source closing behind them as they moved west...
-Don
Chris wrote:
Don wrote: Last comment...the dense, rich grasslands that supported the bison east of the Rockies, are currently rare in the Southwest (much more arid), and I don't think were present, probably since at least the last ice age (10,000-12,000 years ago).
I don't know about that. It is hard (at least for me) to picture what many western landscapes looked prior to that massive overgrazing of cattle in mid-late 1800s when grasses were an important component even in "desert" ecosystems Certainly not tallgrass prairie, but Bison lived in dry shortgrass prairie and in the Chihuahua Desert. For example...


Click on image to see its original size
Click on image to see its original size
Left:
Monument No. 35 - Chihuahuan Desert. "The vegetation here has changed drastically during the last ninety-two years. What formerly appears to have been essentially a pure stand of tobosagrass [Hilaria mutica] has now become an open mixture of creosotebush and snakeweed, with no grass."

Right:
Left above: Monument 144 - Sonoran desert: "The former open grassland, free of scrub vegetation except for the long, dark streak in the background indicating a wash or drainage, has been replaced by scrub. "
from Humphrey's 90 Years and 535 Miles: Vegetation Changes Along the Mexican Border
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

Joe

Re: Poor Europe!

Post by Joe » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:13 am

yet, during the glacial advances-- wasn't much of the SW much wetter? So, during those periods, buffalo and other species must have moved into that region
Joe

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Don
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Re: Poor Europe!

Post by Don » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:51 pm

Joe-
It's hard to get a general read on climate across an area the size of the SW US, without making it so general that doesn't have much utility. But in a general way, after the last glacial advance, about 10,000 to 12,000 years BP (Before Present, a date chosen to reflect the dispersion of atomic fallout from first significant atomic bomb testing) [BP-1950 -ed], the weather proxies (pollen and macro-fossil analysis, midden analysis) point to a variability in moisture and temperature (think in terms of a 2x2 matrix, as all four possibilities occured over this time period).

In particular, for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (and larger feature, the North Kaibab Plateau), I'm pasting an abstract that details in almost lay person phrasing, how the climate (and vegetative community) varied since the last glacial advance.


Late Glacial and Holocene vegetation history and paleoclimate of the Kaibab Plateau, Arizona
Chengyu Weng, Stephen T. Jackson
Department of Botany, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82070, USA
Received 18 November 1997; revised version received 12 March 1999; accepted 16 March 1999

Abstract
Sediment cores spanning the last 13,500 calendar years (cal yr) were obtained from two lakes (Fracas Lake, 2518 m; Bear Lake, 2778 m) on the Kaibab Plateau in northern Arizona. Pollen and plant macrofossil records indicate that before 12,900 cal yr B.P., high elevation landscapes of the Kaibab Plateau near Bear Lake were covered by alpine tundra, while lower elevations near Fracas Lake were occupied by Picea woodland. At 12,900 cal yr B.P., Picea engelmannii and Abies lasiocarpa forest expanded upward to occupy the top of the plateau. Pinus ponderosa arrived near Fracas Lake 11,000 cal yr B.P., replacing Picea forests. Since then, Pinus ponderosa forest has dominated the Fracas Lake area. Pinus ponderosa did not appear at Bear Lake until 9730 cal yr B.P. Mixed forests of Picea (mainly Picea pungens), Abies lasiocarpa, Pinus ponderosa, and Pseudotsuga (after 8000 cal yr B.P.) grew near Bear Lake for the remainder of the Holocene. Picea engelmannii populations reexpanded near Bear Lake after 4000 cal yr B.P. Charcoal records indicate that fire probably helped Pinus ponderosa to become established near Bear Lake.

Climate changes on the Kaibab Plateau since the Late Glacial were inferred from lake levels and vegetation patterns. The Late Glacial (>11,000 cal yr B.P.) was cold and probably wet. The early Holocene (11,000 to 8000 cal yr B.P.) was cooler than today and may have been the wettestperiod. Fracas Lake and Bear Lake were probably deepest then. During this period, a strengthened summer monsoonbrought in more moisture from the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. During the dry and warm mid-Holocene, Fracas Lake and Bear Lake experienced water-level declines. The late Holocene was relatively wet and cool again, and aquatic plants were abundant in the two lakes. Increasing effective moisture in the late Holocene was related to decreasing summer insolation.  1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Late Glacial; Holocene; paleoecology; vegetation change; paleoclimate; Colorado Plateau; palynology; Arizona

Kinda miss the Canyon...
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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