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Thread: Other Intelligent Species Prior to Man

  1. Top | #51
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    If I remember this right rabbits brought in to Australia went feral with no predators. Ate everything. Dogs were brought in to deal with rabbits and they went out of control.

  2. Top | #52
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    If I remember this right rabbits brought in to Australia went feral with no predators. Ate everything. Dogs were brought in to deal with rabbits and they went out of control.
    Australia has had a wide range of issues with introduced pests, rabbits being one well known example. We have also had a wide range of effectiveness for solutions that involve further introductions of species we hoped would control the pests.

    Dogs (dingoes) were endemic to the continent for tens of thousands of years before the first rabbits arrived. Rabbits were controlled very effectively by the introduction of myxomatosis, a viral disease of rabbits.

    Other successful control programs include the control of prickly pear cactus by introducing cactoblastis moths; And the control of water buffalo using riflemen in helicopters.

    Less successful was the infamous attempt to control the cane beetle by introducing cane toads, which have themselves become a major pest species.

    All of which is fascinating, but completely irrelevant to the question of how many humans can live sustainably on Earth. The answer to that question depends entirely on technology; The more technology, the more urbanisation, and the more mass production, the more industrialiation we can sustain, the higher that population we can sustain while avoiding unsustainable impact on other species, and on our own environment.

    The very last thing we need is to "return to nature"; that implies a carrying capacity of perhaps a ten thousandth of the current population - ie 9,999 of every 10,000 people would need to disappear. That would be a disaster unprecedented in human history. Indeed, it would dwarf every historical disaster put together. So in summary, Greenpeace can fuck right off.

  3. Top | #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post

    It is limited by environment. In a good time food for prey increases and population increases. Predator increases until
    prey population decreases. Prey decreases and predator decreases. Prey begins to rebound and the cycle repeats. I don'tknow if homeostasis is the right term.
    Exactly. With many species it whipsaws back and forth.
    Often more of a dynamic equilibrium than a stable one.
    Yes, although some species take steps to make it as little of an equilibrium as possible. I'm thinking of the 13 and 17 year cicadas. Lie low for a long time, let your predators starve, then emerge en masse so there aren't enough predators to eat you. Note that both are prime--nothing with a shorter cycle length can match it, making it much harder for a predator to evolve to adapt.

    You also see an inadvertent version of the same thing with desert wildflowers. I'm thinking of the Death Valley superblooms--in that case it's the plants waiting for the right conditions, but it has the same effect--in most years there's few plants to eat, thus few things around to chow down on the plants when the conditions are right.

  4. Top | #54
    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post

    Often more of a dynamic equilibrium than a stable one.
    Yes, although some species take steps to make it as little of an equilibrium as possible. I'm thinking of the 13 and 17 year cicadas. Lie low for a long time, let your predators starve, then emerge en masse so there aren't enough predators to eat you. Note that both are prime--nothing with a shorter cycle length can match it, making it much harder for a predator to evolve to adapt.
    They're somewhat unique. Maybe because just about everything eats them and they have no defenses.

    You also see an inadvertent version of the same thing with desert wildflowers. I'm thinking of the Death Valley superblooms--in that case it's the plants waiting for the right conditions, but it has the same effect--in most years there's few plants to eat, thus few things around to chow down on the plants when the conditions are right.
    Yeah, I think that's more like filling an environmental niche. Those blooms require that the pollinator species also have the ability to respond in kind. Someone might think cicadas (or nature) would have had to have knowledge of mathematics in order to have found that evolutionary solution. But it simply requires a very unusual genetic mutation that can keep account of 13 or 17 generations, which happens to work very well at thwarting the ability of predator species to become synchronized. Other species exhibit similar anomalies. Monarch butterflies seem to be programmed to fly north generation after generation until they turn around and head south again to central Mexico. Of course there are outliers which depart from the norm, so we hear a few cicadas very year. But that just serves to keep things interesting.

  5. Top | #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    The only time nuclear weapons have been used in anger, the target was Imperial Japan, whose behaviour over the preceding decade certainly ranks pretty close to 'deserves to be nuked', and it's certainly at least a strong likelihood that their use saved millions of both Japanese and American lives that would have been lost during the invasion of the Japanese home islands.
    Furthermore, if A-bombs had not been dropped on Japan, they would likely have been used in the Korean War. The world "needed" an irrefutable demonstration of these weapons' destructive power. (A demonstration in the ocean wouldn't have been convincing; some would consider it illusion or gimmick. After all, David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty "disappear.")

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