What should be done with the wattle-necked softshell turtles on the Hawaiian island of Kauai?
The turtles came from China, starting in the 1850s, brought by sugarcane farmers who liked them as soup. Today, they’re endangered in China and considered invasive—the term for non-native species that cause undesirable effects—in Kauai. But conservationists don’t believe the animals are safe from hunting in their home range, so there’s little point in boxing them up and sending them back.
It’s a head scratcher: Should we remove the turtles from Kauai to preserve the native ecosystem there—the turtles could potentially eat native fish—and risk the extinction of their species, or should we keep them alive in Hawaii?
Those kinds of knotty questions are becoming more commonplace in ecology, as global change accelerates. And so a new attitude is emerging that’s less reflexively hostile toward invaders. It was much in evidence at a symposium held last week at the North American Congress for Conservation Biology in Missoula, Montana. I participated as a journalist but not a disinterested observer: I’ve argued in the past that it’s time for a more nuanced approach to the non-native plants and animals among us.
Good article! But the above photo is not a soft-shell turtle - as it says in the article, it’s a Giant Aldabra tortoise. THIS is a wattle-necked softshell turtle:
My first try at time-lapse. This datura plant in my yard gets really wilted in the sun but pops back up quickly after I water it. The video covers about 45 minutes.
*If anyone has any tips for uploading HD videos please let me know. The image quality of the original file looks much better than the uploaded version.
Thistledown Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla gloriosa). This species of solitary wasp is a mimic of creosote bush seeds. They do a really good impression, my only suggestion for improvement is that they slow down.
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