Number 85 - To see a tree asmiling.

Reply Sun 6 Nov, 2011 07:25 am
After Years of Conflict, a New Dynamic in Wolf Country
JACKSON, Mont. — As a fourth-generation rancher, Dean B. Peterson has a complicated relationship with wolves.

In the 1880s, they preyed on his family’s livestock after his great-grandparents arrived as homesteaders along the Big Hole River. By the 1930s, wolves were nearly extinct as a result of traps and poisons. By the time Mr. Peterson was born in the 1960s, the traps had given way to nostalgic tales about how clever the wolves had been.

Growing up, he thrilled to the sight of any wolf and to the sound of an occasional nighttime howl. But as an adult, witnessing a rebound in the gray wolf population, he did not hesitate to shoot one when it passed behind his sons’ jungle gym and headed for the cattle pen.

“I do not dislike or hate the animal,” said Mr. Peterson, who calls wolves “an unreal species that God created.”

Instead, he resents the conservationists who pressed the federal government to reintroduce the gray wolf to the Northern Rockies in the mid-1990s. That decision was shoved “down our throat with a plunger,” he said.

Yet the dynamic between ranchers and conservationists has begun to change, and Mr. Peterson is surprised to find himself acting as a grudging mediator.

The turning point came early this year as lawmakers from some Western states were demanding that the government remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list, and cede control of the animal in Montana and Idaho to state governments. In April, they succeeded by attaching a rider to a budget bill.

Aghast, some environmental groups had a moment of reckoning. Had they gone too far in using the Endangered Species Act as a cudgel instead of forging compromises with ranchers?

So a handful began reaching out to ranchers, offering them money and tools to fend off wolves without killing them. And some ranchers, mindful that tough federal restrictions could be reimposed if wolf numbers dwindle again, have been listening. Tentative partnerships are cropping up, and a few that already existed are looking to expand.

Working through Mr. Peterson, People and Carnivores, a new nonprofit group that promotes “coexistence” has, with help from the Wildlife Conservation Society, built a five-mile, $15,000 electric fence adorned with flags to protect calves on a neighbor’s property. This summer, it helped pay for a mounted rider to patrol 20 square miles of grazing land shared by three ranches near Mr. Peterson’s as a deterrent.

“A lot of my neighbors think I am wet behind the ears to take money from these people,” said Mr. Peterson, who has not yet accepted aid for himself. “But the wolf is here to stay now, and my feeling is that those people who want it here should share the costs.”

The conflict dates back generations, but tensions soared in 1995 and 1996, when the government reintroduced 66 gray wolves in Idaho and in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The goal was to restore balance to the regional ecosystem: after the wolves died out, elk and coyote populations had increased alarmingly. Elk herds were destroying large tracts of vegetation, and coyotes had reduced second-tier predators like badgers.

The federal Fish and Wildlife Service set a minimum population goal of some 150 wolves, plus 15 breeding pairs, in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. To their surprise, the wolves hit those targets in just seven years and spread beyond the wilderness areas.

Livestock kills began to climb, and the ranchers grew angry. They even blamed the wolves for cows’ weight loss. “They come off the pasture on average about 100 pounds lighter than before there were wolves in the area,” Mr. Peterson said. “They spend so much time looking around, they don’t have time to eat.”

By 2007, the total number of wolves in the three states was 1,513. Surveying the evidence, the Fish and Wildlife Service sought that year to have the animal “delisted” under the Endangered Species Act. But conservationists sued to block that move, saying Wyoming lacked an adequate management plan. A federal court in Missoula, Mont., agreed.

In 2009, the Fish and Wildlife Service tried again to remove wolves from federal protection in all areas except in Wyoming. The court would not allow it, setting the stage for a revolt by lawmakers and this year’s unusual Congressional vote. The Interior Department then brokered a similar compromise in Wyoming.

Wolf hunts began in Idaho and Montana at the end of the summer. Montana set a quota of 220 wolves to be killed, or 25 percent of the state’s total population; the hunting tags sold swiftly, which some attributed to pent-up rage among the ranchers.

The backlash led some environmentalists to question their approach. “I personally look back and say there were a number of things that conservationists did that were not effective and which blew up on us,” said Lisa Upson, executive director of Keystone Conservation, a Montana-based nonprofit group that offers ranchers help with nonlethal control measures. “Now we have to live with this horrible precedent.”

So her group and others are pouring energy into training mounted riders to fend off wolves. They are promoting husbandry techniques that allow calves to grow stronger in penned areas before grazing on the range. Drawing on a folk wisdom that dates from medieval times, they have hung lines of red flags along pastures to deter wolves from approaching.

Most acknowledge that such measures are not a panacea. Michael D. Jimenez, the wolf recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service outside Jackson, Wyo., says federal and state agencies have tried guard dogs, noise aversion (cannons or sirens set off by motion detectors) and “scent aversion,” or placing wolf urine and scat on trees, for years. “Each works in some circumstances,” Mr. Jimenez said, “but are not necessarily a match for a robust wolf population.”

And ranchers may not embrace such tactics. Once, after Ms. Upson thought she had talked some ranchers in the Upper Ruby Valley in Montana into sharing half the cost of a mounted summer rider, she found that they had used the money to pay for fuel for helicopters dispatched for wolf shootings.

Tensions between conservationists and ranchers in the Big Hole area have run especially high. Two summers ago, wolves took about a dozen calves from Mr. Peterson’s herd as it grazed in the mountains. He complained to the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agency, which responded by shooting only one wolf.

In Mr. Peterson’s view, that was hardly a solution. He says the government’s response has been hampered by too many rules and too little money. Ranchers are often asked by wolf hunters to pay up to $350 an hour for the helicopter fuel, he said.

If wolves are going to be part of the landscape,Mr. Peterson decided, he wants ranchers to get their share of the money “the people in Los Angeles and New York send” to conservationists to find solutions.

So he will continue to work with environmentalists and try to persuade his neighbors to do the same.“I think I should be able to shoot on sight on my land, no questions asked,” he said, but “I am willing to do my part to try and adapt.”

Japan Revives a Sea Barrier That Failed to Hold
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Reply Sun 6 Nov, 2011 12:04 pm
Here across the street from my house is the home of renters. The man came over recently and started talking about (deer hunting). I said back to him thinking to myself that the only reason he came over was to ask permission to shoot a deer on my 25 acres. I replied to him that I did not consider a person sitting in a tree and killing a deer to be a (hunter). I said to him I thought they were ambushers. He shut up and went away.

Reply Mon 7 Nov, 2011 09:37 am
Hunting from trees is not sport, and we certainly don't need the meat. But it is very popular around here, even in bow and arrow country.
Reply Mon 7 Nov, 2011 05:58 pm
Why we love your face Smile
0 Replies
Reply Mon 7 Nov, 2011 05:59 pm
CA's thinking about opening up bear hunting again. Sad
Reply Mon 7 Nov, 2011 06:03 pm
Luv this...

The Green Thing
In the queue at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."
The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person.

Remember: Don't make old People mad.
We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off.

Reply Tue 8 Nov, 2011 04:10 pm
thanks for the articles --- right on about the older people.
Today I had to make a grocery run and as I was getting some things for Patti one thing dropped to the floor. I reached down to pick it up and as I did I saw a lady about late 20's with baby looking at because I was slow getting up. I said, 'It's easy getting down but really hard getting up - just wait 40 years'

She smiled and didn't say anything.

Thanks all for saving another tree today.

Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2011 12:33 pm
Did all my clicking. I understand that the African black rhino is now extinct - after decades of poaching.
Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2011 05:05 pm
Everything recent about trees and forests
Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2011 05:06 pm
NOVEMBER 11, 2011, 11:58 AM
In Warming North, Some Trees Thrive as Others Ail

In a new study, a team led by researchers from the tree-ring lab at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has found that white spruce trees on the edge of the tundra in Alaska’s far north have thrived in the past 100 years, and especially the last 50, in the face of sharp Arctic warming.

Elsewhere, of course, forests are having a much tougher time dealing with a changing climate and other factors. The Arctic climate is prone to big swings and is a region where plants, particularly, have evolved the ability to spread and retreat as conditions change.

Whether the issue is forests or frogs, the response of ecosystems to rising temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations and changing rainfall remains as complicated, and variegated, as the planet itself. Another case in point is the study in California that found plant communities shifting down slopes in a warming century, against conventional wisdom (apparently because precipitation is the prime driver, not temperature).

The new Arctic forest paper is published in a package of studies in Environmental Research Letters on the greening of Arctic tundra even as boreal forests exhibit signs of stress. In another paper, Russian researchers identify substantial agricultural potential as Siberia warms.

Here’s a release from the news office of the university’s Earth Institute, which has done a particularly good job of filling the void left as conventional science coverage shrinks:

Evergreen trees at the edge of Alaska’s tundra are growing faster, suggesting that at least some forests may be adapting to a rapidly warming climate, says a new study.

While forests elsewhere are thinning from wildfires, insect damage and droughts partially attributed to global warming, some white spruce trees in the far north of Alaska have grown more vigorously in the last hundred years, especially since 1950, the study has found. The health of forests globally is gaining attention, because trees are thought to absorb a third of all industrial carbon emissions, transferring carbon dioxide into soil and wood. The study, in the journal Environmental Research Letters, spans 1,000 years and bolsters the idea that far northern ecosystems may play a future role in the balance of planet-warming carbon dioxide that remains in the air. It also strengthens support for an alternative technique for teasing climate data from trees in the far north, sidestepping recent methodological objections from climate skeptics.

“I was expecting to see trees stressed from the warmer temperatures,” said study lead author Laia Andreu-Hayles, a tree ring scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “What we found was a surprise.”

Members of the Lamont Tree-Ring Lab have traveled repeatedly to Alaska, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge this past summer. In an area where the northern treeline gives way to open tundra, the scientists removed cores from living white spruces, as well as long-dead partially fossilized trees preserved under the cold conditions. In warm years, trees tend to produce wider, denser rings and in cool years, the rings are typically narrower and less dense. Using this basic idea and samples from a 2002 trip to the refuge, Andreu-Hayles and her colleagues assembled a climate timeline for Alaska’s Firth River region going back to the year 1067. They discovered that both tree-ring width and density shot up starting a hundred years ago, and rose even more after 1950. Their findings match a separate team’s study earlier this year that used satellite imagery and tree rings to also show that trees in this region are growing faster, but that survey extended only to 1982.

The added growth is happening as the arctic faces rapid warming. While global temperatures since the 1950s rose 1.6 degrees F, parts of the northern latitudes warmed 4 to 5 degrees F. “For the moment, warmer temperatures are helping the trees along the tundra,” said study coauthor Kevin Anchukaitis, a tree-ring scientist at Lamont. “It’s a fairly wet, fairly cool, site overall, so those longer growing seasons allow the trees to grow more.”

The outlook may be less favorable for the vast interior forests that ring the Arctic Circle. Satellite images have revealed swaths of brown, dying vegetation and a growing number of catastrophic wildfires in the last decade across parts of interior Alaska, Canada and Russia. Evidence suggests forests elsewhere are struggling, too. In the American West, bark beetles benefitting from milder winters have devastated millions of acres of trees weakened by lack of water. A 2009 study in the journal Science found that mortality rates in once healthy old-growth conifer forests have doubled in the past few decades. Heat and water stress are also affecting some tropical forests already threatened by clear-cutting for farming and development.

Another paper in Science recently estimated that the world’s 10 billion acres of forest are now absorbing about a third of carbon emissions, helping to limit carbon dioxide levels and keep the planet cooler than it would be otherwise.

There are already signs that the treeline is pushing north, and if this continues, northern ecosystems will change. Warming temperatures have benefited not only white spruce, the dominant treeline species in northwestern North America, but also woody deciduous shrubs on the tundra, which have begun shading out other plants as they expand their range. As habitats change, scientists are asking whether insects, migratory songbirds, caribou and other animals that have evolved to exploit the tundra environment will adapt. “Some of these changes will be ecologically beneficial, but others may not,” said Natalie Boelman, an ecologist at Lamont-Doherty who is studying the effects of climate change in the Alaskan tundra.

In another finding, the study strengthens scientists’ ability to use tree rings to measure past climate. Since about 1950, tree ring widths in some northern locations have stopped varying in tandem with temperature, even though modern instruments confirm that temperatures are on a steady rise. As scientists looked for ways to get around the problem, critics of modern climate science dismissed the tree ring data as unreliable and accused scientists of cooking up tricks to support the theory of global warming. The accusations came to a head when stolen mails discussing the discrepancy between tree-ring records and actual temperatures came to light during the so-called “Climategate” episode of 2009-10.

The fact that temperatures were rising was never really in dispute among scientists, who had thermometers as well as tree rings to confirm the trend. But still scientists struggled with how to correct for the so-called “divergence problem.’’ The present study adds support for another proxy for tree growth: ring density. Trees tend to produce cells with thicker walls at the end of the growing season, forming a dark band of dense wood. While tree-ring width in some places stops correlating with temperature after 1950, possibly due to moisture stress or changes in seasonality due to warming, tree ring density at the site studied continues to track temperature.

“This is methodologically a big leap forward that will allow scientists to go back to sites sampled in the past and fill in the gaps,” said Glenn Juday, a forest ecologist at University of Alaska, Fairbanks, who was not involved in the study. The researchers plan to return to Alaska and other northern forest locations to improve geographical coverage and get more recent records from some sites. They are also investigating the use of stable isotopes to extract climate information from tree rings.

Other authors of the study include Rosanne D’Arrigo, Lamont-Doherty; Pieter Beck and Scott Goetz, Woods Hole Research Center and David Frank, Swiss Federal Research Institute.

| Addendum |

It’s notable, as described above, that the Columbia University tree researchers, gauging a thousand years of tree growth around Alaska’s Firth River, also found a fresh way to assess relationships of growth rings in tree trunks to temperature. This could help resolve fights related to the controversial “hide the decline” wording in one of the e-mail messages extracted from the University of East Anglia in 2009.

I consulted a few experts in this tree-climate realm. Read on if you’re particularly interested in some of the scientific detail. I prefer to run these contributions unedited. If you have questions about technical details, post them and I’ll ask the researchers to respond.

Julie Brigham-Grette, a researcher at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, focused on past climate and ecological changes, wrote:

Just a quick note to say that the paleoclimate data for earlier warm periods 125,000 years ago and even 8-10,000 years ago in northern Alaska (paleoclimate warmer than now, [from] different forcings) document the northward advance of the treeline from Nome to Barrow, Alaska, and the Canadian border at different times of change in Earth’s orbital parameters (without a significant change in CO2).

The rate of change in the past was as fast as modern times. However it’s clear that now, modern [changes] forced by higher CO2 are accelerating at rates faster than historical and paleo records would suggest. While we know that treeline can be climatically “elastic” in the space of both latitude and altitude, i.e., moving north and south and up and down with topography, this paper raises important issues about rates of ecological adaption, rates that are being tested by contemporary rates of change forced by human activities.

Here’s Andrea H. Lloyd of Middlebury College, who’s been running studies on the response of woody plants to changes in the Arctic climate:

This is an intriguing paper— I like the diversity of approaches that they bring together. It seems to me that given the complexities of interpreting tree ring data, this kind of multi-faceted approach becomes increasingly important. A few things jump out at me:

1. The analysis of wide rings is interesting and novel (I think— I can’t recall seeing that kind of analysis before). As the authors say, it does start to give some clarity to the causes of divergence between tree-rings and temperature. If drought stress were causing the erosion of that signal, you would expect wide rings to become less common. The fact that they are finding wide rings MORE commonly certainly argues against that interpretation. It would be interesting to re-analyze sites at which divergence has been detected and repeat that analysis — I’m willing to bet that you would find that they group into two general categories: sites at which tree rings are losing sensitivity to temperature but growth is increasing, and those at which tree ring response to temperature has changed (I.e., what were positive correlations have become negative) and growth is declining.

Having done that, I think we could perhaps begin to look at the spatial pattern of those sites, and get some good insights into why temperature is having such different effects on growth in different places. For example, one might predict that the pattern they see (wide rings more common) would be prevalent in cooler, wetter parts of Alaska, whereas the opposite pattern (wide rings less common) might be more prevalent in warmer, drier parts, where warming may have pushed temperature past critical thresholds to the point where warm temps become a limiting factor. It’s a neat approach, in short! And a great reminder that sometimes the coolest insights come from very simple, straightforward approaches to data. When I teach statistics, I always tell my students that they should always always begin by just making a histogram of their data, just because. And that’s exactly what Laia and her colleagues have done— made a simple histogram — and presto, change-o, there’s a pretty nifty pattern in it!

2. Their analysis of wood density seem quite consistent with previous literature, which tends to find that density has a more stable response to temperature. I think these guys do a good job articulating why that may be— as they say, a phenomenon whose phenology is controlled by photo-period ought to exhibit greater stability than other physiological processes. But, not to be a contrarian, I am actually quite fascinated by Figure 4 and the ways in which it diverges from that conclusion. They note, quite correctly, that the tree-ring response to climate changes much more dramatically between the two time periods than the density response. However, the density response is still not quite uniform. From 1900-1950, there is a significant correlation between MXD and june temperature. Between 1951-2001, that disappears entirely. So yes, to some extent they’re right— the response of wood density to climate IS more stable than the response of ring widths. But it’s not entirely stable, and that is really, really interesting to me.
Reply Fri 11 Nov, 2011 06:54 pm
Having lived and traveled all over the state of AK, I do hope the land doesn't change very much. And, especially the Bethel, AK Nat'l Forest !!!!!!!!!! It's ONE little tree behind a huge sign. The rest of the area there is all tundra.
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2011 10:19 am
Glad you read the article, Danon. There haven't been many good articles to share of late. Going to go click.
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2011 07:31 pm
Thanks sumac. You always come up with the most interesting stuff.

Good clicking all Wildclickers.

Reply Tue 15 Nov, 2011 01:40 pm
Chimps’ Days in Labs May Be Dwindling
NEW IBERIA, La. — In a dome-shaped outdoor cage, a dozen chimpanzees are hooting. The hair on their shoulders sticks straight up. “That’s piloerection,” a sign of emotional arousal, says Dr. Dana Hasselschwert, head of veterinary sciences at the New Iberia Research Center. She tells a visitor to keep his distance. The chimps tend to throw pebbles — or worse — when they get excited.

Chimps’ similarity to humans makes them valuable for research, and at the same time inspires intense sympathy. To research scientists, they may look like the best chance to cure terrible diseases. But to many other people, they look like relatives behind bars.

Biomedical research on chimps helped produce a vaccine for hepatitis B, and is aimed at one for hepatitis C, which infects 170 million people worldwide, but there has long been an outcry against the research as cruel and unnecessary. Now, because of a major push by advocacy organizations, a decision to stop such research in the United States could come within a year. As it is, the United States is one of only two countries that conduct invasive research on chimpanzees. The other is the central African nation of Gabon.

“This is a very different moment than ever before,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. “Now is the time to get these chimps out of invasive research and out of the labs.”

John VandeBerg, director of the Southwest National Primate Research Center in San Antonio, one of six labs that house chimpanzees, agreed that this is “a crucial moment.” Any of several efforts by opponents “could be the cause of a halt in all medical research with chimpanzees,” he said.

The Humane Society of the United States and other groups pushed the National Institutes of Health to commission a report on the usefulness of chimps in research, due this year. The society also joined with the Jane Goodall Institute, the Wildlife Conservation Society and others to petition the federal Fish and Wildlife Service to declare captive chimps endangered, as wild chimps already are, giving them new protections. A decision is due by next September.

In addition, the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, now in Congress, would ban invasive research on all great apes (including bonobos, gorillas and orangutans). Representative Roscoe Bartlett, a Maryland Republican who is one of the bill’s sponsors, says it would save taxpayers $30 million a year spent on chimpanzees owned by the government.

Mr. Pacelle says that invasive research on chimpanzees is expensive, that there are alternatives and that chimps in research studies suffer painful procedures and isolation. “This is an endangered species that is closer than any other species genetically,” he said. “And we shouldn’t abuse our power.”

Dr. VandeBerg, on the other hand, says that stopping research with chimps would be a threat to human lives.

“Any reduction in the rate of development of drugs for these diseases will mean hundreds of thousands of people, really millions of people, dying because it would be years of delay,” he said.

If human lives can be saved, Dr. VandeBerg said, “it would be grossly unethical not to do research” on chimpanzees.

There are 1,000 chimps housed in research facilities in the United States, including at the New Iberia Research Center. The center, part of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, occupies 100 acres in the heart of Cajun country about 130 miles west of New Orleans. It houses 360 chimpanzees, 240 of which belong to the university and 120 to the N.I.H., and more than 6,000 other primates, mostly rhesus macaque monkeys. It has faced accusations of chimp mistreatment in the past, and some violations of animal care standards were found, and corrected, according to Department of Agriculture inspections. The latest, in July, found some outdated drugs for the animals.

On a recent visit, some of the chimpanzees were in 34-foot-diameter geodesic domes, some in smaller outdoor cages, and some, less than 10 at that time, said Dr. Thomas J. Rowell, the director of the center, were in active studies and held in indoor cages about 6 feet by 5 feet and 7 feet high, one chimp per cage. The physical procedures involved in the studies, he said, involved injections, blood samples and liver biopsies, the latter done under sedation.

Many studies last only a couple of days, Dr. Rowell said, but a few are longer. A study near completion had been going on for four months. He passionately defended the center’s treatment of chimps, emphasizing the veterinary care and efforts to enrich the chimps’ lives with more interesting environments.

Using captive chimpanzees for research in this country dates to the 1920s, when Robert Yerkes, a Yale psychology professor, began to bring them into the country. During the 1950s, the Air Force began to breed chimps for the space program, starting with 65 caught in the wild. Chimps were also bred for AIDS research in the 1980s, which met a dead end. By the mid-1970s, support for preservation of threatened species had grown, and the importing of wild-caught chimps was prohibited. In 2000, a federal law was passed requiring the government to provide for retirement of chimps it owned after their use in experiments was over, and Chimp Haven opened near Shreveport, La., to care for these chimps and others.

It was an attempt to bring some semiretired chimps at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico back into the research pipeline that prompted part of the recent surge of opposition. The N.I.H. wanted to move about 200 chimps it owned from Alamogordo to the San Antonio center, which is part of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute. The Humane Society lobbied to prevent the move, and the N.I.H. relented, asking the Institute of Medicine, an advisory board, for the report on chimps in experimentation this year.

Chimp Haven, one potential retirement destination, now has 132 chimps on 200 acres of pine woods. Chimps live in a variety of cages and enclosures, including concrete-walled play yards of about a quarter of an acre, open to the sky, and two forested habitats, one four acres and the other five, bounded by a moat and fences. But chimps at research centers might not move at all, even if research is stopped. They might simply stay where they are, exempt from invasive studies.

Whatever the decision, both researchers and advocates know that chimps are only one tiny piece of animal research, one part of a bigger debate.

Kathleen Conlee, senior director for animal research issues at the Humane Society, says that the current discussion about chimps points the way to the future. “This,” she said, “is the kind of rigorous analysis we should be applying to all animal research.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: November 14, 2011

A previous version of this article gave an incomplete name for a bill now in Congress. The bill is called the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act of 2011.
Reply Tue 15 Nov, 2011 01:49 pm
In the Wild, Finding More Than a Feminine Side
The Western marsh harrier is a typical hawk. It has a sharp beak and talons, which it uses to kill other creatures for food and to defend its territory. It’s the kind of bird that exemplifies military virtues, and it’s no wonder that it has a fighter jet, the British-made Harrier, named after it. Recent science, however, has discovered another side to the harrier that may not fit as well with the rather macho military image. Some harriers have evolved an alternative lifestyle — cross-dressing.

Hawks don’t wear clothes, of course, or makeup or stiletto heels, so they can’t dress at all, strictly speaking. But they do depend on appearance, in their case plumage, to advertise their sex. The males have light gray wings and the females dark wings. Usually. In one population in western France, however, about 40 percent of the males have permanent female plumage, according to a report in Biology Letters, a publication of the Royal Society (that’s British, not French royalty).

Audrey Sternalski, and her colleagues who contributed to the report, uncovered the extent of this deception and also studied the hawk she-males. I didn’t just grab that word from the Internet, by the way. It came from a paper in Nature on garter snakes published quite a while ago. The authors referred to snakes, in which female mimicry is common, as she-males and he-males, so I figure those are scientific terms.

Many different creatures — particularly fish and reptiles and insects — engage in female mimicry. Garter snake males may emit chemicals called pheromones to suggest that they are female, but they do this for only a couple of days after they emerge from winter dens. Apparently, their goal is to get warm. Garter snakes form mating balls of 100 males or more around real females. She-males attract enough males to give them a snake-hug, and once they’ve warmed up, turn off the pheromones.

Among birds, only two species are known in which adult males may have permanent female plumage. The first one to be studied is the ruff, a shorebird that gathers in large groups during mating season. The ruff she-males sneak around, pretending to be female, avoiding competition with he-males and stealing kisses, or as scientists call them, extra-pair copulations. Humans do the same thing, at least in movies (Tony Curtis, “Some Like It Hot”) and short-lived television sitcoms featuring future megastars (Tom Hanks, “Bosom Buddies”).

Dr. Sternalski, of the Institute for the Study of Hunting Resources in Ciudad Real, Spain, and her Spanish and French colleagues used decoys to see if the she-male hawks were attacked by other males as often as the he-males were. As they suspected, the she-males flew under the he-male radar. They were not attacked or challenged by the other males. They also behaved like real females, directing their aggression toward females, not males. One surprise was that when it came to outside threats they were more actively aggressive than the he-males. When predators (or predator decoys) threaten the winter roost, Dr. Sternalski said, the “typical males manipulate the others to defend the roost.” The he-males recruit the she-males to attack the apparent intruder while they do the hawk equivalent of sitting on the stoop shouting encouragement: “Look out for the fox!”

For all this work, there has to be some payoff for the she-males other than simply avoiding challenges from other males. The best guess so far is that the she-males are going for those prized extra-pair copulations, and Dr. Sternalski is testing that idea now.

Research into bird behavior does not usually have an immediate effect on society. But hawks have a long history as military symbols, and I wonder how this news will be greeted by the folks who wear eagles on their epaulets, and those who give military aircraft names like Nighthawk, Jayhawk, Hawk and Black Hawk.

The armed forces in the United States have come around to the idea that men and women, heterosexuals and homosexuals, can be soldiers, but they are still sticklers about plumage. Hot pink lipstick is not included in battle gear. Could the discovery that some of those symbols of bravery and battle toughness are the bird equivalent of transvestites mean the uniform code will loosen up?

The comedian Eddie Izzard, who describes himself as an action transvestite — “running, jumping, climbing trees, putting on makeup while you’re up there” — once described his crushed childhood ambition to join the army. He suggested that the military could be more flexible about fashion, and capitalize on the element of surprise in its attacks. “What,” he asked, “could be more surprising than the First Battalion Transvestite Brigade?”

Just a joke, of course, a little poke in the ribs to conventional masculinity, a suggestion that hot pink lipstick and fabulous lashes don’t mean you can’t shoot or punch, or attack predators when they come near the nest. There will never be such a brigade, but if there were, I have an insignia in mind: a she-male marsh harrier on a field of earth tones with eyeliner in one talon and lipstick in the other.
Reply Tue 15 Nov, 2011 03:05 pm
sumac, I'm familiar with the Louisiana farms. I think they are ok - they take care of the animals until they pass away naturally.
The bird article is funny - males sending others to do the fighting !!! And, cross-dressing!!!!!!! Too good.

Thanks all - another tree is asmiling today -------------------

Reply Fri 18 Nov, 2011 03:09 pm
Many more trees saved this past week - thanks all.

Everyone have a nice weekend......................

High Seas
Reply Fri 18 Nov, 2011 04:02 pm
Hi Dan, thanks for checking in, lots of us here always read your posts with interest! This is a cropped picture (complete is copyrighted) from some really tall trees featured in this month's special by National Geographic - not sure what kind trees, but elsewhere read that some pines live for thousands of years.

Reply Sat 19 Nov, 2011 01:12 pm
@High Seas,
November 16, 2011
An Assault on the Amazon
Xingu National Park, Brazil

IN 1888, Brazil became the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery — a profound moral stain for a nation that prides itself today on being a multiracial democracy.

During the long 19th-century struggle against slavery, at a time when abolitionists in Britain were protesting the forced transfer of millions of Africans from their homelands, Brazilian leaders denounced the global abolitionist movement for interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

More than a century later, the same right to noninterference in internal affairs is again being invoked, this time by the agribusiness interests defending Brazil’s right to strip and burn what remains of the planet’s tropical rainforests.

Brazil did not ban slavery for moral or ethical reasons. It did so because the emergence of capitalist manufacturing made slavery more expensive and inefficient than wage labor. But today, there is no attempt to rethink an economic model based on destroying forests — and emitting greenhouse gases — to produce and export livestock and minerals.

On the contrary, Brazilian agribusiness, thanks to powerful congressional representation and the neglect of the executive branch, is pushing for a new forestry law that would condemn vast areas of rainforest to extermination.

The law, currently under consideration by a committee in Brazil’s Senate, would represent an ecological calamity.

The Amazon region, which seemed infinite only a few decades ago, is now facing the prospect of extinction. Grim scientific prognoses have come to pass in the form of disasters like the unthinkable droughts of 2005 and 2010 and the great floods of 2009. And in the last two years, the country has been plagued by a record number of forest fires, which not only reduce the forest area but also dry out the air and expose even more areas to the risk of fire.

That’s what happened with the Xingu National Park, in the state of Mato Grosso, in the center of the country, where more than 10,000 forest fires were recorded in 2010. Preliminary statistics indicate that as much as 10 percent of its forest area may have been destroyed in the last two years.

In only a few minutes, one such fire completely destroyed the Kisedje village where, a few years before, the supermodel Gisele Bündchen and the actor Leonardo DiCaprio explored the rainforest and showed their support for river preservation.

When Xingu National Park was established in 1961, its founders placed the headwaters of the rivers outside the park’s boundaries. At the time, nobody suspected that the forests could be destroyed. But in only 50 years, the impossible has come to pass: almost 20 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed and even more has been severely degraded.

The park, home to Brazil’s first large Indian reservation, was meant to project an idealized image of a nation able to protect ethnic diversity; today it is evidence of the country’s incapacity to protect its natural heritage.

Xingu has become a green island surrounded by soybean farms and cattle ranches. The process has made the area’s climate hotter and drier. This has created fires incomprehensible to the Indians, whose ancient culture depends on agriculture by means of controlled fires. But they no longer have any control. “Fire escapes now. It doesn’t stop,” Chief Auaulukumã, the leader of the Waura Indians, one of 16 ethnic groups who live in the park, told me in September.

The burning of the forest has a profound impact on the Indians’ lives. “The forest is our supermarket, where we find everything: wood for building our houses, thatch for our roofs, sticks to make arrows, fruit and animals for our food,” Chief Auaulukumã said. “And it’s all getting farther and farther away because the fires are killing the forest near our village.”

Projections that seemed apocalyptic at the end of the 1980s — that the forest would disappear by 2030 — are now coming true. According to the World Wildlife Fund, at current rates of deforestation, 55 percent of the Amazon rainforest could be gone by 2030.

Meanwhile, government officials in Brasília are on the verge of slashing government programs to recover damaged forests and preserve existing ones. The congressional majority, representing the agribusiness elite, accuses the environmental movement of being subservient to foreign interests and of trying to reduce the competitiveness of Brazilian commodities.

Like the attacks on abolitionists more than a century ago, the criticism of outside interference in Brazil’s affairs is today being cynically used to protect an immoral law.

The confrontation is paralyzing the country and delaying the adoption of laws and practices that would permit sustainable development and economic growth.

Back then, political paralysis delayed the end of slavery by decades. Now it is allowing the destruction of the last great equatorial forest on the planet, with consequences for Chief Auaulukumã and the Indians of Xingu but also for temperatures and rainfall throughout Brazil and across the region.

It’s history repeating itself, the second time as tragedy.

Leão Serva is a journalist and a former editor in chief of Diário de São Paulo. This essay was translated by Benjamin Moser from the Portuguese.
Reply Sat 19 Nov, 2011 03:02 pm
@High Seas,
I have a pic just like that - took it lying down with a hazy sky. Lots of trees in mine looking straight up and they seem to lean in towards each other.
Thanks, it looks like Douglas Fir trees ???

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