Saturday, October 02, 2010

The biology of super-abundance for native species

Now there's a headline we don't often see these days, super-abundance. And it's an issue we don't know a lot about, because it's rare and hard to study. Let's take advantage of our lucky break on sockeye salmon this year in British Columbia and think about the biology of super-abundance of native species.

Here's a clue from a newspaper article on what we might see eventually in a scientific study:

"It's supposed to be the biggest run in a hundred years," Jim Cooperman, spokesman for the Salute to the Sockeye Festival, said Wednesday from Salmon Arm. "Millions and millions of fish. It's amazing."

So many sockeye are expected to arrive that the Adams River cannot accommodate them all, resulting in salmon seeking out other streams in the Shuswap region such as Scotch Creek, which has already had bumper returns this year.

Salmon are noted for their homing instincts, returning to the stream where they hatched to mate and continue the cycle. But this year there are too many sockeye coming back to the Adams river, and they're likely to "spill-over" into other nearby streams.

This straying and mixing during a period of super-abundance is the kind of thing that gets scientists aroused. Is it true?..what are the genetic consequences? it important biologically or just an interesting bit of trivia??! We know human-caused mixing is usually bad, but this natural mixing seems to be different--why?

Wouldn't it be nice to have scienitific conferences, debates, and controversies over the biology of super-abundance of native species? What fun!

1 comment:

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