I've been finding lately, the conversations about populations and ranges and climate change, really interesting. To the point where I have informed opinions, but I would caution people to take them with a grain of salt because I'm not a scientist, I just listen to scientists speak, and boy howdy, scientists like to disagree sometimes.
One of the things that I'm worried about, is that with climate change, life that is used to warmer areas have two main options. Move to higher altitudes, or move closer to the poles. On the face of it, that doesn't seem to be too big of an issue, but especially in the northern hemisphere that could become an issue where biodiversity is involved. When you're closer to the tropics, there's a lot more variety of pretty much everything. If you want to run into the chance or discovering a previously undescribed species, someplace like Ecuador or Madagascar is gonna offer you a better chance than say, Ontario. Plants and animals especially, we pretty much have a good idea of what's in Ontario just because there isn't as many species. When animals that are used to living further south move further north, what's gonna happen to the residences further north? What's gonna guarantee that the new residences are gonna be able to establish stable populations, thrive? The will to live, pretty much, maybe human intervention to.
One of the things that irks me about iNaturalist is that a lot of people on there depend way too much on range maps to make a decision on what to identify as a species. For example, Carolina Chickadees and Black Cap Chickadees look very similar, can sound similar, and where their populations overlap there's issues of coloration and songs blending into each other. Someone sees a picture of a chickadee on there, without the distinguishing feathers to show without a doubt what kind of bird it is, and they say "Carolina Chickadee cause range" and leave it at that. Sometimes it comes down to common sense, for example if you see what you think is a Five Striped Skink in the hills of Appalachia, you can be pretty certain you're wrong because those are found in Asia and what you're looking at is more likely a Common Five Lined Skink or a Broadhead Skink. But overall, I think relying solely on range maps to make a decision on close calls is a philosophical problem. Animals move, plants spread, hitch hiking and getting lost in storms and human introductions of new species are all common occurrences. Interlopers aren't rare, just rarely spotted. Range maps aren't static, in fact, they're very dynamic. I have some bird books and other field guides from the '60s and '90s and if you compare their range maps to today's, you're gonna see a ton of shifting in borders, sometimes startling growth and sadly sometimes startling contractions. Climate change is a cause, creation and destruction of habitat is a cause, animals will to migrate is a cause. I mean, just look at Coyotes and White Tailed Deer. Due to massive loss of deep woods, their populations have completely spilled out across the United States over the past century. Where wolves and elk and moose have lost out, coyotes and white tails have won.
I think the other thing that gets me thinking is that we're always taught "invasive species = bad!" and I can see the argument for that. Look at Lesser Celandine, or look at Asian Carp or look at Mussels in the Great Lakes. Everyone knows about these, because their effects on the ecology around them are dramatic. But a lot of introduced species, like The Western Honey Bee or Asian Lady Beetle or House Sparrows or Italian Wall Lizard are often viewed as relatively innocuous if not an outright curiosity to kind of be cheered on.
The conversation on invasive species is getting kind of dicey right now and if someone wants more details I can try to find some stories from both sides to show what's going on. What it boils down to though is on one side people will say "life that already lives here has adapted to live here and interact with other forms of life in this area, a fragile balance has been achieved and we need to do what we can to maintain it" and on the other side people are saying "the fragile balance won't last cause climate change, any living thing that can thrive in an area without causing harm should be left alone cause there's not guarantee that local species are gonna make it." I see both points. I agree with both points. I disagree with both points. I worry deeply. There's a crack in the foundation of our planet and more and more it's looking more like a horizontal crack than a vertical one and I don't think anyone really knows what to do with it.