Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Movement Ecology

Image result for caribou migration

Well, I'm living proof that we're never too old to discover new words. My newly acquired word is "vagility" and, no, it is not what you might think! Vagility is "tending or able to move from place to place." The New York Times just published a piece by Jim Robbins entitled Animals Are Losing Their Vagility, or Ability to Roam Freely. Many species of birds and mammals are migratory and humans are messing up their ability to move by poking around  in areas which were once relatively wild, often for the opportunity to extract resources. 

...a new and growing field called “movement ecology” is casting light on the secretive movements of wildlife and how those habits are changing. A global study of 57 species of mammals,  published in the journal Science, has found that wildlife move far less in landscapes that have been altered by humans, a finding that could have implications for a range of issues, from how well natural systems function to finding ways to protect migratory species.

Image result for monarch butterfly migration

Arctic terns migrate 19,000 kilometres each way, from the Arctic to Antartica,  and Canadian caribou 700+ kilometres. Monarch butterflies move thousands of kilometres in a generational relay team. We forget that humans are vagile, or at least we were. The First Peoples of North America likely crossed a land or ice bridge from Siberia and spread steadily southward. I was interested to discover this past summer that proto-Inuit people would travel across dangerous waters to Newfoundland and its surrounding islands for summer hunting and fishing. Today, the people who are migratory are those who leave their homes because of war and famine.

Our biblical story is strongly rooted in the notion of the exodus from Egypt and forty years on the move. And Jesus' parents were vagile, traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem and on to Egypt.

But back to the critters. Humans show such little regard for the intricate systems of the natural world in the Anthropocene, this age dominated by our species. I hope we are capable of change for the good of all living beings, not just our own kind. I honestly figure that this is God's desire for the planet.

 Feel free to comment, but please don't share when you lost your vagility.


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