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Human Impacts

Bayou-Diversity (29 January 2019) On the surface it doesn’t seem possible. How can we catch all the fish in the seas? Analogies do exist. Bison were once the most numerous single species of large wild mammal on the planet. They blanketed the Great Plains of North America and were the life-blood of Plains Indian societies for thousands of years. During the 19th century commercial hunters spurred on by government policies aimed at subduing Native Americans by eliminating their food supplies killed more than 50 million bison. The once vast herds were reduced to a few hundred individuals. In Louisiana bison were common and frequently mentioned by colonial era writers. The last known indi


Bayou-Diversity (21 December 2019) Nothing characterizes a southern swamp more than a giant moss-draped cypress tree standing knee-deep in a backwater slough. Technically known as baldcypress, these survivors of ancient life forms once found across North America and Europe are now greatly restricted in range. In the United States they are native to river bottoms and swamps in the Deep South and along the eastern seaboard north to Delaware. In Louisiana, although the last large virgin stands are gone, cypresses can still be found in every parish. Cypress trees once grew to 17 feet in diameter and 140 feet in height. They were the largest trees in the South and lived to be 400 to 600 yea


Bayou-Diversity (15 December 2019) Well, the druids thought it peculiar also. As you are traveling around the next few days, scan the tops of the leafless hardwood trees and look for the dark green clumps of mistletoe. Now contemplate just how they came about growing in the loftiest boughs of our tallest oaks. There are more than 20 species of mistletoe in North America and even others in Europe. The most common type in Louisiana has fragile green stems and small opposite leaves. Clumps of white berries form in late autumn. Eastern mistletoes grow on hardwood trees while most of those found in the western mountains and the Pacific region grow on evergreen conifers such as pine and spruce.

Elephant Time

Bayou-Diversity (8 December 2019) I have seen the beginning and end of time. It first appeared on the steep slope of a volcanic crater perhaps a quarter mile distant and flowed toward us in the form of a giant bull elephant. His gait was such that he moved without moving, a majestic fluid passing silent and determined. Time is like that. Evidence of his seasons reflected in huge, polished tusks worn on the ends from mining red clay banks for essential minerals. His right ear was ragged and cleft from an encounter with mortality. He marched steadily forward passing between our two safari vehicles, glancing in our direction only once. The setting for this encounter is not without signif


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