Eating beef isn’t great for the environment. But can someone who occasionally snacks on cows still be in favour of conservation and other ecological causes?
Today I want to talk about a tweet. Or more accurately, the attitude to sustainability that this tweet represents. It occurred during the recent Ecological Society of Australia conference, and went roughly thus*.
Good to see only vegetarian food at ESA2018. We know that it’s not possible to be truly in support of conservation unless you cut meat out of your diet.
Now for starters, I want to make it clear that I am 100% in support of eating vegetarian. For those of us fortunate enough to be living in relative affluence, vegetarian diets are easy to maintain, generally cheaper (based on personal experience), and have a proven positive impact on the climate. I’m not completely vegetarian, but I take a lot of steps to minimise my diet’s climate footprint. It doesn’t take much.
The European Perch, brought for angling by earlier settlers, has had severe effects on a number of native Australian fish (Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons)
Transport pathways shape the biogeography of alien freshwater fishes in Australia (2018) Garcia-Diaz et al., Biodiversity Research, DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12777
Invasive species are a problem in every type of ecosystem, be it by reduction of local diversity, or negative effects on a region’s economy or human health. Freshwater rivers and lakes are no exceptions to this. Invasive fish have impacts on local habitats which include outcompeting or just flat out eating local species, changing a habitat’s entire structure (say by clearing away aquatic vegetation or increasing pH levels) and the reorganisation of the entire population of a lake or river, from the birds that nest on the shoreline to the tiny planktonic species that are the base food source of the entire ecosystem. Once an invasive species is established, it can be impossible to remove.
So naturally, understanding where and how invasive species are likely to strike is of huge benefit. This paper tries to map that out, using Australia as a case study. It’s a great example; Australia has a long history with invasive species, and this study alone looks at 33 different types of invasive fish.