The Redesigned Earth: A Brief Review Of Ecology For Engineers, As If The Earth Really Mattered 3030312356, 9783030312350, 9783030312374

This book provides insight into the basic aspects of ecology that impact or are affected by engineering practices. Ecolo

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The Redesigned Earth: A Brief Review Of Ecology For Engineers, As If The Earth Really Mattered
 3030312356,  9783030312350,  9783030312374

Table of contents :
Preface......Page 6
Author’s Bio......Page 9
Acknowledgments......Page 12
Contents......Page 13
Chapter 1: Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!......Page 15
Chapter 2: Preserving Biological Diversity: Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Not In Balance......Page 42
Chapter 3: Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?......Page 66
Chapter 4: Genetic Engineering: Don’t Dust Off the Slide Rule Just Yet......Page 86
Chapter 5: Sanitary Microbiology: Engineering Public Health Better Than the “Good Ol’ Days”......Page 96
Chapter 6: Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth......Page 119
Chapter 7: Terrestrial Ecology: Is Restoration the Only Answer?......Page 140
Chapter 8: Limnological Systems: Damn Dams!......Page 154
Chapter 9: Environmental Risk Assessment: Gordian Knots Untied......Page 175
Chapter 10: Environmental Law: As the Joke Goes, The Only Good Lawyer is a …......Page 194
Chapter 11: Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?......Page 209
Case Study 1: Birds and Airports: “They Shoot Gulls, Don’t They?”......Page 211
Case Study 2: Troubled Bridges over Water......Page 220
The North Channel Bridge Across Jamaica Bay, in Queens, New York......Page 222
Case Study 3: Gowanus Canal Restoration: Pig Skin Purse With a Silk Lining......Page 225
Case Study 4: Sandy Hook Beach’s 4 Rs: Restoration, Replenishment, Recreation, Repeat......Page 230
Case Study 5: Sanitary Landfills: An Oxymoron Perpetuating the Inner-City Sprawl......Page 235
Case Study 6: West Nile Virus: A One-Way Ticket From LaGuardia Airport to a New Home......Page 239
References......Page 242
Index......Page 257

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John T. Tanacredi

The Redesigned Earth A Brief Review of Ecology for Engineers, As If the Earth Really Mattered

The Redesigned Earth

John T. Tanacredi

The Redesigned Earth A Brief Review of Ecology for Engineers, As If the Earth Really Mattered

John T. Tanacredi, Ph.D. Director of CERCOM (Center for Environmental Research and Coastal Oceans Monitoring) Professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Molloy College Rockville Centre, NY, USA

ISBN 978-3-030-31235-0    ISBN 978-3-030-31237-4 (eBook) © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors, and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Springer imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

To my wife, Julianne, who for over 47 years has been with me through all of life’s trials and tribulations and is a tribute to womanhood – teacher, nurturer, and mother. To my children, Jeannine and Ryan, who upon their birth and throughout their lives have revealed to me the true meaning of joy – and with their lives, I live. To my parents, John and Josephine, whom I miss dearly, who gave me what all children on Earth need in order to grow – guidance, protection, freedom, and love. To my grandchildren, James John and Gianna Lynn, may you love and protect the natural world you inherit.


When I was an undergraduate in the late 1960s, natural scientists began their careers with a basic background in the sciences: the applied sciences such as zoology, taxonomy, agronomy, forestry, and ecology. Conservation biology was a fledgling. Cell biology, genetics, evolution, and physiology were what the “pre-med” students inhabited. I believed that any science course was important, so I dove into all the aforementioned subjects. Then I served as a flight meteorologist for the US Navy, and let me say that flying in hurricanes for two years has helped me gain a very unique perspective on “natural” phenomena not normally available to undergraduates! When I returned in 1970 from my military service, there were quite a few aspiring environmental scientists/activists to look to for inspiration. Some of my conservationist/preservationist/ecologist role models were Barry Commoner, Paul Ehrlich, E. O. Wilson, Jacques Cousteau, Ernst Mayr, René Dubos, Niles Eldredge, Stephen Jay Gould, Ian McHarg, and Ralph Nader. My developing interest in the marine environment piqued when I read The Healing Sea: A Voyage into the Alien World Offshore written by Dr. George D.  Ruggieri, then director of New  York Zoological Societies and Osborn Laboratories for Marine Science of the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn, and Norman David Rosenberg. In my lectures, I constantly reference his work on pharmaceuticals from marine organisms. The first Earth Day and World Environment Day in 1970 were events for the “eco-freaks” or “flower children.” The military facility where I was stationed cautioned us about getting “caught up” in any demonstrations. Vietnam was at its peak; all those participating in such events (no matter how benign and/or positive) were considered counter to US “foreign policy.” I remember observing an extremely peaceful eco-march to “Save the Earth” during the summer of 1970. That evening at a softball game when I was playing in our squadron’s league competition, a small brawl broke out in the field. I remember feeling that I’d had a much better experience at the “demonstration!” The point is that geographers, landscape designers, architects, ecologists, environmental attorneys, economists, anthropologists, fishermen, and engineers can all be part of the conservation biologist’s schooling. As Buckminster Fuller (1969) explained in his book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, life experiences should be eco-experiences. vii



The inspirational event that prompted me to write this book occurred rather quietly when on page 32 of the March 3, 1996, issue of The New York Times, an article, probably unread by the majority of people that day, practically knocked me off my seat. The title was “Dams for Water Supply Are Altering Earth’s Orbit” (Browne 1996). At very few times in 4.8 billion years of Earth history has there been a single group of organisms with such power – power to speed the planet’s spin! Of course, the factors leading up to this alteration can be attributed to the unrelenting population squeeze from seven billion plus individuals and their demand on finite water resources. The researchers noted in The New  York Times article that the primary factor influencing the Earth’s spin is the shift in distribution of Earth’s water caused by increased dam construction in the mid-latitudes, slightly tilting the Earth’s axis and concluding that the “shape of the planet’s gravitational field has been altered.” The article went on to note that dam building in the last 40 years in mid-latitude countries, such as Brazil, the former Soviet Union, China, and Canada, has been so rapid that there is more water collected behind dams than there is in the Earth’s atmosphere. The entire hydrologic cycle has been altered! This enormous shift in water location has offset the rising sea level to such a degree that it may mask the effects of global warming trends projected by the majority of climatologists today (Edgerton 1991). At the very minimum, it gives one pause. What is most disturbing, and what I hope will resonate in this book, which is being mostly directed at engineering students and engineers in general, is that we have an incredible ability today to alter environments, from local urban vacant lots to global cyclic processes, all in increasingly shorter time periods; the implications of these may not be detected in time to prevent their potentially calamitous end results. Traditionally, engineers and biologists have been divergent in their language and approaches to these human issues (e.g., public health, urban infrastructure, general public welfare, etc.). With the advent of the ecological/environmental movement, the traditional “solution”-oriented engineering approaches are being garnered by the traditional “investigative and observational” orientation of the biologist/ ecologist, to tackle some of today’s environmental problems. However, the goal of this book was not just to identify problems generated in the practice of environmental health engineering but to reveal that solutions, which include a conglomerate of approaches that may have been historically disparate to aiding the human condition, are basically ecological solutions. It is to show that ecologists and engineers really have similar modus operandi in that they want to know how things work so they can recreate or maintain the system’s operation (e.g., support a high-rise building or a coral reef ecosystem). As a scientist, I hope to be critical, skeptical, and honest in evaluating ecosystem health, whether in an urbanized system, or to be bold, on the grander global scale. The end result has been shown to be the same because engineers have the power to change the structure and function of natural systems, no matter the scale. Due to the complexity of environmental issues, it is imperative that our future environmental engineers and scientists have a broad, diverse, and content-filled background in the sciences and mathematics, which are necessary to handle future environmental



problems that people will continue to face. Engineers in undergraduate programs rarely get exposure to the diversity of natural science disciplines. To get “caught up” in conservationism, one must be ingrained with a philosophy for managing the environment in a way that does not despoil or exhaust those very life-support services provided to us by the Earth, its atmosphere, and oceans. Engineers have very powerful tools at their disposal to extinguish and eliminate or to rejuvenate and restore systems that are critical to life on the planet. This book is an attempt to get back to the basics of the natural sciences and ecology and to integrate them into the engineering philosophy. Then, and only then, may we be comfortable with a redesigned Earth. Rockville Centre, NY, USA  John T. Tanacredi, Ph.D.

Author’s Bio

Scholar, explorer, scientist Dr. John T. Tanacredi is widely recognized as one of the foremost specialists in conservation biology of island and coastal estuarine ecology. His career anchored in fieldwork spans from his service as a flight meteorologist “hurricane hunter” with the US Navy, an environmental impact analyst with the US Coast Guard, a research ecologist and one of the pioneering ecotoxicologists with the National Park Service, and a global authority on the conservation of horseshoe crabs. He has held research associate positions at the American Museum of Natural History (Department of Invertebrate Zoology); has been a visiting scientist, National Park Service, at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University; chair of the Environmental Committee at the New York Academy of Sciences; and associate director of the AREAC (Aquatic Research Environmental Assessment Center) at CUNY Brooklyn College; and continues as Conservation Committee co-­ chair for The Explorers Club. He has written extensively on a diverse range of conservation issues in 6 books and more than 70 peer-reviewed scientific publications and journal articles. He is a pioneer in biodiversity research efforts on Easter Island and has been honored with the discovery of a new crustacean species named after him found on Easter Island: Cryptopontius tanacredii. Following 26 years as a supervisory research scientist with the National Park Service, he became a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies for 13 years at Dowling College, until 2013, when he moved the CERCOM Field Station to Molloy College, where he continues as director and professor. He is one of the founding members of the Scientific Specialists Group for Horseshoe Crabs of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and principal coordinator of the First International Conference on Horseshoe Crab Conservation and Biology held in 2007. He fosters the conservation of all horseshoe crab species and their habitats and seeks to name horseshoe crabs the first World Heritage Species under the UNESCO program. He has continued his Long Island Horseshoe Crab Habitat Inventory of some 115 locations on Long Island, tracking horseshoe crab breeding conditions and habitat. At CERCOM, Molloy College, he has initiated several cooperative, long-term agreements with federal, state, local xi


Author’s Bio

NGOs and with colleges and universities from around the world. His research activities include the captive breeding techniques for aqua-cultured horseshoe crabs, the monitoring of estuarine ecosystem health, as well as the protection of biodiversity on a global scale. He has been interviewed by The New  York Times, The New  Yorker magazine, Huffington Post, CBS, Newsday, the BBC (“How to Grow a Planet” Series), the Nat GEO Wild documentary film “Alien Crabs,” Scientific American, National Geographic magazine, and a host of social media outlets. He is an authoritative expert known as the “horseshoe crab whisperer.”

“The history of life on earth has been a history of interaction between living things and their surroundings. To a larger extent, the physical form and the habits of the earth’s vegetation and its animal life have been molded by the environment. Considering the whole span of earthly time, the opposite effect in which life actually modifies its surroundings, has been relatively slight. Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species—man—acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world.” — Rachel Carson Silent Spring Photo “Earth Rise”

“Science demands a tolerance for ambiguity. Where we are ignorant, we withhold belief. Whatever annoyance the uncertainty engenders serves a higher purpose: It drives us to accumulate better data. This attitude is the difference between science and so much else. Science offers little in the way of cheap thrills. The standards of evidence are strict. But when followed they allow us to see far, illuminating even a great darkness.” — Carl Sagan Pale Blue Dot



I express my deepest appreciation to those whose help and guidance made this book possible. Jeannine Lyn Orlando, Debbie Jedlicka, Serena Elrose, and Elaine Conlin all contributed to the preparation, editing, and general care of this document over the too many years I took to write it. Several early readers gave me constructive criticism. Many thanks to Fred Rubel, Linda Ardito, Jack Foehrenback, Rusty Johnson, Mark Botton, Jack Monti, Raul Cardenas, Gary Kassof, Martin Schreibman, Stephen Farenga, Vishal Shah, Daniel Ness, Pam Monaco, and Yumiko Iwasaki. A special posthumous note to the memory of William “Billy” Slowik, a friend and teacher who always had time to help review the idea of this book and to discuss environmental issues – he is sorely missed. Also for Debbi Wynne whose perseverance was inspirational to me as she prepared the majority of the early manuscript. She will always be remembered. A special thank you to Adam DeVito for providing editorial assistance, reference checks, and comments. Much thanks to Drew O’Connor for her outstanding illustrations that elevated the quality of the manuscript. To my assistant at CERCOM at Molloy College, Regina Gorney, it is impossible for me to quantify the importance and critical assistance she provided with her patience, persistence, and professionalism; without her keeping this work on track, it wouldn’t have been accomplished. The final editing and reference check provided by Dr. Youn-Joo Park was incalculable and has been a significant contribution to successfully completing this work. To the publisher, Springer International Publishing’s Melinda Paul and Janet Slobodien who were so patient and steadfast in keeping me moving on this work, I extend my deepest appreciation. It generally goes without saying, but I will state it emphatically, that any and all errors in accuracy and/or omission can solely be attributable to me. John T. Tanacredi



1 Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������    1 2 Preserving Biological Diversity: Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Not In Balance ��������������������������������������������������������������������   29 3 Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?��������������������������������   53 4 Genetic Engineering: Don’t Dust Off the Slide Rule Just Yet ������������   73 5 Sanitary Microbiology: Engineering Public Health Better Than the “Good Ol’ Days”����������������������������������������������������������   83 6 Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  107 7 Terrestrial Ecology: Is Restoration the Only Answer?������������������������  129 8 Limnological Systems: Damn Dams! ����������������������������������������������������  143 9 Environmental Risk Assessment: Gordian Knots Untied��������������������  165 10 Environmental Law: As the Joke Goes, The Only Good Lawyer is a …������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  185 11 Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences? ��������������  201 Case Study 1: Birds and Airports: “They Shoot Gulls, Don’t They?”����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  203 Case Study 2: Troubled Bridges over Water����������������������������������������������  212 Case Study 3: Gowanus Canal Restoration: Pig Skin Purse With a Silk Lining��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  217 Case Study 4: Sandy Hook Beach’s 4 Rs: Restoration, Replenishment, Recreation, Repeat ����������������������������������������������������������  222




Case Study 5: Sanitary Landfills: An Oxymoron Perpetuating the Inner-City Sprawl��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  227 Case Study 6: West Nile Virus: A One-Way Ticket From LaGuardia Airport to a New Home������������������������������������������������������������  231 References ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  235 Index������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  251

Chapter 1

Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!

The renowned geneticist, Theodosius Dobzhansky, noted that “Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.” By analogy, I would extend the inexplorable and inexplicable progression of all life over eons of time, influenced and shaped by changing environments and changing biotic interaction, to Michael Begon who stated, “Very little in evolution makes sense, except in the light of ecology.” Whether we observe the ecology of an urban-influenced system or the defining of paleo-ecologies to look back on life’s earliest interrelationships, it is ecology, the study of interactions between the biotic and abiotic, which defines the living conditions on Earth. We cannot take for granted the fact that we all share this one space. Ernst Haeckel understood this concept when he coined the term “ecology” in 1866. Now in common use some 46 years after the first Earth Day celebration, this term derived from the Greek Oikos translates as home, and is part of our everyday language (Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1975). Ecology is the interactions of all living organisms with their environment that determines their abundance and distribution, which is a multidisciplinary field of scientific inquiry encompassing marine ecology, terrestrial ecology, freshwater ecology, benthic ecology, human ecology and industrial ecology (Piel 1992). Today, the study of specific ecologies utilizes the hierarchical structuring that demonstrates a “systems approach” to scientific inquiry, all emphasizing some basic foundational aspects. Mass-balance analyses in energy dynamics or thermodynamic principles provide a continuum of energy flow that establishes ecosystem structures (Ehrlich et al. 1977; Ehrlich 1986). It was the English Botanist Arthur Tansley who first utilized the term “ecology” in the scientific literature in 1935 to emphasize the relationships and interactions between species, populations, communities and ecosystems. Also, as Pahl-Wostl (1995) defined the eco-system for all ecologists, “An ecosystem denotes functionally distinct units where biological organization interacts with the abiotic environment to produce a characteristic network of energy and matter flows.” To begin, we must formulate some general definitions. Ecologists today define a species as a group of actually or potentially interbreeding populations that are © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 J. T. Tanacredi, The Redesigned Earth,



1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!

reproductively isolated from others. As we shall see, these reproductive strategies play an important role in group success or fitness and will ultimately lead to stable populations across a variety of ecosystems. A population is defined as a group of organisms occupying a specific area where all the organisms of this population are of the same species. All the various populations of organisms that exist and interact in some way in a given area are defined as a community. An ecosystem is a community of living things and the related non-living environment, interacting together as a whole in a relatively self-sustaining system. Therefore, a desert community is composed of soils, climate, temperatures, water, sunlight and living organisms, microscopic and macroscopic, which define the “desert ecosystems.” Ecologists want to probe these interactions, to understand cycles, characteristics, and limitations of natural systems. They may determine trends in interactions by inventorying or monitoring the presence or absence of a species (Scaglione et al. 1993). Along with observing trends and fluctuations, ecologists may look at structural or functional aspects of ecosystems. These aspects include energy availability and pathways for use, nutrient and other chemical dynamics, species differences and similarities or commonalities expressed in levels of biodiversity, sheer numbers, biomass production, standing stock, percentage coverage, and climate variability (Weiner 1990). Most challenging, though, is answering the “whys” of eco-dynamism (Lewens 2016). Ecologists must explain and attempt to understand the ecosystems under investigation to be able to predict trends or endpoints, which may be able to tell us something about life in general, how we got here, and where we may be headed (Eldredge 1992; Wackernagel et al. 2002). The distribution and abundance of a bivalve species such as the hard-shell clam Mercenaria mercenaria L. may be explained in terms of the physical environment the clam tolerates, or the food it eats, or the predatory activities that influence its existence. These are proximal expressions. Ultimately, ecologists want to know how the hard-shell clam has the specific characteristics that presently govern its existence, which are basic evolutionary questions that infuse both biological and physical sciences. Engineers rarely function within this precept because they are practical and functional in training and discipline. It may not be so important for an engineer to know “how” it works, but rather “that” it works and that “I can fix it or redesign it if broken.” The abiotic influences, which engineers are most prepared to analyze, and what physicists still do not understand very well, can always be accounted for by reflecting on energy balances in ecosystems. Engineers work to establish predictable outcomes, such as improving energy conservation in an ecosystem. Energy flow in mass balance formulations are what engineers strive for. However, incoming solar radiation (Fig.  1.1) remains constant at 153 × 108  cal/m2/yr.; travels the 93 × 106 miles to earth; and the short-wave UV light is either reflected, evaporated with water, or absorbed by the soil. Visible light energy is processed by living systems, energy transformed to long-wave IR light, or heat, and as in a greenhouse, gases such as methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor and ozone that trap heat which can’t re-radiate out past these “greenhouse gases.” This interplay is no simple feat, between autotrophs using the amazing structure of chlorophyll, which takes

1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!

Fig. 1.1  Incoming solar radiation and energy distribution



1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!

small molecules like CO2 and H2O and creates large molecules like carbohydrates. Heterotrophs cannot directly consume organic molecules and derive energy set down in nature principally in the physical laws of thermodynamics, transforming energy through trophic (enrichment) levels (basic food webs) that result in the structure of all ecosystems (see Fig. 1.2).

Fig. 1.2  Trophic levels and food webs

1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!


The First Law of Thermodynamics, or the law of the conservation of energy, notes that energy is neither created nor destroyed; it just takes different forms. So solar radiation does maintain constancy on Earth by being transformed into other energy forms. We experience this as heat. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is one of efficiencies or ordered states. Systems, due to their increasingly deteriorating condition or movement toward random disorderliness—or what is denoted as “entropy”—will exhibit an energy form (i.e., heat again), which will be unavailable for use in our systems. In natural systems, this is observed by the fact that concentrated energy forms such as sunlight ultimately become diffused with latent heat dissipation. The 10% Principle, first described by biostatistician Alfred Lotka (1881–1949) in 1925, revealed that only a small portion of the available energy at any trophic level (energy sources as food) is transformed to the next trophic level in food webs, thus limiting the size of the trophic structure in natural systems (Kingsland 2015; see Fig. 1.3). At the top of the chain or web, organisms must be efficiency experts, deriving energy from lower energy levels and subsidies in the form available. For example, winds help birds of prey remain in the air rather than flapping to remain afloat as they seek out their next meal. Similarly, estuaries, where freshwater meets ocean waters, provide a salt gradient change that mixes with ocean waters, take in clean water, and remove degraded waters so that life forms can enter and exit daily via ocean tides. These energy externalities can be positive or negative. Ecosystem structures and functions result from the efficient use of this available energy and are influenced by constant environmental changes. The development of niche selection formation and interactions with abiotic influences, competition, and territoriality will effectively select out organisms in populations that are unable to overcome these continuous perturbations. Thus, the organism will not successfully reproduce and pass along existing genetically maintained traits to future offspring. This “fitness” is initiated by reproductive success—the driving force of ecology as ecosystems are shaped—and is naturally selecting for efficiencies expressed by adaptive strategies and energy subsidization schemes by those energy externalities. All living things we see today are survivors through a natural selection process, influenced by their relationship with inert materials and other organisms. Mutualistic and symbiotic relations are necessary for organism survival so that their energy use efforts, along with a considerable amount of luck, provides for their continued existence (Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1990). The survival of an organism in an ecosystem is no simple task. A specie’s adaptation to surroundings is dictated by processes with little direct control by those organisms affected. Phenomena that have played a role to some degree include cycles of daily, monthly, yearly (seasonality) events; topography and habitat transition or overlap (called ecotones); influences of various ecologies (biomes); climate and weather events such as large-scale phenomena (e.g., hurricanes, tornados, floods); or periodic droughts (Sims 1992), fires or microclimatic influences. For example, micrometeorology influences the atmospheric ratio of CO2/O2 and their exchange across ocean surfaces, as well as atmospheric temperature inversions due to frontal movements.


1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!

Fig. 1.3  Trophic structure and carrying capacities

The restrictive location of a geological formation for air flow, such as valleys or mountain ranges, and functioning biogeochemical cycles, are all intertwined in determining habitat type. The significance of these individual influences over immense geological time scales potentially contributes to the isolation of a species and ultimately to the vast distributional array of living organisms on Earth, providing for a complexity that has been the subject of inquiries and observations that have occupied the minds of scientists for generations (Caldicott 1992; Taylor 1986). Ecologists look at this bio-productivity differently than say an economist who might look at a profit margin or engineers determining “progress.” For example, biomass is a prime contributor to establishing the productivity of an ecosystem and varies dramatically from one eco-type to another. In terrestrial systems, the forest canopy and the forest floor contribute considerably to the overall biomass of this system. In nearshore estuarine waters, the biomass may be partially hidden in ­sediments or offshore in the littoral zone of open coastal waters. Some other indirect measuring methods of biomass can be chlorophyll concentrations in nearshore waters, reflecting phytoplankton productivity (see Fig. 1.4).

1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!


Fig. 1.4  Ecological externalities and biomass productivity. (Source: Adapted from Odum 1969)

Ecological biomass measurements are influenced by the subsidization of energy needs to maintain system functioning. Any energy source that reduces the cost of internal self-maintenance of the ecosystem (e.g., winds carry seeds) are “energy subsidies,” while pollution or extreme changes in the climate may increase stress or “energy drains” on a natural system. This dramatically influences what ecologists have termed “the carrying capacity” of ecosystems. Externalities such as disease and tolerance limits to mostly abiotic variables (e.g., drought, resistance to salinity changes) will help shape the population’s adaptability, reproductive success and general population dynamics. Scientists recognized that the frequencies of subsidization and their duration influence population levels and are critical factors in the successful functioning of natural ecosystems. In monocultures (artificially subsidized systems) such as agricultural systems or urbanized systems, the externalities subsidized normally by nature (e.g., rain, natural-decomposing nutrient recycling, etc.) can only drain energy resources from these systems by dependence on petroleum-­ based, synthesized chemicals or energy-demanding watering systems. Pesticides cause impacts far more stressful to the functioning of an ecosystem than the predation impact of herbivores on the yield of corn, for example. Liebig’s Law of the Minimum identifies trophic energy transfer as mostly inefficient. With only 10% of available energy being transferred up to the next trophic level in natural systems, some production systems will always be net losses (e.g., beef cattle feed lot production can never bring yields greater than the energy subsidy required to get


1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!

grain-fed beef to the market—it is always a net loss!). Ultimately, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is a critical influence on the level of entropy. Steroids and antibiotic chemicals that are added today to protect beef production will contribute tons of these chemicals into coastlines, potentially mimicking low-­ level constituents necessary in the communication of finfish and invertebrates. The costs to our fisheries industry may offset the artificially subsidized productivity in the beef industry. The exploitation of an ecosystem’s efficiency may shift, due to chronic contributions of low-level foreign biological chemicals of similar functioning as hormones or enzymes or the mimicking of natural metabolic pathways, thus revealing the continuing and widening of an already tremendous scientific information gap about human and ecological health (Toffler 1983; Toffler and Toffler 1993). All ecosystems exhibit a level of organization. Species diversity in ecosystems is important because it allows for a variety of species to adapt to a variety of external influences that can be biotic, abiotic, or both. Organisms that can tolerate wide ranges of environmental conditions are defined by their niche within each respective habitat type. Species interactivity influences the numbers of organisms that will be carried by the support ecosystems. Population density with resultant inter-species and intra-species competition will reveal the dominant, facultative, and obligatory species within these ecosystems. Specific biomes (Fig. 1.5) cover large geographic areas containing similar animal and plant associations such as desert, tundra, tropical rainforest, and grassland. Ecosystems exhibit stratification or hierarchical layering of function. In aquatic ecosystems, there is a productive photolytic zone at the surface in response to its high photosynthetic rates. At the bottom, there is a regenerative benthic zone where decomposition mainly occurs. This trophic structure is influenced by abiotic as well as biotic factors. For example, daily circadian rhythms influence species interactions or functions. Whether a species is diurnal or nocturnal will be important to how it functions within a trophic level (Begon et al. 2005). Ecological succession, or the aging of ecosystems, reveals specially adapted species to a set of special habitat conditions. Naturalistic relationships are very important in this development of ecosystems over time because they conserve available energy that is generally in limited supply. For example, lichens, which are symbionts, have a fungus that provides structural support and CO2 for algae that provides O2 by photosynthesis. Termites benefit from a flagellate, which lives in their guts to break down all food for energy. Pilot fish eat parasites living on the skin of sharks. All the aforementioned are natural energy-efficiency enhancements, important to the species involved and the ecosystems they reside in. Parasitism and predation (predator–prey relationships) can have a beneficial outcome for species. With predation, certain “gimmicks” or conditionings become important in determining survivorship for some species. For example, the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is mimicked by the Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus), giving it the survival benefit of an ill-tasting, regurgitated chemical found in the Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) nectar eaten by the developing Monarch butterflies or their caterpillar (Fig. 1.6). A bird predator eating a Monarch will never forget the effect

1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!

Fig. 1.5 Biomes



1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!

Fig. 1.6  Population dynamics of monarch butterflies

on its physiology, and the Viceroy receives the benefit of the potential of that same bird thinking twice before consuming it (Boucher 2002; Ritland 2000). The basis of this will be found in the genetics of these species, which are directly influenced by natural selection pressures, thus eliminating those individuals with specific traits providing no protective measures against predation. These protective naturalistic gene dependent traits will be the adaptability of specific species. The Hardy-Weinberg Law states that gene frequencies will remain constant in a population from generation to generation unless something dramatically changes: (1) mutations, (2) altered selective pressures (disease), (3) random drift (sampling error), (4) immigration or emigration, and (5) non-random mating. Collectively, these all contribute to determining the fitness of the population. Fitness is a descriptor of reproductive success within a constantly changing environment that naturally selects out those characteristics that do not benefit the species’ ability to produce viable offspring. Natural selection does not act upon the gene per se but rather upon the whole organism. The receiving end of selection is the phenotype, which throughout its development is exposed to the rigors of the environment. The environment changes and creates geographic isolation. Species that exhibit polymorphisms have distinct local forms in the same habitat. The direction of evolution’s path depends on the

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genetic characteristics of individuals in the population that survive and leave behind viable progeny, supporting reproduction success. Populations, therefore, are determined by a variety of density-independent (e.g., meteorological conditions, long droughts) and density-dependent factors (e.g., reproductive strategies “r” and “K” strategist). Population dynamics, based on historically known factors identified as Malthusian, are exposed in a classic growth curve. Thomas Malthus in 1798 described population growth (Charles Darwin read Malthus before he postulated evolution by natural selection) as dependent on resources. Exponential population growth will outstrip resources if they are not replenished sustainably. How numbers of organisms or species are distributed in space (their dispersion patterns) will influence their numbers. Random, clumped, and dispersed population patterns all determine frequencies of contact, interaction and ultimately reproduction. Reproductive rates, death rates, growth rates, and migration rates are all factors determining the carrying capacity of an ecosystem. Ecologists study species or populations by using a variety of methods. Sampling techniques have involved capturing animals and marking them (e.g., Lepidoptera) or banding them (e.g., birds) and releasing the organism and then recapturing them to determine population size. The Lincoln Index is a capture–recapture method and relies on a variety of confidence limit determinations or basic statistical applications. Relative density measurements can be determined indirectly by bird-dropping concentrations, nest frequency, grazing habitat, and the identification of probable food sources’ skeletal remains from pellets (e.g., for nocturnal raptors like owls). A sampling of sessile versus mobile organisms can require specific sampling methods. Recently with the advent of submersible and satellite technologies, scientists can study organisms in harsh inner-space environments (e.g., deep-ocean hydrothermal vents) or from the confines of outer space to observe whole ecosystem interactions. In his book The First Eden, David Attenborough (1987) traced human influences on natural ecologies. Early agriculture emphasized olives in the forests of Cyprus and Crete islands where seeds readily took root in the soil. Farmers cloned olives from knobs on the trunk of olives trees. These trees are exceptionally long lived— more than 1000–1500 years. They were a staple food for ancient Greece and Rome, as they are today. Developing human societies took advantage of the fertility of the natural world, which was emblematic of animal sacrifices. For example, a bull was acknowledged as a symbol of fertility, and that symbolism was perpetuated through human culture. Hunting and slaughter of animals provided entertainment spectacles in ancient Rome. Bears, stags, and boars were pursued. Lions, hippos, hyenas, leopards, crocodiles, and birds were embalmed and stuffed and placed in the graves or crypts of the people of stature. The Ancient Roman view of the natural world was that it should be ravaged and plundered as they wished. They took what they wanted and cleared forests. Rome provided the legal title to undeveloped lands, and because wood was the only fuel and basic building material, ancient forests were cleared. Attenborough (1987) identified the historic fact that wherever Roman and Greek states went to war, Roman legions cleared entire forests to provide their armies with spears and arrows and navies with ships. So as the classical empires spread from east to west along the Mediterranean and north into Europe, forests were destroyed.


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Attenborough noted that the history of the eastern Mediterranean and the impact of naval warfare on the forests of these coasts combusted in one battle in Greek waters at Lepanto. More than 250,000 trees were felled to create a fleet of ships for Venice against the Turkish fleets with 200,000 troops. Lepanto was the last major battle where galleys played an important role. The ship-building industry moved to northern Spain where there were still forests to be exploited. After the forests were destroyed, goats consumed every seedling and every leaf, ultimately preventing the formation of top soil and the natural successional restorative processes to restore these forests. The growth of the human population has had the most significant contribution in altering Earth processes. People born before 1950 have witnessed in their lifetime a doubling of the world’s population, the first generation to do so. Humans cover the Earth in urbanized concentrations, occupying all types of terrestrial habitats. To accommodate the growing human population, people are destroying forests and natural habitats to occupy new land. From this alone, an estimated 100 species are lost every day. There are more than 500 million motor vehicles on Earth, one third of them found in North America alone. Technology, including the engineering that implements and uses it, perpetuated a myth in the early 1960s that the “Green Revolution” would eradicate world hunger (Sale 1993). However, per-capita production of grains since 1984 has decreased globally by 14% (Suzuki 1997). Around 30% of the world’s grain production is used to feed cattle for beef production. Biotechnology has not been able to reduce the global population growth. The “Dalkon Shield,” a contraceptive device to prevent women from unwanted pregnancies, was a disaster—both technologically and socially (Bahr 2012). Due to its impact on women globally, research in the area of contraception is, for all practical purposes, moribund. Only if a truly private business sees a major economic windfall will there be any future investment capital venturing into contraception research and development. Economics influence the growth of the human population and family size (Mazur 1994). In Ethiopia, a 30-day supply of condoms costs one-third of the entire family’s annual income, if they decide to purchase them (Jones 2005). The motion picture Black Hawk Down revealed the social implications of poverty in Somalia that contributed to the 1992 U.S. military operations there. The Somali government and warring tribes allowed the starvation of over 300,000 people when they prevented food aid from being delivered (Paarlberg 2011). Today at a global scale, with over 100 million births a year worldwide, spread out over 365 days, there are a quarter-­ million new people a day on the planet, or just over 10,000 people per hour (Ecology Global Network 2011). More mobility supports today’s burgeoning populations and will influence migration practices. For example, in Canada, where it appears there is “plenty of room,” there are estimates that more than 20 × 106 people will migrate to Canada before the year 2020 (Boyd and Vickers 2000; Suzuki 1997). Many countries have received tremendous infusions of money from the World Bank and other more affluent nations to maintain or even just to provide basic amenities to their ever-growing populations, from dams to general hydroelectric power (Kristof 1992). The Itaipu Dam on the Paraná River, between Paraguay and Brazil, took only 12  years to engineer and construct and has transformed the ecological

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system around the river. The construction of this dam resulted in a 140-kilometer lake and used enough concrete to house all the people in a city of over four million people. One million trees had to be planted to reduce (but not eliminate) soil erosion along its banks. Since 1984, this dam has produced electricity for San Paulo and Rio de Janeiro for more than 300 years, at the tremendous loss of biological wealth and resources of a tropical rainforest; it will take decades to fully realize the total impacts (Mitchell 1990). In his books Future Shock (1970) and The Third Wave (1980), Alvin Toffler suggested that humans are in the most energy-intensive phase of civilization’s technological development. The result of human conditions directs its technology to create the antithesis of ecosystems: monocultures. Urban areas are complex monocultures. They are devoid of many natural ecosystem functions that are replaced by external energy-subsidized systems that deplete fossil fuels. Monoculturalization was efficient in the beginnings of agricultural development. The removal of all trophic structure other than the primary producers is exemplified in urban environments. The elimination of “pests” that multiply within the detritus of urban systems may require the use of pesticides as a first effort to reduce their population levels. The urban fringes are affected because human populations have monocultured animals in the pet trade. Many introduced species become pests because they are feral (i.e., domestic animals that have gone wild, such as dogs). There are an estimated 90 million registered dogs in the US; although the majority of them are pets, worldwide, “wild” dogs outnumber the domesticated pet and have to be controlled by pesticide use or by extraordinary means such as hunting (Bekoff 2019). Even with modern practices of Integrated Pest Management, which advocates the use of all means other than pesticides to remove an unwanted organism (e.g., improved sanitation practices to remove food and habitat needs for unwanted organisms), a considerable amount of pesticides are used to provide a “quick fix” of a problem that could be handled in a better way. The residence time of these pesticides can be measured in decades. Figure  1.7 shows the classic ecological implications of DDT pesticide food chain impacts first identified by Rachel Carson (1962) in Silent Spring. The recovery of Bald Eagles, once listed as endangered, is testimony to the environmental protection of ecological functioning and healthy recovery once the chemical culprit is removed. Since humans cover general niches and are omnivorous, we have more varied competitors. In natural systems, people try to detect the breadth of a niche into either generalists, like the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and the Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), or specialists like Desert Pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius) that lives and reproduces in practically boiling waters in volcanic fumaroles. It is this diversity that helps maintain ecosystem stability. Stability in ecological terms is reflective of the variation or adaptability of species. Because all species play an important role in an ecosystems connectedness, it is important that we seek diversity to be maintained, adhered to, and ultimately preserved. Adaptability can determine the survivability of species that are all constantly being tested by changing environmental conditions. Even primary production, photosynthesis, has variability built into the specific plant’s reproduction. There are two


1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!

Fig. 1.7  Bioconcentrations of DDT and ecological implications

1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!


known types of chlorophyll plants: C4 plants dominate deserts and grasslands, whereas C3 plants dominate and account for most of the world’s photosynthesis because they are more competitive in communities of mixed species where light and temperatures are average. The implications of this can be considerable when one realizes that the climate influences biome development, which in turn influences ecological community development, and which in turn influences the diversity of species. Human ecological concerns are right in line with these influences as we are shifting the type of plant dominance for habitats. Botanists have noted that plants collected for arbor study in the late 1750s in England, of the same species, revealed anatomical differences. The antique leaves had more stomata. The oak species leaves of today have an average of 40% fewer stomata. Leaves must take in CO2 but in doing so, more air circulates increasing evaporation of vital water molecules. With more CO2 in the air, leaves need fewer stomata to take in enough of the gas for photosynthesis. With fewer stomata, the trees are more efferent in the rise of water, are hardier in droughts, and are thus an adaptive benefit to rising CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere. Of all applied ecological sciences, human ecology is the most influenced by engineering practices. Human quality of life is a direct function of our manipulating the human landscape. We have observed over the millennia that Earth’s limited space and resources require stewardship. Humans are “geological agents” that change the human-scape (landscape) to maintain order. In any ecosystem, energy must be expended, which means that “products” [pollution] become a stress in many such instances because if left unattended, they contribute to increasing ecological disorder (Pahl-Wostl 1995). In any ecosystem management, biological and ecological diversity is a necessity, with recycling being the major goal of the system. Humans should be more aware of the applications of ecological principles rather than relying on technology alone as the answer to increasing population demands and resultant pollution dilemmas. LaMont Cole (1966) wrote that throughout human history, “man’s continuing trouble with deteriorating environments stems from the fact that his culture has tended to be too independent of the natural environment.” Humans have historically altered landscapes. The domestication of animals and plants occurred beginning 10,000 years ago (Harper 1977). Just look at our food sources—carrots from Afghanistan, peas from Italy, and beans from South America. Human settlements were made in or near flood plains of all the major rivers of the world where trade resulted in increases in populations and more developmental support. In 347 B.C., Plato wrote of deforestation and grazing causing the drying up of springs and the destruction of fertile soils. In 30  B.C., Virgil recommended crop rotations. This collective socio-ecology emphasized the rural versus urban ecology, and still today, we lament but continue to tolerate urban sprawl into suburbs (George and McKinley 1974). The overall result has been the decline in the quality of living due to a lack of public interest and poor sustainable planning. Cities are uniquely human ecosystems, but because social indicators are pollution indicators and ultimately lead to social problems, they cannot be devoid of the biospheric system. Humans must look beyond basic ecological principles. As we are able to engineer our ecological sys-


1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!

tems to suit our needs, we are not immune to ecological disasters such as extinction. The human population in the world must culturally keep up with rapid technological changes, with education being key to making sustainable decisions (Illich 1970). Paul Ehrlich (1974) noted in Ark II that natural and political boundaries rarely overlap. So how do we accomplish proper ecosystem management when we do not have a universal education knowledge base? Engineering provides practical hands-on applications, and engineered structures can be a focal point to begin discussions on family planning, a reorganization of tax/political structures, and a regional land-use planning approach like the one proposed by Ian McHarg (1969) in Design with Nature. We must recycle, coupled with a by-product approach to waste disposal. We need to focus on sprawl and the city/rural inter-relationship, and we must create a shift in emphasis from short-term quick fixes to long-term ecosystem-based solutions to solve large-scale environmental problems (Andrewarth and Birch 1984). The “World Conservation Strategy,” declared by the United Nations in 1980, stated that we should (1) not upset the basic ecological processes of life, (2) not overharvest or deplete natural resources, (3) not destroy biological diversity, and (4) reduce human population growth rates across the globe (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources 1980). These strategies are more relevant than ever and should be a basic tenet in all educational endeavors developing an Earth ethic, which is based on sound ecological practices. Ecological competition over evolutionary periods is dependent on an overlap of geographic ranges. Natural selection tends to favor less hybridization and accomplishes this through the isolation of specific reproductive mechanisms. For example, alternating the periodicity of species’ reproductive cycles allows natural selection to move toward the elimination of competition. Hybrids tend to be less fit than parental species. Competition can be mediated through chemistry, such as allelochemical effects (interspecific effects), and there are chemical messengers that produce an advantage for the reproducing organism. Animal repellants can be secondarily excreted substances, which are not directly needed for metabolism but help to deter enemies (e.g., skunk odor, Monarch butterfly’s bad taste), act as escape substances (e.g., octopus ink), or be used as suppressants (compounds that exclude other species) that inhibit their growth. Some inductions modify the growth of a receiver organism, such as insect galls that inhibit plant growth by a chemical excreted when insects are ready to lay eggs, modify plants’ growth patterns to encase the eggs, and afford them added protection against predation. The most recognized intra-specific chemical interactions involve pheromones, secretions within a species that produce a physiological, behavioral, or predictable effect such as a sexual attractant. Allelopathic suppression of growth and reproduction by one higher plant over another is expressed in humid tropical environments by pheromones penetrating the soil. A rain event in desert climates results in volatilization or excretion through roots and releases an inhibitor chemical that adsorbs to soil particles some distance away, as tumbleweed plants do. For example, Russian Thistle (Salsola tragus) is an annual plant that breaks off at the stem base when it dies and forms tumbleweed, dispersing its seeds as the wind rolls it along. Moisture and soil conditions must be right to allow for seed germination. The ecological sig-

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nificance of allelopathy is the multiplicity of resistance to an invasion by new species. The promotion of a successful invasion (such as chaparral) environments with limited species diversity allows the dominant species, which produces toxins, to inhibit all other dominant species types (e.g., Hemlock inhibits undergrowth), thus developing a mosaic growth distribution pattern based on those specific chemicals excreted by each respective plant species (Sterelny 1999). The chemical defense mechanisms in plants have co-evolved with a variety of insect species. A plant evolves a toxin against an insect that feeds on it; insects evolve resistance to a said chemical; insects evolve dependence on a chemical as a stimulant and a defense. This inter-specific competition develops so that an insect species has a competitive advantage by being able to use the chemical and surviving plants can evolve new toxins. The evolutionary trend is to form generalists, thus increasing the probability of survival when species are up against a range of chemical defenses. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, the Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) feeds on oaks, Quercus. The female moth will not release sex-attractant chemicals unless the oak is present. A specific chemical released by oak trees stimulates the female, thus allowing the female to attract a male. Such chemical interactions in predator–prey relationships abound in nature. Aposematic coloration, a term coined to describe a family of anti-predator adaptations, advertises that a deleterious situation exists for the predator (e.g., a black widow spider’s “red spot”; bright, vibrant coloration of poisonous frogs; vibrant yellow hues of yellowjackets; and multicolored snakes) and these are chemical mechanisms whereby niches are defined. How are niches allocated? At random, pre-­emption, or by a series of independent factors? If niches are allocated at random, the volume of division will be purely by chance, independent of everything. We would be comparing observed results with a theoretical random number distribution (chi-­squared test). The more variables that are studied, the more bell-shaped distributions can be observed in real communities. As ecosystems age, successional stages of organisms’ development occur. The classic “vacant lot” scenario, where seeds and eggs of insects are still in the soil, assumes a continuous species replacement. Each new species will modify the micro-community (pioneer species, which are highly adaptive) so as to determine its presence or another new species coming in. Eventually, species will invade that will be able to perpetuate themselves indefinitely in the conditions they create. Successions are usually considered a linear process from bare soil, rock, or open water to climax communities. Succession is relatively continuous, yet there are gradual dominances of each species in serial stages (see Fig. 1.8). This interspecific competition exhibits chemical allelopathy, for example, by promoting invasion (e.g., toxins to kill plants in an area so that new species can penetrate, as in soft chaparral sage inhibiting other plants from invading). The rate at which a species turnover occurs (the dominant species composition of a landscape) is not constant and is very rapid in the early parts of succession. Climate is a very important determinant factor in establishing a “climax stage of community development.” A dis-climax (e.g., the moors of Scotland) sets back succession and prevents climax. This can be caused by the acidity of soil and water due to a logging


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Fig. 1.8  Natural succession

operation in an old growth forest. Some factors that retard succession include fires (whether natural or due to human activities), clear-cutting forests, and grazing animals (e.g., the gypsy moth eating oak leaves disrupts the microclimate via shade level, water balance). Human activities and development will always spur on these disruptions, precipitously preventing natural succession in particular ecosystems. Plants require certain kinds and quantities of nutrients. If these nutrients are in minimal amounts, growth will be minimal. Justus von Liebig’s law noted that plant growth is determined not by the total resources available but by the resource in the scarcest supply. Liebig’s Law of the Minimum has in more recent times been applied to biological populations in determining ecosystem growth (deBaar 1994). Plant growth, which is determined by sunlight or a level of a nutrient, may vary so that limits of any one or a collection of factors—when in limited supply—will determine the survival of the population system under study. The range of tolerances, steno(short-range) and eury- (long-range), will influence the distribution patterns of organisms. If there is a wide-range in tolerance, species would normally be widely distributed. Biogeochemical cycles of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide pass nutrients along to living systems. The range of tolerances of species varies with seasons and geography (Bianchi et al. 1999). Temperature tolerance is influenced by the physiology of specific species, as in poikilothermic (external heat-source required; Bullock 1955) versus homoeo­ thermic (internal regulation) organisms. All living organisms have a temperature range outside of which they fail to grow or reproduce. Within their favorable range, organisms have an optimum or preferred temperature, which can vary at different phases of development. Tolerance to temperature extremes will vary, as is the case for hibernating species, burrowing organisms in soil and/or sediments, diapause,

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and where insects enter a stable state of arrested growth such as the classic 17-year or 11-year  cycle of cicadas. Species can adjust to extremes in temperatures but within limits. The adaptive process of individual species to deal with changing ­environments include changing insulation (e.g., fur, fat), changing the production of heat (e.g., nesting depth, feathers and down), vascularization, sweating (cooling via evaporation), and shivering. Moisture, especially in aquatic organisms, is critical in maintaining salt concentrations and reproduction. Evaporation, evapotranspiration from plants, and condensation are important because rainfall is not uniformly distributed. Likewise, the mean annual precipitation is influenced by geology, local climate, air mass movements, and human development. Rain or precipitation must penetrate substrates to be available as capillary waters for plant roots. Organism survival depends on their avoidance of dry areas or conditions (e.g., barnacles close up to keep water over their body during low tides), the storage of water as in succulent plants (e.g., cactus) or extended root systems, and waxy leaves to reduce the evaporation of moisture from leaves (e.g., Seaside Holly trees and Creosote). The interaction of temperature and moisture determines climate and the ultimate distribution of vegetation in a region (e.g., biomes and altitude zonations in mountainous regions). Wind is another powerful agent in determining the distribution of organisms and/or shaping ecological communities. The drying action of wind causes leaves to lose moisture faster and sustained winds can cause dwarfism in plants so they cannot expand to normal size. Winds are an important seed-dispersal mechanism and micro-organism dispersion (see Sidebar 1.1). Sidebar 1.1: How Living Organisms Can Get Distributed Across the Planet I observed birds inside the well-defined eye of a hurricane as a U.S.  Navy flight meteorologist (1969–1970). It has always been known that flocks of birds inside the eye of a hurricane are transported over great distances off shore. Storms can redistribute a host of living organisms, including plant seeds, insects, and avian species. This dispersal method contributes to the introduction of organisms to many landscapes. As I had observed on Easter Island, paleo-botanical investigations of extinct volcanic calderas reveal in their sediments a diverse display of seeds blown in over millennia.

Light or incoming solar radiation can influence photosynthesis, and when the quality and/or duration is varied, it can influence reproduction and/or specific developmental factors such as germination and migration in some large cases. Horseshoe crabs and many migratory birds are keyed into changes in lunar or solar cycles of luminosity and daily light durational changes over different seasons of the year (Tanacredi 1991). Light intensity at the surface of soil influences microclimatic conditions between ground-level soil and the area immediately above it. Soil absorbs short wavelengths of light and radiates back long wavelengths of light as heat.


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Because there is no air flow at this level, the air above and the soil below decrease in temperature in relation to this warm parcel of air in between. At night, heat absorbed at ground level is re-radiated and absorbed by water vapor in the air. Eventually, due to the cooling effect of outgoing heat, the dew point is reached. The water vapor condenses as dew. Vegetation—by altering wind movement, moisture, evaporation, and soil temperatures—greatly moderates and influences the microclimate of an area, especially near the ground level. High humidity at the bottom of vegetative cover in a particular ecosystem is due to little vapor loss as compared to the canopy, or the top of a forest, which is cooled by the evapotranspiration effect. The study of ecology today is linked to environmental sciences, with multidisciplinary expertise intertwined, by looking at where organisms live and interact. Several quantitative approaches include physical and chemical aspects of nature, and more today than ever, ecological genetics, bioenergetics, and ecosystem health. Confined to the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, biotic and abiotic components of natural systems interact and transform solar energy (or in the case of deep ocean hydrothermal vents, geochemical energy) into a usable form for the perpetuation of life processes, delaying energy dispersion from Earth into outer space. Energy efficiencies have been described by ecologists as “utilization efficiencies” (Warrington 1985). This is where the eater and the eaten transform chemical energy into tissue or new organism, along with all life processes from assimilation to defecation. Ecologists describe ecological growth efficiencies, as how well an organism or a group of organisms use what it eats, which is revealed in trophic-level efficiency that expresses the full trophic spectrum of functions and products of interactions. Characteristics such as individual organism size or size of population, maintenance or respiration costs, specialization of habitat or food sources, means of dispersal and dispersion, reproductive methods, and rates and periodicity all play roles in developing food web dynamics and multi-species trophic interactions. All this biotic activity occurs in constantly changing and dynamic environmental settings (Bonner 1993; Ehrlich 2000; Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1991). Whether autecological (specific species in an ecosystem) or synecological (ecology of community as a whole or population), the study of species at different trophic levels is dependent on its environmental exchanges. A group of species that is not necessarily directly related to another but may use the same resource in a similar way are called guilds. Aphids, mostly associated with a particular plant (i.e., the English Oak, Quercus robur) have more than 30 applied species that use sap like a tree does as a required source of energy and a distribution system. Experiments by Slobodkin (1959) of standing crop productivity concerning water fleas (Daphnia) revealed that trophic-level efficiency is relatively constant for a specific system as long as the system is not being overexploited. This optimum yield prediction means there is an optimum rate at which interferences with the overall productivity of natural resources can continue. Is efficiency the goal of natural selection and the driving force of evolution? The key to natural selection is survival; being efficient at using available energy in a usable form will provide “survival benefits” for organisms or species. Inefficiency raises the chance for a species to be selected out of populations. These ecological pyramids show the amount of energy passed through the

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Fig. 1.9  Marine food webs in North America

food chains or food webs that become less with each successive trophic level in a food web (Robbins 2001). It ignores biomass. Figure 1.9 exhibits food webs associated with a specific habitat type of a coastal sandy beach. Critical to trophic energy transformation is the cycling of chemical elements in ecosystems: biogeochemical cycles. The nitrogen cycle affected by nitrogen-fixing bacteria provide the nitrogen from air to be used in a form necessary for plant growth. The Ribbed mussel (Geukensia demissa), a filter-feeding bivalve found in estuaries, is the most effective at the entrapment of silt with phosphate, which is important in marsh peat development. Experiments with watersheds for specific


1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!

inorganics (Ca, Mg, K, Na) in rainwater and evapotranspiration from plants revealed that changes in precipitation patterns would influence changes in nutrient influx by runoff (Bormann and Likens 1967). Vegetation demands for water remained ­constant so there was less runoff as vegetation used water. Felled trees caused greater runoff, increasing the output of nutrients to water bodies of drainage areas. This is a prime cause of eutrophication (enrichment by nutrient runoff) in lakes. With appropriate vegetative cover surrounding a lake, water movement from land to lake is slow, allowing nutrients to be “cycled.” Turbidity increases with soil erosion into lakes. Photosynthesis, dependent on light penetrability (light compensation depth) to spur on the plant respiration process and oxygen development, will be affected by the suspended materials in the water column. Therefore, these physical and chemical settings influence ecotypes or develop a strain of species that are genetically adapted to different environmental conditions. Generally, specialization is an ecological and survival dead-end. As long as environmental changes remain low or constant, steno-type organisms thrive. To find limiting factors for a specific population, we can look to the species border—the geographic range where species end. Species may be limited according to the substrate the organism makes as its habitat (e.g., serpentine rock). The plants that live on this rock are lacking nitrogen, phosphorous, and calcium because of the lack of these minerals in the rock. Serpentine is composed of ferromagnesium and becomes inhibitive to plant growth in that area. Serpentine indicators give a strong steno-type adaptation due to the edaphic or soil factor, which determines what grows on it. Environmental factors may act as proximate (that which an organism needs) or ultimate factors (selective force). For breeding or migrating birds, the proximate factor could be day-length or seasonal temperature changes, while the ultimate factor might be food availability. All these variables contribute to survivability. If these variables change, then there will be a change in productivity. Red Knots (Calidris canutus), and Ruddy Thurnstones (Arenaria interpres) during considerably long spring migrations (Fig. 1.10), depend on the eggs of horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) deposited along the Atlantic coastline of North America for protein subsidy. To get to their breeding grounds in Canada, near the Arctic Circle, this egg protein boost is of critical importance. Fewer Horseshoe crab eggs leads to fewer Red Knots and other long-distance migrating birds species to reproduce and feed on these eggs (Tanacredi 1991). Microclimates can influence species distribution and growth. Orographic rainfall (rainfall triggered by terrain) provides climatic factors that can be thermoregulatory. Snow is an important microclimate factor. Factors such as length of snow cover and depth of the snow fields can all influence solar-incidence reflectivity and the general environment heat regime. Trees can provide wind breaks, and depending on the variety of tree species and their abundance, milder temperatures can be created. Seeds that are dispersed for potential food sources and the reproductive success of germination can determine the number of a particular tree species. Exposure is most important in microclimates, which can expose vegetation to drying out from winds or heating up from sunlight intensity and duration. In addition, meteorological fac-

1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!


Fig. 1.10  Avian flyways

tors such as frontal air mass movements and seasonal variations can affect a species in its habitat and survival. Any factor that affects a population size is either density dependent (proportional to population density at a given time) or density independent (a cataclysmic natural event or disasters such as tsunamis and hurricanes). Evolution works toward freeing organisms from density-independent form. Density-dependent factors control population (Revkin 2009). Relative abundances of species remain fairly constant, although absolute abundance varies. The factor causing the most mortality is not necessarily the limiting factor (eruptive population). The factor causing the deficiency of a parasite is density dependence in that it compensates for high mortality rates. A high winter survival rate of quail results in less breeding, whereas a low winter survival rate can lead to higher breeding rates to compensate for the higher mortality rates.


1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!

Density-dependent population regulation is affected by competitive pressures. Intraspecific competition is dependent on resource availability in which the apparent amount of food is not necessarily the actual amount available. Mechanisms of intraspecific competition include exploitation, in which some organisms have a ­better chance than others in resource usage, and a scramble competition where everyone has an equal chance. When organisms prevent other organisms from using resources, this interference or behavior is expressed as territoriality. Scramble competition can be very wasteful because so many could be trying for food resources, depleting food resources, and potentially resulting in extinction. In colonizing species where scramble competition exists, a high reproductive rate and high dispersal ability can be expected. In scramble competition, making use of hard-to-find resources will result in a colonizing species to lay all eggs at once in a single clutch, which is a high risk. Yet it is a good gamble to put all the eggs in one basket, metaphorically, when resources are available. Dispersal is the sum of all movements: immigration, migration, and emigration. Dispersal moves genes around and helps colonize new habitat, which is called “genetic drift” (Eldredge 2000). Dispersal is a density-dependent and self-regulating mechanism for populations. The migration for new food resources forces populations into high densities, usually in smaller areas. This crowding results in chemical exchanges that will trigger a physiological change. Reproductive success is dependent on how efficient and effective organisms are at detecting and fulfilling reproductive processes. Interspecific competition behavioral contests, such as territoriality or social dominance, can be passive (e.g., the Creosote bush excreting chemical exclusions) or active (e.g., the defense of territory by Red-winged Blackbirds). Territoriality can be expressed by males in breeding seasons. Size is dependent on food supply. Insects will establish territories to attract the other sex. Territoriality affects population size usually when the ultimate factor is food. Mating structures vary, such as (1) pair bonds, (2) polygamy, and (3) promiscuity. For most species, density-dependent mechanisms regulate populations within the limits imposed by the environment. Homeostatic processes or an inherent regulator within organisms is triggered when populations grow too large. If a population falls below a critical level, density-­ dependent processes fade and the population builds up. Such a feedback system results in oscillations. Intraspecific competition, when a number of organisms utilize a common resource that is in short supply, increases competitive pressures (Ryan 2001). In Nicholson’s (1950) experiments with blowflies, when food supplies were unlimited, reproduction was abundant to the point that all food was consumed, preventing the majority of blowflies from forming larvae-less progeny. The increased death rate of blowfly populations was proportional to the amount of food available (Brillinger 2011). Competition for the limited food supply held the population in a state of stability and prevented any indefinite increase or decrease. The food supply was “scrambled for” by both adult and larval stages so that in undercrowded conditions, there was a lot of waste. Environmental fluctuations can indirectly cause violent oscillations in a population. Intraspecific competition results in an increasing mortality rate as the population increases. This mortality is high among the young.

1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!


Intraspecific competition expresses itself in the social behavior of animals as the degree of tolerance and intolerance between species and individuals. Wynne-Edwards’s (1959) hypothesis notes that social behavior is a mechanism that regulates populations by controlling the number of each breed’s offspring. The fact that territorial limits provide limited amounts of food and reproductive activity results in eliminating surplus or forcing them into “poor habitats.” However, what is “poor habitat” for one group of species may be effectively adapted by a different group of organisms (e.g., micro-organisms). In David Quammen’s (1985) book Natural Acts, he describes that in deep ocean waters such as at 13,000  feet, sea cucumbers account for half of all living organisms. At 28,000 feet, 90% of the creatures are sea cucumbers. Finally in the deep ocean trenches, only sea cucumbers can be found. Natural populations move at one time or another in their overall lifecycle. The result is the scattering of populations into new habitats, new breeding, the exclusion of those unfit to adapt to a new environment, and the exchange of genetic material between populations. The area where an animal habitually does its usual activities (highly variable), called its home range, is associated with species, sex and age, the season and ecological conditions, and even available food, cover, and intraspecific strife. The size of a home range is directly related to body weight due to expenditures of energy and amounts of food needed by different animals. The kind of food utilized influences the size of a home range. Emigration from one area is the immigration into another; this takes place constantly with peak seasonal changes. If a population is stable and at or near the carrying capacity for that population, dispersal movements have little influence on population density. However, dispersal movements initiated by overpopulation or food shortages reduce populations and influence the reproductive rate of remaining populations (McNeil 2004). Introductions of new animals or plants into a new environment shows an extreme rapid growth. For example, the European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) that was introduced in New  York City has spread across the entire United States and parts of Canada in less than 50 years. Migration is a two-way movement involving a return to the area originally vacated. Highly mobile species are seasonal or periodic. Monarch butterflies migrate south to Mexico and progeny migrate back to the Northeast; birds migrate regularly over paths or flyways when proper physiological conditions are correct or triggered by temperature changes for breeding purposes, or by synchrony with food reserves. In all cases, evolutionary natural selection pressures work on genetic or inherited variation that is influenced by the environment, both from a social and ecological level of interaction as has been promoted in sociobiological studies (Wilson 1980). The Hardy-Weinberg Law can approximate genotype frequencies via the knowledge of gene frequencies alone, provided that the populations have discrete generations. Human populations have overlapping generations, so it does not hold true here. It is gene mutation that causes variance in population from one generation to the next. Due to the non-randomness of reproduction within a population, not every individual is able to contribute its genetic characteristics to the next generation or to leave surviving offspring. This selectively is natural selection. To contribute genetic


1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!

characteristics (genetic drift) to succeeding populations, the individual must survive. If mutations arise, which puts individuals at a disadvantage, or if environmental changes cannot be tolerated by the new mutation or the population’s limiting factors, selective pressures due to non-viable reproduction will alleviate the species. Human population is critically linked to all environmental issues (Commoner 1990; Ehrlich and Ehrlich 2004; Ehrlich and Tobias 2014). In 1983, there were 4.7 billion people on Earth, following a population growth of 82 million in the preceding year (Associated Press 1983). By 1994, human global population had burgeoned to 5.6  billion, with the majority of the increase occurring in developing countries (Brown and Kane 1994). Birth rates, however, are at or above 4.0% for the majority of these countries (e.g., Mexico had 4.0% in 1987 and Kenya had 6.5% in 1989). In 1968, the United Nations Population Division predicted that the world population, with its commiserate draw on natural resources, is projected to reach 12 billion by 2050 at present growth rates (Gillis and Duggar 2011). The majority of the global population will continue to live in cities and near the coastlines of terrestrial Earth and continue to be affected by coastal phenomena in catastrophic ways (Fig. 1.11). Resulting globally from the human population growth, millions of babies will be lost to malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, measles, and AIDS, regardless that millions of pregnancies are aborted (Desowitz 1987). But the most significant influences on slowing the birth rate of the developing world have been that people are better educated and half the world’s population lives in cities, which reduces the need for farm field labor (Stevens 1994). Life expectancy has thus increased and the mean fertility rate has declined from 5.4 births per woman in 1970 to 2.9 in 2000.

Fig. 1.11  Human population density in the US, Circa

1  Ecology and the Principles of Life; It Isn’t Just About You, You Know!


The Club of Earth is an informal, international group of members of the National Academy of Sciences involved in ecology issues, and their basic consensus rings true today, that the “human population momentum is such that it will be extremely difficult to halt growth before the population exceeds 8 billion people” (Cooke 1988). By then, our ecology can be altered to such a state that natural functioning ecosystems will be rare. A quote from Niles Eldredge’s (1997) Dominion: Can Nature and Culture Co-Exist can place the remainder of this book in perspective: It is decidedly not obvious to all of us, living in the last decade of the twentieth century, that a mass extinction of the majority of non-human species would be seriously detrimental to the future of humanity. Our ancestors knew how much they depended upon other species populations within local ecosystems, but we don’t live as they did. And we do not depend on local ecosystems or even on the earthly biosphere, the global ecosystem in the same way our ancestors did. Those of us who see the degradation of ecosystems and the extinction of species as a direct threat to the human future must make a clear case that the mass extinctions of the geological past are real phenomena, and that we are in the midst of a human engendered extinction spasm right now. (p. 13)

However, to remain optimistic, our adherence to science’s task must be progressively integrative of the arts and sciences while pushing the boundary of our knowledge base on how natural systems function (Wilson 1992). If we ignore this premise, our Redesigned Earth makes us more vulnerable than ever in the history of human civilization.

Chapter 2

Preserving Biological Diversity: Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Not In Balance

Distinguished Harvard University Professor of Biology E. O. Wilson has projected that one-quarter of all living things will be lost forever by the end of the present century (Wilson 2006). He has recently proposed that only by preserving half of the Earth can we possibly stem the extinction tide from cataclysmic proportions (Wilson 2017). Based on total extinction rates today, Elizabeth Kolbert (2015) noted in her book The Sixth Extinction, that possibly one-half of all the living things alive today will disappear by the year 2100 even without global nuclear war or catastrophic destruction of the ozone layer. Overstating the issue? The problem: What is the scope and depth of endangered species’ concerns or the general global loss of biodiversity, and what should we do about it? Thomas Lovejoy (1989), formerly of the Smithsonian Institution and today with The World Wildlife Fund, has noted that simplification of ecosystems and the subsequent loss of biodiversity contributes to human poverty, overexploitation of natural resources, degradation of water and soil, and “the basic desecration of all of Earths’ life-support systems.” As he noted, “It is difficult to comprehend the level of disconnectedness our global population has developed with the ecosystems around them and support their everyday lives.” E. O. Wilson (1988) has also noted that, “the magnitude and control of biological diversity is not just a central problem of evolutionary biology; it is one of the key problems of science as a whole.” As the Worldwatch Institute has made clear, “Ecosystems are being fragmented at an alarming rate. Air and water pollution take their toll, on human and ecosystem health” (Block 2018). This snowball effect, described as “biotic impoverishment,” results in a series of changes that can leave soils less fertile, vegetation less productive, and lead to outbreaks of pests and diseases that require costly societal adjustments from humans trying to raise food in the midst of a biologically depleted landscape. Massive energy subsidization continues to be necessary to keep ecological trophic functions maintained in an inefficient world, which is analogous to humans going up a down escalator where one would need to work twice as hard to make any progress. The majority of the Earth’s 7.8 billion people live in urban or urbanizing settings, many times far removed from wildlife or nature. One may be surprised as to what © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 J. T. Tanacredi, The Redesigned Earth,



2  Preserving Biological Diversity: Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Not In Balance

people generally believe to be “natural.” In actuality, little is known scientifically of how species interact with their ecosystems…about their dependency relations. We understand even less about how ecosystems recover from the breakdown of these dependencies or from disturbances, especially from engineered structures. What is required now to avoid disaster in the future? Is species protection a perceptual or attitudinal problem? How do engineers relate to biological systems in general? There are approximately 1.4  million known and named species in the world today, which have been taxonomically placed on genus and species levels. The best approximation of the Earth’s species total has been refined to an estimated 8.7 million by identifying patterns within the taxonomic classification system. Eurkaryotes are organisms that have cells that contain complex structures enclosed within membranes, and the five known ones are listed in Table 2.1. Yet the geographic range, behavioral intricacies, and peculiarities of these species or their relatedness have not even been superficially investigated. Some ecosystems over time have resurged after a near-total devastation. Why have forests in New England rebounded from nineteenth century’s intensive logging pressures? A contributing positive factor may be that their seeds can be maintained in the soil for centuries, as if in a seed bank. However, these “fire ecologies” can only perpetuate when the right abiotic conditions exist. When we fragment habitats, which appear to be a goal of “sprawling” civilizations, we dramatically alter the ecosystem’s basic functioning and ultimately lose those species’ networks uniquely adapted to the ecology of the region they are found in. If the known species is a gross underestimate of the actual biodiversity of Earth, as some scientists have noted, we probably know less than 15% of the true numbers of total species (Wolf 1987). Ongoing investigations over the past decade have led to the discovery of new species of cetaceans; a new family of sharks and flowering plants; and the incredible, unknown number of insects, fungi, and bacterial species yet undiscovered and unknown. The most recently updated international endangered species list assessed nearly 60,000 species, with 19,625 classified as threatened, although there is an actual monitoring of less than 1% of the world’s species (International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List 2019). It is unfortunate that the search for new species has been made more difficult, primarily due to the lack of preparation and education of scientists in taxonomy and

Table 2.1  Kingdoms of life on earth Total species 7.77 million animal species 298,000 plant species 611,000 species of fungi 36,400 species of protozoa 27,500 species of chromista

Total number of species identified 953,434 215,644 43,271 8,118 13,033

Source: Census of Marine Life 2011

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the significant de-emphasis in inventory programs that are usually expensive and time consuming to conduct (see Sidebar 2.1 about the expedition on Easter Island). Sidebar 2.1: Finding Newly Identified Species Takes Effort I led two major research expeditions to Easter Island in 1999 and 2000, and after invertebrate specialists had collected 4,000 specimens over 3  years, I was honored with a new species of crustacean named after me: Cryptopontius tanacredii (Fig. 2.1). The honor was bestowed to me by the American Museum of Natural History due to the support I gathered as a research scientist with the U.S. National Park Service. Dr. Chris Boyko, a scientist from the American Museum of Natural History, had these expeditions’ inventory taxonomically categorized over a 10-year research period on this truly isolated Pacific Island. Initiated in collaboration with Dr. John Loret, former President of the Explorer’s Club and former Professor of Emeritus Natural Sciences at Queens College, City University of New York (Loret and Tanacredi 2003), the Easter Island story is a global paradigm for the potential effects of the loss of biodiversity. The extinct volcanic island, 2,400 miles into the Pacific Ocean from Santiago, Chile, was settled around AD 400, due to its spectacularly diverse natural history, fertile land and adjacent seas. Its population was sustained at approximately 15,000 people, with a distinct culture centered on the Moais’ massive stone carved heads and statues. Deforestation, the exploitation of natural resources (especially birds eggs) pushed the Rapa Nui into warfare and cannibalism that led to a population low of 4,000 people by 1700 when the first European explorers arrived. European diseases, slave trade, and a total lack of ecological restoration only exceeded the mythical attention to constructing larger and larger Moai and altars to appease the gods to reverse their plight further reduced the original Easter Islanders to 111 descendants of the native Easter Islanders who exist today.

So why is preserving biodiversity important? Primarily, as Chris Maser (1992) posited, it is a “diversity of scale.” It’s the sustaining of the infinitesimally small (molecular diversity) to the infinity of space (diversity of abiotic influences) and physical phenomenon, which maintain the complexity of the global ecosystem. It is redundancy expressed in more than one species, organism, or community that performs similar functions. It’s a type of “ecological insurance policy” that strengthens the ability of the system to retain the integrity of its basic relationships in spite of functional disruptions. Ultimately, it is for human need, possibly a selfish reason, but we may uncover new discoveries of medicines from these other species. We already have an important group of pharmaceuticals from a variety of species: taxol, penicillin, vincristine, and aspirin. The sea squirt, a marine invertebrate, provides antiviral chemicals. Amphibians, such as frog species, provide antibacterial agents. With salicylic acid or aspirin, we have the most utilized pharmaceutical of the devel-


2  Preserving Biological Diversity: Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Not In Balance

Fig. 2.1  New species: Cryptopontius tanacredii. (Source: Johnsson et al. 2002)

2  Preserving Biological Diversity: Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Not In Balance


oped world directly from the Willow tree (Salix). From a species of a Madagascar periwinkle plant, we get vincristine/vinblastine, critical ingredients in the host of chemicals used to treat and today cure one type of childhood leukemia (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). Due in part to this chemical finding, there is a 90% recovery rate in children who get this blood-associated cancer. Entire ecosystems may contribute to potential human health discoveries (Fig. 2.2). Natural systems contribute attributes for sustaining life on Earth in cleaning or maintaining component parts of Earth’s life support systems (Tudge 2000). As in economics, we continue to see supply and demand in action, especially with resources in diminishing supply becoming more expensive and more intensively sought after. For example, in the 1600s, the fish Cod (Gadus morhua) was illegal to serve more than twice a week to servants in colonial New England due to its great common abundance, but today it is very expensive to buy and has been almost fished to extinction by commercial fishing fleets (Carey 1999). This is a common species in a historical sense. However, most endangered species today are of no immediate economic or commercial value, and therefore, it is more difficult to engender the same protectionist response for all such species at risk (e.g., we may never see legal protections for benthic microbes). Paul Ehrlich (1974) has suggested that we must put conservation in practice with a sort of “ecological triage” effort. How do we separate those more useful ecologies from the most sustainable ones? Species may cover wide territories. We see that most biodiversity is in the tropical regions of Earth, and as with so many ecosystems, we must protect contiguous habitat. In this way, we protect all related processes that support this diversity of organisms. For example, there is no marine turtle species that goes through its entire life cycle in the waters of a single nation. We should protect all that contributes to its migratory paths and cycles. The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), which encompasses a multigenerational population and is the only migratory insect species, travels thousands of miles each fall from Staten Island, New York, to Mexico, just outside Oaxaca (Burnett 2016). The forest where some 10+ million Monarchs end up is being threatened by housing developments and lumber activities. Considering their survival in light of normal ­environmental pressures (e.g., cold temperatures at the end of their range) only adds to the difficulty in their protection. E. O. Wilson (1992, 2017) advocates the need to dedicate as much ecosystem diversity, amounting to, at minimum, one-half of the biosphere, to maintain the existing known and yet-to-be discovered living wealth of biodiversity. Ecologists understand that bacteria and invertebrates can be found in all ecosystems, with greatest numbers of species found in equatorial/tropical ecosystems. The Gaia Hypothesis, pronounced in 1972, identified the entire biosphere as a superorganism with undetermined levels of ecosystem interactions (Lovelock 1972, 1979/2000; Lovelock and Margulis 1985). In contrast, the Medea Hypothesis is a counterargument to the Gaia Hypothesis and has provided an interesting interpretation of human influences that have contributed to the redesigning of the Earth (Ward 2009). Ecologists continue to appreciate this interconnectedness as they study the species that inhabit and have inhabited the Earth.


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Fig. 2.2 Plant pharmacopoeia: Plants with medicinal uses

A prime cause of species extinction has been attributed to the physical degradation and fragmentation of once-contiguous habitat into island-like refuges (El-Hinnawi and Hashmi 1982; Shaffer 1987). For example, in Israel, the draining of marshes and destruction of Mediterranean shrub habitats caused 26 plants to become locally extinct in the 30 years prior to 1976. The six species of birds, which have become extinct in North America (including one of the most abundantly known species, the Passenger Pigeon) since 1600, were all decimated by human hunters with the last one succumbing in 1914 in a zoo in Cincinnati. We actually can time and place the most dramatic extinction recorded because we witnessed it when the last known individual passenger pigeon died on September first of that year. The introduction of alien or non-native species has dramatically increased in the twentieth century. Introductions of the snail, the European Periwinkle (Littorina littorea) or the American Slipper Limpet (Crepidula fornicata), and most recently, the freshwater Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), have all played a role in the reduction or redistribution of native species in coastal marshes or aquatic ecosystems. Even with our heightened awareness of losing biological diversity to extinctions, there has been a certain amount of selectivity of extinctions. Species most susceptible to extinctions are rare; that is, they have extremely low population densities and very large individual ranges. The California Condor is an example of humans’ extraordinary efforts to reverse its loss (see Fig. 2.3).

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Fig. 2.3  Photo of feeding condor chicks in the news (Stock photo)

Compounding factors that contribute to the extinction of a species is the stress in concert with climatic stress or change, collectively preventing the reintroduction of native survivors. Yet cases such as marine mollusks, which are overharvested in some locations, have not become extinct even after 300 years of human hunting for consumption. Even when habitats are significantly affected—for example, Eelgrass beds (Zostera marina) on Long Island are decimated—some areas of high stress associated with urban estuaries, have been recently exhibiting a resurgence in portions of Great South Bay, New York. Repeated population crashes could cause a population to crash beyond a recoverable threshold to extinction. Many invertebrates’ exhibit “boom or bust” reproductive cycles and on a bust cycle may be more susceptible to a local high mortality event. Horseshoe crabs have survived five mass extinction events over Earth’s history, yet today, all four species on a global level have increased extirpation pressures from collection for and use as bait, the loss of suitable breeding habitat, and most recently, exotic Asian food consumption on their continued survivability (Tanacredi et al. 2009).


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Nutrient run-off from urban complexes and atmospheric washing can spur photosynthesis. Does this run-off aid in providing biological refuge for biotically competent species that elsewhere might have become extinct? Marine worms and bivalves, which bore into wood pilings that support piers and other coastal structures, made a resurgence in the Hudson River, when pollutant levels of the river began to be considerably reduced. Reversing pollution trends are always positive, yet ecosystems that have received low levels of pollutants for decades may have altered their ecosystem to an adaptive level allowing for the survivability of a very diverse number of species, thus counterintuitively increasing urban biodiversity. Jamaica Bay in New York is a case in point. Dramatic alterations over 75 years to this estuarine ecosystem have resulted in an increase in biological diversity indexes rivaling much larger estuarine systems such as the Chesapeake Bay estuary or Mullica River estuary (Tanacredi et al. 2015). The overfishing of Homarus americanus, the American Lobster, has affected the distribution of algae and invertebrates in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. Species interactions are significant in the regulation of community-wide biogeochemical cycles. There is an inherent resiliency of the biosphere. Thus, enlarging refuges will result in increasing interactions among many species. The “Biosphere Reserve” concept was developed and gained from the knowledge of the precipitous loss of biodiversity. There is always a persistent danger, however, in undervaluing species. The loss of habitat diversity and the total diversity function of ecosystems has impacts on the Earth’s total living resources. Extirpation of a species from a particular ecosystem need not be cause for immediate alarm, as it may be due to natural successional changes in that system and may involve a perfectly natural shift in species composition and distribution. The important fact, however, is that diversity augments diversity and diminutions of diversity causes further diminutions of diversity. Along coastal areas, an exotic plant called Phragmites communis was considered for decades as reducing plant diversity in estuaries and was fervently burned, mowed, and aggressively removed in a conservation effort by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Today, due to Phragmites’ stabilizing effect on coastal habitats, their removal has been re-evaluated as “tolerating” if overall habitat and species biodiversity is not significantly affected. Of course an important precursor to this management decision is a detailed and identified species inventory and diversity index. The total diversity of an area provides the pool of competitors for niches in developing ecosystems. The larger this pool, the more likely it is that the system will evolve into a complex, highly interrelated system. Interdependencies are maximized to increase efficiencies in an inefficient world (Tanacredi and Scaglione 1991; Tanacredi et  al. 2003). Conservation botanist Peter Raven and Entomologist E. O. Wilson (1992) have asserted that for every plant species that becomes extinct, 15 animal species can expect to follow. We know little about species interaction, so a loss of a species is then the first step in ecosystem simplification, which may lead to a cascading effect of species loss over time. The reintroduction of a rare species into their historical ranges almost never works because interactions by all species that may influence this one rare species were not restored as well. When these

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attempts succeed, they are extremely costly. The subsidy is not just monetary. The loss of other species increases the vulnerability of ecosystem services. Maser (1992) noted that about 80% to 95% of tree species in tropical rainforests produce fruits that are dispersed by birds and mammals, and by this seed dispersion process, they are also maintaining the rich diversity of tree species, which not only formed their habitat but also perpetuated it. This is an ideal example of a self-reinforcing feedback loop. Its biodiversity perpetuates this process and is resilient due to the multiplicity of functioning parts associated with one another in complex webs of support, cycling, and cooperation. For the most part, foresters have overlooked the entire way the interdependency of plants and animals affect the biodiversity of a plant community. Elephants of the Ivory Coast, for example, dispense the seeds of 37 tree species. Of those, only 7 species had alternate ways of being dispersed by birds and monkeys. In one study area, out of 201 individual trees, 83 species were dispersed by elephants. In one forest where humans had eliminated elephants by hunting them a century earlier, few juvenile trees that elephants foraged were able to disperse their seeds. Two major tree species had no offspring at all. One of these two tree species has been most important for two of the largest squirrel species: one in the canopy and the other that eats the same nuts once they’ve fallen to the ground (Maser 1992). Each year, an area 80% the size of the state of Oregon burns in Brazil’s Amazon alone. Tropical rainforests are one of the world’s oldest ecosystems and yet occupy only 7% of the Earth’s surface; however, they are home to more than 50% of all the Earth’s species (Caufield 1983). A major problem today is the establishment of a minimum threshold for total diversity. Maintenance practices and the overmanagement of ecosystems can lead to their failure to rejuvenate themselves. The progressive transfer of all systems in a natural area to a managed state interrupts the natural cycles of succession and diminishes between-habitat diversity. Natural perturbations of a “stable system,” when interrupted by human influences, reduces productivity and thus undermines any potential for the natural rejuvenation of an ecosystem. When a biologically competent specialist species is extirpated from a system or removed from a portion of its natural range, its niche is usually not filled by another species. Instead, generalists such as weedy plants colonize quickly and overtake the terrestrial system. The reintroduction of species that have been extirpated is difficult. Many organisms, especially mammals and birds, are developmentally integrated into their environments (imprinted) and cannot be expected to be released and then survive as well after being displaced. Regional genetic frequencies differ so that a reintroduced organism or group of organisms may be genetically inappropriate to the region of reintroduction. Its elimination allows for competing species to occupy the original ecological space. Those alien species require considerable efforts to remove. Natural habitat preservation is preferable to the preservation of species in zoos or botanical gardens; yet zoos and botanical gardens are critically important in preserving extirpated species stock for future reintroduction as well as to spread the word about species loss to the masses (Norton 1986, 1987/2016).


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The susceptibility to extinction differs among species. We can reduce the likelihood when highly resistant life stages (1) are protected (e.g., seeds); (2) do not eliminate an entire year’s breeding population or cycle; (3) keep migratory rates unaffected as much as possible for recruitment (neotropical migrants require a contiguous or migratory route mega-ecosystem preserved); (4) protect “ecological space”— whole habitat or contiguous open spaces; (5) protect critical habitats; and (6) allow science to serve human demand values when appropriate (Eldredge 1991, 1992, 1998). If science discovers that a particular species contains an unusual chemical defense against predators (e.g., the venom of the Malaysian pit viper thins the blood of its victim), then this piece of knowledge may simply be an interesting fact or it may turn out that the chemical extracted will act as a life-saving anticoagulant when given to humans. The key here is that total diversity is the relevant concept when discussing endangered species policy. We can protect endemic species so that recolonization in their natural state continues to have a potential role in restoration. Any species, however useful for a given purpose, remains a candidate for new and different uses. No ecologist worth his or her salt would claim to understand the ecological role of any given species well enough to accurately assess its contribution to the ecosystem in which it participates. A commercial value of a species is merely its known value at the time. For example, John and Mildred Teal (1983) of Life and Death of the Salt Marsh noted that “the tides remove 45% of the production before the marsh consumers have a chance to use it and in so doing permit the estuaries to support an abundance of animals.” An acre of salt marsh was estimated to have a value at that time of approximately $2,500, as a tertiary treatment of excess nutrients. Today, with economic inflationary aspects considered, that same acre will be worth millions of dollars. Sidebar 2.2 offers another example.

Sidebar 2.2: Jamaica Bay Marsh Loss I chaired a Blue Ribbon Panel that explored the loss of marsh in Jamaica Bay, New  York (see Fig.  2.4). John Teal was a member of this National Park Service team. We discussed the ecological services aspect of coastal marshes at length, and any estimate we considered in 2001 would eclipse the millions of dollars in ecological services rendered for humans. Just to note the restoration funds from Superstorm Sandy of 2012 in New York State (mostly Long Island and NYC) totaled $60  billion…yes, billion, and Sandy was only 75 mph winds; the wind speed actually only made it to a maximum of 74 mph and was called a superstorm for insurance purposes!

In 1974, James G. Gosselink et al. noted that there is no empirical documentation for such estuarine marsh values. In northeastern US, one acre of estuarine Spartina alterniflora marsh had been valued at approximately $20,000. Today, estuaries are

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Fig. 2.4  Photo of report detailing marsh loss in Jamaica Bay

considered too complex to place quantitative values. Instead, we emphasize only “keystone species,” a concept that eliminates the majority of biological diversity. Total diversity preservation is key and would place considerable value on total ecosystems. It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of the community structure development of a large and diverse species pool available to colonize open spaces For example, after the 1988 Yellowstone Fires, dormant seeds repopulated forested areas. Also, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park initially had complete tree removal by clear-cut methods, but this has all turned back to the original forest cover since it has become a national park and eliminated logging.


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The agents governing the rate of successful ecosystem development are the availability and proximity of colonizing species (Odum 1969). As competition stiffens, species with mechanisms designed to exclude competitors will gain advantages. This exclusion can be by the occupation of space, the deprivation of nutrients (e.g., shading out others), and the production and distribution of inhibitory chemicals in the soil. Grazing by herbivores increases open plain diversity because consumption pressures prevent the over-dominance of any one species of plant. All herbivores exert different control mechanisms (mostly grazing) and therefore increase niche possibilities on the lower tropic level as occurs in the tropics where there are tremendous numbers of insects and a high diversity of plants (Odum 1975, 1985). Paul and Ann Ehrlich (1981) discussed the accelerating downward spiral of species extinction in their book, Extinction, and used an analogy that “The Rivet Poppers” by human intervention in species loss is like pulling rivets from an aircraft’s wing at $2 each to keep down the cost of aircraft flights. He stated, “It is safe; it must be! It’s been going on for some time!” However, as noted in The Closing Circle by Barry Commoner (1980), the interconnectedness of diverse links provides for stability. Conversely, the “un-branching of interactive processes” in an ecosystem will ultimately lead to a collapse. As humans develop land tracts, the ecosystems on these tracts are diminished in diversity and become less stable and less ecologically healthy, requiring ever-increasing amounts of external energy subsidies to function (Fig. 2.5). There are levels of stability as a dynamic stability, with distances between major disturbances. Tropical systems are highly diverse, yet human alterations can help create a “patchiness” area that can establish an even greater total diversity. This has been observed (Stalter et al. 1996) in urban systems where rare species survive and persist in urban protected areas and play an important role in defending against development and habitat loss by maintaining open spaces within a regional identification of biodiversity. The advantages of preserving species are undermined incrementally by a “nickel-and-dime” approach to ecology. From this point of view, at any point in the decision process, the economic advantages may exceed the probable values of preservation. Garrett Hardin (1968) noted in The Tragedy of the Commons, that “the marginal utility of resources to the individual will always be greater than zero.” We are locked into a system that compels us to increase without limit…in a world that is limited. In the words of ecologist Howard T.  Odum (1924–2002), it is the “tyranny of small decisions” that propels us. In 1989, Time Magazine named Earth “The Planet of the Year” (Sancton 1989) due to the environmental movement’s emphasis on human values, duties, and responsibilities toward nature. During the 1900s, conservationism represented economic utilitarianism, a viewpoint that is still with us today. Concessions programs in national parks are established to make money off of nature. Ecologist and conservationist Aldo Leopold (1887–1948) adopted the preservationist philosophy of the legendary naturalist John Muir (1838–1914) who advocated preserving nature for nature’s sake. The land ethic identified in Leopold’s (1949) seminal book, A Sand County Almanac, emphasized, All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise; that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in the

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community but his ethics prompt him to cooperate. The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants and animals, or collectively: the land.

Fig. 2.5  First figure legend: Barry Commoner, Director of the Urban Ecology Institute at CUNY Queens College, giving a keynote address at the First Jamaica Bay Conference, 1980 Second figure legend: (L-R) Jack Hoyt of NYC Sierra Club; Robert McIntosh, Superintendent of National Park Service at Gateway National Recreation Area; Joseph P. Addabbo, U.S. Congressman; Dr. Jack Pearce, Senior Scientist NOAA at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Dr. Norbert Psuty, Professor of Geomorphology at Rutgers University; John T.  Tanacredi, Chief Natural Resources Division Gateway National Recreation Area of the National Park Service (author)


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The implications of preserving biodiversity may curtail freedoms people have been accustomed to in how they deal with nature. Leopold acknowledged that sacrifices were required by such an ethical approach to the land and were the main influence for the creation of the “Wilderness Act” in 1964. Holmes Rolston III (2008) has noted that the killing of untold species is like “tearing pages out of an unread book, written in a language humans hardly know how to read, about the place where we live” (404). How much value do we place on clean air and water or a healthy global environment? What is society’s obligation to future generations? How many species inhabit the Earth? (May 1992). In 1754, the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus established the system of scientific nomenclature that is still in use today. Despite more than 250 years of systematic research and classification, the total number of species currently on Earth is still unknown. More than half of the current known total belongs to the phylum Arthropoda, which includes subphylum’s Crustacea and Arachnea. The geographic distribution of taxonomists is ill matched to identify and classify the species richness of various taxa. For example, only 4% of taxonomists work in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa where much of the Earth’s biodiversity is concentrated. A central repository for information about species is also lacking. T.  L. Erwin, an entomologist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, looked at beetle faunas in the canopies of tropical trees. Using an insecticidal fog, he collected canopy beetles in Panama over three seasons and identified more than 1,200 species. He calculated the level of biodiversity on the assumption that each tree exhibits two-thirds of the insects in this tropical forest canopy, resulting in 600 species multiplied by 50,000 tree species in the tropics, resulting in 30 million species of beetles and insects alone. The ultimate aims in recording biodiversity are (1) to build a factual foundation for answering basic questions about evolution and ecology; (2) to study food webs and food chains; (3) to understand the general trends in the numbers and distributions of living things; (4) to inventory fungi, nematodes, and micro-organisms as they are probably the least well-inventoried organisms and may be most important in their relationships to human life (Fredrickson and Onstott 1996); and (5) to continue maintaining a rich species diversity on Earth because it has significant human health implications (Grifo and Rosenthal 1997). In addition to the preservation of life on the planet, an explanation for the origin of life continues to occupy scientific investigations. A growing discipline called exobiology explores life’s origins and life’s possible existence on other planets. The single question, “What is life?” has stimulated considerable investigation, most notably by biologists Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan (1995). To know about life, we must look at our own trail as well as the historical basis for this journey. Margulis, then a professor at the University of Massachusetts, noted: The body concentrates order. It continuously self-repairs. Every five days you get a new stomach lining. You get a new liver every two months, and your skin replaces itself every six weeks. Every year, 98 percent of the atoms of your body are replaced. This non-stop chemical replacement metabolism is a sure sign of life. This ‘machine’ demands continued input of chemical energy and materials (food).

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Austrian geologist Eduard Suess (1831–1914) had covered the concept of biosphere, but Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863–1945) described organisms as “living matter.” In his 1926 work, The Biosphere, Vernadsky (1926/1998) showed how Earth’s surface was an ordered transformation of the energies of the sun. “The biosphere,” wrote Vernadsky, “is at least as much a creation of the sun as a result of terrestrial processes.” Australian rocks that are 3,485 million years old contain 111 or more types of recognizable fossilized bacteria. These are the oldest rocks on Earth, thus containing the vestiges of life’s origin. Alexander Ivanovich Oparin (1894–1981) published a book titled The Origin of Life (1924/1965). In it, Oparin focused attention on specific ways in which chemicals might self-organize toward life. In 1953 at the University of Chicago, the chemist and biologist Stanley L. Miller (1930–2007) miniaturized what he thought was Earth’s earliest chemical environment. He filled flasks with gases to mimic an initiation ocean. For a week, he bombarded his glassware microcosms with lightning-like electrical discharges. The results were alanine and glycerin (two chemicals essential in living proteins) as well as many other compounds that had spontaneously appeared in the flask. In 1921, the pioneering Scottish biologist and pharmacist Sir Alexander Fleming (1881–1955) was examining colonies of bacteria isolated in petri dishes when a drop of mucus from his nose fell into the dish. Upon inspection of the dish several days later, the bacterial colonies were either reduced in size or gone altogether. Fleming published a paper in 1922 noting the “remarkable bacteriolytic element” in mucus. The element lysozyme is an enzyme that attacks complex amino acid-sugar polymer that forms the outer cell wall of many bacteria (Margulis and Sagan 1995). In the 1890s, the German bacteriologist Robert Koch (1843–1910) developed four criteria, known as the Koch Postulates, that are used to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between a microbe and a disease. Koch found that bacteria in the blood of cows with anthrax (an infectious disease of warm-blooded animals caused by spore-forming bacteria) grew from hardy bacterial spores. Koch fed blood serum to the bacilli and learned to grow the bacteria in a liquid broth (Duhe 2011). Thus is the beginning of our knowledge of germ theory and life functions from the primordial past. The geological record can give us some inkling of how previous land diversity was impacted by those events where biodiversity was severely reduced by massextinction events (Raup 1979, 1986). Alvarez et al. (1980) proposed an extraterrestrial cause for mass extinctions 65 million years ago and identified evidence of high levels of iridium at the mass-extinction event line. The Nemesis Hypothesis notes a clearing away of species regardless of their niche relationship. Mass extinctions precede the appearance of new species with long periods of stasis (e.g., significant radiation over land bridges of mammals after dinosaur extinctions in Pangea (Novacek 2001; Raup 1991). Their extinction was not a result of competitive exclusions. According to fossil records, dinosaurs were gone 65 million years ago. Twenty-­ one major groups vanished by the Cretaceous Tertiary boundary period (Alvarez 1997). Why? Extinctions are natural phenomena. Humans have a 35,000–50,000 year history of bipedalism while evolving from all other primates of around three


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million years ago. Approximately 10,000  years ago, the ancestors of Native Americans hunted woolly mammoths to extinction. Most of Europe’s wildlife had been domesticated (e.g., cattle, pigs, cats, dogs, and landscapes). In the United States, American Bison was almost extinct, but through captive breeding with artificial insemination (the efforts of both the Bronx Zoo and President Theodore Roosevelt), U.S. Western herds of the 1920s are somewhat restored today. E. O. Wilson (1988) has noted that of the 300 different known tree species in Peru, he found 43 species of ants on one Peruvian forest tree. We have not even begun to systematically look at the oceans, but 6% of the world’s land mass contains 50% of the world’s species. In her book, Sea Change, Sylvia Earle (1996) noted that globally, we are losing one species every 4 minutes. With new species discovered each year, we may not be turning the tide on this loss, however expansive it is. Exploration is a key component of discovering new species, via deep-sea submersibles passing over hydrothermal vents or more time observing functioning ecosystems. As habitats are lost from sprawl and mega-development infrastructure projects such as dams, the discovery of new species around the world will continue to pose many challenges. Even with an increasing number of new species, it will remain extremely difficult to catch up to fill niches and potentially restore their ecosystems to healthy conditions. The genetics of our known biodiversity has not been identified for the most part (Schonewald-Cox et  al. 1983). Genetic codes of bacteria, molds, fruit flies, and E. coli human have been noted. We have yet to reveal how the frog’s slimy skin layer produces natural toxins that kill bacteria. The chemical nature of Alkaloids from plants (i.e., N-containing ringed compounds such as caffeine, nicotine, and cocaine) are known to bind with active ion pumps/channels in nerves and muscles called acetylcholine receptors. What we have learned in basic neurophysiological research can be further explained if we finally genetically catalog all known plants. Sharks, for example, a top predator of the world’s oceans, could hold clues to successfully combating skin cancers if we weren’t so bent on consuming more than 192 million shark fins annually for shark fin soup (Ling 2008). Research on sharks has revealed that their immune system rarely develops cancers. Yet tumors commonly occur in shellfish. Leukemia in soft-shelled clams (Mya arenaria) and fish such as Winter Flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) exhibit pre-vacuolated cells that are pre-cancerous (Augspurger et al. 1994), which prompt further investigations. The venom of a pit viper is a vasodilating agent that helps in blood pressure and hypertension research. Toxins and chemicals are found in a wide variety of marine organism, many of which are endangered. Therefore, protecting biodiversity can help us understand human physiology and disease. Twenty-five percent of all prescriptions written in the US from 1959 to 1980 were for medications that contained active ingredients extracted from terrestrial plants. Cancer drugs such as Taxol from the Pacific Yew tree (Taxus brevifolia) in old-growth forests took over 20 years to bring into public use. In Madagascar, the tropical Rosy Periwinkle (Vinca rosea) has been studied for its potential to treat diabetes, suppress bone marrow degeneration, and produce Vincristine for the treatment of childhood leukemia. In Madagascar, deforestation may cause the loss of

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four other Vinca species—two that are close to extinction. All conservation efforts have paled in relation to deforestation with its resultant ecosystem disruption. This must be curtailed as it is most capable of leading to mass extinctions in the contemporary times through: (1) deforestation with the commensurate erosion of soils; (2) food supply suppression (e.g., bats as pollinators and predators of insects; 40% of all bat species are endangered; Procopiou 2016); (3) overfishing, coastal estuaries, coral reefs (all the world’s marine turtles are endangered); (4) lower biodiversity and the appropriate leadership support, which has contributed to vector-borne disease (Lyme disease) prevalence that goes up with the elimination of top predators to naturally control deer populations and diseases such as the West Nile Virus (Fonseca et al. 2004); (5) malaria increases in which slash-and-burn agriculture encroaches on rainforests and favors breeding Anopheles mosquitoes due to favorable habitat conditions created in the locales. In every case for global ecosystems, there must be a dramatic expansion of the monitoring of global changes. Factors contributing to the loss of biodiversity include the loss rate of rainforests and coral reefs; the increased UV light due to past ozone depletion; lipophilic chemical pollution such as PCBs, DDTs, and Hg. Indicator species such as marine mammals require monitoring networks to be established and significantly expanded. In the United States, causes of the dramatic rise in cancer incidence for white male children between 1973 and 1988 has been attributed to environmental degradation and the loss of biodiversity. As Savage (1995) noted, the “Marine environment is more diverse than terrestrial ecosystems in Phyla (54 marine, 10 terrestrial) although terrestrial environments have greater species diversity. Biodiversity is the healthy underpinning of the earth.” Paradoxically, the increased awareness of the significance of biodiversity to human welfare arises from the recognition that human activity is accelerating a reduction of this diversity. Human population demands have led to a conversion of natural habitats to degraded landscapes, pollution, urbanization, and simplification or the mono-culturalization of natural ecosystems. A classic twentieth-century example of biodiversity under siege is the Tropical Mountain Toad (Bufo periglenes). This toad was an abundant species and fully protected in Costa Rican preserves. It was last observed in 1988 and is presumed extinct today. If we can observe a loss or extinction in plain sight, it begs the question of how many species overall are on Earth and what is their survivability? Conservation biologists have found some complicating circumstances that appear to fly in the face of what has been drastically pronounced since the use of the term “biodiversity in lifeboat attempts” by conservationists to preserve ecological systems unaltered by human activities. Smith et  al. (2004) reported that fish and plant communities isolated by the 1914 construction of the Panama Canal were pushed to extinction, thereby reducing the level of biological diversity in this tropical ecosystem. Their recent follow-up inventory of river sites to an original 1911–1912 Smithsonian Institution’s Biological Survey of the Panama Canal Zone revealed that biological diversity increased (from 27 to 30 and 18 to 23 of fish species, respectively, in two rivers). Urban systems repeatedly reveal increases in biological diversity values when such systems are stressed. Exotics or alien species may even dominate in some significantly disturbed terrestrial habitats.


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Generally, the role in preserving biodiversity of national parks has been overlooked by general park visitors. Although it is not ideal in the larger preservation tactic of wilderness designations, the inclusion of contiguous lands and waters inside a park boundary often will aid in the protection of ecosystem diversity and those species that reside in them or use them for survival. There is an important economic dependency as well as emotional/moral/cultural reasons for maintaining biological diversity (Rather 2004). Food resources, medicines, industrial processes, cultural, genetic, and food web dynamics are all influenced by the diversity of biological systems on Earth. Habitat alterations by urban development and sprawl, agricultural/industrial complexes, and transportation corridors, in addition to logging, grazing, and general pollution events have resulted in large habitats being fragmented into patch-sized islands of originally larger ecosystems (Cannon 1998). Biodiversity increases with micro-organism surveys that have been shown to occur in a variety of Earth habitats: boiling hot waters of thermal springs found in Yellowstone National Park, under polar ice caps, and even deep inside the Earth in subsurface environments over 1.7 miles below the surface in formations with temperatures as high as 167 °F or 75 °C (National Park Service 2018). Biologists have long observed that the transition zones between two habitat types, called ecotones, serve as the birthplaces for the biodiversity of rainforests. By protecting large tracts of rainforest ecosystems, evolutionary forces that generate species may not be there unless the processes place pressures on species. Pressures for survival in the two habitats are very different. The magnitude of differences in species’ sizes and shapes in ecotones and those in the deep rainforests can result in entirely distinct species (Yoon 1997). So while these species in ecotones and deep forests continue to interbreed and remain a single species, their divergence is suggestive of the kind of diversifications that can eventually lead to the formation of new species. There would be no need for the species to be geographically isolated, just strong natural-­ selection pressures despite continued interbreeding. In the discussion of how to stem the loss of biodiversity, it is important to identify early on the level of scarcity of any particular organism or ecosystem. Soulé (1986) noted two levels of scarcity: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative scarcity refers to reduced population size from overexploitation or poaching, and qualitative scarcity refers to air pollutants or hazardous chemicals that can degrade a habitat without necessarily reducing its area. In addition, the ultimate approach to conserving species by either in situ versus ex situ conservation strategies must be noted. In situ conservation-maintaining species in natural habitats is generally more effective than ex situ conservation such as the storage of plant materials in gene banks, zookeeping, and captive breeding. Ex situ conservation complements in situ work and is crucial in some cases such as in the captive breeding of California Condors, but it is expensive, impossible for some species, and removes organisms from the evolutionary forces of their changing environments. The connectedness of remaining parcels of natural habitat will influence how biological processes such as migrations and population dynamics play out. To maintain biological diversity in places such as national parks, there must be annual inventories and long-term monitoring of species interactions and population dynamics so these are ingrained into policy and fostered as an obligation. The majority of

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individual park species lists are incomplete, needing much greater emphasis into the future. These biological diversity assessments are essential to aid in the formation of policies to not only manage natural resources in the National Park system but also to help identify potential new or expanded resources to encompass biotic diversity not now protected in the National Park system or where conservation efforts to prevent the loss of biodiversity are more critical and not effective (Stohlgren et al. 1995). Species sometimes exhibit resiliency to habitat loss by either adapting to new habitats or replacing original functions with new ones (birds nesting or roosting on skyscrapers, or lawns acting like “grasslands”). Canada geese learn survival skills quite well on urban golf courses and urban lawns inside city parks. On the other hand, only about 17 acres of Hempstead Plains grasslands remain from the original pre-colonial south shore of New York’s Long Island grassland ecosystem. This remnant area is enclosed in a chain-linked fence to keep people from driving onto the grasses. It is being preserved by a Hempstead Plains Grasslands Citizen’s Committee. In general, however, highly specialized species’ habitat needs are more vulnerable to potential extinction than the more generalist species’ habitat relationships: Many grassland bird species have increased at “managed” grasslands on an abandoned airport at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, which has been part of the National Park Services’ Gateway National Recreation Area since 1972 (Bourque 2007). Prescribed burns help keep soil and ground cover in early grassland successional stages that support breeding grassland species such as Grasshopper Sparrows, Short-eared Owls, and Meadowlarks. As of 2015, several species of grassland birds continue to breed and exist at the Floyd Bennett Field site (Ron Bourque, personal communication with John Tanacredi, 2015). A major question for conservation ecologists is: What is the necessary size of a population that will inevitably sustain the particular species? There are considerable difficulties in being able to even speculate on what the answer might be. Paragon events that influence population dynamics of survival and reproduction (e.g., catastrophic meteorological events) eliminate significant habitats. A general rule of thumb has been that if there are more reproducing individuals, there is greater possibility of transference of genetic material for the maintenance of the species. Research conducted by the National Park Service found that it is instructive to examine large carnivore populations with large space requirements. In one study on grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park, there was a ratio of one grizzly per 4,991 hectares, which translates to 180 grizzly bears on 898,350 hectares, thus establishing the carrying capacity of this species (National Park Service 1989). Based on the paleontological record, species’ length of existence, species survive more than five million years before they are lost to extinction (Eldredge 1985, 1999), and we may be ratcheting up that rate. As Wilson (2002) stated: The appropriation of productive land – the ecological footprint – is already too large for the planet to sustain, and it’s growing larger. A recent study building on this concept estimated that the human population exceeded Earth’s sustainable capacity around the year 1978. By 2000, it has overshot by 1.4 times that capacity. If 12 percent of land were now to be set aside in order to protect the natural environment, as recommended in the 1987 Brundtland Report, Earth’s sustainable capacity will have been exceeded still earlier, around 1972. In


2  Preserving Biological Diversity: Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Not In Balance short, Earth has lost its ability to regenerate  – unless global consumption is reduced, or global production is increased, or both. (p. 27)

The restoration of biodiversity that is played out today along coastal marshes are herbaceous plant communities that were once periodically flooded by salt water. The loss of these Spartina alterniflora intertidal coastal marsh habitats from New England to Florida continues. This keystone species has experienced historic losses nationwide since 1954, two million hectares lost; one million have remained on the Atlantic gulf coast. The values of this estuarine habitat for commercial and sport fisheries worldwide are directly related to the area of marsh in the nursery grounds. Marsh restoration has been emphasized over the past two decades by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in their mitigation efforts under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, in the 404 permits that require no net loss of wetlands through recreation and restoration. The coastal marsh restoration process starts with Spartina alterniflora seeds that are stored at low temperatures of 2–3  °C, harvested from the field, or nursery grown (seedlings that are 5–7 month old) and are used in restoration efforts. Phragmites australis, an invasive coastal plant, requires removal to prevent competition with Spartina alterniflora and Spartina patens. Phrag grows on disturbed soils at a very rapid pace. The site preparation for restoration includes knowledge of gradient to eliminate poor drainage or the shoreline slope and the tide amplitude. It is important to know the storm frequency or susceptibility to storms for each specific site. Substrates are important in dune restoration, and planting techniques can be done via hand or a tobacco planter with an initial fertilization that will help spur growth. For example, as detailed in Case Study #4, the Sandy Hook and New Jersey beach replenishment project had over 300,000 culms of beach dune grass (Ammofila brevigulata) planted by such a method. There are considerable and highly variable factors that control ecosystem restoration success. In estuarine systems, tide range, salinity regimes, and stabilization over time will all influence the development of a restored ecosystem (Chabreck 1988). Restoration efforts must consider habitat value, especially the detrital food chain components that are important in the decomposition and ultimate recycling of organic matter in the restored ecosystem. Shoreline protection efforts in proximity of the restored site, in coastal ecosystems, will influence rates of erosion and littoral currents effects. Restoring native plant and animal communities may rely on arboretums, which can play an important role by preserving seed varieties and growth conditions. The early restoration attempts were in grassland and prairie ecosystems using “fire ecologies.” Leopold (1949) noted that all natural systems require some “intelligent tinkering.” Charles Darwin (1859/2009) made observations on “clearing ground in order to study competition in the resulting community of weeds,” identifying the early limits of restoration ecology of natural systems. More recently, scientists have created mesocosms to mimic ecosystem functioning, through controlling speed, decelerating change, accelerating it, reversing it, and altering its course. In this manner, ecological variability can function and changing characteristics of healthy ecosys-

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tems can be observed as reference points. Candace Oviatt (1994) at the University of Rhode Island operated and developed a mesocosm estuary system for over 30 years to observe perturbations in estuaries under controlled ex situ conditions. Observations of simplified, highly subsidized ecologies demonstrated in aquacultures or monocultures can allow observation in extreme, yet diverse ecologies. In practice and in theory, restoration is speeding up succession. In the case of restored or revitalized grasslands, the first set of acts was to prevent the invasion of woody species and in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, entire portions of historic forested areas were cleared for lumber. The forests of the mountains were replanted at the same time, which allowed the management of competing tree species and other organisms helping to restore the forests of Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) whose small seeds are easily carried by birds, such as jays or crows, for wide dispersal. The reintroduction of several keystone bird species is very successful such as with the placement of osprey poles in estuaries, barn owl boxes within marshes, and the maintenance of grassland bird habitat through prescription fire management or mowing regimens. The primary goal in the restoration of any natural system is to restore plant and animal communities to recreate the original functioning ecosystem or significant functions of that ecosystem (Vos and Opdam 1993). To some extent, aquariums and zoos restore by captive breeding or displaying significant parts of living resources of ecosystems; museums have restored voucher specimens of species that have existed and may be long gone; arboretums maintain a variety of plants possibly lost to human activity or disease; and, largest in scale, national parks try to maintain entire ecosystems or connected networks of ecosystems. The earliest restoration projects were prairie restorations using fire. These fire ecologies were mimicked by Native American populations to take advantage of better foraging conditions for plains animals such as bison and elk. Early restoration projects were mostly experimental for research on how to repair ecosystems. There are defined limits to restoration ecology’s success and mesocosms such as the Harvard Forest where subprocesses can be controlled, steering natural selection, or even preventing a progression of changes in the ecosystems’ redevelopment that can be observed over relative short time frames. Some restoration activities such as reclaiming sanitary landfill sites were adapted for the sustainability of monocultures or for recreation. The invisibility of these controlled communities from new species, pests, keystone species, and the use of control techniques such as Integrated Pest Control were all directed toward an evaluation of productivity. If we could restore a marsh, for example, we should be able to put a dollar value on the marsh for the future re-creation of a particular marsh ecosystem. Restoration ecology, the resulting discipline, ultimately looked at food web preservation with all its biotic interactions. There have been technical concerns in this restoration process. The stabilization of land surfaces and pollution control are always of concern for construction projects such as highways and bridges. Visual impairments (e.g., vistas) and the impacts on biodiversity must be evaluated. New species (alien species) introduction and the rehabilitation of specific species in ecosystems where the release is to take place


2  Preserving Biological Diversity: Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Not In Balance

should be of a similar functioning as an un-impacted ecosystem. It is unfortunate that our knowledge level of many individual species we wish to reintroduce is sparse. Several questions need to be addressed before there can be a judgment as to the approach toward restoration success: (1) how long it will take to restore the ecosystem under study to be degraded and (2) what bounds define the ultimate goal of the restoration. An exceptional example of a national conservation strategy that has emphasized biological diversity and human contributions to sustainable development in the tropics is the creation of the Earth University in Costa Rica in 1986. Over the past 35 years, the Earth University has trained students, government officials, and visitors experiencing an education model of innovative technologies that develop new ways to protect the environment. Costa Rican government’s protection of tropical habitat in its national park system since the 1980s (Fig. 2.6), coupled with protections against poaching of top predators, is exemplified by the protection of the river alligators (Fig.  2.7), which fosters integrative agricultural practices (banana farming; see Fig. 2.8) and eco-tourism enterprises.

Fig. 2.6  National Parks in Costa Rica. (Source: Costa Rica Guide 2019)

2  Preserving Biological Diversity: Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Not In Balance

Fig. 2.7  Costa Rican Alligators

Fig. 2.8  Costa Rican Banana Farms



2  Preserving Biological Diversity: Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Not In Balance

The Atlantic City Boardwalk and Pier epitomizes the way we utilize our coastline. A wetlands restoration conference has been held on the pier/boardwalk at Atlantic City, New Jersey, for more than 35 years now, and the mall complex built on the pier overlooking the surf line is symptomatic of how we perceive the coast: people lined up in beach chairs with sand around their feet, looking out from the third story of the pier mall through a glass window. It certainly extends the sun-­ worshipping season! This is the extent that the general public has about the shore: controlled, conditioned, and artificial. The economic revival of Atlantic City has, for the most part, been unremarkable and attributable to a Las Vegas–style entertainment. Of course, the biggest “gamble” is that this infrastructure—chairs, sand, glass windows, pilings, hotels, condos, and casinos—will all be gone the day a hurricane of Category 3 to Category 5 slams onto this barrier beach. It is not a matter of “if”; it’s a matter of “when.” The dramatic impact to the New Jersey shore communities didn’t need to wait for a high-category storm; all they needed was Superstorm Sandy (Category 1) that in 2012 created over $60 billion of infrastructure damage to Long Island and New York City alone. We have not been very good at “restoration” along the shoreline, with restorative justifications from improving “recreational resources,” “storm protection,” “ecological restoration,” and the biggest shame of all along coastlines, “no net loss” of wetlands. Restoration has had some success where the ecosystem scale was manageable. With enough money and resources, one could theoretically re-create entire coastal communities. However, it is highly debatable whether their productivity or functioning would be as is found in an untrammeled ecosystem.

Chapter 3

Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?

The study of toxic compounds and their influence on ecosystems, or ecotoxicology, is differentiated from general toxicology (Harris 2000). However, it is still influenced by looking at poison’s impact on humans and individual laboratory research animals. It’s much more complex to look at the ecological effects of pollutants because toxicity tests reflect dramatically different results depending on the species used, their threshold responses, and whether the investigations are acute or chronic studies of the environmental system these species may normally reside in. The distribution of toxic pollutants in ecosystems can occur by wet deposition or dry deposition. The grain size of soil, the pH of moisture in the air (aerosols), and the salinity of water all can alter the eco-impact of the complex aspects of some pollutants (Cockerham and Shane 1994). For example, copper combines with humic substances in the soil when the soil salinity is lowered. DDT, which is toxic, has a common metabolite, DDE.  This is the direct causative factor in the thinning of eggshells in birds, while DDT itself does not affect shell thinning directly. Even though a contaminant is toxic to living tissue, larger scale effects can occur from low concentrations that are nowhere near the toxic levels of a major exposure event such as an oil spill. However, chronic exposures to nano-level contaminants can have significant effects on hormonal functioning or mimic endocrine levels of the chemical pathways associated with growth and maturation in a host of living organisms, including humans (Table 3.1). The effects of toxic pollutants on a particular population size and density or fluctuation rates are always difficult to establish (Fig. 3.1). Ecologists identify background mortality rates and normal reproductive strategies as either an r-strategy species (e.g., mosquitoes that live a short time and produce many young) or a K-strategy species (e.g., humans and peregrine falcons that live longer and have only a few young). This inherent variability in any study population will include stochastic situations (chance events) that are normal in a healthy functioning ecosystem. For example, fish kills, which are normal phenomena in aquatic systems, have been attributable to an ecosystem considered dysfunctional or degraded, when © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 J. T. Tanacredi, The Redesigned Earth,


3  Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?


Table 3.1  Top 15 Toxic organic compounds detected in drinking water wells and surface waters Chemical 1, 1, 1-Trichloroethane 1, 2-Dichloroethylene Acetone Benzene Carbon tetrachloride Chloroform Cyclohexane Dibutyl phthalate Dioxane Ethyl benzene Ethylene dibromide Methylene chloride Tetrachloroethylene Toluene Trichlorethylene

Groundwater Concentration (ppb)∗ 965–5440 91–323 3000 30–330 135–400 67–490 540 470 2100 2000 35–300 47–3000 717–1500 55–6400 900–27,300

Source: Adapted from The Conservation Foundation 1987.

Fig. 3.1  Possible effects of contaminants on the life cycle of the Winter flounder

3  Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?


in actuality, this event may be occurring during peak productive or migratory ­periods. The expected result of any natural ecological functioning, especially when population numbers yield massive numbers of juveniles or offspring the first of the year, can exceed the ecosystem’s carrying capacity, resulting in mass mortalities such as periodic fish kills. Ecologists concerned about ecosystem health might ask the following questions: What makes a species successful at colonizing a new habitat? How does a pollutant reactively affect a population when a large portion is affected? Using toxicity data alone for one species, we cannot predict with complete confidence the toxicity of the same chemical for a different species, even if they are closely related. From an ecosystem health perspective, the impacts on the carrying capacity or the maximum sustainable yield affecting community niche development are more significant determining factors. Food web dynamics need to be observed over a contiguous ecosystem, such as food availability, community structural changes (plant assemblages and successional stages), altered biomes, and shifts in species dependency (Hoffman et  al. 1990; Moriarty 1983). These variables need to be monitored, especially where a species is restricted in its movement or in specific community classifications (e.g., dominant plants with largest cover in a rainforest or in an urban area, such as Phragmites in disturbed habitats or wetlands). One must always consider the genetics of the system under investigation. Environmental changes by natural selection will determine the survival of some species over others. The role of pollutants in natural selection can be a strong selective force. Mendelian genetics-phenotype/genotype-genes (different forms of alleles at each locus on a chromosome) must be determined. Populations can be viewed as gene pools, where eco-toxicants that cause mutations are eventually eliminated. Advantageous ones, widespread in the population, may take many generations to be removed because disadvantageous genes that juggle mutation rates and selection pressures influence gene maintenance in populations. Natural selection minimizes harm caused by mutations. For example, a mutation allowing birds to lay more eggs per clutch appears to be advantageous, but larger clutches tend to produce fewer surviving young due to the lack of sustainable nourishment. The relevance of ecological genetics and natural selection by pollution effects on wildlife has been typified by the melanic moth (darker) form of the Peppered Moth (Biston betularia). In England prior to 1850, melanic forms of a mutation maintained from predation, through their blending into dusty backgrounds on trees, was attributable to the progressive increase in industrial zones around London. The degree of predation by birds on resting moths significantly depends on the degree to which they match their background. It was exhibited experimentally that the relative survival of the melanic and normal forms differed in rural and industrial areas. Air pollution levels were not having a direct effect on moth populations or their predators. The pollution was, however, altering their habitat and of the relative fitness (phenotypical attraction or detection by predators) of different genotypes (i.e., the appropriate color to camouflage oneself from predation). This classic example of local adaptation is “industrial melanism” exhibited in several different species of British moth. As the industrial revolution proceeded in England, air pollution killed lichens on tree bark, resulting in a pronounced darkening of the general background color.


3  Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?

Several species of moths rest on these trees and are subject to visual predation by birds, which is a normal ecological predator–prey interaction. In polluted areas, these moths have light-colored wings that are cryptic on lichen-covered trees but near industrial areas are dark colored and match the tree colors in these areas. In many cases where the genetic basis of this adaption was investigated, it turns out to depend on only one gene locus (Bishop and Cook 1980). Such information about local adaptation must be obtained through comprehensive research on natural populations. This type of scientific milestone information needs to be incorporated in endangered species programs and all toxicological investigations. The impact on plants from toxicants can be significantly affected by a differentiation of these contaminants in soils where the plants develop because they may prevent seed germination. Experiments have confirmed that only tolerant plants can grow well on contaminated soils, as both types of plants have germinated and grown equally well on uncontaminated soils. However, when the tolerant and normal genotypes were grown together on uncontaminated soils, the normal plants grew more successfully than the tolerant genotypes; the normal genotypes were the most successful competitors. Experiments suggest that many species lack the appropriate alleles that would enable them to adapt genetically to high-selection pressures from ecotoxicants (e.g., Out of 10,000 seeds of nine separate species grown on contaminated soils, only two species had about a 0.8% chance of survival). The most extensive data on resistance to contaminants is in insect resistance to pesticides. First detected in 1908, the insect called San Jose Scale (Aspidiotus perniciosus) was found to be resistant to lime sulfur. By 1948, 14 species of insects had been shown to be resistant to pesticides, and by 1988, 414 species were resistant (Busvine 1951; Wilson and Peter 1989). There are several tolerance mechanisms that can cause pesticide resistance in insects. Different populations of the same species may develop genetically controlled mechanisms for resistance to the same insecticide. For example, the target pest may exhibit changes in behavior that reduce exposure or there may be a reduced penetration rate of the particular insecticide in the organism or increased detoxication rates (i.e., metabolic pathways of the specific organism). Some insecticides are not toxic until metabolized and then detected in an increase in excretion rates or there is a change at the site of action that have been identified as enzyme shifts. We can measure resistance to insecticides with some variations of the LD50 test (a lethal dosage is 50%). Yet these are not absolute and can be markedly influenced by the environment the pesticide is used in. It was revealed that the resistance of two strains of housefly (Masca domestica) exposed to DDT and Dieldrin affected their resistance when applied topically (Winteringham and Harrison 1959). It is impossible to predict with complete confidence the ecological effects of a new chemical due to its possible synergistic relationships with other chemicals (Blum and Speece 1990). The distribution may be ubiquitous, causing differential impacts and harm. On a global scale, there are more than 1,000 new chemicals produced annually and it is even more difficult to estimate the amount already distrib-

3  Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?


uted or to be produced. Risk assigned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sometimes can be determined by the intended uses and the chemicals’ tendency to disperse in the environment. Its persistence in both biotic and abiotic conditions and its conversion in these conditions influence the eco-toxicological consequences to individuals and to the ecosystem. Bio-accumulation factors for lipid-soluble chemicals are integral parts of food web/chain dynamics. Relative contributions from food and/or water may not be dispersed in a way that predator and prey are equally exposed to the chemical in the environment. DDT will always be associated with sediments; yet because it is lipophilic, it will be detected in all trophic levels in an exposure event. There are few marine and estuarine invertebrate toxicity tests for organisms that have been seriously developed for monitoring purposes. Species should be sensitive to a wide range of chemical contaminants and to several biological responses. There must be robust, repeatable tests, and they need to be readily interpretable in terms of the biological consequences of pollution-ecological relevance. Recent work on metals’ impacts on multi-generations of marine amphipod is revealing (Ringenary et al. 2007). Determining an ecosystem’s response to environmental contaminants usually starts with acute lethal tests: LD50 and LC50s, chronic life-cycle tests (in situ), and possibly biomarkers (cellular responses). It is very important to establish Long-­ Term Monitoring Networks (e.g., shell layering, annual growth rings) in sentinel organisms such as bivalves (Mytilus edulis and Mercenaria mercenaria); shrimp (Artemia salina); or observing bivalve spawning and fertilization processes, such as sperm and egg development; and effects on feeding, pumping water, etc., during reproduction and maturation (Tanacredi and Cardenas 1991). In acute toxicity tests for pesticides, metals, sewage sludge, and sedentary organisms such as Mytilus edulis (blue mussels) are used due to their ability to express bio-concentrations in suspension. These filter feeders pump large volumes of water (> 4 liters/hr) and are commercially or ecologically important. The species used are generally non-motile species that can reflect the levels of impact to specific sites within the larger ecosystem. The International Mussel Watch program uses the Mytilus species for the aforementioned reasons. In vertebrate species, mixed functional oxidases (MFO) are a group of enzymes that (1) catalyze the conversion of lipophilic substrates to more polar byproducts, (2) occur in the smooth endoplasmic reticulum and require oxygen NADpH and cytochrome P-450 enzyme; and (3) are inducible under normal activities in the organism. If an organism is exposed to a certain compound, the MFO activity increases, apparently to enhance the detoxification of the inducer. PAHs and PCBs are powerful inducers of MFO activity in vertebrates. Unfortunately, P-450 is at low or non-detectable levels in invertebrates. Atlantic silversides (Menidia menidia) are a fish species used in EPA toxicity tests in situ systems or mesocosms, as they can be spawned in laboratories throughout the year. Whole-sediment bioassays are used in toxicity studies, such as pore water and elutriate tests as well as solvent-extraction tests. Bacteriological bioassays such as the Microtox system use phosphorescent-sensitive bacteria to detect the toxicity level. Ecotoxicology and ecosystem restoration go hand in hand. These


3  Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?

are field-­oriented, biological disciplines that are relevant to everyday practices and cut across many disciplines. Toxic effects play out in population dynamics by affecting a specie’s morphology. Toxic effects on physiology and metabolism, reproduction, disease resistance, social behavior, courtship, and breeding may all be affected by a toxicant (Clayton and Clayton 1991). Interspecies interaction, such as migration, dispersion, and habitat selection patterns can all be manipulated. Environmental characteristics of habitat such as quantity and quality, the abundance of resources, the abundance of interacting species, patterns of disturbance, and the population structure (e.g., size structure, sex ratios, age structure, and the existence of keystone species) are all affected in natural systems and need to be monitored so as to detect changes or attempt to anticipate a cataclysmic circumstance. Urbanizing environments have increased the artificial infrastructure that can occupy much of the ground surface and provide an impermeable surface to soils. Runoff from paved areas will be higher and more rapid because minimal infiltration of water to underlying strata will occur, reducing the rate of recharge of natural groundwater and lowering the water table. What precipitation does penetrate to groundwater can have higher concentrations of a whole host of xenobiotics. With urbanization comes a new soil description or designation: urban soils. In 2000, the U.S.  Department of Agriculture established the “urban soil category,” indicating that urban soils are generally “poor.” Urban development results in the loss a range of wildlife species considered “specialists,” resulting in an increase in “generalist species.” The conservation response has been to maintain wildlife corridors or green belts by the outright purchase of lands, tax incentives (donate property), trade agreements, and conservation easements such as hunting and fishing without any development (Adams and Dove 1989). In New York State, the “Return-a-Gift to Wildlife” was a tax deduction or contribution implemented at tax time to provide funds to municipalities or NGOs to be used only for habitat or species preservation. The Grasslands Management Program Project was created to restore and maintain 400 areas of grassland habitat on the abandoned Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, part of the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area. It was developed and maintained principally to foster grassland bird population restoration efforts (i.e., Grasshopper Sparrows) and is entirely enclosed on the abandoned concrete airport runways and fill materials on Floyd Bennett Field. The Atlantic coast of the United States has been the subject of ecosystem restoration efforts through the removal of toxic compounds under two main federal laws dealing with toxic materials and restoration. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act was established to primarily help characterize the toxicity, reactivity, and corrosion of compounds in waste identification. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)—or commonly identified as “Superfund”—looks at waste generators, no matter the size or quantity. Even small-quantity generators are tracked in a manifest system. The “Superfund” emphasizes treatment and clean-up of hazardous wastes. It identifies those that must compensate the land or water owner for damages. It declares a predetermined clean-up series of processes, which may include incineration, ion

3  Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?


exchange, neutralization (pH adjustments), oxidation, and other state-of-the-art technologies (Natural Resources Agency 1991). The history of toxic compound use, their generation, and their disposal includes landfills as a major part of the story. The dramatic environmental tragedies of Love Canal (New York), Times Beach (Missouri), and Seveso (Italy), show the most severe tip of a proverbial toxic iceberg. The chronic, low-level exposures to environmentally toxic compounds have not been studied or assessed as to their specific impact on natural systems. Many environmentally toxic compounds mimic hormones or block specific physiological chemical reactions such as endocrine pathways in humans. Collectively, these aggregate numbers far exceed the ecosystem area that these aforementioned events affect. In the United States, there are tens of thousands of contaminated acres (Brownfields) of identified hazardous materials requiring restoration efforts (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2017). The preliminary question usually asked in toxic remediation is this: How much is harmful? All compounds naturally may have low concentrations of compounds that can be associated with their essential nutrients in human physiology. Human exposure to DDT was not identified until the early 1970s. It was first synthesized in 1874, and it was not until 1936 that Paul Miller discovered its insecticidal qualities. He received the Nobel Prize in 1948 for his work. PCBs, which are virtually indestructible, have been found distributed around the globe (D’Itri and Kamrin 1983). The concern over chemicals in our daily lives is not new to modern societies. The Roman Empire used pipes and drinking cups that were fashioned from the pliable metal lead. The Latin word for lead, plumbum (Pb), which is where we derive the word “plumber,” is a neuro-toxin and affects the central nervous system. Lead removed from gasoline helped remove lead in the atmosphere. However, lead is in the news again in aging pipe systems in Flint, Michigan, requiring the Michigan Board of Education to use only bottled water at an exorbitant cost, because replacing all the plumbing just in the Board of Education structures would cost hundreds of millions of dollars (McVicar 2017). In cities with growing populations, industrial or environmental diseases are associated with the chemicals people will be exposed to. During early parts of the Industrial Revolution, industries were the prime source of new illness. There was a prevalence of scrotum cancer among chimney sweeps caused by exposure to PAHs: B(a)P benzo(a)pyrene found naturally in burned proteinaceous fossil plant material is a by-­product of burning coal. Waste crank case oil from automotive lubricants, kerosene-­fuel in barbecue fires, and charcoal briquettes constantly put PAHs into food cooked for consumption and into the atmosphere. Synthetic fibers, a petroleum product, replace cellulose and wool from natural sources. Crude petroleum, ethylene, chlorine, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) all have long lives once discarded into the environment. Ethylene oxide used in hospitals to sterilize surgical instruments is a very reactive substance, which can produce ethylene glycol, a suspected carcinogen. Halogenated hydrocarbons with such halogens as Cl, Br, I, and F do not exist naturally in nature. The chemical dioxin, (trichlorophenoxyacetic acid or 2,4,5-T), is a weed-control agent produced under the trade name “Agent Orange,” which was used during the Vietnam War as a defoliant. The U.S. military sprayed over 11 mil-


3  Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?

lion pounds of this herbicide containing 220 pounds of dioxin across Vietnam. Yet in 1984, the first major health study of American veterans of the Vietnam War revealed no greater risk since the LD50 for TCDD 2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzo-p-­ dioxin is equivalent to 0.06 micrograms/kg. in male guinea pigs. Unfortunately, the direct toxicity of a toxic compound may require long-term observation of its relationship to and with other factors influencing toxicity in human and ecosystem health. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are found in semi-synthetic oils, superior hydraulic fluids, and insulating fluids in electrical capacitors and stone-cutting tool oils. Much of what we know about PCBs comes from a 1968 incident in Japan. Rice oil is made by pressing rice at high pressures. Extreme heats are produced and PCBs were used as cooling fluid, resulting in contamination. In one week, 1,000 customers of rice oil were ill with chlorine (hyperpigmentation of skin), liver disease (necrosis), fatigue, headaches, menstrual disorders, and some birth defects in breastfed children. Japan banned the use, import, and export of PCBs in 1972. Today in the United States, spillage of PCBs contaminating soils is from discarded transformers and these PCBs may enter the hydrologic cycle. General Electric dumped 30 lbs. of PCBs per day in the Hudson River, resulting in up to 600 tons of PCBs in the Hudson River basin by 1975 (Bopp et al. 1981). Striped Bass collected from the Hudson River exhibited 62–135 ppm PCBs, in the early days of testing; yet nearly 40 years later, most fish caught in the Hudson River ecosystem still exhibit 2 ppm bio-­accumulated concentrations (Jahn 2013). What is a “normal” exposure to toxic compounds, and when does it become abnormal? The intensity of effect and dosage of a drug in relationship to human health was first established in 1927. When acute toxicity (one lethal dose) is considered, depending on the avenue of exposure, whether it is inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption, the toxicity will vary from one species to the next. One must consider age, sex, habitat, along with a study of reactions of lab animals after dosage when determining the mode of toxicity. It has been demonstrated that the precise cause of toxicity by a biologically active molecule may not be known, with many organophosphorus insecticides becoming toxic after they have been metabolized. The classic example is DDT and its thinning of bird egg shells, where the DDE metabolite is the culprit with the original DDT having no effect on eggshell thickness (Pain et al. 1999). The toxicity of a compound can be determined by its corrosive properties (e.g., acids, bases); level of tissue destruction; or by its irritation properties to skin, eye, throat, and lungs. Toxic compounds that can be respiratory irritants can, upon inhalation, cause asphyxiation. There can be chemical asphyxiation, in which chemicals combine with some biologic constituent (e.g., CO + hemoglobin; cyanides + blood); or if the chemical is not easily soluble in water, it can destroy alveoli of the lungs by producing edema, which is a fluid build-up in the lungs. Last, narcosis due to the vaporization of organic solvents can occur. Once a substance is absorbed by the body, a “target organ” will alter the original compound, possibly making the origi-

3  Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?


nal compound more toxic. In addition to absorption, we must look at the rate of excretion when discussing environmental as well as occupational toxicology. How can we use early indicators to answer the question, and what type of tests can a scientist conduct to determine if human health will be affected in general or in two separate ecosystems? The direct analysis of a toxic agent on biologic tissue (e.g., toxic metals such as lead, cadmium, and Al, ethyl alcohol) can test a subject or an animal breathing in air samples and then determine the equilibrium between lung membranes such as alveoli. We can look for metabolic by-products since organic compounds can be changed in biotransformation, or what the body tries to do to make foreign substances less toxic. However, many times, the by-products are more toxic. The body can change organic substances by oxidation, reduction, hydrolysis, and conjugation (combination). Benzene, toluene, trichloroethylene, and cyanides become phenols when oxidative metabolism takes place in the liver, so beta-­napthylamine may become carcinogenic and cause urinary bladder cancer. The nature of a toxic substance can be exacerbated by an individual’s hyper-­ susceptibility. Acetylcholine, found in blood, is used to study enzymes such as esterase in myelin sheaths of muscle cells. The prevailing thought is that “one gene  – one enzyme” is what toxic compounds appear to affect. Metabolic by-­ products from toxic compounds can occur in several ways. The enzymatic oxidative process can occur by alcohols, hydrolysis, and synthesis, which takes place with by-products or by oxidation with another compound. Exposure to formaldehyde in approximately 40% to 60% results in benzoyl being excreted from the body with the remainder oxidized to phenol. It can conjugate with sulfuric acid levels in blood to form phenyl-sulfuric acid. An individual should not, in an eight-hour period, come in contact or accumulate more than 25 ppm of phenol in the air. Toluene and xylene do not have the same drastic effect as phenol on the blood, even though in some cases they both may seem more toxic. The effect on the body is usually narcotic. Many substances are in themselves not toxic, yet become toxic after they have been metabolized as with 3,4–benzo(a)pyrene, which is both carcinogenic and mutagenic. Inorganic insecticides, such as malathion or parathion, poison the central nervous system. Styrene (boat industry) is a problem for boat painters and makers. Forty percent of styrene is excreted through the lungs, with the remaining 60% transformed into mandelic acid, which can increase incidents of urinary bladder cancer. Results of cyanide poisoning are an increase of CH2 = CHCN in the liver and blood (thiocyanate), which is usually irreversible and ultimately leads to convulsive death. You only need 1–2 mg/kg in humans for this to occur. Halogenated hydrocarbons—many of them which are flammable—include carbon tetrachloride (CCL4), perchloroethylene (CCL2  =  CC12), trichloroethylene (CHC1  =  CCL2), methyl chloroform (CH3CC12), methylene chloride (CH2C12), and dichlorodifloro methane (CCL2F2). All of these affect the central nervous system. A highly chlorinated compound such as trichloroethylene has been shown, through a series of oxidation steps, to be excreted in the urine. Pulmonary edema, fluid in the lungs, is caused by CCL4 (carbon tetrachloride) found in fire extinguishers. In liver cells, mitochondria or any damage to liver cells


3  Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?

will cause transaminase in cytoplasm to be spilled into the serum. Any additional damage will cause mitochondria to release its MDH enzymes: malate dehydrogenase and glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase. Thus, the use of serum enzymes to evaluate toxic effects in a change of metabolism and as a measure of injury to a cell, will release these enzymes. GLDH glutamate dehydrogenase is only found in mitochondria. Scientists look for enzyme specificity in a poison’s action, and this is usually detected on a metabolic pathway. It is how organic phosphate insecticides work, by inhibiting an important enzyme such as acetylcholine esterase, which is important in muscle action. Due to exposure to organic phosphates, blood tests will give an indication of exposure and degree of exposure. Once an enzyme is inhibited, acetylcholine builds up and twitching occurs; there are no reflexes, and death can ensue almost immediately (parasympathetic response). The exposure to specific metals will affect specific organs either chronically or immediately upon inhalation (e.g., lungs – Be, Cd, Cr, Ni, As, V, Se, Zn, Co; central nervous system– Hg, Mn, Pb; kidney  – U, Hg (acute, As); and heart  – Sb, Ba; Liver – Se, As). Lung disease from casual dust and fumes result in acute pneumonitis (Mn, Be, Cd, V and their oxides Hg vapor); edema or metal fume fever (ZnO, CdO, MgO, CuO, NiO, FeO, HgO); chronic fibrosis (pathological; Be, free silica, asbestos, talc); damage to the lungs via long exposure; cancer (Chromates, nickel carbonyl, asbestos, radioactive emanation); asthma (divalent salts of platinum); and inert reactions (iron, barium, calcium, tin). After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, first responders were immediately exposed to the collapsed buildings at the NYC World Trade Center and suffered from a host of carcinogenic outcomes due to the inhalation of demolished building structure materials, and as a result of fires at Ground Zero in the building debris. After the accumulation of human experiences, the following levels have been set by the U.S. EPA (see Table 3.2). Mercury could potentially reach 19 mg/m3 if it is allowed to remain in the open. The diagnosis of “Hatter’s syndrome” was coined from the Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland who was mad because of Hg/Pb in liquid form being used in providing for the stiffening of felt hats in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (see Fig. 3.2). The placement of new hats into liquefied metals for the brims of top hats and fedoras to be stiffened caused damage to the central nervous system of the hatters who immersed the hats into vats up to their elbows. Solid lead is not a problem to human health exposures, but it’s when we have smelting operations or the smelt is brought to the melting point in soldering operations at 327  °C that Table 3.2  Threshold limit values Selected Metals Lead Mercury vapor Cadmium Beryllium

TLV mg/m3, AIR (mg/L) 0.15 0.05

Normal Urinary Excretion (mg/L) in Urine, Reflecting Excessive Exposure 0–0.08 0.025

Biological Threshold Limits 0.20 0.3

0.20 0.002

0.025 None detected

0.1 0.002

3  Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?


Fig. 3.2  Hats at the turn of twentieth century, New York City, Fifth and 42nd Street

fumes and vapors are created that can be inhaled and penetrated into the lungs’ alveoli. Thus, this has direct exposure to the respiratory and circulatory systems. When melting alloys, we can create high concentrations of these metals. Lead poisoning leads to abdominal cramps, muscle tensions, “lead lines” of the eyes and teeth, and levels in blood and urine with excessive lead/blood level for adults at 0.08 mg/100 gm of whole blood. Normal blood/lead levels occur at .04 to .06 mg/100 gm whole blood. The analysis of Pb in blood and urine is a tedious process, subject to levels of contamination, and is very time consuming. In general, anemia expressed by a low hemoglobin content is not specific to lead, but there are elevated coproporphyrin levels in urine during Pb exposure. Pb affects the Heme process, which results in baso-stippling of red blood cells (RBC). One does not always see stippled cells in all people that are exposed. Delta amino levulinic acid is elevated during Pb exposure and is highly specific to Pb, particularly with heavy metals. The ALA-dehydrase enzyme in RBC is inhibited during Pb exposure. Pb studies in children are marked by elevations during Pb exposure; a better parameter than coproporphyrin in urine is Proporphyrin in RBC. Hair, nails, and bones (keratin tissues) accumulate 5-60u/g or 500–6000 μ g/100gm of Pb. The EPA standard for Pb removal in automobile gasoline was issued in 1973


3  Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?

Table 3.3  Sampling of health effects attributable to cadmium, lead, and mercury exposure Types of Health Effects Brain and nervous system Cancer Cardiovascular system Circulatory system Eye system Injury to embryo/fetus Psychological (affective) disturbances Respiratory system Urinary system

Environmental Agents and Sources of Exposure Cadmium Lead Mercury X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X

Source: Adapted from The Conservation Foundation 1987

and completely phased out by 1996. This is an ecologically affirmed benefit to human health and its elimination from gasoline was a true environmental victory (Table 3.3). Non-metals in gaseous form, such as the halogens, chlorine, and fluorine, are highly reactive; in acid forms such as hydrofluoric acid, they become highly irritating to the respiratory tract. These can be found in various forms, such as fluoride dust or aerosol used in welding operations in the electrolytic process. In the city of Bartlett, Texas, fluorine (mean value) in drinking water was detected at 8  ppm (8  mg/l) and was detected in urine at 8.71  ppm. The established TLV was for F 2.5  mg/m3–5  mg/l in urine. Occupational exposures need to constantly undergo monitoring efforts. Carbon monoxide, a waste product of incomplete combustion of carbonaceous materials and fossil fuels, is colorless and odorless, and an inhibitor of cytochrome system (cyto-oxidase), which combines with hemoglobin to produce carboxyhemoglobinemia. This results in less hemoglobin available for oxygen transport in respiration. It takes time to reach an equilibrium level. With just one cigarette, 200–400 ppm CO will never reach an equilibrium level since exposure is only for a few seconds; non-smokers 1–1.5% CoHb. We have an indigenous amount of CoHb in our bodies. For example, cardiac patients have 5% CoHb, which is considered to be excessive. Acceptable Threshold Limit Values (TLV) of 50 ppm in other countries should not be greater than 5%. Industrial Exposure U.S.S.R. & Cz is 18 ppm; EPA Primary standard and secondary standards are both at 9 ppm or 2% CoHb. In U.S. Navy’s submarines, it is mandated that CO levels cannot exceed 25 ppm and NASA established astronauts’ exposure levels to under 15 ppm. These CO levels are removed by scrubbers with activated charcoal filters. The practicality of environmental levels of contaminants is dependent on location in urban areas because vehicular traffic will increase CoHb so that lower than 9 ppm will be difficult to obtain. Where should CO be monitored? Usually on tops

3  Ecotoxicology: Chickens Have Lips, Don’t They?


of buildings or ground level? Urban “heat island effects” skew CO2 levels and temperature variations. Fugitive Dust Disease is important for industrial control; pneumoconiosis is where dust is retained in the lungs. There may not be any direct implication that a particular disease is or is not present. The disease is usually a product of some pathological effect or factors such as chemical nature, particle size, concentration, individual susceptibility, and duration of exposure. Types of pneumonocosis, asbestosis, and talcosis are due to exposure for long usage of silico-­ quartz materials or products. Coal workers exhibited “black lung” disease. Collected in a Greenberg-Smith Impinger filter that collects particulate matter in isopropyl alcohol, a fixed amount of air bubbled through the dust and collected a respiratory range of 10 μ). Flocculation resulting in an aggregated mass of particles of fly ash, or wetting properties of dust that adsorbs substances on surfaces, can provide concentration values for dust exposure. Dust maintains a charge and can be separated out by the use of an electrostatic precipitator. Optical properties of particulates or visibility (Tyndall Effect) greater than 10 μ are captured by cilia in the nose, and the epiglottis protects the trachea and the bronchioles that collect particles and are disposed in phlegm. It is at the alveoli where particles within the respirable diameter (0.05 to 0.5 μ) are most impactful. These particles can penetrate the alveolar wall, which is only one cell in thickness, and directly enter the circulatory system. Silicosis was recognized as the first lung disease. Si O2 inhalation has been found associated with a crystalline form of Quartz—formed by heating to high temperatures. The nature of silica is its pronounced fibrotic condition because of its crystal structure. X-ray diffraction detection techniques are used to determine which mineral product exists and electron microscopy is used to identify the smaller particles of silica. Asbestos has particles less than 5  μ in length; the fibrotic condition of asbestos fiber is when fibrils > .1 and 0.5  mg/l DO); Table 5.2  Definitions and characteristics of the various wavelength regions of light Color

Approximate range (nm)

Typical Wavelength wavelength (nm) (nm)

Ultraviolet Violet Blue Green Yellow Orange Red Infrared

Below 400 400–424 424–491 491–550 550–585 585–647 647–740 Above 740

254 410 460 520 580 620 680 1400

11.80 × 1014 7.31 × 1014 6.52 × 1014 5.77 × 1014 5.17 × 1014 4.84 × 1014 4.41 × 1014 2.14 × 1014

Frequency hertz (cycles/sec) (kcal/“mole” of quanta) 4.88 3.02 2.70 2.39 2.14 2.00 1.82 0.88

Energy (ev per quantum) (ev per quantum) 111.5 69.7 62.2 55.0 49.3 46.2 42.1 20.4

Note: The frequencies and energies refer to the particular wavelengths indicated in column 3 for each wavelength interval. The magnitudes for the wavelengths are the values in a vacuum Source: Data from Butler, Hendricks, and Siegelman 1965

5  Sanitary Microbiology: Engineering Public Health Better Than the “Good Ol’ Days”


changing ammonia (NH4+) to (NO3-) nitrite; and then (NH4+ + 3/2 O2 ⇒ NO2− + 2H+ + H2O + energy) nitrite to nitrobactor that then uses NO2− + 3/2 O2 – NO3 + energy to produce nitrate, which is available for use by plants. In wastewaters, usually there is 10–50 mg/l ammonia – nitrogen. This nitro-faction level requires an enormous amount of oxygen greater than 4.61 mg of oxygen (stoichiometric) to oxidize 1 mg of nitrogen. The resultant oxygen demand in the wastewater can result in oxygen depletion, which can result in lower pH leading to bulking situations. The optimum pH of wastewater is 8.0, but recent work notes that micro-­organisms are able to accumulate sufficient CO2 so that nitrification may occur between 5.1 and 7. Last, alkalinity is available as HCO3 resulting from the synthesis reaction; 5CO2 + NH3 + 2H2O C5H7-NO2 + 502; 1/35 of nitrogen in the system is incorporated into biological tissue. This is a zero-order reaction: buffer and neutralization; for each NH4+ that is oxidized, this is a 7.1 mg/l change in alkalinity. Temperatures during the long detention times of 25–30 °C (mesophilic) will influence nitrogen processes (Evans and Sober 2015). All wastewater treatment processes have inherent biological treatment deficiencies. Microbiological conditions in secondary wastewater systems do not have the time or micro floral makeup to effectively treat PAHs, PCBs, and other aromatic and chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds (Tanacredi 1977). The discharge of wastewater is volume based so that large treatment capacity may not be able to treat xenobiotics, thus allowing their entering a receiving body of water where bioaccumulation factors take over. Diseases and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (birth control medicines, etc.) are vexing problems today that require greater research. Pesticides and endotoxin diseases are of interest in the public health sanitation of water resources (Cairns and Patrick 1986). Mosquitoes, for example, are the most scientifically investigated species known to science and are intimately connected to water quality. They have affected life on this planet for millennia, providing food in early larval stages for a myriad number of species, from frogs to birds. For as long as there have been water catchment basins or any receptacle that can harbor some water, mosquito larvae have thrived. Freshwater and saltwater mosquitoes have found their blood meal (only the female requires the blood) in humans probably dating back millions of years. Tidal wetlands that abound along the coastal zone provide the perfect habitat for the Aedes solicitous, Aedes canator, and Aedes egypti. Once the female obtains a blood meal, salt marsh mosquitoes’ eggs are laid in standing waters or muds above the daily high tides. However, when marshes flood, the larvae hang from the surface and breathe through a snorkel-like tube in their tails filtering food from the water. Adults emerge 7–10 days after the first hatching. The story of the West Nile contagion continues today, as it has spread across the continental United States since its identification in New York City in 1999 (Perez-Peña 2003). Ultimately, public health sanitation is a biological concern, and engineering solutions can only be successful once the implications of the biological processes are understood.

Chapter 6

Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth

Sylvia A. Earle (1996) noted in her acclaimed work Sea Change that “Far and away the greatest threat to the sea and to the future of mankind is ignorance” (p. xxi). When a world-renowned scientist and marine biologist makes this point, it is clear that today we are steeped in ignorance about the oceans that cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface. We must pause to reflect on what the oceans do for humankind so that we can put into clearer perspective the tasks we need to perform to protect this resource. As the most probable venue for the origin of life, the sea represents our primordial beginnings. Oceanographers have defined specific zones in the ocean for study: the littoral zone, pelagic zone, and the abyssal zone, each dependent on a particular water depth and resultant sunlight penetration to blooming plankton. As the largest portion of the biosphere, the oceans are highly impacted due to the concentration of humans along the coastal edge (Ellis 2001). In close proximity of the continental shelves, we transport our increasing demands for commodities directly influencing all oceans. Human habitation and human societal demands have determined our knowledge base, only to the point where these ecosystems meet our ever-­growing needs (Turekian 1968). It is unfortunate that we are woefully ignorant of how oceans function. The coastal zone of estuarine environments and the near-shore marine environment out to the continental shelves are critically important because they support 90% of the biological productivity of the ocean (Pearce 1976). We also know that nutrients, including a limited supply of nitrogen, are released from the land as a result of erosion of the nearshore coast by the relentless tides and the outflows of rivers and streams through the coastal wetland. Without these nutrients to help sustain phytoplankton, our coastal estuarine and marine food web dynamics would be severely restricted or altered irreversibly. These coastal estuaries are nursery grounds and spawning grounds where many species are dependent on the unique conditions for their growth and maturation. The United Nations has noted that two-thirds of the total global population of approximately 7.7 billion people lives along the coastline, with 40 of the world’s 65 largest coastal cities harboring the increasing commercial ports trade into the nearshore oceans (Bullock 1989). © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 J. T. Tanacredi, The Redesigned Earth,



6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth

The dynamics of the ocean are influenced by ocean currents, winds, barometric pressure differences, water densities, the Earth’s rotation, the shape of the continents, the ocean floor, and geological history that all vary due to plate-tectonic movements (Suess 1909; Wegener 1915). The interplay between the biological resources of the marine environment and the physical characteristics of seawater is dynamic and constantly changing. Yet the temperature ranges of the Earth’s oceans are relatively restricted and dramatic changes occur fairly slowly. It is along the shoreline that most of our engineering infrastructure activities play their role. Storm protection, urban development, bridge and highway construction, and dams all can wreak havoc on natural ecological processes or need constant maintenance. These structures influence the abiotic and living resources’ interaction by altering physical conditions. The salinity range of 33–36 ppt. of oceans, which can be diluted by ice, runoff, and precipitation, is maintained by the recycled surface subduction of the Earth’s crust and deep-ocean vent emissions. Along the coastal edge, waves, offshore/onshore transport, upwelling, eddies, long-shore currents, tides, tidal flats, and estuaries all spur on primary production by phytoplankton photosynthesis (Carson 1961/1991; Reise 1985). The ocean’s compensation depth, or the distance below which no net production from photosynthesis occurs, maxes out at 800 feet. This is the upper ocean zone where the grazing organisms—such as the zooplankton, copepods, and mysids— work the plankton for food. The seashore is most influenced by spring tides (from an Anglo-Saxon term “to spring forth,” having nothing to do with the spring season of the year), which are the highest high tides due to Sun-Moon-Earth alignment; and the neap tides, which are the lowest of low tides. The littoral zone, which is between high and low tide, is an incredibly diverse area where wave action pushes a “rack line” of broken plant material and detritus of the inter-tidal zone that ends up defining the high-tide mark along the coast. Offshore bars store sand for subsequent redistribution along the coast due to storm surges and high tides. This natural beach nourishment, dependent on grain size, helps in re-building beaches. Tidal pools have floating seaweed like Ulva (Sea Lettuce) and Fucus with its air bladders, which harbor a variety of amphipods, flatworms, crabs, and other macro-algae. Grazing organisms like the crab Rhithropanopeus harrisii forage along the shore for small detrital food sources. Within the tide range, a zonation of species distribution exists, which is extremely pronounced in coastal environments because periodicity and adaptability to tidal conditions and salt conditions determine specific assemblages of plants and animals. Pilings, wharfs, and jetties produced by man along the coast become habitats with the classic template of zonation of species distribution revealed. Drying, illumination, wave action, and temperature become the physical parameters that must be met for survival. Salinity is also important in a predator–prey relationship: The Crassostrea virginica (American oyster) is predated by the Urosalpinx cinerea (Oyster drill). The Urosalpinx is a stenohalene species, which means that it cannot survive in low salinities. The Crassostrea spats (larvae) that are developed in brackish portions of estuaries escape predation by the Urosalpinx. Sexual hermaphrodism exhibited in Crepidula fornicata provides a competitive advantage in estuaries, especially because an encrusting organism

6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth


u­ sually takes a ride with more mobile species, such as Limulus polyphemus the Horseshoe Crab. The first gender to land and take hold will determine the sex of the subsequently settling individuals. Despite its harshness, the coastline is densely populated with intertidal species and exhibits a variety of extremely competitive relationships (Webster 1987). Tidal pools and rocky shores provide interstitial spaces for escape, clinging and trapping nutrients that are washed in with plankton and the tide cycle. It is this portion of the coastal ecosystem, the littoral zone, which provides the most productive value and is simultaneously the zone most affected by anthropogenic-generated pollution and environmental stress (Carson 1955; Frankel 1995; Yonge 1990). Wave actions can affect organisms by dislodgement. Barnacles cement their shells to surfaces by altering complex proteins in the slime produced by special glands. The mussel Mytilus edulis uses byssius threads to tenaciously attach to plants in sediments or to each other. To overcome survival difficulties, the species use reproductive processes or physical burrowing during tidal cycles to keep from drying out. Positive phototaxis of a varied group of species’ larval stages move toward the surface during the day when winds carry them shoreward. Benthic larvae can discriminate between substrates, which is favorable for the spat of Crassostrea virginica (oyster) and Balanus balanoides (barnacle) that can sense their substrait for ideal growth conditions. Some estuarine species completely eliminate pelagic larval stages by developing from egg to miniature adult forms. Littorina obtusata (Mud snail) produces a gelatinous egg mass under or at the surface of seaweeds to take advantage of oxygenating currents. Nucella lapillus (the Dog Welk) produces a string of egg capsules anyone can recognize walking the shore. On sandy beaches, the grain size of coarse (2.0–0.5  mm), medium (0.5–0.25  mm), or fine (0.25–0.062  mm) will determine how species move, such as Ensis directus (razor clam), which can leave its burrow (uses its foot to force water between sand grains) to escape predation pressures; or remain, as in the case with a different razor clam species, Enis alevious, which has a totally different adaptation to its habitat by remaining in its burrow and digging deeper (again its foot forces water between sand grains) to avert predators (Trueman and Ansell 1969). The shape of the ocean floor is important in the distribution of organisms. Oceanic ridges such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge encircle the globe like the stitching on a baseball. These ridges are generally unrevealed zones of passive regions such as along the East Coast of the United States or active margins like the Chilean coastline on an area of tectonic subduction resulting in the Andes Mountain range and considerable tectonic activity. Plate-tectonic forces provide continuous young rock at active spreading centers along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The Continental Shelves, which are the shallow submerged extensions of a continent, provide a transition from the shelf to the deep oceans. The Atlantic Shelf of the United States is a broad, flat, and shallow slope, differing from the steep slope off the coast of Florida. Eighteen thousand years ago, near the end of the Pleistocene ice age, sea levels were over 300 feet lower than they are today. One would have been able to walk almost 50 miles off the present


6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth

day Long Island coastline and still not touch the ocean. As materials deposit on the shelves, turbidity currents form a continuous cascade of sediments into near-shore canyons. These sediment-ladened waters are the main contributors to the abyssal (from a Greek term meaning “without bottom”) plains, which are the sediment-­ covered bottoms of the oceans (18,000 feet or greater). In 1977, Robert Ballard and Fred Grassle explored the East Pacific Rise to the depth of 1.8 miles, in the vicinity of the Galapagos Islands, in the submersible Alvin of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Volcanic chimneys or deep-sea hydro-thermal vents shape the landscape all along the rise. One of these vents was subsequently removed and put on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New  York City. These trenches exist at subduction zones, such as in Japan, the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, and the coastal Peru-Chile trench. The Marianas Trench, the ocean’s deepest trench, is 20% deeper than the highest point of Mount Everest. It has been visited only two times: 1960 in the submarine Trieste with Jacques Piccard and Lt. Donald Walsh and then in 2010, sponsored by James Cameron in his U.S. Navy Deep Sea Challenger Submarine. The formation of the volcanic island chain making up the Hawaiian Islands occurs by the movement of an oceanic plate sliding over a stationary hotspot, which can result in the creation of coral atolls or coral reefs surrounding an inactive volcanic vent. A World Heritage Site of Glover’s Reef, Belize, is such an atoll of submerged volcanic peaks throughout the ocean floor; see Figs. 6.1, 6.2, 6.3).

Fig. 6.1  Earth’s geological history and species’ time ranges

6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth

Fig. 6.2  Plate tectonics and continental drift



6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth

Fig. 6.3  Active convergent/divergent tectonic plate distribution

Plate-tectonic concepts have been expanded on by the fossil evidence collected at many locations by oceanographers. Long-extinct fossil plants and coral reef species are found on several continents: Africa, India, Australia, and Antarctica. The breakup of the Pangean supercontinent would account for this distribution (see Fig. 6.4). Sea Turtle migrations and other marine species’ migrations are artifacts of plate-tectonic separations, such as the American Eel that annually migrates from the New  York harbor and the Hudson Raritan estuary to the Sargasso Sea. This is a result of the chronically drifting continents and spreading Atlantic Ocean by tectonic-­plate movement. Paleomagnetism, new volcanic flows that have a polarity reflective of the Earth’s polarity at the time, is another bit of evidence determined by a magnetic analysis of rock that is 200 million years old. These new rocks include iron-bearing magnetic minerals in the basaltic magma. As lava cools, a compass needle records the magnetic field as it aligns with the Earth’s magnetic field. Earth’s magnetic-field alignment is thus frozen in solid rock. In the 1950s, geophysicists measuring the direction of magnetism in rock found bands of magnetic direction on either side of expanding oceanic ridges, revealing that the sea floor is spreading. In 1963, Vine and Matthews noted these bands of Earth reversing their magnetic field every 300,000 to 500,000 years with about 10 flips in polarity over the past four million years. Seafloor spreading had been confirmed, further strengthening plate-­ tectonic theory.

6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth


Fig. 6.4  Plate tectonics’ influence on global fossil distribution

Seawater chemistry begins with influences from the land. Water molecules have a distinct angle of 105° at which hydrogen ions exist. The universal solvent has a distinct polarity and acts somewhat like a magnet, attracting other particles or other water molecules. Due to these hydrogen bonds, water exhibits a cohesiveness and adhesiveness (adhesion) with water molecules sticking together. This stickiness influences water movement due to frictional factors of these molecules. Water breaks the chemical bonds of NaCL, releasing these ions into the water column,


6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth

which then play important roles in chemical reactions. Seawater is 3.3% to 3.7% NaCl by weight so that in 1000 kgms of water, there is about 35 to 37 kgms of NaCL providing for an ocean salinity of 33% to 37% ppt. Marine waters, due to their salinity, will exhibit what are collectively called their colligative properties. For example, the heat capacity of seawater takes less energy to heat up than freshwater, and the freezing point of seawater is lower (the salt acts as an antifreeze) and evaporates more slowly than freshwater. Trace elements (generally in limited concentrations) are very important in chemical reactions. Only 14 elements found in seawater have concentrations above 1 ppm. The sources of the ocean’s salt are not just contributions from the land or from river water sediments. The Earth’s convection currents in the mantle drive the surface tectonic plates into deep-ocean hydrothermal vents or subduction zones where outgassing from these volcanoes and submerged rift vents are the primary source of sea salts (Hazen 2012). The majority of Na+ originates from weathering crustal rocks, and the majority of Cl is from mantle outgassing at benthic ocean rifts. A salinometer measures electrical conductivity of seawater where conductivity varies with concentrations of ions changing at different temperatures. A chemical ­equilibrium, which provides for a constant concentration of dissolved sea salts, is why the ocean doesn’t get constantly saltier since elements have residence times. The salt concentration has a mixing time due to ocean currents of approximately 1,000 years. Dissolved gases occur at the sea surface–atmosphere interface. The primary production in plants uses dissolved CO2, producing a byproduct of oxygen in photosynthesis. Cold waters retain more dissolved gases so that Arctic waters usually are supersaturated with dissolved oxygen. The component composition of gases by volume is nitrogen = 48% in ocean waters (78% in air) and oxygen = 36% dissolved gases (21% in air). Around 15% dissolved gases in ocean is CO2 yet only 0.035% in air. The most important physical characteristic of water is pH (Shabecoff 1985, 1988a). Buffers where seawater pH averages 7.8 is used by green plants to produce carbonic acid. Ocean waters circulate in currents, due to the Coriolis Effect, gravity (density), and friction. Solar heating expands seawater so that the sea level is higher at the equator, and although 3 inches don’t appear like much, the volume of water is immense with this sea-level rise (Barth and Titus 1984). Winds are the primary factor in shaping ocean currents and are determined by the originating wind direction; thus, a Nor’Easter (or “Nor[th]easter[n]”) comes from the Northeast. Friction at all levels of the sea is influenced by water from the Ekman Transport (Ekman Spiral) phenomenon, which occurs when there is a loss of 3% wind energy at the surface (Fig. 6.5). This results in each layer of water being dragged at a slower rate and influenced by frictional losses to zero at a depth of around 350 feet or the “depth of frictional influence” at which the Ekman Transport has little influence. The length of each arrow is proportional to the velocity of the individual lamina or water layer, and the direction of each arrow indicates its new direction away from initial wind direction at the surface. Net water movement of the surface current will be at a 45-degree angle to the direction of the wind. Gravity, plus the Coriolis Effect, plus winds lead to surface currents, which can run counter to surface currents at water

6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth


Fig. 6.5  Ekman Transport

depths up to 300 feet. The west wind producing the circum-Antarctic current mixes in all oceans eventually. The major surface current in the Atlantic Ocean is the Gulf Stream. Turbulent current rings or eddies are observed in the Sargasso Sea waters, which are rich in nutrients. Equatorial and coastal upwelling, driven by Ekman


6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth

Transport and deep waters brought to the surface, reveal that the deep-ocean water circulation is driven by density differences (salinity and temperature) rather than solely by wind. Nowadays, people say they “go to the shore” such as from New York City to Long Island or to New Jersey. Trends predict that more than 85% of the world’s population will live within an hour’s drive of the shore. The shore is changing all the time and is constantly in the news: Nor’easters, hurricanes, summer visitors, pollution, fishing, recreation erosion, and housing developments that eliminate fragile coastal ecosystems such as estuaries and/or tidal flats. Over eons of time of Earth history, the shoreline has constantly and consistently changed. The melting of polar ice caps or plate-tectonic shifts make the shoreline ephemeral. There are erosional shores (loss of sediment to offshore) and depositional coasts (such as deltas) or “active shore” (erosional) and/or “passive shore” (depositional). Long-term changes in sea level, or eustatic changes, provide a classification of coasts that are in a constant state of flux (Klee 1999). Approximately 30% of U.S. coasts are depositional and the remainder are erosional. Erosional coastlines are attributable to stream erosion and meandering or by winds’ abrasive actions. The dissolution of acids from soils on land and runoff contribute to mineral erosion. The range of tide effects on the hardness and resistance of shore rock composition all contribute to erosion pressures along the shore. There are high-energy coasts, such as the coast of Maine and Iceland, and there are low-­energy coasts, such as in Louisiana at the mouth of the Mississippi River as it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Some features of erosional coastline are sea cliffs, sea caves, and sea stacks. The tendency is to straighten or smooth out the shoreline of an erosional coastline, which can transform into a depositional coastline through longshore drift (net amount of sand moved along shore). Some features of depositional coastlines are deltas or fans (Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana), which can be most vulnerable from large-scale meteorological phenomena like hurricanes (e.g., Hurricane Katrina in 2005) and sea-level rise in general. By definition, a beach is a zone of unconsolidated (loose) particles that covers parts of a coast or shoreline slope that results in a size distribution of sands and pebbles such as the black sand (lava) beaches of Hawaii. Beach contours reform constantly and storm waves can rearrange a beach in a day. This wave action can alter consolidation factors of sands and the distribution of invertebrate species that live in the sediments (Masselink and Hughes 2003). Beaches in temperate climates undergo considerable seasonal transformations. They are rebuilt in the summer and reduced in the winter. Wave energies can be seen in ripples in the sand, the creation of submerged canyons, coastal cells around estuaries, and along considerable stretches of coastline (e.g., see Fig. 6.6). Large-scale depositional features include “coastal spits” (Fig. 6.6; also see case Study 4), bay mouth bars, barrier islands (13% of the world’s coasts are fringed with barrier beaches), and Long Island’s south shore lagoons and sounds. The East Coast and the Gulf Coasts of the United States include over 300 barrier islands and over 1,600  miles of island coasts. The most famous developed barrier islands include Atlantic City, New Jersey; Ocean City, Maryland; Miami Beach, Florida; and

6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth


Fig. 6.6  Life cycle of Shrimp in a Coastal Estuary

Galveston, Texas. Islands of volcanic origins are called Tombolo and have unique coastal ecosystems such as atolls (Glover’s Reef, Belize). Estuaries are depositional, creating a bottom slope that is influenced by incoming tides called salt wedges and are characteristic of Long Island’s coastal ocean environment (Gutis 1987b). It is near these global ecosystems where the majority of the Earth’s population resides. It is the estuaries that receive the brunt of human influences. When looking at the estuarine environment, we need to realize that the most productive ecological system exists there and is highly influenced by human design and use. What is an estuary? Donald W. Pritchard, Brian Ketchum, and Eugene Odum, iconic estuarine scientists, have all defined estuaries as a semi-enclosed coastal body of water with an open connection to the sea and a measurable body of sea salt. The mixing of these waters creates lateral and bottom land boundaries that affect circulation patterns. Estuaries are characterized by steep current and salinity gradients. They are coastal ecotones, or transitional ecosystems, between the land and the ocean and are harsh environments for organisms to adapt to (Fig. 6.7). To characterize estuaries, we first must look at the balance between freshwater and salt water. If precipitation or inflow of freshwater is greater than saltwater from tidal exchanges, or if evaporation is greater than freshwater input, then these spe-


6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth

Fig. 6.7  Coastal macroflora distribution

cific systems determine the distribution of all estuarine species. Structurally, an estuary’s makeup may have developed from either a drowned river valley type, such as the New York Hudson River estuary, or a coastal-plain estuary that is a bar-built estuary like the Barnegat Bay in New Jersey. A fjord estuarine ecosystem is a ­product of glaciations with a deep basin as along the Canadian Pacific Coast or the St. Lawrence River on the Atlantic Coast. The mixing of fresh and saltwater is dependent on the aforementioned forms and their association with the tides. Any restrictions to the estuary may cause tides to have less of an influence in the mixing of an estuary. To add to the long-term concern, based on the present-day sea-level rise of 1 to 2 millimeters per year gathered from tide gauge records, the erosion of the global sandy coasts and beaches may continue to result in a loss of, or alterations to, these natural estuarine systems. What is the importance of estuaries? They are usually harbors with large human populations and considerable waste disposal issues, they support fishing and shell-fishing grounds (recreational and commercial), and they are nursery grounds of biological significance in perpetuating species variability and diversity. Coastal salinity values generally average 28 ppt due to the dilution from rivers, especially depending on seasonal freshwater flows and the amount of precipitation. In Delaware Bay at the Brandywine Shoal Light, there is a “progressive tide wave” where a delay of the tides can be observed. In the upper reaches of this estuary, the delay may be up to 2 hours after the original ebbing high tide. In Raritan Bay, New Jersey, however, there is uniform high water throughout the bay. Salinity distribution will vary at different locations due to the fact that freshwater flows over the more dense salt waters on each tidal cycle (Fig. 6.8). This is called the saltwater wedge, and estuarine research must account for its influence. The influence of salin-

6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth


Fig. 6.8  Seasonal tidal salinity of Delaware Bay Second figure legend: Saltwater wedge influencing the distribution of marine species

ity on the distribution of organisms decreases the number of species as one goes toward freshwater. The evolutionary origin of organisms that reside in estuaries are marine in nature and, therefore, their physiology will prevent them from moving up to fresherwaters. There are species that have a portion of their life cycle in marine and freshwater environments such as the American eel. Sedimentation or sediment loads to water bodies are of great biological importance due to the results of light penetration. Sediments can interfere with filter-­ feeding organisms by clogging gills. The primary areas of sediment building are on


6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth

tidal flat/mud flats, in salt marsh (vegetative emergence), and after erosion or deposition by a gradation of sediments in a sorting process. This is the natural evolution of an estuary (Chapman and Newell 1949; Diaber 1986; Nordstrom and Roman 1996). Along with this distribution of sediments, organisms are distributed due to temperature changes that are much more variable than offshore waters. Sediments exposed to sunlight are easier to warm up than in shallow water areas. Changes in estuary composition can affect the groundwater resources by saltwater intrusion, thus affecting the human consumption of groundwater aquifers. The seashore can be defined as the region that is bounded in the landward side by the extreme high-­water level of spring tides and seaward side by extreme low-water levels of the springtide. The upper shore is covered only when tides are above the high tide mark. The area of a shore is determined by the magnitude to tidal coverage and nearshore slope – very steep shore (rocky shores) versus a gentle slope with reduced sediment sizes (Parr 1933). All coastal animal and plant inhabitants of the shore must be able to withstand, to some degree, rapid changes in salinity, temperature, air exposure, and the mechanical pounding of waves. The characteristic shore dwellers can avoid the rigors of shore erosion by burrowing, which requires special physical adaptations (Pennak 1942). In clean sand, the shore can be an unstable substrate due to these organisms’ need to burrow and emerge quickly; thus, only active burrowers can establish themselves. In mudflat shorelines, however, there will be its own specific fauna. Burrows are maintained under tidal influences, and in associated food supply on tidal cycles, there is a greater oxygen demand that will occur due to decomposing detrital buildup. For example, the Mya arenaria (soft-shelled clams) keeps its siphon above the top layer of the sediment because it is anaerobic below 2 inches). In a sandy shore environment, the microfauna that can live between sand grains such as protozoans, flatworms, rotifers, nematodes, and crustaceans (Fig. 6.8) all make up the zonation of macrofauna. There is a direct correlation to the feeding type (e.g., deposit feeder) and the immediate environment with a specific type of feeding mechanism in the sediment type and therefore the physiological adaptation of a specific bottom-dwelling estuarine species. In East Coast estuarine oyster communities, for example, oyster shells provide shelter for other organisms such as Polychaeta worms or bryozoans. These multi-species associations of marine organisms at different estuarine locations are similar to species’ needs along the coastline. Oysters (Crassostrea virginica) are characteristic of estuarine ecosystems from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico. A hard irregular bottom is necessary for oysters. Bryozoans encrust the shells of oysters and will change in the diversity of colonies with different salinities. The average flow of the Delaware River, 12,000 cu. ft./sec volume of freshwater, is beneficial for euryhaline species that can tolerate a 5–30 ppt salinity range. This salinity threshold dictates growth rates for larger oysters in higher salinities. The maximum growth under controlled conditions is 20–25 ppt salinity, which is steno-­ hyaline. Why utilize upper estuaries with lower salinity for growth? In actuality, the heaviest settling of oyster spat occurs in higher salinities in planting grounds. However, in the higher salinities (even though the oysters would reach marketable

6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth


size faster), there are more predators and competitors. The oyster drill, Urosalpinx cinerea, is the primary predator of young oysters and yet will not grow in salinities below 15  ppt. The spawning of Crassostrea virginica at water temperature ­approaching 22 °C (late June temperature of 25 °C) is triggered at higher salinities. The sperm carries hormone diantalyn, which triggers spawning. In 24  hours, the young oysters are planktonic or free swimming. In two weeks, larvae are feeding on phytoplankton, such as diatoms and dinoflagelates and have developed a foot. They continue to grow from 60 μ to 300 μ and settle to metamorphosize on clean, hard surfaces on the bottom of estuarine systems. Extreme tidal currents that scour the bottom can prohibit spat settlement. An example of how environmental consciousness can be totally misguided is what the New  York City Department of Environmental Protection is doing in Jamaica Bay. It has spent over $1 million trying to get oysters to spawn in Jamaica Bay and has ignored the most critical determining factor for spat settlement: tidal currents. The extremely quick 6-hour tidal currents into and out of Jamaica Bay forces water exchanges that will not foster new oyster spat settlement. These currents also determine the distribution of marine species that require good water flow as they are deposit feeders, such as the Blue Mussels (Mytilus edulis). As hard as they may try, the city’s efforts to have natural-spawning oysters and resident populations in Jamaica Bay have been unsuccessful and can never be successful due to the hydraulic conditions that counter successful institute natural spawning. Growing oysters on racks, however, eliminates the need for actual habitat sustainability (Tanacredi et al. 2003). Competition is great, as all organisms compete for space or light. Ctenophora or comb jellies (e.g., Mnemiopsis leidyi the “sea walnut”) and Beroe ovata, the Moon Jelly, feed on oyster larvae. A host of scavengers, like Xanthid crabs up to 120–250/ sq. meter on bay bottoms further up the bay, eliminate many predators that cannot tolerate lower salinity. Oysters pump more than 20 liters/hr. of filter feeding of zooplankton and microscopic organisms down to 5 μ (bacterial range). Oysters periodically flap shells to flush out mucus-encased materials not wanted by the oyster. Habitat type is a determinant of where specialized feeding types occur such as the “beach flea” (Emerita talpoida) that uses antennae as filtering devices. Suspension-feeding organisms such as barnacles (Balanus balanoides) compete for surfaces to attach within the littoral zone. Deposit-feeding bivalves and tube worms (Clymenella torquata) cement sand grains as they occupy the sand-constructed tubes and filter deposited materials. Capitella capitate, thin red-lined worms, may number thousands per square yard. Arenicola (lug worm) leave fecal pellets as a significant portion of organic contributions to benthic accumulations. Carnivores such as Polychaetes polonicus, Glycera, and Astropecten Stomatopods (Squilla) are very important to the bioturbation of benthic sediments because they induce the decomposition of organic materials in estuaries (i.e., recycling of nutrients). There are two basic categories for organisms that burrow into sediments: one for hard-bodied species (bivalves and crabs) with digging appendages and the use of their own weight; the other for soft-bodied species, which will penetrate an anchor “foot” in which there is an expanded portion of the body, into a terminal anchor


6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth

where expansion occurs until it is finally submerged (Pearse et al. 1942). Many burrowing anemones or polycheate worms have little weight to aid in burrowing activities. As weight increases, physiological adaptations are necessary. Intertidal beaches hold water between grains called interstitial water. Capillary forces determine the amount of water retained on the intertidal beach, which is inversely related to particle size. Fine-sand beaches may hold 25% water, and coarser-sand beaches (e.g., gravel, pebbles) can hold 10% or less water. The size of sediment grains and water content directly affects the distribution of organisms that burrow in intertidal beaches. Organic content is important in determining the plasticity or stability of a beach because the sand grains’ collective size will determine porosity. The uniformity or variability of grain sizes can determine the stability of beaches. Unstable sediments offer little protection or substrate for locomotion and will not support a wide variety of organisms (see Fig. 6.9). Water within sand grains exhibit thixotropic behavior, in which pressure, mixing, and stirring occur, making it easier for invertebrates to penetrate. It does not resist pressure from shore birds such as Herring Gulls that will shift their weight from foot to foot to open clams by forcing higher water content into sand silt or clay sediments for the ease of penetration and food capture. As pressure is applied, the sediment hardens and resists pressure; the reorientation of sand grains forces water out, which places sand grains closer together, making the sediment more resistant to penetration pressure. In 1949, Chapman and Newell observed how a soft-bodied organism can penetrate soft bottoms by calculating the maximum thrust [16 gms/cm2–150 gms/cm2 substrate support] of a worm in sea water. How does the worm get to the bottom? It repeatedly thrusts into the bottom, and once stirring ends, the sediment

Fig. 6.9  Detritus Food Web

6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth


closes in around and the worm can use muscles to penetrate further. This is referred to as thixotropic properties of sediments. For example, 412 grams/cm2 sand ­resistance, when stirred or agitated, reduces to 41 grams/cm2 settle for half a minute and then back to 412 grams/cm2. How do substrates limit the distribution of species? Trueman and Ansell (1969) suggested some sort of physiological action in the burrowing process. Some organisms push their shell, whereas the Donax burrows into fine sand selectively using their digging foot. This is accomplished by using their adductor muscle, relaxing and expanding the elastic ligament, pushing apart the shells for ultimate penetration. The salinity and distribution of organisms through burrowing allow organisms to avoid acute environmental changes. Freshwater runoff or stream flows over sediment on a natural tidal exchange, and depending on how deep the burrowing is, a steady salinity of around 30% can be maintained. The penetration of freshwater into sediment is reduced by water density, and once high tide comes back by sheer weight, it will flush out freshwater. The air exposure time for an aquatic species can place stress on organisms that usually exist in high intertidal zones. Temperature is an extremely important factor in the distribution of species. Mytilus edulis will reproduce at cooler temperatures and survive at these lower temperatures. Crassostrea virginica releases gametes at specific water temperatures. Temperature stress on Mercenaria mercenaria has been known for some time due to commercial harvesting; the meat quality is poorer the further south you go. Winter mortality has been subject to investigation (Zarnoch 2006). Species’ motility, migration, and thus distribution are influenced by the temperature. When one looks at air temperature off Delaware Bay during winter months, the surface and the bottom waters are colder close to shore and warmer waters (20 °C warmer) are further out. Water temperatures in estuaries, especially during the summer months, are generally warmer at the surface. The bottom waters may remain warm well off shore (50 °C). Temperature and salinity stratification can occur in the summer when such surface and bottom waters are not well mixed. Motile species may find compatible temperatures as they can move along the shore. Siliqua costata, the Pacific razor clam, is distributed with population/growth curves exhibiting the larger animals at the northern end of Alaska’s Pacific Coast, while southern species are faster growing in warmer waters but die out at an earlier age. Investigations by Hutchins (1947) made these major points: Zonal boundaries based on summer/winter temperature can be a limiting factor where zones have independent patterns of zonation and will be limited by north and south distribution as well as specific seasonal changes. Temperature exerts developmental and survival pressures on animal distributions and may be extreme (killing off organisms), which affects critical survival requirements (e.g., reproductive ability, growing seasons). Only one factor is necessary to determine the distribution of organisms. Exceptions occur when there are seasonally extended boundaries of habitat. Motility is required at some stage of an organism’s development and sessile stages are limited. Generally, temperate latitudes have more variable temperature ranges. For example, Balanus balanoides (rock barnacle) are found only in water temperatures above 45 °C because their gametes will not


6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth

produce new barnacles in colder temperatures. It can go just so far south in the winter to repopulate; therefore, a winter reproductive boundary exists for this species. Of the many contentious issues associated with estuaries, dredging and filling waterways can be found near the top of this list. Small coastal inlets and inland, nearshore waterways have for decades been maintained by periodic maintenance dredging. It is of immediate concern whether the dredging of any waterway has significant impact on its estuarine ecology. However, if the ecosystem has required periodic dredging, not just to keep the waterway open for boating but also to maintain the adapted tidal flows that support a substantive contribution to the local fisheries (namely Winter flounder on Long Island), then dredging would be required. The background to the Little Creek dredging permit issuance reveals this dilemma. The Winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus), or Blackback flounder, Lemon sole, or Black flounder, are found primarily in estuarine and coastal waters from Newfoundland, Canada, to the state of Georgia along the Atlantic Coast of North America, except for off-shore populations on Georges Bank and Nantucket Shoals. The Winter flounder, one of the right-eyed flounders, is oval-shaped and thick bodied. The anal fin is highest at its midpoint and is preceded by a short, sharp spine. The dorsal fin originates opposite the anterior edge of the eye and is about equal in height along its length. The mouth is small, not gaping to the eye. The left (under) half of the jaw is armed with a series of close-set incisors with the right (upper) half having only a few teeth. The Winter flounder, like other flatfish, can vary their coloration with changes in surrounding substrates. In Peconic Bay, New  York, the Winter flounder spawn in grounds as early as December and reaches their peak in late February–early March. In Canada, for example, they are known to spawn as late as in June. Typically, eggs are deposited over a sandy substrate. Most spawning takes place at salinities of 31 to 33 ppt. Water temperatures during spawning is usually between 0 °C and 3 °C but may be as high as 6 °C. The fecundity of Winter flounder have been reported at a mean of 0.59 million eggs at a mean length of 340 mm total length. The incubation time of Winter flounder eggs was observed as inversely related to the water temperature and salinity of 10–30 ppt (Rogers 1976). The optimal salinity for egg survival is 15–35 ppt. The optimum water temperature range for survival is 0 °C to 10 ° C (Williams 1975). The larvae of Winter flounder absorb their yolk sac after about 12 to 14 days. Metamorphosis occurs within a range of 80 days (at water temperatures of 5 °C) to 49 days (at 8 °C). No metamorphosis is evident at 2 °C. Winter flounder larvae are continuous, visual, daylight feeders (Lawrence 1977). After metamorphosis, Winter flounder are benthic and seldom lose contact with the substrate. Most juveniles spend much of their first two years in or near shallow natal waters, where they move in response to extreme heat or cold. After metamorphosis, the juveniles prefer a substrate of sand or sand slit. Water temperature seems to be an important environmental factor determining seasonal distribution of aquatic organisms (McCracken 1963). On the other hand, water temperature is less important a factor in the distribution of juvenile fish species, which tolerate higher temperatures than adults. It should be noted that local populations of Winter flounder may include fish inhabiting several adjacent

6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth


e­ stuaries. Saila et al. (1965) have shown that although a large percentage of Winter flounder in tagging studies were recaptured at or near the original tagging locations, the same breeding area is not always reoccupied each season. According to Berry et al. (1965), there are no typical growth rates for the Winter flounder because the populations may be exposed to a different exploitation rate under different environmental conditions. In addition, the extended spawning period (up 4  months) can make comparative associations between age groups and locations. The Winter flounder species supported a valuable sport and commercial fishing industry; from 1935 to 1980, the annual commercial landings in New England ranged between 6000 and 15,000 tons. The Long Island Winter flounder catch has been reported at nearly five million in 1988; in 2007, barely 15,000 were caught, which is more than a 99% decline (Northeast Fisheries Science Center 2006). The age and size of Winter flounder recruited into the fishery varies with the location and the type of fishery. Two important factors affecting mortality are translocation of larvae out of the estuary by tidal drift and predation. Because each population does not usually disperse beyond local waters, the degradation of an estuary may have a drastic effect on the abundance of recruits in nearby coastal waters. The ecological role of Winter flounder is dependent on their feeding habits. Larvae begin to feed 2 to 3 weeks after they hatch. They just feed on copepods and phytoplankton, but as they reach metamorphosis, their diet is composed of copepod nauplii, small polychaetes, and ostracods. Winter flounder feed visually on their prey only during daylight (Olla et al. 1969). Franz and Tanacredi (1992) observed that an amplified production stimulated by nutrient loadings was sufficient to support the local Winter flounder populations in an urban estuary. The Winter flounder have relatively few competitors for food and space. Adults are the prey of many of the larger estuarine and coastal predators such as Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis), Bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), and the Oyster Toadfish (Opsanus tan). Predation is a major cause of mortality in larval and juvenile Winter flounder. The avifauna, such as Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, and Ospreys are predators of the Winter flounder. Winter flounder are commonly found in water temperatures of 0 °C to 25 °C. Olla et  al. (1969) reported that Winter flounder fed at water temperatures as high as 22 °C but burrow into the bottom at higher temperatures. An extended period of unusually hot weather in the Long Island Sound in 1918 caused the largest recorded known mortality of Winter flounder in coastal waters (Nichols 1918). This demonstrates the importance of water temperature for species. The decline in Winter flounder is particularly troubling because New York’s flounder population is comprised of a number of discrete, locally spawning populations that do not mix with one another on the spawning grounds. If any such local subpopulations of flounder disappear, it might never be restored. The recreational landings of Winter flounder from Long Island’s coastal waters have reached crisis proportions (Walsh 2016). The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (2005) warned that Winter flounder exhibit site fidelity, so the loss of spawning sites would make them particularly susceptible to extinction. Thus, one subpopulation may be relatively healthy, while another in an adjacent waterway population might spill over into


6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth

neighboring waters to help repopulate the area. At the same time, adult fish from various subpopulations mix in deeper, cooler waters during the summer, where they may be subject to excessive harvesting by commercial fishing trawlers (Witek 2016). On Long Island, New York, a reconnaissance investigation of Little Creek, an estuarine shallow cove adjacent to Little Peconic and ultimately Peconic Bay, the young Winter flounder collected there confirmed the pattern that these estuaries act as nurseries. This finding was also confirmed by investigators in other similar estuarine environments (Curran and Able 2002; Goldberg et al. 2002; Nelson et al. 1991). This example highlights the specific spawning effects of maintaining an inlet to Little Creek, which has been consistently dredged for more than 50  years. This maintenance dredging is critical in the recruitment of larvae, juveniles, and adults into Little Creek on an annual basis. If this entrance channel at the approved depth is not cleared, which accommodates daily tidal flushing into the Spartina marshes at the head of Little Creek, this would result in the closure of the inlet, preventing up-marsh migration of young-of-the-year Winter flounder (see Fig. 6.10). Winter

Fig. 6.10  Little Creek, Peconic Bay, on Long Island

6  Marine and Estuarine Ecology – Our Oceans as the Last Frontier on Earth


flounder are consistent fauna components of Little Creek and the greater Peconic Bay estuarine ecosystem, and this essential fish habitat has been adapted to the annual maintenance dredging of the inlet to Little Creek over an extended time. Not maintaining this access channel would negatively affect Winter flounder in Little Creek, Little Peconic Bay, and potentially influence its populations in Peconic Bay and eastern Long Island. Every proposed activity involving alteration of estuarine natural processes must be independently reviewed for its effectiveness and appropriate functioning in these delicately balanced ecosystems.

Chapter 7

Terrestrial Ecology: Is Restoration the Only Answer?

It was with Aldo Leopold’s (1949) A Sand County Almanac that the concept of fostering a “Land Ethic” established the foundation for the environmental movement in the 1970s. Terrestrial ecosystems support a large plant biomass (the sheer weight of living things) and exhibit an ecological succession from a pioneer stage to a complex climax stage. Ecologists investigate ecosystems and observe a range of limiting factors that influence their growth and development. Moisture is a major limiting factor on land, with terrestrial organisms constantly being confronted with the problem of dehydration. Transpiration from plants and evapotranspiration are critical processes in the hydrologic cycle and are important to maintain the Earth’s moderating temperature variations and extremes in the air. CO2 and oxygen are constantly mixed in the atmosphere and large terrestrial ecosystems are tied to carbon sinks that are influenced by human land-use practices such as forest clear cutting and forest fire management (Ricklefs 1999). The structure of terrestrial organisms’ skeletons and their locomotion is uniquely adapted to the land. Terrestrial ecosystems can present significant geographic barriers for species recruitment and species separation (e.g., mountain ranges, deserts). Terrestrial soils are a highly developed subsystem where the elemental biogeochemical recycling is initiated; this is required for maintaining life as we know it. It was on a savanna terrain that one of human history’s earliest groups, the Australopithecines, propped on hind legs and initiated human development and progression to today’s Homo sapiens. Biogeography is an expression of landforms, with each continental area tending to have its own flora and fauna, especially on islands with their large numbers of functioning niches. Vegetative types and distributions are noted in unique terrestrial biomes (e.g., tundra, desert, tropical rainforest). The general structure of terrestrial communities includes autotrophs (green plant or the primary producers), which can provide shelter and food. They are obligate, relying primarily on sunlight and mineral or inorganic elements that combine in the photosynthetic pro-

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 J. T. Tanacredi, The Redesigned Earth,



7  Terrestrial Ecology: Is Restoration the Only Answer?

cess to produce organic molecules like sugars and carbohydrates for energy transfer in food webs. Vegetative cover or the predominant vegetative type ranges from herbaceous, coniferous, woody, shrub, thicket, grasslands, rainforest, to deciduous. Terrestrial autotrophs make an abundance of food that has nutritionally low utility (e.g., cellulose and lignin), where detritivores are a prominent feature for those organism that use soil as their energy source. The terrestrial ecological communities are predominantly composed of microbes and invertebrates—from Annelida, such as the earthworm, to Protozoa—and will make up a major portion of the soil biomass (Begon et al. 2005). Microbes are generally misunderstood and underemphasized, as soils are good for the atmosphere and life in general by recycling and maintaining the nutrient enrichment required for all living systems (Fig. 7.1). Decomposers are the linchpin in soil formation and the biogeochemical recycling processes. The formation of humus from decomposed cellulose and lignin is an end product of organic decomposition, with its complex molecules broken down to form the detritus of soils. Saprotrophic organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and decomposer micro-organisms are included in the detritus feeder’s group. Soil fungi (e.g., yeasts and molds), bacteria (e.g., spore formers), actinomycetes (e.g., filamentous bacteria), protozoa (e.g., amoebae, ciliates, flagellates) all help shape soil profiles. These microflora will differ in the amount and distribution, depending on whether it is a deciduous forest or a tropical rainforest (DeBach and Sundby 1963). Leaf and decomposing materials on a forest’s floor is called litter. Arthropods such as nematode worms, insect larvae, soil mites, millipedes, and centipedes occupy and compose the mesobiota. Microbiota include earth worms, burrowing vertebrates (e.g., moles), crickets, roaches, ground beetles, spiders, snails, and termites. It is this mesobiota and microbiota that break down the leaf litter in conjunction with the region’s geology and moisture into soil. Soil respiration is accomplished by the roots of plants and the aforementioned micro-organisms. The vegetation system structure in terrestrial ecosystems is established through identifying the dominants and how they function in such systems (DeBach 1974). Scientists use both field analysis and synthesis to formulate the degree of associations between all these trophic levels to identify specific terrestrial ecosystem functions. In field analysis, sample plots, or quadrats, are used to enumerate all plants identified in them. Sampling strata are established with various layers (e.g., herb, shrub, tree layer) so that a level of homogeneity or heterogeneity can be identified. It is possible to revisit the “degrees of associations” by establishing a level of fidelity or the restriction degree of a species to a particular situation. Limitation of a species to a specific environmental condition leads to a level of rarity. Cyperus schweinitzii, a sedge found in urbanized environments, for example, is locally rare yet found in urban soil mixes and growing vigorously on the tarmac of a historic runway airport at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York (Stalter et al. 1996; also see Sidebar 7.1).

7  Terrestrial Ecology: Is Restoration the Only Answer?

Fig. 7.1  First figure legend: Organisms in the soil Second figure legend: Soil profile



7  Terrestrial Ecology: Is Restoration the Only Answer?

Sidebar 7.1: Protecting Rare Species in the Urban Environment As a National Park Service biologist at Gateway National Recreation Area, one of the nation’s first urban National Park Service units, I attempted to save five or six plants found along an area that the maintenance staff had to mow for a park entrance. It took some convincing to reveal to the facility managers that not mowing this short boundary strip would protect these few plants. On a practical level, it saved some time and money in not having to mow a more extensive area of land where these plants were identified. These plants were rare in New York State and so it was a small contribution to maintaining local biodiversity.

Soil temperature, nutrients, pH, and moisture all contribute to a unique growing environment that may not appear to be directly supportive of any life. However, terrestrial habitats support large numbers of bird species, especially during migrations—so much so, in fact, that the pathways are called “flyways.” Conservation biologists define these corridors or pathways as much larger swaths of land than a flyway may imply. These “highways” are much more inclusive of adjacent lands covering considerable areas of foraging, breeding, and resting habitats. The “Atlantic Flyway” of North America brings tens of millions of birds north each spring during breeding season, including species like Piping Plovers, Roseate Terns (coming several thousand miles from Argentina), Least and Common Terns, Red Knots, and Ruddy Turnstones. Their biological clocks are triggered by the need to build fat reserves to provide carbohydrate energy for extensive flight periods and patterns. The commensurate habitat is supportive of a variety of bird species’ food requirements, so a variety of habitats or biomes will support a variety of species. Grasslands mostly lost to sprawling urban development have been replaced by lawns and urban constructed landscapes such as golf courses and landfills. Canada geese, an extensive migratory species, have become year-round residents due to the plentiful grass food supply of lawns, to such an extent that extensive control methods include using pyrotechnics to chase them, preparing them for slaughterhouses, distributing them to the homeless, and just shooting them on site. Sheep dogs have been trained to keep them off lawns and parade grounds (Stalter et al. 1996). Biotic zones exhibiting a climax community vegetation can include a total community unit such as a grassland community, which is a temporary developmental stage in a deciduous forest biome. Broad-leafed deciduous trees are the climax life form in Northeastern U.S. forests. The predominant terrestrial biome is the deciduous forest with an oak-pine subclimax that includes beech-maple forests, oak-­ hickory forests, or oak-pine forests. The needles of coniferous trees and shrubs decay slowly as in a pitch-pine forest characteristic of Long Island, New  York’s

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Pine Barrens region. Temperate deciduous forests are located in northern/eastern North America, all of Europe, Japan, Australia, and the tip of South America. These forests have contrasts of winter, when leaves are off trees, and summer, with well-­ developed soil biota (Fig.  7.2). The greatest modifications by humans to natural ecosystems have been in this area. In the grassland subclimax, seedlings of pitch pine (Pinus rigida) or loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), as is characteristic in Yellowstone National Park or Redwood National Park, requires fire to release seeds into soils, including ash of burnt vegetation for subsequent seed germination (MacArthur 1965; Whittaker 1960). An important habitat for grassland birds like the Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) are grasses like Andropogon, which is a warm-season grass species that renews in the late spring but grows continually throughout summer, or Little Bluestem (bunch grass) that grows on dry soils. The National Park Service at Gateway National Recreation Area experimented for years at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field with the Grasslands Management Program project, which was an attempt to restore the habitat of the Grasshopper Sparrow and the Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna). Restoration included setting aside over 440 acres in the heart of New York City for these species (Stalter

Fig. 7.2  Terrestrial biomes


7  Terrestrial Ecology: Is Restoration the Only Answer?

et al. 1996). Conservation biologists have understood that in order to protect isolated individual populations of rare species, efforts need to be directed at the meta-­ population, which may be temporary at any particular time but is large enough to foster future colonization of a new population. This strategy was exemplified in the Grassland Management Project at Floyd Bennett Field. The reintroduction of grassland habitat for grassland bird species was based on what Falk et al. (1996) identified as follows: Many reintroduction activities are based on the assumption that establishment of a new population should occur once the species has dispersed to a suitable site. In many cases, species are only able to colonize a site at a particular successional stage following an environmental disturbance that occurs only once every few years. Reintroduction efforts can mimic the dispersal and establishment processes by carrying out the reintroduction efforts over several years until a good year for colonization is discovered. Another reintroduction strategy is to manipulate the site by burning, digging, or mimicking the natural processes of disturbance and succession that will increase the probability of seedling establishment (Pullin and Woodell 1987; Jacobson, Almquist-Jacobson, and Winne 1991). Such site manipulations and successive reintroduction efforts attempt to duplicate the natural processes that maintain the meta-population of the rare species within its natural range. (p. 214)

Among tropical rainforests, broad-leaf evergreen tropical rainforests have a high species diversity. These forests are found near the equator and have rainfall that often exceeds 80–90 inches/year and can approach over 300 inches of rain per year. These forests are highly stratified. Fire is a limiting factor in this ecotype, as the burning of tropical rainforest ecosystems (such as El Yunque in Puerto Rico) results in more devastating conditions. Organic matter is concentrated in the biomass of tropical forests and, with little soil, rain waters leach nutrients from the soil surface. Fungal growth is a major nutrient trap in these tropical ecosystems and is associated with root systems that digest dead organic litter passing nutrients through their hyphae to living root cells. Animals that live in upper layers of the vegetation, in the canopy, are called arboreal and may never touch the ground their entire life unless they die. Butterflies and moths reveal extensive stratification with many symbiotic relationships. Scientists know little about the functioning canopy of tropical forests (Conniff 1986). Today, ecosystem management uses remote sensing to pinpoint sensitive or significantly productive ecosystems. Ecosystem preservation is based, in many respects, on island biogeographic concepts and total species preservation. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is utilized to direct the interplay at multiple levels of data such as groundwater and soil porosity. Ecological niches in terrestrial ecosystems are places in the environment suited to animals in each biome. Grassland regions provide many niches for birds like Meadowlarks, which require low cover, and Grasshopper Sparrows, which require vegetative patchiness. Each species has exclusive occupancy of its own niche, although portions of it may be used periodically by other birds and mammals. If another species attempted to use the same niche (the competitive exclusion principle), to seek the same cover, and to eat the same foods, it would compete directly with the existing grassland species. Either the Meadowlark would be displaced or its

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competitor would. Both could not be established grazers on the same dietary needs. Some birds often get their Vitamin C from the berries of the Seaside Rose (Rosa rugosa), a plant that exhibits the ability to withstand browsing without damage due to its thorns and added protection with leaves that are hard to digest (Chen et al. 1999). Other species, such as the Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis), are highly sensitive to where soils are high in nutrients. Minerals needed for protein production are generally in short supply in soils. The release of minerals previously bound in living plants and their restoration to the soil in the form of ash after a fire is an important factor in nutrient recycling in terrestrial ecosystems. Fire can also cause disturbances to mature vegetation by clearing food supplies and cover (shelter) within a habitat, which a species may require for escape cover, rooting cover to rest overnight, or nesting cover. All cover is subject to annual cycles as plants grow or become dormant (Jacobson et al. 1991). Wildlife breeding ages such as maximum breeding age, minimum breeding age, and non-breeders all determine the population growth of terrestrial fauna. The clutch or litter size can influence and be influenced by the sex ratio and the mating habits of species. Population density will be reflective on predator–prey relationships. Diseases such as Clostridium botulinum in birds, found in shallow ponds, have been known to kill waterfowl. Poisoning by lead or other environmental contaminants can take a toll. Weather, stress, accidents, starvation, and hunting all influence wildlife population growth rates. Terns will protect breeding colonies by diving at intruders that come into their nesting territory or pretending its wings are injured to attract predators away from young. Species turnover will increase due to a higher probability of local extinctions. Local extinction is most prevalent in an urbanizing world. Extirpated or locally extinct species are influenced by recruitment, resilience, and persistence of a species within their complex food webs. There are more than 190 million acres of publicly owned woodlands managed by the U.S. National Forest Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture 2019). For centuries, controversy has surrounded the multiple use of these forests for wood harvesting, recreation, and wildlife protection, with each tract of land dependent on a healthy and functioning natural ecosystem. The Forest Service’s mandate to provide lumber for housing requires that infrastructure penetrate these expansive forest tracts with roadway and clear-cutting methods of harvesting. This conflict has its history in the conservation movement that began with President Theodore Roosevelt’s friend Gifford Pinchot, the first director of the U.S.  National Forest Service who fostered a utilization approach to forest management; this was in direct conflict with John Muir, 1838 to 1914, anointed the father of the modern conservation movement and founder of the Sierra Club, who defended nature preservation for nature’s sake. It was John Muir’s (1901) book, Our National Parks, that led President Theodore Roosevelt to visit Muir in Yosemite in 1903, laying the foundation for Roosevelt’s creation of the National Park Service in 1916. Forest protection was emphasized in the formative years of the U.S.  Forest Service. Soon after, WWII baby boomers were to demand more and affordable


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housing, which shifted policy emphasis at the U.S.  Forest Service to serve the U.S. economy via lumber for construction and development. In 1976, Congress passed the National Forest Management Act, which required the Forest Service to develop management plans to determine “best use.” However, they have had little effect in reducing the amount of lumber produced by the U.S. Forest Service’s managed forests. In 1988, the Northwest region alone had 5.5 billion board feet logged from 19 national forests (Shabecoff 1988b, 1989). Today, there are 2.1 billion board feet per year, down 83% since the 1988 peak. Continued growth in U.S. furniture imports from China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia continue to tax global forest systems. The multi-use strategy for forested ecosystems is not new. Even the New York City island of Manhattan was forested to the water’s edge. So thick was the terrestrial forest cover at that time that its density helped prevent the detection of George Washington and his troops during the American Revolution. As they retreated toward the Palisades and New Jersey, traveling north and passing the regiment of British troops traveling south in Manhattan, the thick forest muffled any sound to tip off the large British forces. Ecologists have long used Long Island as both a leading example of the pressures of development (e.g., sprawl) and a laboratory to study the efforts to improve the quality of the environment. Based on the principles of ecosystem-based management, an island’s biological complexity may not offer easy solutions to quell the demands of its growing human population. In many respects, what occurs on Long Island ecologically can be used as the paradigm for ecosystem sustainability in spite of these anthropogenic sources of concern. Lee Koppelman, past executive director of the Long Island Regional Planning Board, repeatedly noted that Long Island’s drinking water is one resource needing greater awareness to protect (Lyall 1990). As of 2008, Long Island uses about 360 million gallons of water/day, which amounts to approximately 133 gallons per person/day. Long Islanders produce 10,000 tons of trash per day or more than 7 pounds of trash per person/day. Strategies for conserving water and generating electricity have been a success with Long Island’s resource-recovery company, Covanta, Inc. Garbage and traffic congestion, both troublesome on any island, have helped Covanta generate electricity for more than 50,000 families (Cotroneo 2008). Long Island’s experience may serve as a guide for other areas of the world grappling with the same issues. Unfortunately, New York State does not include resource recovery as part of the overall long-term state energy plan. Richard Amper, executive director and founder of the Pine Barrens Society, has noted that “change has occurred more quickly on Long Island since we can’t just go anywhere!” These are words that still resonate today on the island. As we spoil our nest, islands and coastlines react to changes faster. We truly can’t go anywhere. The vegetative cover associated with the Pine Barrens protects the groundwater systems below it and prevents loss by the development of terrestrial habit, thus indirectly protecting our drinking-water system. Scale insects are pests of citrus groves, capable of causing extensive damage to trees. Many species introduced in an effort to control parasitic wasps of the genus

7  Terrestrial Ecology: Is Restoration the Only Answer?


Aphytis (from the Greek aphyo, “to suck”) have been most successful. Resistance by pests to chemical pesticides turned biologists to an array of insect parasites and predators. Two species were introduced in Southern California: A. chrysomphali and A. lingnanensis replaced A.chrysomphali in 10 years as the principal predator. Although A. lingnanensis excluded A. chrysomphali throughout most of Southern California, it still did not provide effective control of the scale blight. Biological control of scale insects in the interior valleys of California is in part due to colder water temperatures there. In 1957, a third wasp was introduced from northern India. This introduced species can tolerate temperature ranges from below freezing in the winter to above 40 °C in the summer. Aphytis melinus spread rapidly throughout the interior valleys of Southern California where temperatures resemble the wasp’s native habitat. However, it did not become established in the coastal areas with milder temperatures. In experiments by DeBach and Sundby (1963), they demonstrated that the condition of 27 °C temperatures with 50% humidity resembles the typical climate of coastal areas more closely than the climate of interior valleys; thus, A. lingnanensis was the superior competitor. Rates of plant growth vary with respect to resource levels and therefore can provide a sensitive index to the intensity of the competition (Harper 1977). The depressing effect of intraspecific competition on the growth of young Longleaf Pine trees is in response to the selective thinning of trees more than 15 inches in diameter. Core borings into a tree’s trunk from the bark to the center provide a record of natural growth and increased growth rate, particularly in summers, between the time the forest was thinned and the time the cores were taken. Removing the larger trees increased the penetration of light to the forest floor by a factor of six. The additional light greatly stimulated the growth of the trees remaining on the experimental plot. Although the removal of small trees (15–30 cm girth) further increased light penetration by one third, it led to a striking response in growth rate, particularly among the remaining large trees. The improved growth could not have been caused by increased light because many of the trees that responded were much taller than the trees that were light reduced. The added growth probably resulted, therefore, from reduced competition for either water or mineral nutrients in the soil. Biologically derived pesticides (a resultant practice from Integrated Pest Management approaches) mimic natural pesticide activities of plants. Costs of chemically developed pesticides have risen considerably due to the costs of petroleum and delays for environmental regulations in the development of new licensed chemicals. In Southern Florida, vegetable growers have used ClandoSan, a trade name for an insecticide derived from crushed oyster shells, to kill nematodes. When this is placed in the soil, micro-organisms that kill nematodes can grow. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency noted that the amount of chemical pesticides applied to forests and fields fell from 1.4  billion pounds in 1981 to 910  million pounds in 1987. The most popular bacterially generated pesticide is Bacillus thuringiensis israelis larvacide. This bacterial larvacide has been licensed in the United States since 1961 and used exclusively for Gypsy moth and mosquito infestations. It has been actively used throughout the Caribbean.


7  Terrestrial Ecology: Is Restoration the Only Answer?

In general, it is important to protect tropical plants due to their potential economic and pharmacological value in a small number of plants that are agriculturally important such as rice and corn. Plants found to adapt to incredibly harsh environments such as Tamaroc, native to the Atacama Desert in Chile, grow through a layer of salt that is sometimes 1 meter thick. The high nutritional value of its pods and leaves allow grazing sheep to potentially have a year-round fodder supply, especially in areas where there has been high salt damage to the soil. Only about 20 major crops feed the world, so there is a great need to broaden the base of plant types by studying little known plants and the ecosystems they are found in. All too often, it is forgotten that some very dangerous diseases affecting human health have been eradicated or at least controlled by the use of chemical pesticides: encephalitis, malaria, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and most recently the West Nile virus. It is the large-scale, indiscriminant application of pesticides that prompts restrictions and bans. Maintaining naturally pest-resistant or tolerant plant assemblages in ecosystems will go a long way to reduce the burden of organic pesticides’ impact on natural systems. Gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar dispar) were a big problem on Long Island in the early 1980s (Faber 1982). They voraciously defoliated hundreds of forest in New England. The moth was introduced in the United States in 1869 by the French artist Leopold Trouvelot as an attempt to breed them for silk spinning as they were more resistant to diseases that affected the domestic silkworm. Unfortunately, it escaped and defoliated the woods in the vicinity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture considered them a danger to woodlands due to their vivacious defoliation of trees over several years. The majority of responses were from campers at state park campsites in the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Environmentalists at the time recommended hand removal an effective yet labor-intensive Integrated Pest Management approach. It met resistance from park mangers because the fairways and tennis courts would soon be crowded with people waiting to use them. Infestations of many insects or pests boom and bust in their population levels. Gypsy moths ravaged more than 500,000 acres in Connecticut in 1974 but had been naturally reduced to 3,800 by 1979. There is the indiscriminant effect of these chemical poisons on non-target species. For example, there are many federally listed species on Long Island. The unique ecology of the Long Island Pine Barrens supports the Buck moth (Hemileuca maia). Its eggs are dropped on dwarf pine trees, and in the spring, the moth’s larvae emerge to feed. They burrow into the sandy soils and prepare, emerging in mid-October without functional mouth parts. They fly during the day, mate, and die in two days. Pesticide applications can affect this species on the tree and in the soil (Molotsky 1979). Long-term effects of fire suppression to protect livestock grazing in Arizona and eastern Oregon has recently been played out in the extensive 2018 California forest fires, where considerably more people, development, and new infrastructure are in harm’s way. Prescription burns conducted under controlled conditions help to remove leaf litter and allow more retention of natural soils. An increase in human-­induced fire mishaps cannot be planned for, as was shown by the 2018 California fires that were caused by human activity. During the past 80–100 years,

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the forest floor has shown a general increase in trees and a corresponding increase in the amount of woody fuels. These new forests also show a decrease in the extent of Aspen, which often sprouts from roots following a fire, and an increase in those species of trees that are more tolerant of the shaded conditions in closed-­ canopy forests. Those who study historical fires intensively have failed to document any cases in which stand-replacing “crown fires” (that kill the forest by burning through the tops of the trees) occurred in the forests of Ponderosa Pine of Southwestern United States before 1900. Since 1950, forest fires have burned more than 5,000 acres and have completely razed down forests to minimal soil; researchers have attributed the intensity of these fires to the large amount of woody fuels on the forest floor and to the dense stand of young trees within the forest proper. Although it is possible that climate changes could account for the increased numbers of large forest fires, the changes in the forests brought about by more than 70 years of fire suppression is, ironically, the most likely cause of an increasing incidence of large wildfires. The uncontrolled sprawl of development and inhabitants in harm’s way results in forest fires affecting more people because they live in fire-prone habitats. The primary goal in the restoration of any natural system is to restore the plant and animal communities and their interactions in an area in such a manner as to re-­ create the original functioning ecosystem or significant functions of that ecosystem. To some extent, aquariums and zoos attempt to restore populations of extirpated or depleted species by captive breeding or displaying significant parts of the living resources of ecosystems. Museums have restored voucher specimens of species that have existed and may be long gone. Arboretums maintain a variety of plants possibly lost to human activity or disease. Largest in scale, national parks try to maintain entire ecosystems or connected networks of ecosystems. The earliest restoration projects were prairie restorations using fire. These fire ecologies were mimicked by Native American populations to take advantage of better foraging conditions or animals such as bison and elk. Early restoration projects were mostly experimental for research into how to repair ecosystems. Fire ecologies are a good example of the pitfalls of altering natural systems to meet human development needs. There were defined limits to restoration ecology, so mesocosms were established, such as the Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research Program (https://harvardforest.fas., where there are simulated subprocesses with implications of controlling the speed of natural succession that are related to forest ecology (i.e., de-accelerating, reversing changing, altering its course, “steering it,” and even preventing a progression of changes). Some restoration activities were for sustainability of agricultural monoculture or for recreation in golf course design. The invisibility of these controlled communities from new species, pest, keystone species, and control techniques such as Integrated Pest Management were all directed toward the evaluation of productivity. If we are able to restore a marsh, for example, we should be able to put a dollar value on the marsh for future re-creation of marsh ecosystems. Restoration ecology, the resulting discipline from all this, ultimately looks at food web preservation, the biotic interactions of natural and diverse ecologies.


7  Terrestrial Ecology: Is Restoration the Only Answer?

There have been technical concerns in this restoration process. For example, the stabilization of land surfaces and pollution control are always of concern for construction projects such as highways and bridges. Visual impairments and their impacts on biodiversity must be evaluated. New species introduction, the toxicity of materials used, and the rehabilitation of specific species when released into an ecosystem are critical issues that require review so that restored populations can function as if they are placed in an un-impacted ecosystem. We must improve our knowledge level about the individual species we wish to reintroduce. For example, if our restoration strategy is solely targeting bird species, we need to know the biology of the bird species so that proper habitat can be restored. The biotic needs for an osprey versus a barn owl are considerably different in food and habitat requirements. Several questions need to be addressed before there can be an evaluation of restoration success: (1) how long will it take to restore the ecosystem under study and yet thought of as “degraded”? and (2) what are the bounds that define the ultimate goal of the restoration? (Weinstein et al. 1997). Paul and Anne Ehrlich (1981) used an appropriate metaphor of “rivets.” Ecosystems are like an airplane; each act of environmental destruction (i.e., species extinction) is akin to removing a rivet from the plane. At first, the losses make little difference because there are lots of rivets, but remove enough at crucial spots and the plane will crash. Thresholds or limits exist beyond which increased pressure could suddenly precipitate a catastrophic ecosystem collapse. It is not clear to scientists exactly where thresholds lie or what constitutes an ecosystem collapse. To extend the metaphors, the “biological world is a rich diverse tapestry.” The results are almost imperceptible: the removal of several threads diminishes the function and beauty of the tapestry. However, a continuation of degradation will reduce ecological diversity and ecosystem services provided, leaving them vulnerable to collapse if there is a cataclysmic event (i.e., tsunami, forest fire, hurricane, etc.). Human impact on terrestrial areas on Earth may be “reweaving it [the tapestry] into new patterns” (Stevens 2000). It may result in a markedly simpler, duller, and less functional ecosystem. Nearly half the Earth’s land surface has been transformed by human activity. As previously noted, the suppression of naturally occurring fires throws many kinds of ecosystem out of kilter, changing species mixture and complexion. The world is moving toward “bio uniformity.” Species richness directly affects the stability of an ecosystem. Diversity must be added to the list of factors that generally shape ecosystems and govern their functioning, along with climate, soil type, moisture, fire, and storms. Combinations of bio-contaminants (i.e., ground-level ozone) and acid fogs can have devastating effects on high-altitude forests (i.e., Southern Yellow Pine, Spruce, Fir Trees). Along the Eastern seaboard from Maine to North Carolina, such species have been defoliated and dramatically affected by changes in soil pH from acid precipitation. The New York Times revealed “heavy-duty band saws whine 24 hours a day, slicing huge logs into boards of varying lengths and widths” (Bonner 2002). Sawmills in Pekanbaru, Indonesia’s rainforest, have denuded large tracts of tropical

7  Terrestrial Ecology: Is Restoration the Only Answer?


forests. Corruption is rampant in many developing countries. These tropical forests are the largest in the world and are rapidly disappearing. Vast tracts of once-pristine forests have been reduced to barren and scarred wasteland. It is estimated that at least 4 million acres of forests, an area roughly the size of Connecticut in the USA, are being stripped of their trees every year. The world’s consumers must also share some of the responsibility for the devastation, especially if people in the US, Taiwan, and China that are consuming wood and wood products from Indonesia. This loss of trees on a global scale does not even include the use of carbon dioxide affecting the overall CO2 levels in our atmosphere today. An example of an extreme restoration effort is China’s Taklimakan Desert, the size of Germany, where 560 million people have planted 42 billion trees since 1982 (French 2004). It is currently debatable whether this action has had a demonstrable effect. As part of a drive to give China the highest crop yields in the world in the mid-1950s, Mao Zedong began his so-called “Four Nos” campaign, putting millions of people to the task of trying to eliminate rats, sparrows, flies, and mosquitos. So many birds were killed that crops were infested with their natural prey, caterpillars. During a 1950s campaign to make China the leading steel producer, for example, part of the country’s disastrous Great Leap Forward, the countryside was stripped of trees for fuel to fire background furnaces, resulting in widespread floods to this day. In another case, households without formal stoves are more susceptible to fires and are regulated under law in Mali. The “natural stove police” emphasize the silent but steady deforestation of Africa’s fragile sub-Saharan region. In a region where wood accounts for 90% of energy use, foreign aid experts are forecasting a clash between a shrinking forest and a growing populations demand for firewood. Wood stoves use one-quarter of the wood and save children from burns. Traditional cooking fires built on three stones transfer only 5% of energy produced by wood combustion to cooking pots. Energy efficiency is increased to 25% for mud stoves and 33% for new metal stoves (Brooke 1988). Invasive plants (alien species or exotics) are a serious threat to native plants and animals after habitat loss and increase during the transition phase of a restoration process. Half of the 300 species of invasive plants in the US and Canada were brought to beautify streets and gardens: Purple Loosestrife (erosion species), Tamarisk (Asian native), Leafy Spurge (give mouth sores to cattle), Yellow Star Thistle (from the Mediterranean), Norway Maple (the most planted tree type in the US), and Scotch Broom (highly flammable, grows in poor soil; Brody 1998). These are all tolerant of the altered environments they were introduced to but reduce the complexity of the forest food webs they replace. More and more due to urban sprawl, pristine lands, by the strictest definition, do not exist and the general landscapes are fragmented and shrinking in size (Marsh 2005). Worldwide, the Wildlife Conservation Society found that 17% of land is still nearly untouched, mostly because it is inhospitable to humans. In areas capable of growing basic crops and therefore most able to support people, untouched lands have diminished to just 2% of the total. Alaska holds the vast amount of least altered lands in the US.


7  Terrestrial Ecology: Is Restoration the Only Answer?

It is at the ecotone boundary of two adjacent ecosystems (e.g., forest vs. grasslands) that an increase in biodiversity develops. A variety of bird species in deepforest populations still mate with forest-patch populations. Despite this genetic exchange, the body forms of the birds are quite different. This divergence is very suggestive of the kind of diversification that eventually leads to the formation of a new species. In the standard view, populations must be geographically separated and unable to interbreed freely for evolution to drive them to diverge at any pace. Populations in ecological transition zones might diverge to be quite distinct, forming new species with strong pressures of natural selection, despite continued breeding with populations outside the transition zone (Niklas 1997). Refugia hypothesis has been hotly debated. The diversification through natural selection in ecotones may be helpful in increasing biodiversity in terrestrial ecosystems; however, this requires further investigations. Robert Bruegmann (2006), a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, defined sprawl as “low density, scattered, urban development without systematic large-scale or regional public land use planning” (18). Sprawl is generally unplanned, haphazard, disregards carrying capacities of infrastructure, and minimizes ecosystem stressors and aesthetic benefits of suburban systems. “Anti-sprawlers” are not new; all major urban centers sprawl out over history, dating back to the beginning of urban history. Anti-sprawlers have been identified by in a Newsday editorial (Keating 2006) as being reactionary to change, needing to understand that the limits on developing land boost existing home prices, and wanting “their kind of planners” to dictate living arrangements for “others with less taste and good sense.” He went so far as to suggest that anti-sprawl planning teeters on the edge of declaring a Communist manifesto. This line of thinking disregards monstrous traffic problems, urbanized degradation (e.g., graffiti, air pollution, sewage, trash, crime), and taxes to support all this added infrastructure, while continuing to provide no support for the homeless, elderly, and the socially disenfranchised. If urban planners and engineers use the environmental design techniques developed by Ian McHarg in the late 1960s (multidisciplinary, ecosystem-based management approaches to development), there might be a chance for no loss of habitat or natural landscapes, thus protecting the rural atmosphere so cherished by those living in the suburbs. Urbanization is the ultimate monoculturalization effect that is redesigning the Earth.

Chapter 8

Limnological Systems: Damn Dams!

The initial premise of this book was based on reading a 1996 news article identifying the impact of dams slowing the Earth’s rotation (Browne 1996). As hard as this phenomenon is to comprehend, after a short introduction to freshwater eco-systems and human ecology, the impact will be even more significant. Clean freshwater is essential for human existence. However, more humans are heavily dependent on large quantities of water to support the ever-demanding qualities of water for food and services (Gleick et al. 2002). In 1974, Pirages and Ehrlich noted that the production of a pound of grain requires from 60 to 225 gallons of water. A pound of meat can require anywhere from 2,500 to 6,000 gallons, and more consumption is required in the industry where approximately 100,000 gallons are needed to manufacture a single automobile. After almost 45 years, these freshwater quantities have not diminished. Limnology is the study of freshwater ecosystems, including lotic or running water habitats, such as streams, rivers, and lentic or standing water habitats (Calow and Petts, 1992; Cole 1979; Ruttner 1952). Water is generally unavailable for our use, even though it blankets the majority of the planet. The majority of the Earth’s water is found in the oceans and is unavailable for our direct use, with only 0.5% of all water on Earth being available directly for human use basically from groundwater systems (e.g., Fig. 8.1). The origin of lake basins is fundamentally a function of geologic processes. The entire hydrologic cycle is shaped by the Earth’s geology and its relationship to the atmosphere (Fig. 8.2). The Great Lakes, resultant of glaciation, and Lake Malawi, a rift lake a result of plate-tectonic movements, are two examples. Winds and water depth shape the aging process of freshwater systems (Wetzel and Likens 2000). Over geologic time frames, lakes go from oligotrophic, to mesotrophic, to eutrophic states (Fig. 8.3). Freshwater chemistry is mostly inorganic chemistry with some knowledge of organic nutrients and cultural (human) eutrophication factors (Keating 1978). The study of freshwater ecosystems involves observing synecology, community dynamics, autecology, and understanding the unique life histories of freshwater plants and animal species. The top-most layer of a freshwater body with active photosynthesis © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 J. T. Tanacredi, The Redesigned Earth,



8  Limnological Systems: Damn Dams!

Fig. 8.1  Long Island groundwater aquifers

is the photolytic zone. The top of a lake is called the epilimnion or littoral zone. Characteristics of this top zone include high dissolved oxygen, moderate pH levels, and low CO2 concentrations. The middle of a lake, called the mesolimnion, includes the compensation zone or transition zone, which reflects its depth of stratification or a gradient of physical and biological changes. The bottom zone of a lake is the hypolimnion, which ends at the benthos, where detritus (decaying matter) accumulates as fine particles. This becomes food for microbes and detritivores. Shallow-­ water wetlands (or bogs) and swamps are identified as lentic systems. Biologically and evolutionarily, the major taxa established on land probably invaded from the sea and then to freshwater environments or habitats that are normally taxonomically impoverished. For example, the taxonomic class Cephalopoda, squid, octopus, and nautilus have no representative taxa in freshwater systems (Fig. 8.4). In lotic systems such as streams, there are considerable erosional effects to the land due to natural discharge flows and urban developmental projects, which can significantly alter natural water flows. For example, the physics of Bernoulli’s Principle is a phenomenon in which an increase in velocity is created by restricting

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Fig. 8.2  Hydrologic cycle

the diameter of the exit flow opening. The construction of infrastructure such as highways, bridges, and dams significantly alter stream or tidal flows near coastal zones (Leslie 2007). Physical factors of limnologic systems are usually exhibited in extremes (Fig.  8.5). Lake Eyre in Australia is often dry for decades. Fish and amphibians in dried sediments are in suspended animation in a mucus blanket. During spring water flows, the fish “thaw” from the moistening of sediments. The wind shapes lake movements of water by their generated waves. The overall pH condition can be expressed in a range of volcanic-influenced acid bogs and to alkaline lakes. Many freshwater species lack a larval stage, differing from their marine relatives. Freshwater salmon have yolk sacs that embryonically have a larval phase. Cultural eutrophication commonly contributes to the freshwater species such as Ceratium hirundinella, which naturally bloom during spring thaws. Freshwater diatoms eaten by crustaceans (branchiopods) form an important food web component of freshwater systems. Rotatoria (Rotifers) such as daphnia graze on phytoplankton. Out of more than 10,000 species of copepods, only three groups are found in freshwater. Due to detrital buildup at the bottom of lakes and ponds, eventual aging of lakes occurs, which is generally described as a lake’s natural succession. High species diversity and a balance of organic material contributions usually characterize for ecologists the existence of a climax ecosystem. Natural eutrophication results in lower species diversity than that seen in most oligotrophic lakes, and the annual degradation of the organic matter produced is more nearly complete in oligotrophic lakes than it is in eutrophic waters. The obliteration of the


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Fig. 8.3  Limnological characteristics of lakes

basin is a type of succession achieved despite the trophic nature of the lake. It is a separate phenomenon from the hypothetical sequence: oligotrophy-mesotrophy-­ eutrophy-senescence-terrestrial stage. Retrogressive succession or rejuvenation, exemplified in ecological restoration efforts, requires “artificial stabilization techniques” or major physical changes to the landscape. Disclimax cyclic replacement sets back successional processes and prevents climax (e.g., altered soil acidity, pore conditions of water, fire ecologies). Ponds and lakes are primarily autotrophic (photosynthetic), while streams and rivers are generally heterotrophic. Their biotic communities rely on the import of deciduous leaves from adjacent trees as a major source of energy or organic materials. P/R (productivity/ respiration) ratios vary from day to day as the photosynthetic rate can be influenced by cloud cover, season to season, or year to year. Oligotrophic lakes typically have P/R ratios around 1.0 while eutrophic lakes are >1.0, which still is in balance because excess organic material is stored in the benthic layer. Lakes are mostly geologic in origin with the basic causative factors being glaciers, tectonics, and volcanism. The glacial lakes resultant of the Pleistocene Epoch

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Fig. 8.4  Phylum distribution on earth (Getting permissions from the publisher). (Source: Nicol 1972)

ending 10,500  years BP (before present) include the Great Lakes. During the Wisconsin ice age (6,000 to 7,000 years ago), the Raritan River and Hudson River (which originally flowed into present-day Jamaica Bay) were created. On Long Island, the Ronkonkoma Moraine and Lake Ronkonkoma resulted from glacial ice penetrating into the land surface, melting and establishing the lake we know today. The Finger Lakes in upstate New York such as Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake are kettle glacial lakes. When one observes their semi-parallel north–south alignment, impounded at both ends and formed in river valleys, it is evident which direction the


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Fig. 8.5  Temperature and pond water density: Seasonal relationships

glaciers receded. Past glacier directions can also be identified by the striations on rock outcrops. Bogs are results of surface scour by glaciers. The tectonic lakes such as in the Rift Valley of southeast Africa formed rift lakes, such as Lake Malawi (760 m) and Lake Tanganyika on geologic tectonic plate shifts. The graben lakes, such as Lake Tahoe, are the result of tilted fault blocks or landslide lakes formed by relatively minor Earth shifts. Last, due to volcanic phenomena, extinct caldera lakes were formed by collapsed volcanic craters when underlying molten-rock magma flowed out, leaving caldera lakes such as Crater Lake Oregon (589  m deep) and Rano Kau Crater on Easter Island. Some lakes are formed in limestone sinks or shoreline lakes (e.g., Oxbow Lake, Minnesota) like Lake Okeechobee in the state of Florida. A truly spectacular volcanic origin lake is Oregon’s Crater Lake (geologically a caldera), created more than 7,000 years ago. The lake has a maximum depth of 609 meters and water clarity to depths of up to 40 meters (Larson 2002). Renowned Yale University limnologist, G. Evelyn Hutchinson (1975), had described the lake to be “almost optically pure.” Crater Lake has relatively high sulfate and chloride concentrations, averaging 10.5 and 10.2 milligrams per liter, respectively, that have been attributed to active hydrothermal vents on the lake bottom. These thermal springs discharge 6.35 × 109 grams of dissolved solids into the lake annually. It was the conclusion of research scientists in the late 1980s exploring the bottom of Crater Lake with a “Deep Rover” submersible that the upwelling of nitrate-nitrogen from deep waters contributes more than 85% of the total new nitrogen entering the lake’s euphotic zone (Larson 2002). Human and other animal actions impact freshwater systems. Mosquito larvae control for disease prevention; as well, beavers constructing dams can affect trout streams by creating changes in the elevation or temperature of impounded waters.

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This can prevent or shift fish-spawning cycles. A major alteration with serious impacts are man-made dams with significant environmental and sociological problems (Yardley 2004, 2007). The shapes and sizes of freshwater systems vary in surface area, depth, length of shoreline, and basin slope. Light penetration varies due to the optical density of water and a diminution coefficient for light penetrability. This establishes a photolytic zone, which will determine aquatic plant growth or zonation. This is measured by vertical visibility through the use of a Secchi disk that can provide an estimate of the amount of chlorophyll, which absorbs light at 670–680 nm, thus reflecting the amount of algal growth. Light wavelengths that are shorter 435 nm will penetrate deeper into freshwater systems. The density of water is dependent on temperature. The layering of water and lake classification zones is determined by temperature stratifications. Thus, limnological layers from top to bottom are the epilimnion, thermocline, mesolimnion, and hypolimnion. Photosynthesis increases dissolved oxygen (DO) as temperature changes in the epilimnion. Decomposition reduces DO and increases CO2 concentrations in the hypolimnion. Due to the maximum density of water being set at 4 °C creating convection currents, freshwater ponds and lakes will turn over or recycle benthic nutrients by increasing turbulence in such systems. The sediment carried in the annual cycle of the turbid Colorado River will be a nutrient source. During the summer, the down-­ lake flow is along the bottom and is attributed to sediment-laden water. As the water cools in the autumn and winter, the flow is even more conspicuous. Today, because of Lake Powell’s formation behind Hoover Dam, the Colorado River is no longer flowing through the gorge to Lake Mead as a turbid stream (impoundment collects sediments). In 2007, the U.S.  National Park Service experimented with a water-­ release action to restore the Colorado River’s ecology that had been shaped over millennia. In estuarine systems, such as Long Island, salinity wedges move up the Hudson River to the Troy Dam. Denser saltwater travels under Hudson River’s freshwater emptying into the Atlantic Ocean while being daily influenced by the tides (Fig. 8.6). Holomixis is a wind-generated circulation mixing entire lakes. Lake Tahoe has exhibited a mixing period in 1964–1968 and another in 1973. Deep, cold lakes are difficult to get wind-generated convection currents to turn them over. Monomeric lakes that exhibit turnover once a year, such as polar lakes, are generally stratified in the summer (e.g., Cayuga Lake in New York). Most lakes are dimictic, having two mixing periods, especially when changing temperature drives the classic fall and spring turnovers. During the summer, it stratifies with cooler water moving to the bottom. Winter stagnation initiates when ice forms. There are Meromixis-type lakes that circulate at times but not fully; the entire water mass does not participate in the mixing. It is oxygen at the water and air interface that is critical for photosynthesis so that gas exchange and gaseous equilibriums can be maintained. CO2 is very soluble in water, while oxygen is not as great but is twice as soluble as nitrogen. The solubility of gases in natural waters is a function of individual gases, which is four times


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greater in quantity in water than in the air. The solubility of gases in natural waters is modified by air pressure, temperature, and salinity. Henry’s law of gases notes that at a constant temperature, the amount of gas absorbed by a given volume of liquid is proportional to the pressure the gas exerts (which is affected by altitude). Increasing altitude decreases air pressure. Cold-temperature waters hold more dissolved oxygen, which is reflected in the significant “arctic diversity” and “arctic size” of invertebrates. Colder waters are oxygen saturated and help produce the massive growth of invertebrates. The solubility of gases decreases as water temperatures increase so that high temperatures will drive off oxygen, reducing the

Fig. 8.6  Salt water circulation within estuaries. (Source: Adapted from Pritchard 1952; McDowell and O’Connor 1977)

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dissolved-­oxygen concentration. The occurrence of various minerals or salts in solution lowers the solubility of gases; salt (sea) water acts as an antifreeze. Methane (CH4), whose major source is from the anaerobic decomposition of plant/animal matter in the soil, produces hydrogen sulfide that is extremely soluble in water and will influence soil water’s pH levels. Ammonia, the waste byproduct of all biota is an extremely soluble gas and so NH4+, NH3, and NH4OH values are all prominent in the summer hypolimnion of eutrophic lakes. Pond turnovers redistribute dissolved oxygen. To transfer atmospheric oxygen to lake waters requires a suitable gaseous gradient based on partial pressure differences of oxygen in the atmosphere and water. In an anaerobic body of water, if O2 were distributed by molecular diffusion alone, it could take forever. The turbulence created by seasonal water density changes result in carrying oxygen to the depths. The aeration of freshwater can be accomplished when waters are cascading (waterfalls) or moving rapidly (rapids). Photosynthesis remains the primary source of oxygen. Loss of oxygen occurs by the metabolism and respiration from plants, animals, and their ultimate decomposition. The Clean Water Act established standard limits of dissolved oxygen concentrations in water at 5  ppm. Lowered limits of DO to 3.5 mg/L is not lethal in water. However, when overall organism metabolism is low, reduced DO can contribute to aquatic organism stress and potential mortality. The depletion of DO can also occur by the warming of the epilimnion with rainwater contributing CO2 in the form of carbonic acid. This can have significant effects on organisms by lowering the pH.  In extreme conditions such as active volcanic regions, these lake environments have pH values at 2.0 or lower. Organic acids from peat material (collectively humic acids) create a low pH or what are known as acid bog waters. Human impacts on freshwater systems can be considerably disruptive to the natural system (Polunin et  al. 2008). This “cultural eutrophication” has historically created major problems to the Great Lakes. In artificial lakes, or recharge basins where water is impounded after rain events, pH concentrations are critical to the habitation of these lake systems. Stream recanalizations have devastated normal freshwater flows into significant freshwater systems such as the Everglades in Florida. In New York City’s Bronx River, restoration efforts targeted water quality in this highly urbanized waterway as its primary restoration activity. In New York’s Jamaica Bay, the freshwater contributions to the estuary primarily come from combined sewer overflows and precipitation events. DO levels in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge’s two ponds have tide gates to prevent saltwater intrusion on the tide cycles and are kept fresh with periodic freshwater additions from New York City’s potable water systems (Tanacredi and Badger 1995). Lake pollution is dependent on thermal conditions, the level of pollutant input, and the size of the lake (including biological makeup and depth, winds, or other climate factors). Dimictic lakes display summer stagnations or stratification, with water being heated on the surface and cooler, denser waters found at the bottom. During both spring and fall turnovers, water warms and reaches a maximum density at 4 °C, creating circulation patterns as this heavier water falls uniformly to the bottom and creating enough sediment turbulence to redistribute detrital nutrients that


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contribute to algae blooms that are natural seasonal phenomena. During winter’s stagnation, ice prevents mixing and water temperatures of 32 °F on top almost equal the 39 °F on the bottom. Concentrations of DO are high in epiliminion and low in hypolimnion. CO2 and H2S and gases of decomposition like methane (CH4) are low in the epilimnion and increase while approaching the hypolimnion. The percentage saturation of DO depends on pollution input, time of stagnation stages, rate of decomposition of bottom materials, and the depth of the water body. If N2 is limited, nitrogen fixation takes over (Brezonik 1972; Clark 1969). Nutrient cycles in lakes generally proceed like this: algae use CO2 and water, store phosphorus and nitrogen, and increase DO production in surface waters. These algae die and settle to bottom, where they decompose; this results in a decrease in DO concentration. During changes in seasonal air temperature and especially water temperature (which has its maximum density at 4 °C), spring turnover and fall turnover carry phosphorous and nitrogen to the top of the water body and contribute to blooming conditions, which are all natural phenomena in enclosed bodies of water (Dillon 1974; Schindler 1977). Nutrient-limiting factors are affected by alkalinity changes (pH), especially when there is increasing nitrogen. In the epilimnion, an increase in nitrates, the end product of decomposition of (NH4) ammonia, will naturally increase growth conditions for algae. In the hypolimnion, there are increases in ammonia due to the breakdown of proteins in water, increasing H2S, and decreasing DO in pond bottom waters. The ability of algae to use only .001 ppm of phosphorous (P) makes it a limiting factor. Boom-or-bust population cycles prevail and the total species composition and diversity of freshwater organisms reflect these cycles. Thus, the biogenic effects on carbonate content in rooted aquatic plants, algae, or invertebrates will use up dissolved CO2 or bicarbonate (HCO3) during the day, resulting in an increase in basicity as the CO2 levels decline (Bormann and Likens 1967; Brezonik 2013). Eutrophic lakes are affected by (1) amount of oxidizable matter, (2) the duration of stagnation, (3) seasonal temperature, and (4) nutrients and elements of living matter. Nitrogen-fixating blue-green algae and nitrogen-fixing bacteria transform ammonia by N-bacterial respiration to produce nitrate from the decomposing plant and animal protein. Levels of eutrophication in lakes require tests that can reveal loading considerations. This can be done by several physical and chemical methods such as (1) sediment core analysis; (2) dissolved oxygen in the hypolimnion relationships: DO and CO2; (3) transparency (Secchi disc); (4) dissolved solids and conductivity; and (5) CO2 utilization (respirometric). The most impressive global impact of engineering water resources originates in the sheer number of dam construction around the world (International Rivers 2007). There are more than 47,000 large dams in existence on Earth today, controlling hundreds of billions of tons of water flow. Dam construction has continued for energy and recreation resource development (Rohter 2006). Impounded waters behind dams, in addition to energy development (Hoover Dam in the US), have been able to prompt a significant increase in recreational resources. What may be gained in the reduction of fossil fuel consumption has been lost in the disruption of significant

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freshwater ecologies (Williams 1997). These impacts occur both upstream and downstream. Over 400,000 square kilometers of managed reservoirs, which is impounded water, represent only 0.3% of the world’s terrestrial surface area. Dams are used to manage the inherent variables of the hydrologic cycle; however, this contributes to urban sprawl and a community’s capability to reduce developmental impacts on natural systems (Fackler 2009). It must be emphasized that a dam’s purpose (e.g., flood control, navigation, recreation, power generation, and irrigation) is critical to its management. Irrigation usage attempts to keep reservoirs full, requiring managers to constantly monitor levels. Similar to the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, dams have a flood-control priority, so there is always a need to have an evaluation of the capacity of the spring flows or flood flows. Hydropower from the Hoover Dam is generated by waters of Lake Mead, which is the largest artificial lake in the United States (Cech 2005). In the 1950s, Aswan Dam across the Nile River in Egypt was proposed to generate electricity and control flooding. Its construction flooded 300  miles upstream ending in a great lake flooding the valley, requiring 100,000 people to move their farms and live somewhere else. Once completed, the dam prevented nutrient-rich waters from dropping sediments annually on the lands of Lower Egypt, which it had done for more than 5.5 million years. The dam was recently opened to spread into the lower valley, yet 30% is lost to evaporation so there is less volume of water. Artificial chemical fertilizers are now needed rather than the original nutrient-rich river sediments. The new level of electricity is used to make synthetic fertilizer today. The original Nile River’s nutrient-rich waters supported the growth of marine algae in the sea around the delta. That algae supported vast shoals of sardines. Today, there is a collapsed fishery due to the lack of algae and the sardines that feed on them. The Chinese Government in 2007 relocated more than three million people along the banks of the Yangtze River to clear the way for the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. It took 10 to 15 years to complete, and yet riverbank walls have collapsed at many places along the main reservoir. China’s Chongqing at the western end of a 400-mile-long reservoir required 1.4 million people to be moved (many times) when the Three Gorges Dam started in 1994 (French 2007). It is the world’s largest hydroelectric dam that cost $22 million; thus, it is the world’s largest civil engineering project as of today (Eckholm 2003; Faison 1997). In 2017, the new constriction of scores of dams along the Mekong River are more than likely to have major impacts on eight of the world’s largest freshwater fisheries, all of which are already at the risk of extinction. In addition, the freshwater dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) is highly vulnerable because its population was estimated at 85 in 2010. These dams change the flow and seasonal hydrodynamics of water and sediments associated with both upstream and downstream environments and reduce niches available for preserving freshwater biodiversity that includes large mobile predators such as the Mekong River dolphin (Ligon et al. 1995; Sills 2017). The dams block movements of migratory fish (Brownell et al. 2017).


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Wetlands may not be wet. As strange as that may sound, it is accurate because wetlands run from stream beds that are periodically wet from variations in hydraulic flow, to marshes, swamps, and bays that are constantly saturated by water due to tide cycles. Coastal, salt, and freshwater wetlands exist everywhere in the United States, from the Florida Everglades to the sphagnum-heath bogs of Maine. Wetlands are globally important in flood control, from buffering coastal lands against wave and storm surge damage to capturing sediments to build up the shoreline. Wetlands have traditionally been considered as wastelands. Marshes, swamps, bogs, and fens have long been associated with being hot, humid, and dangerous, with hidden animals and sources of disease (Maltby 1986). This is unfounded, and once wetlands are better understood, it would be apparent what their importance is in providing life-support systems by controlling water cycles and maintaining environmental quality and sustainable production (Pullin and Woodell 1987). They sift dissolved and suspended materials from flood waters, thus encouraging plant growth and reducing the potential for water becoming saturated in nutrients and lower in oxygen. Wetlands filter pollutants out of water and are used as wastewater treatment systems around the world. In the United States, there is a marsh in Wisconsin that has been utilized to purify domestic sewage since 1923. Wetlands cover only 6% of the world’s land surface. However, they support estuaries as nursery grounds that result in two thirds of the fish hatched and caught worldwide. The definition for “wetland” is important, as scientists have identified losses of wetlands at 54% since the arrival of Europeans on the continent during the sixteenth century. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2013) estimated that under 100  million acres, or half the original wetland acreage in the continental United States, remain today. More than 450,000 acres of wetlands are lost annually (e.g., Fig. 8.7). In the state of Louisiana, an average of over two football field sizes of coastal marshes are lost each day. There still are an estimated 200 million acres of wetlands in Alaska. The major human factor resulting in wetland loss is drainage for agricultural purposes. Urban and other development activities account for another 13% loss. Wetlands result as a function of the hydrologic cycle, including atmospheric and geologic factors of the global cycle of water. To moisten soils, a prolonged rain of 1 inch is better for soil moisture conditions. Evaporation reduces the amount of water that remains to penetrate the soil. Several conditions on land can also make the distribution of water a complex issue: air temperature, leaf cover of forests, soil conditions and type, season of the year, shoreline, slope, degree of land-use conditions, vegetation cover, and soil penetrability (e.g., Fig. 8.8). The water that does penetrate the soil surface occupies the interstitial (between) spaces of soil particles, and depending on soil particle size, it contains water at various depths. The upper-most root zone is important to plants and is the water that returns to the atmosphere by leaves’ evaporation, which is collectively called “evapotranspiration.” Water that penetrates deeper into the soil reaches the water table or groundwater. On Long Island, where the surface and subsoils tend to be

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Fig. 8.7  New York bight watershed, 1994. (Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1994)



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Fig. 8.8  Flood plain storm flows

sandy and gravelly (coarse soils), perhaps 40% of the annual precipitation is added to the groundwater or recharged. This is a very general average that varies from place to place and year to year, even in the same location. On Staten Island, in New York City, and in New Jersey, the silt and clay-rich surface soils (fine soils) do not allow as much recharge from the same amount of rain as on Long Island. Water does not move downward through fine soils very well unless the soils have been greatly modified by plants and animals (Figs. 8.9 and 8.10).

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Mature soils, where the continuous living and dying of plants has occurred, may recharge a great deal of water. The old root channels and worm burrows can make the soil very porous; in fact, this is why we need worms to have a healthy soil. Just the presence of the many life forms in the soil, such as insects, nematodes, and bacteria, results in mineral soil particles clumping up as aggregates. Water moves easily between such clumps. It is important to note that this aggregate structure is delicate. It can be destroyed by compaction or other kinds of soil disruption. When the aggregate structure is destroyed or has not had time to develop, runoff will increase and water will pool in flatter areas. The porosity of surface soils is important and many variables affect it. Let’s consider a hill and a valley, to understand the nature of the groundwater and its surface (or the water table). If each square inch of such an area were to receive an equal amount of precipitation annually, say 44 inches (the average precipitation on Long Island), this would mean that about 500,000 gallons of water are recharged on each acre per year. The water table has a slope, as it is not as deep as the hill itself but is 40 feet lower. The surface layer of groundwater will move due to gravity. If it never rained again, the water table would become flat. If the water table is very close to the soil surface in the valley, springs may appear and a stream may flow down the valley. Perhaps the surface soils just remain wet and no surface water is evident. In this case, a wetland may occur. The wetness tends to give some species of plants a competitive advantage over other plants. A water-resistant kind of plant community will develop and remain as long as these conditions exist.

Fig. 8.9  Acid rain vulnerability in the Northeastern US


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Fig. 8.10  Formation of pH changes attributable to industrial sources in the eastern US

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Sidebar 8.1: Remember what you learn in kindergarten My earliest introduction to science was when we planted a bean seed in a milk container as a homework assignment and then placed it in the window of a classroom at my elementary school. If the seeds germinated, they grew for a bit and then died. The reason for the plant loss at the seedling stage is related to its being overwatered. We saturated the soil in the container. The organic material in it decomposed and used up the initial charge of oxygen and we couldn’t add more water; the container would have merely overflowed. This is the reason for the hole in the bottom of a flower pot.

If we look more closely at the wetland plant community, we will find that oxygen availability is the crucial factor. Oxygen is vital to soil organisms and is carried into the soil by downward moving water. In other words, precipitation replaces soil oxygen. Making holes alone in your lawn does not aerate it. It merely allows the soil to be more porous for rain to carry dissolved oxygen downward (see Sidebar 8.1). Wetland plants generally have mechanisms (adaptations) that allow them to live in wet soils. They can tolerate low soil–oxygen concentrations, low nutrient availability (the decomposition of organic matter is slow and fewer nutrients recycle), and acidic conditions (carbon dioxide concentrations tend to be high as oxygen concentrations decrease). The dark organic mud of marshes and swamps is evidence of these processes. The adaptations of wetland plants are too varied to describe completely. One prominent example is the Cypress knee. It is a stubby, above-water root extension that takes in oxygen and allows cypress trees to grow in very wet areas. In a true freshwater swamp, a wetland area dominated by well-adapted trees, the trees and shrubs are found growing on hummocks; these are minor rises in the soil surface formed by masses of very shallow roots. Human activities such as the destabilization of upland soils and the active ditching and draining of saturated areas accelerate wetland losses. Strangely enough, human activity has resulted in creating wetlands. There are many more freshwater wetlands and acres of wetlands in northeastern North America now than there were in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. By the late nineteenth century, most of the original forests of the Northeast were cut and the land was cleared for agriculture. Roads and railroads crisscrossed the land, which interrupted pre-existing drainage patterns. Agricultural practices were important causes of wetland formation. In New York City, Robert Moses created the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge East and West Ponds, a large freshwater habitat that provided a world-renowned migratory pathway for its bird population (Maillacheruvu et al. 2003; Tanacredi and Badger 1995). To understand this a bit more, we need to return to the discussion of the soils. Soil agronomists describe the natural process of soil formation as one in which


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coarse soils become less porous as organic particles fill the larger spaces between the mineral soil particles. Both fine (clay-silt) soils and coarse (sand-gravel) soils mature into better growth mediums over time. Usually a mature soil in the Northeast develops a particular “soil profile” or series of soil layers. There is a surface organic layer identified as the AO horizon, lying on top of the mineral soil. The upper surface may have identifiable pine needles, leaves, or twigs, but there are only tiny organic particles of humus just over the mineral soil. The dark-stained soil beneath the AO horizon is the A1 horizon, or top soil. This layer may be a few inches to a foot or so in thickness. It is also the layer where we find the most amount of roots. It is a mixture of organic material and the mineral particles (such as clay, silt, sand, or gravel). Just beneath the top soil, we find the A2 horizon or “clear zone.” This first subsoil layer is not stained and is usually well oxygenated in upland soils. The mineral soil is bright. The A2 is the layer of water transport. Downward moving rainwater carries soluble material through it. The end of the A2 horizon and the beginning of the next layer, the B1, is usually distinct. The B1 horizon is a layer of deposition. The soluble organic and inorganic chemicals settle out in the B1. Often, carbonates and other chemicals bond the mineral particles together in the B1, forming a hard cemented layer that is often one to several feet beneath the soil surface and hard to dig through. The soils in and beneath it are dull or mottled as a result of low oxygen concentrations and fewer roots present. The above description of a mature forest soil is necessary if we are to understand how human practices create wetlands. Probably the most important point is that the mature forest soil is porous and rainwater can penetrate through it on its way down to the underlying water table. The semi-complete removal of human settlement of this northern hardwood forest, primarily for agricultural purposes, altered these soils forever. By the late nineteenth century, the majority of lands in the northern region of the United States were farmed and this changed the porosity of the soils. Plowing and disking mixes the soil horizons that break up the original aggregate and destroy old root channels that allow water to percolate down to the water table. More importantly, clay and silt particles are released from the aggregate, migrating downward with downward-moving water clogging the subsoils. Farmers noticed this process in low areas in the fields that became wetter and wetter. Soon, they became impossible to plow or plant and they were usually abandoned. These low spots became marshes or swamps that were used as pasture, woodlots, or just waste spaces. On Long Island, New York, some shallow, permanent ponds have formed this way. They fill with runoff and are often used as sumps (recharge basins). They are sometimes mistaken for glacial kettle holes. These surface depressions, perhaps water filled, formed more than 10,000 years ago as large chunks of glacial ice melted and created these kettle ponds. Eventually, wetlands that developed due to agriculturally related soil blockage dry up. Trees replace

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larger trees as they naturally succeed and become established, and the wet marshy areas progress to being drier. Trees transpire large amounts of water and their roots penetrate deeper into the soil during dry periods. Root channels fill with water ­during the draining of surface and subsurface water. This allows different species of trees to invade and eventually dominate a previously wet area. Thus, agriculturally related wetlands are a major initiator of a natural succession of terrestrial ecosystems. Wetlands have developed in low areas due to drainage blockage, which is usually related to road and railroad construction. Highway construction would fill in the wetlands with “rights of way.” Road building has resulted in borrowed materials for the road from the rights of way. The resultant holes were isolated and prone to fill with water. These borrow pits like wetlands along Montauk Highway in Napeague, New York, are now wetlands of unique local importance. In the process of forest succession, there are many factors that affect which plant species will be present and for how long. As agriculture has altered the surface of the Earth’s soil, the Earth’s flow of freshwaters has been altered by dam construction. Today, from earthen dams on the headwaters of streams and small rivers, to the largest constructed engineering feats of the dam at Itapúa, Paraná River in Paraguay, to the Three Rivers Gorge Dam on the Yangzi River, the Earth’s freshwater picture has been redesigned by engineering progress. In spite of the forced relocation of over one million people, a cost of more than $31.765 billion, drowning antiquities (Figs. 8.11 and 8.12) dating back 8,000 years, and more than 300  miles of river habitat lost, “The Colossus of the Yangtze” generates power exceeding 22,000 megawatts (Browne 1996). In 2014, the dam generated 28.8 terawatt hours (TWh), only exceeded by the previously largest dam, Paraguay’s Itapúa Dam, which produced 103.1 TWh. Although these massive engineering projects have boosted the respective countries’ pride, a thirsty, energy-grabbing world is demanding more and more dam construction whose ecological effects on the global river systems may not reveal itself for decades. The damming of rivers results in changing the flow of water, sediment, nutrients, energy, and biota—all parts of ecological processes requiring decades of study to determine the scope of implicated mechanisms that fundamentally alter stream and river ecosystems (Rohter 2006; Tyler 1996). As reported by the World Commission on Dams, the rate of new dam construction has slowed, yet those dams being planned are larger and more impactful on lands and people than ever before (UNESCO 2006). Of nearly 800,000 dams worldwide, 47,000 large dams such as China’s Three Gorges Dam (having a reservoir volume greater than four million cubic yards) have been built over the past century (International Rivers 2007). Dams in India, Laos, Turkey, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Uganda, and Russia all will continue to contribute clean hydropower but at even greater expense to ecological systems of a redesigned Earth.


8  Limnological Systems: Damn Dams!

Fig. 8.11  Drowning antiquities in China’s Yangtze river (Getting permissions from The New York Times)

8  Limnological Systems: Damn Dams!

Fig. 8.12  Yangtze drainage basin


Chapter 9

Environmental Risk Assessment: Gordian Knots Untied

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 J. T. Tanacredi, The Redesigned Earth,



9  Environmental Risk Assessment: Gordian Knots Untied

More often than not, engineering is subject to a bottom-line approach: save money while increasing project completion rates. The news is replete with engineering failures, identifying extremely difficult and involved projects that possibly were marred by expediency and poor planning. A noteworthy example was the levee failures in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. The levees were designed only to handle a Level 2 hurricane and were therefore underdesigned to handle Level 3 Katrina as it barreled ashore. Bridge failures also greet us with underdesigned, economically deficient, and poorly maintained debacles, as was the case in Genoa, Italy, in 2018, when a major bridge collapsed after years of deferred maintenance (Pianigiani et al. 2018). In light of this, there is no doubt that more infrastructure is in harm’s way today, with more people living in flood plains, in fire-prone ecosystems, or along global coastlines (Stevens 1993). There are also more people working with a greater quantity of synthetic and toxic compounds or chemicals. Due to urban sprawl, there are greater chances of people being affected by episodic but dramatic environmental events such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, mudslides, and fires due to their immediate proximity to these large-scale conflagrations. Entire new basins can be flooded with storms exceeding intensities of 50-year and 100-year records. Toxic clouds result in the mass annihilation of local populations in Bhopal and Chernobyl (Smith 2004). Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy have become the poster child for zealots of global warming through the paradigm of unpreparedness and environmental risk analysis. One would be Pollyannish if one were to believe that there are environmental risks that can be totally planned for. That being said, we can project, with a fair degree of confidence, in predicting the likelihood of injury, diseases, or death that may result from human exposure to a group of potential or actual environmental hazards (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1980). Due to there being more people, increasing at over 100 million new individuals annually around the world, it is inevitable there will be more human exposures to more frequent natural risks (Morgan 1993). The state-of-the-art process in conducting risk assessments today has its beginnings and expansive use as a result of lawsuits generated by the Superfund legislation as well as Risk Assessment Guidance for Superfund, which was established in the late 1980s in the United States (U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency 1988). A critical aspect of assessment or assigning environmental risks to humans such as a hazardous or toxic compound disposal site is called “scoping.” In the scoping process, engineers answer some basic questions. First, what are the questions we want to answer? This is fairly simplistic yet will reveal the intent of a clean-up or remediation strategy. Do we get an ecosystem restored for human use, or do we restore natural ecological functions? The limits to being able to identify “natural” are usually engineering nightmares primarily due to their complexities. What information do you have about your site (e.g., previous analytical data, site history, monitoring networks)? This aspect of assessment draws the most criticism and frustration. A lament early on by potential participants in any assessment is, “Scientists always want to study something forever,” even though there are peri-

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ods, both prior and post identification of an ecological contamination event, when there may be only a paltry amount of information. This information may have been gathered for the normal regulatory documentation such as an environmental impact statement that is usually composed of lists with some National Standard Thresholds established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency if they exist (e.g., Pb in air). Will additional data collection, sampling, and observations be required? What is the time reference for assessing potential or existing damages? Timing is everything. Risk assessment sometimes attempts to reduce one risk (burns from flammable pajamas for children) while creating others (the increased chance of cancer from cellphone use or fireproofing chemicals). In some instances, regulators have ignored large risks while attacking smaller ones with vigor. Biologist Bruce Ames of Berkley, California, argued persuasively for years that government managers have invested enormous resources in controlling selected artificial carcinogens while ignoring natural ones that may contribute far more to the total risk for human cancer (Adair 2006). The environmental health risk process is a requirement of the “Superfund Law” (or CERCLA, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act), which involves an analysis of baseline risks and a basis for comparing remedial alternatives. Figure 9.1 exhibits the basic fundamental process from “Data Collection and Evaluation” to “Risk Characterization” for a human health-risk assessment (see Fig. 9.2).

Fig. 9.1  Toxicity risk assessment


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Fig. 9.2  Assessment to risk characterization

The risk-assessment process begins with data collection and evaluation relevant to a particular environmental hazard site. If there is no prior research, government site investigation, legal cases, or some sort of reconnaissance investigation, then a determination of the significant data gaps will require additional data gathering. Keeping the results of the scoping aspects and/or objectives for the site assessment in mind, there must be an identification of contaminants of potential concerns at a minimum. This aspect, or preliminary screening, evaluates data in comparison to background values usually established by the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency or implemented by individual state environmental protection agencies. This aspect of assessing impacts makes it critical that we monitor contaminants as well as how we establish normal ecological functions. If there are no data, there can be no assessment. For example, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in soils and tissues have a background level established at 1  ppm and 2  ppm, respectively. Values detected below that value may be considered acceptable. From 1943 to 1977, 1.3 million pounds of PCBs were dumped into the Hudson River by General Electric (GE). In the 200-mile stretch of the Hudson River Estuary, its water, sediment, and wildlife all the way to New  York Harbor was contaminated and the

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threshold value that was originally at 5 ppm was reduced to 2 ppm in fish caught in this Superfund site. GE fought the order from the U.S. EPA for the company to remove “hotspots,” which are high concentrations of PCBs, because the contaminated sediment removal process is very expensive (The New York Times 1997b). GE fought paying for the expensive removal of PCB-contaminated sediments of the Hudson River until 2000, when the Environmental Protection Agency announced a 5-year plan to dredge hotspots where the majority of the 2.65 million cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediments existed along a 40-mile stretch of the river, costing $460 million. In 2001, GE filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Superfund law, but a federal judge threw out the suit in 2003. It was not until May 2009 that Phase 1 dredging began. All this time, the threshold in Striped Bass, for example, was 2 ppm or lower for human consumption. In the continued assessment of the scale and extent of injuries to the Hudson River estuary, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had conducted an extensive scientific study based on the numbers of violations of state and federal standards for fish consumptive advisories, ground and surface waters, biological resources, and the resulting pathway injuries to humans. By 2015, the first phase of PCB contaminated-sediment removal from the Hudson River amounted to 1.3 million cubic yards. As of February 2018, the Hudson River remains contaminated with PCBs, according to a report released by the Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees (Wu 2018). This report noted that due to PCB contamination exceeding federal state standards, aquatic life is still threatened and water quality is not at a level where fish can be consumed safely by humans. There are several subjective factors that can influence the establishment of background values at any hazardous materials site. The detection limits used in analytical instrumentation and the frequency and quantity of samples analyzed over time will establish the thresholds for a particular compound or element when isolated. The characteristics of a subpopulation of potential concern, such as pregnant and nursing women, infant and child populations, chronically ill persons, and elderly persons are critical to determining threshold levels. Workplace conditions and resident exposures in an industrial area and sustenance users (e.g., fishermen, commercial and recreational) of the environmental setting will all contribute to identifying a living resources profile. For Superfund sites, the Reasonable Maximum Exposure has been estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for both current and future land-use conditions. Some future land-use results may be as much as 30 years or longer into the future (see Case Study #5: PAL/FAL Jamaica Bay). The law requires assessments to establish or target a central tendency derived from a variety of exposure scenarios and risk assessments. The exposure to toxic compounds must be tracked to a source or sources. The following exposure pathways illustrate a basic pathway scenario (Fig. 9.3). To establish levels of toxicity in assessing human health risks, the available toxicity data will help shape which investigative activities will be explored (Maugh


9  Environmental Risk Assessment: Gordian Knots Untied

Fig. 9.3  Exposure pathways

1982). Epidemiological data from hospitals, health centers, and/or the National Center for Environmental Assessment will put the association of a substance and disease into perspective. This level of data retrieval, coupled with the most common data of animal bioaccumulation, may lead to inferences connecting animal experimentation or ecosystem investigations that apply eco-system health or species health to humans. The majority of known human carcinogens are also carcinogenic in a host of other animals. With appropriate data from these sources, the consideration of site-specific baseline risk assessments for human cancer can be identified. At a minimum, identification of the major assumptions, scientific judgments, and estimates of uncertainties will aid in distinguishing among fact, assumption, and scientific policy. Going from risk assessment with one receptor (humans) to ecological risk assessment with multiple receptors (plants, animals, entire ecological systems), the focus shifts from individual effects to population effects (Maugh 1982). Some of the ecological exposure pathways are shown in Fig. 9.4. Ecological risk analysis includes an exposure and toxicity assessment. Results are used to calculate clean-up levels that are protective of human health and environmental receptors based on an “acceptable” risk. Once a strategy has been established for reducing risk at a specific site, costs can become prohibitive. The model used to reveal the intricacies and depth of assessment has been the restoration and remediation of a site at Love Canal, New York. Love Canal is a small community in western New York State that was to become the lighting rod of attention to the uncontrolled disposal of hazardous wastes (Smith 1982). This ecological and public health problem was spawned by chemical

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Fig. 9.4  Industrial contributions to air and water contamination

c­ompany processes that never warranted attention to their possible effects on human and ecological health. The Love Canal story started as a vision of William T.  Love who was an entrepreneur from the Western Railroad Corporation, who gave his name to developing the perfect urban area. Love’s failed shipping lane canal only had 1 mile dug from the Niagara River by 1893 when all financial support was lost and he abandoned the property to public auction in 1910. In the 1920s, the canal became a dumpsite for the city of Niagara Falls. Up to the Canal’s closure in 1952, the canal received waste discharges from all industrial sources, including petrochemical, rubber, and abrasives—all unchecked. The city of Niagara Falls was growing (tourism to the Falls) and its population expanding. One of the major contributors of wastes to the Canal was the Hooker Chemical Company, which lined the Canal with clay layers, created a landfill on the 16-acre site in 1947, and subsequently dumped more than 19,800 tons of chemicals and transferred ownership of the Love Canal property to the Niagara City Board of Education to construct a school. The school was completed in 1955 and 400 children attended the school. That year, toxic chemical drums were exposed after some land subsid-


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ence. By 1957, 800 private homes and 240 low-income apartments had been constructed despite warnings from Hooker Chemical Company that there were chemical wastes. Homes were contaminated, and in 1977, the New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation conducted a massive environmental toxicological investigation of air, soil, and groundwater. The results revealed chlorinated hydrocarbons, sludge, fly ash, benzene, and over 200 distinct organic chemicals. Throughout the late 1970s, public advocacy groups conducted investigations, petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and initiated legal suits to battle the issue being ignored by Hooker Chemical Company. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter declared a federal health emergency and ordered the Federal Disaster Assistance Agency (today FEMA) to remedy the Love Canal site. U.S. Congress passed the CERCLA (Superfund Act), creating the National Priorities List of Superfund sites requiring immediate attention. The Natural Research Council surveyed all the Love Canal health studies in 1991 and noted that the major exposure of concern was the groundwater that seeped into basements of residences and then led to exposure through air and soil; they reported “high levels of low birth rate babies and birth defects among exposed residents.” In 1994, Federal District Judge John Curtin ruled that Hooker/Occidental had been negligent. Occidental Petroleum was sued by the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency and paid $129 million in restitution in 1995. The entire Love Canal site was remediated, with a leachate collection system by 1989. Today, it is estimated that only 90 of the original 900 families opted to remain. In 2004, federal officials announced that the Superfund cleaning has ended and cost over $400 million. Two approaches have been identified by the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency for ecological risk assessment. The first is the reductionist or bottom-up approach that typically relies on single species and single toxicant laboratory studies of acute lethality or chronic toxicity, which forms the basis of most current procedures for ecological risk assessment. The second is the holistic or top-down approach that relies on physical, chemical, and biological field data to draw inferences about cause–effect relationships between environmental stress and disturbances to communities of organisms. Either approach to ecological risk assessment encompasses a wide range of biological variables or endpoints at many levels of biological organization. An endpoint can be defined as a measurable or estimable biological organization, such as mortality in a group of organisms exposed to a stressor, or a population decline inferred from acute mortality information. “Population reduction” has been defined as a key assessment endpoint of interest (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1988). Ecological health assessments must consider these major areas of impact. They are not noted in any particular order of importance or priority, however; category areas of monitoring are included in ecosystem health evaluations. Two cases identified in “The Island of the Colorblind” by Oliver Sacks (1996) are excellent examples of the time it takes to identify the causative agent and processes associated

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with human and ecological health affecting chemical or environmentally disruptive processes. The multi-dimensionality of environmental pollution incidents is well-­ reflected in the Minamata Bay mercury paralysis case that first became apparent in the mid-1950s in Japanese fishing villages surrounding the bay (Takizawa 1979). A high incidence of birth defects occurred, and domestic animals and seabirds seemed affected as well. It was found that when locally caught fish were fed to cats, they produced the same progressive and fatal neurological disease. Fishing was banned in Minamata Bay in 1957, and with this single act, the disease disappeared. The precise cause was suggested by Douglas McAlpine and Shukuro Araki (1958) who revealed that the clinical features of the disease were virtually identical to those of methyl mercury poisoning, of which there had been isolated cases in England in the late 1930s. It took several years to trace the toxin source to a factory on the bay that was discharging mercuric chloride (which is moderately toxic) into the water, and this was converted by micro-organisms in the lake to methyl mercury (which is intensely toxic). This in turn was consumed by other micro-organisms, starting a long bioaccumulation through the food chain, ending up in fish and then people. Habitat loss can result in diminished food resources, protective cover, nesting and breeding areas, and nursery areas that are necessary to sustain a population of organisms. Habitat loss may result in population reduction through reduced carrying capacity of the environment, emigration to less desirable habitats, increased levels of competition for limited resources, and increased exposure to predation. Baseline habitat conditions are difficult to measure, as they may require a full year (seasonal) of data collection and therefore lead to difficulties in predicting impacts to populations. Nevertheless, where such information exists, it can provide meaningful insight into reductions of populations of concern. The population effects of some environmental contaminants (e.g., DDT) have been extensively documented in past studies. Figure 9.5 is a simple schematic of the interconnected components of ecological risk assessments conducted at the population level of organization. The presence of DDT contamination at a variety of locations can provide an early indication of potential impacts to other populations of organisms. Information concerning contaminant residues may include concentrations in a variety of environmental media such as soils, sediments, water, and in biota. Such information provides at least a qualitative indication of populations that may be affected, routes of exposure, and potentially useful measurement endpoints needed to verify such exposure. Mortality is defined as the cumulative death of individuals within a population that exceeds the natural background rate of expected mortality. The measurement of mortality provides direct evidence of impacts on the population and the lethal dose of 50th percentile could be established for specific compounds, as it would be helpful in determining impacts to human or ecological health determinations. Reproductive impairment or any process that interferes with the birth rate in a population of interbreeding organisms is directly related to ecological concepts of population growth and stability and can provide direct evidence of impacts on the population. Measurement endpoints that are useful in assessing reproductive impair-


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Food stability

Breeding density


Clutch size


Adult mortality

Parental care

Invertebrate Vertebrate prey

Nestling mortality

Fledging success

Embryo mortality

Hatching success


Population size

Contaminant Deposition


Key Direct Toxic Effects Indirect Toxic Effects Clutch size

Fig. 9.5  Schematic of risk assessment in avian species at the population level

ment are infertility, embryonic mortality (e.g., eggshell thinning in birds), parental failure, and the failure of behavioral mechanisms (e.g., beaching of marine animals) important in reproduction. The development of new endpoints for assessing reproductive failure is a promising area to research efforts. The growth and development of individuals within a population are direct indicators of living systems. Depressed growth and development rates can affect maturity, senescence, and reproductive potential. These are relevant to birth and death rates, which are two key parameters in population structure. Therefore, altered patterns of growth and development provide insight into changes in reproductive value and altered age-class structure of the population. Assessment of deviations from normal, expected rates of growth and development requires a fundamental understanding of the life-history stages and patterns of reproductive activity within specific populations. For appropriate life stages, useful endpoints for assessing altered growth and development include measurements of the weight, size, and length of individual organisms. Environmental contamination can cause increased susceptibility to disease. The increased frequency of diseased organisms can affect populations directly through

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the death of severely diseased individuals or indirectly through decreased reproductive fitness or diminished growth and development. Variables influencing fitness such as increased levels of disease are immune suppression, parasites, pathogenic infection, and bio-concentrations of xenobiotics (e.g., PCBs, DDT in marine animals). Behaviors such as predator avoidance, prey location and feeding, mating, and parental care are all examples of measurable impacting associations that affect population levels. Toxicity was first noted by the physician Paracelsus (1493–1541), who stated, “All substances are poison. There is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates between a poison and a remedy.” The exposure to toxins in the environment can cause a number of outcomes other than mortality. Toxins may decrease reproductive fitness or diminish the growth and development of individuals within the population. Key measurement endpoints are teratogenic effects (e.g., developmental abnormality, embryo toxicity), carcinogenic effects (e.g., development of nonmalignant neoplasms, or malignant tumors such as carcinomas and sarcomas), and mutagenic effects (e.g., point mutations or chromosomal mutations in somatic or germinal tissues). Going beyond individual or population levels and concentrating on conducting a community assessment for hazardous materials addresses the collection of organisms (plants, invertebrates, fishes, microbes, birds) in either aquatic or terrestrial environments and should incorporate the following key concepts: • Community assessment contrasts with other kinds of assessments that focus on individual organisms, populations, or environmental stressors (e.g., single chemicals). • Community assessments directly address endpoints at the community level of organization, thus proving a reality feedback to measures conducted at lower levels of organization (e.g., population level endpoints, chemical criteria, etc.). • Community assessment can be used in both retrospective and prospective modes. • Community-level assessment generally requires comparison with a reference area. • A community-level assessment may not be able to identify specific stress agents that are causing disturbances to key endpoints. The current use of chemical criteria by the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency to assess ecological damages and estimate ecological risks are not verified by actual measurements of community stress in the field. Agencies other than the Environmental Protection Agency focus on resource-level assessments to determine the nature and importance of environmental impacts on ecosystem components. Hence, the development of community-level approach to ecological risk assessment provides a degree of compatibility with retrospective approaches used by other agencies and provides a more direct, verifiable link between exposure to stress and measured effects in the field. Some impacts occur only at the community level of organization (e.g., reduction in diversity, productivity, Index of Biological Integrity). Consequently, we cannot assume that specific stressors (e.g., chemicals) or organisms (keystone species) pro-


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vide an adequate indication of community health. Certain impacts cannot be addressed at a chemical-specific or population-specific level (e.g., non-point sources of pollution, nutrients). Community-level assessments attempt to predict population changes due to perturbations that occur at higher levels of organization (e.g., wetlands loss). Methods are available for performing ecological risk assessments at the community level of organization, particularly in aquatic systems creating the foundation for the ultimate goal of conducting an ecosystem-level assessment (National Research Council 1992). In human health risk assessment, the hazard assessment involves establishing a dose-response relationship between exposure to a chemical substance (e.g., the dose) and a toxic effect (e.g., the response). However, for the purposes of ecological risk management at the community level, this is too restrictive. In addition to chemical contaminants, there are other environmental stressors that that can cause negative effects at the community level and should be included in the assessment component (Chivian et al. 1993). Thus, the hazard assessment entails establishing a stress-response relationship between exposure to an altered environmental condition (e.g., the stress) and its effect on community-level endpoints (e.g., the response). To be useful in predicting ecological risks, stress-response relationships should be based on the following: • Actual data concerning site-specific or experimentally controlled stress. • Hypothesis testing: Statistical verification that measures differences in community endpoints and stress. • Interpretive and predictive capabilities of community-level endpoints: For example, a significant difference in species diversity should be interpreted in terms of its relationship to the effects on ecosystem integrity, resiliency, recovery, irreparable harm, and other endpoints of concern. Approaches that have been suggested for establishing stress-response relationships include: field-based comparisons of community-level endpoints at stressed sites with those at unstressed reference areas; and a comprehensive review of the literature for microcosm, macrocosm, or other kinds of studies that simulate environmental stress to community-level endpoints. Exposure has been defined as various ways that contact is made with hazardous materials and how that contact with a particular environmental stressor is expressed in the community being examined. Exposure assessment includes the identification of completed pathways of exposure to target organisms or communities (Travis 1984). In performing an exposure assessment, one must characterize the ambient (background) level of an agent or stress as well as develop models that could be utilized to determine spatial and temporal patterns of environmental stress (Rapport and Whitford 1999). Figure  9.6 exhibits the potential effects of environmental contamination on the survival and reproduction of wild birds. The purpose of such modeling is to identify routes of exposure (see Fig. 9.7) that could be used to predict ecological effects at times and locations that are removed from the immediate environmental impact at a particular location (Rapport and Turner 1977). Thus, environmental engineers have developed stress-response mod-

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Fig. 9.6  A pathway of mercury contamination in wild birds

Fig. 9.7  Fate of pesticides in groundwater



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els that are combined with site-specific information concerning environmental stress to attempt to predict effects at the community level. The major limitation to this approach has been that the community on which the stress-response model was based must be similar to the community for which predictions are being made. It has been recognized that such predictions require field verification. Field verification can then be used to either validate or modify the stress-response model, and consequently, substantiate or strengthen its utility for further applications in ecological risk assessment. The combination of predictive capabilities of a model, information documenting actual site-specific exposure to stress, and verification of model predictions by the measurement of selected community endpoints can provide important linkages to potential ecological risks associated with lower levels of biological organization. Predicted impacts to fish communities that are verified by field studies, for example, may indicate stress to populations of fish predators (e.g., eagles) that are dependent on stressed fish communities. A population is an aggregate of interbreeding ­individuals of a biological species within a specified location. A reduction in a population will directly affect the health of a community, the next level of analysis for ecological risk assessment. The health of a population, or its resiliency, will have an expressed environmental value in protecting community structure. All natural systems undergo environmental change and ecological stress, reducing biodiversity and simplifying the complex interactions associated with a healthy ecosystem. However, anthropogenic stressors may not allow recovery or restoration to a previous functioning and structure associated with the healthy system due to its immediate intensity or the introduction of debilitating agents over expansive time frames. Once a system is affected, the very mechanisms that contributed to the transformation fail to perpetuate it. For example, in North American desert grasslands, overgrazing has resulted in the loss of much of the native grass species. Restoring these grasses that are sought after by herbivories was found to be difficult because the loss of the original grass cover exposed soils that eroded easier and precluded any possibility of restoring native species, given the changes in soil chemistry (specifically pH). Population reductions that threaten the probability of population maintenance or survival are a major environmental concern. This concern is specific to the particular species in question, although more than one species may be affected. For an ecological risk assessment, the environmental impact on a population must be measurable. Habitat loss has a considerable impact on population growth and maintenance. A habitat includes required cover, food sources, nesting sites, and breeding areas—all with seasonal conditions. Because habitat is lost by physical removal or degradation, there is a reduction in the carrying capacity of an area, which increases competition and makes the original habitat less desirable. Organisms formerly utilizing the lost resources will suffer mortality, reproductive impairment, or be forced to emigrate if a better habitat is accessible and available. The population of organisms in a specified area is thus altered. However, this is an important endpoint for population maintenance, especially for species exhibit-

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Table 9.1  Potential hazards directly or indirectly affecting any population Risk Hazard


Adverse effects on populations Acute effects Toxic mortality

Direct Feeding Bio-accumulation Direct contact with organism

Chronic effects Sublethal effects Reproduction Disease Immunological impacts Growth and development Behavioral alteration Indirect Loss of habitat Loss of food supply

ing routine site fidelity for reproduction. The risk assessment paradigm has been revised for use to evaluate environmental effects of a hazard on a population. The risk here is the adverse effect of hazardous exposure on a population. Two forms of hazard were identified: acute effects (toxic mortality) and chronic effects (sublethal effects, including the endpoints discussed previously). These hazards may affect a population via direct or indirect exposure (see Table 9.1). The initial step for the hazard feedback loop is the identification of a suspected hazard. The first step is to characterize the hazard. This is traditionally done by testing the chemical or agent for acute and chronic toxic effects using LC-50/LD-50 as endpoints for evaluation. To assess the hazard, specific target species are identified and tested at a variety of doses to evaluate the relative toxicity of a chemical. When the toxic effect is high, the hazard is recognized; this leads directly to a risk assessment of exposure. To increase confidence in the toxicity results and to refine the understanding of hazards and further dose-response testing, the examination of the mode of action, data re-evaluation, and data verification need to be completed (Fig. 9.8). Current toxicity testing uses this pathway; it depends on lethal effects as an endpoint. Another pathway for hazard assessment is labeled “low toxic effects.” These sublethal effects directly affect population maintenance and growth but do not result in direct mortality. With the exception of mortality, the effects described under “endpoints impacting populations” are more difficult to measure but are important for assessing hazard to populations. Sublethal effects can continue to be examined on organisms undergoing acute and chronic exposure for changes in reproduction, growth and development, disease, and behavior. Alteration in habitat should also be considered for the contaminant. The same verification process would be used (i.e., dose response, mode of action, data evaluation, and verification). If a sublethal hazard is verified, this will lead to an evaluation of risk at that endpoint. Whenever a hazardous material is identified and/or used, the potential for exposure in the environment must be considered in order to complete a risk assessment.


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Fig. 9.8  General elements of ecological risk assessment conducted at the population level

The first step is to identify the contaminant and determine potential routes of exposure, which include the probability that exposure will occur. Once potential routes are identified, site-specific evaluations of species at risk can be done. Community assessments provide some temporal integration and may predict population-level changes from wetland loss. Community-level assessments are stepping stones to an ecosystem-level assessment. Established community-level assessment endpoints are as follows: Species diversity – a measure of the frequency of species in the community. It can incorporate both species richness (the number of species present in a system) and equitability (the relative evenness or abundance of species distribution). Productivity  – the amount of energy formed by the community in a specific period. Abundance  – the number of living organisms in a given area at a given time. Population-­level measurement endpoints are (1) the number of individuals/ population, (2) a reduction in populations, (3) age and stage structure, (4) interspecific competition, (5) biomass/time/unit area, and (6) species richness and equitability as measures to access species diversity.

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Combining the exposure assessment and hazard identification will provide an indication of risk. The probabilistic nature of the risk assessment comes from the probability of exposure and response. Models can be used to determine the likelihood of the contact with a stress agent or the occurrence of the effect. This introduces uncertainty and is why ranges are sometimes used. In addition, the dose-response determinations are also confined by upper and lower confidence bounds that increase uncertainty. These factors are what develop into a probabilistic ecological risk assessment at a community level. An example of such a proposed assessment would be the risk of drilling activities to a coral reef community. The reason for using a community-level assessment for this scenario is because coral reefs are isolated in particular areas. They are highly interdependent on a multitude of factors for their organizational well-being and continued existence. Also, the main stressors for reefs are sediments that may not be necessarily toxic but have the effect of increased turbidity resulting in light attenuation to the corals themselves. Corals usually exist in areas where there is little variation in the physical characteristics such as temperature, salinity, and light. Their tolerances are adequately understood and one can assume that a reduction in the species diversity of 10% is unacceptable. It is also assumed that an increase in turbidity will result in a r­ eduction of the coral population and other species and therefore lead to a decrease in diversity. Increasing turbidity may reduce the number of individuals in an aquatic ecosystem. These data were gathered from macrocosm studies, flow-through laboratory experiments that use observed storm events, and other documented criteria so that a dose-response relationship can be developed and used to compare the specific parameters and conditions at the community site to try predicting future events. Major progress has been made in identifying and progressing toward the cleaning of hazardous material landfill sites. Investigations on the sources of contaminants like former smelting factories may not be available so they can be used in determining if a designation of a Superfund site is appropriate. From the 1930s through the 1960s, companies discarded car batteries by melting them down for other uses; this is before environmental regulations recorded these acts. A conservative estimate could place half of these sites on the Superfund docket. Popper et  al. (2005) has noted that in well-understood situations, science can reliably predict implication of alternative policy choices: “These predictions, combined with formal methods of decision analysis that use mathematical models and statistical methods to determine optimal courses of action, can specify the trade-offs that society must inevitably make” (57). Scientists have constructed rigorous, systematic methods for dealing with uncertainty. The basic idea is to liberate ourselves from the need for precise prediction; one way to do this is by using the computer to help frame strategies that work well over a wide range of plausible clean-up scenarios. Rather than seeking to eliminate uncertainty, we highlight it and then find ways to manage it. Economists have debated that technological innovation will reduce pollution and improve energy efficiency, but environmentalists agree that society’s present course will prove unsustainable. In the 1970s, a report by “The Club of Rome” predicted the world would exhaust its natural resource unless it took immediate action for slowing their use


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(Meadows 1972). The model developed was simple and unfortunately presented as a forecast, but its predictions were never fulfilled (Meadows et al. 1992). Assumptions can be made, but the logic allows for an understanding of how the risk can be predicted. Using data generated in a model and information on impacts of light attenuation to coral, a probability of occurrence and response can be combined to arrive at a range of risk values. Other issues to remediate are recoverability, resiliency of community, natural cycles and succession, and extrapolation to other sites (Wilson 1982). A significant area for risk assessment involves looking at historical events so as to properly plan for the present-day situations. A major contributor to today’s hurricane and storm preparedness is communications by responsible agencies to prompt community evacuations. In 1900, temperatures above 90  °F were being recorded for weeks along with high humidity in the city of Galveston, Texas (Larson 1999). Over 8,000 men, women, and children lost their lives in the Galveston storm due to its intensity and the lack of any warning that a hurricane was in the making. This ultimately led to the creation of the National Weather Service and its forecasting of hurricanes. The history of hurricane threats to national defense goes back to 1780 during which three intense hurricanes scoured the Caribbean during only two weeks (Larson 1999). Today, we are still recovering from the 2017 hurricane season when three Level-5 hurricanes passed through the same Caribbean waters, producing significant damages to Puerto Rico (see Sidebar 9.1).

Sidebar 9.1: Lesson Learned as a U.S. Navy Flight Meteorologist, 1968–1970 My experiences as a “hurricane hunter” with the U.S. Navy revealed to me early on that no level of preparedness can handle the intensity of major-level hurricanes. The only effective way to reduce this risk of calamity is to simply not build near the coast. Although this will be considered a naive statement, we will probably continue to rebuild in harm’s way, no matter how effectively predictive our risk assessments can become.

The risk of hurricanes is not new. Today, with two-thirds of the human global population living near the coast, these natural phenomena will continue to afford significant levels of impacts to human health and safety. This is a global phenomenon and historic events can pale in comparison to what we experience today, as our detection and prediction of the risks of the exceptionally powerful storms has improved. It was not so in September 1923, when a severe typhoon struck Japan coming ashore at Yokohama, then moving toward Tokyo. When the storm came ashore, an intense earthquake occurred. The storm and earthquake together killed 99,330 people and another 43,500 simply disappeared (Larson 1999). This pales in comparison to the 2010 tsunami in Indonesia, which resulted in over 250,000 lives lost, or to the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, which was destroyed by a

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tsunami in 2011 after very little warning. Fukushima’s encased water will remain radioactive for at least 100 years. As the Gordian Knot implies, the doubling of the Earth’s human population near coastlines means the vulnerability of society to natural disasters is doubling as well. Unfortunately, it is not going to be an easy fix.

Chapter 10

Environmental Law: As the Joke Goes, The Only Good Lawyer is a …

The background legislative history of the U.S. landmark environmental protection law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), began with two bills before the U.S. Congress on February 17, 1969: HR 6750 and S1075. Both bills described the need for a sound “informational input to decision and policy making process.” The bills proposed the formation of a council to give the U.S. president the status on environmental matters affecting the country. Both bills were modeled after the Employment Act of 1946, which created a three-person “Council of Economic Advisors” to advise the president of the state of the nation’s economy. The bills also called for the submission of the Council on Environmental Quality through an annual report to provide substantive information and advice to the president. It was also in 1969 when the Santa Barbara oil spill occurred soon after the federal government assured the people that environmental matters had been properly considered in granting the necessary oil-drilling leases. As a result of this significant environmental pollution incident, an “action-forcing” section was added into NEPA (Section 102 (2)(c)), which provided the most significant aspect of this national policy legislation, including the preparation and review of the statements supporting a particular project’s impact on the environment and the public’s involvement with an environmental impact statement process (Stewart and Krier 1982). The U.S. environmental history prior to 1969 and the establishment of the NEPA document and our National Policy is a tale dating back to 1950 when the Bureau of Reclamation proposed a hydroelectric and irrigation dam in the 200,000-acre Dinosaur National Monument on the Utah–Colorado border, the Echo Park Dam. Conservation groups raised the profile of this environmental impact issue to the national level by identifying the impact of the dams’ flooding on the complex and unique wilderness areas of canyons, potentially eliminating these natural wonders. However, it was shown that the dam would not solve the regional water problems; thus, there was very little economic gain. Due to this overwhelming national attention to the weaknesses of this proposal, the project was abandoned in 1956. Defeat still took 6 years to occur. The next public advocacy event was the resulting protest in Troy, New York, on April 26, 1953, when the radioactivity amount in rainfall revealed © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 J. T. Tanacredi, The Redesigned Earth,



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Strontium 90, which could only have occurred from the nuclear test detonations done above ground and carried in prevailing winds across the United States, potentially making its way into milk for babies. A national campaign including Barry Commoner, then involved with Scientists’ Institute for Public Information, helped present the impact of radioactive fallout on rates of birth defects and cancer incidences. This national effort ultimately resulted in support for the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring identified the implications of pesticide use that will lead to higher and more toxic levels through food web dynamics, even when toxic compounds are applied at very low levels. Rachel Carson noted that it was not through only the ignorance, mistakes, or greed, that the ever-greater use of pesticides was causing ecological problems but rather based on our lifestyles, demands, and our overall increasing rates of consumption and development. Silent Spring was the first overall environmental impact statement in the true sense. With the first Earth Day celebration in 1970 in Washington, DC, with a modest 50,000 participants, this single publication spurred on the environmental movement and landmark legislation, including the NEPA. The 1970s also saw the growth of an environmental opposition or backlash. This was the most prevalent in the automobile/transportation industry. The U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency proposed automobile emission standards while emphasizing mass transportation. Auto manufacturers installed catalytic converters and then requested delays in complying with the 1972 standards. The EPA kept granting extensions so that by the year 2000, the auto compliance was approaching the 1980 standards. Today, air quality in the United States has improved for several states, but auto-related air pollutants such as ozone and carbon monoxide emissions are still considerable air quality concerns. The sheer volume of registered vehicles in the United States has also exceeded 270  million through 2016, with 6.3 million cars sold in the US annually. The opposition to environmental regulation has consistently been that their economic effects to unemployment, higher prices, and slow expansion may produce unfortunate by-products (e.g., traffic fatalities per year). Environmentalists, on the other hand, reveal that employment shifts to environmental protection and pollution abatement improves the quality of life and certainly human health protection from air and water pollution. As of 2018, the environmental movement is big business, with 24,628 environmental consulting firms in the United States. The EPA commands billions of dollars for pollution control and abatement in the United States alone each year, with considerable improvements in water and air quality; however, there are considerable efforts still required for the results of urban sprawl and hazardous material use and disposal. Environmentalism today has hundreds of private NGO environmental institutions; states have “little NEPAs” and global environmentalism has identified impacts on international and Earth-scale pollution problems. In 1972, in response to commercial development proposals in a national forest, even the Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas argued that just as corporations have legal rights (inanimate), so should natural objects; his famous “The Trees Have Standing” has played out in the courts in land use, open space, and urban development issues ever since.

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The result was that P.L. 91–190 the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA was signed into law on January 1, 1970. This was one of the redeeming contributions of Richard Nixon, 37th president of the United States, and today, there is a burgeoning business in environmental consultation, law, and NEPA management. The environmental assessment industry is the result of the public’s concern regarding unplanned or poorly planned environmental developments. NEPA has provided the most comprehensive approach to protecting the nation’s natural and cultural resources that had ever existed. This sweeping statement has several caveats that will continue to be debated as long as the law remains a U.S. National Policy. NEPA has no regulatory function. Section 102(2)c has been tested by court action and executive actions over the years. The Council on Environmental Quality has been given some regulatory power over the size, scope, and content of an environmental impact statement, but it is ultimately a legal process with significant public influence. The art and science of environmental analysis has been shaped by the interpretation of the opening declaration of purposes in the preamble of NEPA. Although this document is uniquely American by most standards, this declaration has become a global paradigm for environmental protection. This federal initiative has been taken up by many states across the US in the form or “little NEPAs” or State Environmental Quality Review Acts. Section 4321 of the NEPA states that the purpose is “to declare a national policy which will encourage production and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts that will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the nation; and, to establish a Council on Environmental Quality.” With this beginning, new laws to protect the environment were created, passed, and implemented (Table 10.1). Today, each state and most local governments, over time, have established little NEPAs to mandate the same ideals at a local or state level. NEPA has gone on to establish Table 10.1  Originating and foundational environmental statutes and programs Year 1969 1970 1972 1972 1972 1972 1973 1974 1976 1976 1977 1980

Act National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Clean air act amendments Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) Marine protection, research & sanctuaries act Noise control act Environmental pesticide control act Endangered species act Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) Surface mining control & reclamation act Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation, & Liability Act (CERCLA)


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specific goals and a process that today have become almost commonplace; the environmental impact assessment process has become a very big business. In Section 4331(a), it states, “The Congress, recognizing the profound impact of man’s activity on the interrelations of all components of the natural environment, particularly the profound influences of population growth.” This is the closest we have ever come to establishing a National Population Growth Policy, which is to say next to never. With the U.S. population exceeding 350 million and the world population exceeding 7.8 billion in 2018, it is critically important to restore and maintain environmental quality to the overall welfare and development of society. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 declares that it is the continuing policy of the federal government in cooperation with state and local governments, and other concerned public and private organizations, “to use all practicable means and measures, including financial and technical assistance, in a manner calculated to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans.” As one picks apart this paragraph, it becomes very clear this is a complex picture to establish or develop. The law provides for a mechanism to accomplish the aforementioned goals through the preparation of an “environmental impact statement” document and by a legally mandated administrative process. However, the “will to protect” concurrently is dependent on the environmental ethic and monetary resources to see environmental protection to fruition. Section 4332(c) outlines what these documents are supposed to do: …include in every recommendation or report on proposals for legislation and other major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment, a detailed statement by the responsible official on (i) the environmental impact of the proposed action; (ii) any adverse environmental effects which cannot be avoided should the proposal be implemented, (iii) alternatives to the proposed action, (iv) the relationship between local short-term uses of man’s environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity, and (v) any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources which would be involved in the proposed action should it be implemented.

From the inception of the law as National Policy, NEPA has generated controversy. This historically goes back to the 1960s where the Atlantic Richfield Oil Company discovered a major oil field in Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s northern coast. NEPA proposed to provide for a continuous flow and supply, to build an 800-mile pipe to the ice-free Port of Valdez, and so in 1969/1970, the U.S. Department of the Interior began issuing construction and drilling permits. In the spring of 1970, the project was halted because the Department of the Interior was now required by NEPA to prepare an environmental impact statement. The Department of the Interior issued a 195-page environmental impact statement, which through the public involvement requirements of NEPA, was found to be too vague and basically inadequate after careful review by a host of environmental groups. In 1972, the Department of the Interior referred a seven-volume environmental impact statement that public review found to be unsatisfactory primarily because the construction of the pipeline would violate existing water, air, land, and pollution legislation. The State of Alaska

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wanted the oil line for economic reasons, and federal legislation was introduced to exclude the pipeline from NEPA restrictions. The U.S. Senate was evenly divided on this legislation (50/50), and so the legislation was placed on Vice President Spiro T.  Agnew (President Pro-Tempore of Senate) who had to vote to break the tie. Agnew in 1973 voted pro-oil, anti-­ NEPA. The pipeline had to be built in the least environmentally degrading manner and area, with inspection from federal and state inspectors. The oil flowed in 1973 as a “response to the energy crisis,” and the first attempt to repeal NEPA occurred. To date, no repeal effort has been successful, but constant legal maneuvers have been attempted to lessen the emphasis on the environmental impact statement process ever since the Alaska pipeline vote by the vice president. Physical impacts on water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, biological oxygen demand, and aesthetic concerns include social interactions and property rights, but one must never lose sight of the human factor in environmental impact analysis. Human population distribution will influence the level and significance of an impact. According to U.S. census records, in 1960, approximately 66% of the U.S. population lived in urban areas, and this percentage increased to 71% in 1970. In 2015, over 87% of the U.S. population lived in urban centers, most within an hour’s drive of the coastline. In Limits to Growth, Meadows (1972) identified that humans have great influences on environmental quality. Laws to protect the environment may, even with all good intentions, sacrifice some quality in the environment. This is sort of a trade-off based on the existing mores of the time or of the political leadership. The Clean Air Act’s purpose was to attain clean air by the year 2000 but still allow for the use and burning of high-sulfur coal and petroleum. Customs, mores, religion, dramatic climate changes, and shifting community patterns have contributed to pollution costs, with the resultant effect on environmental quality. Compare some trends: In 1976, the United States spent $34.8 billion (or $90 million per day) in pollution control, $17.7 billion of this in response to federal legislation, with an additional $7  billion at state and local levels; $15  billion per year in equipment and services for environmental projects; 100,000 people working for environmental agencies, with 75,000 of them working for the federal government alone; 1.5 million people working in private environmental jobs or industry; and 200 private organizations with one million Americans belonging to these groups. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that pollution control costs in the US for 173  million tons of contaminants sent into the atmosphere cost Americans close to $20 billion a year in environmental cleaning and personal medical bills. In 1990, the US spent 2% of the GNP on pollution cleanup. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that hazardous waste disposal and remediation cost nearly $46 billion in 2000 against the same effort and costs of $19 billion in 1987; it only took 13 years to double this cost (Stevens 1990). Total costs in 1997 for pollution control was categorized as follows: water quality (37%), air pollution (28%), hazardous wastes (22%), drinking water (4%), Superfund (4%), and miscellaneous (5%). To put into perspective the importance of National Environmental Policy Act in relation to other environmental protection laws, let’s revisit our environmental roots for a moment. American pioneers and earliest settlers had “too much wilderness,”


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which was considered incompatible to civilization. In Colonial America, Judeo-­ Christian traditions imbued this idea in Puritan preachers such as Cotton Mather, who stated, “That which is not useful is vicious.” As pioneers moved westward, they used what was available; there was no thought of sustainability. Early Americans did, however, realize shortages of timber and wildlife. In New York and Pennsylvania, ordinances were adopted that regulated timber cutting and deer hunting. Even though “ecology” as a term was not officially identified or used until the 1870s, the concept of natural systems still existed. The cause-effect relationships observed by ecologists and naturalists were understood to reveal any disturbances in a balance of nature that was signified by complex intertwined and long-term interrelationships. Yet, even today, with the tremendous progress in characterizing these decades of observations of the natural world, we have limited predictability of the ecological consequences of simple environmental activities (e.g., stream relocations, dam construction sprawl, and pest control; Orians 1995). The first effects on water from human development were from drainage patterns, erosion, depletion of ground and surface waters, floods, and diseases. These unintended consequences of altering ecosystem functions continue to plague us today (Sidebar 10.1).

Sidebar 10.1: Early Environmental Career Inspirations One of my earliest eureka moments as a student was when I observed a large number of stark, black-and-white photographs showing the result of dust storms and drought on the retention of top soil in Western U.S. agricultural lands in the early 1930s. These lunar landscapes, collectively called the “Dust Bowl,” exhibited all aspects of the human condition covered in a sea of sand, obliterating any natural vegetated landscape. The cause was attributed to the agricultural process that the Industrial Revolution harkened as a significant improvement in providing food in bountiful proportions. I wondered how we could have let this happen. I never forgot those pictures, and even today, they are reminders of how the mono-culturalization of natural systems portended what could become a global tragedy. It is this early period in American conservation history that I believe should be retold, especially to engineers who are reshaping the landscape of Earth today without a concerted effort to tie in natural system functions as important parts of the human component.

During the Industrial Revolution, society turned to technological fixes. Many advances in energy and agricultural production such as lead in gasoline and paints generally resulted in secondary unanticipated effects such as nuclear fuel wastes, black lung disease, and industrial toxins from exposure to specific metals. Scientists should constantly question the efficiency of decisions that may result in ecological disasters without regulation (see Table 10.1).

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It was not until President Teddy Roosevelt created the U.S. National Park Service and put Gifford Pinchot as his first chief of the U.S. Forest Service that Americans started facing up to the growing environmental problems. A host of federal agencies were established in the early part of the twentieth century: U.S.  Forest Service (1905), Inland Waterways Commission (1907), National Park Service (1916), Federal Power Commission (1920), Soil Conservation Service (1935), and the U.S.  Fish and Wildlife Service (1940). The not-for-profit, private community expressed their political and economic input at this time as well: Appalachian Mountain Club (1876), the Sierra Club (1892), the Wilderness Society (1935), and the National Wildlife Federation (1936). Then President Richard Nixon in 1969–1970 brought conservation law and environmental protection into the twentieth century and was responsible not only for the creation of NEPA but also milestone legislation of the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. America, tending to be self-conscious of European cultural superiority in the early nineteenth century, had considerable expressions of aesthetic beauty and of wilderness values. Wilderness virtues were noted by Thomas Jefferson, John Audubon, Walt Whitman, John Burroughs, John Muir—and above all, Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) who said “In wilderness is the preservation of the world.” The early conservationists preserved unique natural phenomena but were those who survived in the wilderness. By 1940, the conservationist movement had established the preservation principle and developed some environmental management techniques. Unfortunately, due to World War II, industrialization was geared to utilize natural resources. The post-war decades were characterized by consumerism sprees such as the Levittown-ization of Long Island and the automobile and outdoor recreation expansion (Gutis 1987a). It was the preservationists’ controversy raised by the likes of John H. Storer (1963) in The Web of Life and Paul Errington’s (1957/2012) Of Men and Marshes that popularized ecological thought and speculation. Estimates of the Earth’s current stock of species represents somewhere between 2% and 10% of all species known to have lived on Earth. Even so, President Nixon declared in 1972 that the existing legislation did not provide the management tools needed to save the vanishing species. With the passage in 1973 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) into law, Nixon set in motion protection efforts before a species was in the initial stages, potentially leading to species extinction. Thus, the criteria for endangerment was established to be based solely on biological evidence and the best scientific and or commercial data available. Never in all of human history has the rate of extinction been so rapid as it is today. Human activity may be wiping out a species per day, whereas only one species per century disappears through natural causes. The ESA values rare species and challenges property rights by assigning natural things with both moral and economic value. This fact alone has been most contentious because it is considered the strongest piece of conservation legislation ever implemented in the world (Science Agenda 2014). However, there has been a persistent onslaught by politicians to dramatically amend this law so it is reduced in its power. As of now in 2018, all efforts to reduce the effectiveness of the law have failed. This has been attributed to the fact that 90% of all listed species are on track to meet recovery goals.


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The ESA is important in recognizing and understanding the relevance of planning human needs with ecological needs. The ESA stated that animals and plants in the US had been rendered extinct as a consequence of economic growth and development unrestricted by conservation principles. Other animals and plants had been significantly depleted in numbers and were endangered or threatened with extinction. Many of these species are of aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the nation. The World Heritage Program, administered by UNESCO, was established to protect natural and cultural sites that are of global significance to humanity. The primary purpose of ESA has been to conserve and rebuild endangered and threatened populations. The declaration that a species is endangered is by noting any loss of unique supportive habitat; the overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; disease or predation affecting population size, breeding conditions, or migration; as well as natural (volcanic eruptions, hurricanes) or man-made factors (wars, criminal acts). The most potent portion of the ESA is Section 7. It is the consultation requirement of the “critical habitat supporting the ecological functioning of the species in question” that demands the brunt of the work or assessment of those habitat requirements absolutely essential to the species’ continued survival. This is as critical a component of conservation efforts today as it was at the law’s inception. A difficulty with defining “critical habitat” today is that this habitat requirement may cover vast areas like migration routes or corridors that all need protection ultimately. As restrictive as opponents identify it as being, the ESA’s critical habitat Section 7 stipulates that the U.S. government still owns nearly one-third of the nation’s entire surface area, excluding lands for military and government purposes. That is more than 700 million acres of mostly undeveloped land. Human land use is by far the most significant cause of habitat destruction, leading to wildlife endangerment. In the consultation, the U.S.  Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service must provide a written, publicly vetted biological opinion detailing the findings on which it will base its decision to list or delist a species. This process was reaffirmed in 1988 by Congress and by the U.S. Supreme Court in its interpretation of the Act, that Congress intended endangered species to be afforded the highest priorities…and that the plain intent of Congress in enacting this statute was to half and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost (Kohm 1991). Today, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 protects whales, dolphins, polar bears, and seals from the commercial fishing industry overharvest, trophy leuters, and marine aquariums (Ellis 2003). Whales are still hunted for supposed scientific purposes and yet find their way onto dinner plates in Japan. It is unclear whether climate issues are affecting these animals more than hunting pressures ever did. Through pressures asserted by increasing human civilizations, the near-shore ocean environments have experienced increased infrastructure development to service the ever-increasing coastal human populations worldwide. These coastal waters have shown a resiliency in productivity critical to the survival of marine mammals. All species of marine mammals are threatened and most are endangered. However,

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marine mammals—cetaceans in particular—have made such a dramatic increase in their populations; their migratory paths need to be preserved so they can prosper. The quality of these waters has improved due to the enforcement of regulations against water-pollution discharge and in the consumption of fish and invertebrate species important in their food web. Whales along Long Island have made such a resurgence (Humpbacked, Fin, Right Whales) that ecotourism has grown to show this to the general public, especially in urban centers (in NYC Gotham Whale, the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island, and the Riverhead Foundation). The objective of the Clean Water Act (1970) is “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters.” This has been the Act’s goal since the beginning, that the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters be eliminated by 1985 (which to date has not been attained). It is the national goal wherever it is attainable. For water quality, the Act provides for “the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and provides for recreation in and on the water be achieved by July 1, 1983” (which has been attained in all states on an interim basis). It is national policy that a major research and demonstration effort creates the technology necessary to eliminate the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters of the contiguous zone and the oceans. Finally, it is national policy that programs be established for the control of non-point sources of pollution. There have been many benefits of implementing these laws because of the long period before the contaminants are naturally eliminated or are removed through remediation strategies. Construction upgrades to sewage treatment facilities anticipate growth beyond their originally designed capacity and zoned uses, but this is exactly what causes population sprawl in the first place, in a “nickel and dime” approach that gradually increases development over time. Since 1984, the federal government has provided more than half of construction costs for new sewage treatment plants, with the remainder paid by individual states. The EPA banned the production of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in 1977. Thirty years later, it estimated that 1.3 million pounds of PCBs were discharged by GE into over 200 miles of the Hudson River and declared that the remediation is covered under the Superfund regulations. Remediation dredging started in 2008 and ended in 2015. GE requested a certificate of completion in 2016, and the EPA in 2018 denied issuance until its 5-year review of the cleanup could be finalized in 2023. Dredge and fill discharges into coastal waters (e.g., sand mining, sludge disposal) legally requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2004) to issue a permit noted in Section 404 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which did not originally mention wetlands. Subsequent court cases have established the Clean Water Act’s purview as including wetlands. In addition, the Act was reauthorized by Congress in 1982 and 1987 without restricting its scope and has actually expanded with the Corps’ 404 program nationwide. Under the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets guidelines for the Army Corps of Engineers in deciding whether to issue a permit.


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The Army Corps of Engineers issues over 80,000 permits out of over 96,000 requests annually, for which the majority are for filling in less than 10 acres of ­contiguous wetlands. It was under former President Ronald Regan and his Vice President Dan Quayle that “no net loss” of wetlands national policy was devised. From this, one could develop wetland private property by filling in 10 acres of virgin wetlands, as long as 10 acres of wetlands were created or protected in the overall project. The restored or newly created wetlands do not function efficiently or as well as unchanged wetlands. These general permits of nationwide permits may include only about 500 out of the 80,000 issued permits. The Environmental Protection Agency must legally review those permit requests, but since 1980, it has vetoed only 11 requests, one being the Westway Project in New York City along the lower Hudson River (Dowd 1984). That permit was ultimately denied because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not include all impacts on the Hudson River Striped Bass (Morone saxatillis). This project took several decades to be discovered as significantly affecting natural resources of the Hudson River ecosystem and was ultimately denied. The Army Corps of Engineers had the NEPA and the necessary 404 permits but failed to include all data into the environmental impact statement finalized for this project. The engineering of the Corps is critical and there are endless coastal projects to be covered in the 404 process (e.g., dredging, filling, bridge maintenance and construction) but had not emphasized what biologists were concerned about in protecting the Hudson River fisheries (especially Striped Bass and its habitat). Today, in response to such NEPA actions, there is the Federal Manual for Identifying and Delineating Jurisdictional Wetlands (1989). This manual has interpreted the policy oversight required in this legislation, even though it was prepared by scientists as a basic guide to implementation. Both the National Association of Homebuilders and American Farm Bureau Federation had accused the Corps of Engineers of a protracted process of permitting. Conservationists argue that nothing has stopped filling or losing wetlands. The Corps had proposed ranking wetlands in terms of ecological significance but had been opposed vehemently by conservation groups due to the impossibility of assigning such aesthetic values (Pilkey and Dixon 1996). In 1991, the Environmental Protection Agency received over 90,000 letters opposed to altering the Section 404 process. Other federal laws protecting wetlands include the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 that provides financial incentives to adopt federal coastal zone management programs to protect beaches, barrier islands, reefs, dunes, and so forth. This act was partially in response to the Federal Stratton Commission Report of 1969, which focused the attention of citizens, politicians, and scientists toward the importance of coastal regions and the lack of effective management. In 1986, Congress passed the Coastal Zone Management Reauthorization Act, reaffirming and enhancing the federal program as a comprehensive and innovative management bill (Beatley et  al. 2009). The U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were to implement this new program so as to address non-point source pollutants, with the main emphasis on protecting the nation’s wetlands.

10  Environmental Law: As the Joke Goes, The Only Good Lawyer is a …


Wetlands had been defined by the National Academy of Sciences, but the definition did not necessarily consider wetland mitigation or their shifting boundary in response to the rise of sea level. From offshore oil and gas production to massive commercial fishery operations, issues that generalize a host of disputes include protecting coastal waters as the first line of defense against storms and as the ocean’s nursery supporting the majority of marine species in their growth and development. These disputes are mostly generated in connection with the federal leasing of areas on the outer continental shelf. The federal government, not the state governments, have jurisdiction to exercise sovereign rights over the seabed and subsoil of the continental shelf out to 200 miles. The Coastal Zone Management Act does not mandate that states impose building codes. In fact, in some 12 coastal states, the adoption of building codes is left as a local option. It is not uncommon for rural areas to be without construction standards. The stringency of the wind design standard to which coastal structures must be built is a variable. Under North Carolina’s building code, for instance, construction on the Outer Banks must be designed to withstand wind speeds of 120 mph. There are other federal programs that represent de facto policy. The federal tax code can significantly influence coastal land use and development patterns. Through bank loan subsidies, casualty loss deductions for uninsured damages resulting from hurricanes and coastal storms, interest and property tax deductions allowed for second homes, and accelerated depreciation for seasonal rental properties, all prompt continued coastal development. Federal interstate highway construction funding to states have served to open up coastal areas, further resulting in major development pressures. The federal government’s role in Coastal Zone Management can be traced back to the U.S. Constitution, which grants Congress the power to “regulate commerce with foreign nations and among several states.” The U.S. Supreme Court extended the authority to regulate navigation, including control over navigable waters. For the United States, this federal navigation servitude is the right to compel the removal of any obstructions to navigation. The U.S. Corps of Engineers has been imbued with the power to carry out this mandate on navigable waters in the US.  The earliest federal permit statute is the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, Section 10, which forbids the excavation or construction in navigable waters, without the approval of the Secretary of the Army. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its implementation of the National Flood Insurance Program has generated deficits over much of its lifetime. Between 1969 and 1986, the program was supported by Congressional appropriations of $1.2  billion. The prior 30  years to 1994 experienced an abnormally low level of hurricane and coastal storm activity. However, considerable development occurred along the coastline during that same period. In the decade of 1999–2009, FEMA had been authorized tens of billions of dollars for hurricane and shoreline protection. Another concern directly related to this development level is that 43% of properties receiving FEMA assistance from the Government Accounting Office are repeatedly damaged properties that continue to be rehabbed at the same site prone to the same types of damages. Some studies have argued that despite the


10  Environmental Law: As the Joke Goes, The Only Good Lawyer is a …

high costs of acquisition, the public savings in the long term still justifies such purchases so as to remove vulnerable properties out of harm’s way. Each state must have an approved plan that is in compliance with the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968; the Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982; and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1934 that were amended in 1946, 1958, and 1977. Even with all these protections, hurricane impacts such as Katrina in 2005, Sandy in 2002, and Irma in 2017 continue to rack up large damage and restoration costs. Hurricane Sandy alone required $60 billion of FEMA funds just for New York State (the majority of which was earmarked for Long Island). More than 7 years post-Sandy, all coastal systems have not been restored, upgraded, or replaced (e.g., in the case of coastal sand dunes). The 10th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez (1989) tanker spill was noted on March 25, 1999, with the cleanup costs to that date at $2.1 billion, the loss of 250,000 birds, 2,800 sea otters, and 1,300 miles of shoreline coated with oil. In the initial 5 hours, 11 million gallons of oil was spilled and only 14% of the oil was recovered. As massive as this spill was, it still ranked only 53rd on the world’s “Spills Listing” (Wired 2009). The federal government’s judgment for punitive damages in 1994 was $5.3 billion. On October 15, 2015, Exxon paid the largest settlement in U.S. history: $125 million in criminal fines and $900 million over 10 years in civil penalties for damages to public-owned natural resources (Feldscher 2015). Oil is a hazardous substance. PAHs (Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons) are all on the Environmental Protection Agency’s priority pollutants listing, and oil has the top nine of these aromatic compounds. Operations of the petroleum industry are chronic contributors of oil to estuarine systems worldwide. This is a given, because finding oil usually occurs along coastlines. Impacts occur due in part to the transfer of oil; the refining of petroleum; shipping vessels’ size, operation, and standards; and searching into deeper waters and deeper wells via on-shore facilities. Some of the wells in the Gulf of Mexico are more than 2 miles in depth, beyond the necessary scale of normal functioning. The technology has evolved faster than human ability to determine its breaking points. And that breaking point was surpassed in 2010 with the BP oil fire and spill amounting to 4.9 million barrels of oil, the largest spill in the history of the petroleum industry. In September 2014, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that BP was primarily responsible for the oil spill because of its gross negligence and reckless conduct. In July 2015, BP agreed to pay $18.7 billion in fines, the largest corporate settlement in U.S. history. These settlement funds are the largest environmental restoration effort in U.S. history, with BP signing the outof-court settlement in 2016. In the late 1800s, the residents of Summerland, California, began producing numerous springs of crude oil and natural gas. After drilling a large quantity of wells on these springs, early oil drillers discovered that wells nearest the ocean were the best producers. This eventually led to wells drilled on the beach. As oil and natural gas became increasingly profitable, control over these resources became a major issue. The tidelands controversy between the United States and Texas precipitated the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. It involved a dispute over the title to 2.5 million acres of submerged land in the Gulf of Mexico between low tide and the state’s

10  Environmental Law: As the Joke Goes, The Only Good Lawyer is a …


gulfward boundary, almost 10 miles from shore. Texas first acquired this land when it entered the Union in 1845, with ownership recognized by federal officials for more than 100 years. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953 provides offshore operations such as loading, pipelines, and tanker navigation routes that contribute oil discharges to nearshore currents. It requires 3–5 miles to slow down an oil tanker vessel once the captain makes that decision. It defines the Act because all submerged lands lying seaward of state coastal waters (3 miles offshore) are under U.S. jurisdiction. Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Secretary of the Interior is responsible for the administration of mineral exploration and development of the outer continental shelf. The Act empowers the Secretary to grant leases to the highest qualified responsible bidder on the basis of sealed competitive bids and to formulate regulations as necessary to carry out the provisions of the Act. The Act, as amended, provides guidelines for implementing an outer continental shelf oil and gas exploration and development program. By 1910, America had quickly turned to oil as its primary natural resource, and several innovations resulted: the internal combustion engine, steel cable tool drilling, and the first diamond drill. In 1926, modern seismology was created. In the mid-1940s, major changes in the oil industry occurred as America was making its transition from a wartime economy to a postwar economy. There was an enormous public demand for oil and gas, and offshore exploration encountered enormous challenges, such as underwater exploration, drilling location determination, and offshore communications. By 1949, 11 fields and 44 exploratory wells were operating in the Gulf of Mexico. As the industry continued to evolve through the 1950s, oil production became the second-largest revenue generator for the country, after income taxes. The Santa Barbara Oil Spill in 1969 prompted Congress to pass several acts that spurred the development of oil spill regulation and research. In 1982, Congress passed the Federal Oil & Gas Royalty Management Act, which mandates protection of the environment and conservation of federal lands in the course of building oil and gas facilities. The Secretary of the Interior designated the Minerals Management Service as the administrative agency responsible for the mineral leasing of submerged OCS lands and for the supervision of offshore operations after lease issuance. On May 19, 2010, the Minerals Management Service was renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE). On October 1, 2010, the Office of Natural Resource Revenues split from BOEMRE, and on Oct. 1, 2011, BOEMRE was divided into BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) and BSEE (Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement). So as of 2017, under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, BOEM implements an OCS oil and gas exploration and development program that provides the nation with 18% of its domestic oil production and 4% of its domestic natural gas production. Since its original enactment in 1953, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act has been amended several times, most recently as a result of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Amendments have included, for example, the establishment of an oil spill liability fund and the distribution of a portion of the receipts from the leasing of


10  Environmental Law: As the Joke Goes, The Only Good Lawyer is a …

mineral resources of the Outer Continental Shelf to coastal states. The global ­implementation of double hull requirements for oil tankers would go a long way to preventing oil from being released in tanker accidents. Pollution from oil and other petroleum products is covered under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act’s significant environmental restoration requirements that document the storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous wastes. The issuance of “operating permits” from the U.S. EPA and States to treat, store, or dispose of hazardous materials allows for the better tracking of oil products’ potential for restoring the environement. Under the law, there is an elaborate public involvement process. Some types of projects involved in the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act review are waste oil recycling, the export of hazardous wastes, domestic sewage (there are 1.2 billion gallons of treated wastewater per day in New York City), and sludge compost. Superfund, or CERCLA (the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980) is the regulatory workhorse for hazardous materials clean-up and restoration efforts. The U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency regulations require preliminary site investigations: a Natural Resources Damage Assessment and then the preparation of a Notice of Intent identifying the PRPs (Potentially Responsible Parties), which ultimately (if not settled out of court leads to court cases) can include dozens of participants. CERCLA states at the outset that urbanization, growth, and industrial development are related to the increase in motor vehicles. In response, for example, New York State has conducted epidemiological studies, clinical laboratory, and field studies to evaluate the exposure to and effects from air pollutants on human health. New York State Implementation Plan includes an Economic Impact Assessment with a costs/benefits analysis, while in California, standards for a variety of environmental pollutants are more stringent than even the federal regulations (Krier 1978). Risk Assessment & Management Commission, which is overseen by the National Academy of Sciences, has tackled diverse environmental items such as Acid Precipitation/CO2 studies, Non-­ deterioration Areas (Biosphere Resources), Non-attainment Areas, and the Prevention of Significant Deterioration in air and water quality. Human memory is very short, and so establishing laws to aid in extending memory is important. Flooding is also a fact of life. Major flooding in the central plains of the US due to extensive spring rains, when observed from a satellite, created the largest temporary “lake” in the country. Preventing rains from overflowing onto their floodplain or housing development within the drainage basin of a river system can only continue to raise the flood risk levels. The flooding of rivers (as far back as the flooding of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers to spur on agricultural growth) under natural conditions spreads beyond the normal channel of the river into the riverbanks and the fringe. If the riverway erupts into, or is channeled by a levee or flood walls, there is an increase in its velocity (Bernoulli’s Principle) and height (sheer volume). If there are wetlands along the flood plain, much of this water volume could be absorbed. However, since European settlement of the 48 contiguous states, only 54% of the original 215 million acres of wetlands existed as of 1993. Flooding risks are even greater today as more people live in high-risk flood plains.

10  Environmental Law: As the Joke Goes, The Only Good Lawyer is a …


Rachel Carson’s (1962) Silent Spring documented the effects of modern chemicals, raising the consciousness of people in the United States and eventually ­globally to the long-lasting, persistent nature of chemicals spewed into the air and dumped into waters. After a plethora of environmental insults in the early 1970s, such as the Torrey Canyon oil spill, strip mining damages in Appalachia, and fish kills on the Mississippi River, the National Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act were enacted. Legal actions against hazardous chemicals based on these laws spawned the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Public Interest Research Groups. NGOs defending environmental protection regulations marked the beginnings and the ultimate expansion of legal associations with environmental ethics and environmental social justice practices. The threat of environmental contamination and damage to natural resources will never go away entirely, as long as human influences are involved, but the past five decades of environmental conservation have produced some amazing good-news stories (Farber and Findley 1988). As long as there is a robust enforcement of these laws, there is hope that redesigning the Earth will be sustainable.

Chapter 11

Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 J. T. Tanacredi, The Redesigned Earth,



11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

The six case studies that follow are all from my life experiences. I learned quite a bit about the social dynamics of environmental protection, preservation, and restoration from these six projects alone. I was either directly responsible for the projects or had some level of influence (never total) over the outcomes. These were all basic engineering concerns with social and ecological implications. They all took place in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, and all have redesigned this part of the Earth. Each case is as relevant today, years after their inception or initial plans. They are all activities played out every day in all corners of the world and represent changes that will continue to occur all over the globe (Jackson 2002). As human populations continue to exponentially increase, all these cases have been covered by the news media—they did not all make headline news. However, we can all learn something from these case studies and use this knowledge appropriately to make more effective conservation ecology decisions. In most of these cases, I consider myself as having lost the outcome. They didn’t turn out as I perceived they should, and the outcomes in every case were costly in terms of currency and ecology. I made every effort to apply what I had learned as a student or as a government employee in respective agencies. I attempted to exhibit a conservation ethic and ecosystem-­ based management. Too often, I was disappointed. In my relatively small way, I have attempted to follow these four principles of ecosystem management developed by the United Nations in the early 1970s, and so I share my experiences and ask that you keep these points in mind as you read the case studies. 1. Don’t alter “natural processes.” Understand the natural system, biogeochemical underpinnings, and interactions before trying to fix an ecological problem area, either directly or indirectly caused by humans. 2. Don’t overconsume resources, no matter how abundant they may appear and especially if in a limited supply. Attempt to maintain sustainability of populations’ demand level. If this demand exceeds some irreducible threshold, then reduce consumption or curtail demand. 3. Preserve biodiversity, period. It is essential to preserve contiguous habitat, and as E. O. Wilson has recommended, preserve one-half of the Earth’s natural resources. You can’t re-create new or existing species in a laboratory, no matter the allure of promising biotechnology. 4. Reduce the human population growth rate. The world population exceeded 6 billion in the year 2000 and over 7.8 billion in 2018. These guidelines should help bridge the eco-disconnect that most human societies demonstrate and can prevent us from being continuously isolated from ecological functioning. As described in Donald Worster’s (2016) book Shrinking the Earth, human societies continue to overconsume natural resources that have historically been considered limitless. This development is counter to all conservation strategies. Engineers especially need to foster an Earth ethic for the land and a sea ethic for the oceans because they are involved in redesigning it. This part of the human redesigning of Earth has a long way to go before it will be consistently part of all human nature.

Case Study 1: Birds and Airports: “They Shoot Gulls, Don’t They?”


 ase Study 1: Birds and Airports: “They Shoot Gulls, Don’t C They?” “Bye, Bye, Birdies” emblazoned the front page of the New York Post on May 21, 1992 (Ginzburg 1992), signaling an aerial battle that had raged in the 1980s and continues today (see Fig. 11.1). The conflict of birds versus aircrafts continues, as it is the epitome of nature versus urban-ness, and the juxta-positioning of birds and aircrafts affects how wildlife management must operate in the continually sprawling urban fringe. Aircrafts will come to rest on concrete, surrounded by glass and steel barriers that we call airports, or as in January 2009, when Flight 1539 landed ­miraculously on the surface waters of the Hudson River with no loss of life .

Fig. 11.1  Front page of the New York Post, “Bye, Bye, Birdie” (Source: New York Post, May 21, 1992)


11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

In this case study, the battle is between a major international airport, John F.  Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New  York City on the shoreline of Jamaica Bay, and the migratory highway for a colonial nesting shorebird colony, the Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla), perfectly positioned (for the birds) at the end of one of JFK’s most active runways. These two “communities” came head-to-head (literally and figuratively) with shotgun-toting “urban wildlife managers.” Although birds and aircrafts have been concerns since almost immediately after Kitty Hawk, the first nesting pair of Laughing Gulls was not observed on Long Island until 1978. In 1979, 15 nesting pairs were observed in Jamaica Bay on a group of marsh islands in close proximity to JFK, with the birds’ primary nesting areas on one island called JoCo Marsh at the end of runway 4 L. The ideal conditions of food, lack of significant predatory pressures, and habitat suitability provided the perfect condition for a sustainable and expanding colonial water bird population. The Laughing Gull colony in Jamaica Bay grew to over 7500 nesting pairs by 1990. A typical response of the airline industry in bird–aircraft collision potentials can be seen in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Damage Control Agency (today the “Wildlife Management Agency”) in the operation plan of bird control as requested by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (U.S. Department of Agriculture 2017). In actuality, they asked the Department of Agriculture and the Federal Aviation Administration to shoot “all birds on runways” at JFK, amounting to over 50,500 birds (mostly Laughing Gulls) along and adjacent to Runway 4 L. By the end of 1992, the shooting of these birds resulted in a slow decline but did not eliminate the nesting of Laughing Gulls. Due to Jamaica Bay being a major National Wildlife Refuge—part of the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area—all airports along this coastal bird migratory pathway are aligned with this critical habitat. There are over 360+ bird species that reside or migrate through the metro area. Birds and aircraft are bound to interact at some level, all potentially resulting in catastrophic situations for the ever-increasing traveling public (Newsday 2012a, b). Let me be totally clear: The mixing of birds and aircraft is a very serious matter. Picture any flight—private, military, or commercial aircraft—as it picks up speed to between 150–200 mph on a runway, say 4 L at JFK, for takeoff. The plane comes to a screeching halt a quarter of the way down the concrete tarmac after a dull “swoosh” sound. The passengers scurry down emergency evacuation shoots as the aircraft engine smokes like a lit cigar. Not a very comforting scenario. However, in 1995, a Canada Goose, probably not more than several pounds, was sucked into an engine’s rotating blades and caused over $500,000  in damages (Brown et  al. 2001). This potential air disaster is played out at every airport in the world. In 2009, the “Miracle on the Hudson” plane had ingested Canada Geese in both of its engines. Amazingly, the plane’s captain (Captain Sullenberger) made a decision to land on the water rather than risk heading toward a small private airport without any power to assist in the descent. No matter the size, birds and planes don’t mix! Since 1979, from May through September, one of the most contentious debates still goes on between an arm of the federal government (Department of Agriculture/ Federal Aviation Administration) and the Port Authority of New  York and New

Case Study 1: Birds and Airports: “They Shoot Gulls, Don’t They?”


Jersey about how to get rid of the Laughing Gulls of Jamaica Bay. For many years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s sharpshooters attempted to shoot all the birds that fly over JFK, with special attention during the Laughing Gulls’ critical breeding period. Most importantly, the critical need was to try to understand the bird’s ecology so as to help in the management of the population that existed in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge under the management of the National Park Service. Laughing Gulls (Larus articilla) are part of the family of birds called colonial water birds. The bulk of their numbers migrate up the Atlantic coast of the United States, flying from the southern United States and arriving in southern New Jersey marshes yearly, around late March to early April. Since 1979 when the first pair of gulls was identified in JoCo Marsh of Jamaica Bay, New York, Laughing Gulls have extended their range into other Jamaica Bay islands such as Little Egg and Big Egg marshes within the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Here, in this urban wildlife refuge, the job of the Division of Natural Resources at Gateway is to monitor all bird colonies within the parks’ boundaries. In the special case of gulls, the National Park Service was to advise the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey through a “Bird Hazard Task Force” of the myriad possible methods and programs to help them reduce the number of birds being attracted to airport runways. Food, water, and nesting sites all make the airport an attractive nuisance by being a maintained area for aircraft operations. Grasses provide insects (Laughing Gulls love beetles), and pooling water on runways and taxiways attract groups of thirsty birds with its continuous water source. People constantly leave garbage and litter about, which birds scavenge for food throughout the airport as well as in adjacent areas in the vicinity of the airport. After completing a two-year research project on the Laughing Gulls, the National Park Service recommended that keeping the grass slightly taller than normal airport grass maintenance (which is close to the length maintained on a manicured golf course) would reduce the species of beetles that Laughing Gulls enjoy eating. Taller grass equals less beetles, which equals less Laughing Gulls. It was demonstrated to be effective. A grass maintenance or mowing plan was developed and implemented by JFK airport. Laughing Gull numbers, however, continued to increase in JoCo since that report was completed, so a more intensive one-year bird behavioral research project was conducted in 1990 by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Avian Research Center. Artificial eggs were placed in nests, existing eggs were addled and oiled, and a quarter of the nesting pairs were allowed to nest normally. Dr. Curtis Griffin and his graduate students honed in on several other important bird attractions at JFK, such as freshwater and “bachelor bird” or nonbreeding bird relationships in this population. Several of their original recommendations had been implemented, and since the bird-shooting program began in 1990, the number of bird–aircraft interactions had finally begun to decline, according to statistics maintained by the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Damage Control. Upon a detailed evaluation by the National Park Service and the Bird Hazard Task Force, the statistics were misleading. Depending on the definition or perspective, JFK would potentially be the most dangerous airport in the world to fly into or out of. Also, depending on the interpretation of Laughing Gull data (a point seemingly lost in the “zero-defect” policy of the Federal Aviation Administration), all these


11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

birds are the “most important” or “the greatest threat” to the flying public. One must preface any rational discussion of bird/aircraft interactions with the statement that no one wants planes to crash or even get damaged due to birds being sucked into jet engines. However, risks are assumed or at least realistically acknowledged before any overreaction can set in. The International Council on Aviation Operations define bird strikes as having occurred when (1) a pilot reports a bird strike, (2) aircraft maintenance personnel identify damage to an aircraft by birds, (3) personnel on the ground report seeing an aircraft strike, and (4) bird remains (carcasses) are found on active runways (any pavement) or within 200  feet of an active runway (U.S. Department of Transportation 2004). Wake turbulence from aircraft will, in a very pronounced manner, push birds to the ground and kill them. A passenger jet (Flight 587) in 2001 experienced a wake vortex from a previous flight of a jumbo jet, resulting in its crashing into the local community of Belle Harbor near JFK Airport (see Figs. 11.2 and 11.3). The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs its airports under the review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s licensing program, holds to the aforementioned definition of “bird strike.” The Department of Agriculture’s Animal Damage Control, hired by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to control threats to the public safety, completely accepts this definition and operates under it. The National Park Service, however, had a totally different mandate, no less respectful and understanding of human safety as an issue. The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and the National Park Service must manage Jamaica Bay, as is noted in its original legislation creating the nation’s first urban National Park Unit, “that the Secretary (of the Interior) shall administer and protect the islands and waters within Jamaica Bay Unit with the primary aim of conserving the natural resources, fish, and wildlife located therein and shall permit no development or use of this area which is incompatible with this purpose (U.S Code 1916).” But beyond this mandate, “bird-strike” definition by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey prompts disbelief among wildlife managers who understand the dynamics of large colonial water bird populations. During any breeding year, bird mortality may be high due to mostly younger and older birds in a large colony, and as a colony continues to grow, bird mortality (“normal” to that particular colony or location) will be reflective of the population’s mortality rate. Thus, carcasses will be found throughout the bay on almost a daily basis and certainly within the 200-­ foot strike zone (two-thirds of a football field), providing inflated readings as to the level of actual aircraft strikes on the airport. The majority of dead birds have never gotten even close to runways when they were alive. Laughing Gulls are small in size, relative to other gulls such as Black-Backed Gulls (Larus marinus) or Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) and also much more maneuverable in flight. They should be able to avoid the majority of aircraft if not directly in their wake. Measures should be implemented to continuously reduce the risk level. For example, all takeoffs and landings during the critical breeding period of Laughing Gulls should request a sweep of runways so that loafing birds can be kept out of aircraft flight paths. Even today, over 18 years since these recommendations were made, only a few airlines using JFK specifically request a sweep of run-

Case Study 1: Birds and Airports: “They Shoot Gulls, Don’t They?”


Fig. 11.2  Wake turbulence impact on air masses upon flight takeoff (Getting permission from The New York Times)

Fig. 11.3  Example of wake turbulence vortex

ways on each takeoff and landing (e.g., Japan Air, British Overseas Airways, etc.). It is a time-consuming request that can cause a delay in the flight plan of the aircraft. There is no real excuse, however, because the FAA/DOA/APHIS have incorporated these recommendations into airport operational protocols (USDA/APHIS Fact Sheet 2012). It was made eminently clear how important airport maintenance practices can be when on September 22, 1995, an AWAC reconnaissance aircraft on takeoff from


11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

Anchorage, Alaska, flew into a flock of Canada Geese, which caused two engine failures, aircraft failure, and took 24 lives in the subsequent crash. The airfield radar coordinator and airfield managers did not notify the aircraft of birds on the runways, let alone actively dispersing them. There is the same concern at JFK, but it is considered by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to be a more “handle-­able situation” since Laughing Gulls are migratory and not around the New York City metropolitan area all year long as Canada Geese are in most urban environments. From 1979 to 1990, the number of Laughing Gulls involved in reported strikes increased each year. If one includes all bird species, however, the numbers of aircraft actually struck by birds did not correlate with either the size of the Laughing Gull colony on JoCo or with the year recorded. Including all bird species, numbers of reported strikes have fluctuated between 14 and 37 aircraft each year over the past 25 years. While reported strikes were highest from 1983 to 1990, only about 25% involved Laughing Gulls, while 50% involved other gulls. Since the shooting program began at JFK in 1991, the number of aircraft struck (reported strikes) by Laughing Gulls has been reduced to a level similar to that recorded between 1979 and 1982 when the colony was smaller (Dolbeer 1998). Reported strikes involving non-gull species, however, have more than doubled since 1991. Taken together, the data suggested that the risk level to airplanes and passengers at JFK had remained constant during the 20-year period, irrespective of the size of the Laughing Gull colony on JoCo marsh in Jamaica Bay. There is no scientifically supportable evidence that the Laughing Gull colony in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge needed to be managed at an escalated level to total elimination, but this final option was implemented. Some form of management, however, was warranted to preserve the local Laughing Gull populations. It was possible that the shooting program at JFK could result in a non-sustainable regional population. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey maintained a full-time bird biologist and hired a falconer who uses harriers to scare or otherwise harass birds on the airport but discontinued this due to “exorbitant costs.” This case study is a prime example of some 35 years of scientific research applied to a societal issue derived from a product of the Industrial Revolution: air transportation. Airports and birds do not mix, but they can live side by side. In 2016, the New York County Lawyers Association hosted the 3rd Annual Animal Rescue Law Forum, which reviewed and discussed the legal aspects of the “bird-hazard reduction program” at the JFK International Airport (Associated Press 2016). A Friends of Animals lawsuit to stop the “lethal options” used in bird control near and on airport property was ruled against, which allowed the Port Authority New York/New Jersey to kill any migratory bird in emergency situations (Riley 2016). The determination of an emergency risk level has been based on a flawed assumption that “any dead bird within 200 feet of a runway will be considered a strike of an aircraft,” thus establishing a new threshold. Aircraft wake concerns, airport habitat suitability, and non-lethal controls become insignificant considerations, yet more necessary than ever. The redesigning of airports by urban planners is important to avoid some wild-

Case Study 1: Birds and Airports: “They Shoot Gulls, Don’t They?”


life impacts, especially in light of an ever-expanding human population in flight. This becomes more critical as an increasing number of airports and aircraft flights are requesting assistance from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for its annual control (Devault et al. 2018). The pressure to expand airports, especially JFK International, by the Port Authority New York/New Jersey is continuous, in spite of research relating to the management of birds and aircraft. The New York Times (McGeehan 2011) reported that due to New York regional airports “choked with crowds and delays,” the Port Authority “needs to fill in parts of Jamaica Bay…for one or more runways.” This was supported by the next-generation air traffic control system upgrade “to allow for more planes to squeeze in the region.” There are estimates that traffic will increase steadily from 104 million passengers to over 150 million passengers within the next 20 years at the three NYC airports alone. To add insult to injury, a Queens College professor, who has never worked or conducted research in Jamaica Bay, was loosely and unsubstantially quoted that “filling in Grassy Bay near JFK in Jamaica Bay, to level the bottom of the Bay, probably would be beneficial…” This is the most egregious possible statement to be made about ecological management of Jamaica Bay, as 35 years of research in Jamaica Bay by the National Park Service show that the resultant flooding and ecological impact would be irreparable to the functioning estuarine system. Unfortunately, there is no questioning such cavalier and misinformed statements by pseudo-authorities on Jamaica Bay. This isn’t unique to an ill-informed academic, but it is replete with responses after problems occur rather than implementing an active bird hazard response team approach as originally provided by the National Park Service in 1998. Further exacerbating this issue is that the New York/New Jersey Port Authority has recorded a 31% rise in collisions between birds and aircraft at NYC airports, despite calls for improved wildlife management. Collisions, which have risen 40% at JFK Airport, prompted a quote from the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey as not doing enough on this issue (Herbert 2012). In July 2012, 711 Canada Geese from Jamaica Bay were caught and killed. The meat was donated to food banks. In August 2012, the U.S.  Department of Transportation found the Federal Aviation Administration had “failed to adequately oversee and enforce policies to reduce bird strikes.” The report concluded that the Federal Aviation Administration lacked robust inspection practices and that most of its policies to monitor and investigate hazards were voluntary. Reporting an aircraft’s strike with Canada Geese is voluntary. The Wildlife Services removed 1235 geese from public land sites in the city and within a 5 mile radius of LaGuardia Airport (Herbert 2013). This is still only a Band-Aid approach to treat a full-blown hemorrhage; a full-time ornithologist is still required as a best-management plan to control for birds at airports. As of 2019, the recommendations made in collective research have not been fully implemented (Fig. 11.4).


11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

Fig. 11.4  Seven recommendations for managing birds at airports

Case Study 2: Troubled Bridges over Water

Fig. 11.4 (continued)



11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

Case Study 2: Troubled Bridges over Water Discussions of transportation planners and politicians proposing the construction of a bridge (or as of late, a tunnel) across Long Island Sound continue today (Madore 2018). Hovering in the background and periodically settling into a planner’s scheme is the question of how to relieve traffic congestion and air pollution levels while aiding in an economic stimulus of the region by constructing a new bridge and highway network. Highway engineers today must be trained in many disciplines that will assist in mitigating the environmental impact of bridge and highway ­construction. In past considerations of environmental impacts, there was low sensitivity to a new highway or bridge construction regarding the loss of wetlands and other critical habitats, visual and aesthetic sensitivity ties, loss of community cohesiveness, and the long-term effects of large construction projects leading to community division and/or urban sprawl. One of the most interesting but historically ill-conceived ideas for highway construction, made seriously back in 1966 and published in the premiere scientific journal Science, has been repurposed today in connection with tidal-energy generation. The damming up of Long Island Sound as a freshwater reservoir for the New York area or in conjunction with tide gates in New York City have been resurrected to solve hurricane or storm-protection concerns (Gerald 1966). Such projects will always be feasible in an engineering way. One can look at the Three Gorges Dam Project on China’s Yangtze River to appreciate the monumental human-engineering capability (Chetham 2002). However, this would be an improbable and highly suspect solution to water or transportation needs in U.S. urban environments. Regarding the transportation issue, bridges, in fact, have been subject to controversy—both in their construction, maintenance, and absolute need. In 1967, the U.S. Bridge Program was transferred from the Army Corps of Engineers to the U.S.  Coast Guard within the Department of Transportation. The Coast Guard is responsible for approving the location and plans of bridges and causeways constructed across navigable waters of the US.  In addition, the Coast Guard is responsible for the approval of the location and plans of international bridges and the alteration of bridges found to be unreasonable obstructions to navigation. From 1974 until 1978, I worked as a “Bridge Administrator,” reviewing and preparing environmental impact statements for bridge and highway construction projects across “navigable waters of the United States” in six states in the Northeast: New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Vermont. This responsibility was with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s U.S. Coast Guard unit, and I was stationed on Governor’s Island in New  York City. Today, the U.S. Coast Guard is no longer part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, as they are part of the Homeland Security Administration, but they still have the national permit responsibility and environmental assessment oversight for bridges and highways. However, the actual construction funding for interstate highways and associated bridges is still within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal

Case Study 2: Troubled Bridges over Water


Highways Administration: State and local transportation departments still require coordinated efforts, whether it’s the construction or maintenance of bridges with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers, or with natural resource agencies such as the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and other Department of Interior agencies responsible for the environmental impact analysis and mitigation of any such funded project. In this case study, I am including three bridge projects that I believe epitomize some of the major issues with bridge and highway construction. A recent series of bridge collapses and failures were probably more affected by design flaws than actual environmental impact. Yet the need or purpose of new bridge and highway construction has kept pace with the growing number and size of vehicles using the roadways. Today in the United States, some 70 years following World War II’s construction boom of infrastructure, the aging of bridges and highways needs immediate attention. The new Delaware River Bridge from Trenton, New Jersey, to Morrisville, Pennsylvania, was proposed by the Delaware Toll Bridge Authority to improve traffic flow between these two cities. The sole function of the Toll Bridge Authority was to collect tolls, and even though there were several other crossings (I-95, Lower Trenton Bridge, and a railroad bridge) of the Delaware River within two miles of each other at this location, the Toll Bridge Authority still proposed a new 12-lane toll bridge to replace a two-lane, non-toll, historic bridge constructed in the late 1880s by the Berlin Bridge Steel company. The removal of the original structure was not the most significant social impact of the proposal. The existing Route 1 Bridge could not handle the growing traffic volumes generated by New Jersey’s capital, Trenton, with many of its employees living in the bedroom community across the Delaware River in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. This was a perfect example of results demonstrating the philosophy of “not in my backyard.” Suburban Morrisville, PA, was extremely upset by Trenton, NJ, sprawling into their town and proposing a toll bridge of six lanes to replace two lanes that had no tolls. The original bridge was subsequently photo-documented and replaced by a new 6-lane toll bridge. The loss of habitat along the banks of the Delaware River as well as noise and air pollution levels from significant construction forced homeowners to move as the bridge encroached onto their private properties purchased for the right of way. All impacts of the original proposal approved by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission were associated with replacing the Calhoun Street Bridge, one of 20 bridges in the system that were made of rod iron and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was part of the original 3389 mile-long Lincoln Highway – America’s first transcontinental roadway that connected New York City with San Francisco. Conceived in 1912 and formally dedicated on October 31, 1913, the Lincoln Highway holds the distinction as the first national memorial to President Abraham Lincoln, which predated the 1922 dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C (Indiana Lincoln Highway Association 2011). The bridge was included in the highway until 1920, when the route was changed to a non-toll bridge. It still has a sign referencing its Lincoln Highway past on the down-


11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

stream side near the Pennsylvania abutment. The blue and yellow sign has the Lincoln Highway emblem and arrows pointing to New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New  York, and San Francisco. The Calhoun Street Bridge is the second oldest vehicular bridge in continuous operation across the Delaware River. The bridge connects Calhoun Street in Trenton, New Jersey, with Trenton Avenue in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. It is located approximately one mile north of Lower Trenton Bridge (“Trenton Makes Bridge”). The bridge is a major job commuter route for Pennsylvania residents who work in state government and other businesses in Trenton. The span carried a daily average of 18,400 vehicles in 2008. The Calhoun Street Bridge is posted for a 3-ton weight limit, 8-foot vertical clearance, and a 15-mph speed limit. Commission bridge officers are continuously stationed at each end of the bridge to enforce the bridge’s weight limits (Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission 2017). The pressure to generate income from the tolls ultimately won out even with a historic structure being saved by the Historic Preservation Act (no tolls and limited vehicle volume), but the toll bridge was renovated with one new travel lane in each direction and tolls only on the entering Pennsylvania side leaving Trenton, NJ; this was completed in 2009. The tolls won out.

 he North Channel Bridge Across Jamaica Bay, in Queens, T New York Jamaica Bay is one of the most productive estuarine embayment on Long Island and is world renowned for the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, managed by the National Park Service. This refuge was an engineered product of Robert Moses. In the early 1980s, the North Channel Bridge was recommended to be replaced due to age and a curve that exceeded its vehicle speed design capacity for safety. Over 1800 support pilings were to be removed and an environmental impact statement prepared for the project by the New York State Department of Transportation, which made no mention about the potential for the resuspension of generally contaminated sediments surrounding these support pilings. For decades, accumulating fine particulate sediments and muds accumulated a variety of organic contaminants such as chlorinated hydrocarbons (i.e., PCBs, chlordane, DDT, etc.). Other hazardous material compounds or elements that enter estuarine environments by a host of anthropogenic contributions (such as atmospheric washing, runoff, and wastewater treatment effluent) have also been associated with these sediment types. In the review of this project, I noted to the New  York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that there was no sediment hazardous material analysis conducted. This National Environmental Policy Act review made it a requirement to analyze all sediments associated with the bridge piles before the U.S. Coast Guard’s bridge permit for structure replacement could proceed. Subsequent sediment analysis took over a year to complete and revealed DDT, Hg, PAHs (Polynucleated Aromatic Hydrocarbons), and chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds existed in sediments adjacent to the support piles. The subse-

Case Study 2: Troubled Bridges over Water


quent bridge construction permit stipulated that all pilings must be removed from the site. To do this, there had to be the construction of cofferdams around each pile cluster, pumping out any water and then removing all pilings. These requirements did impose added costs to the deconstruction phase of the project but ultimately reduced those environmental contaminants to a non-detectable level that would have created unintended long-term ecological consequences on the entire Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge ecosystem. Collectively, this small, positive ecological environmental action aided in the general long-term natural restoration processes of an urbanized estuarine ecosystem. In New York, it is not unique to reactivate projects that include infrastructure, primarily due to their grand scale. At present, the only idea more ridiculous in New York would be a proposal to reactivate the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant. At the time, LILCO failed to demonstrate the ability to escape and evacuate all of Long Island in the likelihood of a nuclear meltdown. The plant finally closed down without ever producing a single watt of energy soon after a Hollywood movie called “China Syndrome” was released. LILCO, which eventually became LIPA, then National Grid, is PSEG today. Long Island is still passing along to rate payers the initial costs of the Shoreham debacle. It is unfortunate that planners do not spend their time looking at improvements to the existing Long Island infrastructure for mass transit, energy production, and health care. Beginning after the 1965 defeat of Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s cross-sound bridge starting in Oyster Bay, N.Y., up to 1973 when the New York State legislature repealed any bridge legislation proposed after determining that no Suffolk County crossing would be able to pay for itself, this idea of a bridge across Long Island Sound has been repeatedly resurrected (see Sidebar 11.1). In 1980, Governor Hugh Carey rejected a proposed bridge that crossed the Long Island Sound because it would cost, at that time, a minimum of $2  billion (New York Times 1980). This resulted in Governor Cary’s “Action Committee for Long Island,” which spent one full year studying the feasibility of a cross-sound bridge. This conglomerate of understatements summarizes the impacts that still exist from such a planned crossing, plus even grander expenses for construction and maintenance costs. Just looking at Robert Moses’ bridge legacy in New  York, they continue to be the prime cause of traffic delays due to endlessly increasing volume, maintenance, and continuous reconstruction measures. The bridges draw traffic volumes onto them; they never truly reduce the traffic volume, and even after implementation of electronic tolls, a result of years of E-Z Pass toll collection, their traffic still contributes to major congestion and air pollution. Nassau and Suffolk Counties are the contributors of the highest concentrations of ground-level ozone in all of New York State, which is a major contributor to the nitrogen water pollution issue on Long Island. The atmospheric contribution of nitrous oxide from auto exhaust and ground-level ozone combining to create nitrogen pollution to groundwaters and surface waters on Long Island is an issue that has been deflected by the “evil nitrogen pollution problem” on the island being independently blamed on wastewater and septic systems. Bridges, due to their approaches, divide communities. Robert Moses, who lived to be 92 years old, built a car-centric transportation system encompassing 691 miles of highway. He committed zero miles to mass transit.


11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

Sidebar 11.1: A bridge over Long Island Sound For more than 50 years, a proposed bridge construction project in New York State’s Long Island Sound, akin to Lazarus rising from the dead, has been revived and repeatedly proven impractical, ineffective, and expensive despite the attempt to be resurrected to further study. As a conservation biologist and environmental engineer, I find it incredible that this idea of crossing the Long Island Sound can still be fostered. My naiveté evaporates once I realize that this is an easy “political advantage,” as such a bridge has been described as an “obvious solution” for drivers who wish to get off Long Island, or as Newsday (1989) noted in an article titled “The Great Escape,” such a proposal would be an obvious job generator, reduce congestion and air pollution attributed to miles of car backups and delays, and be a political bonanza for anyone needing a platform that has infrastructure improvements as political capital.

Bridges also have significant impacts on the waterways they cross—from construction to automobile pollution levels (i.e., petroleum, hydrocarbon run-off, salt, sand, paint, and solvent discharges). Bridges never produce as many long-term jobs as from mass-transit projects. The media recently has identified Long Island as being at step one of about a few million steps in coming up with a viable cross-­ sound bridge (Madore 2018). It would be laudable if planners and engineers could proactively look back to all historic plans and “older concepts” and truly learn from these imprudent and inefficiently planned engineering experiences. However, it appears that steps 2 to five million that require prioritizing will continue to be wrestled with and all this misdirected energy will continue to plague transportation problems on Long Island. It should also be noted that a good number of the jobs generated for such a Long Island Sound crossing would be required to come from two states, Connecticut and New York. Thus, potential trade jobs, contractors, and scheduling would need to be divided between the two states. For Long Island, whose economy is not floundering and with a population that is basically stable, any bridge at maximum would create 18,000 jobs short-term but would all go away once the bridge is completed. Long-­ term jobs such as those for mass transit (LIRR, ferry, and bus services) better serve the rising commuter ridership of Long Island. In addition, the annual maintenance of a cross-sound bridge would require $10 million to $15 million per year to maintain. A ferry alternative, or adding more boats to the present north shore Long Island crossings to Connecticut (Port Jefferson, Port Lookout) is exceedingly more efficient (less air pollution) and productive (increase by six million annually for ferry/ car service). The Long Island Association of Commerce and Industry, the New York State Department of Transportation, and the Action Committee for Long Island have all expressed favor of ferry crossings and their related improvements over a fixed Long Island Sound bridge crossing.

Case Study 3: Gowanus Canal Restoration: Pig Skin Purse with a Silk Lining


In conclusion, bridge engineering is planned on “projected use.” However, bridges will always draw traffic and rarely dispel traffic volumes in the long term. This increase also spurs on development and regional traffic impacts for communities in their path. The Long Island Sound bridge crossing has also repeatedly revealed that air pollution and energy (fuel) consumption would significantly increase over ferry use, with less fossil fuel use resulting in less pollution. It has been argued that a short bridge would save 16 million gallons of gasoline per year. The basic negative costs/benefits for a Long Island Sound bridge crossing comes into clear focus when one considers a projected 15,300 vehicles per day using such a bridge versus a ferry crossing (which a conservative estimate of 20 gallons per week for 50  weeks alone saving 15.3  million gallons of fuel) and 10–15 million dollars annually to maintain a bridge. It is hoped that clear minds, non-political influences, and a true and accurate assessment of environmental impacts to the Long Island coastal ecosystem will prevail in the future.

 ase Study 3: Gowanus Canal Restoration: Pig Skin Purse C With a Silk Lining It is not possible to describe how this bay swarms with fish, both large and small, whales, tunnies and porpoises, whole schools of innumerable other fish, which the eagles and other birds of prey swiftly seize in their talons when the fish come up to the surface, and hauling them out of the water, fly with them to the nearest wood or beach, as we saw.– Written in Jasper Danckaerts’s journal about “The Gowanus,” 1679-80 (Alexiou 2015)

The Gowanus was once a vast tidal wetland, drained by a tidal creek, which curved through Brooklyn and was subject to the agricultural practices of the Dutch settlers who first dammed and reshaped the shallow tidal waters (Fig. 11.5). They cleared the surrounding hills, plowed the marsh flats newly silted in, and grazed their cattle. The poorest residents of the growing New York City metropolis built shanties that were described as “pestilential,” giving credence and justification to a growing City to fill the marsh with dredged sediments and excavation spoils. By the mid-­ nineteenth century, the Gowanus Creek was straightened into an inland barge canal with a sewer system endpoint for the growing city of Brooklyn. In the 1800s, the 1.8-mile Gowanus Canal supported several manufactured gas plants (before electricity), which was the major contributor to the highly polluted sediments by a host of petroleum-related xenobiotics such as polynucleated aromatic hydrocarbons, which are carcinogenic and/or mutagenic. In the 1800s, Brooklyn’s manufactured gas industry, which turned coal into gas and illuminated the city before the advent of electricity, had facilities along the Gowanus and became a major culprit in the colossal pollution of this 1.8-mile-long canal. What’s more, the canal had always been a wetland, alternately draining and flooding the surrounding area. During heavy rain, untreated sewage poured into it from several points, the result of New York’s combined sewer and storm drain sys-


11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

Fig. 11.5  Wetland map of the Gowanus Marsh, 1766

tem and the canal’s low elevation. “Only the monumental, astronomically expensive effort of engineering could change this fact of geography, and so during the greatest rainstorms, swelling tidewaters fill the main and lateral sewer pipes,” Alexiou (2015) wrote. “Once these are full, the waters fill area basements—a fact of nineteenth-­ century life that continues today.” In 2010, the canal was declared a Superfund site, authorizing the Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies to clean it up (Navarro 2010). More than $500 million has been requested to combat 150 years of pollution. If you fell in, Alexiou said, you’d be treading in human feces and shower water. If you touched bottom, he added, you’d be stepping in “coal tar, PAH, PCBs, and heavy metals like cadmium, lead, and mercury—they call it black mayonnaise” (Kelley 2016). Today, the results of over 120  years of industrial discharge and development since the canal’s completion in 1881 have erased the semblance of nature or its historical bounty in the city of New York. Tracing the bounty of Gowanus Bay goes back to the early settlers of the city, named after the English King of York and to the Native Americans who “oystered” the waters of the Hudson-Raritan River estuary

Case Study 3: Gowanus Canal Restoration: Pig Skin Purse with a Silk Lining


of the kingly bivalve oysters that were described as being over two feet in length, and packed and shipped this Brooklyn’s first export from the Gowanus. Oystering on the Gowanus Canal can be traced back to the Native Americans who described the oysters as “big as a dinner plate.” In later years, Gowanus farmers harvested oysters, packed them into casks, and shipped them out through the port. The canal was, from its inception, an active part of the Port of New York, a significant part of the commercial and industrial development of the city that spread rapidly in the 18th and 19th centuries. Little attention was directed at adequate systems of sewage disposal, for example. The unlimited discharge of raw sewage, with all its commensal pathogens, went directly into the man-made waterway that had little tidal exchange; this contributed to the Gowanus at one time being described as one of the most polluted waterways in the United States. Little of the natural restorative processes associated in an estuarine tidal creek remained, and so by the early part of the twentieth century, and in response to ever-increasing water pollution and foul odors that would not dissipate, the city of New York built a flushing tunnel to disperse pollutants by using a propeller to flush water from the canal to Buttermilk Channel (see Fig. 11.6). The tunnel functioned until the 1960s, when mechanical failure caused the Gowanus to reclaim its name as the most polluted waterway. The canal’s pump was finally repaired in 2004 and a benthic environmental sampling program by the Army Corps of Engineers identified some 37 taxa that inhabited and utilized the Gowanus Canal. This work was critical in initiating the long-term restoration of the canal. Even the construction of a new sewage treatment facility in 1987, the Red Hook, failed to reverse the stagnant and significantly degraded waterway, and tested positive for cholera, dysentery, and bacteriological and toxicological contaminants levels that created a public health catastrophe for the local community. From the late 1960s through the 1970s, inner-city inhabitants in droves raised families and, as services and environmental quality of city life deteriorated, they sprawled into Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as Carroll Gardens on the banks of the Gowanus. However, several residents in Brooklyn wanted to revitalize this community back to the times when immigrants, mostly from Western Europe, came to America to work and dream. One of the major leaders in community-based activism is Salvatore “Buddy” Scotto who, through the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and the establishment of a Gowanus Canal Business Improvement District, has seen a true Renaissance change for the community that fringes the Canal and for the Gowanus Canal itself, which has seen fish and birds returning to the improved water quality they need to use this habitat (Weisbrod 2006). On March 2, 2010, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency offered the city of New York to designate it a Superfund site (see Fig. 11.7). Since 2014, the canal has become an outdoor lab for a group of scientists based at Genspace, a microbiology workspace in Brooklyn, who say they may have discovered new life forms in the sediments. Their research began to look for a variety life from 14 sites on the canal. At Genspace, scientists extracted DNA from the muck and sent it to the Weill-Cornell Medical College to be sequenced. They could not identify 50% of the DNA and it was conjectured that some life forms in the

Fig. 11.6  Engineering diagram of the Gowanus Canal in the 1940s. (Source: http://gowanusdredgers.orggowanus-canal-history)

220 11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

Case Study 3: Gowanus Canal Restoration: Pig Skin Purse with a Silk Lining


Fig. 11.7  View of the Gowanus Canal from the third Street Bridge, 2010. (Source: Creative Commons)

canal might be unknown to science at present. What the Genspace-Cornell team did identify were 42 kinds of bacteria, two viruses, and five life forms from the domain Archaea—organisms that are not bacteria, fungi, plants, or animals. Many of these microbes are uniquely adapted to the canal’s extreme environment and aren’t ­normally seen in healthy waterways. The Fourth Street Basin used to be a dumping ground for dead horses (Kelley 2016). Kelley noted that test results show that the Gowanus Canal is now home to Methylococcaceae, a family of microbes that consume methane. The Gowanus’s signature rotten-egg smell comes from Desulfobacterales, which breathe in sulfate and exhale hydrogen sulfide. The sludge gets its black color from hydrogen sulfide reacting with metal ions. As Alexiou (2015) noted, he experienced that contemporary city agencies and developers were making the same mistakes as their nineteenth-­ century predecessors: ignoring the canal’s problems and failing to sustainably develop the surrounding area. Given how polluted the canal still is, Alexiou considered that the pace and scale of development has been irresponsible. The Superfund remediation is still in the planning phase; only limited canal cleanup has occurred as of 2018. Even with the Superfund designation, conservationists pored over historical maps, charts, and ecological studies and determined that the site is still capable of growing oysters in cages due to the tidal cycles (Kilgannon 2016). According to Elizabeth Hénaff, a microbiologist at Cornell University, the microbes in the canal have evolved (at a rate of one generation every 20 min) to the point where they are consuming some of the Gowanus’ worst pollutants, like arsenic, fertilizer, solvents, and coal tar (a carcinogenic and insidiously durable byprod-


11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

uct of gas manufacturing; Kelley 2016). She noted the bacteria, Pseudomonas putida, consumes toluene, a neurologically damaging solvent used to produce paint. Cormorants have been observed in the canal, however; this finding is a very positive note and a far cry away from how the Gowanus was described in the early days when “the canal was so deadly that captains would allegedly pilot their boats through it just to kill the barnacles and other sea life attached to their hulls” (Kelley 2016). The Gowanus today is a tourist attraction with progress toward a total cleanup of this historic cityscape (Fahim 2010). It remains a perfect example that restoration efforts often take a long time.

 ase Study 4: Sandy Hook Beach’s 4 Rs: Restoration, C Replenishment, Recreation, Repeat Recreation is the largest growing commercial enterprise in the United States. On average, every man, woman, and child spends 10 days each year in some sort of coastal recreational activity. Private beach access exceeds public beaches, thus diverting millions of people to the shore to use those shoreline areas managed by federal, state, and local governments. This usage pattern requires the shoreline to be capable of a carrying capacity never before experienced, and the infrastructure such as food services, transportation systems, or parking facilities that, when fully utilized, significantly stress these resources. The National Park Service in 1972 managed the first urban National Park unit, Gateway National Recreation Area (National Park Service 1974). The vast majority of property in the park boundary was ­provided by abandoned military facilities, discarded New York City parklands (NYC in the 1960s was in considerable financial trouble and transferred lands to federal control through the new federal legislation) such as the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in New York City and Ft. Hancock in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The ink wasn’t dry yet on the enabling legislation when a winter Nor’easter caused erosion of a 3-mile-­ long public-bathing beach that now would be managed by the National Park Service. This stretch of beach serves over 2.3 million visitors to Sandy Hook each year and now was threatened by the erosion of the sand that naturally deposits along this coastal geofoam called a “spit,” a coastal landscape resulting from the northward littoral current along the New Jersey shoreline (Fig. 11.8). The “Hook,” as New Jersey residents call the Sandy Hook spit, is actually an accident of nature. Military fortifications and proving grounds have shaped the surface landscape on Sandy Hook intermittently by creating an island severed repeatedly by wind and the tides. The natural history of Sandy Hook has been governed by its resiliency to major urbanization dating back to the first historic disruptions made by Robert Juet, who sailed with Henry Hudson on his third voyage in 1609 (Descendants of Founders of New Jersey no date). Sandy Hook had been noted as an island and peninsula in lighthouse property transactions dating back to 1679–80. It was recorded as a peninsula, but after the

Case Study 4: Sandy Hook Beach’s 4 Rs: Restoration, Replenishment, Recreation, Repeat


Fig. 11.8  Sandy Hook unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. (Source: National Park Service)


11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

battle of Monmouth in 1778, British General William Howe noted in his correspondence that a “temporary bridge” to Sandy Hook Island was constructed. This was confirmed in 1784 in a chart by a Lt. Hill, in which the mainland was shown cut off by the Shrewsbury Inlet. Sandy Hook was reconnected to the mainland in 1800 and then isolated again as an island in 1810. Then in 1830, with the shoreline advanced by littoral currents, the island was reconnected. The tip of Sandy Hook from the completion of the lighthouse in 1764 was over 4000 feet south of the tip, accumulating sand at an average rate of 35–40 feet per year, a process that continues today (Houghton 1981). The history of Sandy Hook reveals a precursor to global communications: carrier pigeons. They were the primary long-distance communications link from Sandy Hook and light to the mainland to Western Union Telegraph Company on Beaver Street in New York City. In daytime, “International Code of Signals” by the display of flags, ocean roman candles, and colored lights are all important as clear indicators of the shoreline and other navigational obstructions. Once an ocean cable was installed, all other communications, especially the half-­ dozen carrier pigeons attached to the Sandy Hook station, were phased out. Shoreline erosion is an ever-occurring concern as more and more populated communities and related infrastructures are impacted. With the creation of the first urban National Park Units in 1972 (Gateway National Recreation Area in New York and New Jersey and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco), shoreline erosion was a prime natural-resource management issue. Sandy Hook’s geological history has a common place of erosion and sedimentation cycles that continue today. When the Hook was predominately occupied by military forces, the engineering design was straightforward, immediate, and clear: bridge the gap from the mainland to the island to allow for continuous access. Sandy Hook is a historic part of the harbor defenses as well as the nation’s oldest operating lighthouse. It encompasses significant shoreline recreational beach resources for public use and enjoyment and protects an endangered bird species that requires critical habitat along coastline shores. The National Park Service’s legislation created the Sandy Hook unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area identified the maintenance of the entrance road and the “critical zone” at the beach sand level established in 1952 “in perpetuity” (see Fig. 11.9). The erosion of the Sandy Hook coastline has been consistent and has resulted in a daunting task of restoration to the peak-use year of 1954. Although this year is an artificial demarcation, this shoreline profile had been shown to support over two million visitors to Sandy Hook each year. Maintenance of the bathing beach requires the maintenance of all the infrastructures, especially the highway leading to the lighthouse at Fort Hancock and a variety of entities such as Brookdale Community College, the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium, the research laboratories of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a host of concessions occupying historic structures, all managed by the National Park Service. Due to this persistent erosion, the National Park Service was always looking for sand sources and worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to recycle the sand deposited at the northern extreme of the spit, back to the critical zone somewhere around 400,000 cubic yards per year, to maintain the bathing beaches for general

Case Study 4: Sandy Hook Beach’s 4 Rs: Restoration, Replenishment, Recreation, Repeat


Fig. 11.9  Sandy Hook Beach restoration of the critical zone. (Source: Psuty, Schmelz, and Habeck, 2018)

public access. Some of this fill quantity came from the maintenance dredger of the Sandy Hook Channel, which contributed between 2 and 2.3 million cubic yards of sand that in 1992 was pumped on to the critical zone in front of a corrugated sheet-­ pile wall installed to protect the road and retain a sand barrier. The newly deposited beach sand was contoured along the roadway wall in a dune-type landscape. The completion included planting 300,000 culms of dune grass, Ammophila breviligulata. Each culm included three plants for a total of


11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

900,000 plantings to help stabilize the dune system. Almost immediately after completion, several species of coastal shore birds took up residency (Braff 1988): one species being listed on the Endangered Species list of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus of which around 38 nesting pairs have been recorded in 2018); and two species of critical concern especially in the State of New Jersey, Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) and Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger). All three of these bird species are doing quite well at Sandy Hook and could only exist there due to the existence of critical habitat in the form of sand replenished annually (Monahan 1991)). An extremely positive, unintended consequence of this long-term coastal engineering process has been maintaining an important recreational, historical, and community resource for millions of nature lovers, beach goers, history buffs, and all those who come to visit the Tri-state area. National Park Service managers realized several implications of allowing Sandy Hook to become an island as it had done several times over earlier geological periods. The National Park Service needed to protect its natural resources yet allow for use by future generations of visitors to this first urban unit of the National Park System. Several other agencies were housed along this coastal feature that required access every day for work, education, natural-resource protection, and historic ­features. There also needed to be protection of the Sandy Hook Light, the nation’s oldest operating lighthouse since 1764 and a major travel destination. The 4 Rs in this case are not just serendipity. It has taken the better half of 40 years to complete a final restoration plan to maintain sand on the “critical zone” of Sandy Hook. This area has breached, allowing for Sandy Bay waters to be mixed with ocean storm surges. It has also isolated the Sandy Hook peninsula as an island, which both its managers and users opposed letting happen. This circumstance and the fact that beach nourishment has been linked to the Army Corps of Engineers shoreline protection mandate have led to channel-deepening/beach shoreline replenishment projects that have spanned more than four decades. New York Harbor is one of the most active seaports in the United States. There are on average 1000 vessel movements in the harbor every day. Along the New Jersey shoreline, the U.S. Navy maintains a Naval Weapons Station Earle, a weapons and maintenance supply facility in the vicinity of Sandy Hook Bay. The U.S. Navy had proposed a homeport for several vessels requiring the deepening of the Sandy Hook approach channel from 31 feet to a depth of 45 feet, resulting in dredged sand for beach replenishment. Public outcry stopped this proposal. The dredged material on the Sandy Hook Channel would provide stabilization of the said spit to protect the Sandy Hook Lighthouse as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, the Northeast Fisheries Research Center, the New Jersey state buildings, and Brookdale Community College. The persistent erosion at the critical zone would be remedied by an initial placement of over four million cubic yards of dredged sand and approximately 400,000 cubic yards per year of maintenance sand to cover this critical erosion site on the spit. The littoral current south to north along the New Jersey shore deposits sand at the spit tip. In 1764, the Sandy Hook lighthouse was approximately

Case Study 5: Sanitary Landfills: An Oxymoron Perpetuating the Inner-City Sprawl


500 yards from the northern tip of the Hook; by contrast, as of 1988, it was over a mile and a half from the tip. The four million cubic yards placed in 1992 was practically gone by 1996 when a restoration pipeline was planned to recycle sand from the tip of Sandy Hook, pumped onto the land along a pipeline ending at the critical zone. This sand recharge line was finally completed in 2006 and presently pumps 200,000 cubic yards per year from the Sandy Hook Channel to the critical zone. This coastal resiliency example should be perpetuated for some time to come.

 ase Study 5: Sanitary Landfills: An Oxymoron Perpetuating C the Inner-City Sprawl There is not much that is “sanitary” in the oxymoronic term “sanitary landfill.” For over 70 years, the city of New York had dumped thousands of tons of trash per day onto the growing Fountain Avenue/Pennsylvania Avenue landfills in Brooklyn that extends into Jamaica Bay. One of the ignominies of these properties is that they were incorporated into the boundary of the first urban National Recreation Area in 1972. Only recently in 2018 has the National Park Service abdicated its management of these two closed landfills to the New York City Parks and Recreation Department, building trails, a visitor’s center, and other infrastructure on two of the most contaminated landfills in the city of New York. There was jail time for several NYC Sanitation Employees for illegally disposing 30 million gallons of waste oil in these landfills. Also, five organized-crime murder cases have been solved by findings of human remains in the landfills. A major commercial mall development called Vandalia Dunes was established immediately adjacent to the two landfills. The result of this mall construction was an additional loss of several acres of marsh in the north shore of Jamaica Bay and the removal of over 20,000 trees. December 1985 was a landmark time for the National Park Service at the Gateway National Recreation Area. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, the Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill and the Fountain Avenue Landfill were officially closed landfills and all NYC trash or solid waste was to be transferred to Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island. The National Park Service, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection negotiated a consent order to close these landfills because these “lands” were within the boundaries of the park, including wetlands, historic sites, recreational beaches, and the only nationally designated Wildlife Refuge managed by the National Park Service (Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge; see Fig. 11.10). For the next three decades, these landfills were subject to a variety of scientific investigations, from leachate contamination, underground fires, and ultimately to landfill restoration. Today over 12 thousand tons of solid wastes per day are recycled, shipped to China or India, or burned for energy. About 80% of the total tonnage


11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

Fig. 11.10  Jamaica Bay in NYC. (Source: National Park Service, Gateway National Recreation Area)

generated per day was put on barges or trains and carried as far as 600  miles to Virginia or South Carolina to be placed in landfills (Holloway 1997). The remaining 20% of solid waste is burned in a resource-recovery power plant in Westbury, New York, called Covanta, which is still in operation today. Land-filling operations for sanitary waste disposal began in Jamaica Bay in 1947 (Fig. 11.11). An extension of lands surrounding mosquito-ditched marshes on the northern rim of Jamaica Bay would be the future Fountain Avenue Landfill, and by 1954, the peninsulas of disposed trash were the beginning of the Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill. From 1960, dredged spoils and photos taken at the time revealed “dark pits” believed to be used oil that ultimately was used for fugitive dust suppression. Concrete rubble, automotive junk, a roadway traffic loop contributed to 25 liquid pits on the Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill by 1966. By 1969, these two landfills had reached their final aerial extent (300 acres) into Jamaica Bay, and from here on, they received sanitary waste until their closure by the National Park Service in 1985 (Fig.  11.12). The landfills were consistent contributors of leachate, wind-­ blown debris, and methane to the Jamaica Bay region.

Case Study 5: Sanitary Landfills: An Oxymoron Perpetuating the Inner-City Sprawl

Fig. 11.11  Garbage disposal on Jamaica Bay landfills

Fig. 11.12  Aerial shot of the Pennsylvania and fountain avenue landfills in Jamaica Bay



11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn and Queens, New York, receives 320 million gallons of wastewater from four wastewater treatment facilities (Coney Island, 26th Ward, Jamaica, and Rockaway outfalls) that are along the shoreline of Jamaica Bay. Hydrologic data collected by Gibbs & Hill, Inc., consulting engineers identified the localized groundwater flow system at the landfill sites to include flow within the landfill wastes, underlying hydraulic fill, tidal marsh deposits, and the Upper Glacial Aquifer. The groundwater recharge was estimated at around 0.18 MGD at the Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill and 0.47 MGD at the Fountain Avenue Landfill. The water in the unconfined wastes was observed to move radically in all directions, ultimately discharging directly into Jamaica Bay with around 1% of this recharged at PAL and 20% recharged at FAL and moving downward toward the Upper Glacier Aquifer. The original tidal marsh sediments covered by the unconsolidated solid wastes controlled the downward movement of waste oils. Since the Upper Glacial Aquifer was not the source of potable waters, it was identified by a hydrologic budget model and mass balance investigation of all precipitation, evapotranspirations, runoff, percolation, vertical transport (to the Upper Glacial Aquifer), and leachate transport primarily to Jamaica Bay. Considerable numbers of study wells (over 50) were positioned overall on Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill and Fountain Avenue Landfill to test for a variety of petroleum-related contaminants—for example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency list of priority pollutants such as waste crankcase oil and PAHs, PCBs, metals, phthalates, and Volatile Organic Compounds. These xenobiotics were tracked or traced into Jamaica Bay from the leachate analyses of the Fountain Avenue Landfill and the Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill (Ahlert and Rugge 1994). Closure processes and court documents provided historical notes that very large quantities of waste oil for dust control were dumped at the Fountain Avenue Landfill and the Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill. Petroleum products or wastes that were identified as being discharged had extensive levels of PCBs, and at observations made in 1983, the Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill was estimated to have 155,000 gallons free-­ floatation oil on the water table and 6–12  million gallons of potentially mobile waste oils in the soil and fill materials. For over 15 years, an oil boom and absorbent system existed in the Fountain Avenue Landfill and the Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill. As of 2017, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection has approved the development of a park on these landfills. Unfortunately, the investigation into the amount and level of xenobiotic compounds that leach into Jamaica Bay has never been adequately investigated to determine the existing impacts and levels of natural resource damages that exist in the Jamaica Bay ecosystem. The public’s memory is very short, as these landfills were once on the verge of being placed on the U.S. Environment Protection Agency Superfund List but were removed from consideration by the Interior Department during the James Watt era; thus, their impacts on Jamaica Bay’s ecosystem health will always remain unknown.

Case Study 6: West Nile Virus: A One-Way Ticket from LaGuardia Airport to a New…


 ase Study 6: West Nile Virus: A One-Way Ticket C From LaGuardia Airport to a New Home Even before all the attention to global warming and how diseases will be redistributed into areas usually curtailed by cooler temperatures, the summer mosquito season would be in full swing in the New York City metro area at the end of August 1999. For over 25 years as a park biologist, I was responsible for “mosquito monitoring,” a euphemism for pesticide applications for nuisance complaints from coastal residents. Coastal estuarine marshes are synonymous with mosquitos. A mosquito (Aedes sollicitans), for example, lay their eggs in urban debris (e.g., car tires, rain catchments, and gutters) and irregularly paved roadways or structures. The battle against mosquitoes seems to be timeless. In New York City and Long Island, DDT was sprayed along the Jones Beach State Park in the late 1940s so that children playing on the beach would run in front of the spray machines as they moved along the shoreline (Fig.  11.13). This, of course, was effective in killing adult mosquitoes but was outside their habitat, which was along the shoreline of coastal embayments. West Nile virus is a flavivirus belonging taxonomically to the Japanese encephalitis complex that includes the closely related St. Louis encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis, as well as others. West Nile Virus was first isolated in the West Nile

Fig. 11.13  DDT spraying at Jones Beach, 1945. (Source: Bettmann Corbis)


11  Case Studies: Can We Truly Learn from Past Experiences?

province of Uganda in 1937. The first recorded epidemic occurred in Israel in 1951, southern France in 1962, southeastern Romania in 1996, and south-central Russia in 1999. The largest recorded epidemic caused by West Nile virus occurred in South Africa in 1974 (Hayes 1989). In late September 1999, West Nile Virus was detected in Queens, New York, near LaGuardia Airport (Lanciotti et  al. 1999). Although it is not definitively known when or how West Nile Virus was introduced into North America, epidemiological possibilities for the West Nile viral transmittance include international travel of infected persons, hitch-hiking mosquitoes transported to New York, infected birds, or a vector to infect local mosquitoes during peak bird migrations (Anderson et al. 1999). In 2000, scientists from the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin mixed infected birds with healthy birds, and 5–8 days later, both infected and previously healthy birds died. This controlled experiment opened up the level of scientific investigation, ultimately resulting in tests of crows, increased surveillance, public notification, and increased mosquito management efforts, coupled with an intensive monitoring of mortality due to bird-to-bird contact (Nasci et al. 2001). By the end of New York City’s mosquito season in 2000, over 4000 birds were confirmed with West Nile Virus; 76% were American crows. Veterinarians were asked to look for mortalities; horses (58), Myotis bats (14), rabbits (3), gray squirrels (3), raccoons (2), and cats (2). The genomic sequences derived from these animals were found to be directly related to genomic sequences of the West Nile virus strains from the Middle East (Nasci et al. 2001). The natural history of one of the most prolific archenemy and kinship to vertebrates, as Steven Gould (1991) pointed out, was “at a junction so far back in the history of life that all overt signs of common ancestry have been erased by later divergences.” Mosquitoes are the most-studied living organisms known to science, and there are more than 3000 mosquito species worldwide (Melander 1914). Genetic and developmental research advances may place the common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, in close proximity of scientific contributions in evolution studies, but no other insect or arthropod has impacted humans more (Gould 1991). Mosquitoes infect over 700 million people worldwide each year, with malaria being the number-­ one cause of premature human death. Mosquitoes’ association with disease is ­legendary (Rueb 2016). The St. Louis encephalitis in 1933 spread over cities in Missouri, eventually reaching Kentucky and causing 266 deaths; 43 deaths in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1962; and 8 deaths again there in 1977. Out of the hundreds of Culex species worldwide, only a handful are important disease carriers, and species Culex nigripalpus was the culprit in the St. Louis encephalitis outbreaks. A mosquito will bite a wide range of animals, from frogs and deers to humans. It’s the avian species whose blood concentrates the virus and ultimately amplifies the distribution and secondary hosts. Mosquito populations are linked to wet seasons, especially the rainy season of any tropical location. The virus never totally disappears, as it may survive at very low levels. In Florida, scientists’ knowledge of the mosquito’s rain–bird–mosquito cycle allowed for adequate warnings to consider-

Case Study 6: West Nile Virus: A One-Way Ticket from LaGuardia Airport to a New…


ably reduce the human cases of the St. Louis Virus, but changing environments will always have the upper hand (Day 1991). Forty-one U.S. states have mosquito control programs. In 1978, when I worked for the National Park Service at the Gateway National Recreation Area, the seasonal routine was preparing beach-front communities such as Breezy Point for the monitoring of mosquitoes to get a count of larvae for subsequent larvicide applications. There were hotline phone numbers for people to call into the park to report the level of infestation, and when these data were plotted on a map, each phone call was like a stone thrown into a lake, generating ripples of other phone calls that neighbors and friends generated after the initial complaint. After the National Park Service mapped all these hotspots, it was inevitably found that they were a good distance from the bathing beach or outside the parks’ boundary. The general public was making calls to get a spray application of larvicide. There is a constant focus on pesticide use rather than habitat alteration (removal of standing water; properly discarded car tires that can accommodate over 100,000 larvae when filled with water; and the habitat protection of birds that eat insects, such as swallows that consume considerable quantities of adult mosquitos). In New York City in 1999, the West Nile Virus was transferred to humans by mosquitos and caused seven deaths (The New York Times 1999). The West Nile Virus was studied for over 61 years before being detected in the US. The Centers for Disease Control scared the general population by advising that “a two-mile radius for spraying” was required if a dead bird was found to have the West Nile Virus. In 1999, New  York City’s Mayor Rudolph Giuliani ordered the application of Malathion without notice. I was quoted in The Village Voice newspaper that NYC helicopters were “not authorized to make any application of any pesticide over federal lands, specifically the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.” Giuliani was quoted as objecting because people (or the federal government in this case) who objected were guilty of “zealous advocacy” and oblivious to “the importance of human life.” The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge was exempted from aerial applications of the insecticide (Williams 2001). In the end, insects win. Integrated Pest Management, which relies on pesticide to cut back on initial infestations, is effective when the insects’ basic needs are removed: eliminate the habitat; eliminate the pest.


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A Acetylcholine, 61 Acetylcholine receptors, 44 Actinomycetes, 102 Advanced Wastewater Treatment, 101 Aerobic systems, 96 Airline industry, 204 Air pollution, 65 Airports, 203, 205, 206, 209 American Farm Bureau Federation, 194 American Slipper Limpet (Crepidula fornicata), 34 Ammophila breviligulata, 225 Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), 209 Aposematic coloration, 17 Aquatic ecosystems, 8 Aquatic fungi, 102 Arachnea, 42 Army Corps of Engineers, 193, 194, 211, 224 Arthropods, 130 Atlantic City Boardwalk, 52 Atlantic flyway, 132 Atlantic Richfield Oil Company, 188 Atlantic silversides (Menidia menidia), 57 Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, 125 Australopithecines, 129 B Balanus balanoides, 109, 123 Best Control Technology, 96 Beta-napthylamine, 61 Biochemical Oxygen Demand, 97 Biodiversity, 29–31, 33, 37, 42, 43, 45, 46 © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 J. T. Tanacredi, The Redesigned Earth,

Biological diversity the biosphere, 43 biotic impoverishment, 29 cataclysmic proportions, 29 cetaceans, 30 commercial fishing fleets, 33 conservation biologists, 45 conservation efforts, 45 developing ecosystems, 36 diversity of scale, 31 ecological insurance policy, 31 ecological triage, 33 economic dependency, 46 exotics/alien species, 45 feeding condor chicks, 35 fire ecologies, 30, 48 fleming, 43 gamble, 52 genetics, 44 geographic distribution, 42 glassware microcosms, 43 habitat alterations, 46 horseshoe crabs, 35 housing developments and lumber activities, 33 human and ecosystem health, 29 in situ vs. ex situ conservation strategies, 46 inhibitory chemicals, 40 intelligent tinkering, 48 inventory programs, 31 Kingdoms of Life on Earth, 30 land surfaces and pollution control, 49 levels of stability, 40 living matter, 43 marine environment, 45 marine mollusks, 35 251


252 Biological diversity (cont.) marine worms and bivalves, 36 massive energy subsidization, 29 national parks, 46 National Parks in Costa Rica, 50 organism/ecosystem, 46 pharmaceuticals, 31 physical degradation and fragmentation, 34 plant pharmacopoeia, 34 Report Detailing Marsh Loss, 39 salicylic acid/aspirin, 31 self-reinforcing feedback loop, 37 sprawl and mega-development infrastructure projects, 44 stable system, 37 tropical rainforests, 37 un-branching of interactive processes, 40 urban/urbanizing settings, 29 Biome, 5, 8, 9, 15, 19, 55 Biosphere Reserve, 36 Biotechnology, 12 Biotic factors, 8 Bird Hazard Task Force, 205 Bird migratory pathway, 204 Birds, 203, 205, 206, 209 Black-Backed Gulls (Larus marinus), 206 Blue Mussels (Mytilus edulis), 121 Bridge engineering, 217 Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), 197 C Calhoun Street Bridge, 214 Cancer, 33, 44, 45 Cancer drugs, 44 Carbohydrates, 85 Carbon monoxide, 64 Carnivores, 121 Carotenoids, 104 Carrying capacity, 11, 25 Carson, R., 186, 199 Centers for Disease Control, 233 Chlorine, 89, 93 Chrysotile, 65 Civil engineering, 153 Clean Air Act, 189, 199 Clean Water Act, 96, 193, 199 Clostridium botulinum, 135 Club of Earth, 27 The Club of Rome, 181 Coastal estuaries, 107

Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island, 193 Coastal Zone Management Act, 194, 195 Community, 2 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), 58, 198 Coriolis Effect, 114 Costa Rican Alligators, 51 Costa Rican Banana Farms, 51 Council of Economic Advisors, 185 Council on Environmental Quality, 185, 187 Crassostrea virginica, 109, 121 Crepidula fornicata, 108 Critical habitat, 192, 204 Crustacea, 42 Cryptopontius tanacredii, 32 Culex nigripalpus, 232 Cyperus schweinitzii, 130 D Darwin, C., 73 Deforestation, 31, 44, 141 Delaware River Bridge, 213 Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, 213 Delta amino levulinic acid, 63 Department of Agriculture/Federal Aviation Administration, 204 Department of Agriculture’s Animal Damage Control, 205, 206 Department of the Interior, 188 Desulfobacterales, 221 Drosophila melanogaster, 232 E Earle, S.A., 107 Earth Day celebration, 1 Easter Island, 31 Eco-gibberish, 70 Ecological community, 15 Ecological niches, 134 Ecology abiotic influences, 2 adaptability, 13 agricultural development, 13 allelopathic suppression, 16 antique leaves, 15 autecological/synecological, 20 avian flyways, 23 biological and physical sciences, 2 bio-productivity, 6

Index biospheric system, 15 carrying capacity, 7 changing environments and biotic interaction, 1 characteristic network, 1 characteristics, 20 chemical defense mechanisms, 17 climax stage of community development, 17 community, 2 DDT and ecological implications, 14 density-dependent population, 24 density-independent form, 23 density measurements, 11 eco-dynamism, 2 ecological externalities and biomass productivity, 7 economics influence, 12 eco-system, 1 ecosystem structures and functions, 5 energy and distribution system, 20 energy availability and pathways, 2 energy drains, 7 energy efficiencies, 20 energy flow, 2 energy subsidies, 7 exposure, 22 external influences, 8 fertility, 11 fitness, 5 food supply, 24 genetic drift, 24 growth, human population, 12 harsh inner-space environments, 11 human conditions, 13 human population, 16, 26 human quality, 15 interspecific competition, 17, 24 intra-specific chemical interactions, 16 light/incoming solar radiation, 19 marine food webs, 21 marsh peat development, 21 microclimates, 22 moisture, 16, 19 monarch butterflies, 10 monocultures, 7 multidisciplinary field, 1 mutualistic and symbiotic relations, 5 natural ecosystems, 7 natural metabolic pathways, 8 natural populations, 25 natural selection, 10 natural succession, 18 natural systems, 5, 13 nearshore estuarine waters, 6

253 optimum yield prediction, 20 organisms/species, 5, 8, 11 pesticides, 7 physical environment, 2 plants, 18 poor habitats, 25 population density, 8 populations, 11 progress, 6 proximate/ultimate factors, 22 quantitative approaches, 20 relationships and interactions, 1 reproductive strategies, 2 sessile vs. mobile organisms, 11 social behavior, 25 soil conditions, 16 stability, 13 steroids and antibiotic chemicals, 8 structural/functional aspects, 2 temperature tolerance, 18 termites benefit, 8 terrestrial systems, 6 trophic levels and food webs, 4 trophic structure and carrying capacities, 6 urban environments, 13 urban-influenced system, 1 wind, 19 Economics influence, 12 Ecosystem, 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 11, 13, 15, 18, 21, 27 Ecosystem management, 202 Ecotoxicology air-cleaning devices, 67 aniline, 67 bio-accumulation factors, 57 chemical substances, 66 conference, 69 copper, 53 drinking water wells and surface waters, 54 eco-gibberish, 70 ecological effects, 53 ecological genetics and natural selection, 55 effects of toxic pollutants, 53 efficiency, 67 endocrine pathways, 59 environmental engineering aspects, 67 field-reliable analytical instrumentation, 70 food web dynamics, 55 genetic approach, 66 human physiology, 59 industrial melanism, 55 insecticides, 56 interspecies interaction, 58 lung membranes, 61 mercury, 68

254 Ecotoxicology (cont.) mercury-treated seed, 70 mortality, 66 myths, 70 non-metals, 64 occupational toxicology, 61 oil spill, 53 Pb exposure, 63 seed germination, 56 threshold limit values, 62 toxic effects, 58 urbanizing environments, 58 water-quality, 70 winter flounder, 54 Ekman transport, 115 Endangered Species Act (ESA), 191 Energy distribution, 3 Energy flow, 2 Energy Policy Act of 2005, 197 Entropy, 5 Environmental Defense Fund, 199 Environmental law action-forcing, 185 automobile/transportation industry, 186 critical habitat, 192 ecology, 190 environmental impact statement, 188 human memory, 198 physical impacts, 189 Silent Spring, 186 water and air quality, 186 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 57, 194 Environmental risk assessment air and water contamination, 171 anthropogenic stressors, 178 aquatic ecosystem, 181 assessment to risk characterization, 168 assumptions, 182 behaviors, 175 biological organization, 178 bottom-line approach, 166 characteristics, subpopulation, 169 community, 170 community assessment, 175 community-level approach, 175 community-level assessment, 180 depressed growth and development rates, 174 dramatic environmental events, 166 ecological health assessments, 172 ecological risk assessment, 172 elements, 180 exposure assessment, 176

Index exposure pathways, 170 exposure to toxins, 175 field verification, 178 groundwater, 177 habitat loss, 173 human health, 176 mathematical and statistical methods, 181 mortality, 173 multi-dimensionality, 173 organisms, 178 population effects, 173 population reduction, 172 reproductive impairment, 173 risk assessment, 167 risk of hurricanes, 182 scoping, 166 state-of-the-art process, 166 stress-response relationships, 176 toxic effects, 179 toxicity risk assessment, 167 wild birds, 177 xenobiotics, 175 Epidemiology, 83, 87 Escherichia coli, 103 Ethylene oxide, 59 Eurkaryotes, 30 European Periwinkle (Littorina littorea), 34 Eutrophication, 88, 143 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, 71 F Federal Aviation Administration, 205 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 195 Federal Oil & Gas Royalty Management Act, 197 Federal Stratton Commission Report of 1969, 194 Filters-caps contamination, 67 First Law of Thermodynamics, 5 Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 196 Floyd Bennett Field, 130, 133 Food supply, 24 Food webs, 4, 20, 21, 42 Forest fires, 129, 138 Forest Service’s, 135 Fountain Avenue Landfill (FAL), 228, 230 Freshwater ecosystem, 143 Fugitive Dust Disease, 65 Fungi, 102

Index G Gas chromatography, 68 Gateway National Recreation Area, 132, 222, 227, 233 Genetic engineering bird species, 81 characteristics of species, 75 climatic and biotic factors, 80 cline, 80 community structure, 73 conservation biology, 82 ecological studies, 80 evolution, 73 experiential factor, 82 fitness, 75 galapagos finches, 76 gene flow, 80, 82 genetic divergence, 75 geographic isolation, 75, 81 heterozygotes, 79 isolating mechanisms, 76 isolation, 73 modern synthesis, 73 mutation and non-visible mutations, 78 mutations, 73 natural selection, 78 organisms, 79 phenotype/canalization, 79 populations/niche competition, 74 population’s variation and genetics influences, 77 positive and negative potential, 74 sexual reproduction, 78 sexual selection, 75 speciation, 75, 80 species concept, 75 species-specific tolerances, 76 stem cell research, 74 Genotype, 75, 77–80 Geographic Information Systems (GIS), 134 Geographic isolation, 75, 81 Geological formation, 6 Geotrichum candidum, 102 GLDH glutamate dehydrogenase, 62 Global population, 12, 26 Gorges Dam Project on China’s Yangtze River, 211 Gowanus canal restoration, 217, 219, 222 Gram stains, 86 Grasshopper Sparrows, 58 Grassland Management Project at Floyd Bennett Field, 134 Grasslands Management Program Project, 58 Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 39, 49

255 Greenhouse gases, 2 Green Revolution, 12 Groundwater, 88, 89 H Habitat loss, 40, 47 Halogenated hydrocarbons, 59, 61 Hardy-Weinberg Law, 10, 25 Hardy-Weinberg Principle, 78 Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research Program, 139 Hatters syndrome, 62 Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus), 206 Heterotrophs, 4 Holomixis, 149 Homarus americanus, 36 Home range, 25 Hooker Chemical Company, 171, 172 Hudson River by General Electric (GE), 168 Hudson River fisheries, 194 Human health, 60, 62, 64, 83 Hurricanes, 166, 182 Hybridization, 77, 80 Hybrids, 16 Hydrologic cycle, 143, 153 Hydropower, 153, 161 Hydroxylamines, 88 I Industrial Revolution, 59, 190 Industrial wastes, 96 Inorganic insecticides, 61 Insecticide, 56, 60, 62 Integrated Pest Control, 49 Integrated Pest Management, 13, 137, 138 International Code of Signals, 224 International Council on Aviation Operations, 206 International Mussel Watch program, 57 Invasive plants, 141 The Island of the Colorblind, 172 J Jamaica Bay, 214 Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, 222, 233 Japan Ministry of Health and Welfare, 69 K Koch, R., 43

256 L Lake nutrient cycle, 152 Land Ethic, 129 Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla), 204 Light intensity, 19 Lime-soda process, 93 Limnological systems acid rain vulnerability, 157 agricultural practices, 159 artificial stabilization techniques, 146 characteristics, Lakes, 146 climax ecosystem, 145 cold-temperature waters, 150 cultural eutrophication, 151 dams, 153 disclimax cyclic replacement, 146 Earth’s rotation, 143 eutrophic lakes, 152 evaporation, 154 evapotranspiration, 154 farmers, 160 flood plain storm flows, 156 freshwater ecosystems, 143 human activities, 159 human and animal actions, 148 hydrologic cycle, 145 lakes, 146 light penetration, 149 long island groundwater aquifers, 144 lotic systems, 144 mature soils, 157 nutrient cycles, 152 nutrient-limiting factors, 152 organic acids, 151 phylum distribution on earth, 147 physical factors, 145 soil agronomists, 159 solubility of gases, 149 surface layer of groundwater, 157 surface soils, 157 temperature and pond water density, 148 thermal conditions, 151 top zone, characteristics, 144 wetlands, 154, 161 Limulus polyphemus, 109 Lincoln Index, 11 Lipoproteins, 85 Long Island, 110, 116, 124, 125 Long Island Association of Commerce and Industry, 216 Long Island Regional Planning Board, 136 Long-Term Monitoring Networks, 57 Love Canal, 170, 172 Lung disease, 62

Index M Marine and estuarine ecology active convergent/divergent tectonic plate distribution, 112 black sand (lava) beaches, 116 coastal animal and plant inhabitants, 120 coastal macroflora distribution, 118 coastal spits, 116 coastal zone, 107 cold waters, 114 depth of frictional influence, 114 Detritus Food Web, 122 earth’s geological history and species’ time ranges, 110 erosional coastlines, 116 estuaries, 117 fresh and saltwater, 118 grazing organisms, 108 groundwater aquifers, 120 human habitation and societal demands, 107 hydrogen bonds, 113 interplay, 108 marine waters, 114 microfauna, 120 net water movement, 114 nutrients, 107 oceanic ridges, 109 organic content, 122 photosynthesis, 108, 114 physiological adaptations, 122 plate-tectonic concepts, 112 plate-tectonic forces, 109 plate tectonics and continental drift, 111 Plate Tectonics’ Influence on Global Fossil Distribution, 113 Polychaeta worms/bryozoans, 120 progressive tide wave, 118 salinity distribution, 118 sedimentation/sediment, 119 sediments, 121 storm protection, 108 suspension-feeding organisms, 121 temperature, 123 tidal pools and rocky shores, 109 water temperatures, 124 wave actions, 109 Winter flounder, 125 Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, 192 Mass-balance analyses, 1 Mayr, E., 81 Mercury, 68 Metabolic by-products, 61 Methylococcaceae, 221 Microbes, 102



Microbiota, 130 Microfauna, 120 Microflora, 87, 130 Micrometeorology influences, 5 Micro-method, 67 Microtox system, 57 Minamata Bay, 173 Minerals Management Service, 197 “Miracle on the Hudson” plane, 204 Mississippi River, 199 Mixed functional oxidases (MFO), 57 Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), 8 Mosquito monitoring, 231 Mosquitoes, 105 Mucoproteins, 85 Mytilus edulis, 109

New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation, 172 Niagara City Board of Education, 171 Nile River, 153 1911-1912 Smithsonian Institution’s Biological Survey of the Panama Canal Zone, 45 Nucleic acids, 85

N National Academy of Sciences, 195 National Association of Homebuilders, 194 National Center for Environmental Assessment, 170 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 185, 187–189 National Environmental Protection Act, 199 National Flood Insurance Program, 195 National Forest Management Act, 136 National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 66 National Park Service, 47, 205, 206, 209, 222, 224, 226, 227, 233 National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area, 47, 58, 133, 204 National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, 96 National Population Growth Policy, 188 National Standard Thresholds, 167 National Wildlife Refuge, 204 Natural Research Council, 172 Natural Resources Damage Assessment, 198 Natural Resources Defense Council, 199 Natural selection, 73, 75–77, 80 Nemesis Hypothesis, 43 New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium, 224 New York City Department of Environmental Protection, 227, 230 New York City parklands (NYC), 222 New York City Parks, 227 New York Harbor, 226 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 227 New York State Department of Transportation, 216

P Paleomagnetism, 112 Pangea, 112 Paraná River, 12 PCBs wetlands, 195 Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill, 228 Peppered Moth (Biston betularia), 55 Pesticide resistance, 56 Pesticides, 7 Phenotype, 73, 76–78, 80 Photosynthesis, 22, 88, 104, 108, 151 Phragmites, 55 Phragmites australis, 48 Phragmites communis, 36 Phylum Chlorophyta, 87 Phylum Euglenophyta, 87 Phylum Phaeophyta, 87 Phylum Pyrrophyta, 87 Pine Barrens Society, 136 Pin Oak (Quercus palustris), 49 Pleiotropy, 77 Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), 60, 168, 193 Polymorphism, 77 Polynucleated aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), 96 Population density, 8 Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs), 198 Proteins, 84, 88 Protozoa, 102 Pulmonary edema, 61

O Oceanographers, 107 Oil spills, 185, 196, 197, 199 Organic compounds, 61, 70 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 197 Oysters, 121

R Reasonable Maximum Exposure, 169 Recreation, 222 Red Blood Cells, 63


258 Replenishment, 226 Reproductive impairment, 173, 178 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 58 Restoration, 224, 226, 227 Return-a-Gift to Wildlife, 58 Risk Assessment & Management Commission, 198 The Rivet Poppers, 40 S Salinity, 108, 114, 117, 118, 120, 123, 124 Sandy Hook Beach, 222, 224, 227 Sanitary landfill, 227, 230 Sanitary microbiology, 87 cholera and tuberculosis, 84 common aquatic bacteria, 86 disinfection practices, 90 DO concentration, 98 enzymes, 84 epidemiology, 83 family medicine, 83 filamentous organisms, 101 filter beds, 91 freshwater, 88 global hydrologic distribution, 89 groundwater, 89 historic sludge disposal, NYC, 92 hydrolysis of nucleic acids, 85 light absorption, 103 living tissue, 83 methane gas, 98 microbiological conditions, 105 microbiological environment and influence, 84 micro-organisms, 105 municipal sewer systems, 93 New York City Water Pollution Control System, 94 nucleic acids, 85 open-jointed/perforated pipe, 94 organic matter, 97 oxygen depletion, 88 oxygen recovery, 88 pesticides and endotoxin diseases, 105 physical processes, 85 physiological characteristics, 85 plant pigments, 104 prokaryotic cells, 86 proteins, 84 rainfall, 89 RNA viruses, 101 septic system, 95 sewage, 100

sludge digester, 100 spin of electrons, 104 tertiary treatment, 101 treatment process, 91 viruses and protista, 85 wastewater treatment, 98, 99, 101 Saprotrophic organisms, 130 Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), 8 Seawater chemistry, 113 Second Law of Thermodynamics, 5 Septic tank, 93 Serpentine, 22 Shore erosion, 120 Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant, 215 Shoreline erosion, 224 Silicosis, 65 Siliqua costata, 123 Soil porosity, 134 Solar radiation, 3, 5 Spartina alterniflora, 38, 48 Species competition, 8 Species extinction, 34, 40, 140 Sphaerotilus natans, 102 State Environmental Quality Review Acts, 187 State Pollution Discharge Elimination System, 97 Succession, 8, 17, 18 Superfund, 58, 169, 172, 181, 193 Superfund Law, 167 T Tectonic subduction, 109 Terrestrial ecology anti-sprawlers, 142 bio-contaminants and acid fogs, 140 biologically derived pesticides, 137 biotic zones, 132 crown fires, 139 decomposers, 130 degrees of associations, 130 ecological niches, 134 ecologists, 136 ecosystem management, 134 ecosystems, 140 ecotone boundary, 142 flyways, 132 forest protection, 135, 136 fungal growth, 134 grassland habitat, 134 harsh environments, 138 highways, 132

Index human impact, 140 invasive plants, 141 long-term effects, 138 minerals, 135 moisture, 129 natural stove police, 141 organic matter, 134 plant growth, 137 transpiration, 129 vegetative types and distributions, 129 visual impairments and impacts, 140 wildlife breeding, 135 Threshold Limit Values (TLV), 64 Transportation planners, 211 U U.S. Coast Guard, 211 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Damage Control Agency, 204 U.S. Department of Transportation, 206, 209, 211 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 96, 137, 166, 167, 172, 175, 189 U.S. Forest Service, 135, 136, 191 U.S. National Forest Service, 135 U.S. National Policy, 187 Upper Glacial Aquifer, 230 Urban sprawl, 141, 153, 166, 186 Urban systems, 45 Urosalpinx, 108 Urosalpinx cinerea, 121 USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, 232 Utilization efficiencies, 20 U-V spectrophotometry, 68

259 V Vandalia Dunes, 227 Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus), 8 Visible light energy, 2 W Wake Turbulence Vortex, 207 Wastewater treatment, 84, 96, 98, 102, 105 Water, 211, 213, 215, 216 West Nile virus, 138, 231, 233 Wetlands, 48, 52 Wilderness Act, 42 Wildlife Conservation Society, 141 Wildlife Management Agency, 204 Winter flounder, 44, 124 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 110 World Commission on Dams, 161 World Conservation Strategy, 16 World Heritage Program, 192 World Wildlife Fund, 29 X Xenobiotics, 58, 70, 105 Y Yangtze Drainage Basin, 163 Yangtze River, 153, 211 Yellowstone National Park, 46, 47 Z Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), 34