Re: NANFA-- Conservation Movement website

Jay DeLong (
Wed, 17 Jan 2001 13:24:46 -0800


Here are a few interesting quotes are from George Perkins Marsh, from his
1864 book Man and Nature (revised 1874 as The Earth as Modified by Human
Action). Clearly this guy was insightful before his time-- 100 years before
ecology as science became "popular". Again, these came from a website
called "The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920" at I thought it was
interesting to see ideas on alien species as part of this historic timeline:

On intentional introductions of alien plants to the US:
"Whenever man has transported a plant from its native habitat to a new
soil, he has introduced a new geographical force to act upon it, and this
generally at the expense of some indigenous growth which the foreign
vegetable has supplanted. The new and the old plants are rarely the
equivalents of each other, and the substitution of an exotic for a native
tree, shrub, or grass, increases or diminishes the relative importance of
the vegetable element in the geography of the country to which it is removed."

On the Suez Canal:
"If the Suez Canal-the greatest and most truly cosmopolite physical
improvement ever undertaken by man-shall prove succesful, it will
considerably affect the basins of the Mediterranean and of the Red Sea...
it will, no doubt, produce very interesting revolutions in the animal and
vegetable population of both basins. The Mediterranean, with some local
exceptions-such as the bays of Calabria, and the coast of Sicily so
picturesquely described by Quatrefages- is comparatively poor in marine
vegetation, and in shell as well as in fin fish. The scarcity of fish in
some of its gulfs is proverbial, and you may scrutinize long stretches of
beach on its northern shores, after every wind for a whole winter, without
finding a dozen shells to reward your search. But no one who has not looked
down into tropical or subtropical seas can conceive the amazing wealth of
the Red Sea in organic life. Its bottom is carpeted or paved with marine
plants, with zoophytes and with shells, while its waters are teeming with
infinitely varied forms of moving life. Most of its vegetables and its
animals, no doubt, are confined by the laws of their organization to warmer
temperatures than that of the Mediterranean, but among them there must be
many, whose habitat is of a wider range, many whose powers of accommodation
would enable them to acclimate themselves in a colder sea."

"We may suppose the less numerous aquatic fauna and flora of the
Mediterranean to be equally capable of climatic adaption, and hence, when
the canal shall be opened, there will be an interchange of the organic
population not already common to both seas. Destructive species, thus newly
introduced, may diminish the numbers of their proper prey in either basin,
and, on the other hand, the increased supply of appropriate food may
greatly multiply the abundance of others"

Jay DeLong
Olympia, WA

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