Guest commentary: Best of Vasey's blogs

Editor’s note: “Collier 101: Where to learn about ecology and have fun’’ is a new Daily News blog by Dennis “Duke” Vasey of North Naples. Here are two of his posts; all reader blogs are available at naplesnews.com/blogs

Road kill

Collier County staff needs to recognize that species losses triggered a collapse of a food web that can’t be restored on the backs of land owners and taxpayers. Food webs describe the pattern of what eats what in the neighborhood. If one species disappears, creatures that fed on it would need to find another lunch. If they couldn’t, or if alternative entrees became extinct too, then the loss would trigger a cascade of extinctions. In some cases, it would unravel the whole food web, and guesses about what was here at one time won’t lead to a scientific solution of what will live here now.

The problem of how ecosystems are likely to respond to the loss of species is quite important, particularly in light of how many different ways human activities are resulting in the local extinctions of populations.

Since there is no species ranking system outside the Endangered Species Act of 1973, it’s time the county took a scientific stab at species importance, or value to searchers, based on the importance based on the species that eat them.

With intensive monitoring of public lands, staff could account for the fact that anything can’t eat just anything. Energy does not go from the grass to the lion without going through the zebra. To do the job right, staff would need to add a path to a “detritus pool,” so all species can die and become nutrients for primary producers.

* * *

Water flows downhill!

The 10-year-old South Florida Water Management District study did not include Bonita Springs. Because of flooding last year in parts of east Bonita, the council decided it needed its own. Bonita Springs Mayor Ben Nelson said the city is in a more precarious situation than Estero because of its history of flooding.

“In a perfect world, it would be great to have one study,” Nelson said. “The reason I’m in favor of a split study is because, politically, this city council is going to end up with incredibly heavy lifting ... asking people to leave their homes, telling people you’re going to flood periodically.”

And all the water flows past Mirasol, a project that was at the center of a long-running legal fight over wetlands and wood stork habitat, etc., and into the Cocohatchee Slough north of Immokalee Road and west of Collier Boulevard. (Reference: Daily News article, http://tinyurl.com/ybj5zrf.)

There is standing water from the path north and soon it will flow over the spillway. What’s going to happen when the area gets squeezed with roads, driveways and homes?

Do you live on the south side of Immokalee Road between Preserve Lane and Cypress Woods: Are you enjoying more standing water?

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