Friday Flashback: Dr. Peter Moyle: Novel Ecosystems of the Suisun Marsh and the Delta – A New Reality

Moyle diagramFrom the archives of Maven’s Notebook:

Originally published: December 18, 2014

The Delta of our modern times bears little resemblance to its historical self, a mix of native and non-native species existing in an environment that has been long been sculpted to suit society’s purposes.  Dr. Peter Moyle, Associate Director for UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and professor with the Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology Department, describes the resulting Delta ecosystem as ‘novel’, and in this presentation from the 2014 Bay Delta Science Conference, argues that these novel ecosystems can be fairly stable and resilient, as well as presumably manipulated to some degree to generate favorable outcomes.

MOYLE_311Thur_PM2_BDSC2014_Page_02He began by saying that most aquatic ecosystems in California are novel ecosystems. “They have a superficial resemblance to the historic systems,” he said. “They sort of look good, but they’re irreversibly altered, physically, and chemically. They are very different in many respects from the historic systems that were there, and they contain mixtures of native and alien species.”

He pointed out that most of our aquatic systems are more species-rich today than they were historically. “What we don’t know is how novel they are in structure and function,” he said. “My guess is that they pretty much function the same way, but with many new nuances of structure and function because of the species that make them up.

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