- Jun 8, 2005
aserdaten said:Cougars in Florida ???
Don't know about cougars, but panthers do exist here and are listed as an endangered species, I believe. They are on one of the money-producing non-profit special license plates, of which I have one. Money raised from them (I believe it's $25 per year) goes toward environmental causes. It is one of the most popular special plates, possibly second only to the manatee. If any questions on this subject, I should be able to research it for you.
Yep! Them's "Florida cougars" (or "painters","panthers", "catamounts", "long-tailed cats", "pumas", and "mountain lions" as well). Some wildlife biologists like to promote the idea that they have been geographically isolated from the main continental population of cougars long enough to have gained subspecies status. Let's see... 150 years? 250 at most? Hardly enough for subspecific differentiation. The few "pure" (if such still exist) "Florida panthers" are sufficiently inbred to be discernible from the rest of the continental population on the basis of DNA - but only as inbreds, not as a separate species or subspecies.
Bottom line? I'd suggest that we be more than a little sceptical when some biologists (particularly those getting beaucoups federal funds to study their favorite geographically isolated "remnant" population of an "endangered subspecies" - or funds from special license plates...) go to considerable lengths to convince everyone that their favorite "remnant population" is REALLY an endangered subspecies. I'll buy it that they are an endangered isolated subpopuation; such are the wages of living on the same planet with Homo sapiens, but an "endangered subspecies"? ... Naaaah.
Hell, every critter that lives on a vacant lot that's about to be turned into a parking lot is a member of an "endangered subpopulation"
The Florida cougars / panthers are no more "different subspecies" than are the various culturally and/or geographically isolated small human populations that have undergone inbreeding (similarly determinable by DNA analysis).
Another vaunted endangered "subspecies" is the so-called "Attwater's" prairie chicken. They are, in my (ever-so-humble) opinion, just remnants of the formerly extensive central Great Plains population of prairie chickens that persist in two woefully isolated micropopulations on the Texas coastal plain ever since habitat loss and destruction drove the rest of the prairie chicken population well north of Texas within the past century. As federal research funds dwindle, I'd not be surprised to hear a cry for increased funding for preservation of the "Eastern Atwatter's" prairie chicken ... or the "Western" one ... whatever.
O.K. Once again I out myself as an inveterate "lumper". So be it. Google these "species" and you'll find a plethora of arguments counter to mine. But go to the primary sources of the literature and you'll find researchers whose livelihoods are dependent upon the "survival" of these "endangered" populations. Just because some creature is demonstrably the product of a shallow, slowly drying bayou of the gene pool, doesn't, ipso facto, qualify it as a new species or even subspecies.
None of the above is meant to denegrate the heroic - and often woefully inadequate - efforts being made to preserve and promote the recovery of truly endangered and threatened species as wild, self-sustaining populations. Our earth's most significant resource is, in fact, what remains of its biological diversity. Expending efforts on so-called "preservation" of remnant, isolated, subpopulations with a high coefficient of inbreeding -and local economic significance as a tourist draw... - is an unwarranted wastage of efforts better directed toward preservation and recovery of truly endangered species.
Well... there we are... Wow! Glad to get THAT off my chest!
And I hope you all had a good day too!