Friday, February 11, 2011

Mighty Microbes

        I have written from time to time about birds and animals....rabbits, deer, merlins, geese... Some bloggers I follow write about white tailed deer, turkeys, turkey vultures, magpies, harlequin ducks, Canada geese, gray jays, swans, moose, bohemian waxwings goldfinches roses. My list could be very long as about a dozen blogs I follow post on a regular basis about plants or animals. They are all excellent posts ...informative and well illustrated. All of these are rather sexy topics. People really like Bambi stories!

       I have never seen microbes covered in any of the blogs I follow yet microbes are very basic to life and crucial in many cases for life to continue. For example, we have about 40 000 different kinds of microbes in our gut. Most of these are very necessary to keep body functioning properly. If some microbes become over or under populated we usually have a problem. I was diagnosed with one little guy that was too populous and was given an antibiotic to knock down the population. So I ended up with less gas which was great.

      Our soil and water is populated with millions of microbes. When the prairies were ploughed first the  soil was very fertile. After cropping for a few years the microbes were depleted so we started using fertilizer and chemicals. Before the prairie was plowed there was equilibrium with carbon contained in the soil. Now much less carbon can be absorbed in our soil because the little microbes which do the job are almost gone.

    Forests and plants are full of and covered with microbes.

    Where am I going with this? I am a naturalist. (NOT a naturist. I keep my clothes on.) I hope to preserve as much natural habitat as possible. My friends keep saying that it's not being made anymore. Many would have us think that plants and animals we raise can replace the natural habitat. It doesn't. It usually brings problems. Mono cultures of plants are very susceptible to disease. Invasive species come in and compete with the natural habitat and destroy it. In the Chicago Wilderness Area area hundreds of millions of dollars are spent to bring back the natural habitat in the area.

     We have cleared much native habitat for agriculture so the native habitat which is left is fragmented and when not connected many species do not cope well. As a child, on the "isolated farm" less than half the land was cleared. There was an abundance of wildlife under those conditions. Today about 98% of that land is used for agriculture. It's like a desert as far as the population of native species is concerned.

    So I hope that if we look out for the mighty microbes we will also help the larger sexier species as well.