The importance of feces

Discussions on the interactions between components of the environment and their effects on all types of organisms.

Re: The importance of feces

Postby Braininvat on March 2nd, 2017, 1:46 pm 

I am drawing a blank as to what QI stands for. Queen Isabel? Quantum Ideas? Questions Intestinal?
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Re: The importance of feces

Postby zetreque on March 2nd, 2017, 2:13 pm 

BadgerJelly » Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:59 am wrote:
Regardless, out of curiosity I am wondering what effect such a decrease in fecal matter in our oceans would do to global ecology?


I am not at all convinced that land animal poo has been reduced entering oceans in any significant way (in recent times). Sewage plants around the world are usually near the coasts and too much fecal matter does cause anoxic environments(oxygen deprived deadly water)! As for domestic animals, many people feed their dogs such garbage, have you ever watched it try to decompose in the forest? It looks so out of place. Almost like a pile of glowing gelatinous plastic in the forest and I feel sorry for the dogs that get diarrhea looking stuff. Domestic animal poo is nothing like wild life poo (unless the wildlife is feeding out of dumpsters).

First we should establish the answer to that question before figuring out how less land animal waste would affect the oceans.

Another problem that is significant and possibly why "they" made the claim of less waste reaching the ocean is the human consumption of water. Less water flows out to see because we simply consume it. Example: the colorado river. But I can't imagine enough natural land animals that lived along the ancient Colorado River. It's no doubt the amount and composition of water reaching the oceans from rivers has changed in the anthropocene, but I can't think of how land natural animal feces is the significant problem there.

Loss of estuaries affects the deeper ocean wildlife and ocean food web.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estuary#I ... arine_life
Phytoplankton are key primary producers in estuaries. They move with the water bodies and can be flushed in and out with the tides. Their productivity is largely dependent upon the turbidity of the water. The main phytoplankton present are diatoms and dinoflagellates which are abundant in the sediment.

It is important to remember that a primary source of food for many organisms on estuaries, including bacteria, is detritus from the settlement of the sedimentation.



*If we are talking 10,000 years ago I could imagine great herds of bison in the US and other animals around the world depositing fecal matter into rivers. Maybe this is what the unknown source you have was talking about. We could look up statistics of the decline in large land mammals on different continents like Africa over recent times.

I also think the nature or composition of that fecal matter is far different from the type that enters the oceans today.

It's certainly not fecal matter that is the problem at the moment.

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Re: The importance of feces

Postby Braininvat on March 2nd, 2017, 2:33 pm 

I think there are important questions of distribution and trophic distance here. How far does manure from grazing animals travel from where it's deposited on the ground? Does most of it break down near its initial spot and end up in adjacent soil where it is used by land plants? I know there are species that have instincts about not defecating too close to water, for various reasons. Herd animals would make their water hole unpotable if they concentrated manure right next to it. Predators defecating near water source would reveal their presence and possibly deter their prey from approaching it.
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Re: The importance of feces

Postby zetreque on March 2nd, 2017, 2:38 pm 

Braininvat » Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:33 am wrote:I know there are species that have instincts about not defecating too close to water, for various reasons. Herd animals would make their water hole unpotable if they concentrated manure right next to it. Predators defecating near water source would reveal their presence and possibly deter their prey from approaching it.


Interesting, What animals do that?
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Re: The importance of feces

Postby Braininvat on March 2nd, 2017, 3:04 pm 

You're going to make me dig for a citation, since it's been so long since I read about this. What I recall is that it has a lot to do with social structure, dominance, predator/prey interaction. Dominant felines leave their poop uncovered, to assert their dominance and territorial rights. For them, advertising to other felines outweighs any advantage from concealing from prey. Submissive felines bury the poop. Dogs are more scavengers, so they just plop and drop and then scratch the ground to make a little visual arrow for other dogs. Species like mink and weasel always bury, so as not to alert predators. Larger herd animals can't really bury it, and they are so obvious to predators that it wouldn't really matter, so they have the standard safety-in-numbers approach. I need to find a citation, as I'm not sure how all the above deal with watering holes. I think it relates to how vulnerable your species is while getting a drink - that would seem fairly intuitive. And also, if we are talking herd animals, how much bacterial content is in their manure. I've seen cattle ponds out here with a lot of dung around them and nobody on the ranch thinks that's a problem.
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