Living Landscapes

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2005

Last revision: Nov. 22, 2010

I once listened to a speaker talk about “living landscapes,” and I liked that. The land is living. The soils support plants, the plants produce animals. We live, work and play in a land that is very much alive.

It’s easy to be aware of the species we know and like, such as eastern bluebirds, purple coneflowers and white-tailed deer. People harbor them, encourage their favorite species and, when necessary, protect them.

The living landscape, however, contains many more species. Most of these escape our notice. They include the plants and insects that form the food chain of our most likeable animals, as well as species, like the bluestripe darter, that we seldom encounter because they only inhabit wild places.

All living things exist in an utterly complex relationship that includes terrestrial and aquatic, familiar and unfamiliar, and large and small plants and animals.

Missouri is a biological wonderland. We have 212 species of native fish in the state, and more than 400 species of birds, 167 of which live and breed in the state.

In addition to our many species of crayfish, lizards, snakes, salamanders, bats, frogs and toads, we have hundreds of species of butterflies, thousands of species of moths and tens of thousands of invertebrate animals, such as snails, earthworms, spiders and beetles.

Plants make this complex web of life possible. More than 2,770 species of plants grow in Missouri. A little more than 2,000 of them are native to the state. We all like oak trees, but did you know that there are more than 21 different species of oak trees in Missouri? We also have 35 species of native orchids.

The web of life is so complex, it’s nearly impossible even to name all the parts, much less to trace the relationships among all the species.

All Wildlife Conservation

All Wildlife Conservation is about conserving all plants and animals, and the natural systems they depend upon.

This approach of looking at entire natural communities differs from traditional fish and wildlife management, which focuses on single species. Focused management may be necessary to produce an abundance of a species like deer or turkey, but it’s too narrow an approach for the diversity we have in Missouri.

The same goes for endangered species management. This approach is best considered emergency conservation that is necessary to prevent the extinction of a species.

All Wildlife Conservation is inclusive and comprehensive. It’s about nurturing the conditions that nurture the parts—all the parts.

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