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SHOREBIRDS  May 2007

SHOREBIRDS May 2007

Subject:

Re: Red Knot - Extinction Question

From:

rsheil <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

rsheil <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 29 May 2007 21:16:40 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (145 lines)

"Global shorebird experts say the red knot is the most endangered shorebird
in the world," Stiles said. "They predict that unless immediate action is
taken, the red knot will be extinct by 2010."

--Eric Stiles cited by James Merriweather in The News Journal (6/8/2005)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
by Eric Stiles
Vice President for Conservation and Stewardship

"On Thursday, June 2, 2005 I stood among the global giants of shorebird
scientists.  Experts from three continents briefed the New Jersey and
Delaware Congressional delegation on the fate of the Red Knot rufa
subspecies; we are looking at certain extinction by 2010, absent bold
action - an immediate moratorium on the harvest of Horseshoe Crabs and
emergency federal listing of the Red Knot rufa subspecies.  2005 Red Knot
counts from Tierra del Fuego continue to support the 2010 extinction model
published by leading ornithologists from 4 continents."

---------------------------------------------------------------------

More from NJ Audubon:
"Below are the most salient points outlining the urgency of this need:

  1.. Baker et al. (2004) reported that the Red Knot migrating through
Delaware Bay will be at or near extinction by 2010."
---------------------------------------------------------------------
From the Emergency Petition to the USF&WS signed by American Bird
Conservancy, Audubon MD-DC, Audubon NY, DEl. Audubon, and NJ Audubon:

"Also in 2004, Baker and his colleagues published a model predicting
continued significant decline of C. c. rufa resulting in extinction in or
about 2010 (Baker et al. 2004)."

----------------------------------------------------------------------

   Mark,
       I haven't read the original paper but am basing my criticism of the
extinction claims based on dozens (actually hundreds) of reports eminating
from the above sources citing your paper.  Does your paper, or does it not,
predict extinction at or near 2010 for rufa Red Knot?  If it does not, then
why is this claim being repeatedly made by all of the parties involved, and
referenced to the paper which you co-authored (Baker et al, 2004), as I've
demonstrated above?  I'm glad to see that you agree that rufa Red Knots will
not be extinct by 2010, but why then are you and the other co-authors
allowing this claim to be made in your name?

      My criticism is very specific.  It is solely to the claim of
extinction by 2010, or even near, and nothing more.  In no way do I doubt
the rapid decline or the causes, and I support the moratorium on the harvest
of horseshoe crabs and other conservation measures.  However, the rufa Red
Knot will not be at or even anywhere near extinction by 2010.  I first
publicly stated my criticism of this claim in June of 2005.  I think that
this example illustrates how flawed such mathematical models are that
attempt to make specific predictions regarding the behaviour of dynamic,
adaptable organisms.  The only thing that is predictable is the inherent
error in such modeling.

     In regards to the various well intentioned conservation organizations
that have apparently inflated the extinction prediction even further (see NJ
Audubon's "certain extinction by 2010"), truthful, accurate, and responsible
statements from all those concerned would lend more credibility to the
conservation movement.  Conversely, inaccurate, exaggerated, unscientific
'predictions' that will inevitably fail, and that are employed for political
and financial purposes on their part, will hurt the long term credibility of
conservation efforts in this and especially in future instances.

Richard S. Heil
S. Peabody, MA
[log in to unmask]




----- Original Message -----
From: "Jean Iron" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 11:00 AM
Subject: [SHOREBIRDS] Red Knot - Extinction Question


> Richard Heil of S. Peabody, MA asked on 25 May 2007, "I'm wondering
> if Baker et al. (2004) have backed off their silly extinction by 2010
> claim for rufa Red Knot yet? NJ Audubon certainly is still using it
> in their campaign to halt Horseshoe Crab harvesting in Delaware Bay."
> We asked one of the authors, Mark Peck of the Royal Ontario Museum,
> to comment. Mark is part of an international team studying Red Knots
> on the breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic, at staging areas such
> as New Jersey, and on the wintering grounds in Florida and South
> America. See Mark Peck's response below.
>
> Ron Pittaway and Jean Iron
> Ontario Field Ornithologists
> Minden and Toronto ON
> Email: [log in to unmask]
>
> Mark emailed us today - 29 May 2007, "Just got back early Saturday
> morning from New Jersey. Red Knot numbers were low in New Jersey but
> were pretty good in Delaware. They are still no where close to what
> they were in the 1980s. As for our paper (Baker et al. 2004), the
> results were based on models using historical data and recent noted
> declines in Red Knots, specifically 1998-2001. The models/paper
> indicated the "population is predicted to approach extremely low
> numbers by 2010 when the probability of extinction will be
> correspondingly higher than it is today. It never said they will be
> extinct. As we all know models depend on the information they are
> given and are by no means guaranteed. Numbers in the last year seem
> to have leveled off somewhat and I agree that it is unlikely the rufa
> population will be gone by 2010. This does not mean that we should
> not be concerned or we should consider the paper or the results
> silly. The fact is Red Knots have gone through a tremendous decline
> in the last 25 years. The decline is real and the problems are not
> over. We are still not clear about all of the causes and to make
> matters worse the horseshoe crab moratorium is near its end in New
> Jersey and may not be reinstated.
>         I agree that it is unlikely that Red Knots will be gone from the
> eastern United States by 2010. However, I also believe the writer is
> missing the point of the paper by failing to look at the big picture.
> The paper points to a serious decline and very serious problems with
> the rufa subspecies. If the model is wrong and the population hangs
> on until 2015 or 2020 and we do nothing, we have still failed. Our
> paper is published in a respected refereed journal and should be
> considered a warning bell based on data. Those data may not be
> perfect and people may be misinterpreting the results, but the fact
> remains that humans and rufa Red Knots have a problem. By the way,
> Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones are not doing well either."
>
> Literature Cited: Baker, Allan J., Patricia M. Gonzalez, Theunis
> Piersma, Lawrence J. Niles, Ines de Lima Serrano do Nascimento,
> Phillip W. Atkinson, Nigel A. Clark, Clive D.T. Minton, Mark K. Peck,
> and Geert Aarts. 2004. Rapid population declines in red knots:
> fitness consequences of decreased refueling rates and late arrival in
> Delaware Bay. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (B). 271:
875-882.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Mark Peck
> Ornithology/Department of Natural History
> Royal Ontario Museum
> 100 Queen's Park
> Toronto ON Canada M5S 2C6
> Email: [log in to unmask]
> Phone: 416-586-5523
> Fax: 416-586 5553
>

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