What if one could assign a mathematical and alphanumeric formula for every organism on the planet that would represent its ecological address or Ecoaddress for short? The value of one address would be meaningless, kind of like having the only facsimile machine. But if all organisms on the earth had an address, one could picture the interactive chain of life on this planet. Imagine a computer image linking all addresses where they intersect into a 3-D model in colors, with blue for the ocean at the bottom of the image, brown for land, green for plant levels on up to white for the snowline.Such a display would be like a Scrabble game in 3-Dimensions and color.
What we would have is a vivid, meaningful image of the interlocking life on Earth. Break that chain at certain strategic points and many life forms could be lost.
This address would represent a series of ranges. For example: a land animal might live above sea level Or +1 foot up to 6,000 feet. One would need the longitude and latitude where the organism exists. One would need a range of temperatures at which it could survive such as -10 degree F. up to say, 100 degrees F. And this same animal might require an environment with a minimal rainfall of 30” per year and a maximum of 65”. How to convert this data into a formula, and address?
Or suppose one might have a marine animal that mostly lives below sea level or from 0 feet down to -300 feet. But if an animal does not normally live at a certain level, then we would not count it. For example a dolphin may jump 8 feet into the air but it cannot live there so its address would be =1 foot or the amount he might normally come up for air. But a sea turtle comes out of the water to lay its eggs so its address might begin with +6 and go down to -300? I have no idea how deep sea turtles dive.
Assuming that biologists could devise such a scheme, what good is it? Well, if one knew the ecological address in one part of the world, one could predict all of the other parts of the world where that organism could live and thrive. If we knew what happened, would we have brought starlings to America from England? How many native birds were misplaced? What about Kudzu? In each case we might have made a different decision, or not, but it would have been an informed decision.
I have read many accounts in English literature about the Nightingale, how beautiful their song is in the night. English poets have written many poems in its honor. I have never heard this song, but I would cherish the opportunity. Suppose we were to consider importing these birds into this country? Using a computer one could first map the address of the Nightingale, green, yellow, and red areas. Naturally, the green would be the ideal habitat, the yellow borderline and the red would be least likely. Then we could ask the computer, what other native animals overlap the green areas. Maybe we would get lucky and it would be Starlings. Bring them on! One could make an informed decision.
Another example: I have heard it said that Transylvania County in N.C. has the highest and lowest rainfall of any county. Let’s suppose that is true. One would assume that it is the western slope of the Appalachian Range that has the highest rainfall because the clouds can’t make it over them. I have often wondered if one could plant a forest of California Redwoods on the Western slope of our mountains. Let’s assume that we all agreed that it would be a good idea. One could take the ecological address of the California Redwood and see it is a fit for Transylvania County or other mountain counties. In this example, height above sea level, temperature range, rainfall, and humidity would be measurements, its addresses must overlap in a meaningful way for the project to succeed.
The computer, comparing the addresses, would respond ‘Exact Match’ or, perhaps 11 out of 13 matched, then print out in English the differences, in this case Longitude and Latitude.
Knowing that the same flora and fauna live in the Appalachian Mountains of N.C. as are found in Canada, it would be interesting to compare the addresses and their differences. I would predict that altitude would be the main variable along with Latitude, but temperatures would be similar in range. Obviously, one can see that organisms can have multiple addresses.
Suppose one was studying a rare bird found in long leaf pine forests. One could scan for all known addresses of the long leaf pine then search those niches for evidence of the bird.
On our coast, the distance from the salt spray would have to be a parameter of any plant growing there. There are only a few grasses or sea oats that can live in the tidal zone. One has to retreat, from the high water mark, back 50 to 100 yards to encounter those weathered firs. Farther back still one has the live oak forming a canopy that shields many other plants from the spray that would kill them.
The percentage of salt water is also a valuable parameter in an ecological address for plants and animals. It turns out that the amount of salt is not the critical measure. Biologists have found organisms living in springs of high salinity where the salinity is constant. But it is the changing salinity that knocks out most organisms, places where the range of salt water percentage varies widely. On our coast and in the marshes, one can have a high salt content but then heavy rains inland can cause the water to be more fresh than brackish. Few animals or plants can thrive in these wide swings. Many animals, fish for example, can move from these changes to waters more accommodating, but few plants other than some marsh grasses can survive. Range of salinity would be a percentage measurement.
Salmon and other such fish have evolved a strange and unlikely change of addresses over their life cycle. The adult salmon lives its life in the salty ocean but then swims upstream through brackish then fresh waters. The change in salt parameter is one strange address change. But the fish also changes its altitude. Though he might not leap more than a couple of feet out of the water, say +5 , after being -100 ft in the ocean ( I have no exact idea), the salmon is also changing its altitude by swimming upstream to spawn perhaps +1500 feet or more, but they don’t survive the change in salt salinity.
The eggs the salmon lays can only live at an address of pure water and the young fry live at the higher altitude, still beneath water but not sea level but as they grow they migrate downstream from an address of higher altitude and fresh water to salt water and below sea level. Suppose one decided that it was a good thing to take the larger Pacific Coast Salmon and transplant them on the East Coast? Would it work? What would the ‘green’ area of the address be on the East Coast? What other fish and animals would be competing for this address?
I would guess that any migrating species would have the most intricate and varied addresses. Consider Arctic Terns, not happy at one pole they fly to the other, obviously over all of the latitudes in between. Then they fly back again.
Let’s try to create even one address and see what problems present themselves or see if it is even feasible? All addresses have to be the same length so a spacer must be used for those segments that do not apply. The challenge would be places such as Death Valley which is dry but below sea level but it would work: Land and inches below sea level should cover it. An amphibious animal such as a frog would have F and an L in its address. A marine organism living only in the ocean would have salinity range of 35-35psu (practical salinity units or 3.5%).
Creating An Ecological Address
To create an Ecological Address one would include the following:
Plant, Animal, or Other __P, A, O___
Range of yearly rainfall ______(1 inch equals 2.54 centimeters)
Marine ___M ___
Land organism _____L____
Water organism ____W___
Range Plus/Minus sea level______(in meters)
Range Plus/Minus above or below ground level_______(in meters)
Temperature Range +/- _____________(in Centigrade)
Distance from the ocean____________(meters)
Salinity Range_____________(practical salinity units)
Test the formula with a Loggerhead sea turtle in the Atlantic Ocean:
COMMON NAME: Loggerhead Sea Turtle
LATIN NAME: Caretta Caretta.
A for Animal
M for marine
n/a for rainfall (use spacer ~)
Land organism: L
Water Organism: W
Range +/- Sea Level (neritic zone) +2meters to -100m
Range +/- above/below ground (nests in sand) +2meters to -.5m
Latitude Range : 35 degrees north and 35 degrees south
Longitude Range: 15 degrees East to 95 degrees West
Temperature Range: 22 to 30 degrees C
Distance from the Ocean 50 meters
Salinity Range: ocean is 35psu (practical salinity units) or 3.5% range: 35:35
Ecological address for Loggerhead Turtle=A,~,M, ~,L,W,+2: -100,+2 :.5,35: 35,15:95, 72: 86, 50,35:35
This is the address of the adult loggerhead turtle. The hatchling would have a different address that would take into account birth on the beach and living in the Sargasso Sea for years until they reach a mature size then move to the Continental shelf. Each organism could have several sub addresses during their life cycle. In addition there could be primary and secondary addresses and extreme (green, , or red on the map). Ex. Loggerhead record sea depth is 232m (Red address) but normal is around 100m (green)
Migratory animals would have the most varied addresses, perhaps a winter or summer address. Most plants are stuck in place at one range of address. Even deciding what grass to plant in one’s yard, one could input your ecological address for your house and come up with an optimum plant type.
If one were to catalogue the Eco-address for all organisms then do a computer enhancement of each one, then it would be possible to pick anywhere on the planet and receive a printout of all ‘possible, organisms that live there. This would be very useful for doing an environmental assessment for filling in a marsh for example. It would be impossible to tell exactly how many of each organism would be found at that address but it could predict the probability of finding those organisms. One could also find patterns using the computer for example: wherever one finds Panda Bears, one would find a type of bamboo. Animals with a symbiotic or parasitic relationship would have to share an address at some point in their lifespan.
Author’s note: I give the example of the loggerhead but I am sure an expert in the field could provide more accurate numbers. For example: I have no real idea to what depth the turtles normally dive.
A panel of experts might decide that the depth to include would be the normal depth that they live and feed.
The purpose of this article was to suggest there be an Ecological address or Eco-address and provide an example of how that might work, not to provide tablets that came down off the mountain. I just thought that it could be a useful idea.
What we need is a website named something short but memorable. Most powerful names are usually one word such as Le Louvre, Monticello, McDonald’s, Google, or Talladega (NASCAR fan). I always thought that it was a mistake to name the honors high school in Durham, N.C. as The North Carolina School of Math and Science. It sounds like the Russians named it. I would have picked something like ‘Talisman’ the N.C. School of Math & Science
For this website I would suggest ‘NICHE’( a habitat supplying the factors necessary for the existence of an organism or species), where scientists, specialists for this plant or that animal, could enter the addresses into the website. A normal address might be the ‘Green’. Red could be the record extreme. An example: -100m for the normal range of a loggerhead sea turtle, but -232m is the record depth at which a sea turtle was ever recorded (a turtle wearing a tracking collar-Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) would be red.
The problem that I see: what if we start posting Eco-addresses and then find out later that there are other parameters beyond the 13 that I have here, it would leave all of the addresses, input previously, with a blank space that may or may not fit the new criteria. There would need to be a way to send out a broadcast e-mail to all the original contributors and have them to fill in the new parameter correctly for the address that they have sponsored. For example, how would we handle an address for sea life living on the bottom of the ocean but on one of the mountain ranges than run down the middle of both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans? Perhaps, give the symbol a minus for the depth in the ocean but then add a plus, also, ahead of the depth for the side of the mountain? In other words, the – number would be the depth to the ocean bottom followed by a + number for the height on the underwater mountain.
It appears that 99% of the multiple addresses are in the Longitude and Latitude. The other segments of the address can be handled by ranges.
One could argue that the first entry on the address, A, P, O has no part in the address. I would think it still needs to be there so one would know if we were dealing with an Animal, a Plant, or maybe a Virus.
Any attempt to link organisms by their common parts of their addresses should not use this first indicator. It would skew the computer graphics.
With a completed data base, one could pose questions. This is where the fun begins:
- Give me a list of all animal and plant life within 100 meters of the ocean, on the North Carolina coast. Perhaps this could be done on a map with a mouse and just highlight the areas of interest.
- What I would like to be able to do is enter the GPS coordinates and receive a list of all animals and plant life at that location Or a list of all animals or plants that could live at that address which would be quite interesting. If I entered the following:
I would obtain a list of all of the plants and animals that live in the Maritime Forest on Bald Head Island, N.C.I could also obtain another list of all of the animals that could live there which I would bet would include rabbits which no one wants on the island. One could ban such animals from being imported for any reason. Such a ban might have saved the State of Florida from all of the Burmese Pythons that are now breeding in the Everglades.
Creation of such a website would require the help of all experts in every field of biology to enter life forms that are in their area of expertise. First, it would take the hardware. Second the software that could handle entries and access. Third, persons that believe in this idea would have to spend their time discerning the organism that they are most interested in and inputting the ecological address. This could take years of hard work. It might never be completely finished as new organisms are found, and unfortunately some would disappear, as the range of their addresses shrink. That is why we need to be thinking about the most likely life forms that will soon be extinct and build a DNA tissue bank, probably cryogenic, to store tissues of these rare organisms. Then one day in the future, when our technology is more advanced, we can bring them back to life. We can save something beautiful, God’s works of art, from vanishing from the Earth forever.
I firmly believe that our every action on this planet is an act of creation or one of destruction. Destruction is so very easy. It is creation that is hard. The Creators amongst us have been given a little more of God than the rest of us. They create new music, new art forms, new knowledge, etc. from which we all benefit. Some say that cavemen were just as smart as we are. They just lacked our knowledge. We must thank all of the creators who have gone on before us. We stand on the shoulders of their greatness.
September 24, 2009
Revised February 3, 2010