Savannah and Grassland

Mon, 16 Oct 95 14:11:00 -0300

Harry Erwin wrote:

HE> Professor Lee Talbot spoke today in ecology class about
HE> succession processes. As an aside, he noted that H. sapiens is a
HE> keystone species for tropical savannah and temperate grassland.

HE> Homo is the keystone because the alternative source of fire
HE> (lightning- caused) is rare in temperate grassland and unknown
HE> in tropical savannah.

HE> The implications if he is correct are far-ranging. For example,
HE> the ancestor of whatever hominid species first ventured out on
HE> the open savannah had to have fire and was using it habitually
HE> to keep his environment cleared.

There's a leap here from Talbot's conjecture that homo is keystone
because of the association with fire to the implication you brought
up that homo's action was =deliberate= and keyed to preserving a
more favorable environment. Was this also part of Talbot's
reasoning? Or is there room for the supposition that the use of fire
led to the habitat effects, but was actually employed for other
reasons than habitat change?

The idea of homo using fire for other ends and coincidentally
causing enough wildfires to affect the environment is interesting.
The idea of homo deliberately setting out to control the environment
on that level would blow me away, too.

Evelyne Stalzer

* RM 1.3 01313 * "What is need, compared to the path?" - Kosh