Substitutable resources are defined as complementary if the isoclines bow inwards towards the origin (Figure 3.27c). This shape means that a species requires less of two resources when taken together than when consumed separately. A good example is human vegetarians combining beans and rice in their diet. The beans are rich in lysine, an essential amino acid poorly represented in rice, whilst rice is rich in sulfur-containing amino acids that are present only in low abundance in beans.
The land-intensive nature of meat production suggests that pressure on land could be greatly alleviated by transitioning to a less meat-intensive diet. The opportunities are immense. If today's livestock grain were fed directly to people, and assuming a 1 5 average efficiency for meat consumption compared to grain consumption, we could feed 9.4 billion people (compared to today's world population of 6 billion). Thus, the world population could grow to 9-10 billion people, if they were to transition to a completely vegetarian diet, without adding additional pressure on the land. Alternately, we can estimate that 36 of today's cropland (or 540 million km2) would be freed up for uses other than agriculture if the current population were to transition to a completely vegetarian diet.
Geese can eat grass off golf courses, birds may eat noxious insects, and bacteria can help digest organic matter in sewage effluent. These valuable processes are only remotely connected to ecological efficiency. Advocates for vegetarianism quite correctly note that the amount of resources - sunlight, water, and fertilizers needed to grow animal flesh - is several times larger than that needed to produce an amount of vegetable food of equivalent or superior nutritional quality.
While many ecological feminists do not deal explicitly with issues of how humans treat other animals, there has been concern for the welfare of animals within ecological feminist literature. Many theorists have focused on issues concerning animal welfare and the question of vegetarianism in particular, arguing that the acknowledgment of animals as having value is part of the dismantling of the logic of domination, and that factory farming is an integral part of devaluing the Earth in general. A typical ecological feminist strategy is to look for intersections of oppression and domination. For example, the connection between the cruel practices in US poultry processing plants and the exploitation of black women lung gunners who must scrape the lungs out of as many as 5000 chickens per hour, which causes a variety of health problems and injuries. In a similar vein, examination of chicken processing not only focuses on the cruel treatment of animals, but also on the fact that 33 of the...
Social insect workers that forage on the wing mostly encounter relatively sterile medium, except when they land on flowers, insect prey or carrion, where disease propagules may be dense, particularly on the latter two. In contrast, social insects whose workers forage on foot will almost never encounter fully sterile habitat, and will thus be likely to have a lower variance in exposure. Also the typical food items collected and ingested differ among the four groups of social insects (Table 6.1) and may incur different risks. Bees almost always forage only on nectar and pollen, which will represent a relatively hygienic food source with very little potential to act as a transmission route for ento-mopathogens. On the other hand, wasps and, to some extent, ants are largely predatory, and their prey normally consists of other insects. This therefore exposes them frequently to diseases that they will risk contracting via the per os route from the animals they eat. Wasps and ants are also...
Salt and brackish-water pond culture is the prevalent system in many Asian countries including Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Ponds are stocked with species of grey mullet (Mugil) or with milk fish (Chanos chanos). Mullet are also cultivated in various lagoons around the Mediterranean. These are hardy species which can tolerate a wide range of salinity and temperature, and have the further advantage of being vegetarian feeders, mainly on detrital and microscopic plant material. The food chain is therefore short and corrrespondingly efficient, and the fish make rapid growth. In some of the brackish fish-ponds in Indonesia, enriched with sewage, production estimates for C. chanos have been as high as 5 tonnes per hectare per year.
Foragers, like snakes, are obviously dramatic, studies with many types of animals document the flexible behavior of animal guts. Guts can be sensitive to the availability of food, as in the snake example, but they can also change in response to food types. For example, lengthening for a vegetarian diet and shortening for a carnivorous diet.
China is an example of how rapid population growth is followed by major reductions in the availability of per capita cropland. The amount of available cropland is currently only 0.08 ha per capita. This relatively small amount of cropland provides the Chinese people primarily with a vegetarian diet. Chinese cropland is reported to
Explanations for the taboo on elephant flesh and the deification of the species may also be sought in the interactions of culture, the sociopolitical milieu, and ecological processes of ancient India. Among the ruins of the Harap-pan culture are found the burned bones of several animals whose flesh was presumably consumed at that time. Bones of elephants are also found here, suggesting that the species may have been consumed, even if only rarely, by people of the Harappan culture. Elephants were certainly hunted and their meat consumed by hill tribes in southern India up to at least the fifth or sixth century a.d., as seen from descriptions in the Sangam literature of the Tamils. On the other hand, the taboo on elephant meat in northern India probably arose much earlier and may have been contemporaneous with the general spread of vegetarianism. The taboo on elephant meat may have arisen as an independent tradition, but eventually was incorporated into the more general spread of...
The food supply of the benthic macrofauna derives, directly or indirectly, almost entirely from living and dead particulate matter sinking from the overlying water. There is very little primary production of food on the sea-bed because plants can grow only where there is sufficient light for photosynthesis. Vegetation on the sea bottom is therefore limited to shallow water. Large algae produce a lush growth on and near the shore, especially in middle latitudes, and form a primary food source which supports many omnivorous and vegetarian animals, and contributes quantities of organic debris to the local sediments. This vegetation seldom extends deeper than some 40-60 m and is confined to areas of rocky bottom, or stones large enough to provide secure attachment for the plants. Rock and sediment in shallow water may also be covered with a thin microfloral film, mainly diatoms and other unicellular algae. Surface layers of sediments contain large numbers of
On a local scale, freshwater fish culture has been practised from early times, in many parts of the world, particularly in the warmer areas. The Chinese were rearing carp 4000 years ago and in developed countries, before the advent of modern refrigeration techniques, the fish pond provided a ready source of fresh protein. Many, usually fast-growing, vegetarian species are cultivated in shallow ponds. The growth of suitable pond weed for their food is encouraged by enriching the water with sewage or organic refuse. Where sunshine keeps the water temperature high, biological processes proceed very rapidly and remarkably high rates of food production can be obtained from efficiently managed fish ponds. Capital and labour costs may be low, and land unsuitable for ordinary agriculture can often be profitably farmed in this way although there are often problems with water supply.
Cultivation of vegetarian species avoids the need for expensive, high-protein food. In Asia, vegetarian species such as the milkfish (Chanos chanos) do well in captivity. The only European marine fish which feed largely on vegetable matter and are well suited to culture are grey mullet, but their flesh is not widely popular. Bivalve molluscs do not need to be fed artificially as they filter phytoplankton from the water.
Theoretically the higher the level in the pyramid, the fewer organisms it can support. This has important implications regarding human food supplies because it illustrates that more people can be supported in a given area if their diet is mainly vegetarian - more land is needed per head if meat forms a large part of the diet.
The zooplankton includes both vegetarian and carnivorous feeders. The vegetarian forms feed upon phytoplankton, and are often referred to as 'herbivores' or 'grazers' because their position in the food chains of the sea is comparable with that of herbivorous animals on land. These animals have efficient filtration mechanisms for sieving microscopic food dispersed in large volumes of water. The planktonic herbivores are mainly copepods, euphausids, cladocera, mysids, thecosomatous pteropods and the urochordates. The Larvacea secrete peculiar 'houses' which contain an exceptionally fine filter for collection of nanoplankton and ultraplankton. These Urochordates are an important food for certain fish, especially in their young stages (see page 337), and thus form a significant link between the smallest plankton and the larger metazoa (Alldredge, 1977). Planktonic carnivores include medusae, ctenophores, chaetognaths, polychaetes, hyperiid amphipods and gymnosomatous pteropods. Feeding...
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