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Article Review: "Mixed Up" by Katerine Bagley

This article, written by Katherine Bagley of InsideClimate News , examines the phenomenon of inter-species breeding. In specific cases, it appears to speak of loss of habitat and has implications for the continued stability of not only local populations but entire species.

The first example she offers is of a couple of obscure species (to non-bird fanciers): golden-winged and blue-winged warblers. Hybrids of the two have become more common in the Northeast United States and Canada. About 10 percent of the population is normally hybrid. Estimates put the current percentage closer to 30.

Bagley points the finger at climate change. The blue-wingeds are encroaching into the golden-wingeds’ territory and interbreeding with them. For reasons not understood, the golden-winged are getting the worst of the bargain. If the blue-winged have dropped in population, the golden-winged have plummeted.

She also points to the grizzly/polar bear hybridization, of which there are only two known specimens, and pressure on the polar population, as an example more of us non-birders may be familiar with. But what can be done? And is human intervention even called for?

This is an interesting, thought-provoking piece available online free of charge here as well as in the collection The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014 , edited by Deborah Blum.


Title: “Mixed Up” originally published in Audubon as “Climate Change is Causing Some Mixed-Up Wildlife” Nov. 2013

Author: Katherine Bagley

Book: Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014



Last review: “The Picture in the House” by H. P. Lovecraft

Last best of review: “Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene” by Roy Scranton


© 2015 Denise Longrie


An earlier version of this review appeared at another site. It has since been removed. The review has been updated and expanded for its inclusion at PP.

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CoralLevang wrote on August 24, 2015, 6:04 PM

I have a friend who would be interested in this. I'm sharing it on G+ and Twitter.

msiduri wrote on August 24, 2015, 6:31 PM

I hope your friend likes it. Thanks for the shares!

Feisty56 wrote on August 24, 2015, 6:57 PM

Interesting and disturbing information at the same time. I don't have much of a science background, so don't know if such inter-species breeding is something that has occurred throughout the history of the world. I would think it has, as a way to ensure survival of the species itself. Interesting, too, that there are still people who are skeptical that climate change is a reality.

msiduri wrote on August 24, 2015, 8:21 PM

The old stand by example of interspecies breed was a mule, the offspring of a horse and a donkey. The drawback is that mules are generally sterile, or so the conventional wisdom goes.

Feisty56 wrote on August 24, 2015, 8:29 PM

I wonder, then, if these newer instances of inter-species breeding is producing sterile offspring?

msiduri wrote on August 24, 2015, 8:47 PM

I'm not sure, frankly. But that is a general rule.

Rufuszen wrote on August 25, 2015, 8:44 AM

Worrying, but most people in the west won't take note until it hits them where they live!

AliCanary wrote on August 25, 2015, 7:55 PM

Human intervention in the breeding of wild species may not be called for, but we'd better do some %& ^& ^*( thing about climate change!

msiduri wrote on August 25, 2015, 8:48 PM

I don't think it's limited to westerners. I think it's a human thing.

msiduri wrote on August 25, 2015, 8:49 PM