TWILIGHT: How vampires spoil the ecosystem

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Whether you are caught in the dusk craze or not, it represents an interesting addition to vampire mythology. The books have introduced or developed some unconventional ideas. Most memorable, perhaps, is the vampiric skin that sparkles like diamonds in the sun, relegating vampires to the shadows. duskThe world of s also features vampires with super potent vampire-human hybrid babies, and the fact that they can be “vegetarians”. Our alleged heroes, the Cullen family, are rare and merciful vampires who deny their hunger for human blood. Instead, they feast on animal blood. But does that make them really “good?” “

While vampires don’t find animals as attractive as humans, some still have preferences about the type of animal they drain. Edward loves cougars, Emmett loves bears. These two animals are in fact the top predators of the Olympic Peninsula, where the very real city of Forks, Washington (the framework of the books) is located. Balanced and sustainable environments have relatively few predators controlling larger prey populations. If the Cullens primarily hunt cougars and bears, but not deer, elk, and other species that predators eat, they would negatively affect the entire ecosystem.

“If top predators are removed, populations of their primary prey may increase to levels the habitat will no longer support,” says Traci Degerman, a terrestrial ecologist who works as a freelance consultant in Washington state. “There will be habitat degradation, resulting in the death of prey species through starvation and disease until their habitat recovers, if so.”

In the books at least, Edward is aware of this problem. He tells Bella, “We have to be careful not to impact the environment with misguided hunting. We try to focus on areas with overpopulation of predators – as far as necessary. There is always full of deer and elk here, and they will, but where’s the fun in that? “

However, he also admits to having bypassed local hunting laws and bag limits in place specifically to avoid ecosystem imbalance. Well done to the author Stephenie Meyer to do research on animals living in the area and including a basic understanding of the food web. However, the movies make no mention of it. And no matter where they go, if the Cullens primarily kill predators, the prey species would increase rapidly and out of control. This would have a ripple effect on the rest of the environment.

Edward looks over Bella's shoulder as they hunt in the woods in Twilight

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Although more sedentary than most vampires in the dusk universe, the Cullens are still moving often in order to prevent non-vampires from noticing their unusual habits and the fact that they never get old. Assuming they rotate to their favorite spots every 50 years or so, this could allow species to bounce back. “The populations of some organisms will rebound faster than others,” explains Degerman. “But full ecosystem recovery after severe disturbance is usually a decadal or generational process, and the end result may not look completely like the original state.”

It is all the more painful as protected lands essentially surround Forks. A national park, a national forest, a national wildlife refuge, a state park and a conservation area all call the neighboring region. Add to that the Quileute reservation, although an ancient treaty between the tribe and the Cullens banned vampires from the reservation. In real life, hunting is limited and tightly controlled statewide, depending on many factors. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife determine opening seasons and boundaries in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem for generations to come.

Speaking of the reservation, the Cullens living nearby are triggering something among the teenage members of the Quileute tribe. In response to this perceived threat, they can transform into wolves at will. The impact this has on the ecosystem is also a factor. They sometimes feed like wolves, probably small game like deer, elk and rabbits. Perhaps the werewolf diet helps balance the local food web. In real life, wolves did not return to Washington State until 2008 after being eradicated in the 1930s. However, they are not present on the Olympic Peninsula.

A brown wolf at dusk in front of a mountain covered with trees

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Some species actually learn, or at least react to, seasonal hunting patterns and stay on the safe side of limits. “An example here in Washington is the seasonal influx of deer and elk into residential areas adjacent to land where hunting takes place each year,” Degerman explains.

Since the Cullens never go to Quileute Lands, cougars and bears near Forks may find they are safer there, or at least never hunted by the vampires there. If so, the differences between the reserve and neighboring areas would be a fascinating study. This would probably astonish the minds of local environmentalists in the dusk universe. Motion activated surveillance cameras are a tool used to understand wildlife populations. Forget Bigfoot, imagine seeing a vampire on the hunt as you scroll through these images.

Although frowned upon, some humans are aware that vampires exist. So how about someone from the wildlife department? Degerman points out that deer and elk hunting limits are increasing in some places to compensate for the loss of natural predators. The Cullens could be added to this equation. This is an action totally consistent with what we know of Carlisle’s desire to coexist with humans.

A group of vampires stand in a kitchen in Twilight

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There are other, albeit imperfect, solutions to the problem of negative environmental effects. Given Edward’s mind-reading gift and Alice’s ability to see the future, the Cullens might argue that a morally acceptable option is to feed on evil people. Edward did this in his vampiric youth before going “vegetarian”. They could also only feed on those who were about to die. This is, after all, how Carlisle turned most of his family into vampires in the first place.

And what about donated human blood? At one point, Carlisle takes bags from the hospital for Bella and Renesmee’s use. Unlike some vampire mythologies, duskVampires can’t take just a pint or two from biting a human. It creates a new vampire. The Cullens prefer not to do this without consent.

It comes down to the fact that if duskThe Cullens really want to be “good”, they need to recognize their place above natural predators and act on it. “Washington manages game populations with the amount of hunting permits they issue for each species,” Degerman explains. “If the Cullens mixed and hunted both predators and prey, they could theoretically do this in a sustainable way.”

Melissa T. Miller is a freelance science writer who spends most of her time overthinking the intersection of pop culture and science. She is Team Edward. You can follow her on Twitter @melissatruth Where @starwarsologies.



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