You say “artificial ecologies,” and it sounds like you’re talking about zoos or aquariums or biodomes or terraforming or something. But actually, every legal border on a map creates an artificial ecology. Nicola at Edible Geography (following a post from FP Passport) explains:
For example, the antlion surplus in Israel can be traced back to the fact that the Dorcas gazelle is a protected species there, while across the border in Jordan, it can legally be hunted. Jordanian antlions are thus disadvantaged, with fewer gazelles available to serve “as ‘environmental engineers’ of a sort” and to “break the earth’s dry surface,” enabling antlions to dig their funnels.
Meanwhile, the more industrial form of agriculture practised on the Israeli side has encouraged the growth of a red fox population, which makes local gerbils nervous; across the border, Jordan’s nomadic shepherding and traditional farming techniques mean that the red fox is far less common, “so that Jordanian gerbils can allow themselves to be more carefree.”
I’m fascinated by the fact that differing land-use practices, environmental legislation, and agricultural technology on either side of the political border have shaped two distinct and separate ecosystems of out what would otherwise be a shared desert environment.
(Note: sorry for the lack of posts this week. I’m still in hospital – with hopes of a Monday release! – and among its many other sins, the internet here blocks Google. Can’t even tell you the ridiculous workarounds I’ve had to do just to get the links for this post together. Suffice it to say, Yahoo sucks. As does having nearly all of your internet life hosted by a single company whose pages can get firewalled for no good reason.)