Crayfish, Caribou, and Scientific Evidence in the Wild | The Institute for Creation Research

Crayfish, Caribou, and Scientific Evidence in the Wild

An unusual law has helped some creation science evidence to “go wild.”

Unsurprisingly (for Bible believers), mounting evidence increasingly shows that only the Genesis explanation of our world’s origin—and Earth’s present ecological equilibrium—makes sense. Animal ecology is purposefully balanced; it’s not a simple hodgepodge of evolutionary “accidents.”

We can thank Congress for much of what we now know about American wildlife, specifically, the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration [Pittman-Robertson] Act (P-R Act) in 1937.1 The P-R Act focuses financing of scientific research projects involving field studies of animals in their natural habitats. This approach improves upon stereotypical research done on experimental animals in laboratories because the facts learned in the field are usually more relevant for understanding how animals actually function.

But if biologists can conveniently research in climate-controlled laboratories, why spend money on ecologists’ in-the-wild field studies?

Crayfish in the Laboratory

Consider, for example, an experimental laboratory study of crayfish feeding habits that uses an aquarium in a temperature-controlled lab illuminated by artificial lighting. When biologists observe crayfish eating food supplied to them in such a laboratory setting, what are the biologists actually learning? Since crayfish prefer to forage in the dark or semi-dark, the experimental data largely constitute “artifacts” (outcomes biased by artificial conditions). The overly simplistic experimental results don’t teach us much that is both reliable and relevant about how crayfish behave naturally.

To learn how crayfish really live, we need to observe them in the wild, without them noticing that we are watching. Imagine how crayfish react to giant humans gawking at them as they eat! Hidden cameras in natural habitats can record candid behaviors, representative of real-world activities.

So, for learning ecology, there is no substitute for field study observations. And field studies, more than lab experiments, demonstrate the interactive complexity of the real world, with the resilient balancing dynamics that God programmed for it.2

Caribou in the Wild

Using P-R Act field study funding, what have we learned about caribou (Rangifer tarandus) and how they behave in the wild? Surveys using aerial photography inform us about a herd’s migration and calving patterns. Captured caribou are fitted with radio-transmitting collars and tracked by the latest space-satellite technology.3 Biologists previously thought that wolves were the only serious predator of Alaskan caribou. Not so. Brown bears often consume cervids, including many caribou. Likewise, in the wild, ectoparasitic mosquitos and endoparasitic brain worms plague them. Even golden eagles, which congregate hungrily near calving sites, prey on newborn caribou calves—a fact now beyond dispute due to modern monitoring technology.3

Caribou interact with other animals (wolves, bears, deerflies, mosquitos), plant life (willow, birch, aspen, tundra lichens), and their expansive geophysical environment, which varies according to seasonal migrations. How caribou populations survive, and thrive, is an ongoing, complex, and non-random balancing act.

God created caribou. God conserves their herds today. They interact with habitat neighbors and changing seasons. That caribou flourish in seasonal ranges exhibits God’s providential care for His creation—animals, plants, environment, and humans—even in this fallen world (Romans 8:21-22; John 1:3). If we are thoughtful observers, surely we are reverentially amazed.

This biogeographical drama of Rangifer tarandus herds—acted out in arctic tundra and boreal habitats—powerfully provides us with “clearly seen” proofs of God’s caring conservation of His own handiwork. Alaskan caribou are marvels in motion, created and conserved by the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16-17; Romans 1:19-20).

References

  1. The Pittman-Robertson Act, as amended since 1937, is codified at 16 U.S.C. § 669, with implementing regulations (at 50 C.F.R. § 80.4). The P-R Act requires state fish and wildlife agencies to segregate (“lock-box”) and spend state hunting and fishing license fee revenues, for federally approved wildlife restoration/conservation programs. See, e.g., Sportsmen’s Wildlife Defense Fund v. U.S. Dep’t of Interior, 40 F.Supp.2d 1192, 1197-1199 (D. Colo. 1999).
  2. Johnson, J. J. S. 2015. Anadromous Fish “That Swam with Dinosaurs” Neither Extinct nor Extirpated. Creation Research Society Quarterly. 51 (3): 207-208.
  3. Kallmann, Harmon, chief ed. 1987. Restoring America’s Wildlife, 1937-1987: The First 50 Years of the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (Pittman-Robertson) Act. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, 190-207.

* Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Cite this article: James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. 2015. Crayfish, Caribou, and Scientific Evidence in the Wild. Acts & Facts. 44 (6).

The Latest
NEWS
Fossil Chromatin Looks Young
What are the odds that a buried animal would still have intact DNA after 125 million years? Researchers publishing in the journal Communications Biology...

NEWS
Inside October 2021 Acts & Facts
How is the Lord’s handiwork on display at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park? Does the universe look old? What can we learn about science and...

NEWS
Two-Volume Series: Restoring the Truth about Origins
The subject of origins continues to attract interest from the public and the scientific establishment. Understanding our origins informs us of who we are...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Floods Form Fossils Fast
Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
A Battle for Hearts
Since the ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History opened in fall of 2019, tens of thousands of people have walked through our doors. They...

APOLOGETICS
Eating Bugs Isn't Always So Simple
The Lord Jesus Christ deserves glory for why He made Earth’s diverse creatures, and He also deserves glory for the complicated details of how...

ACTS & FACTS
Does the Universe Look Old?
Since distant galaxies are billions of light-years away, some understandably assume that distant starlight must have taken billions of years to reach...

ACTS & FACTS
Hawaii Behind the Scenes
ICR Research Scientist Dr. Brian Thomas and ICR Video Producer Clint Loveness, with help from friends and family, recently shot footage in Maui, Hawaii,...

ACTS & FACTS
Mutation, Design, and Faith
Any alteration in a cell’s DNA sequence is a mutation. These changes can come from copying errors, exposure to chemicals or radiation, or from...

ACTS & FACTS
Another Function of 'Junk DNA' Discovered
For decades, evolutionists suggested that huge sections of our genome (about half) did not actively code for the production of proteins or polypeptides—and...