June 02, 2006

Coordination gone awry

Susie Fork's page about "California Oakmoths at Elkhorn Slough", on the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve site, seems to be telling us that some oak trees are insects:

So, although the oak moths can periodically wreak havoc on certain trees, oaks and oak moths have been coevolving for a long time and can be viewed as one of the many conspicuous insects of the Reserve.

[Elkhorn Slough is located near Moss Landing, on the Monterey Bay between Santa Cruz and Monterey.  I've been there, on a tour by boat -- with Geoff Pullum, in fact, back in the years before he became CRO (Chief Rant Officer) in the Language Log organization.  It's a fascinating place.  ("Slough" is pronounced "slew", by the way.)  As for the oak moths, we've been exceptionally afflicted by them this spring at Stanford -- a rain of caterpillars, then masses of cocoons, and now clouds of moths.  Ick.  Susie Fork, however, sounds pretty pro-moth.  Well, the Elkhorn Slough staff seem to value all the organisms they study.  But then they don't have to live with clumps of cocoons disfiguring the pieces in the New Guinea Sculpture Garden, the way we do.]

You can see how she got into this: the sentence is mostly about the oak moths, and "oak moths" is the most recent NP that could serve as the subject of "can be viewed as..."  Nevertheless, we end up with oaks (along with oak moths) as one of the many conspicuous insects of the slough (as well as partners in coevolution with the moths).  Not a good consequence.

zwicky at-sign csli period stanford period edu

Posted by Arnold Zwicky at June 2, 2006 08:20 PM