Plants provide many things: shelter, food, and beauty. Some, however, are best enjoyed from a distance. This series exists to celebrate those plants who just don't seem to care much about what we think about them and choose to go about life in uniquely sadistic ways. Today, discover what happens when you cross a tree with a firebug.Read More
The Tsavo River. Running east from the border between Tanzania and Kenya, its waters are teeming with life surrounded by vast grasslands. This serene habitat holds a terror-filled story within its natural history; one which combines human intervention, habitat ecology, animal behavior, and the taste of human flesh. Dig in.Read More
I’ve touched on the topic of succession in a few of my posts. Here I will delve a little deeper into the mechanics of an aging plant community. When I began to learn more about forests and trees, I wondered: how it is that an “old” forest has not only bigger and taller trees, but different kinds of trees? Why does a hemlock like to grow in old forests, and a birch like to grow in young ones?Read More
The beaver is a great example of a controversial species re-introduction. The two species of rodent, Castor canadensis and Castor fiber, were aggressively hunted for their fur and glands, leading to many local extinctions, but not complete extinction. It has made a great comeback in some places like New Hampshire, and is just now starting to show up in England, bringing about mixed feelings in both cases.Read More
A new microbe that has never been seen before was discovered in a few of NASA's spacecraft clean room facilities. One down, many million more to go. Where are all these undiscovered microbes hiding? The truth is, they are hiding in plain sight.Read More
Far from the equator, organisms have found ways to tolerate the harsh changes that seasons bring.
The things that animals can do to tolerate winter are amazing and perhaps we can discuss those at a later time, because today I am interested in plants. Especially trees. Plants have to deal with the same challenges animals have in the winter: freezing temperatures, snow, and lack of food. Additionally, it seems like it should be even harder for plants because they can’t move around to try to address those challenges. Here are some of specific problems trees have with winter and the amazing ways that they deal with it.
Something that comes up often in my work at UNH is “disturbance,” which in the ecological sense, refers to an event that changes an ecosystem in some way. Some examples are a hurricane, a pest outbreak, an invasive organism, a fire, a tree falling down, and a timber harvest.
This comes up a lot because my research project involves New England cottontail habitat, which is young, brushy vegetation, which in many areas wouldn’t exist without disturbances.Read More