All posts by zooplantman

Former Director of Horticulture, Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo. Zoo exhibit & landscape designer perversely fascinated by the doings of plants, animals, ecosystems and other things not requiring batteries

Does Rock Climbing Popularity Threaten Cliff Ecosystems?

Some researchers and park managers are optimistic about the possibility of training climbers to look out for certain rare plants and help rangers collect data. Others counter that including climbing organizations in biodiversity studies could introduce bias into the results. All agree that cliff ecology is riddled with unknowns and that more cliffs need to be studied. A before-and-after study of a cliff in development as a climbing route might be a good first step, but cliff ecosystems vary widely. What applies to limestone cliffs may not apply to sandstone cliffs, and climbing may have more of an effect on some ecosystems than others. The angle of a rock face can affect the amount of moisture and light plant communities receive as well as the climbing techniques climbers use. In some places, climbers only scale a relatively narrow sliver of a large cliff, while other cliffs are covered with dozens or hundreds of climbing paths. The effects that rock climbing can have in deciduous forests such as New River Gorge may be nonissues in drier or rockier locales. (Click on title for full story.)

Flower Color And Fragrance Send Coordinated Message To Island Pollinators

The team investigated the way these plants communicate with a diverse assemblage of insect pollinators in the same community. They discovered a link between the color of the flowers and their fragrance, such that the two characteristics can be regarded as one integrated signal. This is the first study to demonstrate color-fragrance integration for an entire plant community. (Click on title for full story.)

Controlling Malaria By Pruning Flowers Off Of Trees

Gardening could be a powerful weapon against malaria, culling mosquito populations by cutting off their food supply, say researchers.A team tested their idea in nine villages in the arid Bandiagara district of Mali, West Africa.Removing flowers from a common shrub appeared to kill off lots of the older, adult, female, biting insects that transmit malaria. (Click on title for full story.)

Did Algae Kill The Dinosaurs?

Over time, the team grew skeptical of drought as the only explanation. Large and small animals nestle against each other, suggesting that the bodies were buried where they died and that the killer struck all kinds of animals without discrimination. In addition, whatever killed these animals “was fast-acting,dropping birds in their tracks.” And it happened again and again, creating multiple layers of bone beds. (Click on title for full story.)

When The Flower Forces The Pollinator To Adapt

This is one of the few examples where a pollinator had to adapt to the flowers that it pollinates, rather than the other way round, (Click on title for full story.)

Toppled Baobabs Reveal History’s Secrets And Predict Climate Change Effects

Even before human activity started warming our world, climate variability in southern Africa  included these mega-droughts. It is doubtful that that the economy would survive such an occurrence today. Droughts are a clear part of the record, and they are always transient. Through history, and through climate research conducted on these baobabs, it is evident that conditions usually recover after drought. But can that be said for future conditions in a world affected by climate change? (Click on title for full story.)

North America’s Ubiquitous Ash Trees Declared Endangered

Five of the six most prominent ash tree species in North America enter The IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered – only one step from going extinct – with the sixth species assessed as Endangered. These species are being decimated by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer beetle(Agrilus planipennis). Three of them – Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), White Ash (Fraxinus americana) and Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra) – are the country’s most dominant ash trees, comprising nearly nine billion trees in the forested lands of the contiguous U.S. (Click on title for full story.)

Where Bees Can’t Reach To Groom Themselves Flowers Will Find The Pollen They Need

It has been hypothesised that specific body areas, bees cannot groom, serve as ‘safe sites’ for pollen transfer between flowers. For the first time, we experimentally demonstrated the position, area and pollen amount of safe sites at the examples of Apis mellifera and Bombus terrestris by combining artificial contamination of the bees’ body with pine or sunflower pollen and the subsequent bees’ incomplete grooming. (Click on title for full story.)

Flowers Defend Against Bee Nectar-Robbers

Short-tongued bees, on the other hand, chew through the hood of the plants’ flowers to better access the nectar. This method is to the detriment of the plant as the bees bypass its reproductive structures. Ecologists call them nectar robbers. But plants fight back. (Click on title for full story.)

Developing Crime Fighting Techniques To Stop Wood Burl Thieves

Burls grow like large, knotted tumors from the base and spine of a tree, but are filled with smooth flesh. That makes them perfect for use in manufacturing tables, mantels, picture frames and souvenirs like salt and pepper shakers. For poachers—often dubbed “midnight burlers”—they’re accessible and surprisingly valuable. Large slabs can fetch thousands of dollars; one furniture manufacturer estimated that a heavy stump with a burl could retail for upwards of $3,000. (Click on title for full story.)