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
0213001849

That Dingo Saved My Landscape

The plots on the dingo side of the fence showed no real differences in vegetation. But on the other side of the fence, the kangaroo-exclusion areas had about 12% more vegetation cover, implying that high numbers of the herbivores reduce the plant cover in a landscape. Fenced-off plots on the kangaroo side of the fence also had more soil carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen, suggesting that intense grazing outside the plots was changing the soil chemistry of the area. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Soil Fungi Ease The Way For Climate Induced Tree Migration

A 2010 U.S. Forest Service study found that 70 percent of tree species are already showing tree range migration, with maple, beech and birch potentially gone entirely in the Northeast by 2100. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Looking To Lizards To Reveal Grasslands’ History

Since Ophisops are restricted to grasslands, understanding the evolution of these lizards allowed the researchers to test two hypotheses related to the origins of Indian grasslands. The first hypothesis was that if Indian grasslands expanded at the same time as grasslands globally – which was four million to eight million years ago – the spread of Ophisops would date back to around roughly the same time period. The second hypothesis was if grasslands expanded only when humans started cultivation in the last 10,000 years to 20,000 years, Ophisops would have only spread to areas cleared by humans in the more recent past. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Cryogenic Apples Promise Apples Every Day

These suspended animation chambers for apples occasionally make the news when someone thinks they’ll be alright if they just hold their breath while on a quick visit inside. In 2013, two workers on the Earl of Selbourne’s apple farm on Blackmoor Estate in Hampshire in the UK were found dead in the controlled atmosphere storage room, and in 2015 the manager who sent them in without proper breathing apparatus was convicted of manslaughter. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Urban Vacant Lots Provide More Ecosystem Services Than Nice Yards

Vacant lots contained three times more trees and twice the leaf biomass found in other settings. They were also more diverse. Most of that richness came from non-native species—but while much has been said about the negative impacts of exotic trees, the researchers noted, “there has been less focus on ecological benefits they might provide.” (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

How Marketing Turned The Unfortunate “Alligator Pear” Into A Foodie Superstar

So the avocado growers rallied. They funded research and put out studies meant to extoll the virtues of the fruit. They leaned on the fat-friendly Mediterranean diet, and ran television ads. they skated by into the nineties, but sales still lagged. People simply didn’t know how to eat the fruit. They weren’t waiting for it to ripen; the growers began to educate supermarkets on the difference between a ripened fruit. It was around this time they hired Hill & Knowlton, a public relations firm. Their mission was to make avocado an everyday, accessible item to American shoppers. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Does Sunflower Pollen Protect Specialist Bees From Parasites?

The authors conclude that specialization on sunflower pollen confers anti-parasite benefits; this may help explain the frequent evolution of specialization on sunflower pollen among bees. More generally, the results help explain why animals often evolve a taste for “nasty” foods. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

4,000 Year Old Garden Uncovered And It Is Just As The Tomb Paintings Showed It

“The plants grown there would have had a symbolic meaning and may have played a role in funerary rituals. Therefore, the garden will also provide information about religious beliefs and practices as well as the culture and society at the time of the Twelfth Dynasty when Thebes became the capital of the unified kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt for the first time. We know that palm, sycamore and Persea trees were associated with the deceased’s power of resurrection. Similarly, plants such as the lettuce had connotations with fertility and therefore a return to life. Now we must wait to see what plants we can identify by analysing the seeds we have collected. It is a spectacular and quite unique find which opens up multiple avenues of research”. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Using Botany To Understand Art

Millais’ painting is mystical, romantic and most importantly botanically fascinating. Forget the dead woman, it is a plant-inspired masterpiece. (Clcik on title for full story.)

0213001849

How Peat Moss Saved Lives During World War 1

In ancient times, Gaelic-Irish sources wrote that warriors in the battle of Clontarf used moss to pack their wounds. Moss was also used by Native Americans, who lined their children’s cradles and carriers with it as a type of natural diaper. It continued to be used sporadically when battles erupted, including during the Napoleonic and Franco-Prussian wars. But it wasn’t until World War I that medical experts realized the plant’s full potential. (Click on title for full story.)