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

Tundra Animals Help Off -Set Climate Change Impact On Plant Species

“We found that the warming increased the number of species in plots that were grazed, because it enabled small tundra plants to appear and grow there. But when we fenced reindeer, voles and lemmings out, vegetation became denser and the light was limited. As a result, many small and slowly-growing plant species were lost,” (Click on title for full story.)

Maybe Your Next Computer Will Be Running On Autumn Leaves

Scientists in China and the US claim to have found a valuable use for the thousands of dead leaves that litter the roadsides of China each autumn. Instead of burning them, which is the traditional solution and one that exacerbates China’s air pollution problem, the researchers say they have developed a method to convert the leaves into a porous carbon material that can be used in electronics. (Click on title for full story.)

Menopause Symptoms Eased With Fermented Red Clover

The vast majority of women in the menopause are familiar with the status of Red Clover as an herbal medicine that soothes hot flush symptoms and hormonal fluctuations. This holds true, new research shows, if the red clover is taken in a fermented form.  Fermented Red Clover extract is demonstrated to decrease significantly both the number and severity of daily hot flushes. The study also found that the extract prevents the normally accelerated menopausal bone loss affecting one in three women over the age of 50 (e.g. results showed treatment blunted bone loss in the spine completely). These findings are very promising as the benefits take place without any of the side effects of traditionally proscribed hormone therapies that increase the risk of cancers and cardiovascular diseases. (Click on title for full story.)

Who Needs Pesticides When Ants Can Do The Job Better?

All farmers need to do is collect ant nests from the wild, hang them in plastic bags among their tree crops and feed them a sugar solution while they build their new nests. Once a colony is established, farmers then connect the trees that are part of the colony with aerial ‘ant walkways’ made from string or lianas. After that, the ants need little, except for some water in the dry season (which can be provided by hanging old plastic bottles among the trees), pruning trees that belong to different colonies so that the ants do not fight, and avoiding insecticide sprays. The review shows that crops such as cashew and mango can be exceptionally well protected from pests by weaver ants. One three-year study in Australia recorded cashew yields 49% higher in plots patrolled by ants compared with those protected by chemicals. Nut quality was higher too, so net income was 71% higher with ants than with chemicals. (Click on title for full story.)

Ants Defecating On Plants Shown To Be A Fertilizer Boost

“For the first time, we have shown that nutrients from ant waste are taken up by the leaves and transported to other places in the tree, This has great ecological importance. The ants, which primarily feed on insects in the trees, digest the insects and hand the nutrients on a silver platter to the plants. You can almost say that the plants receive the nutrition intravenously exactly where they need it,” (Click on title for full story)

Asian Elephants And African Elephants Treat Forests Differently

New research has shown that there are significant differences between the Asian and the African forest elephant – and it isn’t just about size and the shape of their ears. It is about what they eat and how they affect forest ecosystems As megaherbivores and the largest of our land animals, elephants have a significant impact on their habitat. In Central Africa, forest elephants act as ecological filters by breaking tree saplings and stripping them of foliage. But we have much more to learn about the impact of elephants on Southeast Asian rainforests. And new research suggests that the Asian elephant is a daintier eater – preferring palms, grasses and bamboo to tree saplings. (Click on title for full story.)

Kudzu’s Sordid History In North America

Each week, on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m, Cope would eloquently, humorously, and voraciously champion kudzu on his radio broadcast from the creaky floors and big swing bench on the Yellow Farm porch. His editorials in Atlanta’s newspapers also helped kudzu’s cause, and they were reprinted in Business Week, Reader’s Digest, and Gentleman Farmer. He became Georgia’s “Conservation Man of the Year” in 1945. The same year, he and his wife answered 3,000 fan letters. Cope knew kudzu was pernicious; he received mail every month from people also asking him how to get rid of it. But Cope stood by his position; the ground was disappearing, after all. (Click on title for full story.)

How Development Over Wetlands And Prairies Enabled Houston Hurricane Disaster

Since Houston, Texas was founded nearly two centuries ago, Houstonians have been treating its wetlands as stinky, mosquito-infested blots in need of drainage.

Even after it became a widely accepted scientific fact that wetlands can soak up large amounts of flood water, the city continued to pave over them. The watershed of the White Oak Bayou river, which includes much of northwest Houston, is a case in point. From 1992 to 2010, this area lost more than 70% of its wetlands, according to research (pdf) by Texas A&M University. (Click on title for full story.)

Traditional Chinese Medical Herb Yields Promising Drug For Osteoporosis

The researchers tested a compound derived from red sage in human and mouse bone cells and a mouse model. They found that it prevented bone loss and increased the bone mineral density of the mice treated with the compound by 35 per cent, when compared with the control group. (Click on title for full story.)

Having Detected Pest’s Odor, Anticipating Plant Prepares Defenses Before Any Damage Even Occurs

This is significant because it likely means that the plant has a dedicated mechanism to perceive this compound. The results provide evidence that goldenrod can detect a single compound from the fly, supporting the idea that there is a tight co-evolutionary relationship between these two species. In other words, over time, as the fly has adapted to take advantage of the plant, the plant has adapted to protect itself from the fly. (Click on title for full story).