Category Archives: Plants & Animals

The Secret Colors Flowers Create: But How? And Why?

Only a few flowers, like cornflowers and Himalayan blue poppies, have achieved true blue, and all by using special chemical tricks like adding metals to their pigments, or making their petals more alkaline. “All of this is chemically quite difficult and not many species have evolved the enzymes to do it,” says Beverley Glover from the University of Cambridge. “Even with genetic modification, people have managed to make purple, bluish roses, but true blue isn’t happening.” So imagine her surprise when she found that many flowers have secret blue halos in their flowers. (Click on title for full story.)

Large Herbivores Essential To Spread Soil Nutrients

Despite the quirks, there are two important insights to this study. First, today we are rapidly losing our few remaining large animals (forest elephants have decreased by 60% in the last 10 years alone). Losing these animals will critically impair our future ecosystems as we lose their nutrient distribution capacity. Next there is an observed ecological rule called Cope’s rule that has shown that animals tend to get bigger over time. Basically, it is a good evolutionary strategy to get big because then it is harder for predators to eat you. Combining this rule, with what I have found in this study, that large animals are disproportionately important for the distribution of nutrients, indicates that the planet may have an intrinsic mechanism of increasing fertility over time. (Click on title for full story.)

Some Plants Respond Aggressively To Being Clipped

Some plants behave like the mythical monster Hydra: Cut off their heads and they grow back, bigger and better than before. A new study finds that these “overcompensators,” as they are called, also augment their defensive chemistry – think plant venom – when they are clipped. (Click on title for full story.)

Durian’s Legendary Smell Is A Brilliant Adaptation

Durians developed this intense and far-reaching smell as a way to advertise the presence of ripe fruits and attract animals that occur at very low densities in the rainforests. Pollinated by bats and dispersed by elephants, the durian is “a beautiful example” of cooperation between plant and animal species,(Click on title for full story.)

Deer Alter Forest By Avoiding Bad-Tasting Invasive Plants

When rampant white-tailed deer graze in forests, they prefer to eat native plants over certain unpalatable invasive plants, such as garlic mustard and Japanese stiltgrass. These eating habits lower native plant diversity and abundance, while increasing the proportion of plant communities made up of non-native species, according to a new study. (Click on title for full story.)

Endangered Flying Fox Bats Important For Durian Industry

“These are very important findings because they shed more light on the crucial ecosystem services provided by flying foxes. Previously it was known that the smaller, nectar-feeding bats are pollinators for durian – but many people believed that flying foxes were too large and destructive to play such a role. Our study shows the exact opposite: that these giant fruit bats are actually very effective in pollinating durian trees.” (Click on title for full story.)

How Researchers’ Inexperience Revealed The Positive Relationship Of Parrots And Plants

So we decided to overcome the punctures of the spiky scrubs, transform the fear of the stings of pit vipers (Bothros spp) prudently and look for the fresh remains under any tree where the parrots had just eaten. Only thanks to this decision, motivated by our inexperience and the consequent insecurity, allowed us to abandon our initial idea of considering the parrots as exclusively predatory antagonists of the plants from which they fed, to transform it into a more real and complex one that placed them at a variable point in the continuous antagonism / mutualism. (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.)

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.)