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Thursday, May 19th, 2011 | Author:  | 33,100 views - starting Aug 9/09

during my recent travels in southeast asia, i was blessed with the opportunity to visit moonriver lodge, a family owned & operated farmstay in the middle of Malaysia’s Sigar Highlands pristine bamboo jungle … i wrote this blog post for my gracious hosts ….


tree fern

tree fern

Ferns are intensely fascinating and beautiful plants. They’re among the oldest plants on Earth and they dominated many ecosystems around the world in prehistoric times.

If you’re a fern lover, you must visit the bamboo forest at Moonriver Lodge. You’ll find ferns big and small, including fern trees! And of course, whorled fiddleheads pepper the landscape with spectacular, subtle grace.







But by far the most stunning ferns you’ll see are the glow-in-the-light (or iridescent) ferns along the footpath of the bamboo forest trail. These ferns are humble in their beauty, so you have to pay attention to the fringes of the path in order to find them.

They’re colloquially known as the peacock fern or paku merak (which translates from Malay to English as “peacock nail”). The botanical name of the species is Selaginella willdenowii (synonym S. wallichiana) and they’re actually lycopods or club mosses (close relatives of ferns).

Once you discover them, you’ll be amazed by their exquisiteness. Their leaves glitter metallic blues, violets, and greens. Each leaf is subtly different and every angle catches the sunlight with a distinctive hue.


Monday, April 19th, 2010 | Author:  | 46,250 views - starting Aug 9/09


Leptonycteris curasoae. Copyright US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Recently, the explosion of agave nectar consumption has dramatically increased demand for the agricultural production of agave crops.  Agave nectar is advertised as a safe and nutritious alternative sweetener that can be enjoyed by everyone, especially diabetics, without the potential side-effects suffered from consuming sugar cane, honey, corn syrup, and sugar alcohols.  However, agave agriculture is not an ecologically sustainable practice.  The biodiversity of agave plants, their native desert ecosystems, and the pollinator bat species that depend on agave for food are all at risk.

It has become widespread knowledge that the world’s pollinators are dwindling.  Thanks to the global voices of entomologists (scientists who study insects) and ornithologists (scientists who study birds), public concerns about the precipitous decline in pollinator populations have motivated successful conservation strategies to help protect commonly loved species such as honey bees, Monarch butterflies, and various hummingbirds.

However, the number of plant pollinators whose existence is under threat is, sadly, far greater than what most people realize.  One very important group of pollinators, bats, is often overlooked; yet, in many ecosystems bats are primary pollinators and dispersers of seeds for thousands of plants, including plants used and consumed by humans.

Agaves are among the plants that some species of bats pollinate. However, what makes this relationship especially unique is that bats and agaves are reliant upon each other—loss of one will effect dire consequences for the other. So how does the agave nectar industry affect the ecology of bats and of agave? Let’s take a closer look at the biology of agaves and bats in South America.


Thursday, October 15th, 2009 | Author:  | 7,687 views - starting Aug 9/09

i’m so pleased to see how many people are enjoying this blog … i’ve received a lot of fantastic feedback and a lot of questions about when the next posts will be coming … i’ve had to take a pause from writing for this blog because i’m currently editing a textbook (in addition to the usual smorgasbord of work contracts and academic interests that revolve through my mind on a daily basis) … i already have a million ideas bustling in my brain for future threads to post, but will likely write about an issue that is particularly urgent and that i am especially passionate about — the ecological and biological dangers of GMOsmore…

Category: agriculture, Ecosystems, GMOs, life  | 2 Comments

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