Archive for the Category » Ecosystems «

Thursday, May 19th, 2011 | Author:  | 14,757 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 ….

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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.

more…

Saturday, January 15th, 2011 | Author:  | 3,053 views - starting Aug 9/09

blue gold

a documentary about water … stark, informative, shocking, imperative to watch …

Sunday, April 25th, 2010 | Author:  | 5,515 views - starting Aug 9/09

I’m proud and fortunate to be a co-inhabitant of Earth … I think everyone should feel that sense of pride –- not quite patriotism or nationalism … just Earthism

I think I’ve coined a new word …

it sounds awkward, but the sentiment is, I believe, noble … if we all inspire a swelling of honour for being alive on this stupendous host planet, then respecting our home would be an innate habit, an inevitable consequence of our mundane routines … we wouldn’t have to think about taking care of the Earth, it would be automatic … as parents love their child, as siblings care for each other, as friends look out for one another, each human would have the same concern for Home … it would be effortless and intrinsically rewarding … it would be a necessity and a natural way of living …

it’s not a primitive mind-set, nor does it imply sacrifice … for we are sacrificing more if we ruthlessly imperil life on the planet … it isn’t difficult to live conscientiously … a “simple life” doesn’t mean “boring” or even “deprived” … i think it suggests respect more than anything … respect for oneself as well as for other living beings …

Monday, April 19th, 2010 | Author:  | 33,394 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.

more…

Thursday, October 15th, 2009 | Author:  | 4,261 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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Monday, July 27th, 2009 | Author:  | 13,672 views - starting Aug 9/09

skinny whale what?!?

gray whale identification

a quick reference to distinguishing gray whales from other species ... click for a larger image

according to the urban dictionary, there is such a thing as “dolphin whale syndrome” … that made me chuckle …

according to biologists, however, there is also such as thing as “skinny whale syndrome” … this one’s not so funny …

skinny whale syndrome is a recent phenomenon that is being observed in pacific gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) by fishermen, local people living near marine environments, and marine biologists … the migration, feeding, and breeding behaviours of these magnificent mammals are changing … more…

Category: climate change, Ecosystems, life, oceans, water, wildlife  | Tags: , , , , , , ,  | 2 Comments

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Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 | Author:  | 4,297 views - starting Aug 9/09
exposed bedrock in the guld of maine, usa

exposed bedrock in the gulf of maine, usa

well, if injecting CO2 supercritical gas into bedrock is loaded with caveats, imagine how much worse it is to inject CO2 gas into the ocean — a living ecosystem teeming with biota (albeit i am not averse to Buddhist teachings and the contemporary Gaeia hypothesis, which contend that all matter has life) …

i’m especially bothered by any anthropogenic perturbations to oceans, largely because my training and schooling as a marine biologist made me shockingly aware of the enormity and extent of issues plaguing marine ecosystems as well as the (often unappreciated) importance that oceans play in global ecosystems …

so what may happen as a result of our attempts to store excess atmospheric CO2 gas in oceans? more…

Category: climate change, Ecosystems, Energy, life, oceans, water, wildlife  | Tags: , , , ,  | Leave a Comment

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Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 | Author:  | 8,044 views - starting Aug 9/09

in my previous post, i listed 3 general CO2 gas storage geotechnology strategies … i’ll discuss the pros & cons of each individually in the upcoming posts …

protestors dressed in CO2 molecule costumes to demonstrate in essen (1 june 2007) as part of the anti-CO2 pollution initiative, 'byebye CO2' ... photo from reuters

protesters dressed in CO2 molecule costumes to demonstrate in essen (1 june 2007) as part of the anti-CO2 pollution initiative, 'byebye CO2' ... photo from reuters

1.  CO2 stored in gaseous form and pumped or injected deep below the ground, into various geological formations such as saline aquifers, exhausted gas fields, coal beds, etc.

PROS:

* currently, this option is considered the safest … the injected CO2 gas is expected to react with the local bedrock and naturally form inert mineral carbonates via a process known as mineral carbonation … this is a natural geological process which, under normal conditions, occurs over a span of thousands of years … hence, the injected CO2 gas will theoretically exert no detriment to the local and regional geology while becoming permanently stored below the Earth’s surface … more…

Category: climate change, Ecosystems, Energy  | Tags: , , , , ,  | 6 Comments

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Friday, July 17th, 2009 | Author:  | 8,911 views - starting Aug 9/09
Quercus virginiana

Quercus virginiana

humans are still trying to develop technologies that imitate natural processes … by far the most effective, efficient, time-tested, and safest carbon capture and storage technology is found in photosynthesizing plants, soil microorganisms, and marine and freshwater ecosystems … however, fancy human technology has joined the race …

what are the pros & cons of artificial CO2 gas capture & storage? more…

Monday, July 13th, 2009 | Author:  | 9,040 views - starting Aug 9/09
an abacus

an abacus

human creativity knows no bounds … i think archaic and modern technology are impressive reflections of our ability to solve problems, adapt to our environment, and model new tools based on observations of nature … modifying and finding novel applications for existing technologies is equally august …

thorstein veblen (1857 – 1929), US economist & social philosopher, said “necessity is the mother of all invention” … for the past few decades, necessity has put technological solutions to climate change at the forefront of industry research, political agendas, and media attention …

however, technology is not a (let alone the) solution to climate change … more…