Friday, March 23, 2018
Our micro-videographer Linda Bower is producing fantastic videos with her microscope at a rate I will never be able to keep up with. We will start posting her videos with her comments and a listing of their length under the title Microblog. I plan to write on topics such as cladocera and water bears when I "get around to it." And don't bother sending me one, I will have to find the time on my own.
Volvox birthing 3:50
This Volvox mother colony was found in farm pond water located in the Missouri Ozarks, USA. Guest appearances by Cladocera and a variety of plankton.
New to Volvox? No Linda, Barb and I talk about them every day at breakfast!
Volvox is a genus of some 20 species of freshwater green algae (division Chlorophyta) found worldwide. Volvox form spherical or oval hollow colonies that contain some 500 to 60,000 cells embedded in a gelatinous wall and are often just visible with the naked eye. Read more here: at Britannica.com's Volvox entry.
Sunday, March 18, 2018
|Chardonnay de mus|
A friend who shall remain unnamed had a half full wine bottle left open on his kitchen cabinet in his cabin for a week. When he returned he found a mouse floating in the chardonnay quite glassy-eyed. How he got in there is the big mystery. Yes it was a male," Barb said, "What else did you expect, probably did it to impress a buddy."
The internal diameter of the bottle neck is 3/4" which looks like a tight fit. Schwartz's Wild Mammals of Missouri says that a House Mouse,
Mus musculus, can fit through an opening 1/2" in diameter. The real question I have is how did it climb up the slick glass bottle? It must have had a powerful thirst!
Unlike the other 12 mouse species listed for Missouri, the House Mouse is an invasive species. Mus domesticus, western European house mice, and Mus castaneus, southeastern Asian house mice are two of the seven different strains that have adapted quite well to life with humans. As a group they tend to breed year around, leading to high numbers in our structures.
They are more omnivorous than the native mouse species, adapted to a wide variety of insects as well as our stored and prepared foods, soap, glue, and apparently white wine. They have a wide variety of predators but most of them don't have access to our structures. In our creek house, its main threats are the resident Black Rat Snake and Barb.
Mus domesticus, western European house mice, and Mus castaneus, southeastern Asian house miceThey areI broke the bottle open as my friend said he didn't want to save the wine. The mouse was totally pickled and quite relaxed. His next stop is in a flower pot in the garlic field to give insects a chance to clean the skeleton. A story like that is worth preserving.
Lisa Berger's note:
Bouquet: Notes of 3-day old toast, and pickled mus-kleberries
Mouth feel: Exquisitely full bodied, especially if the mouse is in your first sip
We have named the mouse George in honor of George, Duke of Clarence who was said to be executed by drowning in a butt of malmsey wine, as it is described in Shakespeare’s play Richard III. This link describes the controversy over this which I think is confusing with facts a better story. Long live George, but not in our case.
Friday, March 16, 2018
|Cardinal of a different color - Andy Schiller|
|Same bird earlier - Charley Burwick|
In addition to drawing the attention of birders, leucism has other disadvantages. Since melanin is structural as well as a pigment, feathers may wear out sooner, affecting flight and temperature control. The reflection of heat can be a big disadvantage when facing cool spring winds.
|Piebald, leucistic, you name it. - Pinterest|
Be on the lookout at Monday's meeting and maybe we will get a chance to see it alive and in color, sort of.
Dave Shanholtzer shared with me that he was a passionate birder with Greater Ozarks Audubon Society in the 1980s, the lone kid on their field trips. He had a leucistic cardinal at his backyard feeder that he followed. This is little David out with GOAS in the 80s and that might be Burwick in the skirt.
Thursday, March 15, 2018
|Liverleaf (Hepatica) found by Jill Hays|
|Hepatica leaves green up later in the spring. Note the hairy stalks - REK|
Liverleaf is also commonly called hepatica because of its previous species name Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa. That was in the "good old days," but since it was one of the few plant names I knew, they had to change it to Anemone americana to confuse me as rationalized here.
One of the cool things about liverleaf is its propagation. While it is self-pollinating and doesn't need insects for that step, it depends on ants to move and plant its seeds. Each seed has an elaiosome, a small, soft appendage that contains fatty nutrition. Ants pick up the seed and take it home with them, eating their treat while not harming the seed, a process called myrmecochory. Frequently it ends up in a pile of ant poop, dispersed and fertilized at the same time.
|A hepatica of a different color - and family - REK|
More on liverleaf is at skymea dows.info.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
|Timberdoodle - Paco Lyptic|
The Timberdoodle is a fascinating bird and I don't have the words to describe it.....at least not as well than our favorite Bug Lady. Linger not here, go straight to her description at this Bug of the Week link.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
|Scanning electron microscope view of a tardigrade - Wikipedia|
"Tardigrades, often called water bears or moss piglets, are near-microscopic animals with long, plump bodies and scrunched-up heads. They have eight legs, and hands with four to eight claws on each. While strangely cute, these tiny animals are almost indestructible and can even survive in outer space. Tardigrades eat fluid to survive. They suck the juices from algae, lichens and moss. Some species are carnivores and even cannibals."Their fame comes from their survival skills. They are among the "Most Likely to Survive" contestants in the case of a catastrophic Earth event such as a massive asteroid strike. Some of their survival records:
- 300 degrees Fahrenheit (water boils at 212)
- -328 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pressure 6 times greater than the deepest part of the ocean.
“This footage offers a view of tardigrades moving freely among a variety of plankton. It is fun to watch them walking around underwater although they are too tiny to get much detail with my current equipment. Seeing how they move may help if you are going to try to find them yourself.”The Livescience posting on tardigrades is an excellent overview of these cute yet indestructible critters including images and video links.
Sunday, March 4, 2018
When I was young, the feelings of plants didn't get much respect. They grew out of the ground at our pleasure, or in the case of dandelions, our displeasure. We modified them painlessly with clippers and lawnmowers just like caterpillars chewed on them. They felt nothing.
We have learned more over the last 60 years. Plants seek out the sun like some people migrate to Florida in the winter. Many plants aim their leaves toward the sun, and trees grow their branches toward the available sunlight. Vines touching a branch will start slowly wrapping around it, a process called thigmoplasty. Sensitive briars and Venus flytraps close rapidly by a similar process called thigmonasty, responding again to touch, just much faster. Venus flytraps actually seem to count, awaiting a second stimulus before closing.
|Plants have feelings? - Bizarro.com|
A new study has shown that these senses can be dulled with the same anesthetics that are used on mammals, including us, in surgery or the dentist's chair. I came across this in a NY Times article, Sedate a Plant, and It Seems to Lose Consciousness. Is It Conscious? It describes the results of research reported in the Annals of Botany.
One of the plants they tested was sensitive briar, Mimosa nuttallii. Its normal response to touch is the rapid folding up of its leaves, seen in this video. Diethyl ether in the air of its container, or lidocaine on its roots, caused it to stop responding to touch. Withdraw the anesthetic and seven hours later it had returned to a normal response.
These same anesthetics were used on Cape sundew, Drosera capensis, a well-known carnivorous plant and Venus flytrap, Dionaea muscipula. They rapidly lost their capture response to crushed dead flies. Yes, I feel the same about dead flies, but in their case these are like M&Ms to carnivorous plants. After several drug free hours they recovered their appetites and responded normally by quickly closing around the treats.
Obviously there is a lot of difference between responding to an anesthetic and actually feeling pain. Plants don't think, as far as we know, but some might say they are aware of the insult. While these findings may cause a few more readers to become vegans, I suspect it won't keep many homeowners off their riding lawnmowers.