Thursday, January 31, 2013

Great Barrier Reef

Eddy Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
With global temperatures estimated to rise at minimum 2°C, the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef are high. Global warming and ocean acidification will add stress to the reefs resulting in coral bleaching, coral morality, a decline in water quality, overexploitation of key species, and stronger cyclonic activity to name a few.

Mass coral bleaching is not new, but the increased frequency of occurrence leaves less time for recovery and more stress in the long-term. As it is a patchy event and affects various reefs differently, one focus of research is on the reason why and whether this can be used to help other reefs. Coral calcification is also declining and correlates with the rise of global temperatures. Unseen in over 400 years, coral calcification is what provides structural complexity to the reefs. Tens of thousands of species found within reefs depend on calcareous coral skeletons. Without intervention, some predict that by 2030 the Great Barrier Reef will be transformed to a non-coral dominate state.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Great Barrier Reef

Eddy Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Situated along the northeast coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the most diverse collection of coral reef. Along with over 1500 species of fish and 4000 types of mollusc, the reef is also home to over 100 species of sharks and rays in addition to both the threatened dugong and large green turtle. A World Heritage site since 1981, the Great Barrier Reef covers 340,000 km² and can be divided into the inner reef and outer reef. As a home for a large number of species, the real threat of climate change on the reef has been a main focal point of research and conservation efforts.

If visiting a reef, I would not suggest a disposable underwater camera.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

American Robin

Juvenile American Robin, Turdus migratorius
The American Robin can be found throughout the North American continent.  A large songbird with a characteristic orange breast, this bird is often considered a harbinger of spring, but is often seen in large winter flocks throughout most of its range. They are well adapted to not only the urban setting, but untamed areas as well including tundra and the treeline of mountains. While they mainly eat invertebrates, particularly earthworms, a large portion of the diet also consists of fruits. As the robin is a common forager found around lawns, they are particularly vulnerable to poisoning.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bess Beetle

Patent Leather Beetle, Passalidae
Bess Beetles, or Patent Leather Beetles, are common names for the diverse Passalidae family of beetles found mostly in the tropics. Of the over 500 names species, only two are found within North America. These are large beetles ranging from 20 mm to 70 mm long most often found in rotting wood. There they live in subsocial, or family, groups in galleries excavated by the adults. While the common name Patent Leather Beetle is in reference to the shiny leather-like shell, the common name Bess Beetle is from the sound these beetles make. From the French word baiser, to kiss, this beetle makes a squeaking noise when handle that has been described as a kissing sound.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Creeping woodsorrel, Oxalis corniculata L.
A forb is a broadleaf, non-graminoid, herbaceous flowering plant with net-like veins in the leaves. Most are deeply rooted perennials with an extending life span in comparison to grasses. The flowers, informally including wildflowers, are often colorful and showy, but many times these plants are described as weeds. With a wide variety of shapes, color, and sizes, the importance of forbs to wildlife is high. They provide as both food and shelter for many including white-tailed deer and songbirds. Some wildlife, such as the Gopherus genus of tortoise, rely heavily on forb consumption for their diet.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Graupel, or Snow Pellets
The result of ice crystals and supercooled water droplets frozen together is referred to as graupel. This form of frozen precipitation is also known as snow pellets or soft hail. While harmless compared to the damage of a hailstorm, the static buildup may sometimes result in lightning. The sign and magnitude of charge in these thunderstorms depends on a variety of factors including ice crystal size, graupel velocity, and temperature.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Phototropism at Caverna Laje Branca
The directional growth of a plant in response to the stimulus of light is known as phototropism. It is a permanent, positive or negative change, in the position of a plant part. The different classifications of plant movement are either autonomous or induced movements. While autonomous movement has no detectable external cause, induced movement is a stimulus response. This is further organized as nastic responses and tactic movements. A nastic response is non-direction, such as temperature or humidity, whereas a tactic movement has a directional orientation, such as light and gravity.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Atlantic Rainforest

Near Parque Estadual Turístico Alta Ribeira (PETAR)
The Atlantic Rainforest, considered one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots for conservation priority, is composed of two forest types: coastal rainforest and semi-deciduous forest. It extends over mountain slopes, goes to the sea, over coastal plains, contains swamp forests, and includes open thicket vegetation. While it once covered the majority of eastern Brazil, the Atlantic Rainforest has now been reduced to only 7% of its original area. Of the vast number of species found in this habitat, many endemic, an estimated 60% are classified as threatened or endangered.

I wanted to start the year off with one of my favorite photos I have taken (and the scene for the blog background). It should also be worth mentioning that, after mulling it over for a few weeks, I'm switching the updates to every Tuesday and Thursday. Depending on how that pans out, it may or may not end up being a permanent switch. The only other change this year is an addition to the title. I've focused more on facts than photography as I've been going along, and I don't see that changing!