Plants

Ocean “Conveyor Belt” Sustains Sea Life, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 15, 2004   View Article

An estimated three-quarters of all marine life is maintained by a single ocean-circulation pattern in the Southern Hemisphere that pulls nutrient-rich waters from the deep ocean, brings them to the surface, and distributes them around the world.

“This is really something,” said Jorge Sarmiento, a professor of atmospheric and ocean sciences at Princeton University in New Jersey. Sarmiento made the discovery using sophisticated computer models.

Wildfire Fuels Debate Over Land-Burning in Africa

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 4, 2004   View Article

Last October Madagascar’s Ibity Massif was engulfed in flames. The mountain is famous among botanists, because as many as 20 plant species found there grow nowhere else in the world.

Neither unique plants nor fire are unusual on Madagascar, an island nation off the southeast coast of Africa. An estimated 80 percent of the Madagascan flora is endemic. Fires, both natural and human-caused, have burned seasonally dry parts of the island with clockwork regularity for millennia.

African Slaves’ Plant Knowledge Vanishing in Brazil

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 6, 2004   View Article

When Angela Leony visited the town of Lençóis in northeastern Brazil 18 years ago, she was unable to conceive. Yearning for a child, she went to see Dona Senhorinha, an elder healer.

Senhorinha told Leony the problem might be solved by drinking tea made from Estradeira-vermelha, a native pea plant with a bright red flower known for its ability to start the menstrual cycle and facilitate pregnancy.

Activists Expose Malaysia Wood-Smuggling Ring

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 5, 2004   View Article

A dense, fine-grained wood hacked from Indonesian forests is the stuff of a real-life tale about smugglers, crime bosses, corrupt politicians, and wildlife teetering on the brink of extinction, according to an undercover investigation by an environmental activist group.

Ramin (Gonystylus spp.), the wood in question, is used to make everything from baby cribs and pool cues to picture frames and decorative trim found in homes and bars around the world.

Unique Bolivia Park Begun by Indigenous People

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 13, 2004   View Article

The parched, southeastern corner of Bolivia is the unlikely home to a park that houses Latin America’s highest diversity of large mammals, and is the stage for an unusual story of protected-area creation and operation.

“The park remains the only national protected area in the Americas created as the result of an initiative by an indigenous organization,” said Michael Painter, Bolivia program director for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which has helped manage the park since its creation in 1995.

Monkeflower Mutation Provides Evolution Insight

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 12, 2003   View Article

For years scientists have grappled to understand the number and type of genetic mutations required for a new species to evolve. Does it require the accumulation of many minute mutations? Or can a single mutation spark a big change?

Now researchers studying pink and red flowers in the monkeyflower (Mimulus) family have found a persuasive answer: A single mutation can recruit a whole new set of pollinators, serving as the fork in the road that leads to a new species.

Bats Follow Ultraviolet Light to Nectar, Study Suggests

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 27, 2003   View Article

Halloween decorators take note: Reflected ultraviolet light lures bats to succulent treats. Fortunately, these bats live in the rain forests of Central and South America.

According to a team of German and Guatemalan researchers, rain forest flowers that reflect ultraviolet light may help guide the color-blind bat Glossophaga soricina to their nectar like a harbor beacon guides a ship to shore at night.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach