Today was another of those too-rare days that I attack the worsening jumble of my desk in an effort to restore it to a more reasonable state of disorder. As usual while shuffling through the papers I saw two fire-engine-red, polka-dotted mushrooms looking up at me appealingly from a photograph in a magazine article. This time they stopped me. Tempted by that bright photo of fly agaric, Amanita muscaria, I took the pages to my desk and began what became a heady plunge into the inner story of mushrooms,
Nature and the Environment
Blackwater Draw sits on a time warp. Located in a remote landscape where central New Mexico threatens to bump into Texas, it is near the dozens of great green clustered tiddlywinks that I had seen often from the air. Up close they were amazing disks of tall, healthy corn and milo grain, watered by huge irrigating arms that moved slowly around the field from a central pivot like the hands of a clock. In wetter times saber-toothed tigers, woolly mammoths, ancient camels – and humans – lived in this place.
It seems only a couple of years ago that while driving around the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, I was struck by the number of dead piñon pine trees scattered among the sparse, desert-hugging piñon-juniper forest. As I drove higher the forest became thicker and the pine mortality climbed, too. Clearly, among the tree population, a kind of genocide was in progress, for from all appearances their neighboring juniper (cedar) trees and other plants were in fine condition.
What was going on here? Were the pines dying for want of water?
It was looking at me from behind a large chunk of sandstone. An orange eye with a small flash of orange and blue skin flaring behind studied me, the crest moving slightly on its head. I threw a pebble and my own therapod, modified for the Holocene epoch, ran off in a dead-straight line toward its lair in a tall blue spruce. I heard the clack of mandibles and knew there would be another close by. I growled and it broke cover and made for the tree.
Roadrunners are not my favorite animals,
What do you think of the bugs, worms, and the other creepy-crawlies that run for their lives when you pick up a damp piece of wood? Many will say ugh, not for me! but for some of us – entomologists surely, biologists and science writers probably – there are marvelous things to know about ants, spiders, centipedes, beetles, earwigs, millipedes, earthworms and their like. All have their places in the web of life, yet most of us are trained out of our appreciation for these small creatures, actually our small fellow creatures,
Today I opened my copy of Science magazine to the Letters section and learned about a wonderful idea. It was new to me, but apparently has been going on for a long, long time. In Ethiopia, the ancient Orthodox Church is actively providing sanctuary for trees and their related ecosystems in an otherwise devastated land.
Colgate University’s Catherine Cardelus (firstname.lastname@example.org) and colleagues used their letter to publish a three-paragraph review report that explains how “the church leadership views biodiversity conservation as one of its primary stewardships.” An accompanying aerial photograph proves the point by showing a circular forest that encircles a group of church buildings.