4 posts · 1,798 views
My first impression upon hearing the hypothesis that Dickinsonia (Fig. 1) may be a lichen was that it does not look like any lichen I’ve ever seen. To be fair, the more normal interpretation that it is a marine animal, a segmented worm, sparks the same response…it does not look like any animal I’ve ever seen or heard of. What it actually resembles is a giant diatom, but that is pretty silly. This uncertainty is exactly what has been nagging paleontologists since the 1940’s….what are th........ Read more »
A recent paper by Elbert et al. in Nature Geoscience estimates the global contribution of "cryptogamic covers" to nitrogen fixation and net primary productivity. One of the authors, Bettina Weber, recently presented this work at the Ecological Society of America meeting. The discussion about how carbon can be sequestered almost always revolves around carbon intense ecosystems, those which store a lot of carbon per unit area, or ecosystems which can produce a lot of biomass very quickly. Cryptoga........ Read more »
Wolfgang Elbert,, Bettina Weber,, Susannah Burrows,, Jörg Steinkamp,, Burkhard Büdel,, Meinrat O. Andreae, & Ulrich Pöschl. (2012) Contribution of cryptogamic covers to the global cycles of carbon and nitrogen. Nature Geoscience. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1486
Readers of this blog won't be so surprised, but most people are unaware that mosses grow in deserts and semiarid zones. The reason they can do so is that desert mosses are dessication tolerators, meaning they are capable of drying without dying. While dry, they are in a state of suspended animation, simply waiting for the next hydration period so that biological activity - and hopefully - net photosynthesis can occur. They rehydrate literally in seconds, and are immediately active. You could m........ Read more »
Reed SC, Coe KK, Sparks JP, Houseman DC, Zelikova, TJ, Belnap J. (2012) Changes to dryland rainfall result in rapid moss mortality and altered soil fertility. . Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1596
First we had Darwin's finches, Hutchinson's water-bugs, Diamond's islands, and Vitousek's soil age gradients...now possibly we have Gotelli's biocrusts. I'm talking about model systems: objects of study whose characteristics make them especially good for asking certain questions, and from which we wish to gain general knowledge about other systems. Drosophila and E. coli are other models in genetics and microbiology, and rodents have long been a model in toxicology......... Read more »
Gotelli, N., Ulrich, W., & Maestre, F. (2011) Randomization tests for quantifying species importance to ecosystem function. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2011.00121.x
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