Nature in general

General topics and articles about Nature all around us, and the Naturalists who study it, nurture it, write about it, and celebrate it!


The Hidden Beauty of Pollination.

One of the most amazing TED talks was by Louie Schwartzberg on pollination, the integration of feeding insects and birds with pollinating plants. Below is his introduction to his gorgeous high-speed images from his film “Wings of Life,” inspired by the vanishing of one of nature’s primary pollinators, the honeybee. I included his introduction text here, and then the HD version of the video, as the one on Youtube is lower quality. This is just a small portion of his famous DisneyNature “Wings of Life” 1 hour and 20 minute DVD.

It’s great being here at TED. You know, I think there might be some presentations that will go over my head, but the most amazing concepts are the ones that go right under my feet. The little things in life, sometimes that we forget about, like pollination, that we take for granted. And you can’t tell the story about pollinators — bees, bats, hummingbirds, butterflies — without telling the story about the invention of flowers and how they co-evolved over 50 million years.

I’ve been filming time-lapse flowers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for over 35 years. To watch them move is a dance I’m never going to get tired of. It fills me with wonder, and it opens my heart. Beauty and seduction, I believe, is nature’s tool for survival, because we will protect what we fall in love with. Their relationship is a love story that feeds the Earth. It reminds us that we are a part of nature, and we’re not separate from it.

When I heard about the vanishing bees, Colony Collapse Disorder, it motivated me to take action. We depend on pollinators for over a third of the fruits and vegetables we eat. And many scientists believe it’s the most serious issue facing mankind. It’s like the canary in the coalmine. If they disappear, so do we. It reminds us that we are a part of nature and we need to take care of it.

What motivated me to film their behavior was something that I asked my scientific advisers: “What motivates the pollinators?” Well, their answer was, “It’s all about risk and reward.” Like a wide-eyed kid, I’d say, “Why is that?” And they’d say, “Well, because they want to survive.” I go, “Why?” “Well, in order to reproduce.” “Well, why?” And I thought that they’d probably say, “Well, it’s all about sex.” And Chip Taylor, our monarch butterfly expert, he replied, “Nothing lasts forever. Everything in the universe wears out.”

And that blew my mind. Because I realized that nature had invented reproduction as a mechanism for life to move forward, as a life force that passes right through us and makes us a link in the evolution of life. Rarely seen by the naked eye, this intersection between the animal world and the plant world is truly a magic moment. It’s the mystical moment where life regenerates itself, over and over again.

So here is some nectar from my film. I hope you’ll drink, tweet and plant some seeds to pollinate a friendly garden. And always take time to smell the flowers, and let it fill you with beauty, and rediscover that sense of wonder. Here are some images from the film.”

 


From Class Presentations:

 


US Fish and Wildlife Service – Endangered Species.

Link to FWS endangered web site

“As the principal federal partner responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act (ESA), we take the lead in recovering and conserving our Nation’s imperiled species by fostering partnerships, employing scientific excellence, and developing a workforce of conservation leaders.

As we work in partnership with others, our two major goals are to:
1) Protect endangered and threatened species, and then pursue their recovery; and
2) Conserve candidate species and species-at-risk so that listing under the ESA is not necessary.”


Books, Documents and Websites of interest:

  • Book: Naming Nature, the clash between instinct and science, by Carol Yaesuk Yoon – 2009 Los Angeles Times book prize finalist.
  • For a variety of excellent articles by Texas AgriLife is on their Wild-Wonderings Blog, see http://wild-wonderings.blogspot.com/
  • TAMU Wildlife and Fisheries Extension has many videos on their Youtube channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/WFSCAgriLife/videos
  • Document: Field Guide List, recommended field guides.
  • The Reverchon Naturalist, a series of excellent newsletters with articles submitted by naturalists in Zone 5 of The Natural Resource Conservation Service, which includes Milam and many other counties in N. Central Texas.  Lots of plants and wildlife information. Maybe you want to submit an article of your own for publishing?
  • Quora.com is a really interesting site full of neat and unusual questions with some outstanding answers by experts everywhere.  One recent question asked in the Animals category was “What are some mind blowing facts about the animal kingdom?”  See all the answers here. You can subscribe to a regular email with snippets of recent posts in categories you choose.
  • Creative Critter Solutions. Based on her experiences over the years as a volunteer with a wildlife rehabilitation center fielding calls from people concerned about a wild critter “invading” their homes and gardens, and visiting community groups to discuss wildlife issues, she learned that the most effective solutions treat wildlife humanely as co-inhabitants of our environment. It makes it easier on everyone. The site contains information only and has no commercial connections. By Kay Bushnell

From Shawn Walton’s Weekly Blog / Column in Rockdale and Cameron Newspapers:

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