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Acorns

Bayou-Diversity (30 September 2018) In a recent year the white oaks of Union Parish released their offspring on November 19th. Actually they began a few days before and continued for a week or so afterwards. On that day from my front porch my watch could not mark ten consecutive seconds free of acorn-fall within earshot. It was the largest acorn crop in 14 years for this naturally cyclic species. As they fell at speeds up to 100 miles per hour they riddled the leaves below them like arboreal hail and buried their butts in mother earth. Some blasted the metal roof of my house, accelerated on the 7/12 pitch, and launched off the edge of the front porch at a very unbotanical angle. Once

Trivia

Bayou-Diversity (23 September 2018) Okay, here’s the Louisiana bayou trivia question of the day. Just what are those softball-sized, jelly-like globs that are often seen attached to bayou trees and boat docks, especially after water levels fall? Impress your friends with this answer: Bryozoan Colony. These gray, gelatinous masses are actually colonies of thousands of individual animals called zooids. Each zooid is a microscopic creature complete with a mouth, digestive tract, muscles, and nerves. The jelly-like material serves as a protective matrix for the colony. Individuals feed by filtering tiny algae from the water through tentacles. Since algae don’t usually grow well in muddy w

Umwelt

Bayou-Diversity (9 September 2018) We humans describe the world that we see around us as our environment. Our perception of this world is unique in that none of the other living creatures on the planet share our experience. Each species has its own awareness of what we call the environment. The term for what an animal perceives is Umwelt, or self-world. There can be as many different Umwelten in a particular environment as there are kinds of animals. The Umwelt for any creature is dependent upon the types of sensory receptors that it possesses and its capability to process stimuli of those receptors. Our awareness is based on the five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, e

Sounds in the Night

Bayou-Diversity (2 September 2018) When people experience intense emotions such as fright or awe, they often remark that they feel their hair standing on end. Startling night sounds that emit from our local forest lands are sometimes a source of these involuntary chillbumps. Owls, especially barred owls with their wild screams and hoots, have sent many a novice outdoorsman packing. There is one species of local mammal though that can hold his own with owls when it comes to nocturnal caterwauling. At my house in the woods they begin tuning up mostly during their winter breeding season. A sudden explosive burst of harsh, coughing barks evokes images of mythological hellhounds and this co

 

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