Thriving since 1960, my garden in a bottle: Seedling sealed in its own ecosystem and watered just once in 53 years.

“To look at this flourishing mass of plant life you’d think David Latimer was a green-fingered genius. Truth be told, however, his bottle garden – now almost in its 53rd year – hasn’t taken up much of his time. In fact, on the last occasion he watered it Ted Heath was Prime Minister and Richard Nixon was in the White House.

For the last 40 years it has been completely sealed from the outside world. But the indoor variety of spiderworts (or Tradescantia, to give the plant species its scientific Latin name) within has thrived, filling its globular bottle home with healthy foliage.

Yesterday Mr Latimer, 80, said: ‘It’s 6ft from a window so gets a bit of sunlight. It grows towards the light so it gets turned round every so often so it grows evenly. ‘Otherwise, it’s the definition of low-maintenance. I’ve never pruned it, it just seems to have grown to the limits of the bottle.’ 

The bottle garden has created its own miniature ecosystem. Despite being cut off from the outside world, because it is still absorbing light it can photosynthesize  the process by which plants convert sunlight into the energy they need to grow.”

So how does it work exactly?

Bottle gardens work because their sealed space creates an entirely self-sufficient ecosystem in which plants can survive by using photosynthesis to recycle nutrients.

The only external input needed to keep the plant going is light, since this provides it with the energy it needs to create its own food and continue to grow.

Light shining on the leaves of the plant is absorbed by proteins containing chlorophylls (a green pigment).

Some of that light energy is stored in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that stores energy. The rest is used to remove electrons from the water being absorbed from the soil through the plant’s roots.

These electrons then become ‘free’ - and are used in chemical reactions that convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates, releasing oxygen.

This photosynthesis process is the opposite of the cellular respiration that occurs in other organisms, including humans, where carbohydrates containing energy react with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, water, and release chemical energy.

But the eco-system also uses cellular respiration to break down decaying material shed by the plant. In this part of the process, bacteria inside the soil of the bottle garden absorbs the plant’s waste oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide which the growing plant can reuse.

And, of course, at night, when there is no sunlight to drive photosynthesis, the plant will also use cellular respiration to keep itself alive by breaking down the stored nutrients.

Because the bottle garden is a closed environment, that means its water cycle is also a self-contained process.

The water in the bottle gets taken up by plants’ roots, is released into the air during transpiration, condenses down into the potting mixture, where the cycle begins again.”

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Wolves can shape the ecosystem and physical geography of the land they live on. When wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park in ‘95 after a 70-year absence, trees grew faster, animal populations increased, and rivers even changed their behavior because new vegetation helped reduce erosion. Source Source 2 Source 3


The “Island Vessel Vivarium” is a terrarium inside an aquarium. Designed by artist Alberto J. Almarza, show-cased at the Geek Arts / Green Innovators Festival in April 2010. Glass blower: Pittsburgh Glass Center.

“As a passionate nature lover, there is nothing more gratifying than observing this active and thriving little ecosystem as if seen through a magnifying glass.” ~Almarza

Living ingredients include moss, violets, a spider, and a centipede for the terrarium, and for the aquarium: Java moss, banana plant, barnacles, ghost shrimp, and zebra danios. 

Why do invasive species matter?

This is an Indo-Pacific lionfish.

Lionfish are native to the Pacific Ocean, but in recent years they’ve been appearing in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, including in Gray’s Reef, Florida Keys, Flower Garden Banks and Monitor national marine sanctuaries.

With 18 venomous spines, they’re dangerous for divers in those areas.

But it’s not just humans that are at risk: lionfish are threatening entire ecosystems.

These fish have voracious appetites, and outside the Pacific they have no natural predators. A thousand lionfish can consume 5 million prey fish in a single year. 

So you can see how their impacts can begin to add up. Researchers in affected national marine sanctuaries are studying these fish to understand what they’re eating, and are working to remove them from their invaded habitats. You can help, too, by participating in lionfish derbies and eating lionfish at home and in restaurants.

Lionfish aren’t the only invasive species in national marine sanctuaries, though. In Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron, zebra and quagga mussels compete with native mussel species.

Each one of these bivalves can filter up to a liter of water each day and alter food webs as a result. They also degrade the integrity of many of the Great Lakes’ historic shipwrecks.

Another invasive species, orange cup coral, has established itself throughout the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, including in Flower Garden Banks and Florida Keys national marine sanctuaries.

This bright coral thrives on artificial substrates like shipwrecks and oil and gas platforms; in Flower Garden Banks it is also expanding into the natural reef. 

As it colonizes these spaces, orange cup coral leaves less and less room for native corals and sponges.

The good news is, that from research to removal efforts to targeting your culinary adventuring, we can help protect these fragile ecosystems from invasive species.

Learn more about invasive species in your national marine sanctuaries.


Life in a sinkhole

The karst landscapes of China have been an essential part of their figurative art and painting since time immemorial, capturing the imagination and providing a sense of wonder at nature. The sinkholes here form when underground rivers carve out underground channels by chemical erosion whose roofs later collapse when they weaken. These windows allow sunlight to pour within, and extensive and unique ecosystems to develop underground.


Image credit: Song Wen/Barcroft Media

“Seamount fisheries have often been described as mining operations rather than sustainable fisheries. They typically collapse within a few years of the start of fishing and the trawlers then move on to other unexploited seamounts to maintain the fishery.”  

Philip Mladenov, author of Marine Biology: A Very Short Introduction, explores the future of seamount ecosystems on the OUPblog.

Image credit: By NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

If Apes Go Extinct, So Could Entire Forests

Bonobo poop matters. Well, maybe not the poop itself, but what’s in it.

You see, bonobos eat a lot of fruit, and fruit contains seeds. Those seeds travel through a bonobo’s digestive system while the bonobo itself travels through the landscape. A few hours later, the seeds end up being deposited far from where the fruits were plucked. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where new trees come from.

But what if there were no apes? A new study published February 27 in the journal Oryx found that many tree and plant species in the Democratic Republic of the Congo rely almost exclusively on bonobos for seed dispersal. In the LuiKotale forest, where the study was conducted, 18 plant species were completely unable to reproduce if their seeds did not first travel through a bonobo’s guts. According to the paper if the bonobos disappeared, the plants would also likely go extinct.

Continue Reading.

2/3 of the planet’s wildlife could be extinct by 2020. According to the World Wildlife Fund, our animal population already declined 58% between 1970 and 2012, and we’re on the edge of a new era in which human activity has irreversibly altered the ecosystem. This loss of wildlife would be the largest mass extinction since the dinosaurs. Source


Can you imagine living in a bubble for two years? Well, these people did it. Back in the 90s, Jane Poynter wanted to understand the delicate balance of the Earth’s ecosystem. So she and seven others moved into a sealed biosphere for 2 years and 20 minutes. (That last twenty minutes matters when you’re stuck in a giant bubble.) The challenges they faced — from spending 4 months making a single pizza to being short on oxygen — make for a pretty incredible story.

Hear her tell the story »

This innovative ocean garbage collecter could save us all

Boyan Slat’s solution for ocean pollution came to life on Thursday when a prototype of his product — a system that uses the sea’s currents to collect debris — was put to the test for the first time.The floating ocean cleaning device arrived in the North Sea on schedule and everything went as planned. When devising a name for his potentially revolutionary prototype, Slat asked the internet for help — and the result was hilarious.

Follow @the-future-now


Connected Worlds

Project by Design I/O is a huge interactive installation for children for the New York Hall of Science, featuring an ecosystem of virtual animals to play with:

Connected Worlds is a large scale immersive, interactive ecosystem developed for the New York Hall of Science. The installation is composed of six interactive ecosystems spread out across the walls of the Great Hall, connected together by a 3000 sqft interactive floor and a 45ft high waterfall. Children can use physical logs to divert water flowing across the floor from the waterfall into the different environments, where they can then use their hands to plant seeds. As the different environments bloom, creatures appear based on the health of the environment and the type of plants growing in it. If multiple environments are healthy creatures will migrate between them causing interesting chain reactions of behaviors.

Connected Worlds is designed to encourage a systems thinking approach to sustainability where local actions in one environment may have global consequences. Children work with a fixed amount of water in the system and have to work together to manage and distribute the water across the different environments. Clouds return water from the environments to the waterfall which releases water to the floor when it rains.

More Here


You probably never will see most of Jason deCaires Taylor’s public art projects firsthand — at least, not without goggles and fins.

Most of his sculptures stand at the bottom of the sea. His life-size statues — ghostly figures of men, women and children — seem to walk the ocean floor as they hold hands, huddle, even watch TV.

But his latest art installation is an exception: You can fully see it (if only twice a day).The Rising Tide, a set of four horseback riders standing in the river Thames in London, is completely visible only at low tide, when the water recedes.

As he tells NPR’s Scott Simon, his style gives rise to a curious fact: Between the elements, the tides and the life that grows up all around them, his works are never quite the same from one moment to the next.

Set In Stone But Ever-Changing: Sculptures Reshaped By The Tides

Photos: Courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor

As you all may know the Great Barrier Reef is under a massive threat at the moment. The Australian government wants to dredge 35million tonnes of the seabed and is planning to dump it on the reef to create a pathway for massive coal and gas carriers to pass through! This action will have a detrimental effect on the reef it will harm & kill the coral and many of the creatures that live in it, the crystal clear water will also be non existent. Do you want this to happen? Thank fully we have a say in this we have a chance to save the precious reef it is all up to us! So please spread the word and cast your vote to save the reef by reblogging and clicking the link below
Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world and is a heritage protected area? Wouldn’t that make the government corrupt for harming it in anyway? They must be stopped and as I said it’s all up to you!
The votes are counted on the 16th June 2014 so that gives us a couple of days to get as many votes as Possible! So please please please so your bit to save this magnificent ecosystem!
Be the change you want to see in the world 🌏
^ sign the petition & Reblog