Story and photos by Alec Bryan, BLM Tumblr blogger
Deserts are often depicted as barren, windblown, rolling hills of interminable grains of sand, devoid of all life and bereft of changes in color but for the shadows of its waves. Many of the deserts of the Western United States; however, play host to a variety of vibrant plant life.
Some of the plants exhibit beautiful symmetry and color like the sego lily. Others, like the wholeleaf Indian paintbrush, get color and nutrients by feeding on nearby plants. The desert trumpet changes colors in the fall and often is found mistakenly when it pops under someone’s footfall.
Monsoon season in the Southwest is an opportune time to see the blooming cholla cactus, Galisteo sand verbena and numerous other plants that have remained dormant until the swelling skies begin to burst. Some plants exhibit strange growth patterns, like the desert cabbage, which looks like it has been taken straight from the sea floor. Apache plume catches light as it dances across its pink, silky feathers.
If visited at the right time of year, many of the deserts of the Western United States are a canvas of color abounding with vibrant life.
There’s a museum with a dinosaur exhibit in Toronto? Hell yeah, I’m going.
Hopefully this will not turn out like the Smithsonian, where I was telling my mom about the early plant fossils they had on exhibit, turned around, and found out I had a group of about 10 tourists following me thinking I was a docent. Or the time at that museum in Chicago with the really outdated geology exhibit that I started complaining about and wound up being followed around by several other museum patrons just so they could hear my snarky commentary. Or the time one of the security guards got his buddy to relieve him so he could listen to me explain the gemstones on display because what I was saying was much more entertaining that the normal museum tours.
Maybe it’s just as well I’ll be going there alone.
“Pataphysics is used to comment on a rational way of thinking through humor by an absurd use of the same rationality applied to something unusual or strange. In a similar way The Garden of Albertopolis or Experiment Road is an institution formed on the model of a series of five experiments done on different kinds of plants to reveal their consciousness. The Garden sets up scenarios that allow these strange plants to exhibit and exercise these qualities. The design for the five “experiments” are based on five theories of plant life that have been extensively researched but never been proven. The five gardens form an institution enclosed by a colonnade that is the main infrastructural piece. It acts as a theatre where the paths around the gardens at different levels are the places to view these strange worlds of plants. These worlds are the stages that have been sunken into the ground that further mystifies the activities of the gardens to the observer. This takes the model of a typical botanical garden critically subverts it to reflect the re-categorization of plants based on their emotional qualities. From plants that control a green house to plants that predict the weather, Experiment Road is this mythical institution suggesting an alternative way of exhibiting plant life.”
Just a heads up, I’m going to be posting some reptile/bird photography from the Moody Gardens zoo over the next few days. The animals there are so gorgeous and healthy. It’s important to recognize how good zoos can be for animals– pictures speak louder than words for our cause.
Here are various tropical birds from the Rainforest Pyramid. These animals have the run of a huge planted exhibit.
On your first date you go to a zoo quite a while outside of Arcadia Bay
It’s sweet, you walk around holding hands and look at the animals
Kate gets super excited about a lot of the animals, and there’s often squealing or light little skips and jumps that makes your heart flutter
You both spend time trying to find some of the snakes and insects amongst the plants in their respective exhibits with absolutely no luck
But it’s fine because she tugs at the bottom of your sleeve when she gets bored and you two move along to the next one
She also pokes your sides a lot when you say something silly that makes her laugh
Half way through the zoo there’s a canteen and the two of you sit to eat and talk about the world and your views on it
She tells you about her little sisters and you talk about your course at Blackwell Academy and why you chose it
You also snap a picture of her when you two have finished eating, and eventually tape it up on the wall beside your bed because her small but eager smile seriously makes you happy and you don’t care how corny it is
She buys you an extra large candy floss and the two of your share it as you explore the rest of the zoo
Kate even ends up having a long conversation with a little kid about tigers, and you just kind of sit back and watch, wondering how you got so lucky because… well…
During the Calvin Cycle, CO2 enters and with the help of the enzyme rubisco, is fixed into 3-PGA, a three carbon molecule. This is not very efficient because rubisco accidentally binds with O2 as well as CO2, which makes absolutely useless products through a process called photorespiration. Photorespiration makes NO ATP and NO sugar whatsoever. Hurrah. In fact, the products of photorespiration must now be broken down by peroxisomes, resulting in a waste of time and energy.
What do certain plants do to avoid this?
This is a plant modification for dry environments, in which plants such as corn and sugar cane must adapt to hot and sunny environments while being as productive as possible.
C-4 Plants exhibit Kranz anatomy, which means that C-4 leaves have bundle-sheath cells that lie under mesophyll cells, deep, deep down in the leaf so that O2 cannot interfere with the Calvin Cycle.
How does this happen?
Well, the Hatch-Slack pathway is a biochemical pathway that describes a C-4 Plant’s process of sequestering CO2 deep into the bundle sheath cells, avoiding photorespiration.
First, CO2 enters the mesophyll of the leaf from the stomata and combines with a 3-carbon molecule, PEP, to form the 4-carbon oxaloacetate (and hence, the name C-4. Whoaaa. I know right?). The enzyme PEP carboxylase does NOTbind with O2, so this is far more efficient for the plant.
The oxaloacetate is turned into malic acid, which pumps through the plasmodesmata (plant cell junctions) into adjacent bundle sheath cells.
Here, deep in the leaf, CO2 is finally released and incorporated into PGAL by the Calvin cycle. This results in a highly efficient process for C-4 plants, and also minimizes the length of time stomata must remain open (which means less water transpired!)
These nifty plants (such as cacti) carry out a funky form of photosynthesis called crassulacean acid metabolism, which is another adaption to dry conditions. They differ from C-3 plants because they keep their stomata closed in the day and open at night. CAM plants store CO2 in organic compounds (malic acid) at night, and then undergo Calvin Cycle during the day. Weird, but effective.
I hope this helped a little! Good luck to everyone taking AP Bio tomorrow <3