Archive for July, 2008|Monthly archive page

First Stop: Deep Moss

7,700 years ago: Mount Mazama, in what is now southern Oregon, erupts. It collapses in on itself, forming a deep crater which fills with melted snow over the next 600-800 years. Crater Lake, the seventh-deepest (592m) lake in the world, is born. It is a nutrient-poor lake with no inlets or outlets, preventing particulate matter from shading the depths below.

6,000 years ago (?): The lake becomes home to Drepanocladus aduncus, a species of freshwater moss which, thanks to the availability of sunlight in the lake, was able to establish itself nearly 600 feet below the lake’s surface.

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Conifers Here I Come

“If when you think of hiking here in the Pacific Northwest, you think of cool, dark, mysterious forests of huge conifers, you’ve got the right picture. The area made rainy by the Cascades, Olympics, and other Pacific coastal ranges is the Conifer Capitol of the World. This is the only large temperate-zone area where conifers utterly overwhelm their broadleaf competitors. It grows conifers bigger than anywhere else, and the resulting tonnage of biomass and square-footage of leaf area, per acre, are the world’s highest, even greater than in tropical rainforests.”

Excerpted from Cascade-Olympic Natural History, Daniel Mathews 1999

photo from here.

Magnetic North

There are certain climates which make bird migration seem completely reasonable. I have chosen to fly the 2,500 miles to Oregon so that I can reclaim via fern-gratifying mist some quantity of the gallons of sweat that I had been producing in Texas over the past twelve years. Some will say, “Too much rain!” or “Too cold!” or “Not enough sunlight!” … I will show these naysayers a dew-covered mushroom that has been nibbled upon by a newt, hand them the SPF 45 that I refuse to apply, and tromp off down some spongey trail in search of interesting bryophytes.

Boisea trivittata vs. Acer negundo

If I had to choose between cockroaches and these cute little guys to be my home’s pest infester, it’d be the Box Elder bug every time. Yes, very profuse and rather annoying, but I’m all about bugs that are particular about their host plant. (See also: butterflies and moths). My brother’s house in the SLC is shaded by a pair of Acer negundo maples and, since the southern tree is female, it comes complete with gobs of these (true) bugs of varying instars. See, for example, the black-backed adults with wings, and the tick-sized babies, wandering blood-red specks which assemble in piles atop their parents.

Still no official word on why they are sometimes called “Democrat bugs,” but it might have something to do with their invasiveness. Thank goodness for that.

Photo from here.