19 October, 2022

Third Nature Walk: Plants

This week I took a long walk towards Burr Park. It was beautiful out–sunny and warm with a slight fall chill in the air. Despite ending up at Burr Park, the majority of my observations were made on my way there in small wooded areas off the sides of roads and even along the sidewalks I was walking on. Some of the plants that I observed existed in the midst of cultivated plants but were not themselves cultivated. For example, some of the mosses and other short plants that I observed had grown on tree trunks and their roots. Despite the fact that the tree may have been cultivated, these plants had not been and had arisen on their own. It is interesting to see how the cultivated environment interacts with the non-cultivated environment as there is not always a clear-cut line between the two. While I am confident that I was able to identify angiosperms (for example, my observations under the titles "goldenrods," "spurges," "goosefoots," and "woodsorrels") and bryophyta (for example, my observation under the title "silvery bryum"), I don't think that I was able to identify polypodiopsida, and I was unsure if I had observed gymnosperms. While I did see evergreen trees on my walk, many were on or near properties so I was not confident that they had not been cultivated. However, these would be examples of gymnosperms. One connection I made to the lecture material was how the moss that I observed was always short in height (they were either low to the ground or practically flat against a tree, rock, or other surface). This connects to how plants had to adapt to the challenge of gravity in terrestrial environments and how many present-day mosses have elongated cells with little structural support which is why they cannot grow to tall heights.

Posted on 19 October, 2022 01:28 by annahermann annahermann | 10 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

03 October, 2022

Second Nature Walk: Fungi

For this nature walk, I walked through Pine Tree Preserve on campus to the reservoir where I then explored some woodsy areas off of the paths. The weather was cooler this morning than it was on the last nature walk I went on, and it was overcast. Similarly to on my first nature walk, however, I was surprised by how much fungi I was able to observe–especially now that I was looking for it. As I continued my walk, I learned to look in a few common places in which I tended to find fungi: on and around the bottom of tree trunks, on tree stumps, and on and around rocks. I noticed that a lot of the fungi that I observed had visual similarities. For instance, all of my observations were light brown or tan in appearance and the majority appeared to be a spongy texture. Additionally, many of the mushrooms I saw shared the appearance of a rounded cap. These similarities are evidence of a shared common ancestor which is supported by the fact that fungi form a clade on the tree of life, something that we have discussed in lecture. However, despite these similarities, all of my observations were slightly different from each other–some more than others. For instance, the observations under genus trametes and bracket fungi looked a lot different from my other observations. The differences amongst my observations is evidence of divergent evolution, because, despite knowing that these fungi share a common ancestor, they are visually distinct from one another.

Posted on 03 October, 2022 14:06 by annahermann annahermann | 6 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

30 September, 2022

First Nature Walk

I began my nature walk in Pine Tree Preserve on campus and made my way towards the reservoir where I was able to walk on/along some more wooded paths. It was a cooler morning (47ºF), but sunny nonetheless. When I first began my walk I was sure that I would only be able to find plants, so I was surprised when three of my observations ended up being fungi. Something I noticed was that even in cultivated areas, non-cultivated species are present. For example, the poison ivy that I observed was on a tree that could have been planted by landscapers, but the poison ivy itself would not have been planted (and was thus wild). One way that my observations can be connected to recent lectures is that many types of fungi act as decomposers (a niche that came up in our discussion of living on a microbial planet). (Fungi are eukaryotic and are not classified as bacteria, but the role that they can play as decomposers is comparable.) Additionally, fungi represent a monophyletic group (or clade) on the tree of life which connects to our discussion of interpreting phylogenetic trees (as well as to our introduction to the tree of life). Therefore, the three different types of fungi that I observed share a common ancestor at some point in their lineage. Moreover, my observations demonstrate the phylogenetic diversity of the areas that I explored because, despite thinking I would only be able to observe plants, I ended up observing plants, animals, and fungi. Finally, my nature walk represents cultural ecosystem services, including aesthetic, educational, and recreational benefits.

Posted on 30 September, 2022 12:44 by annahermann annahermann | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment