Why protecting large mammals is so important

umbrella species
Tursiops truncatus
Tursiops truncatus

Large mammals, for example: bears, wolfs, large cats, cetaceans… Any selected species from any of the named groups of animals is a bioindicator.

When a large mammal species which requires a wide space, lives in a certain area, that means the ecosystem is relatively stable, strong and healty enough to be able to sustain it.

There is a nice expression – umbrella species, which means, by protecting the one selected species of animal, an entire ecosystem is protected. We protect its pray, its pray’s pray and all the smaller animals, all the plants and all the way to bacteria and plankton (in case of a marine mammal).

We do, however, have to keep in mind that all the ecosystems can be and are very fragile. If one element falls out, it might collapse completely or sooner than later starts to degrade and collapse. It can completely collapse. So naming and protecting an umbrella species should not be the only solution, but it is a very good start.

In this video it is explained why protecting bears is important:

Love your home, love our planet ❤

Related:

Biologist working in forestry

field work

endless

Working in forestry from a biologists point of view is quite interesting.

Work days consist of field work and office days, what predominates depends on the season. The interesting part is, of course, working in nature. We conduct various measurements. For example, one type of measurements is called constant sample surfaces. There has to be a team of two, equipped with measure tapes, compass, maps, gps and a folder with the specification sheets. The maps and gps lead us to the exact spot on the particular surface where we monitor the state of the forest, the state of particular trees and wood increment.

The work is awesome because we’re basically paid to hike. I get to observe the awakening forests in the morning and encounter forest animals: foxes, deer, squirrels, salamaner, fish, crustacea, amphibia, birds, the list goes on… I also observe the crawling world of invertebrates; decapoda, ants, earthworms… I get to listen to bird songs all morning and can now identify by sound and sight almost all of the local dwelling ones – goals achieved, yay!

Working in a position like this gives one the perspective of how different biologists and foresters actually are. This way it becomes completely clear why we studied in different branches. From the first look of it – at least I thought so – we aren’t that different, clearly we all are interested in nature, plants, animals and their preservation. It turns out we don’t have as much in common in those areas as I thought. Some foresters chose this branch namely for the reasons I named, others are more into wood and profit. The latter was something I learned a new. Maybe it’s something that should be clear from the start. Peter Wohlleben has described well where forestry goes off track. On universities they primarily learn about forest management. In authors words, he only knew about forests as much as a butcher knows about animal felings. Where he wanted to know how forest ecosystems function, they learned about cutting down healthy trees in their lush growth and where to spray chemical products. So he removed himself from that world and wrote the book The Hidden Life of Trees : What They Feel, How They Communicate-Discoveries from a Secret World. Long story short. 🙂

The book gives a new perpective of the forests and individual trees. Basically it shows just how little we actually know about trees.

Our forests (in Central Europe) mostly consist of the following trees:

  • beech (Fagus sylvatica)
  • spruce (Picea abies)
  • pine (Pinus sp.)
  • fir (Abies alba)
  • oak (Quercus sp.)
  • chestnut tree (Castanea sativa)
  • larch (Larix decidua)
  • birch (Betula pendula)
  • linden (Tilia sp.)
  • aspen (Populus tremula)
  • maple (Acer sp.)
  • ash (Fraxinus sp.)
  • hornbeam (Carpinus sp.)
  • alder (Alnus sp.)
  • rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)
  • elm (Ulmus sp.)

To name a few.

Working in forestry is great, though. This work enables us to enjoy the nature and moments where we feel like the right part of this world.

Erythronium dens-canis
Erythronium dens-canis

earth colorsEarth colors

colostygia sp.
Blend in. This might be Colostygia sp. Not sure, biologists?
morning magic forest
Magic beech/spruce forest in the morning.
Helleborus sp.
Helleborus sp. Again – not sure about the species…
ponys
Ponys at the local farm.
prunus in bloom
Prunus sp. in bloom
Salamandra salamandra
Salamandra salamandra
steep
The terrain can be quite steep. Yes, we had to climb up here. 🙂
tall orchard
A tall orchard.
vinca minor
Vinca minor
views
The views!

“Tooth paste”, baking soda and coconut oil

benefits of oil pulling and using baking soda

A while ago I promissed to write about how to make our own tooth paste using baking soda. I was testing this for a good few months and here’s what I foud out…

It’s not a DIY tooth paste tutorial, but it can (and should) replace the usual toothpaste once or a couple of times a week. What I do is, once or max twice a week I brush my teeth using baking soda. Just put a small amount on the toothbrush and brush normally. The teeth are incredibly smooth and you’re left with a fresh taste in your mouth. As it is well known, baking soda has an abrasive effect on the enamel, hence only once or twice a week. It’s supposed to have a bleaching effect too. But I haven’t noticed this after almost a year of practicing.

The other thing is coconut oil. This method I use every morning after first brushing my teeth. It’s supposed to be done before, but I can’t. Anyway, make sure to use organic virgin coconut oil. Take about ½ coffee spoon (some work their way up to a tablespoon) and swish the oil around in the mouth slowly. Make sure that oil reaches all parts of the mouth. Do this for ten to twenty minutes, gradually try to work up to twenty minutes. This oil then contains bacteria and toxines from the mouth so do not swallow. Spit all of it out when done (in the toilet) and rinse your mouth well with water.

oil pulling

Besides antibacterial and detox effects, practicing this is also supposed to make teeth whiter. Though the latter’s not working for me either, I do however feel very good after doing this. Healthier.

The exact antibacterial mechanism of the action of coconut oil is supposedly still unclear. But it was hypothesized that monolaurin and other medium chain monoglycerides can alter bacterial cell walls, penetrate and disrupt cell membranes, inhibit enzymes involved in energy production and nutrient transfer, leading to the death of the bacteria. Mostly aerobic, but it also affects some anaerobic strains (including some lactic acid bacteria).

In case of having any infections in the mouth, you should benefit greatly from both of the mentioned methods .

Reference:

http://asiaph.org/admin/img_topic/6096Sroisiri.pdf

A week in Madeira

a week in madeira

madeira

In march we travelled to this fascinating island and were accordingly – fascinated.

The first thing while landing, the landscape reminds of a piece of aluminum foil when it gets crumpled, that’s how up and down it is. I mean, anyone can see photos on the internet and search through google maps, but in no world can one ever imagine that, untill actually there. Madeira is purely of volcanic origin, so the base is basalt rock, tuff on some places, thus all the rocks are colored brown to black (but they’re actually not that visible, as every square cm is covered with greenery).

I mentioned landing – if you haven’t been yet and are planning on going, just a hearty advice – do not watch the videos of planes landing on Madeira. Okay?

It’s a small island, so a week is enough to see everything one wants to see and at least drive through just about all the larger towns and villages. I’ll mostly let the photos do the talking and make comments along with them. I recommend seeing all the listed places, unless stated otherwise. As a biologist, I was mostly concentrated on geology, flora and fauna, as you will see in the photos, not so much on history and culture. But not at all saying these aspects are not interesting, because they are!

A walk through the capital – Funchal.

funchal center

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Nitrogen fixing bacteria in plants

How the process is carried out and evolution of nitrogenase.

There is 78 % of molecular nitrogen (N2) in the atmosphere which can be bound in compounds only by procaryotes. Eukaryotes cannot fix (that is make useful compounds of) atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into an ion, therefore they need symbiosis with prokaryotes as atmospheric nitrogen is relatively inert, it does not easily react with other chemicals to form new compounds. The fixation process frees up the nitrogen atoms from their triply bonded diatomic form, N≡N, to be used in other ways.

Biological nitrogen fixation is carried out by:

  • free-living soil bacteria (aerobic Azotobacter sp., anaerobic Clostridium sp.);
  • cyanobacteria (Nostoc sp., Calothrix sp.), both in water and on land;
  • plant associated bacteria (Rhizobium sp.) – this is what we’re concetrating on in this post;
  • epiphytic lichens in the tropics (Cyanobacterium sp. – which presents the algae part of the lichen, the other part is a fungus).

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