Alligators of Florida

A crocodilian of the genus Alligator and the family Alligatoridae, the species often seen in Florida is one of two living species of alligator.  The American alligator (A. mississippiensis), often called simply the gator, is endemic to the southeastern United States and is larger in overall size compared to the Chinese alligator species.

 

Found in freshwater wetlands, marshes, and swamps from Texas to North Carolina, this archaic beast has become something of an icon for the state of Florida. Alligators are apex predators, meaning they are at the top of the food chain in whatever ecosystem they inhabit, and are not preyed upon by any other animal save the occasional human. The American Gator plays an important role as a type of engineer / participant in  their wetland ecosystem by creating “alligator holes” or depressions in the land that provide both wet and dry habitats for other nearby animals.

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No comments, Elise Anderson, August 27, 2015

Some Facts about Bats

The only mammals capable of true flight, bats are notcurnal creatures that contribute to our ecosystems in unique ways.  Often inspiring fear and evoking a sense of the supernatural, bats have been the subject of works of art for centuries.  Their nocturnal habits and surreal appearance have led  writers, poets, and dreamers to use bats in fantastical tales of human origin, spooky vampire transformation, and more.  But where does the fiction separate from scientific fact when it comes to bats?

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Though some stories may lead us to believe bats are evil, blood-drinking night crawlers, 70% of bats eat insects, making them natural bug repellents that are useful to have around on summer nights.  Some bats are carnivores, eating smaller mammals, lizards, and frogs, but a large number of bats consume mostly fruit and nectar, which allows them to disperse fruit seeds around their habitats. The spread of fruit seeds through bat droppings is one method of reproduction that many plant populations rely on to stick around.

Bats can be found nearly anywhere in the world, excluding severe arctic regions and deserts.  While not all bats are intelligent, some have developed a complex form of echolocation that allows them to bouncebat01

No comments, Elise Anderson, August 12, 2015

Glowing Deep-Sea Coral

In a reef in the Red Sea, phosphorescent coral glows bright green. The deeper, darker parts of the Red Sea, where light doesn’t often reach, are lit up by an unexpected source: glowing corals.  These unique plants harvest light from the ocean floor, creating an underwater rainbow of neon color that appears almost supernatural.

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According to representatives of the UK’s Coral Reef Laboratory at the University of Southampton, the fluorescent pigments are actually proteins that, when illuminated with blue or ultraviolet light, give off light of longer wavelengths, producing red and green light unlike that observed in shallower waters. 1-rainbowofglo

No comments, Elise Anderson, August 6, 2015

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