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10. December—American Alligators of the Everglades

Gary W. Vequist Texas A&M University Press ePub

10. December

American Alligators of the Everglades

Winter in the Everglades sounds like an oxymoron, but there is indeed a noticeable winter season. Instead of snow and subfreezing temperatures, relative dryness and pleasant temperatures characterize the region (versus the steamy heat of summer). Winter in the Everglades is also characterized by increased biodiversity as northern migrants join the resident wildlife. Scores of wading birds and waterfowl seem to occupy every waterhole. And lurking in the water and along the shores are the ubiquitous alligators, waiting for a chance to lunge at unsuspecting prey. Far from being a quiet season, December in the Everglades can be action-packed.

What’s Remarkable about Alligators?

Almost all aspects of the American alligator are fascinating, from their bone-crunching jaws to their hundreds of millions of years of evolution to their unique anatomical and physiological features. One particularly odd alligator characteristic that is both remarkable and cause for conservation concern is the fact that the temperature of the nest almost solely determines the sex of newborn alligators. If the nest temperature is 86 degrees or lower all of the young will be female, whereas if the nest temperature is 93 degrees or higher all of the young will be male (nests in the midrange can produce both sexes). The primary determinant of the temperature seems to be the material the nest is built of. Nests constructed of leaves tend to be hotter than those constructed of moist marsh vegetation. Over their hundreds of millions of years of evolution alligators have somehow managed to find a nice balance, so there’s always enough males and females to keep the species going. But what happens under climate change? Could we end up having all male young, or will the alligators adjust by using moister and cooler material to construct their nests?

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Medium 9781603442015

A Taste of the Marsh

Ken W Kramer Texas A&M University Press ePub

Susan Raleigh Kaderka

AS we walked down to the saltmarsh near the observation tower on Mad Island Marsh Preserve, Cathy Porter bent over and broke off a sprig of saltwort, a spiky succulent that grows in clumps by the water’s edge. “Taste it,” she said, offering me a piece and putting a bit into her own mouth. It was an idle gesture, something she’s probably done countless times leading groups of schoolchildren on tours of this 7,000-acre Nature Conservancy preserve. She had been naming off the various species of marsh vegetation for me—seablight, Gulf cordgrass, saltmarsh bulrush—and just come across one worth tasting.

True to its name, the plant tasted salty. As Porter no doubt points out to visiting students, it is well adapted to the conditions of the Texas Gulf Coast, thriving near salt water in a sandy soil. But as I chewed it, a different landscape suddenly came to mind. For a moment, I was back in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, where I lived up to the age of six.

Like most children growing up in the late 1950s, I spent almost all of my free time outdoors. This habit was not evidence of any special affinity for nature. It did not prefigure my later work in wildlife conservation. It was not unique to me at all; it was what everyone did. Childhood pretty much took place out of doors. If you were indoors, it meant it was raining, or nighttime, or, later, that you were in school. Even in winter we played outdoors, bundled up in hooded snowsuits, rubber boots, and mittens. Snapshots of my sister and me in the snowy field opposite our house show us smiling out at the camera from jackets so thick our arms stuck out from our sides. But unquestionably we were outside.

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Medium 9781603442411

5. Coleman Ranches

Joe Nick Patoski Texas A&M University Press ePub

Anyone can own a ranch, but it takes a rancher to care for the land. One of Jim Coleman’s mottos is that if you take care of the land, the land will take care of you. It’s this ethic that has grabbed attention in the conservation world and inspired many people to take innovative conservation approaches such as community-based conservation and working-lands conservation. Ranchers like Jim and Frances Coleman have embraced innovation to keep their ranches intact and help produce the world’s food supply. They provide leadership—in their community and in their state—by voluntarily setting aside land for communal use. This allows them and their neighbors to move livestock between winter and summer ranges; it also assures that the land will still be there for their children’s children and their children after them.

Visitors from around the world find that they love Colorado and want to live here. The state has a vibrant and economically significant agricultural industry. But Colorado is conflicted in its land use. Urban development and urban perceptions often plague the livelihood and lifestyle of Colorado ranchers. Looking at this conflict yields insight into the future of the state’s ranching industry and its interplay with conservation. We’re at a crossroads that offers both challenges and opportunities for the state’s citizens to invest in conservation through ranching.

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Medium 9781585446179

Chapter 1 Research History

Tunnell, John W. Texas A&M University Press ePub

JOHN W. TUNNELL JR.

The first scientific account of coral reefs in the southern Gulf of Mexico was made by an expedition of scientists from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (now Philadelphia Academy of Sciences) in the early months of 1890. Expedition leader and academy director Professor Angelo Heilprin described the purpose of the expedition as “to investigate the natural history of the Yucatán Peninsula and Mexico.” Publications resulting from the expedition related for the first time the tropical nature of marine biota of the southern Gulf of Mexico (corals and coral reefs, Heilprin 1890; echinoderms, Ives 1890; mollusks, Baker 1891; crustaceans, Ives 1891).

Professor Heilprin (1890) suggested that other scientists had not previously searched the area for coral reefs for two reasons. First, Darwin’s classical work (1842) on the structure and distribution of coral reefs failed to mention reefs in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Second, scientists had feared contracting yellow fever in the Gulf. Heilprin discusses seven of the reefs and islands off the city of Veracruz, mentions 12 species of corals and 1 gorgonian, notes the “vast quantity of coral” used in construction (piers, seawall, and ancient houses), and includes figures of two old maps showing the reefs, dated 1806 and 1885 (Figs. 1.1 and 1.2). The magnificent old 16th-century castle, Fort San Juan de Ulúa, also made of coral, sits on the western (leeward) side of Gallega Reef, a nearshore reef now attached to the mainland by a land bridge (earthen fill). Ganivet (1998) listed six species of massive scleractinian corals used to construct the Fort San Juan de Ulúa: Siderastrea radians, Porites astreoides, Diploria spp., Colpophyllia natans, Montastraea annularis, and M. cavernosa.

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Medium 9781603442909

Appendix 1

Buster, Noreen A. Texas A&M University Press ePub

Relative abundance of selected planktic foraminifers in core RC 1210. Age assignments were derived from models shown in Figure 22.2. Total number of planktic foraminifers and total number of benthic foraminifers in counting aliquots are given in the last 2 columns. See taxonomic notes for comments on species and species groups.

Relative abundance of selected planktic foraminifers in core Gyre 976 PC 20. Age assignments were derived from models shown in Figure 22.2. Total number of planktic foraminifers and total number of benthic foraminifers in counting aliquots are given in the last 2 columns. See taxonomic notes for comments on species and species groups.

Relative abundance of selected planktic foraminifers in core MD022553. Age assignments were derived from models shown in Figure 22.2. Total number of planktic foraminifers, total number of benthic foraminifers, and total number of detrital grains (quartz and rock fragments) in counting aliquots are given in the last 3 columns. See taxonomic notes for comments on species and species groups.

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