Winning Strategies: Excerpts from A Natural History of Australia, Life on the Edge and Ecoviews
Superb fairy wrens mate for life, but they are classic philanderers. After doing his duty at the home nest, the male visits every female's nest in the vicinity. He frequently comes courting with an offering of flowers in his beak. Every so often he gets lucky and mates with a female other than his own.
A Natural History of Australia
Tim M. Berra
Academic Press. $44.95
The tube worm, Riftia pachyptila, an important species in black smoker [ocean-floor hot-water vent] communities, does not possess any organs suitable for the intake or digestion of food, nor for excreting. It can only survive with the help of the symbiotic sulfur bacteria thriving in its trophosome [the dark center].
Life on the Edge
Gopher tortoises [modify] the landscape in the sandy soil habitats where their burrows serve as refuges not only for themselves but for many other animals. Gopher tortoises are the most terrestrial of the eastern turtles, living a peaceful life grazing on grasses and other vegetation and spending the off hours of darkness or cold weather underground.
Ecoviews: Snakes, Snails and Environmental Tales
Whit Gibbons and Anne R. Gibbons
University of Alabama Press. $16.95.
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Happy Birthday to Alvin! August 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Alvin, the submersible that has been so influential in ocean research, including the discovery of hydrothermal vents. In 2014, a retrofitted Alvin also took its first test cruise.
Heather Olins, a doctoral candidate at Harvard, studies microbial ecology at deep sea hydrothermal vents with the help of Alvin, and shares her personal tribute to the submersible on these landmark occasions.
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