School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

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Measuring Woody Plants

Measuring Woody Plants

Basic Measurements (basal area and density) of Woody Plants

 

Water Chemistry

Water Chemistry

water chemistry

Verde River

Verde River

Natural flow of water on the Verde River below Bartlett Dam.

Salt River

Salt River

Salt River

Release of wastewater from Phoenix to the Salt River.

Wastewater: Nature's Power Drink?

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Wastewater: Nature's Power Drink?

By Roy Marler
Illustrated by Dr. Biology

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  • Ecosystem: a group of different plants and animals that live together and are dependent on the area in which they live.
  • Invertebrates: animals that do not have a backbone... more
  • Riparian: the plants and animals found along the edges of rivers.
  • Species diversity: the number of different types of plants and/or animals found in an area.
  • Wastewater (effluent): treated water that is released from a city's Wastewater Treatment Plant... more

Have you ever wondered how some rivers just suddenly appear? Within Arizona, several cities now release wastewater into riverbeds, essentially creating "new" rivers. Rivers such as the Salt River from Phoenix, the Santa Cruz River downstream from Nogales and Tucson, and the Agua Fria River downstream from Prescott Valley all receive wastewater. Is wastewater different from water found in naturally occurring rivers, such as the Verde River?

How Do Seeds Travel?

How Do Seeds Travel?

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  • Current: the part of the air or water that is moving constantly in a single direction.
  • Hitchhiker: someone who travels by asking for free rides along the road.
  • Ocean Swell: a large, long wave or many waves happening after a storm.
  • Tide: the rising and falling of the ocean that happens twice a day. It is due to the gravity of the sun and the moon.

How Do Seeds Travel?

Plants may not be able to move from place to place, but seeds can. Here are some ways that seeds get around:dandelion seed

 

 

Seeds with wings - Some seeds have parachutes or wings like a glider. The wings and parachutes slow them down as they fall from the mother plant. Then the seeds are carried away from the mother by air currents. The dandelion seeds in this drawing are a great example.

Pocket Seed Viewer

Pocket Seed Viewer

Pocket SeedPocket Seed Viewer

Watch a seed germinate with your own seed viewer! Try this experiment at home or in the classroom. It only needs a few inexpensive materials to put together. Then use the Pocket Seed Data Packet to record your findings and  analyze the data.

How Long Can Seeds Live Underground?

How Long Can Seeds Live Underground?

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  • Dormant: something that is inactive. Not growing or developing.
  • Fossil: the remains, or an impression of remains of a plant or animal that existed in a past geological age that has been removed from the soil... more
  • Paleontology: a science dealing with the life of past geological periods. Often, people think of paleontology as only the study of fossils, like dinosaur bone hunters. Paleontologist study much more than bone fossils, including plants, pollen, spores, and seeds both living and fossilized. These scientists are called palynologists.
  • Radiocarbon: a chemical analysis tool used by scientists to find out how old organic materials are based on their content of the radioisotope carbon-14. Radiocarbon dating is believed to reliably tell the age of organic materials up to 40,000 years old. Also called carbon dating and carbon-14 dating... more

How long can seeds last?

You might be asking yourself, how long can a seed stay dormant? This is a question that scientists have tried to answer in many different ways. 

Scientists have found they can still germinate seeds found in preserved plant samples in an herbarium. An herbarium is a collection of pressed plants. The oldest living seed they have found this way is 90 yrs old. That's probably older than your grandmother!

Seed Anatomy

Seed Anatomy

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  • Dormant: something that is inactive. Not growing or developing.
  • Embryo: the egg after fertilization and before it has developed into a recognizable form.
  • Germinate: when seeds start growing and developing after being dormant.
  • Madagascar: the Republic of Madagascar is an island country of the southeastern coast of Africa... more


Seed Anatomy

Seeing Seeds Close-up - These pictures are of a pea seed

seed with labels

Here you can see, I've removed the seed coat and split the seed in half. One half has the embryo and some of the stored food, and the other half holds the rest of the stored food.

 

 

 

Time Traveling Plants

Time Traveling Plants

By Elena Ortiz
Illustrated by Dr. Biology

show/hide words to know

  • Dormant: something that is inactive. Not growing or developing.
  • Embryo: the egg after fertilization and before it has developed into a recognizable form.
  • Germinate: when seeds start growing and developing after being dormant.
  • Reproduce: to make more individuals of your species... more
  • Suspended animation: temporary slowing or stopping of growing and aging.

Time travelers invade cornfields by the thousands! Live beings in suspended animation travel to foreign lands! Wild creatures escape the barriers of time - resurface after years underground! Time machines found in Ellen Sanchez' backyard!  

Sounds like science fiction? Well, it isn't.

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