Ancient Tree Flowers

first_imgSurrounded by trees, it’s easy to overlook their value. It’s also easy to ignore theirgreat biological history. But deep in the past, the story of trees contains many lessons. The wind was left behind in the forest top, along with the many wind-pollinatedflowers of other tree species. Long ago on a continent far away was a warm, humid forest. In it were many kinds ofplants, each locked into fierce competition to collect and control resources. Thesuccessful ones could grow, defend themselves and reproduce. Only successful plantssurvived. The showy tree flowers we see today are from this lineage. Their bright colors are astop sign for animals to explore, maybe receive a treat — and fertilize the tree bycarrying pollen. To succeed, a tree had to reproduce. One successful reproduction system was “conebearing.” Early in tree history, many forms of spirally designed cones were producedon branches and along trunks for seed production. These trees also produced small, fragile cones that held pollen. When these conesmature, they rupture and release millions of pollen grains. For creatures that use sight and smell, tree flowers can be great attractants and anecessity. Trees have come a long way from a simple, small, magnolia-like flower inthe bottom of a forest to the widely diverse tree-borne flowers we see outside ourwindows. Large, woody cones held seeds where the tree could nourish the embryos, and wherethe wind could catch seed edges and wings for distribution across the forest. Georgia’s trees tell many stories of success and failure, an ecological heritage that hassheltered humans from climate and poverty. One day among the dinosaurs, a genetic experiment was set up. A small tree, growingbeneath much larger and taller brethren, generated a flower. It wasn’t derived, as coneswere, from woody twigs but from modified leaves.center_img Warm, sunny days with low relative humidity help release pollen. The air around thesmall cones buoyed up the pollen as the wind swirled it around the canopy tops. The forests, savannahs and prairies of Earth are covered with wind-borne pollenproducers. From some perspectives, showy flowers are relics of a genetic experimentthat failed. People have been able to extract great value from these showy-floweredspecies. This tree flower was designed not for the wind, but to attract insects, birds and smallmammals. Only those trees whose crowns were up in the wind could distribute pollen and seedssuccessfully to new sites. Young trees had to survive for years beneath taller light- andwind-blocking trees for their place in the sun. Across the plant kingdom, the showy flowers have been successful in many places. Butthe miniaturized wind-pollinated flowers have become even more successful. In this experiment, all the tree traits (and all the resources required for these traits)needed to use wind power for reproduction could now be used instead to induceanimals to move pollen. This required new parts and designs. Trees generated newcolors, shapes and smells as enticements. For little trees, the dungeons or understories of these forests were hard to escape beforecompetition and pests eliminated them. The spring you see and smell had its roots in an ancient forest.last_img read more

Soldiers from 26 Countries Gather for World Military Orienteering Championship

first_imgBy Andréa Barretto/Diálogo January 03, 2017 Sports were one activity that defined 2016. And the Brazilian Armed Forces were no exception, closing the year by hosting the 49th World Military Orienteering Championship from November 17th-23rd at the Brazilian Naval Air Base, in the Lagos region in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The event gathered 206 athletes from 26 countries, including Chile, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Seven men and four women represented Brazil in the competition. “The determining factor for our results in the championship was the dedication and unity of the team. We are a tight-knit family of athletes from the three armed forces,” said Provisional Tech Sergeant Edinéia Roniak dos Santos. The sportswoman began her military career in the Brazilian Army in 2014, when she was selected to take part in the High Performance Athlete Program associated with the ministries of Defense and Sport. Multiple abilities Orienteering is a sport more widely practiced in Europe than in Brazil. The discipline combines elements of running with traditional military navigational skills, as it requires the athlete to be able to read a map and use a compass as guides. The competition starts with setting up the course — generally outdoors and in the countryside — along which mandatory travel points. These travel points are markers on a map given to each orienteer at the time of the competition. “When the stopwatch starts, the athlete must open the map, find his or her bearings, and using a compass set off for an area, sequentially passing through the points that are marked on the map. The winner is the person who is able to pass through all of the points in the shortest time,” explained Lieutenant General Paulo Martino Zuccaro, director of the Department of Military Sports for the Brazilian Ministry of Defense. Each participant receives a map, a compass and a digital key that must be inserted into mini computers scattered throughout the terrain, from start to finish. Using this system, each athlete’s time and movement through the set points on the map can be monitored. An athlete that fails to cross through a point, or does not follow the established sequence, is disqualified. “The fact that the competition is held in the middle of the forest, over uneven terrain, requires the orienteer to have an extraordinary physical capacity. Additionally, the orienteer must have the necessary mental agility to handle the map and compass together in order to quickly choose the best paths from one point to another,” Lt. Gen. Zuccaro said, adding that the points are fixed, but the route between points is variable. It is up to the athlete to decide which route to take. “For example, he can go through the brush, or go around it along a trail that was established in that area.” City and country Three trials were held in the 49th World Military Orienteering Championship. The first trial took place on an average-length course; the second over a longer course out in the country in the Rio das Ostras municipality. The third trial was an urban relay in the city of Búzios. The first course required athletes to cross through 16 points. Male competitors had to cover slightly more than five kilometers, while female athletes were required to cover around four kilometers. As in most orienteering competitions, the points for men are spread out across longer distances from each other, than they are for women. In the long course, men had to cover 28 points and approximately 12 kilometers of ground, while women had to travel 6 kilometers. “I had some difficulties on the average-length course, as it was a faster and more technical trial,” said Sgt. Edinéia, who participated in all three trials. “On day two, in the trial over the long course, I was more confident because I like long-distance runs. Adding up my results on the two courses, plus my teammates’ results, our team took 6th place,” Sgt. Edinéia said. Holding trials in the city is a recent development in the orienteering sports world. The idea of taking this discipline into the urban space arose from a desire to promote the sport more widely. Despite the different environment, the competitive principle remains the same – the points are spread out along city streets, and each competitor sets off on the route with a map and compass. “It is a very lively trial. We have music, sports casting, and a crowd of locals who are in close proximity to the participants,” Lt. Gen. Zuccaro said. Búzios was chosen as the host city because of its diverse and eclectic architecture, which blends colonial and modern styles with lots of greenery. Another factor that affected the selection was the city’s smooth flow of traffic. The competition was not held in an isolated area, but event organizers took precautions to choose quieter streets for the transit points. “We also put some security features in place along stretches with more traffic, to reduce vehicle speeds,” explained Lt. Gen. Zuccaro. This was the fifth time Brazil hosted the World Military Orienteering Championship. It was held twice in Paraná, in 1983 and 2006, with nine and 27 countries participating respectively. Another edition was held in 1992 in Brasília, with 12 nations participating. The penultimate championship hosted by Brazil was held in Rio de Janeiro in 2011, with 28 countries participating. This was Sgt. Edinéia’s first experience at a world event. She is focused on a six-day-a-week training regimen and hopes that this is just the beginning. “I know that I have a lot to learn now, and each day I am more determined!”last_img read more

243 lives saved with area blood donation

first_imgBatesville, IN—WRBI and Hoxworth Blood Center held a Blood Drive on Tuesday. The goal for the event was 69 blood units, and Hoxworth was able to collect 81 units, which is the highest amount collected. There were a total of 87 volunteers to try to donate, including 5 first time donors.With the units collected, 243 lives will be saved!Hoxworth appreciates the WRBI community’s commitment to saving lives. The donors who participated in the blood drive have helped ensure that there is an adequate blood supply for the patients in our community.last_img read more