Nature’s Depths

Walking through nature with John Palka, a neuroscientist who loves plants and ponders big questions

Exploration

Drops of sap forming, Eastman Nature Center

The Sap Is Rising

Exploration

Among the annual changes that occur in the deciduous forests of the Upper Midwest, the Northeast, and many parts of Canada is the extravagant production of the sweet sap of sugar maples (Acer saccharum, Family Sapindaceae) and a handful of other tree species.

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LeConte Iceberg, Alaska

Water and the Dynamic Life of Molecules

Exploration

Water is abundant on our Earth and is also essential for all of life as we know it. It is part of our daily experience—we see it, we drink it, we feel it on our skin. But what is water? How does it get the properties that are so familiar to us? Why is it central to the processes of life? Let’s take a look.

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Trees through the Seasons

Exploration

Over and over on Nature’s Depths we have seen that a forest is in many respects like a super-organism, with startlingly many interacting components ranging from towering trees to soil microorganisms that we can only detect with a microscope or with molecular techniques. When we go walking, however, it is the trees that largely make up the forest of our experience, and that experience changes with the seasons.

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Intertidal

Exploration

The seashore is a highly diverse place. Some stretches are sandy and some pebbly, some are rocky, and still others are formed by massive rocky bluffs eroded by the unceasing action of the waves into fantastical shapes. Each stretch is home to its own constellation of living creatures. . . Among the richest and most diverse stretches of coast in the world are the cliffs, coves and sea stacks of western North America. Let’s visit two of them in the coastal wilderness stretch of Olympic National Park.

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Ebey's Landing salal flowers

Uncovering Kinship

Exploration

Modern techniques allow the determination of evolutionary relationships among organisms, so that the groupings used by systematists—the biologists whose focus is the determination of relationships and the naming of organisms accordingly—reflect not only their similarity today but also their evolutionary history.

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