Where on Earth are the Worms?

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Picture of worms extracted from the field.

“Careful! Watch out for lightning.” These were that last words you got from your teacher before you went outside to do your experiment. You want to find out if worms are most commonly found in a hardwoods forest or a patch of lawn on a field on the WCC campus, but guess what? It starts to rain. You know from prior knowledge that worms like moist soil but, like you were supposed to, you do the experiment anyway. The problem is that the rain was only spread on to the field and not the area where you were in the hardwoods. The different areas can have different events affect their worm quantity. Continue reading

The Rogue Devourers of Ecosystems

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A photo of my group and I collecting worms for our experiment in Field Science class.

A large worm squirms around close to the surface of the uneven layer of soil while tall, bright green spires of grass reach high, obscuring the surfacing invertebrate from view. Many people can recall seeing something like this. Most would also say that these slimy organisms are key decomposers to an ecosystem, offering vital nutrients to the soil that help support the autotrophs that live within it, but not all is as it appears. As a matter of fact, foreign earthworms may be as harmful to an ecosystem as its relative, the tapeworm, is harmful to our body. Continue reading

Tiny Toads

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(A toad resting on one of our group member’s hand.)

For  my earth science class, we conducted an experiment that required my group and I to venture outside everyday for a week. On one of the days, it was pouring rain and we still needed to go out near the WCC pond next to the Hardwoods. When my group and I had reached the location, there was one problem, the ground was covered with hundreds of tiny toads!!! How were we going to get to our spot with these little guys hopping all around us? Walking carefully, we managed not to squish any of them. Questions about the toads seemed to jump into my mind, as they leapt from the ground. Why were they on the trail? Did they just hatch? Does it have something to do with the rain? Well, the best way to find more about these cute little amphibians was to do research.
According to Anne Woods, a writer for Animals.mom.me “Depending on the species, one female toad can produce up to 30,000 eggs in her life”. This could explain why there were so many little toads at the pond. They may have just hatched, and were looking for their next habitat. After looking at the life cycle of toads, unlike mammals, toads lay eggs which hatch into tadpoles. The tadpoles then transform into toads. This change takes about six weeks, then they relocate to  forested area. Since unlike frogs, toads live on land. What I saw, were very young toads making their migration from the nearby pond to the Hardwoods to become fully grown adults. Toadlets dehydrate easily, so during the rain was an excellent time to travel. In some areas of the world, such migration across roads, can cause hazardous conditions for the cars. As the bodies of the dead toads, make the road slick. This has sparked the creation of “Toad Roads” that run under the existing road bed to provide safe passage for the toads. Seeing all those tiny toads on the pathway, is a sight I’ll never forget.

Mystery of the Stripped Trees

Sitting outside for half an hour once a week can do interesting things to a person. It’s more than bug bites and getting your pants dirty. You have time to sit and look at the natural world indifferent perspectives. I’ve found that blocking out all other distractions help you see things you would’ve never paid much attention to.

Tree from the WCC Hardwoods

Tree from the WCC Hardwoods

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Lonely Systems and Cycles

In recent weeks, a group of students have thought long and hard about connecting everyday life to different cycles in science and closed systems. Ahead, you will find a riddle that pertains to how life can feel at times, sad and lonely as if there’s nothing left, along with two other pieces of work that keep the same theme, talking about how life can be barren and hard to survive. All these poems are a good way to look at how your life connects to the natural world.

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The Lonely Fox Squirrel

The single fox squirrel our Project Squirrel research group found in the Bowl on WCC campus.

The single fox squirrel our Project Squirrel research group found in the Bowl on WCC campus.

According to Scientific American on their citizen science webpage, they give a description of Project Squirrel. Under the description of the project, it mentions that fox squirrels and grey squirrels are two of the most familiar species of wildlife in many neighborhoods and natural areas. I agree with this, I see these types of squirrels the most often as well. Although we have not found any squirrels lounging or running around campus during the times we go out and search, I have seen one; once, outside in the Bowl between 1:10pm-1:30pm on a sunny, warm day. Continue reading