Leaf’s life

24 06 2012

“Vincent Vega: It’s the little differences. I mean they got the same shit over there that they got here, but it’s just, just there it’s a little different.

Jules: Example.”

– Pulp Fiction

The laurel rainforest it’s neither a Mediterranean forest nor a tropical rainforest. The average annual rainfall is around 1000 mm, what is quite dry, and most of the leafs show a hard cuticle to prevent from water losses. Rainfall is the main limiting factor, but I wanted to see some other things that make that forest so special. Little differences in the leafs can lead to big differences in the forest. The Indian bay Persea indica is maybe  the most abundant tree species of the laurel forest and I think it’s worth to look at its lifecycle to explain the evolution of the whole forest.

Firstly, I looked at a died young leaf. I would like to see its texture and its illness. It lacks the hard cuticle, it doesn’t need it since young trees live in the undergrowth, where the light is scarce. That leaf had a lot of fungal infections, expect-able in a dead leaf, too attractive if you are a hungry oomycete.

The light must be therefore another important factor. I raised up my head and saw the distribution of the leafs. Everywhere there was a ray of light, there was a branch with leafs. That leafs have already a hard cuticle and the young pale green yield to a dark bright green. Nothing seems to be hazardous, leaf morphology is due to water abundance and leaf distribution is due to light abundance. 

Finally, I looked at the floor and found a new colour. The green is no longer needed and the leafs were all together turned into a reddish carpet that covered all the ground. In that moment, neither the water nor the light matter at all, leafs are just waiting for the passing, but even though they have kept that nice image to show in the last moment.


Still some surprises

18 06 2012

“But can you fake it, for just one more show?”

– Smashing Pumkins, Bullet with Butterfly wings

I thought migration had already ended and I had decided to focus my field work on ringing local birds, but as soon as I reached Tejina’ ponds, a Little bittern flushed into the reedbed. There was nothing in the the ponds except for the yellow-legged little egret, the moorhens and the coots, but the Little bittern forced me to keep an eye into the bushes, the shores and the sky… waiting for a new arrival. A Purple heron flew over, together with a Grey one. Later on, I saw some Cattle egrets and Night herons that completed the collection of ardeids. Of course, I know that’s not true migration and probably both the Little bittern and the Purple heron are long-staying birds, but if they can be here for such a long season, a Least bittern or a Great blue heron could do so. I will try to think about that when going out, carrying a heavy equipment once more.

The ringing day was quite interesting. A part from the Canary Islands chiffchaff (that was the purpose of the day), I caught a nice Tenerife tit. Perfect chance to analyze the differences between this taxon and its European relative. First of all, note that it lacks the white in the tip of the greater coverts that creates a bar impression in European (and African) blue tit. Looking at the picture below, we can say it must be a 2nd cal. year. Note the contrast between the moulted GCs (all of them) and the juvenile primary coverts. However, I think this PCs are brighter than they would had been in a juvenile European.

The head pattern is obviously different, but I would like to underline the differences in structure, specially in the bill. Note the length and the shape. It’s longer and less convex, more triangular. This characters must be related with its diet. Like chiffchaffs and goldcrests, the tits feed on flowers such as Canarina canariensis or Navaea phoenicea. A longer and slender bill is quite useful when trying to suck in some delightful nectar. What never changes is its aggressiveness, I promise!

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