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Maria Sibylla Merian’s Caterpillar Book
Author: Kay Etheridge
The Flowering of Ecology presents an English translation of Maria Sibylla Merian’s 1679 ‘caterpillar’ book, Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung und sonderbare Blumen–Nahrung. Her processes in making the book and an analysis of its scientific content are presented in a historical context. Merian raised insects for five decades, recording the food plants, behavior and ecology of roughly 300 species. Her most influential invention was an 'ecological' composition in which the metamorphic cycles of insects (usually moths and butterflies) were arrayed around plants that served as food for the caterpillars. Kay Etheridge analyzes the 1679 caterpillar book from the viewpoint of a biologist, arguing that Merian’s study of insect interactions with plants, the first of its kind, was a formative contribution to natural history.

Abstract

In many regions, such as the Mediterranean, anticipated climate change is seen as a serious threat to tree vitality and forest productivity. Recent studies show that wood and bark structure as well as the number of dormant cambial cells bear valuable information about the growth condition and vitality of trees and thus could function as indicators to help manage forests in the future. Microcores and tree cores were sampled from stems of adult Cedrus libani trees growing at different altitudes in SW-Turkey. Trees were divided into two groups based on basal area increments: vital trees (positive growth trend), and trees of diminishing vitality (negative growth trend). Histological cross-sections were investigated for their number of dormant cambial cells as well as their xylem and phloem characteristics. We measured the widths of the conducting phloem, most recent xylem ring, earlywood, and latewood. We further calculated the ratio between the width of xylem ring and conducting phloem (XR:CPH ratio), and earlywood to latewood ratio. Vital trees had a significantly higher number of dormant cambial cells (on average 32%), higher xylem (67%), and conducting phloem (36%) widths, and a higher XR:CPH ratio (47%). The XR:CPH ratio ranged between 1.8:1 and 21.4:1. The number of dormant cambial cells was closely related to xylem and conducting phloem widths and showed a significant decrease with tree age. Altitude showed no direct effect on the measured and calculated parameters. Our results indicate the potential of dormant cambium, xylem, and phloem characteristics to assess the vitality and growth conditions of C. libani trees.

In: IAWA Journal

Abstract

One rate-limiting factor in the fight against illegal logging is the lack of powerful, affordable, scalable wood identification tools for field screening. Computer vision wood identification using smartphones fitted with customized imaging peripherals offers a potential solution, but to date, such peripherals suffer from one or more weaknesses: low image quality, lack of lighting control, uncontrolled magnification, unknown distortion, and spherical aberration, and/or no access to or publication of the system design. To address cost, optical concerns, and open access to designs and parameters, I present the XyloPhone, a 3D printed research quality macroscopic imaging attachment adaptable to virtually any smartphone. It provides a fixed focal distance, exclusion of ambient light, selection of visible light or UV illumination, uses the lens from a commercially available loupe, is powered by a rechargeable external battery, is fully open-sourced, at a price point of less than USD 110 is a highly affordable tool for the laboratory or the field, and can serve as the foundational hardware for a scalable field-deployable computer vision wood identification system.

In: IAWA Journal
In: The Flowering of Ecology
In: The Flowering of Ecology
In: The Flowering of Ecology
In: The Flowering of Ecology
In: The Flowering of Ecology
In: The Flowering of Ecology