Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Thinking about Niches - a Spanish Biomimicry iSite

In Spain for our latest BProfessional intensive, we had an iSite where we picked an organism and looked to find it's niche - how it fits in with its environment. The location of our retreat was a hilly area with lots of clay, falling rocks, and erosion.  And even without a lot of water - the area was almost considered a desert - plants were there to stabilize some of the soil.  There were quite a few plants with really gnarly roots that seemed to zigzag down the slope in such a way that I thought it could be a stabilization mechanism, much like how we spread our feet and place them parallel to the slope to stabilize ourselves on a steep slope.  I can't find any mention of this form in the literature I've referenced, but I'm sticking with my observation until proven wrong.  So when looking at the contextual limiting factors for this Rosemary bush, it would seem that its ability to thrive in unstable soil with poor nutrients and not a lot of water allowed it to carve out a niche where other organisms aren't able to survive.  And the zigzag form is one that I find interesting. This tool for natural observation is one that I find useful when trying to understand the contextual factors that influence an organism's ability to survive and be resilient against adverse conditions.

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