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What am I sappy goat blogging?

June 23, 2017

Goats are crazy!

You’ve seen goats climb rocks, houses, cliffs or even this dam in Italy.

goat-dam-2

But have you ever seen goats climb trees? In Morrocco, this is a very common occurrence. You see, in most parts of the world where you’ll find goats, their food is usually right under their hoofs. In and around the Atlas Mountains, though, grazing pastures are patchy – here and there. So, goats have learned to make the best of anything they could get their adorable hoofs and snouts on, even if that means being perched high up in the trees.

A lovely goat enjoying some argan seeds. Credit: Pixabay.

A lovely goat enjoying some argan seeds. Credit: Pixabay.

This is not only nice for goats but for the trees themselves too. According to a recent study in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment by Spanish researchers who wanted to learn whether domesticated goats benefit argan trees (Argania spinosa). 

Goats in Southern Morrocco will often climb 30-foot-trees in search for food, in this case, acorn-sized argan seeds. Even as much as three-quarters of their time is spent in the argan trees during the autumn days when vegetation is scarce. The team wanted to know if the goats help in any way with seed dispersal.

Goats are excellent climbers and rarely if ever fall down from a tree. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Goats are excellent climbers and rarely if ever fall down from a tree. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

It’s well established that many animals spread the seed of various trees and plants by excreting seeds. This is how all sorts of plant species end up on islands, for instance, after some bird pooped them out even after hundreds of miles. The argan seed, however, is way too big and shouldn’t make it intact out of a goat’s digestive tract.

Argan seeds can grow to be quite large. Credit: Max Pexels.

Argan seeds can grow to be quite large. Credit: Max Pexels.

But precisely because the seeds are so large, they can be a nuisance for the goat.  Instead, the researchers chronicled the goats as they spit the seeds out. Like cows and other ruminants, a goat has multiple stomachs. So, what a Moroccan goat does is it will regurgitate the argan seeds from the first stomach and chew on it some more. During this process, the goats will often spit out some of the argan seeds, sometimes days after first ingesting them. Some seeds are spit very far from the parent tree too, the team found.

Argan farming is the main source of revenue for many rural Moroccans. Some successful farmers will use some of their profits to buy more goats as is the custom, which is aptly given part of that success is predicated on the goats’ ability to disperse the argan seeds and help more trees grow. Ironically, though, if there are too many goats, no new argan forests will appear since the animals eat all the baby trees. This is something many farmers should be more mindful of. And they’re not the only ones either. The main takeaway, not just for you the reader but for many working scientists too, is to look beyond the dung.

“In conclusion, many previous studies that investigated the role of ruminants as seed dispersers were based exclusively on dung analyses and may have underestimated an important fraction of the total number of dispersed seeds. Moreover, this fraction of seeds should correspond to plant species with particular fruit and seed traits (eg large linear dimensions) differing from those of plant species dispersed exclusively or mostly through defecation,” the team wrote in their paper.

“Importantly, the seeds of some species are unlikely to survive passage through the ruminant lower digestive tract so that spitting from the cud may represent their only, or at least their main, dispersal mechanism. It is therefore essential to investigate the effectiveness of this overlooked mechanism of seed dispersal in various habitats and systems,” the Spanish scientists concluded.

Credit:  Tibi Puiu

Displayed with permission from ZME Science

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What am I sappy husky blogging?

June 16, 2017
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Where am I reading?

June 13, 2017

For the next six weeks, any member of the public in New York can head to subwaylibrary.com or download the New York Public Library’s reader app, SimplyE, to have unlimited access to a wide selection of NYPL-provided e-books. The initiative also aims to promote the free Wi-Fi service at each of the subway’s underground stations, which rolled out late last year. When users log onto the service, a link to the Subway Library website will appear, encouraging you to read a book instead of your Facebook feed.

Library Train is designed to look like the iconic Rose Reading Room with the seats and walls on each car made to resemble bookshelves (and a fauxGilded Age ceiling to boot). The train is scheduled to run on the E and F lines between Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.


TimeOut  and New York Public Library

Via – Bookshelf: roundup

It’s tattoo Tuesday:

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Why am I saying, “I had no idea?”

June 12, 2017

WD-40 was developed for the Atlas ICBM Program – I had no idea!

Thanks to Naval Air Cowman.

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What am I sappy cat blogging?

June 9, 2017

The sand cat (Felis margarita), also known as the sand dune cat, is the only cat living foremost in true deserts. This small cat is widely distributed in the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. It was listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List since 2002 because the population was considered fragmented and small with a declining trend. It was downlisted to Least Concern in 2016.

The sand cat inhabits both sandy and stony desert, in areas far from water. Having thickly furred feet, it is well adapted to the extremes of a desert environment and tolerant of extremely hot and cold temperatures. – Wikipedia

Sand Cat Range

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Why am I looking up?

June 8, 2017

From WordlessTech

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What am I eating?

June 7, 2017

I used to read and enjoy a blog that reviewed service station food offerings.  There have been no postings there for a while, but on our recent road trip, I found some interesting snacks such as the Oreo candy bar above (what else would you do with broken Oreos?) and these:

And to wash it all down:

Nope, we did not try any of them, but if you have seen any interesting nibbles like these, I would be interesting in hearing about them.