Posts Tagged ‘winter’

  • News From the Wilds: December 2016

    Dec 2, 16 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the WildsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris The coldest season has come round again, and the wilds have entered the depth of their quiescence. But though the nights are at their longest now — the longest of the year is on December 21, the Winter Solstice — the coldest (and, for many species, hardest) parts of the winter are still to come. December is slightly warmer and bears a bit less rain and snow than January, when the days will be already growing longer again. This lag between the darkest and the coldest times is a result of the thermal qualities of the air masses in the atmosphere which hold their temperature long after incoming solar radiation has declined, as they now begin to lose their heat to the rapidly cooling land. It is for this reason that the warmest parts of the summer are typically after the Summer Solstice and that the coldest parts of the winter are after the Winter Solstice. As a result of low temperatures and lack of sunlight, plants and insects now enter the depth of their winter diapause, when almost no activity is to be found. These two groups are the primary food sources for almost all of our species, so their somnolence brings extreme hardship for birds and mammals, the two groups that remain most active. Only the most resourceful and innovative can find food during this

  • News From the Wilds: November 2016

    Nov 4, 16 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the WildsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris November is the beginning of the long quiet of winter for the Mogollon Highlands. The cold has crawled from the cracks of night into the light of day, changing how all of the creatures of the region live. The coming season brings scarcity of food and water, along with low, sometimes killing temperatures, and every species, plant and animal, has their set of adaptations to these challenges. These adaptations are sometimes physiological and sometimes behavioral, though for most species there is a little of both. Mammals (including humans) and some non-migratory birds begin to undergo cold acclimatization now, which includes redirection of blood flow away from skin, accumulation of insulative body fat and fur, and metabolic and chemical changes, all resulting in an overall increase in tolerance for low temperatures. Insects undergo a wide variety of changes — some, including bumblebees, generate propylene glycol (antifreeze) in their blood, which prevents them from freezing, while others develop the ability to raise their body temperatures far above that of the surrounding air, proving themselves anything but “cold-blooded.” Reptiles and amphibians are able to tolerate very low body temperatures without any injury, though some snakes, such as rattlesnakes, gather together in large numbers in caves to avoid the killing frosts. Many birds, including the swallows and warblers, migrate south, both for food and to avoid the cold, while mammals such

  • News From the Wilds: December 2015

    Dec 4, 15 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the WildsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris The coldest season has come round again, and the Wilds have entered the depth of their quiescence. But though the nights are at their longest now — the longest of the year is on December 21, the Winter Solstice — the coldest (and, for many species, hardest) parts of the winter are still to come. December is slightly warmer and bears a bit less rain and snow than January, when the days will be already growing longer again. This lag between the darkest and the coldest times is a result of the thermal qualities of the air masses in the atmosphere, which hold their temperature long after incoming solar radiation has declined. It is for this reason that the warmest parts of the summer are typically after the Summer Solstice, and that the coldest parts of the winter are after the Winter Solstice. As a result of low temperatures and lack of sunlight, plants and insects now enter the depth of their winter diapause, when almost no activity is to be found. These two groups are the primary food sources for almost all of our species, so their somnolence brings extreme hardship for birds and mammals, the two groups that remain most active. Only the most resourceful and innovative can find food during this time, and often creatures are more desperate because of this. Predators, such as

  • News From the Wilds: November 2015

    Nov 6, 15 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the Wilds2,181 CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris November is the beginning of the long quiet of winter for the Mogollon Highlands. The cold has crawled from the cracks of night into the light of day, changing how all of the creatures of the region live. The coming season brings scarcity of food and water, along with low, sometimes killing temperatures, and every species, plant and animal, has their set of adaptations to these challenges. These adaptations are sometimes physiological and sometimes behavioral, though for most species there is a little of both. Mammals (including humans) and some non-migratory birds begin to undergo cold acclimatization now, which includes redirection of blood flow away from skin, accumulation of insulative body fat and fur, and metabolic and chemical changes, all resulting in an overall increase in tolerance for low temperatures. Insects undergo a wide variety of changes — some, including bumblebees, generate propylene glycol, or antifreeze, in their blood, which prevents them from freezing, while others develop the ability to raise their body temperatures far above that of the surrounding air, proving themselves anything but “cold-blooded.” Reptiles and amphibians are able to tolerate very low body temperatures without any injury, though some snakes, such as rattlesnakes, gather together in large numbers in caves to avoid the killing frosts. Many birds, such as the swallows and warblers, migrate south, both for food and to avoid the cold, while

  • News From the Wilds: October 2015

    Oct 2, 15 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the Wilds3,890 CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris October in the Mogollon Highlands is one of the great turning points of the year — the warmth and activity of summer drops into the lower deserts and valleys as the cold of the coming winter (borne by heavy, cold air) slithers down the creek beds from the uplands. The evening air carries a sliver of ice, and brings smells of woodsmoke and high mountains, while the days are filled with dried grasses and the last of the year’s butterflies, native bees and flowers. The monsoon showers have finally passed, leaving a wave of activity in their wake — insects laying eggs, plants setting seed, birds migrating, and mammals preparing winter stores and putting on fat for the coming time of scarcity. The second dry season of the year typically begins in October as the heat-driven summer monsoon pattern, which draws moist air masses north from the Gulf of California, shifts to the storm-driven winter pattern based in the Pacific Ocean, where massive storm-systems catapult smaller moist low-pressure troughs across our region, bringing snow and rain. And it is this winter pattern that could therefore be strongly influenced by the developing El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which formed over the summer. When the equatorial belt of the Pacific, which receives over 50 percent of the Earth’s incoming equatorial solar radiation, increases in temperature by

  • News From the Wilds: September 2015

    Sep 4, 15 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the Wilds4,293 CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris September glows in the golden light of late summer, its sunrises heady with the smell of white Sacred Datura flowers, fading into the noontime butterscotch of sun-warmed Ponderosa, and later into the dusk sweetness of bricklebush. In much of North America, September marks the beginning of the colder part of the years with last harvests and cold nights. But in the lower latitudes, such as the Mogollon Highlands of Arizona, September is still summer, though with hints and foreshadowings of autumn. The monsoon rains usually continue into the early part of the month, tapering off eventually into glorious sunny days — with extraordinary flowering of purple four-o-clocks, asters, and morning-glories, red penstemons and Scarlet Creeper, yellow sunflowers and daisies, and the tall, strange, tree-like Wright’s Thelypody (Thelypodium wrightii), with its white flowers. Insect diversity, too, continues to grow and change, with some of the largest insects of the year making their debut. Look for the large brown Rhinoceros Beetle (Xyloryctes jamaicensis), the Great Ash Sphinx Moth (Sphinx chersis), and the gigantic leaf-mimic katydids of the genus Microcentrum, as well as the harmless (though somewhat alarming) Giant Crab Spider (Olios giganteus), which is often seen in houses as temperatures fall outside. It is during this time of extraordinary plenty that many creatures begin to prepare for the coming cold season. Most of our woody plants are setting seed,

  • News From the Wilds: January 2015

    Jan 2, 15 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the Wilds2,624 CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris January in the Central Highlands is when the long quiet of winter reaches its coldest and snowiest, as storms bluster and howl, pushing plants and animals to the limits of their strength. The frigid days, however, are often interspersed with sunny, cold days that skitter with bursts of bird and mammal activity. Every plant and animal has a set of strategies for making it through this time of scant resources and dangerous temperatures. Pregnant female Black Bears hibernate in underground dens. Bobcats, Coyotes, and deer grow thicker coats and subtly re-route blood flow away from their skin and extremities. Ground squirrels, chipmunks, and Beavers settle into the well-stocked dens that they’ve been provisioning for months. Insects and herbaceous plants have evolved so that only their eggs and seeds overwinter, while trees decrease photosynthesis either by dropping leaves or by insulating them with thicker coatings and alter their chemistry by increasing lipid content and membrane permeability to decrease risk of frost damage. In many cases these adaptations, both physiological and behavioral, are remarkably complex. But the glimmers of the coming spring continue as well. Some animals are “planting their seeds” for the coming year, including the Black Bears and River Otters, both of whom are giving birth. Many of our wind-pollinated trees are in flower, during this time when the broad leaves of deciduous trees have been dropped,

  • News From the Wilds: December 2014

    Nov 28, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the Wilds1,856 CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris The coldest season has come round again, and the wilds have entered the depth of their quiescence. But though the nights are at their longest now — the longest of the year is on Dec. 21, the Winter Solstice — the coldest and toughest parts of the winter are still to come. December is slightly warmer and bears a bit less rain and snow than January, when the days will be already growing longer again. This lag between the darkest and the coldest times is a result of the thermal qualities of the air masses in the atmosphere, which hold their temperature long after incoming solar radiation has declined. It is for this reason that the warmest parts of the summer are typically after the Summer Solstice, and that the coldest parts of the winter are after the Winter Solstice. As a result of low temperatures and lack of sunlight, plants and insects now enter the depth of their winter diapause, when almost no activity is to be found. These two groups are the primary food sources for almost all of our species, so their somnolence brings extreme hardship for birds and mammals, the two groups that remain most active. Only the most resourceful and innovative can find food during this time, and often creatures are more desperate because of this. Predators, such as Cooper’s Hawks, Sharp-shinned

  • News From the Wilds: January

    Jan 3, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the Wilds17 CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris January, and the long quiet of winter now reaches its coldest and snowiest period in the Central Highlands of Arizona. Every animal has a set of strategies for making it through this time of scant resources and dangerous temperatures ranging from hibernation (female Black Bears) to growing thicker coats (Bobcats and deer) to staying in well-stocked dens (ground squirrels, chipmunks, and beavers). Insects and herbaceous plants have adapted their lifecycles such that only their eggs and seeds overwinter. Meanwhile, trees decrease photosynthesis (either by dropping leaves or by insulating them with thicker coatings) and alter their chemistry (increasing lipid content and membrane permeability) to decrease risk of frost damage. In many cases, these adaptations, both physiological and behavioral, are remarkably complex. But glimmers of the coming Spring continue as well. Some animals “plant their seeds” for the coming year, including Bears, Otters, and Great Horned Owls, who are all giving birth. Many wind-pollinated trees are in flower, while the broad leaves of cottonwoods, alders, and ash are gone, thus allowing pollen to travel farther without as many obstacles. Unfortunately, many species of juniper are included in this, which makes the next several months the peak allergy season for humans in the Central Highlands. January, with its snowfalls and floods, is one of the best times of the year to study the activity of mammals through tracking in

  • Winter

    Jan 3, 14 • ndemarino • 4rt Page, 5enses14 CommentsRead More »

    By Jacques Laliberté

Celebrating art and science in Greater Prescott.

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