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> eider adaptations
Mrs. Purser
post May 21 2006, 04:43 AM
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Hi Sam!
Thanks for researching those questions! Hope I didn't cause you to pester the scientists too much! That info about the photosynthetic radition was fascinating! I sometimes forget that processes like photosynthesis are more complex than we actually teach! Thanks for researching the selenium question too. Interesting that the bioaccumulation has a greater effect on freshwater birds than on saltwater birds. We just finished talking about how biomagnification of DDT in the water affected the shells of birds such as pelicans, osprey, etc. and caused those populations to decline, so this will be interesting to talk about in class. I'll share my research on selenium with you at a later date... over coffee sometime tongue.gif

So now, I have another question. I've read about some of the adatpations that plants and birds on our NC coast and in the estuaries have which allow them to cope with high salt levels in the water. Does anyone know how the spectacled eiders handle this? Also, what adaptations do they have for those cold water temps? We've been talking about the various biomes and how the plants and animals that live in each are specially adapted for the particular climate/conditions in which they live, so this info would be interesting to my kids!

Thanks... missing you at PCJ!

P.S. I did have 3 kids choose the essay dealing with your journal entry on chlorophyll in the sediments on their test Thursday
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post May 28 2006, 06:23 AM
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Adaptations...hmmm. I could go on for a while about adaptations. I'll put this in bullet form to shorten it a little. The scientists had a lot to say. And by the way, I secretly love pestering them with science questions.

Bird Adaptations
-sea birds have thicker blubber layer than land birds for both insulation and energy
-eiders have salt glands in their eye orbits that help them excrete the salt by snorting it out while other birds like fulmars and albatross are called tube noses and they have a tube on top of their nose that excretes the excess salt.
-birds exploit different niches in their environments for food (eiders dive to the bottom for their food, puffins swim after fish, one bird pesters others until they throw up and then steals the meal, some forage at the surface, one swims in circles until is makes a whirlpool that brings food up to the surface)
-oil glands and preening helps keep the feathers dry
-eider down feathers used to be in the best duvets and down parkas until it was over exploited because of its loft, or ability to trap the warm air.
-birds that dive can collapse their lungs and become neutrally buoyant so that at a certain depth they are not fighting buoyancy and this helps them conserve energy while they forage on the bottom.
-some birds are more efficient at flying and gliding and can go further offshore for food than others.
-most creatures are opportunistic and recognize a meal when they see one and don't limit themselves to only one specific kind of thing to eat.

Marine Mammal Aaptations
-most have a very thick layer of blubber for insulation and energy
-stop the flow of blood to their skin by constricting blood vessels which keeps their body heat from radiating out when in the water - this is why walruses turn a whitish color after swimming for long periods of time and look more brown when they have hauled out on the ice for a while.
-obtain freshwater from the tissues of their prey.
-kidneys have many small efficient parts that are good salt filters
-polar bears have clear hairs that reflect and refract the light back onto their skin, which is black and black absorbs all the wavelengths of visible light so it absorbs as much heat as possible.

I would like to invite anyone who knows anything about adaptations of the birds and mammals of the Bering Sea to post any adaptation I have not listed here - there are a bunch more!

Thanks for the great question, Ms. Purser!
Samantha Barlow
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