Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is a national park in the United States. Straddling the border of California and Nevada, located east of the Sierra Nevada, the park protects the northwest corner of the Mojave Desert and contains a diverse desert environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, valleys and mountains. It is the largest national park in the lower 48 states and has declared an International Biosphere Reserve. Approximately 91% of the park is a wilderness area. It is the hottest and lowest of the parks in the United States. The second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is in Badwater Basin, the park is home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Some examples include creosote bush, bighorn sheep and the Death Valley pupfish, several short-lived boom towns sprang up during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to mine gold and silver. The only long-term profitable ore to be mined was borax, which was transported out of the valley with twenty-mule teams, the valley became the subject of books, radio programs, television series, and movies.
Tourism blossomed in the 1920s, when resorts were built around Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Monument was declared in 1933 and the park was substantially expanded and became a national park in 1994. The natural environment of the area has been shaped largely by its geology, the valley itself is actually a graben. The oldest rocks are metamorphosed and at least 1.7 billion years old. Ancient, shallow seas deposited marine sediments until rifting opened the Pacific Ocean, additional sedimentation occurred until a subduction zone formed off the coast. This uplifted the region out of the sea and created a line of volcanoes, the crust started to pull apart, creating the current Basin and Range landform. Valleys filled with sediment and, during the wet times of glacial periods, with lakes, in 2013, Death Valley National Park was designated as a dark sky park by the International Dark-Sky Association. There are two valleys in the park, Death Valley and Panamint Valley. Both of these valleys were formed within the last few million years, the result of this shearing action is additional extension in the central part of Death Valley which causes a slight widening and more subsidence there.
Uplift of surrounding mountain ranges and subsidence of the floor are both occurring. The uplift on the Black Mountains is so fast that the fans there are small
Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses, however sedge and rush families can be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica, grasslands are found in most ecoregions of the Earth. For example, there are five terrestrial ecoregion classifications of the grasslands and shrublands biome. Grassland vegetation can vary in height from short, as in chalk grassland, to quite tall, as in the case of North American tallgrass prairie, South American grasslands. Woody plants, shrubs or trees, may occur on some grasslands – forming savannas, scrubby grassland or semi-wooded grassland, as flowering plants and trees, grasses grow in great concentrations in climates where annual rainfall ranges between 500 and 900 mm. The root systems of perennial grasses and forbs form complex mats that hold the soil in place, graminoids are among the most versatile life forms. Existing forest biomes declined, and grasslands became much more widespread, following the Pleistocene ice ages, grasslands expanded in range in the hotter, drier climates, and began to become the dominant land feature worldwide.
Grasslands often occur in areas with annual precipitation between 600 mm and 1,500 mm and average annual temperatures ranges from −5 and 20 °C. However, some occur in colder and hotter climatic conditions. Grassland can exist in habitats that are disturbed by grazing or fire. Grasslands dominated by unsown wild-plant communities can be called natural or semi-natural habitats. The majority of grasslands in temperate climates are semi-natural and these grasslands contain many species of wild plants – grasses, sedges and herbs –25 or more species per square metre is not unusual. Chalk downlands in England can support over 40 species per square metre, in many parts of the world, few examples have escaped agricultural improvement. For example, original North American prairie grasslands or lowland wildflower meadows in the UK are now rare and their associated wild flora equally threatened. Some of the worlds largest expanses of grassland are found in African savanna, grasslands may occur naturally or as the result of human activity.
Grasslands created and maintained by human activity are called anthropogenic grasslands, hunting peoples around the world often set regular fires to maintain and extend grasslands, and prevent fire-intolerant trees and shrubs from taking hold. The tallgrass prairies in the U. S. Midwest may have been extended eastward into Illinois, much grassland in northwest Europe developed after the Neolithic Period, when people gradually cleared the forest to create areas for raising their livestock. Grassland types by Schimper, meadow steppe savannah Grassland types by Ellenberg & Mueller-Dombois, terrestrial herbaceous communities A. Savannas and related grasslands B
Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the waterfowl family Anatidae, which includes swans and geese. The ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the family Anatidae, they do not represent a group but a form taxon, since swans. Ducks are mostly birds, mostly smaller than the swans and geese. Ducks are sometimes confused with several types of unrelated water birds with similar forms, such as loons or divers, grebes and this word replaced Old English ened/ænid duck, possibly to avoid confusion with other Old English words, like ende end with similar forms. Other Germanic languages still have similar words for duck, for example, Dutch eend duck, the word ened/ænid was inherited from Proto-Indo-European, Latin anas duck, Lithuanian ántis duck, Ancient Greek nēssa/nētta duck, and Sanskrit ātí water bird, among others. A duckling is a duck in downy plumage or baby duck. A male duck is called a drake and the female is called a duck, the overall body plan of ducks is elongated and broad, and the ducks are relatively long-necked, albeit not as long-necked as the geese and swans.
The body shape of diving ducks varies somewhat from this in being more rounded, the bill is usually broad and contains serrated lamellae, which are particularly well defined in the filter-feeding species. In the case of some fishing species the bill is long, the scaled legs are strong and well developed, and generally set far back on the body, more so in the highly aquatic species. The wings are strong and are generally short and pointed. Three species of duck are almost flightless, however. Many species of duck are temporarily flightless while moulting, they seek out protected habitat with good food supplies during this period, the drakes of northern species often have extravagant plumage, but that is moulted in summer to give a more female-like appearance, the eclipse plumage. The plumage of birds generally resembles that of the female. Over the course of evolution, female ducks have evolved to have a corkscrew shaped vagina to prevent rape, Ducks exploit a variety of food sources such as grasses, aquatic plants, insects, small amphibians and small molluscs.
Dabbling ducks feed on the surface of water or on land, along the edge of the beak there is a comb-like structure called a pecten. This strains the water squirting from the side of the beak, the pecten is used to preen feathers and to hold slippery food items. Diving ducks and sea ducks forage deep underwater, to be able to submerge more easily, the diving ducks are heavier than dabbling ducks, and therefore have more difficulty taking off to fly. A few specialized species such as the mergansers are adapted to catch, to avoid injury when digging into sediment it has no cere, but the nostrils come out through hard horn
Geese are waterfowl belonging to the tribe Anserini of the family Anatidae. This tribe comprises the genera Anser and Chen, some other birds, mostly related to the shelducks, have goose as part of their names. More distantly related members of the family Anatidae are swans, most of which are larger than true geese, and ducks, the word goose is a direct descendent of Proto-Indo-European root, *ghans-. In Germanic languages, the root gave Old English gōs with the plural gēs and gandres, Frisian goes and guoske, New High German Gans, Gänse, and Ganter, and Old Norse gās. The term goose applies to the female in particular, while applies to the male in particular. Young birds before fledging are called goslings, the collective noun for a group of geese on the ground is a gaggle, when in flight, they are called a skein, a team, or a wedge, when flying close together, they are called a plump. The three living genera of true geese are, grey geese, including the goose, and domestic geese, white geese.
Either these or, more probably, the goose-like Coscoroba swan is the closest living relative of the true geese, the aptly named Anser atavus from some 12 million years ago had even more plesiomorphies in common with swans. In addition, some birds are known from subfossil remains found on the Hawaiian Islands. Geese are monogamous, living in permanent pairs throughout the year, unlike most other permanently monogamous animals, paired geese are more dominant and feed more, two factors that result in more young. Some mainly Southern Hemisphere birds are called geese, most of which belong to the shelduck subfamily Tadorninae, the blue-winged goose, Cyanochen cyanopterus, and the Cape Barren goose, Cereopsis novaehollandiae, have disputed affinities. They belong to separate ancient lineages that may ally either to the Tadorninae, the three species of small waterfowl in the genus Nettapus are named pygmy geese. They seem to represent another ancient lineage, with affinities to the Cape Barren goose or the spur-winged goose.
A genus of prehistorically extinct seaducks, Chendytes, is sometimes called diving-geese due to their large size, the unusual magpie goose is in a family of its own, the Anseranatidae. The northern gannet, a seabird, is known as the Solan goose, although it is a bird unrelated to the true geese. Well-known sayings about geese include, To have a gander is to something in detail. Whats sauce for the goose is sauce for the means that what is appropriate treatment for one person is equally appropriate for someone else. Saying that someones goose is cooked means that they have suffered, or are about to suffer, a wild goose chase is a useless, futile waste of time and effort
The yellow-billed cuckoo is a cuckoo. Common folk-names for this bird in the southern United States are rain crow and these likely refer to the birds habit of calling on hot days, often presaging thunderstorms. The genus name is from Ancient Greek kokkuzo, which means to call like a common cuckoo, adults have a long tail, brown above and black-and-white below, and a black curved bill with yellow especially on the lower mandible. The head and upper parts are brown and the underparts are white, there is a yellow ring around the eye. It shows cinnamon on the wings in flight, juveniles are similar, but the black on the undertail is replaced by gray. This bird has a number of calls, the most common is a ka ka ka ka ka kow kow kow. There is a debate regarding the taxonomic status of the western race. This question is significant to the status of this species in the west. Populations of this species in western North America are in steep decline, the bird disappeared from British Columbia and Oregon during the first half of the twentieth century.
Eastern populations have declined as well, though not as precipitously and their breeding habitat is deciduous woods from southern Canada to Mexico. They migrate to Central America and as far south as northern Argentina and this bird is a rare vagrant to western Europe. These birds forage in shrubs and trees, may catch insects in flight. They mainly eat insects, especially tent caterpillars and cicadas, but lizards, eggs of other birds. Cuckoos sometimes congregate near insect outbreaks or emergences, including outbreaks of gypsy moth caterpillars. They nest in a tree or shrub, usually up to 2–12 feet above the ground, the nest is a flimsy platform of short twigs placed on a horizontal branch. The 3-4 eggs are incubated for 14 days or less, the chicks are able to climb about with agility at 7–9 days of age. At about this time, the feathers of the chicks burst out of their sheaths. The entire time from egg-laying to fledging may be as little as 17 days, Yellow-billed cuckoos occasionally lay eggs in the nests of other birds, but they are not obligate brood parasites of other birds as is the common cuckoo of Eurasia
Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of Fresno, California. The park was established in 1940 and covers 461,901 acres and it incorporated General Grant National Park, established in 1890 to protect the General Grant Grove of giant sequoias. The park is north of and contiguous with Sequoia National Park and they were designated the UNESCO Sequoia-Kings Canyon Biosphere Reserve in 1976. Humans have inhabited the area for thousands of years, the first Native Americans in the area were Paiute peoples, who moved into the region from their ancestral home east of Mono Lake. The Paiute Nation people used deer and other animals for food. They created trade routes that extended down the slope of the Sierra into the Owens Valley. Kings Canyon had been known to white settlers since the mid-19th century, United States Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes fought to create the Kings Canyon National Park. He hired Ansel Adams to photograph and document this among other parks, the bill combined the General Grant Grove with the backcountry beyond Zumwalt Meadow.
Kings Canyons future was in doubt for nearly fifty years, some wanted to build a dam at the western end of the valley, while others wanted to preserve it as a park. The debate was settled in 1965, when the valley, along with Tehipite Valley, was added to the park, Kings Canyon National Park consists of two sections. The parks Giant Sequoia forests are part of 202,430 acres of old-growth forests shared by Sequoia and this section of the park is mostly mixed conifer forest, and is readily accessible via paved highways. Both the South and Middle Forks of the Kings Rivers have extensive glacial canyons, one portion of the South Fork canyon, known as the Kings Canyon, gives the entire park its name. Kings Canyon, with a depth of 8,200 feet, is one of the deepest canyons in the United States. The canyon was carved by glaciers out of granite, the Kings Canyon, and its developed area, Cedar Grove, is the only portion of the main part of the park that is accessible by motor vehicle. Both the Kings Canyon and its Middle Fork twin, Tehipite Valley, are deeply incised, U-shaped glacial gorges with relatively flat floors and towering granite cliffs thousands of feet high.
In addition, the canyon has several systems, one of which is Boyden Cave. To the east of the canyons are the peaks of the Sierra Crest, which attain an elevation of 14,248 feet NAVD88 at the summit of North Palisade. This is classic high Sierra country, barren ridges and glacially scoured lake-filled basins
California is the most populous state in the United States and the third most extensive by area. Located on the western coast of the U. S, California is bordered by the other U. S. states of Oregon and Arizona and shares an international border with the Mexican state of Baja California. Los Angeles is Californias most populous city, and the second largest after New York City. The Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nations second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, California has the nations most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The Central Valley, an agricultural area, dominates the states center. What is now California was first settled by various Native American tribes before being explored by a number of European expeditions during the 16th and 17th centuries, the Spanish Empire claimed it as part of Alta California in their New Spain colony. The area became a part of Mexico in 1821 following its war for independence.
The western portion of Alta California was organized as the State of California, the California Gold Rush starting in 1848 led to dramatic social and demographic changes, with large-scale emigration from the east and abroad with an accompanying economic boom. If it were a country, California would be the 6th largest economy in the world, fifty-eight percent of the states economy is centered on finance, real estate services and professional, scientific and technical business services. Although it accounts for only 1.5 percent of the states economy, the story of Calafia is recorded in a 1510 work The Adventures of Esplandián, written as a sequel to Amadis de Gaula by Spanish adventure writer Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. The kingdom of Queen Calafia, according to Montalvo, was said to be a land inhabited by griffins and other strange beasts. This conventional wisdom that California was an island, with maps drawn to reflect this belief, shortened forms of the states name include CA, Cal. Calif. and US-CA.
Settled by successive waves of arrivals during the last 10,000 years, various estimates of the native population range from 100,000 to 300,000. The Indigenous peoples of California included more than 70 distinct groups of Native Americans, ranging from large, settled populations living on the coast to groups in the interior. California groups were diverse in their organization with bands, villages. Trade and military alliances fostered many social and economic relationships among the diverse groups, the first European effort to explore the coast as far north as the Russian River was a Spanish sailing expedition, led by Portuguese captain Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, in 1542. Some 37 years English explorer Francis Drake explored and claimed a portion of the California coast in 1579. Spanish traders made unintended visits with the Manila galleons on their trips from the Philippines beginning in 1565
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its resources. The organization has four science disciplines, concerning biology, geology. The USGS is a research organization with no regulatory responsibility. The USGS is a bureau of the United States Department of the Interior, the USGS employs approximately 8,670 people and is headquartered in Reston, Virginia. The USGS has major offices near Lakewood, Colorado, at the Denver Federal Center, the current motto of the USGS, in use since August 1997, is science for a changing world. The agencys previous slogan, adopted on the occasion of its anniversary, was Earth Science in the Public Service. Prompted by a report from the National Academy of Sciences, the USGS was created, by a last-minute amendment and it was charged with the classification of the public lands, and examination of the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain.
This task was driven by the need to inventory the vast lands added to the United States by the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the legislation provided that the Hayden and Wheeler surveys be discontinued as of June 30,1879. Clarence King, the first director of USGS, assembled the new organization from disparate regional survey agencies, after a short tenure, King was succeeded in the directors chair by John Wesley Powell. Administratively, it is divided into a Headquarters unit and six Regional Units, Other specific programs include, Earthquake Hazards Program monitors earthquake activity worldwide. The National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado on the campus of the Colorado School of Mines detects the location, the USGS runs or supports several regional monitoring networks in the United States under the umbrella of the Advanced National Seismic System. The USGS informs authorities, emergency responders, the media, and it maintains long-term archives of earthquake data for scientific and engineering research.
It conducts and supports research on long-term seismic hazards, USGS has released the UCERF California earthquake forecast. The USGS National Geomagnetism Program monitors the magnetic field at magnetic observatories and distributes magnetometer data in real time, the USGS operates the streamgaging network for the United States, with over 7400 streamgages. Real-time streamflow data are available online, since 1962, the Astrogeology Research Program has been involved in global and planetary exploration and mapping. USGS operates a number of related programs, notably the National Streamflow Information Program. USGS Water data is available from their National Water Information System database
Devils Postpile National Monument
Devils Postpile National Monument is located near Mammoth Mountain in eastern California. The national monument protects Devils Postpile, a rock formation of columnar basalt. In addition, the John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail merge into one trail as they pass through the monument, excluding a small developed area containing the monument headquarters, visitor center and a campground, the National Monument lies within the borders of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. The monument was once part of Yosemite National Park, but discovery of gold in 1905 near Mammoth Lakes prompted a change that left the Postpile on adjacent public land. Later, a proposal to build a dam called for blasting the Postpile into the river. Influential Californians, including John Muir, persuaded the government to stop the demolition and, in 1911. The flora and fauna at Devils Postpile are typical of the Sierra Nevada, dark-eyed juncos and white-crowned sparrows are common in the summer. The name Devils Postpile refers to a cliff of columnar basalt.
Radiometric dating indicates the formation was created by a flow at some time less than 100,000 years ago. Estimates of the thickness range from 400 feet to 600 feet. The lava that now makes up the Postpile was near the bottom of this mass, because of its great thickness, much of the mass of pooled lava cooled slowly and evenly, which is why the columns are so long and so symmetrical. Columnar jointing occurs when certain types of contract while cooling. A glacier removed much of this mass of rock and left a surface on top of the columns with very noticeable glacial striations. The Postpiles columns average 2 feet in diameter, the largest being 3.5 feet, together they look like tall posts stacked in a pile, hence the features name. If the lava had cooled perfectly evenly, all of the columns would be expected to be hexagonal, but some of the columns have different polygonal cross-sections due to variations in cooling. A survey of 400 of the Postpiles columns found that 44. 5% were 6-sided,37. 5% 5-sided,9. 5% 4-sided,8.
0% 7-sided, compared with other examples of columnar jointing, the Postpile has more hexagonal columns. Another feature that places the Postpile in a category is the lack of horizontal jointing. Several stones from the Devils Postpile can be seen at the entrance to the United States Geological Survey headquarters lot in Reston, although the basaltic columns are impressive, they are not unique
The herons are the long-legged freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae, with 64 recognised species, some of which are referred to as egrets or bitterns rather than herons. Egrets are not a distinct group from the herons. Although egrets have the build as herons, they tend to be smaller. Herons, by evolutionary adaptation, have long beaks, the relationship of the genera in the family is not completely resolved. However, one species formerly considered to constitute a monotypic family Cochlearidae. Although herons resemble birds in other families, such as the storks, ibises and cranes, they differ from these in flying with their necks retracted. They are one of the groups that have powder down. Some members of this group nest colonially in trees, while others, notably the bitterns, the herons are medium to large sized birds with long legs and necks. They exhibit very little sexual dimorphism in size, the smallest species is usually considered the little bittern, which can measure under 30 cm in length, although all the species in the Ixobrychus genus are small and many broadly overlap in size.
The largest species of heron is the Goliath heron, which stand up to 152 cm tall, the necks are able to kink in an S-shape, due to the modified shape of the sixth vertebrae of which they have 20-21. The neck is able to retract and extend, and is retracted during flight, the neck is longer in the day herons than the night herons and bitterns. The legs are long and strong and in almost every species are unfeathered from the part of the tibia. In flight the legs and feet are held backward, the feet of herons have long thin toes, with three forward pointing ones and one going backward. The bill is long and harpoon like. It can vary from fine, as in the agami heron. The most atypical bill is owned by the boat-billed heron, which has a thick bill. The bill, as well as other parts of the body, is usually yellow, black or brown coloured. The wings are broad and long, exhibiting 10–11 primaries feathers, the feathers of the herons are soft and the plumage is usually blue, brown, grey or white, and can often be strikingly complex
A passerine is any bird of the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. A notable feature of passerines compared to other orders of Aves is the arrangement of their toes, sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbirds, the passerines form one of the most diverse terrestrial vertebrate orders, with over 5,000 identified species. It has roughly twice as many species as the largest of the mammal orders and it contains more than 110 families, the second-most of any order of tetrapods. The passerines contain several groups of parasites such as the viduas, cuckoo-finches. Most passerines are omnivorous, while the shrikes are carnivorous, the order is divided into three suborders, Tyranni and the basal Acanthisitti. Oscines have the best control of their syrinx muscles among birds, producing a range of songs and other vocalizations. Most passerines are smaller than members of other avian orders. The heaviest and altogether largest passerines are the thick-billed raven and the races of common raven.
The superb lyrebird and some birds-of-paradise, due to long tails or tail coverts, are longer overall. The smallest passerine is the short-tailed pygmy tyrant, at 6.5 cm and 4.2 g, the foot of a passerine has three toes directed forward and one toe directed backward, called anisodactyl arrangement. This arrangement enables the birds to perch upon vertical surfaces, such as trees. The toes have no webbing or joining, but in some cotingas, the hind toe joins the leg at the same level as the front toes. The passeriformes have this toe arrangement in common with hunting birds like eagles, the leg arrangement of passerine birds contains a special adaptation for perching. This enables passerines to sleep while perching without falling off and this is especially useful for passerine birds that develop nocturnal lifestyles. Most passerine birds develop 12 tail feathers, although the superb lyrebird has 16, certain species of passerines have stiff tail feathers, which help the birds balance themselves when perching upon vertical surfaces.
Some passerines, specifically in the family Ploceidae, are known for their elaborate sexual ornaments. A well-known example is the long-tailed widowbird, the chicks of passerines are altricial, blind and helpless when hatched from their eggs. Hence, the chicks require extensive parental care, vinous-throated parrotbill has two egg colours and blue
An endangered species is a species which has been categorized as likely to become extinct. In 2012, the IUCN Red List featured 3079 animal and 2655 plant species as endangered worldwide, the figures for 1998 were, respectively,1102 and 1197. Many nations have laws that protect conservation-reliant species, for example, population numbers and species conservation status can be found in the lists of organisms by population. The conservation status of a species indicates the likelihood that it will become extinct, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the best-known worldwide conservation status listing and ranking system. Over 40% of the species are estimated to be at risk of extinction. Internationally,199 countries have signed an accord to create Biodiversity Action Plans that will protect endangered, in the United States, such plans are usually called Species Recovery Plans. Those species of Near Threatened and Least Concern status have been assessed and found to have relatively robust and healthy populations, though these may be in decline.
The IUCN categories, with examples of animals classified by them, Extinct Extinct in the wild Captive individuals survive, critically endangered Faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future. Endangered Faces a high risk of extinction in the near future, vulnerable Faces a high risk of endangerment in the medium term. Near-threatened May be considered threatened in the near future, Least concern No immediate threat to species survival. A population size reduction of ≥ 50%, projected or suspected to be met within the next 10 years or three generations, whichever is the longer, based on any of to under A1. E) Quantitative analysis showing the probability of extinction in the wild is at least 20% within 20 years or five generations, there is data from the United States that shows a correlation between human populations and threatened and endangered species. Under the Endangered Species Act in the United States, species may be listed as endangered or threatened, the Salt Creek tiger beetle is an example of an endangered subspecies protected under the ESA.
Some endangered species laws are controversial, lobbying from hunters and various industries like the petroleum industry, construction industry, and logging, has been an obstacle in establishing endangered species laws. The Bush administration lifted a policy that required federal officials to consult an expert before taking actions that could damage endangered species. Under the Obama administration, this policy has been reinstated, being listed as an endangered species can have negative effect since it could make a species more desirable for collectors and poachers. This effect is potentially reducible, such as in China where commercially farmed turtles may be reducing some of the pressure to poach endangered species. Another problem with the species is its effect of inciting the use of the shoot, shovel