Today’s double post (photography challenge and science
Sunday) is moss.
Moss is one of the more primitive plants, where they don’t have flowers and actually reproduce via spores. There are about twelve thousand species in the group (which scientifically is called the Bryophyta). Though they play an important role in various ecosystems—especially when it comes to erosion control.
I took this picture of moss a few weeks ago on campus, as moss generally grows in the shade and where it’s moist—and we’ve been moist the past couple of weeks with all the snow, ice, and rain we’ve been getting. There is one general area that is fairly shaded and in the path of runoff water that allows for the moss to grow in late winter and early spring.
It may go on my bucket list—getting out into the national parks/forests and getting some more photos of moss in different elevations and areas of the country.
So on our way to Carlsbad Caverns, we did a side trip to the White Sands National Monument.
The White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico is comprised of great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand and is host to numerous different plants and animals.
This national monument, is almost unearthly when you’re either driving through or getting out to take a small hike to get some pictures. Above I manged to capture some of the swirling sand behind a couple of dunes. Climbing the dunes was interesting (though I think I managed to get quite a bit of sand accidentally in my sneakers–one drawback of having shoes that have the “holes” in them for your feet to breath).
In regards to wildlife that if found within the boundaries of the monument–most of them are either nocturnal, or they live within the scrub areas (and those are usually the rattlesnakes, and I heard one already–didn’t really need to see one). There are suppose to be mice, and foxes, and there were also different lizards that also call this place home.
Above is the bleached earless lizard. This lizard is related to other “earless” lizards, but adapted to the region of the white sands–it is extremely pale (we almost missed seeing this guy run across the ground). It was unusual to see them during the day (usually seen in the morning near the boardwalk), but we saw this guy out in the dunes.
There were several different plants, that I also managed to get some pictures of. One of them (above) was this beautiful pinkish flower on this one plant. That plant turned out to be gypsum centaury, and while they are usually found around springs or streams, but can also be found in the interdunal area (or the low areas between the dunes).
Here is another picture of another plant, that had bright yellow flowers. I’m still in the process of trying to identify this plant. Other plants included species of yucca, and grasses.