Claudia in Fiji!!!!!

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Mechanisms of Speciation

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This is a hypothesis of how the orange fruit dove evolved and changed to create a new species called the golden dove.  The picture above is a picture of the golden dove we saw at the Kula Eco Park. The other is the orange fruit dove.

A long time ago, orange fruit doves roamed the Fijian islands Viti Levu, Ovalau, Gau, Beqa and Waya. When people from the island Nananu-I-Ra saw these beautiful orange birds, they decided they wanted to introduce them to their island so they brought some home with them. Little did they know, the vegetation on Nananu-I-Ra was slightly different than the vegetation on the isalnds Viti Levu, Ovalau, Gau, Beqa and Waya. These orange fruit doves that where bought to Nananu-I-Ra needed to change their colour to help them camouflage better to the vegetation of Nananu-I-Ra, especially because there was more predators on this island. To help them survive, the orange fruit dove changed colour to green on the island of Nananu-I-Ra and when people from the island Viti Levu saw this “new” bird they bought some home. When the orange fruit dove and golden dove meet on the island Viti Levu, they could not mate. The organe fruit dove, where the male uses its impressive orange colour to attract the female during mating, was not interest in the golden dove because of its colour. The different mating rituals caused them not to respond to one another, preventing the 2 species from reproducing (behavioral isolation). (picture)

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Ecosystem Restoration


This diagram shows the large biodiversity of insects implying their importance.

Although I was unable to go to the coral replanting excursion, I still heard about the great adventure and unique way these Fijian citizens are helping the ecosystem around them.

Biodiversity is the range of organisms present in a particular ecological community or system. It is the life forms we experience all around us, yet know remarkably little about. The number of species of plants, animals, and microorganisms, the enormous diversity of genes in these species, the different ecosystems on the planet, such as deserts, rainforests and coral reefs are all part of a biologically diverse Earth. Biodiversity is the result of 3.5 billion years of evolution and is essential to our existence. Declining biodiversity is therefore a concern for many reasons. Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how small, all have an important role to play. For example, greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life form and healthy ecosystems can better withstand and recover from a variety of disasters. Species are dependent on each other. The dependence that the extinction of a single species can trigger a domino effect on various other species which are directly or indirectly dependent on that particular species. The entire ecosystem is a complex web with interwoven food chains, and damage to any link (extinction of a species) in these food chains can cause trouble for numerous species on the Earth. Also, biodiversity is important for humans. There is ecosystem services such as pollution breakdown and absorption, nutrient storage/recycling and helps with recovery from unpredictable events. Furthermore, biodiversity provides medicinal resources and pharmaceutical drugs (like some of the plants we saw on Epi’s tour), food and tourism (would damage a whole industry as well).

An ecosystem restoration project I found is SCRUM (Sustainable Coastal Resource Use Management) by the organization WWF and is WWF’s largest conservation program in the south pacific. SCRUM’s goal is to improve the overall health of coastal ecosystems by improving all components of the system including forest, freshwater and marine environments. This general approach recognizes that one system cannot be treated in isolation because they are all linked- for example forest soil filters rainwater, which feeds into freshwater bodies and flows into the ocean. SCRUM is doing this by working with communities to change practices, such as environmental education and management of natural resources (especially fish), as well as with national and regional partners to change policies. Though this method may not have an instant effect on the ecosystem because they are not directly doing anything for the ecosystem, it will probably have many effects on the ecosystem in the future. Some long term impacts of this project could be on the ecosystem, is less waste of natural resources therefore less over fishing, forestry…, more ecofriendly ways of harvesting causing less strain on ecosystems and decreased cause of extinction of a certain species helping biodiversity. I think that education is very important because it is addressing the root problem for most biodiversity issues (humans) and will is not just a “quick fix”. I also think that including the forest, freshwater and marine environments is really good because it will help maintain a healthy coastal ecosystem once achieved due to the fact they are all interweaved. One thing I am not a fan of is that they are not doing anything that will help in the short term. Education often takes a while to reach the general public and change the ways and thinking of people. I believe they should also have people replanting coral and stopping poaching…. Etc.

Fact: Even insects are important!!! It is estimated that somewhere between six to ten million insects are found on the planet. We can’t afford to lose these insects considering that most of them have an important role to play in activities like plant pollination. In absence of insects, plants will have to rely on wind and other animals to facilitate the process of reproduction, and that will hamper the entire process to a great extent. (picture)

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Antibiotic Resistance



This diagram shows the basics of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance is a worldwide public health problem that continues to grow. It is a type of drug resistance where a microorganism is able to survive exposure to an antibiotic; in other words, the bacteria are “resistant” and the antibiotic has lost its ability to effectively control or kill bacterial growth. It can occur because when an antibiotic is given, it kills the sensitive bacteria, but any resistant ones can survive and multiple (survival of the fittest). Antibiotic resistance is a major concern also because of the overuse of antibiotics. With more usage of antibiotics, the bacteria/virus alters quicker making the current antibiotic useless. This type of resistance does not just happen in humans, but also in animals and agricultural due to the more usage of antibiotics and pesticides.  A way to prevent antibiotic resistance is to minimize unnecessary prescribing and overprescribing of antibiotics. This occurs when people expect doctors to prescribe antibiotics for a viral illness (antibiotics do not work against viruses) or when antibiotics are prescribed for conditions that do not require them. Furthermore, throw away unused antibiotics at the end of you prescription. Saving the antibiotics and taking them the next time you get sick can breed antibiotic resistance.  Good overall health also helps because it leads to less illness therefore needing less antibiotics. In 1996, 1997 and 1998 Fiji had over 300 deaths due to shigellosis, a foodborne illness caused by infection by bacteria. These patients were unable to take oral antibiotics and were given intravenous antibiotics (chloramphenicol and ampicillin), but they were ineffective due to resistance of the organism. Antibiotic resistance is more present in developed countries, like Canada, than developing countries because antibiotics are more available to citizens and are given out much more frequently. Antibiotic resistance causes over a million deaths in developing countries worldwide annually proving it is a growing concern. I included a link below to a video about antibiotic resistance and the safe practice of taking antibiotics.


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Lactase Evolution (natural selection)


Lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Lactose intolerance develops when the small intestine does not make enough lactase, an enzyme that catalyzes lactose into glucose and galactose, so in the absence of lactase, it passes intact into the colon. Symptoms include bloating and cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, taking about 30 minutes to 2 hours for symptoms to show after in taking lactose. Lactose intolerance is a genetically-determined characteristic.

Natural selection

Natural selection is the gradual natural process by which populations biological traits become either more or less common that better enable them to adapt to specific environmental pressures, as predators, changes in climate, or competition for food or mates. It is often called “survival of the fittest”. Natural selection may have actually played a role on the ability to digest lactose. Primarily people whose ancestors came from places where dairy herds could be raised safely and economically, such as in Europe, who have developed the ability to digest milk. Whereas ancestors that lived in areas that couldn’t support dairy herding due to past disease, harsh climate and geographic situation do not have the ability to digest milk after infancy.  Also, the life style of nomadism may contribute to being able to digest lactose. Historically, migratory groups that moved seasonally, allowing them to avoid harsh climates so they could keep cattle.

There are many factors/pressures that allow populations to be able to digest lactose. In India, cows are considered sacred and are very well keep. Indians have been drinking cow’s milk for generations because it increases the case of survival (during drought, they can drink the cow’s milk).  On the other hand, Fiji had no survival benefit for having cows and they are relatively new to Fiji. This may be the reason why in general Fijians suffer more from lactose intolerance than Indians and shows a case of natural selection. During my time in Fiji so far, I have even noticed that dairy products are not very present in meals and powdered milk is very popular.

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Today we went on an excursion to the Koroniva Research Station. Though it was not what I expected, I still learned some interesting information! At the research station, I learned that the African tulip and the Bronze-leafed Clerodendrum are invasive species to the Fijian islands. The Bronze-leafed Clerodendrum (also known as Firecracker), is actual grown by some Fijian citizens due to its pretty bloom, despite the threats it has to farms and forests. In addition, they had an example of the breeding ground of a Rhinousouos Beetle (invasive species as well).  Another thing I found very interesting was there preserves program. Workers at the station show people in local villages how to preserves food, such making Cassava peel into Cassava chips to avoid food wastage.  Fiji also has a problem with farmers growing weed in their fields to create an extra source of income because many are very poor.  Lastly, I learned that at the Koroniva Research Station they look at soil from farmers’ fields to see what is needed to assure their crop flourish more (fertilize…).

Side note: I included a picture of the pigs we saw at the station because of their immense size (is it due to growth hormones or bred?).

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Cyanobacteria Image3

              Cells are seen to be a pretty fundamental structural aspect of life, due to the fact all living things are made up of cells.  Cells come in two basic types, prokaryotic and eukaryotic. Prokaryotic cells have no nuclei, while eukaryotic cells do have a true nuclei. But, this is far from the only difference between these two cell types. Eukaryotic DNA is organized into chromosomes and is in the nucleus, were prokaryotic DNA is circular and is not in the nucleus (because there is none). Prokaryotes classification domains are the bacteria and the Archaea kingdom, where eukaryotes are animal, plant, fungi and Portis kingdom. Also, the prokaryotic cells have no membrane bound organelles in cell and are singled of very few celled. Where in the eukaryotic cell, cells are bound to the membrane and is multicellular or unicellular. However, there are similarities between the two types of cells. The presence of DNA is common between the two cells and they both have a cell membrane covering them. They need energy supply to survive and contain ribosomes which make proteins. Also, these cells have both have a fluid-like substance called the cytoplasm that fills the cells.

                Cyanobacteria, a prokaryotic cell, are oxy-photosynthetic bacteria that dominated marine environments for many years. They are present in the benthos and plankton compartments of coral reef ecosystems, but can be found in almost all marine environments. Cyanobacteria plays an essential role in coral reefs by providing nitrogen to the coral reef ecosystems through nitrogen fixation and are important primary producers.  The most common hosts are sponges and ascidians for the cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria obtains it energy through photosynthesis (a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy, normally from the sun, into chemical energy that can be used to fuel the organisms). They accounts for 20–30% of Earth’s photosynthetic productivity.


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Plant Study




Lantana Camara

Kingdom= plantae Phylum= magnoliophyta Class= magnoliopsida Order= lamiales Family= Verbenaceae Genus= Lantana Species= Lantana Camara

Lantana Camara is a dicot plant native to American tropics. It has been introduced to many other parts of the world and is now considered an invasive species in most of them. Lantana is used for many medicinal purposes. These include, but are not limited to; treating cuts, insect bites, clotting blood. For usage it must be crushed and the juices squeezed on area as shown in picture above. The factors affecting the growth of the plant include environmental impact, animals and predators. Due to the fact that it is an invasive species in many areas, it does not have many predators therefore it is able to spread very quickly. It also cannot be controlled through environmental measures such as fire because it is resistant to fire and grows quickly in brunt areas.

Water transportation

Water transports in plants several ways. One way is high to low pressure. As water evaporates from the top of the plant from the sun, the pressure on the top of the plant is significantly reduced. This causes the pressure on the bottom of the plant to be high and allowing water to force its way up the plant to low pressure areas. Another way water transports is osmosis. Due to the fact the roots have a much higher nutrient composition than the soil, the plants try to balance the two by taking in water. The plants roots consistently draws water into the plant through osmosis contributing to water transportation. Xylem and Pholem is the way water transports throughout the plant. These wide tubes allow water to move from the roots by grabbing the water and transporting it to the leaves. These tubes are also responsible for transporting sugar and nutrients throughout the plant. Plants also lose water. Plants have pores under their leaves were water evaporates out of the plant and cools it in hot weather.

Structure of the leaf

The blade is the broad, flat part of the leaf, the main part. Leaf blades differ in types of edges such as smooth, toothed and lobed. The Petiole is the stem like part of the leaf that joins the blade to the stem. There are little veins that stem off from the midrib to help transport water throughout the leaf and also support the leaf. Stipules, which only grow on some plants, are 2 small flaps that grow at the base of the petiole. In many cases, stipules drop off after the blade has developed. Leaf structure vary from plant, but in general carry the same characteristic.

Reproduction of the plant

Flowers are very important in the reproduction of plants. The flower of a plant attract insects that carry the pollen for pollination. The stamen (male part) produces pollen which is sperm and is often in the same flower as the pistil (female parts). The pistil produces the egg cells which are housed in the flowers ovaries. Often, they stamen is blown and the pollen goes down the stigma and then fertilizes the eggs.

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Comparative Anatomy

Though dolphins do not look the same as humans exteriorly, humans and dolphins actually have similarities in their gross anatomy, such as the pectoral fin and human arm. Both species have a humorous (pink), ulna (green), radius (yellow), carpals (orange), and phalange bone(purple and red), but vary in length, width and ratio. In the dolphin arm, the carpals and phalange together are almost the length of the radius, ulna and humorous combine. Where in the human, the ratio is not similar to the pectoral fin. Also, in the human arm the radius and ulna slightly cross over, but in the dolphin fin they are situated side by side.

A dolphin and human both have a respiratory system that have similarities and differences. They contain a 4 chamber heart due to the fact they are both mammals. The red blood cells, the main way of oxygen transportation, are more abundant in dolphins than in humans which is one of the factors why dolphins can go underwater longer than humans. During each breath, a dolphin exchanges about 80% of its lung air. This is much more efficient than humans, who exchange only about 17% of their air with each breath. Another difference is that dolphins use a blow hole to exchange air, were humans use the nostrils and lungs.

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This picture is of the spinner dolphins we saw at our dolphin watch!

This diagram shows the similarities between the dolphin and human arm through bone structure.

The picture above shows the dolphin respiratory system and parts of the dolphin that are involved in that system.


Fun Fact: When a human puts their face in the water, the heart rate immediately slows down which is a reflex found in dolphin, whales and other diving mammals!!!! (picture) (picture)



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Monocot and Dicot

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Monocot and dicot


Within angiosperms (flowering plants), 2 groups or classes are used for recognition: dicots and monocots. The terms connote differences between the two seed embryos. Dicots are flowering plants whose seed typically has two embryonic leaves, well monocots typically have one embryonic leaf. There are several ways to determine if a plant is a dicot or monocot. A dicot has flower parts in multiples of four or five, pollen with three pores, the leaves have branched veins, and secondary growth is often present. An example is daises. A monocot has flowers in multiples of 3, leaf veins that are parallel, pollen with a single pore and secondary growth is often absent. An example is palm tree.

There were a variety of local flora in the Thurston gardens, but this one was my favorite!!! After looking it up on the internet, I found out that this flower is a Hibiscus. This flower fits the criteria of a dicot. The flower parts are in multiples of 5, not 3 like a monocot, shown in the picture above. The veins net outward from the central line and major leaf veins reticulate. Also secondary growth is present.  



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