Seasons of Life: The Biological Rhythms That Enable Living Things to Thrive and Survive
Russell G. Foster
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Just as daily events are timed by living creatures through circadian rhythms, so seasonal events are timed through an internal calendar that signals birds to return to nesting grounds, salmon to spawn, plants to flower, squirrels to hibernate, kelp to stop growing.
In this fascinating book, Russell G. Foster and Leon Kreitzman draw on remarkable recent scientific advances to explain how seasonal change affects organisms, and how plants and animals over countless generations have evolved exquisite sensitivities and adaptations to the seasons. The authors also highlight the impact of seasonal change on human health and well-being. They conclude with a discussion of the dangers posed when climate changes disrupt the seasonal rhythms on which so much life depends.
Surprising facts from Seasons of Life:
–The timing of human birth has a small but significant effect on various later life attributes, such as handedness and the susceptibility to many illnesses, including multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia.
–Plants have the ability to measure the length of a period of light, and they germinate, flower, and successfully reproduce by using this information.
–Birds migrate not in response to weather changes but by using an internal calendar.
–Until recently, human birth was tightly coupled to the seasons, peaking in many societies in the spring.
–Just as internal 24-hour circadian clocks predict daily change, many animals have a circannual clock in their brains that predicts the seasons.
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has contracted to a species-specific critical length. Other plants such as barley (Hordeum vulgare) flower in the spring or summer when the days are lengthening, and they named these long-day plants (LDPs). Still others are not sensitive to the photoperiod and are called day-neutral plants. The Maryland Mammoth requires a daylength of 12 hours or less if it is to flower. At 40° N, the latitude at Beltsville, Maryland, to which the Arlington Research facility relocated, tobacco seeds are normally
season and flower in the following spring because it enables them to distinguish spring from temperature fluctuations in the autumn. In the first growing season the plants become established, and in the next spring they flower rapidly to take advantage of favourable conditions and to avoid competition. In many species, vernalisation is not sufficient in itself to induce flowering but renders plants competent to flower when the photoperiodic signal occurs. An example is henbane (Hyoscyamus
body. Within an hour or two the Frog will recover his Summer Activity, and leap as usual’ (Stefansson & McCaskil, 1938). The Asian salamander (Hynobius kyserlingi) and the grey treefrog (Hyla versicolor) use glycerol rather than glucose as antifreeze, suggesting that the supercooling adaptation may have evolved independently in different amphibia. Insects are also ectothermic animals, and cold-hardy species overwinter by similar basic strategies: freeze tolerance by withstanding the formation of