Is resurrection moss really a moss?

Question Answered by Kristin Kaser, Plant Ecologist, INL ESER Program Southeastern Idaho is part of the Great Basin Desert, the largest desert in North America. It is classified as a cold temperate semidesert steppe with hot, dry summers and cold, snowy winters. During temperature extremes, some of our animals migrate to find needed food and…

How do things like butter and chocolate melt?

Question answered by Catherine Riddle, PhD, Radiochemist, Idaho National Laboratory Both chocolate and butter contain fat (triglycerides) which is why they melt differently than ice.  Most chocolates (especially milk-chocolate) tend to melt into this sticky (albeit delicious) mess at slightly above room temperature as does butter.  So why does this happen?  Since chocolate and butter…

Since deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter and their ability to perform photosynthesis, do they have to store food to stay alive?

Question answered by Kristin Kaser, Plant Ecologist, INL ESER Program Yes, deciduous trees must store food to stay alive in the winter. During the spring, deciduous trees begin creating food through photosynthesis; they are simultaneously preparing for their dormant period where they store extra nutrients as starches in underground structures like roots. As the growing…

I noticed this week (October 8th), that though the water of the South Fork in the Ririe area is clear, there are huge clumps of algae in the water and covering the rocks. I’ve never noticed this much algae before. Is there a reason?

Question answered by Gregg Losinski, Environmental Science Educator This is a great question based on an interesting observation. Like many great questions, the answer may not be a simple one. Without knowing what exactly was being observed it is hard to give a definitive answer, but the potential answers are all possible. The most important…

If pronghorn winter diet is close to 100% sagebrush, how do they process the terpenoid oils in the plant when other browsers can’t?

Question answered by Dr. Jericho Whiting, Biology Professor, BYU-Idaho Sagebrush provides a ready source of winter nutrition for pronghorn, because of its nutritional quality and relative availability on sagebrush-dominated winter range used by these ungulates. Three adaptations by pronghorn allow them to eat sagebrush in winter. First, pronghorn are opportunistic herbivores. As such these animals are able to…

My geraniums were so pretty this summer. Is there a way I can keep them alive over the winter to replant in the spring?

Answered by Betsy Holmes, Master Gardener Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.) are native to South Africa and are grown as annuals in most parts of the United States, but they are actually tender perennials. The four common types of geraniums are scented-leaf, ivy-leaf, Martha Washington, and zonal (Pelargonium x hortorum).  Zonal are the most common geraniums sold…