The Acacia tortilis of the African Savanna has been the subject of study in recent years for it's amazing ability with regards the phenomena of "hydraulic lift" which is said to benefit most all other plants within it's sphere of influence in the ecosystem. Most notably it's ability to increase grasses and other plant growth through it's root system which in turn benefits wildlife. AS you can see in the illutration here to the right. This "hydraulic lift" is defined as:
"Hydraulic Lift" (HL) in plants is defined as the redistribution of water from wetter to drier soil through the plant roots in response to soil water potential gradients. Water is released from the roots into the dry soil when transpiration is low (night) and reabsorbed by the plant when higher transpiration rates are resumed (daylight).But the kicker is the redistribution of that deeper subsoil lifted water to the surface soil layers to be utilized by more shallower rooted plants such as bunch grasses. There are almost 800 species of Acacia shrubs and trees inhabiting the Earth's warmer climates, especially temperate parts of Australia, where the trees are called Wattles. Because of their usefulness in wildlife ecosystems, Ornamental Landscaping and some Commercial Applications, these Acacias are cultivated in many areas where they are not native. But Acacia tortilis would most certainly be their King. So many other plants, including numerous bunch grasses depend on them during drier hot periods of the year by it's ability at utilizing this mechanism called Hydraulic Life & Redistribution. Now take a look first at some components influencing this tree's life cycle and the various animals ability to shape it into various necessary habitats for their own survival.
On the other hand, the "Hydraulic Redistibuted" (HR)lifted water released into dry surface soil can support growth and survival of the lifting and neighboring plants. Soil and rhizosphere microorganisms and the soil fauna could also benefit from HL-derived water, which eventually increases the availability of nutrients to other plants.
At this point it is easy to see how vulnerable such a young tender seedling can be. With all those millions of African Herbivores, how can any of them possibly survive ? The most obvious first line of defense of course are those nasty looking spines. But then in most plants of the world's more arid regions need such defenses to protect themselves from herbivores. But the younger Acacias also have Allies - Acacia Ants. One particular ant is very aggressive and an extremely good partner for the plant. This is a Cocktail Ant (Crematogaster mimosae) who provides regular patrolling and rushes to defend the plant when it is disturbed.
|Image - National Geographic|
|Image - Los Angeles Times|
Let's take an example of the symbiosis found with another type of Acacia and Acacia Ants in Central America. Sometimes called the Bullhorn or Cow Thorn, this plant has a symbiotic relationship with an aggressive and painful species of Ant (Pseudomyrmex ferruginea). The ants live in its thorns and protect the tree from encroaching plants, trying to grow near its trunk or leaves high in the canopy. The ants also emerge from the thorns to attack other insects, humans and animals that come in contact with the tree. Take note of the enlarged Acacia thorn with the Ant hole entrance below.
Beautiful Update (January 15, 2014)
Researchers discover an additional level of this insect-plant symbiosis
But now once you get past those young tender years, there are all manner of large Herbivores ready to take their turn on these trees. In an unending ocean of bodies, one has to wonder how any of these trees at all make to a majestic beauty. One way of accomplishing this is by use of bitter poison chemicals sent into the leaves when browsed and they are also able to send an Ethylene Gas signaling message to other trees within a certain 50 yards range to trigger them to produce these same chemical defenses. Though the Herbivores get some foliage before the chemicals do their job, the amount of foliage taken is a mere necessary Barber's trim. How do you think they get that picturesque shape they are so well known for ?
|Image - Kruger National Park|
|Image: Adam Romanowicz|
If any or all of the elements for which these amazing foundational trees were eliminated, do you realize what would happen to all the other dependent lifeforms that would simply go missing and disappear forever ?? The rules of nature are changing and humans changed them.
|Leopards would have no homes for which to use as a lookout post.|
|African Weaver Bird Colonies would have to go elsewhere|
|Former Prosopis pallida habitat|
|Eventually the entire Planet will have this Problem !|
For those unfamiliar with African outback and bush ecosystems, there are at least some Wild Animal Nature Theme Parks around the globe in other areas which offer glimpses of what such ecosystems look like. Truly such an experience which will inspire anyone to look at the negativity brought to us by media outlets like CNN or BBC News items on the ongoing African plight much differently than they may have considered previously. Then by all means if in San Diego CA, go to the Safari Park.
|Thorntree Terrace - San Diego Safari Park|
This is an example of an Acacia tree at the San Diego Wild Animal Park or Safari Park as it may be called now. This area is called Thorntree Terrace and is very popular Cafe with the visitors. Incredibly if you watched the development of this tree from it's beginning when it was first planted, you noticed that human hands were necessary and directly responsible for the forming, shaping and sculpting it into what you see today. If in an ecosystem devoid of animals out in the African bush with no interference it may only grow into a more rounded shrub-like in appearance, but let's hope not. Not one of us can imagine the various old growth forested systems the early European exporers first saw prior to the industrial revolution where the misuse and abuse of science was used to exploit the Earth's natural resources. The mighty old growth Hurango (Mesquite family) forests of South America have only mere remnant specimens to provide us with clues of what such ecosystems once looked like.
|Image - BBC News|
Hurango Tree (Prosopis pallida)
[A type of Mesquite tree]
|Pathway of the African Loop Trail|
|African Savanna Loop Trail Gate Entrance|
Below are some scenes we took from our walk. I actually wish I had taken more. This is one of my favourite place to be, even more than viewing the animals. Sorry, but the scenery here is lovely.
Personally I look forward to a day when all of this world's failed Politics, Religions, Economics (Science) and the general irresponsible dominating of man over their fellow man are done away with. I hope everyone reading here will be able to enjoy a pleasant lifestyle as a result of practical application of healthy values, principles and standards which will truly make this planet a New Earth. That's why the actually blog address here is "Creating a New "Earth." There is no amount of materialist fix here for it to become a reality, no amount of Eco-Conferences or Green Innovations to be forced and implemented on mankind by hard nosed rules & regulations for bringing this necessary change about. This is something in human behavior that will have to be addressed by every individual. In the mean time visualize yourselves enjoying a unimaginable Earth wide Paradise. Try working towards that goal everyday and not just a dreaming about it. The hope is that even peoples of the world's poorest nations will also be able to enjoy on an Earth with more paradisaic conditions!