What does a bear do in the Alaska woods? Disperse seeds

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Does a bear leave scat in the woods? The answer is obvious but the effects on an ecosystem may not be.

A study by Oregon State University researchers concludes that brown and black bears, and not birds, as commonly thought, are primary distributers of small fruit seeds in southeast Alaska, spreading the seeds through their excrement.

“Bears are essentially like farmers,” said Taal Levi, an Oregon State assistant professor. “By planting seeds everywhere, they promote a vegetation community that feeds them.”

Seed dispersal is a key component in the understanding of any ecosystem, Levi said. The study is the first instance of a temperate plant being primarily dispersed by mammals through their gut, Levi said. The finding suggests repercussions for plant life when bears are removed.

Brown bears, or grizzlies, flourish in size and numbers in the Tongass National Forest, America’s largest, because they gorge on spawning salmon. As they wait for fish to enter streams, they eat berries.

Levi and graduate student Laurie Harrer, the study’s primary author, set up motion-triggered video cameras to detect what was eating berries. The collected bear DNA from saliva left on plants after berries disappeared. They recorded birds picking off a few berries at a time but bears gulping them by the hundreds.

When brown bears shift to eating fish, black bears move into berry patches.

Both bears, through their scat, disperse fruit seeds by the thousands, profoundly affecting what grows in the forest, according to the researchers.

Rodents that find bear scat further disperse seeds, burying them in caches a few millimeters deep, Levi said. If rodents lose track of caches, there’s a chance for new plant growth.

It’s an intricate system starting with salmon attracting bears, Levi said.

Laura Gough, an ecologist at Towson University who has conducted research for more than 20 years on how plants interact …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

Photos: Olympics Women’s Super-G

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Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic won the gold medal with Austria’s Anna Fenninger Veith winning silver and Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather winning bronze. Lindsey Vonn placed sixth in the event and will next compete in the downhill.

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News

THE SELF-INSTALLED SMART HOME REPORT: Why current smart home device owners are appealing to tech companies

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

Not that long ago, many home-appliance and consumer-electronics makers were gearing up for what they thought would soon be a rapidly growing market for smart home devices.

The instant popularity of the Nest thermostat, introduced in 2011, seemed to confirm their hopes. But those expectations were dashed in the coming years as the market for connected home devices later stagnated.

Even with these challenges, many of the biggest consumer technology companies are now moving into the smart home market. For example, Apple, which recently released its self-installed smart home ecosystem, called the Apple Home, traditionally doesn’t move into a market until it’s very mature and only when it can release a perfected product. Further, Google this fall launched the Google Home and its companion ecosystem, hoping to jump into the voice-activated smart home speaker market, which Amazon currently dominates with its Echo product line.

In a new report, BI Intelligence examines the demographics of the average smart home device owner and discuss why current smart home device owners are appealing to tech companies. The report also examines the plans of various tech giants in the smart home market and discuss their monetization strategies, and makes suggestions for how these companies can position themselves to make their products and devices more appealing to the mass market.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

Tech companies primarily enter the market to enhance a core revenue stream or service, while device makers desire to collect data to improve their products and prevent costly recalls.
We forecast there will be $4.8 trillion in aggregate IoT investment between 2016 and 2021.
These companies are also seeking to create an early-mover advantage for themselves, where …read more

Source:: Business Insider