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Archive for the ‘Ecology’ Category

Learning about the biomes in the world was very interesting, and i learned alot of information. There are several biomes that make up our world. Some are hot and some are cold, and they all are unique.

We were assigned to research one biome and make a brochure advertising it. I thought that this was a great way to learn the information. I researched the freshwater biome. The freshwater biome is home to many organisms such as fish, frogs, and turtles. Freshwater biomes contain little or no salt. After doing our separate research on specific biomes, we got together as a class to share our findings. During this time, we listened to what people had to say, and learned a little about each biome. I thought that this was an effective way of learning the material.

-Dori

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On Friday, D period class went outside to discuss the world’s biomes. I really liked going outside. It helped me visualize how our area would be different in different biomes. I liked the brochures idea, although as a result from School Loop dying and a power outage, many students did not have them in. That was a pity because I felt like we could have talked about biomes more/stayed outside longer. I noted the similarities and differences the alpine and tundra biomes had. They are both cold, have high winds, and had snow in the winter but less or not at all in the summer. The alpine was all over the globe, while the tundra was mostly in the Arctic Circle region. I really liked how the class was structured on Friday.

Jacques L.

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Biology Biomes

On Friday, my biology class went outside to learn (& present) what we learned about the biome’s we studied earlier that week. A biome is an area that has specific climate ranges and contains flora and fauna as well; and landforms are included as well. We were each assigned a different biome and we had to research the different plants, animals, weather, landforms, and more about the region we were given. The biomes I found most interesting were the Tundra and Desert . These two biomes are so different. The Tundra climate is extrememly cold, and is the farthest from the equator. It has little plant life and a few mammals and insects. The Desert is a place closest to the equator, with the most direct sunlight, and contains many cacti and brush. These two places are so different, yet they are both dry places. The Tundra’s water vapor freezes in the air causing it to be dry. As for in the Desert, it is so hot there is very little amounts of water vapor in the air. These brochures really helped me learn a lot about the different areas. There are varied types of biomes on earth.

~Marina

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Pond

My grandparents have a small, man-made pond in their yard. There are a lot of different frogs and fish that live in their pond. My grandfather has lived in our small town all his life, and our family has kept a pretty decent record of events in the town. Its really interesting, because he knows basically everything thats gone on in this town since it was founded. Behind where the pond is now, there used to be a railroad track and we can even find Native American arrow heads sometimes out in the woods. Only a couple of decades ago, all the places where our houses and neighborhoods and schools and stores are, there used to be just woods. And the woods were just everywhere, and now so many people have moved here and we’ve taken up so much space. We’ve gotten rid of so many trees and places for the native animals to live. We’ve seen coyotes and deer and turkey and many other animals in the woods. Its really suprising how the land we live on now really used to belong to so many other animals, and we’re just pushing them out, more and more all the time. http://www.freefoto.com/images/15/37/15_37_73—Woods_web.jpg

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Today is International Biodiversity Day, one of my absolute favorite topics (ask any of my students)! People around the world are recognizing the value of biodiversity better than the people of the this country do.  Peasant Haitian farmers are refusing to plant Monsanto seeds and have vowed to burn them, calling the seeds “…a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds…and on what is left of our environment in Haiti.”  Elsewhere, an island in the Pacific, the Republic of Nauru, is actively fighting to regain their island biodiversity following a decade of mining.

Teaching biology this year has not been as satisfying as I would have expected it to be, had I not been told to stick closely to the curriculum of the Science Department. Biology could have been a lot more enjoyable if we were not trying to teach every biology topic that has the potential to be on the MCAS exam. The curriculum attaches ecology to the end of the year where, in my mind, it should start off the year and be referenced as other topics are investigated. While I could not start the year with ecology, I have been integrating the ideas throughout the year, as I could.

This past week I introduced the H I P P O acronym to causes of loss of biodiversity. We thought about the procession of plants in a rocky or watery landscape, and went outside and looked at examples of succession on and near our school campus. Students then, sitting beside the pond, drew a series of pictures that illustrated succession. After creating biome travel brochures, we presented them and discussed differences between the flora and fauna of the various biomes, while sitting in a circle in the sun. The week felt like a kinder, gentler classroom.

The seniors put a trampoline on campus as a joke; it made a great spot to sit and talk.

This week my plan is to overlap MCAS prep with more discussions of biodiversity, keystone species, and the devastation of the Gulf oil spill. The oil spill is obviously not in our ten-year-old books, nor is it on the curriculum, but it provides a good opportunity to discuss the impacts of humans on the biosphere. It is my belief that teachers and curriculums need to be flexible enough to take in current events and make connections between what is “in the book” and what is happening here and now.

 ~ Ms. McCarron

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Hot Desert Biome

Today in biology class, we learned about the different types of biomes.  One that I thought was particularly interesting was the hot desert biome.  The hot desert biome is usually located near the equator.  The average high of the desert is 49 degrees C.  However, the air becomes very cold at night.  A variety of small animals feed the large predators, like hawks, owls, roadrunners, and eagles.  Plants in the area survive by growing thick skins, like cactus, to stop transpiration.  I think this is interesting, because their thick skins could make it harder for animals to eat them.  Most plants are ground-hugging, because of the extreme heat.  I think the way that animals have adapted to desert life is fascinating.

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Ecology Walk

Last Thursday, we went on a nature walk with our biology teacher, Mrs. McCarron. We walked outside to the pond just outside our school. Though it is pretty polluted and gross, there is living organisms that inhabit the pond. These organisms affect the others survival. For example, the turtles eat the small fish and frogs. If the fish and frog population got smaller so would the turtle population. The turtle population also controls the fish and frog population. If the turtle population went down without the fish and frog population going down then the fish and frog population would become overpopulated and their food would become scarce. Wether they are controlling the population or providing food for another, different organisms affect other organisms survival.

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The Tree of Life

While taking a walk today, I began to notice some rather peculiar things in nature. I sat down for about an hour and looked at a Maple tree. I have never realized how many creatures this plant supports. I looked up and saw three bird’s nests, two of which were still occupied. I could only look into one nest, for the others were too high up. The nest I could see into belonged to a Robin. I knew it was a Robin because of the distinct coloring of the eggs. Suddenly, I heard a noise. I looked up and saw a squirrel climbing up the tree. It jumped with all of its might and landed on a branch. It then hopped off the tree and on to another tree right next to it. I never realized how daring squirrels are, hopping around from branch to branch at such great heights. I then decided to take a very close look at the tree. I noticed a little white butterfly just hanging out on the tree. Suddenly, a slight breeze came through and the butterfly took off. Trees in general offer a great home for many forms of life. Seeing as they are producers, they are also the basis of life. Trees really are the essence of life.

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Usually when I’m out on a run I’m thinking mostly about trying to maintain my pace, which road I need to turn down next, and any homework I have due.  Unfortunately for me, when this thinking process is taking place I somehow manage to forget to do other important things such as you know breathing, but I usually manage to keep it together pretty good.  I decided that the next time I went out for a run, I would completely clear my mind from all my thoughts, and just observe what is ‘nature’.

I noticed that while I was running there was this large bush, which I almost thought it out to be a small tree.  Of course it wasn’t until later that I found out it actually was a shrub.  It was called a ‘Quince shrub’.  The reason I noticed this particular shrub was mainly from all of the bright pink flowers it had blooming.  As I got closer and examined it more clearly, I heard loud buzzing noises so my initial reaction was to just keep running!  But as I backed away I also saw some hummingbirds at the top circling it.  It was very interesting and of course naturally the process taking place right before my eyes was ‘pollination’.

To see a small part of pollination occurring was definitely cool and it got me thinking about how each organism in nature relies on one another to survive.  For example, if the Quince shrub did not produce any flowers, then the birds and the bees would not be able to survive since they rely on the nectar.  However, if the birds and bees did not fetch for the nectar and pick up pollen at the same time to disperse it as they fly to different plants, the flowers in question would not exist.  Overall, pollination and the relying of organisms to one another is an ongoing process that will definitely continue for years and years to come.

Jake Getz

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MY BLOG

The Unabridged Tale of One Biology Class Hopelessly Lost and Against all Odds in the Uncharted Pentucket Territory

Good Sirs and Madams,

In our biology class, we went out of the civilized world and journeyed into a Land Lost of Time. This sector that our class explored was, as we soon discovered, a watering hole of sorts, filled with strange specimen and dangerous traps. On this heroic quest for knowledge we began to learn about ecology and the flow of energy throughout the animals and plants. For example, a plant produces eneregy from the sun by photosynthesis. Then the plant is eaten by the primary consumer like a wild antelope or a graceful butterfly and the energy is thus transmitted. This energy may then flow into another animal like a mystic wolf or feral cougar. On the ramble through the thick grasses and uneven roads, my patrol and I saw many phenomenal and noteworthy specimen.  Of these, one of the most notable was a marine fish in which we decided to name John Cleary, after the swashbuckling resemblance to one of my fellow classmates. These fish, we deduced  were at the upscale side of the food chain because of two reasons. One being that they were not plants and two being that they appeared to eat smaller organisms. Then, a thought of genius dawned upon one of my fellow troops that if the fish/John Cleary were not the primary producer then what was? A classmate pointed out that usually primary producers were green and so we began to suspect that the frogs were maybe the primary producer. Eventually we realized this was not so because not only did the frogs not photosynthesis but they also consumed organisms. If they consumed other organisms than they would be a consumer not a producer. Over the course of many minutes filled with illustrious and bitter arguing it came to the unanimous vote that the grass, algae, pond weeds, and other plants were the primary producers. The energy from these producers was consumed by smaller organisms which were then consumed by the frogs and fish. By this time it was pretty far into the period but the bell was not scheduled to ring for ten whole minutes. For fear of starvation our class had to resort to cannibalism. While eating some nice Homo Sapien I had a brain blast in my head and saw just how much organisms rely on other organism for survial. For example, if all the plants died then how would we survive? This is very scary and we should recycle to save to the trees.

From

-Ben Craig

(This wolf is at the top of its food chain)

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On Tuesday morning our class took a walk around the nature filled fields of Pentucket. I was surprised at the amount of wildlife that was hidden in the pond, fields, streams, etc. One of the first things we observed was the fish in the pond. I had no idea there was anything living in the pond, but there were actually many fish, frogs, and even a turtle! The fish were hard to see because the water was murky, and the frogs were very elusive. The turtle was camouflaged by the surrounding mud. There were also many plants surrounding the pond such as cattails and skunk cabbage. The plants are considered producers and primary consumers such as the turtle eat them. Secondary consumers like an eagle would eat the turtle. Each organism provides energy for the animal that eats it. If one element of an ecosystem was removed, then the rest of the ecosystem wouldn’t be able to function. For example, if you removed the plants or producers from an environment, then the primary consumers would suffer causing the rest of the food chain to crumble. Organisms depend on each other for energy, for nutrients, for shelter, and in order to make an ecosystem complete. 

-Calleigh L.

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In class last week we took a walk around the pond observing the animals and the wildlife. I noticed how the pond was covered in algae and there were many cat tails coming out of the pond, and other grasses coming out of the murky water. I noticed how the fish relied on the algae as food and without it the pond would have no fish, and without the fish, the  pond would be overgrown with algae. I also saw frogs in the water trying to catch the flies that were all around the water. Just like with the fish and the algae the frogs also rely on the flies to survive and without the frogs the fly population would grow out of control and without the flies, the frog population would go almost extinct.

                                              

Another animal I saw was a baby turtle in the water. The baby turtle, like the fish, also relies on the algae as a source of energy. So far I have learned that the algae are an example of a producer and the fish and frogs are an example of a consumer. The flies are an example of a primary consumer.  In conclusion, the algae provides the fish and turtles with energy that it gets from the sun, and the flies provide the frogs with energy however the flies get there energy from other organisms that are producers. All of these predictions about the outcome of a species population depending on what happens to their food source are not completely accurate because the species all have more than one source of food.

Kristin F

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Yesterday, Sunday May 9th, I went on a walk around my yard.  I noticed many organisms.  First, I saw a bumblebee flying around.  It went up to a dandelion and pollinated it, then flew away.  The bumblebee was very large, probably half an inch large and wide.  Now that the bumblebee has pollinated the flower, the flower can now make its fruit. 

On my walk, I also saw a robin land on the grass.  It pecked the ground & pulled out a worm, then flew away, back to its nest I think.  I heard small birds chirping, so I’m guessing the bird was getting food for its babies.  A few other interesting things that I saw on my walk were pine and oak trees.  These trees were very green and were gr0wing large.  A few months ago, these trees did not have leaves on them. They are now in full-bloom. 

I also went to the river near my yard.  There, I observed a bass eating  a smaller fish.  This made me ask myself what the smaller fish ate, and so on.  Although I do not know what kind of fish it was, I’d like to find out eventually.  My nature walk made me observe many parts of nature that I would not have noticed otherwise.

  -Alyx

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My yard

I walked around my yard the other day and realized that my front and backyards are two different ecosystems. My front yard is an ecosystem that consists of plants, grasshoppers, snakes, birds, groundhogs, birds, and occasionally foxes or deer. In one food chain. The plants are given energy from the sun. The groundhog then eats the plants so it can get energey. After that, a fox will come and eat the groundhog. Another food chain in my front yard starts out with the sun giving energy to the grass. Grasshoppers and other insects will then eat the grass to get energy. Then, a snake will come and eat these insects. Birds will sometimes use these snakes for food. My front yard is different from my backyard.

This is an example of a food chain in my yard.

My backyard is right on the river, where aquatic organisms live.  I walked down to the river and only saw small fish and water plants near the bank of the river.  Although I could not see bigger fish, I know that they are in the river because I have gone fishing and caught fish before in the river.  This is an example as how humans interact with this ecosystem.  They catch fish, resulting in a fish dying.  The river food chain is basically the aquatic plants getting energy from the sun and water, with very small aquatic organisms eating that.  These small organisms then get eaten by small fish, wich getten eaten by bigger fish and so on.

 

I have learned a lot about the ecosystems I live in just by walking around and observing them.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TE6wqG4nb3M

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In my yard…

In one ecosystem, this one being my yard, many different organisms interact with each other in many different ways. Starting with the sun, energy goes into the producers, the grass and trees and flowers. Organisms such as bees, wasps, or other insects gain their energy from the producers, making them primary consumers. Animals such as birds will consume primary consumers for energy. Even higher than those consumers are animals like cats (my cats, occasionally),that will consume birds for energy.

I’ve often seen garter snakes in my yard, which one of my cats used to catch and bring to my house as a ‘present’. I’ve seen several different birds, though I can’t really name any specific ones. The most obvious plant in my yard would be the pine treein the front of it, but I also have a few other, smaller trees growing in my yard; I believe one of them is an oak tree. Around my yard, I have many different miscellaneous plants, because my parents have planted a variety of plants in different places.

"My yard"

My yard.

If all of the plants died, the primary consumers would be unable to acquire energy, and eventually die out. As these animals died out, there would be less or no food for secondary consumers like birds. And from that, there would be less food for third level consumers, and the entire food chain could fall apart.

If only one organism died, it might cause some other organisms to have less choices for food and possibly have to fight others for some, but overall, it wouldn’t make a huge difference in the ecosystem.

It’s difficult to make accurate predictions about changes in communities of organisms because they are always changing and very intricate, making it hard to study and know a lot about them.

-Robbie F.

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Organisms effect one anothers survival in many ways. Some organisms [producers]  make their energy directly from the sun, and are a food source for other organisms. Other organisms may eat these organisms, and then another organism may eat that organism, and so on. If a producer dies out then the entire cycle of organisms getting their energy is changed, because in turn each organism that eats an organism that eats the producer will have lost a food source and have a harder time gaining energy. A parasite feeds off of another organism, and if its organism dies, then that parasite has got to find a new host. In addition, when an organism decomposes, scavengers and other decomposers eeat that organism. If these creatures didn’t eat the decomposing organisms, or did not have the decomposing organisms as food, then they would have a huge problem finding food. For instance, when I took a walk around the pond at my school, I noticed how organisms effect one another. My class, humans, caused a lot of fish int he pond to swim deeper as we approached, and frogs swam away as we tried to catch them. The frogs effected the water bugs by eating them.

I also noticed many intertwining food chains on our walk. I noticed that caterpillars ate the grass, and then birds would eat the caterpillars. Also, water bugs would eat smaller bugs, and then frogs ate the water bugs. There was also rodents of some kind eating grass and such, which were then eaten by a garden snake.

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.arcytech.org/java/population/images/food_chain.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/Homework/fooodchains.htm&usg=____GbSuU4GGcFzazi_RP18O3EJuU=&h=291&w=484&sz=67&hl=en&start=29&itbs=1&tbnid=cuOQcZ1VnUDjhM:&tbnh=78&tbnw=129&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dpond%2Bfood%2Bweb%26start%3D18%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26gbv%3D2%26ndsp%3D18%26tbs%3Disch:1 

The sun ultimately provided all the energy for these roganisms. However, grass, leaves, nuts, etc. provided energy as well, although not as much as could be obtained directly from the sun. Then smaller bugs and rodents would eat the grass, leaves, nuts, etc. The smaller bugs may be eaten by a frog, maybe a bird, water bugs, etc. A rodent would possibly be eaten by a snake, or maybe a beighborhood cat. The water bugs would be eaten by frogs, birds, etc. The food chain would go on and on.

If all of the plants died, this food chain would totally collapse. These organisms would have nowhere to obtain the nutrients and energy that they need. I would assume that over time, all the levels of the food chain would either die out, or be forced to find another food source.

If another organism died, dependign on the organism, the organisms feeding off of it would need to find a new source of food. Otherwise they would die. However, the organism or other source that this organism got their food from would probably grow in population, because it was not being eaten by that other organism any longer.

Its difficult to make accurate predictions of the ways other organisms would change without other organisms in their ecosystems. Organisms typically feed on a variety of things [unless they get their energy from the sun]. So, if one food source disappears, the organism may not be totally dependent on it as a food source, and simply may resort to eating a different organism. This would, of course, decrease the populations of the other food sources, and the organism who feeds on them may shrink in population size for lack of food. The delicate balance of an ecosystem is hard to really understand from all angles.

I noticed a lot of interesting things on my walk around my school’s pond. The trees more recently grew more leaves, and the grass has finally became bright green again with the changing of the season. The temperature fluxuates a lot still. however, because its still mid-spring. There were a lot of fish in the pond, which suprised me. I figured there wouldn’t really be many fish, or that they couldn’t live in the pond, just because its the school pond and I never really thought much about organisms living in the water. There were also a lot of medium-sized frogs, about the size of my palm, in the water. They were mostly immersed in the water, hiding in the weeds. Some of the members of my class tried to catch them with our bare hands, but the frogs moved too quickly in the water for them to suceed. There was also a bird flying, really high, circling around the field near the pond. There was also a lot of butter-cup weed-flowers, and other little weed-flowers. I saw duckweed too. There were ducks and geese in the pond, but they always stayed far away from my class. There were a lot of water bugs in the water too, and they moved really quickly ontop of the water.

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Earthworms

Earthworm

Earthworms may just be the most invasive species on the planet, second only to humans.

I was camping in Veasey Park in Groveland over the weekend, and we were looking for earthworms to use for fishing. One of the adults came over and asked whether or not earthworms were native to North America. Turns out that they were brought over by European settlers, and have drastically changed the landscape. Leaves and other forest detritus used to be a foot high in the woods. This litter gave nutrients to the growth beneath the forest canopy. Earthworms deposited by European root balls and the like moved into the forest and ate the decaying matter. This leaves the undergrowth without nutrients, and so forests with a high amount of earthworms will seem very “clean;” You will actually see soil instead of leaves. However, this cleanliness means that animals that feed on the undergrowth, such as rabbits and deer, can’t live in these areas. When these animals move away, animals that eat them, such as foxes and wolves, also have to move. So, in conclusion, two little worms hitchhiking on a boat to Jamestown have permanently changed the North American ecosystem, and not for the better.

By Steven S.
Yellow Red Blue

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To Much Algae

    

Pentucket Pond

   

As I was walking around the pond yesterday I saw a frog leap in to the water. As the ripples from the frogs leap disturbed the surface of the water I saw a few fish. Seeing the fish was weird because previously I thought this algae infested body of water was able to sustain no life except the insects which floated on its surface along with the green and brown algae. Seeing this got me to wondering what if their was no algae on the surface? With that question on my mind I went off to find out what was the purpose of algae. I found that the purpose of algae was to oxygenate the pond. If the algae were for some reason to disappear I found that there would be no other plant to oxygenate the water which would cause the fish living in the water to die. I also thought what if the insects floating on the surface were to some reason disappear and I found that the fish would lose their food source and begin to die which would cause the algae to increase and over run the pond and then die. When algae dies it takes all of the oxygen with it which would kill the pond and make it uninhabitable. From my research I found that it is difficult to tell if something starts to die if it will die off completely or it is just being reduced to maintain homeostasis.    

                                                                                                                                Jeffrey H.    

      

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While I was walking on the Mclaren trail I saw many things that interested me in nature. I noticed that all trees have green leaves on them and they had all blossomed. One more awesome thing that I saw was that a rabbit ran in front of me. It was a chunky and overweight but none the less, it was a live rabbit. It may have been running to get food or to get away from a predator, but I will never know. My walk on the Mclaren trail was very eventful.

    Nick D.

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Gifford Woods State Park, 34 Gifford Woods, Killington, Vt.

 

It’s not easy nowadays to find an open stretch of land untapped by humans in some fashion, even the rolling Appalachians of New England were once completely shaven for the lumber industry in early America. One thing you will find, however, is that nature has the fascinating ability to recover itself in the long run. Even if given bare rock and air you can find, that after thousands of years, the most complex and amazingly colorful ecosystems forming, and with every cycle, every life, every death,  the ecosystem evolves, changes, ever so slightly.  Most of this really hit me one time when I was hiking on a trail close to Rutland, Vermont going up a shallow-incline mountain [to which I can’t place a name]. My father and I were talking about how the forest used to be when he was young as me. He talked about how the trees that he had seen when he was my age seemed just a little smaller than they were that day we went up to Vermont. He talked about how in the 1800s almost the entire range of the Appalachian mountains, apart from a handful of old growth trees in secluded areas, was torn down for lumber. Looking around, I found it fascinating that after such a thing, so much nature, so many living things could survive out of such decimation. It shows plainly the strength of nature itself. Millions of years have adapted organisms to suit the sometimes hostile environment of the world, and the not-so-old trees I saw that ay demonstrated that perfectly. Each bird, carrying seeds from miles around, aids in the survival of the forest. Each little worm in the soil leaving in its wake healthy, usable soil. This correlation between the hundreds of different organisms in the universe is an almost flawless system, an extensive masterpiece, a work of art that has taken hundreds and millions of years to create, and is still not nearly finished. 

Presentation~
Deven McKee 

Video provided by~
mms://video.wr.usgs.gov/movies/the_southern_appalachians.wmv

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