Plant and Animal Species in North America
North America hosts a number of plant and animal species. One of the plant species found in this continent is the dandelion which is an herbaceous and perennial plant with long leaves. One of the animal species found in the continent is the brown bear, which is considered to reflect wilderness in the North American continent. A report on these two species will be presented.
Brown bears reside in various habitats but mostly the dry places that contain mountain forests, river valleys and meadows that are open. Brown bears found in the costal part of Alaska are found at the side of salmon streams. Among the biggest of all land mammals are the home ranges which may extend up to one thousand square miles. Brown bears are widely distributed in the north western part of North America as well as western and eastern Eurasia. The lower 48 states of the continent contain about sixty thousand grizzlies.
In the year 1975, the brown bear was listed as an endangered species in the lower 48 states of North America. Significant numbers of brown bear are found in the western side of Canada with Alberta having only about 750 bears out of the 6000 that once occupied the place (Craighead, 2003). Brown bears have diverse colors ranging from lack to blonde but majority of them have a medium brown color with fur on the upper part of the body as well as on the head. The color of the coat may vary depending on the seasons.
To keep them warm during the winter period, brown bears have thick coats made of under-fur and guard hairs. During summer, most of the under-fur is shed and the bears attain a grizzled look because of the silver ends of the hair that are left following the shedding of under-fur (Craighead, 2003). The size of brown bears depends on their nutrition pattern and gender. A male grizzly weighs approximately 550 pounds while females weight more than one thousand pounds.
A typical polar has a height of 6-7 feet at an upright position. The key distinguishing features include a massive head, a shoulder hump and a dished face with a long snout. The shoulder hump is made of a thickened mass of muscle and fat. The other key features associated with bears are small, round ears which have a cream color, claws that have a length of 2-4 inches and a bit curvy (Whitehouse, 2002). Brown bears feed on both animals and plants and hence are referred to as omnivorous animals.
Their diet changed depending on the habitat and season but ranges from roots, berries, insects to nuts. They also feed on mammals such as elk, deer, rodents and moose. Grizzly bears may kill living animals or feed on carcasses. Brown bears make use of their paws when looking for bulbs, roots and rodents to feed on. Moreover, they use them when making winter dens on the slopes of mountains (Craighead, 2003). The mating period for a brown bear is the early summer though the embryo begins to develop in late fall when the mother enters the den.
The mother gives birth in January or February. Newborn cubs are helpless and blind but eventually gain weight by taking their motherâ€™s milk that is rich in nutrients. Most of the times, the cubs leave the den by late April or early may so that they can accompany their mothers to explore. Mothers are well known for defending their young ones ferociously because of the male predators as well as other creatures that may pose a threat to the young cubs. Mothers stay with the cubs till they attain an age of 2 to 3 years (Whitehouse, 2002).
The relationship between the brown bear and mankind is tense because people have always been afraid of bears and hence resort to killing them. Currently many brown bears are under protection due to the fear of extinction. Since brown bears are an endangered species, there is the need to come up with an effective and solid recovery plan that will help increase the bear population. The harassment, hunting, killing and pursuing of bears should be banned in order to ensure adequate recovery of the species. Grizzly bears are significantly important carnivores that can teach human beings how to respect and responsibly live with wildlife (Triefeldt, 2007).
Every seed contains a small parachute that has the ability to stretch wide and far. The plants have taproots that grow up to 10 inches deep. There is a white sap that comes out of any part of a dandelion that is injured (Cox, 1999). Dandelions mainly occur in disturbed habitats such as open places and lawns. Their introduction into Midwest was with the aim of feeding the imported honeybees during early spring season. Currently, dandelions are widely spread all over the world. It is difficult to terminate the growth of widespread dandelions since they grow and develop under more extreme conditions compared to their competitors.
There are some people who decide to cultivate dandelions as crops. The seeds should be grown in drills that are about one foot apart. It is also important to keep the crops clean through hoeing and picking off flower heads once they appear. Shrinking of dandelion roots is possible through drying since they lose approximately 76 % of their weight on drying (Triefeldt, 2007). Dandelions are greatly detested by gardeners but it is unfortunate that the more these gardeners attempt to weed them up, the faster their rate of growth. The roots of dandelions ate brittle, twisted and deeply grounded. Unless the roots are completely removed, they often degenerate.
Dandelion leaves should be picked up in early spring since this is the time when they are tastiest. They should be re-harvested in late fall and following a frost, the bitterness associated with the leaves goes away (Cox, 1999). Dandelions grow well in most soils that are rich in nutrients. The best dandelions are those that have the largest roots and the broadest leaves. The youngest plants should be collected while avoiding those with flowers. While some people prefer to eat dandelions all year round when they are bitter, others prefer to get rid of the bitterness associated with summer.
Dandelion greens are especially used in salads or steamed to be used as vegetables. They improve the salad favor when they are combined with other favors. However, nowadays people detest the bitter taste and flavor associated with salads containing dandelions. Other parts of the dandelions that are edible include the taproot and the flowers (Triefeldt, 2007). Dandelion seeds are mostly eaten by small birds while pigs prefer eating the entire plant. Goats also eat the plant, which is believed to play a role in increasing the milk produced by cows that eat them.
Horses detest this plant due to the fact that its juice is bitter. Dandelions are valuable feeding material fro rabbits which are most of the times given the leaves from April to September. Human beings may boil young dandelion leaves as vegetables, drain them and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. This should be followed by moistening them using butter or soup and finally serving them hot (Triefeldt, 2007). Finally, dandelions are used for medicinal purposes where they act as diuretics. They stimulate the urinary system and hence used to cure liver and kidney complications.
Cox, G. W. Alien species in North America and Hawaii. Impacts on natural ecosystems. Island Press, 1999
Craighead, L. Bears of the World. Voyageur Press, 2003
Triefeldt, L. Plants and Animals. Quill Driver Books, 2007
Whitehouse, P. Brown Bear. HEINEMANN LIB, 2002.
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