Diversity In The Sarsaparilla Vine

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“We should preserve every scrap of biodiversity as priceless while we learn to use it and come to understand what it means to humanity.” As succinctly put by Edward Osborne Wilson, learning to have greater regard for the nature and variety of life around is not something that comes easily to many of us. However, this field trip has allowed me to explore the biodiversity around me, and I am now more aware of the distinctive features of some species that set them apart, as well as their unique uses. Furthermore, the sharing by my TA has made me more cognisant of the environmental issues surrounding many of the plant species we encountered. In the following essay, I will be exploring the features, uses and biodiversity aspects of a few of the…show more content…
As the vine can grow to tall heights, it is able to maximise the amount of sunlight it receives, but at the same time, smothers the support tree on which it is growing, often resulting in its death. This is a form of parasitism, where one organism benefits at the expense of another. The leaves of the vine is also often used to make root beers and other sweet drinks, and the scent is popularly associated with the drink Sarsi. However, this sweet scent also serve another ingenious purpose. Ants are able to detect the scent, and are attracted to it. This helps to deter herbivores from eating the plant. Another feature of the vine that helps it to survive is the stiff prickles found along its stem, which also discourages herbivores from consuming it. The features that help to promote its survival makes the Sarsaparilla vine particularly hardy, and it is thus often regarded as an invasive species, especially in…show more content…
The plant is identifiable by the distinctive whitish undersides of its leaves and the presence of syconia, small round structures inside which flowers develop and which eventually ripens to form the “fruit“ of the fig trees. I encountered few fig trees during the Kent Ridge practical, which in my opinion attests to its importance as a keystone resource for many animals. A keystone species is one that has a disproportionally large effect on its environment relative to its abundance. The fig tree is such a species as the fruits are the main food source for many animals, without which many would suffer starvation. Thus, fig trees are vital to many food chains, as loss of these trees can have huge ripple effects throughout the rest of the ecosystem. And the survival of these trees are dependent on not only natural factors such as sunlight and water (although fig trees are rather drought tolerant), but also on pollination by fig wasps. These wasps are unique as they display an extremely high level of host-specificity, and only reproduce within the syconia of the fig trees. The wasps lay eggs in and pollinate the flowers of a fig fruit, but if the flowers are not pollinated, the fruits fall from the trees, and the baby wasps die. Thus, the fig wasps and fig trees exhibit reciprocally obligate mutualism. Additionally, figs have adapted to this relationship as they contain the enzyme

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