Field of Science

The Cold North Shore; What If Its Not Cold?

Lake Superior

Back from an official, albeit short, vacation. The only work related thing I did was check to see how things were going in the lab via an email. Have a paper review to complete and could have worked on it there (didn't). Lots of emails to reply to, they didn't go anywhere and I can deal with them tomorrow. Almost always when I take time off, I end up working at some level (revising a manuscript, working on a grant, etc). This is not a good thing. This time I did it right.

Spent almost an entire day, it was overcast, reading and went on a short walk to stretch my legs. Finished the vast majority of Stephen King's Holly, an Xmas present (I have since completed it). It was a great way to reset from the busy end of the fall semester that moved directly into holiday events, which while nice are also taxing. Felt more relaxed than I had in a long time. The following day was spent exploring the city of Grand Marais, bought a new book (support local booksellers), and enjoyed a beer at Voyager brewery

Very little animal life in evidence up there, a few crows and that was about it. Did see a deer on the drive up. You might think this is not surprising, because we are deep in winter, but usually there is plenty of evidence of animal activity especially via tracks in the snow. Can identify squirrels, rabbits, deer, mice, etc pretty easily. However, this year there is still essentially no snow on the ground and the temps have been well above normal. Walking the dog in a sweatshirt, outdoor slippers, and a hat! Usually its a heavy winter coat, boots, mittens, and boots for the dog. This led to a thought, does the increased temperature affect the hibernation patterns of animals like bears, which do wake up occasionally? I realize there are other cues that control hibernation, otherwise animals would come out of hibernation when we have an almost yearly late January warm up, which is followed by another month long drop in temps in February. Animals that wake up too early, may not be able to find food. Many plants do this as well. When to germinate? When to start budding new leaves? Much of this is controlled primarily by day light length (but temperature plays a role too). This is good, because if temperature was primarily in charge, an early warm spell could be disasterous. But what about hibernating animals? They are not out in the open so day length shouldn't be much of a factor. Guess I'll spend some time on google later today.

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