Although feeding truffles – one of the most expensive ingredients – to wallabies might sound strange, it seems that this might be an excellent way to help maintain the remaining forest systems. As it turns out, the survival of the adorable animals is very important for the survival of the forest.
Research on Wallabies
A wallaby looks like a smaller version of the kangaroo and is also a member of the marsupial family. The research on how a swamp wallaby spreads truffle seeds in its environment was led by Dr. Melissa Danks from the Edith Cowan University, alongside her colleagues from the University of New England. The researchers fed truffles to the wallabies and tracked the time it took for truffle spores to become present in the animals’ excrement. The results showed spores within 51 hours to up to 3 days. By attaching temporary GPS trackers on the animals, researchers learned that the animals could end up releasing truffle spores through their excrement more than 4000 feet from the original feeding site. This makes them very effective at dispersing truffles throughout the forest.
The Significance of Truffles
This discovery has wide-ranging implications on forest conservation for several reasons. While mushrooms release their spores into the air, truffles are found underground and the spores are located within the truffle’s flesh. That’s why truffles need to be eaten by an animal in order for their spores to be released elsewhere. Why are truffles so important? They live in mutually-beneficial relationships with the trees and plants under which they develop. They help these plants take nutrients and water from the soil, and even protect them from diseases. As browsing animals, wallabies feed on leaves, ferns, as well as mushrooms, and truffles. Dr. Melissa Danks states that, with forest systems becoming more fragmented, understanding the dispersal of truffle spores and this animal’s role in that process is crucial!
Right before our lives completely changed this year, a closed theater in Texas turned its parking lot into a drive-in for some outdoor live performances, and the shows were packed with cars. Unfortunately, things escalated quickly when new restrictions were set by the state as the nasty virus was spreading around the country.
Luckily, the Plaza Theatre Company in Cleburne decided to make lemonade out of lemons, “the show must go on” as they say. To respect social distancing as the madness continued, this little theatre moved its stage to online streaming.
Figuring Out Alternatives
JaceSon Barrus, the theater’s artistic director, recently shared in an interview on CNN, “Obviously, it was time for us to try and figure out some alternatives, we wanted to figure out a way to continue to keep our staff paid and remain viable in the public eye.” Before the madness around the pandemic started, the shows were broadcasted through the radio. The network claimed that the theater OK’d the unusual setup with local authorities. The shows lined up about 100 cars to each performance.
The End Of Retro-Style Shows
The situation around the country started to get worse and worse. They had no choice but to cancel the retro-style shows and move their production to the online platform available to them. Theater fans were able to catch these shows on the Plaza Theatre Company’s YouTube and Facebook pages. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support,” Barrus told CNN. “We’re all heartsick and struggling with the challenges we’re all facing right now and to see people pulling for each other and caring about each other has been… gratifying.”
The cases of contagion became worse in the state of Texas in the past few days. As a result, many theaters have had to close, transitioning their plays and musicals online. In London, the Globe Theatre is streaming pre-recorded tapings of some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, including “Twelfth Night” and “Merchant of Venice,” and the app BroadwayHD is streaming performances of “Cats” and “The King and I.” So stay home, and enjoy the show!