Superstition Mtns Road Trip #9: Part 10
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Biosphere 2 Oracle, Arizona
© W.P. Armstrong 20 February 2013
Biosphere 2 is a 3-acre complex of glass pyramids and geodesic domes with five self-contained biomes, including tropical rain forest, grassland savannah, marsh (incl. mangroves), desert scrub, and ocean (incl. coral reef). In addition, there is also an agriculture section. Described as a "planet in a bottle," it was originally constructed in the late 1980s and early 1990s to house a crew for two years in a "simulated space station." This remarkable research facility is now owned by the University of Arizona. By the way, "Biosphere 1" is the planet Earth.

Creeping fig (Ficus pumila) on windows of Biosphere 2 (white arrow).

Creeping fig (Ficus pumila) on windows of Biosphere 2. Considering that aerial roots of the creeping fig can attach (bond) firmly to glass, and one plant can reportedly envelop a 4-story building; one must question the introduction of this species into Biosphere 2.

  See Images Of The Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila)  

Job's tears (Coix lacryma-jobi) inside Biosphere 2.

Tropical Rain Forest Ecosystem

Mangrove-Marsh Ecosystem

Desert Scrub Ecosystem

View looking out Biosphere 2 windows.

Stromatolite Model At Biosphere 2

A fairly realistic stromatolite model at University of Arizona's Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona. Note the dome-like structure composed of layers. The calcareous layers (lamellae) are produced by colonies of cyanobacteria living on the surface over countless centuries of time.

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Biosphere 2 Invaded By Long-Horned Crazy Ant (Paratrechina longicornis)

Although Biosphere 2 was protected from the outside air with a closed air-lock system, it apparently was not impervious to small ants. By 1993 populations of the invasive crazy ant (Paratrechina longicornis) were discovered inside the supposedly closed ecosystems. The crazy ant is named for its peculiar erratic movements. It is easy to identify with its very long antennal scape (basal segment of antenna). By the late 1990s, virtually all the ants in Biosphere II were Paratrechina longicornis, feeding exclusively on honeydew secretions from scale insects and mealybugs (Order Homoptera) on many of the plants.

  See More Images Of The Crazy Ant