[Taxacom] moss circles

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Thu Mar 22 21:23:01 CDT 2007

     I don't much about moss-eaters either, but I am still not convinced 
something munched through healthy moss to produced these fairly concentric 
dead "rings".  Any brown moss in these rings could just as well be moss 
plants that tried to grow but just didn't have enough moisture.

      In my "receding ice patch hypothesis", the ice above these dead zones 
simply freeze-dried during the cold nights and mornings.  Perhaps during 
warm afternoons when the temperature rose above freezing, enough liquid 
water would melt around the edge of the receding ice that moss could get a 
start in that thin zone ("ring"), and once established could hold onto 
enough moisture to keep from freeze-drying.  Any moss trying to get 
established in the dead zones would be freeze-dried to death and turn brown 
during the night.

      If these were grazing trails, are they really typical?  Aren't they 
typically more random and even looping around and sometimes crossing back 
over themselves?  Especially looking at the left photo (#5) which is oddly 
symmetrical and oval.  I propose that the top central part of that oval is 
where the last of the ice patch (then rather thin) finally melted when 
temperatures were high enough to prevent nighttime freeze-drying of the 
spot.  The moss therefore covered that part of the oval rather quickly (and 
only after the photo was taken did the dead zones in rest of the oval area 
get wet enough to allow moss to grow without drying out).  Anyway, lack of 
moisture (due to freeze-drying) just seems a more parsimonious explanation 
to me than munching invertebrates (especially in late winter).
>From: Geoff Read <g.read at niwa.co.nz>
>Reply-To: g.read at niwa.co.nz
>To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>Subject: Re: [Taxacom] moss circles
>Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 08:24:31 +1200
>Heh!  Posts from people who didn't look at the photos! Fantastic!
>Just to clarify (I looked at the hi-res photo) - these look somewhat
>like typical grazing traces of a small invertebrate (like a mollusc or
>caterpillar), except that the moss is seemingly partly still there but
>turned brown (no chlorophyll).
>Does that help anyone?
>Geoff (knows nothing about moss or moss eaters)

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