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DAAGRESMIR

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve

Ten processes of life are essential for each species survival in its nature niche. I created an acronym 50 years ago as a memory jogger for when I need to contemplate them. The acronym is DAAGRESMIR. The processes are digestion, absorption, assimilation, growth, respiration, excretion, secretion, movement, irritability, and reproduction. 

Remove any one of them and a species cannot survive. Each species has different methods for handling the ten processes. We digest our food outside the body, absorb it, and then assimilate it into body tissues. You might think we digest food inside our body but not so. Food in our stomach and intestine is still out of the body like food being chewed in our mouth. It is not until it passes through the intestinal lining that it enters the body. 

Some organisms, like amoebas, surround food with its cell membrane and incorporate it into its cellular body in what is called a food vacuole. Inside the body it is digested. After digestion the molecules pass through the body by a variety of means depending on the species. Most familiar to us is transfer via blood. The digested nutrients are carried to the appropriate place for assimilation into a needed product such as bone. 

Growth is needed even when an organism is full size. Things like bone tissue are continuously replaced or repaired. Inadequate growth might result in osteoporosis. Growth and body maintenance cannot occur without adequate respiration, which is the use of oxygen for life processes and the removal of carbon dioxide waste. 

Organisms have special organs or, in single-celled species, organelles that secrete things like digestive enzymes or hormones that allow life processes to continue. At this time of year, hormone secretions are being released into bird blood that results in changes in both appearance and behavior. Watch during the next couple of months as male American Goldfinches change from the dull winter olive green to bright yellow. Internally hidden from view, reproductive behavior takes hold. The same occurs in humans. Male and females develop different appearances and behaviors based on hormone secretions.   

Movement occurs in all species including plants. One might think that plants are stationary and do not move but movement is more inclusive. One of the well-known movements is with sunflower flower orientation. A flower faces the morning sun and moves with it to still face it at sunset. Beyond that, internal organs function to move things in the body to complete work. 

A great example in mammals is how a deer’s digestive tract moves to excrete waste from its intestine. The deer eats plants and undigested material still outside the body tissue but in the digestive tube it gets pushed along and we find it as fecal pellets along deer trails. We call them deer droppings.

Irritability is not about temperament. It is an organism’s ability to respond to occurrences in its environment. It can be how a caterpillar responds to a parasitic fly trying to deposit eggs on the caterpillar. It can be how a butterfly stands broadside to the sun to warm its body or changes position to allow sunrays to pass by without heat being absorbed by the wings so the butterfly can cool down when too hot.

Stated earlier, each species handles DAAGRESMIR differently. Cold blooded organisms (Poikilothermic) regulate body temperature using external heat absorption to help life processes. Warm blooded organisms (homeothermic) regulate temperature with internal processes to maintain life. When we cannot maintain proper temperature, we will have movement like shivering that produces heat. 

This might take you back to 7th grade biology but I bring it up to be applied to what is occurring around us every day in every organism in every habitat where species work to thrive. 

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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