Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/877

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

ing into the kindergarten—the instruction should be wholly oral. The children should be led to grasp the idea that each sound is produced by a special shape of the mouth. In learning to put the mouth into the various required shapes they get a control of the muscles of the tongue and other vocal organs. Mrs. Burnz gives some further details and suggestions, including the words of a "Vowel Song."

An Aquatic Biological Station in Illinois.—The Aquatic Biological Station of the University of Illinois and the Illinois State Laboratory of Natural History, at Havana, on the Illinois River, is especially devoted to the study of the effect on the aquatic plant and animal life of a region produced by the periodical overflow and gradual recession of the waters of great rivers, and is believed to be, in some respects, the only station of its kind in the world. The station, with the river varying in width from live hundred feet to four or five miles, according to the stage of the water and the outlying lakes, is excellently adapted to this purpose. The results of the first season's work are only a beginning, but they dimly reveal a large number of problems for which solutions may be sought. Notable contrasts in kind and number appear between animals of the springy shore and lake and those of the muddy intervale, only a few rods away on the other side, between river and lake, and between different lakes—contrasts easily comprehensible, as in the first instance given, where the cool spring water flowing in abundantly is evidently favorable to the gammerids and aselli swarming there, and sometimes peculiarly puzzling, like that between Quiver Lake, on the one hand, whose waters were densely choked in midsummer with a thick growth of aquatic vegetation, but contained fewer of the smaller animal forms than the open current of the river, and Thompson's Lake, on the other hand, where the water was relatively clear of aquatic plants, but abounded in rotifers and entomostraca. Still more curious was the contrast between the similarly situated and very similar lakes. Quiver and Matanzas, the waters of one loaded and clogged with plants and swarming with small mollusks and insect larvæ and those of the other with hardly a trace of even microscopic vegetation, and with a correspondingly insignificant quantity of animal life. The course of events in a body like one of the station's lakes, with its extreme seasonal vicissitudes, ranging from complete overflow and loss of identity to absolute drying away in now and then an exceptional year, is extremely interesting to the œcologist. "The extraordinary instability of the system, one predominant and excessively abundant from quickly following another almost to the suppression of its predecessor, and all finally overwhelmed in a common doom, gives to the student an impression of an unhealthy organism, caught in the trap of an unfavorable environment, and hurrying through the stages of a fatal disease. One of the surprises of the season was the abundance of life in the main stream, which, as already intimated, sometimes contained a greater abundance of animal forms than most of the lakes connected with it; and another was the relatively small difference between the animals frequenting widely unlike situations in the same body of water." The freshness and fruitfulness of the field were well illustrated by the large number of new forms found, especially among rotifers, worms, and insect larvæ.

The Valley of Hadramaut.—Mr. Theodore Bent lately gave the Royal Geographical Society an account of an expedition which he and his wife had made to Hadramaut, a broad valley running for a hundred miles or more parallel to the coast of Arabia, by which the valleys of the plateau discharge their water into the sea at Saihut. Because of the fanaticism of the inhabitants, this main valley had been reached by only one European before Mr. and Mrs. Bent—Herr Leo Hirsch, in 1893. Mr. and Mrs. Bent traveled without disguise, and with a large retinue of followers. The country is inhabited by several classes of people: wild tribes of Bedouins, who do all the carrying trade, possess large tracts of country, and are a terror; the Arabs proper, who live in the towms and cultivate the lands around them; the Seyyids and Sherifs, the Arabian aristocracy, being descendants of the Prophet and possessing enormous influence; and the slave population and freed slaves. There is no source of wealth in the country, but great