The control of nature: stewardship of fire ecology by native Californian cultures
Jul29

The control of nature: stewardship of fire ecology by native Californian cultures

California’s tribal peoples utilized wildfire to diversify resources   Before the colonial era, 100,000s of people lived on the land now called California, and many of their cultures manipulated fire to control the availability of plants they used for food, fuel, tools, and ritual. Contemporary tribes continue to use fire to maintain desired habitat and natural resources. Frank Lake, an ecologist with the U.S. Forest...

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For bees (and flowers), tongue size matters
Jul15

For bees (and flowers), tongue size matters

When it comes to bee tongues, length is proportional to the size of the bee, but heritage sets the proportion. Estimating this hard to measure trait helps scientists understand bee species’ resiliency to change. Ecologists will report on this and other pollination research news at the Ecological Society of America’s 2014 Annual Meeting in Sacramento, Cal., August 10-15.   For bees and the flowers they pollinate, a compatible...

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Poo pump: whales as ecosystem engineers
Jul03

Poo pump: whales as ecosystem engineers

The brown cloud bursts forth among the pod of sperm whales, dispersing a wealth of nitrogen and iron into the surface waters over the deep ocean. The whale-borne windfall is eagerly received by phytoplankton, the microorganisms at the foundation of the ocean food chain, which quickly capitalize on the surge of fuel. Poop packs a powerful energetic punch. And an adult sperm whale packs a lot of poo. Enough to dump 50 metric tons of...

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Tadpoles bulk up to meet the alien invaders
Jun30

Tadpoles bulk up to meet the alien invaders

What happens when an invasive, carapaced, and clawed alien predator arrives in your pond? Do you change your daily habits to avoid drawing dangerous attention? Bulk up to make yourself a tougher target? If you are an Iberian water frog, you do both.   Pelophylax perezi is the most widespread and numerous of the native frogs and toads on the Iberian peninsula, known in Spain as rana común, the common frog. In this video abstract,...

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Smithsonian’s National Zoo closes invertebrate exhibit
Jun20

Smithsonian’s National Zoo closes invertebrate exhibit

The US National Zoo stunned butterfly, cuttlefish, coral, and giant clam fans when it announced Monday, June 16, that the zoo’s Invertebrate Exhibit, a zoo staple since 1987, would close within the week. The $1 million-a-year Invertebrate Exhibit needs a $5 million injection of cash to upgrade interpretive signs and diagrams, the facility, and equipment supporting the animals. The zoo has struggled to adapt activities and...

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