Pikas act as ‘climate indicators’
Aug01

Pikas act as ‘climate indicators’

The Oscar-winning Disney movie “Frozen” includes a living snowman character named Olaf that would melt and die under the 70 degree temperatures humans and many other animals prefer. Of course, there are a number of species in the animal kingdom sensitive to heat conditions humans generally find preferable. Some of these are fellow mammals , but not all, are limited to the extreme cold Arctic and Antarctic climates. At home in loose...

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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

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.

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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 an Iberian water frog, you do both.

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Butcher, baker, brewer-fish
Jun10

Butcher, baker, brewer-fish

We asked science café aspirants for creativity and Simon Brandl brought it with his analogy of division of labor in a coral reef community, where butcher-sharks course among the brewers, bakers, and aristocrats of the reef. Brandl shares the 2014 ESA Science Café Prize with co-winner Madhusudan Katti. He is a PhD candidate at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and School of Marine and Tropical Biology, at James Cook...

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These are not your urban lawn flamingos!
Jun10

These are not your urban lawn flamingos!

Madhusudan Katti won this year’s ESA Science Café Prize with his lyric contemplation of the wildlife living alongside us in urban spaces, and the necessary participation of cities in the future of biodiversity on planet earth. Katti is a professor at California State University Fresno and records occasional radio essays for Valley Public Radio. He tweets prolifically as @leafwarbler and blogs at Reconciliation Ecology. Hear...

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Slowing the insect invasion: wood packaging sanitation policy yields US $11.7 billion net benefit
Jun06

Slowing the insect invasion: wood packaging sanitation policy yields US $11.7 billion net benefit

Risk analysis finds savings for homeowners and local governments of excluding invasive pests like the emerald ash borer outweigh added cost to imported goods.

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