Celebrating Earth Day in 2014
Apr22

Celebrating Earth Day in 2014

Me and milkweed fruit – my #NatureSelfie for #EarthDay. Nash Turley, a naturalist, photographer, musician, and PhD student in evolutionary ecology at the University of Toronto, snapped this shot in Ithaca, NY, in 2011. He tweeted, “Everyday is Earth Day; the fact that the calendar says today is ‘Earth Day’ doesn’t really mean anything to me. Sort of like how aboriginal cultures don’t have a word for ‘nature’ because they didn’t see themselves as separate from nature….the fact that we have a day for the Earth shows how disconnected modern societies are from ‘nature’.”
Earth Day started as a grassroots protest movement in 1970 and has solidified into an annual event. What does Earth Day mean in 2014?

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National Parks, dance lessons from a spider and bellybutton biodiversity

National Parks Week: In addition to Earth Day activities, this week is also National Parks Week. Allie Wilkinson of the blog Oh, For the Love of Science! paid tribute with a mini-travel guide on Acadia National Park in Maine; the post is complete with trail information and scenic views (see below video). “Maine may as well be my home away from home,” Wilkinson wrote. “I’ve gone up just about every year since I was a baby, at LEAST once a year (but usually end up going 3 times a year), and I always go to the same spots.  Each year, the big trip in August takes me to Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park.” Read the full post at “National Park Week: Acadia National Park.” Busy billionaire: Richard Branson has moved from space to deep sea exploration, and, most recently, he has made the news for his plan to introduce endangered ring-tailed lemurs to Moskito Island in the Caribbean. Branson stated in The Guardian that the decision is intended to “…create a second island habitat [for lemurs in Madagascar,] and the conditions on Moskito are perfect.” However, many are concerned about the ecological consequences of releasing these omnivores. As explained in Smithsonian’s Surprising Science blog, “Conservation plans rarely begin with (or even include) the introduction of a non-native species. And though lemurs surely are adorable, they ‘could damage native flora and fauna on the island, particularly reptiles such as the stout iguana, turnip-tailed gecko, and dwarf gecko, as well as birds’ eggs,’ [conservationist Erik Patel] says.” Dance lessons: While we tend to think of dancing as a source of rhythmic self-expression, just like in other animal species, dancing can also be an effective way to attract a mate. Small, songless birds called manakins, for example, display an impressive moonwalk to attract a mate. And, as described in the blog immunoBLOGulin, “If you want to learn some sweet moves, take a lesson or two from the Australian Peacock Spider. While it’s less than 1cm in length, it can really put on a dancing show…” The jumping spider (Maratus volans) has a colorful flap used during the dance (see below video). Read more at “Lessons from the Peacock Spider: How to attract a mate.” Bright bills: “When it comes to mallard bills, brighter is better: A bright yellow bill is duck-speak for ‘I’m healthy,’ attracting more female ducks than dingy green ones,” Patrick Morgan reported for Discover’s Discoblog. That is, researchers found that male ducks with brighter bills had semen with greater antibacterial properties, reducing the female ducks’ risk of contracting bacteria-related sexually transmitted diseases. The researchers discoved that...

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From the Community: Atlantic garbage soup, rerouting the Red Sea and misnaming the fruit fly

Scientists develop a project to reroute water into the Dead Sea, male wasp spiders get a second chance at mating if they start with their sisters, 25% of fish in Dublin is mislabeled as completely different species and five species that cheated extinction. Here is the latest news in ecology for the third week in April.

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From the Community Special Edition: Earth Day 2010

Scientists, reporters, policymakers, filmmakers…all across the globe, people are talking about the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. Here is what they have been saying.

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