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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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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National parks aren’t doing the trick in Kenya

Elephants have changed the ecology of Amboseli and other national parks in Kenya. Credit: David Western Research in PLoS ONE today shows that animals in Kenya’s national parks are declining at the same rate as the same species outside the parks.  This means, potentially, that the protection of animals in safe spaces may not lead to their recovery or success. David Western, the author and founder/director of the African...

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Evolution and ecosystem engineers

Evolutionary biologists agree that the natural environment shapes the evolution of life. A study published in Nature today, however, finds that the evolution of a species can also have big impacts on the surrounding environment. Threespine stickleback are famous as an example of rapid, adaptive radiation. These small freshwater fish have evolved in the lakes of British Columbia to have very different lifestyles.  In large lakes, there...

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