By Jason G. Goldman
It was just after six o’clock in the evening on an autumn day in Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve. A researcher watched a female elephant known as Eleanor collapse. She was a matriarch, an elder within female-dominated elephant society. Her swollen trunk dragged on the ground. One of her tusks was […] Read More »
By Jason G. Goldman
By Jim Sterba
It is very likely that in the eastern U.S. today, more people live in closer proximity to more wildlife than anywhere else on Earth at any time in history. There are greater concentrations of wildlife elsewhere in the world, and they have been even greater in the past—but with fewer people […] Read More »
Last summer, behavioral ecologist Charles Brown noticed something odd. He had been collecting road-killed cliff swallows in southwestern Nebraska for three decades, and the number of carcasses seemed to be dropping. “I began to think, you know, we’re not finding as many dead birds as we used to,” says Brown, who is at the […] Read More »
Around the world, hunters are emptying tropical forests of wildlife. Gorillas, chimpanzees, leaf monkeys, and gibbons all have fallen prey to people’s hunger for meat.
Now, two new studies show that bushmeat hunting affects not just the animals but also the plants they leave behind. While forests may seem intact at first glance, the […] Read More »
Invasive species are usually the bad guys in conservation. But an invasive crab is helping restore salt marshes on Cape Cod by forcing out more destructive crabs, a new Ecology study suggests.
Along the New England coast, fishing has left many marshes bereft of predatory animals. As a result, marsh crabs that would otherwise […] Read More »
When most people think of backyard wildlife, they imagine squirrels and sparrows. But researchers have discovered much more imposing neighbors living among people in India: wild leopards. The animals frequent many of the same paths taken by humans and often sit in fields of tall crops such as sugarcane.
“There are people working around […] Read More »
By Emily Anthes
On the surface, the idea is simple: Animal numbers dwindling? Let’s just use science to make copies of the ones that remain. But it will not be nearly as easy as it sounds. That much has been apparent since the birth of the very first endangered-species clone: a little gaur named […] Read More »
By David Malakoff
More than 7,500 years ago, farmers living somewhere in Eurasia performed a miracle of sorts: they transformed the fermenting fruit of a scraggly, weedy vine into a magical elixir that put a tingle on the tongue and a pleasing buzz in the brain. Winemakers haven’t looked back since. Last year alone, […] Read More »
Iain Woodhouse, an expert in remote sensing at the University of Edinburgh, spends a lot of time looking at the forests of the world through the eyes of satellites. On the side, though, he’s recently taken an on-the-ground—and, dare we say, painterly—approach to the global problem of deforestation.
Seeking a way to visualize forests that […] Read More »
City-dwelling birds have an odd habit of lining their nests with bits of cigarette butts. Now scientists have figured out why: the nicotine in the butts may help keep parasites away.
Birds often bring parasite-deterring plants into their nests. Faced with different nesting materials in the city, some birds have taken to using the […] Read More »
By Daniel Chamovitz
In the early 1960s, Frank Salisbury was studying the chemicals that induce flowering in cocklebur (Zanthium strumarium), a weed found throughout North America and most notorious for its little football-shaped burrs, which are commonly found clinging to hikers’ clothing. To understand how the plant grew, Salisbury and his team of technicians […] Read More »
By Jon Cohen
When the San Diego Zoo opened its gates in 1923, no one could have guessed that the outlandish project of local surgeon Harry Wegeforth would become a cornerstone of the city’s now-massive tourism industry, a pioneering force in the research and display of captive animals, and a contributor to global conservation […] Read More »
Gray wolves have bounced back in the U.S. But how do people feel about them? According to a recent study, Wisconsin residents have become more afraid of wolves and more supportive of measures to kill them.
The number of gray wolves in Wisconsin more than doubled between 2001 and 2009, and the U.S. government […] Read More »
After a hurricane flattens a forest, people often swoop in to collect the downed trees and clean up the mess. But a new study suggests that nature should just be left alone. Given enough time, trees will regenerate on their own—and human interference could make it easier for invasive species to move in.
“The […] Read More »
Which is better for city birds: densely packed housing or sprawling development? In a new analysis, researchers suggest that compact urban design—even though it leads to smaller yards—is ultimately better for biodiversity.
Cities are growing fast, but planners don’t know much about how different types of development will affect urban flora and fauna. Dense […] Read More »