Natural Selections podcast
Do you hear the same thing as I hear?10/23/14
Do we all hear the same things? Is middle-C on a piano the same for you as it is for someone else? Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager look at how we hear what we hear.
What happened to North America's really big animals?
Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager continue a discussion of animal extinction that began with a look at the book The Ghosts of Evolution by Connie Barlow.Before the last Ice Age, North America was more like Africa is today and contained many species of...
"Ghosts of Evolution" left their food plants behind
There are plants that produce fruits that are too large for anything in their habitat to eat, and other common fruits that nothing seems to eat. The book "Ghosts of Evolution" speculates that those animals went extinct?large mammals like the mammoth...
Some birds that "mate for life" still mess around
Birds may have "social mates" that they are always seen with, but may also have breeding partners who are not the same. Some species appear to be truly faithful to social mates, but they are the minority of species that we think of of monogamous....
What could be worse than the disaster that wiped out the dinosaurs?
A really big asteroid is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago. But that great die-off pales in comparison to the Permian extinction event around 250 million years ago. More than 80% of ocean species and about 70% of land...
Wood ants reshape the mound to match the weather
Wood ant colonies create noticeable hummocks in clearings and fields. The elaborate structures create a temperate micro-climate ideal for protecting larvae, the queen and her workers. And they are constantly "renovating" to match the weather. Dr. Curt...
What can fish do when the water goes away?
From walking catfish to "snakeheads" to species of killifish, some fish actually survive outside of water for a surprising length of time.Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager discuss the old cliche "like a fish out of water," and about the strategies some...
Poison ivy: neither poisonous nor ivy
But you should still definitely avoid the stuff."Leaves of three, let it be." Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about one of the common and annoying menaces to enjoyment of the outdoors.They discuss whether it's really an ivy, why we call it...
How do you tell a raven from a crow?
Ravens were once a rarity in the North Country, but now they are becoming a common sight. They have a similar appearance to crows, but if you see the two birds together the difference is obvious. For one thing, ravens are big. For another, crows caw,...
Yellow perch, Adirondack natives after all
For decades, Adirondack resource managers have blamed the yellow perch for the decline of heritage trout strains, believing that perch were introduced to Adirondack waters in recent times and have been displacing the native strains from their historic...
What happens if you press "reset" on evolution?
When species move into a new habitat, some of the "tricks" their genes have learned no longer work to help them thrive. Some species will pick up new tricks?sometimes the same new trick more than once?and some will fail to adapt. Martha Foley and Curt...
Lichens: living on next to nothing
What we call reindeer moss is nothing of the kind. It's not even a plant; it's a lichen. Lichens, which account for half of the natural nitrogen fertilizer used by plants and animals, are a combination of a fungus colony with algae and cyanobacteria...
Natural deceptions: crime (and punishment) among animals and plants
Social primates are supposed to share when they find food, but some will cheat. If they are caught, the group will punish them. Some plants and fungi use a kind of barter system to swap nutrients, and some of them will also cheat. But they risk being...
Natural Selections: natural deceptions
Birds and other creatures have a sly side and will use deceptive communications to create an advantage for themselves in finding food and finding mates. Blue jays can imitate the sound of a hawk, scaring other species away from the feeder. Some birds...
The tawny crazy ant is coming to America
What can take on the big agressive poisonous fire ants that invaded the U.S. decades ago? The tawny crazy ant, also an import from South America. This new "superorganism" is immune to fire ant poison, and they are displacing the previous...
Well-dressed birds of the North Country
While the North Country is not exactly the tropics, we do have our share of exotically-colored birds. Blue creatures, for example, are rare in nature but we have the bluebird, the blue jay and the indigo bunting.Then there are the goldfinches and the...
Deer ticks: How they get on you, how to get them off
Spring and early summer is the prime time of year for encounters with deer ticks, carriers of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. While still uncommon in the Adirondack upcountry, deer ticks are plentiful in the North Country lowlands. They're hard...
Natural Selections: Lampreys
Lampreys - are they fish or eel? Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about this jawless fish with a head full of teeth and a sucking mouth.
The return of the black fly
This pest of the northern spring can travel up to twenty miles on the wind. How to get away? Dress in yellow, some suggest, or tie a dragonfly to your hat. Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager consult.
Animals as seen through a human "lens"
Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about understanding animal behavior and the natural world through the human perspective.
- Canton, NY