Natural Selections podcast
What could be worse than the disaster that wiped out the...09/25/14
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.
Listen: Natural Selections climate change call-in
Climate change is in the news, from the recent update by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its detailed report on national and local impacts, to the news of the melting Antarctic ice sheet.Dr. Curt Stager, author of "Deep Future: the...
Octopuses are amazingly smart, and just amazing
The octopus has held a fascination for people throughout the ages. Martha Foley describes a surfside encounter with beauty, and Dr. Curt Stager talks about the unusual qualities of this shelless mollusk, from its discernible intelligence to its...
The early life of kangaroos
Kangaroos are marsupials, mammals who have a protective pouch in which they raise their young until they are developed enough to endure conditions in the outside world. What most people might not know is that the birth of kangaroos in a pouch is in...
Our mildly venomous neighbor, the Hognose snake
The Eastern hognose snake is better known by its nickname, puff adder, derived from its aggressive display when disturbed. Its bite is mildly venomous, capable of sedating small prey, such as toads. Martha Foley and Curt Stager discuss this common...
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