Natural Selections podcast
The Adirondacks in 300 years, part 112/18/14
Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley gaze into the crystal ball to imagine the Adirondack Park in 300 years. The effects of invasive species may be more noticeable than those of global warming. Three of the commonest trees face disease threats ??? most...
Shy and rare: the softshell turtles of Lake Champlain
The eastern spiny softshell turtle is rare in the north, but a small population lives at the top of Lake Champlain. Shyer than their armored cousins, the encroachment of human activities is making it harder for them to breed.Martha Foley and Paul...
Are there really no snakes in Ireland?
Were there really no snakes before St. Patrick showed up? Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager ponder this and other questions. They explain that there are, in fact, places with no native snakes, particularly isolated places like New Zealand and Greenland.
Natural Selections: Seagulls
Where do all the seagulls come from? Martha Foley talks with Dr. Curt Stager about the population boom of seagulls in the last few decades, particularly ring-billed gulls found in the northeastern United States and the Great Lakes region.
Pointier eggs and ultraviolet colors help some birds survive
This week, Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager continue their discussion about eggs, exploring the color and shape of birds' eggshells, from green, white, and brown to pointy and ovoid.Some variations in shape and size are just that???variations, but...
Why are bird eggs different colors?
Why are bird eggs different colors? According to Dr. Curt Stager most of them start out white. Colors come later in development. Glands in the oviduct deposit color onto the eggs as they pass through to be laid. Speckled eggs are actually a little...
Birds get a new family tree
Whippoorwills and hummingbirds are close kin. And penguins, who only walk and swim, are cousins to the albatross which only flies. Who knew? A new classification system for birds looks at their genetics as well as their anatomy.Dr. Curt Stager and...
Snapping turtles: not your little pet shop friend
The Eastern Snapping Turtle can reach a size of three feet long and weigh 50 pounds. Martha Foley and Curt Stager introduce us to this large and testy reptile found throughout the eastern United States.
Do you hear the same thing as I hear?
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...
- Canton, NY