Posts Tagged ‘science’

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Does This Fur Make Me Look Fat? Woodchucks In Winter

woodchuckFat gets a bad rap in the medical world, for good reason. Excessive body fat is linked to a litany of health risks, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.  Yet in the realm of nature, fat is a lifesaver. If certain mammals that hibernate did not get fat, they would be dead by spring.

The woodchuck is something of a fat specialist. As many an irate gardener can attest, the woodchuck’s diet consists of perishable greens. Because these can’t be stored, the animal stockpiles all the food energy it needs to survive winter in a thick layer of body fat. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

World Premiere of NASA Film At The Wild Center

WaterFallsWildCenter2_1The Wild Center will host the World premiere of a new film produced by NASA on Saturday, January 25th.  Water Falls, a film created exclusively for spherical screens like the Center’s Planet Adirondack, introduces the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission to the public and explains the mission’s profound importance to everyone who lives on Earth.

In 2014, GPM will launch a Core satellite that will anchor a fleet of domestic and international satellites designed to measure precipitation around the globe approximately every three hours. The mission is driven by the need to understand more about the global water cycle, one of the most powerful systems on Earth.  Water Falls will use the sphere of Planet Adirondack to give viewers a global view of water, where it comes fromw and where it may be going. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Psychrophiles: Some Organisms Like It Cold

psychrophilesWe humans tend to cringe at winter temperatures. We put on extra layers, crank up the thermostat, and wait impatiently for the tell-tale drip of spring thaw. However, there are plenty of tiny organisms all around us that aren’t just biding their time; they’re thriving in the bitter cold. If you could listen to as well as watch them under a microscope, you wouldn’t hear a single complaint about the temperature.

Psychrophiles, literally “cold lovers,” are organisms adapted to live at extremely cold temperatures. These are single-celled life forms, most often bacteria, but also blue green algae, yeasts, and fungi that can grow at temperatures as low as -13 degrees. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Lake Trout Research At Follensby Pond

2013 Lake PLacid Lake Trout Survey (Mary Thill Photo)Can well-managed lakes in the Adirondacks provide important refuges for lake trout in the face of climate change?

That’s the focus of a new intensive research effort being conducted at Follensby Pond, a 1,000-acre lake purchased by The Nature Conservancy in 2008.

The pond offers the perfect opportunity to research lake trout at the southern end of their range, to determine how these large and ecologically important fish could best be managed and protected given rising temperatures and other environmental changes. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Adirondack Wildlife: Black Bear Bones

bear_bonesDeep in the winter-dark woods, beneath the roots of a fallen tree, a mother black bear hibernates with her two yearling cubs. In the spring, they will wake up in a near starvation condition, their fat reserves depleted. The mother bear’s bones, however, will be as strong and as thick as the day she lay down, and her young may even have added bone mass over the winter.

Bears are the only animals known to maintain their bone mass during prolonged periods of inactivity. To consider what a feat this is, consider humans’ susceptibility to bone loss: astronauts who spend six months in the weightless environment of space can lose nearly ten percent of their bone mass, and people forced to spend several months in bed may experience similar declines.

So why are bears different? And what can we learn from their biochemical processes that may help us treat osteoporosis and other bone diseases? » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Random Notes on Climate Change in 2013

namgnld_season22013 was another watershed year in climate change news. The reality of life on a warmer planet was seen in a variety of ways. The reality of the inability of U.S. and international efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels was also stark as use continues to rise. Here are some new data points about life on a warming planet.

The year’s biggest news was made last summer when scientists at a Hawaii research station measured 400 ppm (parts per million) of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere. NASA climate scientist James Hansen has famously called the 350 ppm carbon mark the safe zone for avoiding the worst of climate change impacts. Some terrific charts in The Guardian (probably the best news site for tracking climate issues) provides important context to carbon loading to the earth’s atmosphere. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

DEC Seeks Help With Wild Turkey Research

QF Turkey cropOver the past 10 years wild turkey populations have declined in many parts of New York State. In an effort to better understand the factors influencing population changes and how these changes affect turkey management, DEC is beginning the second year of a four-year study. This project is expected to provide wildlife managers with current estimates of harvest and survival rates for female wild turkeys, or hens, in New York and guide future management efforts.

Beginning in January, DEC will embark on a statewide effort to capture wild turkey hens and fit them with leg bands to obtain accurate data on survival and harvest. A small number of these birds will also be tagged with satellite radio-transmitters. All of the work will be done by DEC personnel on both public and private lands from January through March. The research will be concentrated in DEC Regions 3 through 9 where turkey populations are largest. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Brian Houseal To Lead Adirondack Ecological Center

Brian-Houseal-208x300Brian Houseal, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council from 2002 to 2012, has been named Director of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Adirondack Ecological Center in Newcomb.

The appointment was announced Friday in an e-mail by Bruce C. Bongarten, SUNY-ESF’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Houseal’s appointment is expected to begin on January 2, 2014. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How Warm-Blooded Animals Stay Warm

geese on iceMy favorite season tends to be whatever comes next, which means, for now, deep winter. With our storm windows installed and four tons of wood pellets put up, I’m feeling smug as the ant in Aesop’s fable. But what about the furred and feathered creatures out there in the cold?

When I imagine a Canada goose on an icy pond, or a white tail knee deep in the white stuff, it makes me shiver and wonder: How do warm-blooded animals stay warm? » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

The 114th Christmas Bird Count: A Holiday Tradition

cbcpressroom_tuftedtitmouse-judyhowleThe year was 1900. The National Audubon Society did not yet exist and wildlife management was in its infancy. Through the century just ending, many people in this country participated in a holiday tradition known as a “side hunt.” Groups would gather, choose “sides,” and then compete to see which side could shoot the most birds (and other animals) in a day.

But some citizens were then becoming concerned about declining bird numbers. That year, American ornithologist Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore magazine and later a leader in the emerging Audubon Society, proposed a new form of hunt in which participants would count birds instead of killing them. He called it a Christmas bird-census.  Chapman urged readers to help by “spending a portion of Christmas Day with the birds” and then submit to Bird-Lore a report of their count “before they retire that night.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Roadside Wildlife Survey Volunteers Sought

wildlife.map_The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program announced a call for volunteers to help survey roadsides in the Black River Valley this winter as part of the WildPaths citizen science project.

With the help of local citizen scientists using snow-tracking to gather data, WildPaths is expected to provide important information about where wildlife are crossing roads in several towns in the Black River Valley. The results are hoped to help guide conservation actions to maintain and enhance habitat connectivity between the Adirondacks and Tug Hill region. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Deer Rutting Season in the Adirondacks

white_tailed_deer1According to most sportsmen, the second week of November in the Adirondacks is the best time for deer hunting, as this is the peak of the rutting, or breeding season in our region.

Driven by a surge of hormones, the bucks, especially the largest and oldest males with their impressive rack of antlers, are now continuously on the move as they attempt to locate females nearing their estrous, or heat period. Rather than spend time resting or sleeping, bucks are on the go day and night in the days prior to, and immediately after, Veteran’s Day, as these individuals experience an innate urge to focus all their time and energy into spreading their genetic composition into the deer herd of that area. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Adirondacks Rapid Response: An Invasives Success Story

Early-detection-invasives (Photo Brendan Quirion-TNC)Many invasive species stories follow a similar narrative. When the non-native species first shows up, people either don’t notice it, or they don’t take the threat seriously. Suddenly, the invader explodes across the landscape, and conservationists spring into action. but so often, it’s too late.

That’s why invasive species success stories are so few and far between.

The Adirondacks is different. Here, over a huge landscape, the Conservancy and partners have excelled at a coordinated approach that’s making a difference: early detection and rapid response. » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Ed Kanze: A Ball, A Gall, And A Fly

ed_kanze_ball_gallIf you’re observant, you’ve noticed them in fall and winter: peculiar lumps that bulge from the stems of certain goldenrods. If you go ice-fishing, you may slice open the lumps and pluck out the grubs inside for bait.

These peculiar structures are called ball galls. Listen here to learn who makes them, and why, in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Strangle-Vine: Invasive Swallow-Wort

swallow-wort1The invasive plant sometimes called dog-strangling vine doesn’t harm pets, but it lives up to its name as a strangler, choking out native wildflowers as well as Christmas tree plantations and fields of prime alfalfa. In Northern New York, in Jefferson County, a nearly 1,000-acre tract on an island lies blanketed under this perennial Eurasian vine.

Dog-strangling vine grows in almost any soil type, has a prodigious root system, and is particularly good at making and dispersing seeds. It is so toxic that no North American bird, mammal or insect will eat it, and it bounces back from the most powerful herbicides. No wonder biologists and agronomists have been losing sleep over it. » Continue Reading.