Looking at the Past to Understand the Future

No question, our planet is heating up. So what impact will global climate change have on biodiversity and ecosystems?

This BIG question, as you’ve undoubtedly read here on our blog, is near and dear to many Your Wild Life-affiliated researchers. Over the years, they’ve taken several different approaches to studying the consequences of global climate change on organisms and ecosystems.

One approach is to do experiments. Heat something up and see what happens to say, ants living on the forest floor or tiny plant-sucking insects attached to tree branches in a greenhouse.

Another approach is to do

By |August 28th, 2014|Global Change, Urban Ecology|0 Comments

Good News: We’ve all got mites!

Over the last year and a half, hundreds of you volunteered to have your faces scraped for science. In looking at the contents of your face goop, we’ve uncovered some of the mysteries of the tiny, some might even say charming, arthropod that lives within the hair follicles and glands of your skin — your Demodex mites. Today we’re pleased to announce the publication of our first research paper from the Meet Your Mites project:

Thoemmes MS, Fergus DJ, Urban J, Trautwein M, Dunn RR (2014) Ubiquity and Diversity of Human-Associated Demodex Mites. PLoS ONE 9(8): e106265.
By |August 27th, 2014|Explainer, Reading List, Your Mites|1 Comment

Junior Scientists Take on Invasive Ants in New York City

Two junior researchers, Stephen Coyle (a rising college sophomore, top) and Kevin Catalan (a high school student, bottom), have been hard at work at Fordham University in New York City looking at how different colonies of invasive ants have been affected by Superstorm Sandy. I sat down with them virtually to discuss their exciting research in the lab of our collaborator, Dr. Sergios-Orestis Kolokotronis.

Kevin, I’ll start with you. Maybe you can tell me a little bit about yourself and what is it that you do?

Kevin: I’m a student at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics.  I’m a […]

By |August 26th, 2014|ants, Q & A, Student Features, Urban Ecology|0 Comments

Before They Were Scientists: Michelle Wcisel

In the swing of Shark Week, I was able to virtually sit down with white shark researcher, Michelle Wcisel. As we talked, I noticed a “Smarty Pants” mug full of pens resting on top of a dresser and a sticker-covered door visible just behind her shoulder. Books lined the walls behind her head and there was a sense of nostalgia all around her – it was as if she was sitting in her den recounting middle school life from the very place it happened. I enjoyed chatting with Michelle about how she, a land-locked Michigan native, evolved into […]

By |August 22nd, 2014|Before They Were Scientists, Education|0 Comments

Pikas on Ice

Adorable and fuzzy, American pikas (Ochotona princeps) have become the spokes-critter for the consequences of climate change in alpine areas. These little fuzzballs, more closely related to rabbits than rodents, are specialized for living on the rocky slopes of mountains. They’re very sensitive to hot summer temperatures, and so, as temperatures are predicted to rise, pikas face a perilous future.

Researcher Jennifer Wilkening from the University of Colorado is concerned about the future of the pikas. She’s also concerned about the future of water. Towns like Boulder, Colorado, rely on the water that drains down from the highland areas […]

By |August 20th, 2014|Global Change, Science Art|0 Comments

Behind the Science: Painting ants and cracking acorns

Stepping into the lab last week, you would have no idea that the summer — for our undergraduates, at least — is winding to an end and that the academic school year is about to start. Last Tuesday I found Joe Karlik and Hanna Moxley, both rising seniors, busy running research trials and starting new experiments in the lab.

Joe Karlik has been trying to figure out why Temnothorax curvispinosus (also known as acorn ants) often stick their larvae and pupae, known as “brood,” to the roof of the acorns nuts in which they live. Why […]

By |August 19th, 2014|ants, Behind the Scenes, Student Features|0 Comments

Bumble Beer Science

I’ve always had a hard time taking bumblebees seriously. While wasps dance through the air, and honeybees zoom from one flowering bud to another, bumblebees seem to … well … bumble along. I think they look more like moldy strawberries who found themselves shocked at the capability of flight, rather than an insect which natural selection has carefully sculpted for million of years. However, looks can be deceiving.

When I look at a bumblebee visiting a flower, I see a bee zealously trying to lift off while still hanging onto the flower, angrily vibrating it from the inside. Such behaviors […]

By |August 15th, 2014|Events, Nature in Your Backyard, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Before They Were Scientists: Eefjan Breukink

In planning a trip to the Netherlands for some secret missions for Your Wild Life, I reached out to area scientists to get a different perspective on middle school life. Motivated after reading about his involvement in a scientific debate, I contacted Dr. Eefjan Breukink at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Read on to learn about how this accomplished scientist decided he did not want to become a vet, has a fresh perspective on the meaning of “right” and “wrong” in science, and at the heart of it all — is still a kid inside.

Lea: Can […]

By |August 14th, 2014|Before They Were Scientists, Education|0 Comments

Mapping the ants of the world

Several years ago, Benoit Guénard decided that he was interested in knowing where one kind of ant could be found. Another ant biologist asked. Benoit didn’t know. The other ant biologist didn’t know. Benoit is not the sort of person to let a question go unresolved. Questions boil in his brain sometimes and this was one of those kinds of questions.

And so Benoit set about to understand where ants of the genus Formica could be found. But the problem was he did not seem to be able to find an answer and so he set out to systematically […]

By |August 13th, 2014|ants, Explainer, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

The Secret Life of Roukus

A Yankee cat or southern kitty? Roukus calls Maine home for 3 months of the year and Florida for 9! Right now in Maine she enjoys trips through the woods and visiting neighbors but doesn’t take too well to the cool sands of Maine’s shores. Will she prefer the warmer beaches of the Sunshine State?

Roukus is just one of 73 Do-It-Yourself (DIY) participants enrolled in Cat Tracker. With your help, we’re trying to uncover the secret lives of indoor-outdoor cats using GPS technology. We welcome DIY participants from anywhere — follow these directions […]

By |August 12th, 2014|Cat Tracker, Participate|3 Comments