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So far Holly has created 136 entries.

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

Meet the 2014 Students Discover Fellows

As readers of our blog and Twitter feed well know, we’ve spent the last three weeks working side-by-side with 12 North Carolina middle school teachers at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. These teacher-scientists and Museum researchers have been busy in the field and at the lab bench, co-creating citizen science projects and lesson plans that the teachers will take back to their classrooms in the fall. The goal: Create opportunities for kids to do REAL science, to make new and exciting scientific discoveries. Hence the name of this project and the ever-present hash tag: […]

By |July 17th, 2014|Education|0 Comments

The Secret Life of Harley Cat

Have you checked out the growing gallery of cat tracks associated with the Cat Tracker project? Harley is just one of 76 kitties enrolled in our GPS-collar study to uncover the secret lives on indoor-outdoor cats.

And we’ve now gone international! We recently established collaborations with researchers in New Zealand and Australia. The New Zealand cats, in particular, will make for an interesting comparison group: New Zealand’s only native mammals, are bats and sea lions, making Kiwi kitties the top of their food chain.

Would you like to enroll your cat in Cat Tracker? Follow this link […]

By |June 23rd, 2014|Cat Tracker|0 Comments

The Common Yet Relatively Unknown Bacteria in Your Belly Button

Two weeks ago, we (finally) returned data to participants in the Belly Button Biodiversity project and unveiled some slick, new data visualizations to help participants and any one who’s curious explore the microbial jungle inside our navels.

If you browse the interactive pie charts, you’ll notice that a handful of bacteria are super-common. Some of these bacteria – like Corynebacterium and Staphylococcus — we know a lot about.

Other common belly button bacteria, however, remain understudied and, quite frankly, unknown. In this new chapter in the Invisible Life project, Rob Dunn sketches out […]

By |June 3rd, 2014|Belly Button Biodiversity, Invisible Life|0 Comments

Meet the Worker Bees: Liza the Urban Buzz Intern

Summer is nearly here which means the field season is now in full swing! Last week Lauren began a new photo series on the blog called Behind the Science, highlighting our research team in action. In addition to a rockin’ crew of post docs and graduate students, our team also includes a dedicated corps of undergraduate students, high school interns, and research technicians. And so this summer we’ll continue a feature we started last year called Meet the Worker Bees, profiling all the folks who make our research engine hum in the summertime.

Today we want you to […]

By |June 2nd, 2014|Education, Student Features, Urban Buzz|0 Comments

Send Us Your Dead Cicadas!

2014 BroodsPeriodical cicadas are emerging in several locations throughout the South and Midwest this summer:

Louisiana, Mississippi

Ohio, Kentucky

Iowa, Illinois


Prior to their late-spring emergence as red-eyed, orange-winged adults, periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) spend 13 or 17 years underground, tapped into tree roots. That’s a long time to be exposed to pesticides, heat and other stressors associated with the urban environment.

Last year, we launched Urban Buzz, a citizen science project, to document the effects of urbanization on periodical cicadas. Specifically, we’re looking at how urban stress affects […]

By |May 29th, 2014|Urban Buzz|0 Comments

Swimming in Feces

Some food, er feces, for thought. Above is another thought-provoking figure from the students in Rob’s Community Ecology of Humans class. Data analysis by Ryann Rossi, Michael Just, and Benjamin Hess. Visualization by Neil Mccoy.

Did you miss last week’s figure about the movement of trash? Check it out now.

By |May 29th, 2014|Science Art, Student Features|5 Comments

That Wonderful Time of the Year (for Cicada Citizen Science)

For the last few weeks, I’ve been eagerly scanning my Twitter feed for updates about the emergence of this year’s broods of periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.), those charismatic red-eyed, orange-winged beauties that emerge triumphantly in late spring after 13 or 17 long years spent underground.

Nearly every year, there’s a different population of periodical cicadas (known as broods) emerging in a different part of the eastern US. In 2013, we witnessed Brood II, a population of 17-year cicadas emerging in a long band from Georgia north to Connecticut. Cicadamania swept the East Coast last summer, and […]

By |May 26th, 2014|Nature in Your Backyard, Urban Buzz|0 Comments

The Birth of a Zombie Wasp

Graduate student Emily Meineke had one of those ‘OH S&^%!’ moments while in the lab the other day. Best part is she caught it on film.

Emily studies scale insects, small bugs that spend most of their lives sucking the juices from willow oaks. She’s also interested in the insects that attack scales. You can imagine that a scale insect stuck on a branch sucking plant juice is an easy target for a predator.

Scales are particularly vulnerable to attack by parasitoid wasps. Female wasps lay their eggs inside the scale. The scale essentially acts as a womb […]

By |May 22nd, 2014|Nature in Your Backyard, Student Features, Urban Ecology|0 Comments

Who Ate My Cake?

Today we have a special treat: Another delicious watercolor sketch from biologist and illustrator, Dr. Jennifer Landin. You may recall Jennifer’s action sketch of the overprotective red-shouldered hawk a couple weeks ago.

Last weekend, Jennifer had a close encounter with ants in her kitchen. And by close encounter, I mean hundreds of ants attacked a fresh-out-of-the-oven birthday cake she left to cool in her kitchen.

Like any good biologist, Jennifer wasn’t satisfied surrendering her cake to unidentified ants. She consulted Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants and the Who Ate My Cookie? Urban Ant Key to learn […]

By |May 20th, 2014|ants, Nature in Your Backyard, Science Art|0 Comments