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 [...]

By |June 23rd, 2014|Cat Tracker|0 Comments|
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    The Common Yet Relatively Unknown Bacteria in Your Belly Button

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 [...]

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 [...]

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

AND WE NEED YOUR HELP!

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 [...]

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.

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

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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    Time to Explore the Umbilicus: New Belly Button Biodiversity Website

Time to Explore the Umbilicus: New Belly Button Biodiversity Website

It’s been many moons since 500 or so intrepid citizen scientists twirled a Q-tip in their belly buttons for science.

With that swab we did two things:

We quickly delivered on the portraits. The molecular part… well, our science is SLOW. It took a few years, but we FINALLY finished those analyses.

So today we are proud to share [...]

CSI: New York, Lead

Sometimes we discover things that we don’t yet understand. We like to share those findings with you, even before we make sense of them. Here is one.

Lead_CircEqClass_20140512

This map shows the concentrations of lead in the soil at about 60 sampling sites across Manhattan, including the medians of Broadway and Central Park. Our team, led by Amy Savage and Elsa Youngsteadt, took soil cores and worked with microbial ecologist Krista McGuire at Barnard College to analyze the soils’ nutrients [...]