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The True and Deadly Story Behind My National Geographic Article on the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Four years ago I went to the Gulf of St. Lawrence to write the story of a place, a giant body of water in which the history of North America has steeped. It is a place of wild beauty, indigenous heritage and exploitation. I wrote about the Gulf in general, but particularly about the history of its harvest, an exhaustible bounty of cod, seals, whales, lobsters and now, it appears, oil. I wrote about what I already knew, what I read, and what I learned when I traveled to the Gulf. But there was more, something I missed, […]

By |June 9th, 2014|Feature, Reading List|0 Comments

Arthropod Photo Shoot… in Belize!

Lauren Nichols recently attended the BugShot Insect Photography Course in Belize this past September and came home with some spectacular photographs (and stories).  She was shooting photos of arthropods non-stop over the course of a week – even, as you’ll read below, at the airport! Expect to see more of Lauren’s work featured on the blog in coming days, joining that of our other photographer superstars, Alex Wild and Matt Bertone.

How many insects can you find and photograph in a median strip outside the Belizean airport in 20 minutes?

This was the spur-of-the-moment challenge I issued myself […]

By |November 5th, 2013|Arthropods, Feature, Urban Ecology, Your Wild Life Team|3 Comments

Are there bark beetles in your backyard?

This past week we reconnected with Jiri Hulcr, resident Forest Entomologist at the University of Florida (and Dunn lab alum) who has just recently launched Backyard Bark Beetles – a new citizen science project that you can participate in now!  

The Backyard Bark Beetles project initially underwent some trials in Florida and Missouri over the summer and is now ready to roll-out to the rest of the country! The concept is familiar (if you’ve participated in the School of Ants); the citizen scientist creates a low-cost insect trap out of household materials, […]

By |October 1st, 2013|Feature, Nature in Your Backyard, Participate, Projects, Q & A|1 Comment

Meet the Worker Bees: Mack Pridgen of Tar Heel Ants

Our lab has a wonderful habit of keeping people around that like to keep their noses down… and we mean this in a good way! Usually the noses in question are pointed squarely at the ground, trying to get a closer look at what may be crawling about.

Mack Pridgen holds one of his ant nests.Mack Pridgen’s curiosity of ants started young; and when his daughter was two years old she was intrigued by them as well. It’s hard to miss the telltale signs of a curious toddler: knelt down, stick in […]

By |September 25th, 2013|Feature, Your Wild Life Team|2 Comments

Meet the Worker Bees: Q & A with Mary Vincent

Our lab has been buzzing with research activity this summer. We thought it would be fun to sit down with a few of the worker bees — undergraduates, high school interns, and research technicians — to ask them some questions and learn more about their work.

Name: Mary Vincent Undergraduate Mary Vincent sorts ants collected from the field for placement into the Phytotron, Dunn Lab, NCSU

Degree: Major in Zoology, Minor in Environmental Sciences

Year in School: Junior

Career Goal: Graduate School, M.S. Genetics

How long have you been working in our lab? 5 months, […]

By |August 13th, 2013|Feature, Q & A, Student Features, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

How Many Ants Live in New York City?

by Rob Dunn

Every so often for the last ten years, one of my collaborators, students or I could be seen standing in a median on Broadway, bending over, looking at ants. We looked at the ants, and the people of New York, as is the custom, tried hard to avoid looking at us.  Every so often someone, perhaps an immigrant new to the city and unfamiliar with the rules about eye contact, would give in to temptation and ask, “What are you doing?” We would usually say, “studying ants,” […]

By |August 7th, 2013|ants, Feature, Stories of Your Wild Life|4 Comments

Meet the Worker Bees: Q & A with Shelby Anderson

Our lab has been buzzing with research activity this summer. We thought it would be fun to sit down with a few of the worker bees — undergraduates, high school interns, and research technicians — to ask them some questions and learn more about their work.

Name: Shelby Anderson Shelby Anderson at microscope

Degree: International Relations and French

Year in school: Post-Baccalaureate

Career goal: Physician

How long have you been working in our lab? 7 months

Describe your project/research: I am currently sorting and identifying arthropods that were collected in New York City, from the medians […]

By |August 1st, 2013|Feature, Q & A, Student Features, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Nature in Your Backyard: Five-lined skinks!

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the nature that we observe in our basements, backyards, and neighborhoods.

It started with a poem from Anna Zuiker, a local middle school student, who so kindly let us share her poem about the ecology of her backyard on the blog.

Then a couple weeks ago I posted a short video that I shot while strolling my neighborhood one evening: a beetle (and cockroach) feeding frenzy at an oozing oak tree!

And yesterday, my colleague Jenny Weston in the NC State College of Engineering emailed me a fun series of photos her fiancé took in […]

#KidsDoScience reprise

School may be out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be thinking about next year’s science fair project.

Today, Adam Hochberg reported on the new science of science fairs, a topic we feel pretty passionate about.  Have a listen — you’ll hear a familiar voice or two in his piece ;)

You may recall that last November, we convened a group of scientists, educators and Twitterati to brainstorm a list of project ideas and experiments where kids had the potential to make real scientific discoveries.

Rather than asking students to demonstrate something we already know (ie, […]

By |July 22nd, 2013|Audio, Education, Feature|0 Comments

The secret (and ancient) lives of houseplants

Today we have a guest post by Laura Jane Martin, a participant in the upcoming meeting on indoor evolution at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in June. Laura is a writer and PhD candidate at Cornell University, where she researches the ecology and conservation of wetland plants. Follow her new blog: https://sedges.wordpress.com/

My local coffee shop is populated with potted plants. The four closest to my favorite table are Zanzibar gem, bamboo palm, jade, and pothos – species from eastern Africa, Madagascar, South Africa, and China.

People have grown plants in pots for centuries, but it’s only […]

Let Me Introduce You to Your Tiny Neighbors

**Today we have a guest post from the one and only, Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice, author of the NEW eBook, Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants.**

As a myrmecologist, I’m always intrigued by people’s reactions to ants. From total disinterest to full-on flailing freakout, many people feel an ant is an ant is an ant.

While the faces of these six-legged picnic ruiners might blend together from our giant’s height, the ants surrounding us are incredibly diverse. More than 20,000 ant species crawl around the earth. In North America, nearly […]

By |April 15th, 2013|Books, Feature, Projects, Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

Manhattan Meet-ups

Elsa Youngsteadt and I have been setting up urban ecology experiments in New York City for the past week– we have another week to go (and are psyched two reinforcement researchers arrived on Sunday!). Doing research in the Big Apple has been both a little bit challenging and a whole lotta fun.

Elsa and I have gotten very adept at getting the stepladder through a subway turnstile and have only occasionally stepped onto the wrong train. And it’s been a little brisk temperature-wise (not quite […]

By |March 18th, 2013|Feature, News, Projects, Urban Ecology, Your Wild Life Team|1 Comment

Top 5 Challenges of Studying Ants in the Big Apple!

**Get your ‘jazz tarsi’ ready, folks – Our post-doc Amy Savage recently completed a Broadway tour, and has a few tales to tell. Here’s her first in a series of guest blog posts.**

Biologists have a long history of traveling to far-off lands to understand ecology. So far in my career as a field ecologist, I have been no different. I left Montana, where I grew up, to study animals in remote tropical habitats, most recently in the Samoan Archipelago (South Pacific Ocean).

But the truth is ecology is all around us; humans are direct participants in their ecosystems, not […]

By |September 28th, 2012|ants, Feature, Projects, Urban Ecology, Your Wild Life Team|2 Comments

Intern Diaries: Charm City Ecology

**Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting dispatches and reflections from team members who are doing ecological research in urban areas. Today, we have an Intern Diary from our undergraduate intern, Christi Mileski, describing her experiences doing “field” work on the streets of Baltimore this summer.**

When I envision the perfect job, travel, learning experiences, and the great outdoors are always involved. This summer my job offered all of those opportunities.

I worked for two different research labs in the Biology and Entomology Departments at North Carolina State University. I spent time with the Dunn Lab, an ecology group […]

By |September 26th, 2012|Feature, Projects, Student Features, Urban Ecology, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Introducing Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants

Meet our friend, Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice. Dr. Eleanor is an entomologist, writer, and gen-u-ine nature nut.

One thing you need to know about Dr. Eleanor: She LOVES ants. This isn’t a recent crush — ants have long held a special place in Eleanor’s heart. Seriously, how else could you explain this little anecdote, here in Dr. Eleanor’s own words?

When I was little, I took my breakfast crumbs out to the front yard to feed the black carpenter ants living in the willow oak trees. I built little piles of […]

By |August 24th, 2012|ants, Feature, News, Stories of Your Wild Life, Your Wild Life Team|5 Comments