Ants vs. Rats in NYC

Last year I got to take my first trip to New York City and spent most of my time in the medians of Broadway setting up field experiments with Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt and Dr. Amy Savage. Fast forward to this week when the paper resulting from their research is published:

Youngsteadt, E., Henderson, R. C., Savage, A. M., Ernst, A. F., Dunn, R. R. and Frank, S. D. (2014), Habitat and species identity, not diversity, predict the extent of refuse consumption by urban arthropods. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12791

Over at the EcoIPM blog, Elsa gives you […]

By |December 3rd, 2014|ants, News, Reading List, Urban Ecology, Video|0 Comments

The Most Important Map You Will Ever See

and other stories of the biogeography of pathogens

Among the greatest of the unwinnable debates among academics is the place of humans in nature. It is discussed around stumps in the field. It is discussed among philosophers. It is discussed with the knowing thump of a fist. It is discussed among each generation anew. We feel now, so separate, so different from them, the other species, the rest of life.

Of course we depend on the rest of life. Yet are we really still influenced by life’s fates in the way that, say, an oak tree might be? Surely if civilization gets […]

By |November 25th, 2014|Explainer, Reading List|4 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. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106265

Get […]

By |August 27th, 2014|Explainer, Reading List, Your Mites|1 Comment

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, a […]

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

Quiz Time!

Everyone loves a good quiz – even the Buzzfeed variety, you know the kind that you see on Facebook ALL. THE. TIME. The kind of quiz that helps you determine what actor would play you in a movie of your life or what literary couple best represents you and your significant other.

Recently, we’ve seen a couple of quizzes that are not only FUN but, GASP, might provide an opportunity for you to learn something interesting about the biodiversity in your daily life.

Last week, the NY Times Well blog ran a story (written by former post doc and YWL […]

Lewis Thomas and the Ants of New York City

Lewis Thomas was a doctor who wrote articles so beautiful everyone forgot he was anything but a writer. Joyce Carol Oates used Thomas’s writing in her classes as general examples of the craft. Thomas was the kind of writer who left paragraphs that, on their own, might, with any luck, last centuries. They have already lasted decades. Here, for example, is one of which I am fond…

A gallery in New York exhibited a collection of 2 million live army ants, on loan from Central America, in a one-colony show entitled “Patterns and Structures.” They were displayed on sand in […]

By |February 17th, 2014|ants, Reading List, Stories of Your Wild Life|1 Comment

He is a wise man who invented beer

It has been a fun set of weeks in the lab. Two weeks ago I discovered ants from our lab had made their way to the space station.  Last week, we started to go through insect samples from chimpanzee nests (They are amazing! More on this soon.). Then this week, I tasted our beer.

The beer in question – one that we helped make – is delicious. It is also the result of a kind of symphony of science, a collaboration with Anne Madden (who will join us soon as a new postdoc), Anne’s undergraduate students, John Sheppard […]

By |February 10th, 2014|Reading List, Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

Celebrate World Soil Day

In celebration of World Soil Day (December 5, 2013), we give you a round-up of Your Wild Life posts that in some way extol the wonders of soil and all of the organisms that live in it (microbes, arthropods and more) – Happy reading!

  • Confessions of a Stone Turner – In this piece originally published in National Wildlife Magazine, Rob explains how “planting” rocks in your yard provides a home for subterranean life-forms.

Science + Art = SciArt!

Dr. Eleanor and friends have a fun new blog called Buzz Hoot Roar. In each post, they explain a scientific concept that interests or excites them (for example, the best thing about baby ants) in 300 words or less, and then work with graphic artists to illustrate it in a snazzy, jazzy way. We’re SUPER FANS and think you should be too – Below, Dr. Eleanor explains why she’s melding science and art together in this really cool and innovative way.

Ever since the folks in the Middle Ages revolutionized medicine by peeking into corpses, scientists have appreciated […]

By |November 6th, 2013|Explainer, Reading List, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Making the Invisible Visible

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you haven’t visited our Invisible Life project in the last few weeks, go pop on over today and check it out!

We’ve added a handful of new stories about the tiny species in our daily lives, contributed by top-notch scientists and writers including:

  • Peter Andrey Smith on the bacteria that make sushi more nutritious to some people than others: Bacteroides plebeius
  • Sean Gibbons on the bacteria that can seemingly do everything, right in your belly […]

Reading Roundup: Labor Day Leisure Edition

Leisure readingSince we’re on the cusp of a three-day holiday weekend, we figured you might be searching for something fun to do with all your extra time. Why not use some of it to check out a few science stories that caught our attention this week?

  • Salmonella in your spices? New analyses from the US Food & […]
By |August 30th, 2013|Reading List|0 Comments

Countdown to Indoor Evolution Meeting

We’re getting REALLY excited about the upcoming meeting on the Evolution of the Indoor Biome. Thirty scholars representing many disciplines  — from art and anthropology to epidemiology, and entomology — will convene June 10-13 in Durham, NC, at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Their charge: To develop concepts and a suite of preliminary hypotheses to frame our understanding of the evolution of the species we spend the most time alongside in the domestic environment (whether those species be microbes or fungi, arthropods, vertebrates or plants).

Over the last few weeks we’ve tried to pique your interest in the evolution […]

By |June 6th, 2013|Events, Indoor Evolution, Reading List|0 Comments

Reading Round-Up: Cicada Edition!

It’s been quite awhile since we shared links on a related theme with y’all and since we’re in the midst of some self-induced cicada-mania, we thought we’d share a bunch of great reads that recently caught our eyes (and ears) related to the emergence of the Brood II periodical cicadas – Enjoy!

  • When Cicadas Fall in Love: Alan Burdick of the New Yorker writes about the dynamic cicada research duo, John Cooley and David Marshall, and their quest to understand the courtship of periodical cicadas. Says Cooley, “Almost any year you can find periodical cicadas, you just have to pick […]
By |June 3rd, 2013|Reading List, Urban Buzz|1 Comment

Invisible names

Maybe it has something to do with the excessive amounts of matching and memory games I played as a tot. Or why flash cards have always been a go-to study aid (even for remembering the names of students in lab sections I taught in grad school).

I like knowing names. I like using names. Whether it’s a wildflower I spot on a nature walk or a person I bump into at a Science Café. And it kills me when I know a name, but can’t recall it. Or worse yet, when I use the wrong name.

It could also just be a […]

By |January 9th, 2013|News, Reading List, Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

Honoring a scientific revolutionary

Sad news spread throughout the scientific community as 2012 came to a close.

Biophysicist and evolutionary microbiologist Carl Woese died on December 30, 2012. In 1977, Woese discovered a whole new domain of life (the archaea), shaking up our understanding of the evolutionary tree and establishing that all life on earth was related.

Rob wrote about Woese in his book, Every Living Thing, and has re-posted the chapter about Woese in tribute. He writes:

Thank you Carl Woese. Thank you for rearranging the evolutionary tree, that we might see, even […]

By |January 1st, 2013|News, Reading List|1 Comment