Your Wild Life Landing 2017-06-26T14:26:57+00:00

Tracking Kleptomaniac Cats

Aya the cat has an interesting secret life, to say the least. When we started tracking outdoor cats with Cat Tracker in Raleigh/Durham to see where they were going when they weren't lazily sitting on their human's porches... we never expected that one of the cats that would sport a GPS unit would be a famous kleptomaniac living in Copenhagen. Three-year-old Aya is a Danish cat; a semi-serious looking black male cat with a penchant for work gloves. It all started innocently enough in the Summer of 2012 -- when Aya's human neighbors were getting a new roof put on their home. There were a lot of working gloves around their [...]

April 16th, 2015|

The Bear

I was staying in a one, room shack beside a river. The river, a majestic river, reminded me of the sound of a washing machine. My girlfriend was visiting. At night she punched me when a mouse ran over her face. It remains unclear whether her intent was to hurt the mouse or, as I now suspect, me. Each morning the old Czech woman across the dirt road would bring me a glass of fresh milk from the cows. She spoke little Spanish, I no Czech. I couldn’t convince her of the truth, that I am unable to digest milk much less the rich and creamy deliciousness offered warm from the [...]

April 13th, 2015|

Could there be 200 million species on Earth?

Recently, one of my colleagues, Brian Brown, found thirty new species of flies in urban Los Angeles. Species not yet named. Species not yet studied. Species that could be of great value to society (or, less likely, great cost) but that had just gone missed, flying among highways and movie stars. The discovery made by Brown and his team is wondrous, revelatory, awesome, and makes me want to look for new species of flies in my own backyard. But, in a broad sense, it is not a surprise, for one simple reason, two hundred million species live on Earth and just two million of which are named. That is to [...]

April 13th, 2015|

Chimps and Humans are Less Similar than We Thought

Mary Claire King, as much as any individual scholar, has changed how we think about what it means to be human. She did so using genetics as a lens through which to see what was otherwise invisible. In her hands this lens offered many insights. It was King who first identified a key gene in breast cancer. It was King who helped to identity the missing dead in Argentina in the 1980s. It would also be King who, in 1975, first compare the genetic similarity of humans and chimpanzees. It was known chimpanzees and humans were similar, kin, but just how similar? One could only really guess. And to compare a chimpanzee and a human, [...]

April 8th, 2015|

The Magic Seeds of UCONN EEB

The amazing thing about trees is that they start as seeds. Some small enough for ants to carry. Others that ride in the guts of bats. Others still that float in the wind, tumbling across fields and continents. Similarly, the amazing thing about the best scientists is that they start as students. As I say this, I am not thinking about my own students (though my own students have been wonderful, the highlights of my professional life), I am thinking about the young people with whom I started graduate school. I went to graduate school at the University of Connecticut in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB). My [...]

April 6th, 2015|

The Single Best Predictor of How Many Heartbeats You Will Experience

The single easiest way to increase the number of heartbeats you can expect to experience in your life is to move. Geography is a far better predictor, even within the United States, of your longevity than is any other variable. Much of modern of medicine is focused on getting those of us in developed countries a few more heartbeats (several magazines have recently run articles about the possibility of living to two hundred). But, the truth is that far more beats can be gained for humanity—more moments of joy, difficulty, or pleasure, moments of anything—by making health care and public health more equitable around the world, evening out the mountains and hills [...]

March 30th, 2015|

Gnarly Trees

Branches of the live oak (Quercus virginiana) loop and twist their way toward openings in the forest canopy. Many branches sag down to the ground before stretching back up again. These low branches help the oak survive in the hurricane-prone regions of the southeastern US. Short, wide trees resist strong winds better than tall, thin ones. Those curvy branches helped the USS Constitution stay afloat during the War of 1812. Live oak limbs were frequently used in ship building due to their natural bends, strength and density.

March 30th, 2015|

Students share eMammal!

On Thursday, March 5, eight middle school students from the classrooms of two 2014-2015 Students Discover Kenan Fellows, Dave Glenn and Dayson Pasion, presented their research on wildlife camera-trapping at the North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) conference in Raleigh. Over the last year, the students have participated in the eMammal citizen science project, deploying wildlife cameras in their schoolyard to capture animal activity. The students have been working in collaboration with scientists at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. At Burgaw Middle School in Pender County, Glenn's students have identified white-tail deer, opossum, raccoons, gray foxes, and rabbits on their [...]

March 23rd, 2015|

We’re Celebrating Our 100th Cat-iversary!

Cat Tracker launched in May 2014. In a little less than one year, we've enrolled over 500 indoor/outdoor kitties from 9 different states and several foreign countries! Today we are pleased to announce that we have recorded tracks from over 100 cats! So what have we learned so far? In examining the home ranges of our first 1oo cats, we've found that the cats' tracks are just as unique as the cats themselves. The majority of our 100 cats travel less than 5 hectares (about 12 acres) and seem to stick to their neighborhoods rather than venturing into forests and wild areas. However, there are some ‘rogue’ cats that don't [...]

March 19th, 2015|

Dr. Eleanor Dishes about Ants!

Looking for a new podcast to listen to while waiting for the next season of Serial? Check out Under The Microscope -- available for free on iTunes -- where you can even hear a friendly voice, Dr. Eleanor Spicer-Rice, discuss ants with Daniel Hill and Clint Bergeron. Under the Microscope Ants, with Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice -- Episode 3  Released Feb 01, 2015 Join us as we chat with Senior Science Editor Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice (who literally wrote the book on ants!) about an invasive ant species with a powerful sting that could be making a destructive path to your backyard, how ant trails work, the benefits of ants, how you can become a [...]

March 18th, 2015|