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

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|

Evolution of the Indoor Biome

There is something living in the north-facing wall of our apartment. My partner and I have narrowed it down to an organism in the phylum Chordata; though we have not seen the thing, we are fairly certain it has a backbone. It likes to make squeaking or cawing noises at 4 a.m. Sometimes the noises make it seem very small, like a house mouse, and sometimes the noises make it seem very large, like a well-nourished raccoon. Or perhaps it is a bird. Perhaps it is a new, awesome bird species. We know so little about the organisms that live with us, in our walls, behind the refrigerator, under the [...]

March 16th, 2015|

Help locate the coughing frog!

You may have heard of a newly described species of leopard frog, the Atlantic Coast leopard frog (Rana kauffeldi) -- also known as the coughing frog (main image, above). The chief zoologist at the New York Natural Heritage Program, Dr. Matthew Schlesinger, has organized efforts to learn more about the range of this newly described frog species with the support of a Regional Conservation Needs grant. Where is this coughing frog and when can I find it? The map of where participants can hear and record the coughing calls of the Atlantic Coast leopard frog can be seen below -- we anticipate you'll be able to hear the frog (listen to examples here [...]

March 12th, 2015|

Meet Your Mites: Family Style

Over the last few months, our first cohort of Students Discover Kenan Fellows have been busy in their classrooms piloting and refining the citizen science curricula they co-created with their scientist mentors from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. If you dropped by their middle school classrooms, you would have seen students busy collecting and analyzing all sorts of new data. They’ve deployed camera traps in schoolyards to capture the secret lives of urban mammals. They’ve planted dandelions in different soil types and sampled the changes in microbes over time. They’ve scraped oily goop from each other’s faces that contained bits of Demodex face mites. They’ve meticulously collected and measured [...]

March 11th, 2015|

Before They Were Scientists: Monica Peters

When I first met New Zealand native and science/artist Monica Peters, she was attending the Citizen Science Association meeting in San Jose, California. After her presentation she boldly stated, "Watch this space!" in reference to the growing citizen science initiatives in New Zealand. It was intriguing to learn about the efforts of citizen scientists in New Zealand communities to preserve their local natural habitats. She also stated that she had come from a design background, but has found herself in this scientific world. Wanting to hear more, I scheduled an interview and we got a chance to speak about her middle school life, her research and the future of grassroots citizen science [...]

March 6th, 2015|

Cat Tracker Launches Down Under

We’re pleased to announce that Cat Tracker has landed in Oz! Last week, our colleague Philip Roetman and team from the Discovery Circle, a citizen science initiative based at the University of South Australia, launched the Australian version of Cat Tracker. The team aims to recruit and track 500 indoor/outdoor house cats with GPS technology in order to better understand cat movement and behavior. We look forward to collaborating with Cat Tracker South Australia to make cross-continental comparisons. Here in the US, we’ve found that urban cats don’t travel very far and stick close to the surrounds of the built environment. Will the Australians see similar patterns with their felines? [...]

March 2nd, 2015|

Cold Feet, Warm Heart

Raleigh has had a fit of cold, snowy (and icy) weather this week. So while I watched this snow-covered Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) swim around an icy lake near my house, I couldn't help but think “Brrrrr.” The core temperature of a goose, wrapped in its fluffy down coat, is ~104° Fahrenheit. But what about those feet? They must be freezing! In a way, they are. The feet of this goose are only ~35°. As warm blood from the body travels to the toes, it transfers heat to the blood making the return trip. By the time the blood reaches the feet, it’s cold – so cold that little heat [...]

February 27th, 2015|

Look but don’t touch

Watching Out for Nesting Birds Look but don’t touch. This was a lesson I learned early on as a young boy, staring intently along with my grandmother at a bird nest. Inside a shrub-like tree, a bowl of straw lay almost hidden. Within it, several nestlings, their mouths wide open, were awaiting their next meal. After a quick look, we hurried away, soon noticing that the mother robin returned with sustenance for her young. Folklore, of course, advises people to not harm bird nests, for doing so was commonly thought to bring bad luck (1). However, for many children, superstitious appeals are not necessary, as a simple reverence for nature [...]

February 23rd, 2015|