The Adaptable Ptarmigan, Duckweed in Your Gas Tank & Much More

Ptarmigans have amazing adaptations to life in the cold and snow (beyond their seasonal change of outerwear). White-tailed ptarmigan, (Lagopus leucurus), photographed at Denali National Park in Alaska. Photo credit: © Ross Geredien

Ptarmigans have amazing adaptations to life in the cold and snow — beyond their seasonal change of outerwear. White-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucurus) photographed at Denali National Park in Alaska. Photo credit: © Ross Geredien

By Marty Downs, Bob Lalasz, Matt Miller, and Lisa Feldkamp of the TNC Science Communications team

We find tons of cool conservation and conservation science stuff every week on the Internets — now we’re sharing some of the best with you every week in The Cooler:


Winter warrior: why the ptarmigan may be the best-adapted bird when it comes to thriving in snow. (Audubon)

Not-so-mighty-mouse: the unfortunate politics, hyperbole and myth surrounding the endangered Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. (High Country News)

Why are males and females different? How the climate 27 million years ago shaped sexual dimorphism in pinnipeds. (Science Daily)

New Research

Planet of the Rodents: Researchers predict giant rats will rule the earth when other species go extinct. (Focusing on Wildlife)

Ants join forces to float queen (and brood) to safety. Surprisingly, the young go on the bottom — not because they are more expendable, but because they are more buoyant. (PLoS ONE)

Doing conservation across geographic and political boundaries presents special challenges. A new survey zeroes in on effective approaches. (Conservation Biology)

More bad news for pollinators: The crazy diseases that are killing off honeybees are hitting bumblebees, too. (Nature)

Climate Change

Might corals swap skeleton material? Some corals may have another option as calcite skeletons succumb to ocean acidification. (Nature Communications)

High water reveals floodplain vulnerabilities. Findings inform planning to mitigate damage from climate change driven flooding. (Environmental Science and Technology)

Yes, the Atlantic current CAN shut down and turn the UK into a frozen wasteland — because it’s happened before. (Science; subscription required)

Nature News

New whistleblower site — Wildleaks — launched to report wildlife and forest crimes. (Mongabay)

Have you had your “Nature Daily Allowance“? (Conservation Magazine)

Conservation Tactics

Eat the invaders: company plans to harvest and market berries from non-native autumn olives. Their supermarket name? Lycoberries. (Invasivore)

A new use for pesky duckweed: genome suggests great potential for biofuel. (Eurekalert!)

Time-lapse video shows American chestnut with blight-resistant genes fighting off disease. (SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry)

When conservation focuses on human needs, is it saying “yes” to extinctions? Richard Conniff examines the debate — and Peter Kareiva responds to Conniff’s satisfaction. (Strange Behaviors)

Science Communications

Imminent ruling in FOIA suit for climate scientist Michael Mann’s e-mails unites strange bedfellows. (Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media)

Why don’t scientists advocate more for pure-science funding? This graph might have the answer. (Roger Pielke Jr.’s Blog)

Another nail in the science-writer coffin: The Washington Post is now running press releases on science in its Health & Science section. (Journalism at MIT Tracker)

This & That

Stranger than a Carl Hiaasen novel: State of Florida joins lawsuit to fight cleanup of Chesapeake Bay. (And you are correct; the Chesapeake Bay is nowhere near Florida). (Miami Herald)

You’ve heard of rooftop gardens, but what about rooftop “meat”? In Thailand urban farmers are growing an edible cyanobacteria meat alternative (SciDevNet)

The next big thing in ecology? Soundscape analysis. (Science; subscription required)

Have suggestions for next week’s Cooler? Send them to mdowns[at]

Opinions expressed on Cool Green Science and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Nature Conservancy.

Posted In: The Cooler

Marty joined the Nature Conservancy in January 2014 to write about TNC research and manage the Science Impact Project. She started her career in ecosystem ecology and climate impact research, but has focused on science communications since 1999. She’s now doing what she likes best – writing about cool science and helping scientists find and communicate what’s exciting about their work.

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