Of Crows and Cuckoos, Pigeons, Pachyderms, and Komodos

Darren Naish of Tetrapod Zoo holds forth on the amazing and intriguing Komodo dragon.

Darren Naish of Tetrapod Zoo holds forth on the natural history of the intriguing Komodo dragon. Photo credit: Tim Ellis, Creative Commons (attribution, non-commercial) license, via Flickr

By Marty Downs, Bob Lalasz, Matt Miller, Lisa Feldkamp and Cara Byington 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:


It’s BioBlitz weekend (#bioblitz2014) in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, but if you can’t make it to California, National Geographic shows you how to BioBlitz in your own neighborhood. (National Geographic)

New horizons in microbiomes. Humpback whales share a common microbial community across populations. (EurekAlert!)


Leapin’ lizards: Darren Naish’s enthusiastic celebration of all things Komodo dragon. (Tet Zoo)

Not-so-empty nest: bluebird twins documented for the first time via Project NestWatch. (All About Birds) 

Unlikely protectors: a cuckoo in the nest is usually a bad thing, but sometimes cuckoo chicks act as protectors of their crow “siblings” (Science Magazine) 

Dark pigeon plumage may serve a purpose — helping the creatures eliminate toxic metals and increasing survival in urban or other polluted areas, a new study suggests. (Science)  

Horrible graphic of the week: Lions’ historic range in Africa vs. their range today. (Grist)

New Research

Be caw-ful: Corvids handle delayed gratification differently than humans — and we could learn from them. (io9/Animals; HT Marginal Revolution)

Nine US fisheries throw away bycatch amounting to nearly half a billion wasted seafood meals (not to mention dolphins, whales and turtles), says a new Oceana report. (The Daily Beast)

D’oh! Increasing elephant density in African parks doesn’t increase ecotourism — and decreases the parks’ biodiversity to boot. (Ecological Applications vis Conservation Magazine)

Can grasslands sequester methane if managed properly? New research says… (Nature) 

Climate Change

The Fifth Assessment Report from the IPCC is due out next week. Knight Science Journalism Tracker rounds up the early stories. (KSJ Tracker)

What will agriculture look like in a climate change future? An overview of the research on predicted crop yields. (NatureClimate)

How seabirds combat climate change — no mistake, seabirds play a part in keeping the planet cool. Find out how. (Science 360)

Eye on the taiga: Rainforests get all the attention but boreal forests are the second “lung” of the planet. (Conservation Bytes)

Climate change = shrinking salamanders? (Futurity.org)

Nature News

Carpe diem: Conservationists work to restore the Los Angeles River for steelhead and other native fish. In the meantime, there’s always carp fishing. (Trout Unlimited)

New study by WHO names air pollution as a major threat. An estimated 7 million people died from air pollution in 2012. (Guardian)

Conservation Tactics

Breaking no new ground: Meet the the former University of Iowa mascot who’s become a zealot for “never-till” farming (and its conservation benefits). (Grist)

Indonesia’s ambitious orangutan action plan has failed to conserve forests or save apes. (Mongabay)

Rewetting the Colorado delta. Can a pulse flood of purchased water make a difference? (UW Madison Center for Limnology, EurekAlert!)

Science Communications

Climate Progress lambasts Nate Silver’s choice of Roger Pielke Jr. to report for FiveThirtyEight.com on climate science. (Climate Progress)

Meanwhile, Pielke Jr. says the increase in natural disaster costs globally over the last 25 years is entirely due to economic growth, not climate change. (FiveThirtyEight.com) 

This & That (Hollywood Version)

Note to Hollywood: Everything you put in your movies about mutant wasps, killer bees, and gigantic mosquitos is, well, wrong. (Smithsonian) 

Birders on film. Has someone finally made a good movie about birding? (or at least one that features yellow-rumped warblers instead of William Hurt’s butt?) (Slate) 

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

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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