Plant Zombies, Cannibal Tadpoles & the Fading Tuatara

Tuatara, a lizard-like reptile and the the last of its genus, is edging toward extinction as males outnumber females by 2-to-1. Photo credit: Geoffey Kirk/Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Tuataras, lizard-like reptiles and the last of species in their genus, are edging toward extinction as males outnumber females by 2-to-1. Photo credit: Geoffrey Kirk/Flickr under Creative Commons license.

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:


So many males, so little time. Downward spiral in tuatara population begins with sex imbalance. Climate change could make matters worse. (PLoS One)

Deer, forests, and biodiversity: it turns out that deer aren’t always bad for forests. The relationship is more complex. (Wired Science) 

Plant Zombies? Parasites turn plants into perfect hosts, incapable of reproduction. (Science News)


One good-looking amphibian (and no, not Kermit): pink and yellow frog with spikes discovered in Vietnam. (Nat Geo Weird & Wild)

A tadpole eat tadpole world, but only as a last resort. What drives tadpoles to cannibalism? (New Scientist)

And still more amphibians! Richard Conniff argues the case for woodland salamanders — not bears or owls — as top predator of the eastern forest. (New York Times Science)

Climate Change

Living in a post-Sandy world: What if we all thought like the Dutch? (New York Times)

Why is wind power booming in Texas? Hint: It goes ca-ching. (The Conversation)

Can Years of Living Dangerously reinvigorate the conversation about climate change? (Dot Earth)

Hybrid tomatoes help farmers in Nepal adapt to climate change. (SciDev Net)

Nature News

A constitutional ballot initiative requiring the reintroduction of wolves could be coming to Colorado. (Chas Clifton’s Nature Blog)

Rare oarfish sighting off Mexican coast causes great excitement among biologists. And results in lots of sea monster reports from everyone else. (Huffington Post)

Killifishes killed off: two species may be the latest extinction casualties. (Scientific American) 

Conservation Tactics

Scadinavia’s greenbelt supports sustainable development and conservation through transboundary cooperation. (IUCN)

Traditional risk sharing meets livestock insurance to build drought resilience in Kenya. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Robert Frost would be proud: “living fences” protect livestock from lions and decrease conflict. (Yale Environment 360)

An unconventional plan for strategic cultivation could save Chinese Orchids in the wild. (Conservation Magazine)

Science Communications

Citizen scientists: what motivates quality and quantity of contributions? (PLoS One)

What we’ve always suspected is true: Internet trolls just get a kick out of being mean. (Grist)

Why scientists should blog (or not): Excellent presentation from Dynamic Ecology’s Jeremy Fox. (Dynamic Ecology)

The problem with talking about (and not talking about) tail risk in climate science. (Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media)

This & That

Roger Cohn remembers Peter Matthiessen, who died Saturday. (Yale Environment 360)

An idea-free zone: Nobel Prize winners say they never would have made it in today’s academic and publishing cultures. (Climate Etc.)

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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