Plastic from Methane, Toxic Toads & Robo-Crocodiles

The Asian common toad -- newly arrived in Madagascar -- is toxic to many native species of predators. Though the newcomers are not yet widespread, researchers urge quick action to prevent an ecological crisis. Photo credit: Thomas Brown/Flickr

The Asian common toad — newly arrived in Madagascar — is toxic to many native species of predators. Though the newcomers are not yet widespread, researchers urge quick action to prevent an ecological crisis. Photo credit: Thomas Brown/Flickr via a 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 on the Internets — and share the best of it with you every week in The Cooler:

Biodiversity & Wildlife

Only about 10% of polar bears in the Arctic Islands are having cubs as the Arctic climate changes. (The Guardian)

One insect’s grave is another’s nest: from the kinda’-creepy file. (Not Exactly Rocket Science)

Video: Cliff swallows do maneuvers that would make human test pilots pass out. (Science)

Get up close and personal with rare African wild dogs in Botswana. (Good Nature Travel)

Moth lover urges birders to come on over to the “dark side.” (Audubon)

New Research

Coming soon, your plastic could be made from waste methane and biodegradable too! (Science 360)

Rarity and commonness among marine species: why biodiversity theory needs a better explanation. (PNAS)

China’s fight against pollution is good for the air, but bad for the economy (for now). (Quartz)

The mysterious science of fire. (The Atlantic)

Climate Change

Rapid climate warming encourages hybridization of invasive and native fish species. (Nature Climate)

Thinning ice offers (relatively) hospitable new habitat for microbes. (Wired)

April showers ≠ May flowers: Seasonal rainfall determines grassland biomass response to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide. (Nature)

Credit rating agencies just realizing that climate change is a threat to world economies. (Quartz)

Nature News

World Bank restructuring breaks silos and rattles staff. (New York Times)

Rewilding Romania: the return of the European Bison. (The Guardian)

Un-princely: Toxic toads are threatening ecological disaster in Madagascar. (Nature)

A lousy homecoming: Wolf returns to Iowa after 89-year absence. And is promptly shot. (Focusing on Wildlife)

Conservation Tactics

Ecorangers armed with GPS are preserving grasslands and protecting livestock in South Africa. (Conservation International)

A hearing test for belugas could help marine mammal protection in increasingly noise seas. (Conservation Magazine)

Clean water = liberty. Period. (Field & Stream)

Robo-boats disguised as crocodiles sneakily study hippo poo. (Popular Science)

Science Communications

On the fence about scientists blogging? CJA Bradshaw has 11 reasons why they should. (Conservation Bytes)

Green pairs: Parents more likely than singles to be green in thought and deed. (Plugged In/Scientific American)

From the Words Matter department: Should scientists call it Climate Change or Global Warming? (Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies)

Science diaries improve student motivation in science. (

This & That

Scholarly Kitchen editor Kent Anderson cooks up a fresh and useful stew of do’s and don’ts for innovators.(Scholarly Kitchen)

Why do humans love watching animals? Evolution…plus. (Aeon)

Light across water: How people in 32 countries regard water, through the lens of Mustafah Abdulaziz. (Roads & Kingdoms)

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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