Woodpecker Skull Design, Novel Ecosystems, Yawning Wolves and More

Woodpeckers pound their heads repeatedly with no ill effects. What can we learn from them? Photo credit:  Flickr user Andrew Morffew via a Creative Commons 2.0 license

Woodpeckers pound their heads repeatedly with no ill effects. What can we learn from them? Photo credit: Flickr user Andrew Morffew via a Creative Commons 2.0 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

Why don’t woodpeckers get brain damage? (Popular Science)

In Grant’s gazelles, parasites decide who’s boss. (Science)

Yawning is contagious, even for wolves. (National Geographic)

Looks can be deceiving: Pheasant population up, but native prairie and CRP acres still down. (Pheasants Forever)

Amphibious fish, raised on land, show how terrestrial ancestors may have adapted. (Science)

New Research

Could bamboo replace steel? Bamboo fiber composite shows promise to replace steel reinforcements in concrete. (American Ceramic Society)

Koalas and climate change: Hints on how to protect all the specialist folivores. (Conservation Letters)

I hate that new stuff: Are novel ecosystems cheapening restoration policies? (Trends in Evolution and Ecology via Phys Org)

Climate Change

Couples only: Why climate change shouldn’t be a single Sustainable Development Goal. (SciDev.net)

Committed CO2 emissions — social and financial inertia – still growing. Plus bonus video explainer. (Science Insider)

Nature News

Rare grassland animals find a protected haven on Tribal lands. (New York Times Science)

Deadly free fall: monarch butterfly population in precipitous decline; legal petition seeks “threatened” status. (International Business Times)

Explained: The wandering stones of Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa. (Nature)

Conservation Tactics

How recording the DNA of trees could undercut illegal logging. (Mongabay)

A small island community’s big plans for marine conservation. (Dot Earth)

E.O. Wilson’s audacious plan: half the planet for wildlife. (Smithsonian)

Sure beats license plates: prisons and sustainability. (Aeon Film)

Science Communications

Happy hour: Imagine taking a conservation scientist out for a drink, and all you hear is good news. (Mongabay)

Open up, please: Why ecologists have been slow to share data — and how to change that. (Scientific Data/Nature)

Breaking the deadlock on climate change communication? One open–access editorial, plus two commentaries (1, 2) behind the paywall. (Nature Climate Change)

Fewer than 5% of papers in the top 20 conservation biology journals are open access. Is that any way to inform a global conversation?  (Conservation Biology)

This and That

Corey Bradshaw gets high (ecologically speaking) on the Tibetan Plateau (Conservation Bytes)


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.



Comments: Woodpecker Skull Design, Novel Ecosystems, Yawning Wolves and More

  •  Comment from Ted

    Thank you for including “E.O. Wilson’s audacious plan” (Smithsonian) in your list of articles. It represents the sort of aggressive, visionary plan that could actually save much of the earth’s biodiversity. Another great project along these same lines is being run by the American Prairie Reserve http://www.americanprairie.org

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