Snake Fungal Disease: The White-Nose Syndrome for Reptiles?

Researchers in Vermont were tracking the movements of timber rattlesnakes for conservation planning, but they also made an unexpected discovery: snake fungal disease. Could these lesions be deadly to snakes ? Could it affect snake populations the way white-nose syndrome affects bats?

Matthew L. Miller

Snakes on a Cliff: Rattler Research in Vermont

There could be a rattlesnake anywhere: Join researchers as they scamper up rocky slopes while tracking snakes in Vermont, all to gain a better understanding of the timber rattler's movements, habits and health. Just watch where you put your hands.

Matthew L. Miller

Matchmaking for Elms: Restoring America’s Iconic Tree Through Genetics

Christian Marks runs a dating service. For elm trees.

Matthew L. Miller

For Some Elephants, an Uncertain — But Not Stressful — Future

Do savannah elephants get stressed when living near people? The answer is in their poop.

Darci Palmquist

Bison Bellows and Bones: Student-Scientists on the Prairie

Bison fighting and urinating on themselves? It's just another day at the office for student researchers on TNC's Ordway Prairie.

Matthew L. Miller

Boucher’s Birding Blog: Apps for the Smart Birder — Which One Should You Use?

Need an app that helps you identify birds in the field? Don’t bother searching for “birds” in any app store. Unless that thrush happens to be angry, those dozens of Angry Bird apps that pop up won’t be of any use to you.

Timothy Boucher

The Traveling Naturalist: Solid Gold in the Rockies

<i>Introducing The Traveling Naturalist, a new series featuring natural wonders and biological curiosities for the science-inclined wanderer.</i> The Rocky Mountains in the spring are a <b>botanist’s delight</b>, with many hills, mountain meadows and buttes awash in color. Wildflowers – many of them with interesting natural and human histories – can be easily found on your public lands. Some exist in bright but tiny cluster on alpine peaks while others cover meadows in a palette of seemingly solid color. <b>My favorite</b>: the flower that paints many foothills bright gold throughout the West, <a href="http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/balsamorhiza_sagittata.shtml"><b>arrowleaf balsamroot</b></a> (<i>Balsamorhiza sagittata). </i>

Matthew L. Miller

Wild Pollinators Are Critical in Keeping our Picnic Baskets Full

Bees may seem like uninvited guests at your picnic – but before you shoo them away from the fruit salad, think twice, as they play a critical role in making your picnic possible. Some of the most healthful, picnic favorites – including blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber, avocados and almonds – would not make it to the table without the essential work by bees and other insects. Most crops depend on pollinating insects to produce seeds or fruits. In fact, about <a href="http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/274/1608/303.long"><b>three-quarters</b></a><b> of global food crops</b><b> </b><b>require insect pollination </b>to thrive; <b>one-third of our calories and the </b><a href="http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0021363"><b>majority of critical micronutrients</b></a>, such as vitamins A, C and E, come from animal-pollinated food crops.

Christina Kennedy

The Monarch Butterfly Decline, and What You Can Do About It

A recent report shows monarch butterflies have declined 59 percent in the past year. The reasons may surprise you. And you can help.

Matthew L. Miller

The Yucca and its Moth

It sounds too good to be true; two species helping each other survive for millions of years—each getting as much as they give.

Chris Helzer

Everyday Nature: Cartoonish Coot Chicks

<b>Most baby birds, cute though they may be, are not exactly colorful</b>. This makes good evolutionary sense: Baby birds, unable to fly, make easy meals for predators. They thus must blend into their surroundings. A drake mallard or canvasback is a colorful, striking water bird, but baby ducks are nondescript. They disappear into the marshy reeds, making it harder for a hungry raccoon or mink to find them. <b>Not so the <a href="http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/american_coot/lifehistory">American coot</a></b>. Adult coots are fairly drab birds. But their babies? <b>They look like they were designed by a deranged tattoo artist.</b> The front half of the coot’s body is covered in orange-tipped plumes, giving them a jarring appearance. We’re not used to seeing baby birds covered bright feathers. <b>While this orange fades rather quickly</b>—in about six days—it still leaves them conspicuous when they are at the most vulnerable stage of their lives. This coloration makes them more susceptible to predation. <b>What advantage would such feathers possibly confer?</b>

Matthew L. Miller

Big Fish: Rodent-Eating Trout

Key up the Jaws soundtrack. For years, anglers have claimed Silver Creek's brown trout feed on rodents. Does the science back them up?

Matthew L. Miller