Who doesn’t want to eat a meadow vole?

Meadow Vole poop is an essential source of nutrients for grasses and other plants where they forage

Who doesn’t want to eat a meadow vole?It’s easy to admire big animals, but without tiny critters nothing can survive. From the soil insects, micro-organisms and small mammals that become food for predators up through the food chain, everything relies on something smaller to survive. One of the most overlooked mammals is the Meadow Vole. It’s a small mouse-like animal that lives…

The science behind what attracts and repels pesky mosquitoes

One simple tip to get some natural protection is to wear light-coloured clothing

The science behind what attracts and repels pesky mosquitoesIt’s nearly impossible to head outdoors during the summer without coming across mosquitoes – and experiencing the itch-inducing bites they bestow. But as irritating as those bites may be, mosquitoes are a necessary part of the ecosystem. “Both the larvae and the adults are food sources for other insects such as dragonflies, amphibians, birds and…

Why do birds really migrate in the fall?

It isn't so much to escape the cold but to find enough food to survive

Why do birds really migrate in the fall?I get both excited and saddened at this time of year. In the spring, I await the return of the birds and then all summer long I enjoy their song, but in the fall I know they will soon be migrating south. The young have fledged and the adult birds have put on enough weight…

How to be eco-friendly when mowing your lawn

Helping insects survive is more valuable than practically anything else we do to help nature

How to be eco-friendly when mowing your lawnI recently wrote about haying and the delicate balance between harvesting a crop and protecting nesting birds. Today, I would like to offer some advice to help us protect the beauty and functionality of our properties while simultaneously protecting wildlife. Why should we care? Wildlife is more than just an attractive feature of the landscape;…

Fall is in the air and trees are changing colour

We are fortunate to live in a part of the world where our four seasons are distinct

Fall is in the air and trees are changing colourAutumn is a time of reflection. I love the fall as it is both a time of awe-inspiring colours and a foreboding of winter soon to come … but the former somehow overshadows the latter for me. We are fortunate to live in a part of the world where our four seasons are distinct and…

Lime shows promise for controlling clubroot in canola crops

Spot-treating soil with lime could give farmers another option to stem the costly disease and improve soil health

Lime shows promise for controlling clubroot in canola cropsLime is showing promise as an additional way to help manage clubroot, a deadly disease in canola crops, University of Alberta research shows. Spot-treating soil with the mineral reduced the overall occurrence and severity of the disease by 35 to 91 per cent, growth experiments showed. The finding, published in the Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology,…

Canada Jay is the best choice to be our national bird

The Jay lives and breeds from coast to coast to coast

Canada Jay is the best choice to be our national birdMy friend and colleague Dr. David Bird, formerly of McGill University, has been driving a movement to have a national bird declared for Canada. Although many thought it was a done deal already and we had affirmed the Canada Jay as our national bird, Canada has not yet done so. Starting in 2016, the community…

What to do when you see wildlife on urban trails

Four tips on making wildlife encounters of every description safe and enjoyable for all parties

What to do when you see wildlife on urban trailsIt seems one can’t swing a cat without hitting a coyote, a jackrabbit, a Canada goose, or a bear – and not just in the far-flung wilderness. Wildlife encounters are now common in cities, with urban populations of coyotes, skunks and Canada geese increasing throughout North America. Here are four tips on making wildlife encounters…

Running Everest Marathon takes a community to reach your goals

Edmontonian Kate Storey ran the 42.2-km Everest Marathon. It took her seven and a half hours

Running Everest Marathon takes a community to reach your goals  When you hear stories about Everest, they usually involve people trying to get up the mountain. Not for Kate Storey. At the end of May, she ran the Everest Marathon – a 42.2-km race down the mountain from Everest’s South Base Camp that took her seven and a half hours. She finished as the second-quickest international…

Parasites may be taking heavy toll on mammal populations

May not kill, but have heavy effect on mammals overall health

Parasites may be taking heavy toll on mammal populationsA new study looking at research on parasitic worms suggests the pesky, but pervasive creatures have a far greater impact on the health of mammal populations than previously known. “Parasites don't have to kill the animal to control a population,” says Kyle Shanebeck, a PhD student in the Faculty of Science’s Department of Biological Sciences…

There’s room for everyone in nature – if we’re respectful

The only time we need to stand up is when nature is negatively impacted by someone’s actions

There’s room for everyone in nature – if we’re respectfulI sometimes wonder how people with disparate desires share a common resource while respecting other people’s differing ideals and goals. I’m a dedicated birdwatcher, as I think you might have figured out by now. Years ago, I went to Rondeau Provincial Park in Ontario to look for a very rare bird – a sage thrasher…

Researchers create new method for making lifelike aquatic artificial habitats

Studying living habitats that attract and retain different organisms is crucial in restoration planning

Researchers create new method for making lifelike aquatic artificial habitatsResearchers have devised a new method of making lifelike aquatic artificial habitats that could help scientists better understand and restore real-world environments. Aneri Garg, who completed the research as part of her master’s studies under the supervision of Stephanie Green, first developed the 3D scanning, printing, moulding and casting (3D-SPMC) method on a project involving coral reefs. As…

When is the right time to mow hay fields to protect birds?

Knowing birds' behaviour and nesting habits allows nesting and mowing to coexist

When is the right time to mow hay fields to protect birds?Every year about his time I feel sadness for the many birds and small mammals killed by haying. I know there are many and varied reasons why fields are cut, and I respect that, so please don’t think I am criticizing farmers. Mowing hay fields is a necessary and important part of agriculture. We forget…

New strains of wheat sought with built-in resistance to wheat midge

There’s currently only one genetic defence to protect from wheat midge – but researchers want to change that

New strains of wheat sought with built-in resistance to wheat midge Agricultural scientists in Western Canada are teaming up to give wheat a boost of built-in resistance to a destructive pest. “Wheat midge is the number one insect pest threatening wheat crops across Western Canada,” says James Harynuk, a professor in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Science. Harynuk notes that wheat midge can cause about $60…

Can beavers catch chronic wasting disease?

New research suggests beavers may be susceptible to the fatal illness – increasing spread between species

Can beavers catch chronic wasting disease?Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an infectious disease that affects the central nervous systems of animals, typically affecting cervids such as deer, elk and moose. “CWD is always fatal. There’s no cure; there are no treatments,” says Debbie McKenzie, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. CWD is increasing its geographic range as well…
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