Augustana grad eager to share her love of the outdoors with others

Everyone should have the chance to connect with nature and understand its importance to our lives, Kate Corrigan believes

Augustana grad eager to share her love of the outdoors with othersKate Corrigan still has blister scars from backpacking up to the base of Mount Robson during a high school field trip, but it was that first trek that sparked a passion for the great outdoors. “For me, the outdoors is a place to disconnect, to reconnect. You’re away from the stress of work, school, social…

Gypsy moths have invaded North America. What can we do?

Insects are already in serious decline throughout the world, so killing insects for the sake of killing them seems ill-advised

Gypsy moths have invaded North America. What can we do?This seems to be a good year for gypsy moths and a bad one for people who love trees. Have you never seen a gypsy moth? This might be the best time to find them. Look for a light to dark brown, medium-sized moth flying in a seemingly erratic way. These are the males. They’re…

Nationwide citizen science program critical for bird conservation

Canadian Nightjar Survey recruits volunteer citizen scientists for the study of nocturnal birds

Nationwide citizen science program critical for bird conservationTen years ago, University of Alberta PhD candidate Elly Knight started a volunteer citizen science program. Since then, the Canadian Nightjar Survey has grown from a single volunteer in southern British Columbia to several hundred citizen scientists across the country – and more volunteers are needed. Their mission? To monitor the nightjars that breed in Canada. These fascinating,…

Cannabis should not be taken during pregnancy: study

New U of A research has implications for prenatal development in humans

Cannabis should not be taken during pregnancy: studyZebrafish exposed to the leading cannabinoids found in cannabis in the earliest stages of development suffer a significant drop in neural activity later in life, according to a University of Alberta study that has implications for prenatal development in humans. Richard Kanyo, the lead author on the study and post-doctoral fellow in the Faculty of Medicine…

Scientists reveal the secret lives of Canada lynx

Cutting-edge recording technology captures never-before-heard sounds of the elusive boreal predators hunting, fighting and sleeping

Scientists reveal the secret lives of Canada lynxUsing a Fitbit and a spy mic, University of Alberta scientists have revealed new insights into the behaviour of the elusive Canada lynx. The research provides a first look at how miniaturized technology can open the door to remote wildlife monitoring. “Working on one of the boreal forest’s top predators, the Canada lynx, we found…

Is your cat outside killing wildlife right now?

Cats have contributed to the extinction of 33 species worldwide

Is your cat outside killing wildlife right now?What a lovely sight! Look at Patches as she heads out for her morning jaunt in the fields near her home. How cute is she as she tiptoes through the dew-drenched grass, trying her best to keep her paws dry? Millions of cats do exactly this every day, and the outcome is always devastating for…

Bears that mark more trees more successful in mating

Brown bears that rub against trees more often tend to have more offspring and more mates

Bears that mark more trees more successful in matingBrown bears that are more inclined to grate and rub against trees have more offspring and more mates, according to a University of Alberta study. The results suggest there might be a fitness component to the poorly understood behaviour. “As far as we know, all bears do this dance, rubbing their back up against the…

The elegant and essential cones of coniferous trees

Many birds explore the nooks and crannies of these seed-bearing pods as they try to pry the seeds loose or find minute insects

The elegant and essential cones of coniferous treesAs we welcome spring, we see the remnants of pine and spruce cones previously covered by snow. Few of us think about how important these cones are to the floral and faunal communities – as food and to ensure the next generation of trees is born. Many species of coniferous trees produce cones – pines,…

Snake jaw structure yields new understanding of evolutionary origins

Study re-examining what early snakes might have looked like

Snake jaw structure yields new understanding of evolutionary originsNew research led by a University of Alberta graduate student could lead to reimagining what early snakes might have looked like, suggesting that some of the world’s supposedly simplest snakes have a more complex evolutionary history than traditionally thought. Snakes are broadly divided into two groups based on their feeding mechanisms: macrostomatan snakes, able to…

How we can keep birds from crashing into windows and dying

Bird Safe Buildings Across Canada and other organizations are working hard to encourage building owners to take bird-saving measures

How we can keep birds from crashing into windows and dyingEver since European settlers occupied North America, our influences on avian populations have varied between positive and devastatingly negative. I would love to just write about the good stuff, but an important issue needs to be discussed: windows and how they can be deadly to birds. A new grassroots organization has been founded by a…

Why birds sing before winter weather breaks

Many species court and breed in the dead of winter

Why birds sing before winter weather breaksWe may sometimes feel as if we’re still locked in the dead of winter, but to birds, mammals, insects and even plants, things are changing. Faithful readers will recall how I recently explained that my trees were getting ‘fat,’ as the buds enlarge in anticipation of spring. But they’re not alone in their rush towards…

How changing boreal forests could affect caribou

Researchers examine what logging, climate change and other factors mean for caribou populations

How changing boreal forests could affect caribouNew research by University of Alberta biologists paints a clearer picture of how food webs are shifting in response to changing habitats in Canada’s boreal forests, and what it means for dwindling caribou populations. “We know that habitat, prey and predators such as wolves are all pieces of the caribou conservation puzzle, and here we…

Ancient moccasin suggests Dene migrated farther south than thought

Artifact found in a cave in Utah reveals precolonial connection between Canadian Subarctic and American Southwest

Ancient moccasin suggests Dene migrated farther south than thoughtA piece of leather from an 800-year-old moccasin found in a Utah cave has helped researchers retrace the ancient steps of a remarkable migration that saw some Dene (Athapaskan) people leave their homes in the continent’s Subarctic and eventually create new homes scattered across the southern United States as Dineh (Navajo) and Ndee (Apache) ancestors,…

Are owls wise, all-seeing and good luck – or harbingers of calamity?

One superstition about owls had it that making a potion from the ash of owl eggs improved vision

Are owls wise, all-seeing and good luck – or harbingers of calamity?Folklore abounds with superstition related to owls. I thought it might be fun to share some superstitions I’ve gleaned about owls, since this is the best time of year to see them. These nocturnal creatures often appear in horror films since tufts of feathers on the top of some owls’ heads give them the appearance…

How zebra finches choose materials for their nests

U of A scientists find that learning and past success play a role in how birds build their nests

How zebra finches choose materials for their nestsWhen building a nest, previous experience raising chicks will influence the choices birds make, according to a new study by University of Alberta scientists. The results show that birds that have successfully raised families stick with tried-and-true methods when building their nests, whereas less successful birds will try something new. “We found that when presented…
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