What We’re Reading- July 14, 2017

Words Matter A thought provoking opine which asks scientists if we’re being too careful with our words?  The authors discuss how the use of euphemisms to describe environmental challenges, scientific results, and interpretation/recommendations undermines conservation objectives, specifically of changing human behaviors.  They also challenge scientists to understand how we internalize euphemisms to justify our work…

Top 10 Reasons Science is Patriotic

Patriotism is defined as “having or showing great love and support for your country.” This Fourth of July, American bloggers Stephanie Schuttler and Emily Puckett show how supporting science reflects great love and support for the United States of America and is a democratic process in and of itself. Science inspires. Scientific and technological innovations made…

What is Urban Evolution?

In 2009 the United Nations reported that half of the world’s human population lived in cities and was expected to grow to 66% by 2050.  The movement of people from dispersed living to concentration in urban environments is a large change both for human civilization and for the environment.  Urbanization is the process of changing…

What’s the Biodiversity Within Your Closet?

Conservationists and other nature lovers frequently advocate to save or increase biodiversity, but what exactly is biodiversity? One conjures up images of rainforests, coral reefs or animal clipart arranged artistically. These hint at the concept of biodiversity, which on the surface, seems simple, but gets more complicated once you try to measure it (even for…

What We’re Reading- June 16, 2017

Ectotherms and Climate Change Ectotherms regulate their body temperature using external heat sources; for example, turtles bask in the sun or on hot rocks to warm up, then retreat to the shade when they become over heated.  Increasing temperatures due to climate change are expected to have physiological effects on animals and plants.  Heat shock…

What We’re Reading- May 26, 2017

Protect Krill to Protect Whales We previously wrote about the importance of krill (marine invertebrates) for supporting oceanic ecosystems.  This paper (sub) compared the movement of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangiliae) to tonnage of krill harvested around the West Antarctic peninsula.  The authors found a correlation between spatial areas where the whales spent the most time and…

What We’re Reading- May 19, 2017

Genetic Diversity of Snow Leopards Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are endemic to the Altai, Himalaya, and Tibetan uplifts and adapted to high-altitude environments.  They are currently listed as an endangered species by IUCN.  This new paper investigated genetic diversity of snow leopards across their range.  They found that the cats have low genetic diversity in…

What We’re Reading- April 28, 2017

Next-Generation Microsatellites What if conservation’s favorite marker (the microsatellite) could be sequenced and genotyped from next-generation data?  This paper (sub) is the latest showing that possibility and specifically introduces a genotyping and phasing tool: HipSTR.  Microsatellites have propelled much of conservation genetics and users are familiar with data analysis and interpretation of results.  As next-generation…

We Marched for Science- Now What?

Like many of you I joined a local March for Science this past Saturday (April 22, 2017).  Local for me is New York City, so I enjoyed a pretty large march (~20k) with fellow scientists, engineers, physicians and nurses, environmental advocates, science supporters, and their spouses and kids.  I enjoyed the pithy signs and marching…

What We’re Reading- April 7, 2017

Detecting Disease from Skin Swabs Chytrid (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is a fungal disease causing amphibian die offs around the world (we wrote about it here).  Given its wide distribution both on hosts and geographically, there’s no surprise that there is genomic variation.  Scientists are interested in this variation to understand virulence, host specificity, and patterns of…

Is Model Emily Ratajkowski Hurting or Helping Sea Turtles?

*This post was updated on April 6th, 2017.  I get a daily alert from Vogue magazine (I know, shocking!). Today, I clicked on a link to check out model Emily Ratajkowski’s vacation photos from Mexico and was shocked to see her Instagram holding a baby sea turtle. This is bad for so many reasons. I am writing…