Looking Into the Past Cetacean Style
Add whale baleen (the structures that facilitate filter feeding in the Mysticeti family*) to the list of biological structures that provide time series of data. Researchers can analyze both stress and reproductive hormone levels along the length of baleen, thereby providing a multi-year physiological profile of an animal. It’s easy to see how this could inform conservation by comparing hormone levels to potential stressors in populations such as noise, boating activity, or pollution load.
*- Note the Mysticeti are a sub-order within the Cetacean that have baleen, the other sub-order, Odontoceti, have teeth.
Outreach as Echo Chamber
There’s a lot of talk about how scientists need to do more outreach to educate the general public. An underlying assumption is that the public wants to know more about science but needs engagement brought to them. This short commentary challenges this assumption by noting that participants at science festivals are better educated and already have a propensity to learn about science. This leads to the grand challenge of SciComm: how do you communicate with people not already interested in science? Anyone with suggestions regardless of medium (blogging, Twitter, in-person events, etc) let us know in the comments!