Here is a video of some bears wandering around in a backyard. This was the first time the owner saw bears in their backyard. The bears found a great source of food in the apple tree. It is exciting to see nature in our own backyards. Though admittedly most people could would rather have nature be limited to animals that cannot harm them or their family.
Posts about nature
Large Crabs Invading Antarctic as Waters Warm
Large crabs are invading the Antarctic environment and due to their numbers and practices could cause havoc. They look yummy though. And eating them would be doing nature a favor unlike the overfishing of the oceans. Abstract of the open access article, A large population of king crabs in Palmer Deep on the west Antarctic Peninsula shelf and potential invasive impacts:
Fun Webcast from WWF: Astonish Me
Made in celebration of the World Wildlife Fund‘s 50th anniversary.
Related: Macropinna Microstoma: Fish with a Transparent Head – 1,000 Species Discovered in Greater Mekong in Last Decade – 2,000 Species New to Science from One Remote Island – World’s Smallest Snake Found in Barbados
Evolution in New York City Wildlife
Evolution Right Under Our Noses by Carl Zimmer
Dr. Wirgin and his colleagues were intrigued to discover that the Hudson’s population of tomcod, a bottom-dwelling fish, turned out to be resistant to PCBs. “There was no effect on them at all,” Dr. Wirgin said, “and we wanted to know why.”
In March, he and his colleagues reported that almost all the tomcod in the Hudson share the same mutation in a gene called AHR2. PCBs must first bind to the protein encoded by AHR2 to cause damage. The Hudson River mutation makes it difficult for PCBs to grab onto the receptor, shielding the fish from the chemical’s harm.
The AHR2 mutation is entirely missing from tomcod that live in northern New England and Canada. A small percentage of tomcod in Long Island and Connecticut carry the mutation. Dr. Wirgin and his colleagues concluded that once PCBs entered the Hudson, the mutant gene spread quickly.
Carl Zimmer again does a good job of explaining science in an engaging way. It is interesting to learn about science and evolution in urban environments. Lots of life manages to survive the challenges of urban life and it is interesting to learn what scientists are finding about that life.
Related: Trying to Find Pest Solutions While Hoping Evolution Doesn’t Exist Doesn’t Work – Microcosm by Carl Zimmer – New Yorkers Help Robot Find Its Way in the Big City – Parasite Rex – Backyard Wildlife: Great Spreadwing Damselfly
Hydromedusae, Siphonophora, Cnidarians, Ctenophores
Jellyfish is a common name for gelatinous water dwelling animals. The diversity of these invertebrates is amazing. And what actually counts as a jellyfish is not easy to determine. Watch this great video to learn about Cnidarians, Urochordata, Polychaetes and Ctenophores.
Image of Map Showing Concentration of Life in Oceans
This image shows the abundance of life in the sea, measured by the SeaWiFS instrument aboard the Seastar satellite. Dark blue represents warmer areas where there is little life due to lack of nutrients, and greens and reds represent cooler nutrient-rich areas.
The nutrient-rich areas include coastal regions where cold water rises from the sea floor bringing nutrients along and areas at the mouths of rivers where the rivers have brought nutrients into the ocean from the land. NASA has posted a large gallery of great images for Earth Day.
Backyard Wildlife: Robins Attack Holly Tree
Robins like to attack my holly tree and feed on the berries. Getting photos of them is hard but there are lots of them flying around all excited (I did manage to catch one of them in the photo on the left). This tree was actually here when I moved in but I also do try to nurture and add plants that feed wildlife. I like just planting things that will feed and shelter birds (and others) rather than filling bird feeders myself. There is information on how to use your backyard to promote wildlife.
Backyard Wildlife: Walking Leaf
See some more great photos of the hike on Penang Island in Malaysia, from the Capturing Penang blog.
Volleyball Sized Hail
On July 23, 2010, a severe thunderstorm struck Vivian, South Dakota, USA, a quiet rural community of less than 200. While there was nothing unusual about a violent summer storm, the softball (and larger)-sized hail that accompanied it was extraordinary. In fact, it led to the discovery of the largest hailstone ever recorded in the United States.
Once the thunderstorm passed, Vivian resident Les Scott ventured outside to see if there was any damage as a result of the storm. He was surprised to see a tremendous number of large hailstones on the ground, including one about the size of a volleyball. Scott gathered up that stone, along with a few smaller ones, and placed them in his freezer.
How does hail form?
- Inside of a thunderstorm are strong updrafts of warm air and downdrafts of cold air.
- If a water droplet is picked up by the updrafts…it can be carried well into colder zones and the water droplet freezes.
- As the frozen droplet begins to fall, carried by cold downdrafts, it may partially thaw as it moves into warmer air toward the bottom of the thunderstorm
- But, if the little half-frozen droplet get picked up again by another updraft and is carried back into very cold air it will re-freeze. With each trip above and below the freezing level our frozen droplet adds another layer of ice.
- Finally, the frozen hail, with many layers of ice, much like the rings in a tree falls to the ground.
According to NOAA, the Kansas City hail storm on April 10, 2001 was the costliest hail storm in the U.S. which caused damages of an estimated $2 billion.
Ants, Ants, Ants
“Ants: The Invisible Majority” including Dr. Brian Fisher, chairman of the Department of Entomology at the Cal Academy of Sciences looking for ants in San Francisco. He created AntWeb, an online resource. The video discusses the Argentine Ant super colonies.
White House Bee Hive
The White House added a bee hive last year. An Excellent White House Bee Adventure
During the 2008 campaign, Michelle Obama emphasized healthy, local food, and since arriving here has tasked her family’s personal chef, Sam Kass, with putting a garden in to supply fresh produce for the Executive Mansion and educational events for the community. Charlie realized that this was a chance to include bees, and to show their important role in putting one of every three bites on your plate. Charlie allocated (free of charge, people!) one of his own hives for the White House Victory Garden, and it will both provide hive products and an teaching opportunities.
Related: Bee Colony Collapse Continues – Virus Found to be One Likely Factor in Bee Colony Collapse Disorder – President Obama Speaks on Getting Students Excited About Science and Engineering – Bye Bye Bees – The Great Sunflower Project