Biology

Word of Mouth
3:08 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Writers On A New England Stage: E.O. Wilson

Biologist and author Edward Osborne "E. O." Wilson
David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with biologist, ecologist and two-time Pulitzer prize-winning author E.O. Wilson. Wilson has spent decades researching some of the biggest scientific riddles of our time - from the origins of human social behavior to saving disappearing species of plants and animals. He’s out with a bold new book that takes on nothing less than The Meaning Of Human Existence. He’ll discuss his ideas on where we came from, what we are and where we’re going.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Something Wild: Hover Flies

Credit Marko Kivelä via flickr Creative Commons

 

While hiking on Mount Monadnock this summer, I witnessed an odd phenomenon: nearly-motionless hovering insects with orange-yellow stripes over a dark body suggesting wasps or bees. The tight aerial formation of insects hovered at eye level in a shaft of sunlight over the trail.

The “Hover Flies” - sometimes called “Flower Flies” - belong to a LARGE group in the Order “Diptera” (the true flies). Those in the Family “Syrphidae” have only one pair of wings. All wasps and bees have two pairs of wings.

Read more
Environment
4:38 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

"Bioblitz" Aims to Catalog All The Species In Two Square Miles In 24-Hours

Jan McClure and Chris Kane stand on top of an abandoned beaver dam, in a complex system of beaver impoundments an area the Nature Conservancy plans to purchase for preservation.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

One of the state’s biggest environmental organizations is finishing the fundraising for a 1,300 acre conservation deal in North Conway. Once it’s finished, the land will be added to the 4,000 existing acres of the Nature Conservancy’s Green Hills Preserve, where it will provide recreation for people, and habitat for plants and animals.

But before the conservancy closes the deal it wants to know what it’s getting, and to figure that out it assembled plant and wildlife experts from all over the state for a sort of naturalist marathon.

Read more
Word of Mouth
1:49 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Famous Germaphobes

Howard Hughes' success is unprecedented, but he also experienced mysophobia within his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Credit anyjazz65 via flickr Creative Commons

We wash. We sanitize. We might wash again, just to make sure. But in the end, we will probably allow ourselves to believe that it (whatever it is – a hand, a dish, a children’s toy that the dog confused for its own) is clean enough. We carry on.

At least, some of us do.

This is the time that all the germaphobes out there reading this raise their sanitized hands and say “Me! Me! That toy is not clean. For the love of Clorox – it is not clean!” Was this your reaction? You may be suffering from mysophobia, the fancy term for “fear of germs.”

Keep calm; you’re in good company.

Read more
Word of Mouth
11:25 am
Mon March 24, 2014

3.24.14: Democracy of Germs, Permafrost Virus, Darth Vader Courthouse & Josh Ritter

Credit Penn State, Kat Masback & Ricky Brigante via flickr Creative Commons and Josh Ritter

Today on Word of Mouth we're exploring the macro influences of the micro world. Then 99 Percent Invisible brings us a story about a menacing courthouse. (Perhaps a phantom menacing courthouse?) Finally, a conversation with Josh Ritter, whose album The Beast in its Tracks was recently released.

Listen to the whole show and click Read more for individual segments.

Read more
Something Wild
12:48 am
Fri February 14, 2014

No Such Thing As Animal Love?

Are these otters in love?
Credit Mark-Spokes.com via flickr Creative Commons

If Valentine's Day alone were not a slippery slope, consider this question: Muskrat Love?

Science long taught its practitioners--biologists in particular--to avoid ascribing human emotions or attributes to animals. But are we not animals ourselves? For the past century, animals were afforded no emotions despite exhibitions of behaviors humans recognize as emotional: anger, revenge, fear, and love.

Read more
Word of Mouth
4:32 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

This Dog Sounds Like A Tent Being Unzipped

Angel-Rose: part Chihuahua, part mystery.
Credit Taylor Quimby

While working on an upcoming story, producer Taylor Quimby got this audio of his dog, Angel-Rose, begging for attention.  He thinks she sounds like a tent zipper.  What do you think?

Word of Mouth
10:02 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Loneliness Can Kill

Credit Vermario vis flickr Creative Commons

Humans are vastly more social than most other mammals. Neuroscientists point to the development of our social brain as key to the survival of our species; early humans survived by cooperating with each other in the rearing of children, by hunting in bands, by organizing night watches. A battery of research reveals that people still need people.

Read more
Word of Mouth
10:30 am
Mon August 26, 2013

A Biologist's Plea To Hollywood: Make 'Real' Animals The Stars

The anatomy of a real snail, in cartoon form.
Credit via wikimedia commons

Turbo is a big budget, animated, kid’s comedy about a snail’s dream to win the Indy 500, though the movie didn’t do as well as studios had hoped, one ecologist thinks it failed on a different level – accuracy. Fictional talking snail aside, Marlene Zuk argues that Turbo was another example in a long line of movies that misrepresent the biology of the animal kingdom. Marlene Zuk is an evolutionary biologist and behavioral ecologist and currently teaches at the University of Minnesota. Her recent opinion piece in the L.A. Times: “Animals to Hollywood: Get it Right” discusses the egregious errors filmmakers make when it comes to animals.

Read more
Word of Mouth
9:55 am
Mon August 26, 2013

When Giant Animals Die Off, Ecosystems Suffer

Illustrations of extinct megafauna.
Credit Travis S. via flickr Creative Commons

Fifteen-thousand years ago, nearly 100 species of large animals known as ‘megafauna’ roamed the amazon forest before going extinct. A team of researchers from oxford and Princeton University studying the ‘megafauna’s’ effects on the ecosystem discovered that they were crucial in maintaining soil fertility.  Chris Doughty is currently a lecturer in ecosystem ecology within the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford, and lead author of a recent study: “The Legacy of the Pleistocene Megafauna Extinctions on Nutrient Availability in Amazonia.”

Read more
Word of Mouth
11:29 am
Wed August 14, 2013

The Male Pill: Birth Control For Men In The Near Future?

Credit Kurt:S via Flickr Creative Commons

It seems like we’ve been hearing for years about a male birth control pill is in development that will  soon be available… so, what’s taking so long? Jalees Rehman is a cell biologist and physician at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He wrote an article for Aeon Magazine discussing what he calls “society’s failure to produce male contraceptive options beyond the condom or the vasectomy,” and spoke with us about the future of the male pill.

Read more
Word of Mouth
10:26 am
Thu July 25, 2013

Leaves Of Three, Let It Be...Right?

Credit Tara Johnson

“Leaves of three, let it be”…even kids and city slickers know the rhyme for identifying poison ivy… how about poison sumac…or oak?  Even experienced hikers can have a tough time separating poisonous plants from harmless vegetation when deep in the woods…Tara Johnson is a field biologist and founder of the e-learning company Naturedigger.  Their new app “Rash Plants” provides a comprehensive pocket guide to identifying and dealing with outdoor irritants.

Read more
Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Fireflies-- Beyond the Magic

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The twinkling fireflies of a summer night bring a little magic. If we think beyond the twinkling, we probably realize it is courtship in progress: the signals of males and females.

There are a couple dozen firefly species in New England, each with a unique series of flashes, from males in flight to females perched below. Beyond the magic, very few people have knowledge of the medical benefits as well: the use of a firefly's light-producing chemicals in bioluminescent imaging.

Read more
EarthTalk
12:00 am
Sun June 9, 2013

Progress On Bio-Fuels

Credit Texas A&M AgriLife

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: How far along are we at developing algae-based and other higher yield sources of biofuels?                                                                                             -- Jason McCabe, Tullahoma, TN

Read more
Word of Mouth
11:32 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Cicadas Aren't The Only Creatures With Bizarre Life Cycles

Credit mark i geo via flickr Creative Commons

You’ve likely heard about the seventeen-year cicada, last seen when the Macarena was popular. Long before the insects began to poke out of the ground along the east coast, the species was making headlines for its wacky life cycle. Nature has plenty of examples of biological oddities… science journalist Brandon Keim compiled a list of nature’s strangest life-cycles for Wired magazine.

Read more

Pages