Wild Bees and the Pollinator Pantheon

by Paul Glaum

Whenever you see a bumble bee bumbling about its flower of choice, you are witnessing a quiet example of a long and complicated evolutionary process. Over a hundred millions years of interactions between different flowering plants and pollinators have led to an assorted array of unique plant and pollinator species all across the globe. All this plant and pollinator diversity …

Clade Killers II: Things Fall Apart

by Jeff Shi

There is something special about the body. Without a well-defined body, it is difficult to actualize a self in humans. Even for non-human animals, we cannot help but anthropomorphize their endless forms most beautiful into arms and legs and heads – another living self. One of the most horrifying things about sea star wasting disease (SSWD) is the utter distintegration of an …

Cedar, Jelly, Rust, and Apples

by Katie Grzesiak

  The aliens have landed?  All hail His Noodly Appendages?  Shiny Tangela?  Koosh gone wrong?  Or is this one of those Japanese cartoons…? Ok, none of those; it’s a fungus fruiting on the branches of that eastern red cedar. I saw this gall (and quite a few more) on a hike the other week in Ionia County while dodging rainstorms.  It only looks …

Our Slice of the Carbon Cycle: Spread the Pain

by Alex Taylor

As humans around the world grow in wealth and number, our cities and farms are eating into the space and energy available for wild ecosystems. This series so far has focused on ways to be more efficient in our consumption of space and natural resources, to give more breathing room to the living things with which we share this planet. But there’s a geographic component to solving …

The Romance of the Garden: Busy Bees

by Alex Taylor

It’s that time of year again. Here in Michigan, crocuses are coming out, birds are starting to sing, and the air no longer hurts my face. As spring unfurls, my obsessive love of vegetable gardening is also beginning to emerge and bloom again. I feel compelled to write once again about the garden, that tiny kingdom where you can call upon thousands of years …

An Ode to Oak Openings

by Alex Taylor

When European colonists arrived in North America, they marveled at the bountiful forests blanketing the landscape. One ecosystem in particular, the “oak openings,” caught their eye. Stout chestnuts, oaks and hickories littered the ground with nuts, providing rich food for humans and game animals alike. These massive trees stood far apart, letting sunlight to drench the understory and allowing for lush meadows in between, bursting forth with …

Monitoring the Movements of Mysterious Marine Megafauna

by Alex Taylor

In the depths of this arctic February, I have often found my mind wandering to memories of sun-drenched beaches, colorful umbrellas and the smell of sunscreen. But while nothing is more mellow than a day at the beach, I always find my relaxation punctuated by at least a moment or two of awestruck, almost existential unease. When looking out over …

What 3/4 of a giraffe worth of rain and mild weather gets you

by Simon Schreier

The Hoh River

I want to introduce you to a place. When you finish reading this, I want you to have a sense of what makes it so special, and a subtle but persistent desire to go there. So do as Sam Jackson says, and hold onto your butt. By the time I’m done, you’re going to RSVP with a resounding “hell-yes.” The …

The Search for the Null

by Alex Taylor

Schools of brightly colored fish swirl around you as you set up your video monitoring equipment. As a marine ecologist, you’re hoping to get a reasonable census of the relative abundance of different species in this coral reef. With this data, you can begin to ask what might be driving these patterns. Why are parrotfish so common, and triggerfish so rare? Some possible explanations …

Clade-Killers I: An Elegy for the Bats

by Jeff Shi

Years since detection. Infected species. The number of infected US states and Canadian provinces. The ever-increasing body count. The unsustainably high mortality rates (Frick et al. 2010). In some ways, the statistics are sterilizing, objective, and easier to deal with than the stark reality of empty caves, absent roosts, and the silent spring and summer nights. But the numbers are just …