Ocean Temperatures Keep Shattering Records—and Stunning Scientists

So what’s going on here? For one, the oceans have been steadily warming over the decades, absorbing something like 90 percent of the extra heat that humans have added to the atmosphere. “The oceans are our saviors, in a way,” says biological oceanographer Francisco Chavez of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California. “Things … Read more

Here’s Scientific Proof Your Cat Will Eat Almost Anything

Don’t let their fluff fool you: Your cat was built for murder. Felines, no matter how chonky, eepy, or boopable, are remarkably adaptable obligate carnivores, down to eat just about anything that fits in their mouth. Well-intentioned (or … threatening?) gifts of dead birds, rats, and lizards are familiar to outdoor cat owners—even my shockingly … Read more

Cicadas Are So Loud, Fiber Optic Cables Can ‘Hear’ Them

One of the world’s most peculiar test beds stretches above Princeton, New Jersey. It’s a fiber optic cable strung between three utility poles that then runs underground before feeding into an “interrogator.” This device fires a laser through the cable and analyzes the light that bounces back. It can pick up tiny perturbations in that … Read more

California’s Giant Sequoias Are in Big Trouble

According to Blom, whose group favors thinning dense stands of young trees and reducing accumulations of vegetation and woody debris from the forest floor through prescribed burns or mechanical methods, there are about 26,000 acres of land to be cleared in all 80 sequoia groves on federal land, with some 8,000 acres already treated. On … Read more

The Fight Against the Smallmouth Bass Invasion of the Grand Canyon

Today, however, four of those fish—the humpback chub, the Colorado pikeminnow, the razorback sucker, and the bonytail—are federally listed as threatened or endangered. Lake Powell commandeered the Colorado’s payloads of silt and stymied natural floods, erasing channels and backwaters where chubs and suckers once spawned and reared. And smallmouth bass and other invasive species devastated … Read more

The Vampire Bat Is Moving Closer to the US. That’s a Problem

But vampire bats represent a new threat because they feed on the blood of other animals. Their usual victims are livestock, and occasionally wild mammals and birds. Using their sharp front teeth, they make a small incision in their victim’s skin and lap up a teaspoon or two of blood with their tongues. The bites … Read more

Chum Salmon Are Spawning in the Arctic. It’s an Ominous Sign

By laying eggs in the rivers, the chum salmon might actually help native fishes by providing food for them. These frigid Arctic waters aren’t particularly productive, biologically speaking, meaning there isn’t normally a tremendous amount for native species like Dolly Varden and Arctic char to eat. “When salmon are spawning, it’s just a natural part … Read more

Why Scientists Are Bugging the Rainforest

Bioacoustics can’t fully replace ecology fieldwork, but can provide reams of data that would be extremely expensive to collect by merely sending scientists to remote areas for long stretches of time. With bioacoustic instruments, researchers must return to collect the data and swap batteries, but otherwise the technology can work uninterrupted for years. “Scaling sampling … Read more

Abandoned Farms Are a Hidden Resource for Restoring Biodiversity

Southern Europe is not so different. Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal never had collective farms, but the inexorable aging of their populations and the exodus of young people to cities is emptying villages and leaving fields and pastures untended. Francesco Cherubini of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology calculates that in the past three … Read more

In Defense of the Rat

Suddenly, Franks realized she had another meeting to get to, and here she was in a room full of free-ranging rats. She couldn’t just open the door and leave—rats would surely escape. But catching each rat and putting it back into the hutch would take forever. “I think, you know, we should probably get them … Read more