Pollinators in peril and need our help

Pollinators are responsible for about one out of every three bites of food people eat. Without them, we would starve

Pollinators in peril and need our helpWe hear with alarming frequency that honey bees are in decline around the globe due to mysterious diseases, climate change, pesticides and habitat loss. But what of the other pollinators – solitary bees, bumblebees, pollen wasps, bee flies, ants, midges, hoverflies, butterflies, moths and beetles? How are they faring? Pollinators don’t have to be tiny…

No evidence predator control will save caribou: study

U of A scientists suggest renewed emphasis on securing habitat rather than culling wolves or fencing in pregnant caribou

No evidence predator control will save caribou: studyAddressing potential threats from predators has not slowed the dramatic decline of mountain caribou in British Columbia and Alberta, according to a new study by scientists from threeWestern Canadian universities. Biologists reassessed data from research published in 2019. The original research has been cited as showing that killing wolves and fencing pregnant caribou are solutions to…

Living close to green space benefits gut bacteria of infants: study

First study of its kind shows formula-fed babies’ gut microbiomes more like those of breastfed babies when they live near natural environments

Living close to green space benefits gut bacteria of infants: studyLiving close to natural green space can mitigate some of the changes in infant gut bacteria associated with formula feeding, according to new research published in the journal Environment International. “Not every infant can be breastfed,” said Anita Kozyrskyj, pediatrics professor at the University of Alberta. “This is one of the first pieces of evidence for a nature-related…

Don’t squish that spider!

We may be genetically programmed to fear spiders, but they're here for a reason. Leave them alone to eat other insects

Don’t squish that spider!“The itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the water spout. …” So many people are afraid of spiders, but I’ll bet almost none of them can tell you why. According to a new study out of Columbia University, it may be genetic. Our ancestors had to fear spiders – in Africa, where our roots all take us,…

Isolation-ish escapes and one dreamy trip to save for 2021

The best little K-Country Lodge you may not know about, three mountain lodges made for escapism, Icelandic dreams

Isolation-ish escapes and one dreamy trip to save for 2021The best little K-Country Lodge you may not know about Mount Engadine Lodge has the warm feeling of walking into an old friend’s cabin: knitted slippers in a basket for guests and a roaring fire in the main entryway are the backdrop for the beautiful mountain views from the dining room. The lodge is located…

Serenaded by cicadas

Their song is produced by a complex vibrating membrane on their sides and a hollow resonant body cavity

Serenaded by cicadasEvery year in late June to mid-July, I await the return of the cicada. (Actually, they never left, but more on that in a moment.) For me, this is the song of summer. As I write, one is serenading me outside my office window. Long after the April rains have passed, May flowers have bloomed…

U of A wildfire expert to head up national research network

New $5-million federal investment will bring together top wildfire scientists to help manage ecosystems, protect communities

U of A wildfire expert to head up national research networkThe University of Alberta will be home to a federal government network whose mission will be to make Canada more resilient to wildfire. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s Canadian Wildfire Strategic Network, in which the federal government is investing $5 million, will bring the best minds in wildfire science together to train students,…

We can – and must – stop our plastic legacy

Countless animals ingest plastics and die. Do we care? Do we care that these plastics are now in the human food chain?

We can – and must – stop our plastic legacyWe often see news items about the environmental impact of single-use plastic straws. And we want to do something, which is good. Costa Rica plans to ban single-use plastics. At a recent G7 summit, the nations condemned single use straws and said they will discuss the matter at a future meeting. But no action has…

Boreal forests offer refuge to plants, animals as climate changes

U of A biologists lead effort to identify lakes, hills and peat lands where species stand a better chance of survival

Boreal forests offer refuge to plants, animals as climate changesNorth America’s boreal forests are warming and drying from climate change. But they still hold places that can offer refuge for plants and animals, according to University of Alberta scientists who have taken the lead in creating a guide to identify those areas. The information about these sheltered places known as climate-change refugia – including…

COVID-19 could reduce wildfire risk this season: expert

Humans account for up to 80% of Alberta’s wildfires in May but that’s likely to change this year as health measures keep people at home

COVID-19 could reduce wildfire risk this season: expertCOVID-19 may cause a drop in spring wildfires as people are still being asked to self-isolate throughout May, Alberta's riskiest fire month, says a University of Alberta expert. “Since we’re still staying at home in May, there are fewer people recreating or working in the forests and human-caused fires will be reduced,” said wildfire scientist Mike…

Buckets of rain put wildlife in peril

With climate change, unrelenting rains can be challenging for wildlife and plants

Buckets of rain put wildlife in perilaa Rain is a good thing. It has so many beneficial properties – a source of drinking water for everything, a source of nutrition for plants and micro-organisms, a refreshing relief from the heat, a mechanism to replenish aquifers and lakes, a means to clean overlooked homes and cars, fun for kids of all ages,…

Applying barnyard lessons to the pandemic aftermath

For many, the current economic climate is very difficult. There are serious challenges ahead

Applying barnyard lessons to the pandemic aftermathIt had rained all day and as I walked that evening with my wife, I noticed the worms on the road, clambering to escape the torrents of water that were flooding their living spaces. Finding a discarded drink cup, I started collecting them for our garden. Counting them as I went, I was taken back…

Exploring Alaska’s remote, enchanting shores

Joining the few privileged to travel to remote and obscure offshore islands like Baby, Unga, Haystacks, Aghyuk and the Aleutians

Exploring Alaska’s remote, enchanting shoresMy anticipation heightened as I waited for my flight. I was about to join the few privileged to explore Alaska beyond the usual ports of call, travelling to remote and obscure offshore islands. Nome Nome is where it all began for me. I was surprised at the appearance of this small coastal community, for it…

Campground cops could help us regain a simple summer pleasure

Campground cops could help us regain a simple summer pleasureMost springs, Canadians are overjoyed just to hear the words “sun” and “temperatures in the pluses.” But this year, they’ve been supplanted by one simple phrase: “We’re flattening the curve.” We are feeling cautious optimism that the very worst of the COVID-19 threat has passed, and that our country is beginning to gain some ground…