Scientists reveal the secret lives of Canada lynx

Cutting-edge recording technology captures never-before-heard sounds of the elusive boreal predators hunting, fighting and sleeping

Scientists reveal the secret lives of Canada lynxUsing a Fitbit and a spy mic, University of Alberta scientists have revealed new insights into the behaviour of the elusive Canada lynx. The research provides a first look at how miniaturized technology can open the door to remote wildlife monitoring. “Working on one of the boreal forest’s top predators, the Canada lynx, we found…

Is your cat outside killing wildlife right now?

Cats have contributed to the extinction of 33 species worldwide

Is your cat outside killing wildlife right now?What a lovely sight! Look at Patches as she heads out for her morning jaunt in the fields near her home. How cute is she as she tiptoes through the dew-drenched grass, trying her best to keep her paws dry? Millions of cats do exactly this every day, and the outcome is always devastating for…

New research chair will look into the future of forests

The work of the $4-million endowed position will help inform forest companies as they sustainably manage land for timber and biodiversity

New research chair will look into the future of forestsRobert Froese can tell you the exact moment he knew forestry would be his lifelong career. He was an undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia, standing in the forest with his classmates. “My professor went crashing into the woods … and he came back with a big Douglas-fir branch,” said Froese. “It was rainy…

Why do city planners put bicycles ahead of people?

People who don’t have yards or nearby open spaces should come before bicyclists

Why do city planners put bicycles ahead of people?Vancouver city council is considering a motion this week to turn sections of Granville Street and Commercial Drive into European-style pedestrian-friendly malls by reducing or eliminating automobile access. This is described as putting people over cars. Reducing car traffic leads to cleaner air and quieter neighbourhoods – good things. Some local businesses will benefit. But…

Your pet may not be safe in the great outdoors

As we encroach on wild places, wild animals will see our pets as a food source

Your pet may not be safe in the great outdoorsOur pets are such an important part of our lives – loyal and forgiving – but there’s danger out there, even in your garden! Lots of things are trying to eat, infect or nibble on pets. It’s not possible to list everything that might hurt your pet in this column, but here are a few…

Bears that mark more trees more successful in mating

Brown bears that rub against trees more often tend to have more offspring and more mates

Bears that mark more trees more successful in matingBrown bears that are more inclined to grate and rub against trees have more offspring and more mates, according to a University of Alberta study. The results suggest there might be a fitness component to the poorly understood behaviour. “As far as we know, all bears do this dance, rubbing their back up against the…

The elegant and essential cones of coniferous trees

Many birds explore the nooks and crannies of these seed-bearing pods as they try to pry the seeds loose or find minute insects

The elegant and essential cones of coniferous treesAs we welcome spring, we see the remnants of pine and spruce cones previously covered by snow. Few of us think about how important these cones are to the floral and faunal communities – as food and to ensure the next generation of trees is born. Many species of coniferous trees produce cones – pines,…

Snake jaw structure yields new understanding of evolutionary origins

Study re-examining what early snakes might have looked like

Snake jaw structure yields new understanding of evolutionary originsNew research led by a University of Alberta graduate student could lead to reimagining what early snakes might have looked like, suggesting that some of the world’s supposedly simplest snakes have a more complex evolutionary history than traditionally thought. Snakes are broadly divided into two groups based on their feeding mechanisms: macrostomatan snakes, able to…

How we can keep birds from crashing into windows and dying

Bird Safe Buildings Across Canada and other organizations are working hard to encourage building owners to take bird-saving measures

How we can keep birds from crashing into windows and dyingEver since European settlers occupied North America, our influences on avian populations have varied between positive and devastatingly negative. I would love to just write about the good stuff, but an important issue needs to be discussed: windows and how they can be deadly to birds. A new grassroots organization has been founded by a…

Students get virtual taste of real-world life on the farm

With help from Alberta farmers, an online animal science course is giving U of A students an inside look at the agricultural industry

Students get virtual taste of real-world life on the farmOnline classes during COVID-19 can feel a bit distant. But add in 48 farmers and a real-time calf birth, and things perk up considerably. That vivid minute-by-minute experience of watching a Black Angus cow give birth was a matter of lucky timing as Jesse Emery gave University of Alberta animal science students a virtual walking…

Why birds sing before winter weather breaks

Many species court and breed in the dead of winter

Why birds sing before winter weather breaksWe may sometimes feel as if we’re still locked in the dead of winter, but to birds, mammals, insects and even plants, things are changing. Faithful readers will recall how I recently explained that my trees were getting ‘fat,’ as the buds enlarge in anticipation of spring. But they’re not alone in their rush towards…

How changing boreal forests could affect caribou

Researchers examine what logging, climate change and other factors mean for caribou populations

How changing boreal forests could affect caribouNew research by University of Alberta biologists paints a clearer picture of how food webs are shifting in response to changing habitats in Canada’s boreal forests, and what it means for dwindling caribou populations. “We know that habitat, prey and predators such as wolves are all pieces of the caribou conservation puzzle, and here we…

Differentiating truth from myth about snowflakes

Marvel at these seemingly simple structures that rely on all the forces of nature for their beauty

Differentiating truth from myth about snowflakesAs I grow older, I like the cold less and less. I still love winter, but I wish it was warmer – wait, isn’t that summer? My favourite part of winter is when it snows – I never cease to marvel at the tiny flakes drifting down to earth, covering everything in a white blanket.…

Are owls wise, all-seeing and good luck – or harbingers of calamity?

One superstition about owls had it that making a potion from the ash of owl eggs improved vision

Are owls wise, all-seeing and good luck – or harbingers of calamity?Folklore abounds with superstition related to owls. I thought it might be fun to share some superstitions I’ve gleaned about owls, since this is the best time of year to see them. These nocturnal creatures often appear in horror films since tufts of feathers on the top of some owls’ heads give them the appearance…

Managing invasive species better than eliminating them: research

Every year, hundreds of introduced species cause billions of dollars in damage

Managing invasive species better than eliminating them: researchManaging invasive species – not eliminating them altogether – is a better use of time and conservation resources in many cases, according to a study led by a University of Alberta biologist. Every year, hundreds of introduced species cause billions of dollars in damage to ecosystems, agriculture and infrastructure in North America alone. The research,…