Biodiversity’s Invisible Palette

from American Scientist
July-August 2012

Tropical ecologists have a long tradition of tromping through the forest in rubber boots, tracking the fates of individual trees and perhaps scaling some of these 50-meter giants to sample their foliage. But forests—and the conservation issues they face—dwarf even the most ambitious on-the-ground studies. Ecologist Greg Asner, of the Carnegie Institution for . . . → Read More: Biodiversity’s Invisible Palette

Decoding a Flower’s Message

from American Scientist
July-August 2012

Texas gourd vines unfurl their large, flared blossoms in the dim hours before sunrise. Until they close at noon, their yellow petals and mild, squashy aroma attract bees that gather nectar and shuttle pollen from flower to flower. But “when you advertise [to pollinators], you advertise in an open communication network,” says chemical . . . → Read More: Decoding a Flower’s Message

In the News: Leaping Labidocera!

from American Scientist
July-August 2012

When threatened by fish, some marine plankton leap through the air to safety. Researchers studied this previously undocumented behavior in two species of copepods (tiny crustaceans) that swim near the ocean’s surface. Although breaking the surface tension is a drag for such tiny animals, it pays off in low air resistance and long . . . → Read More: In the News: Leaping Labidocera!

Insect Escape Artists

Book review in American Scientist
May-June, 2012

How Not to Be Eaten: The Insects Fight Back. Gilbert Waldbauer. xiv + 221 pp. University of California Press, 2012. $27.95.

Rarely does one have reason to compare a moth and a croquet ball, but entomologist Gilbert Waldbauer finds the parallel. In an anecdote in How Not to Be Eaten, he recalls . . . → Read More: Insect Escape Artists

In the News: Birth of the Little Ice Age

from American Scientist
May-June 2012

Scientists have been uncertain about the specific timing and causes of Europe’s Little Ice Age (LIA), a chilly period that started sometime during the Renaissance and lasted until the mid-19th century. To better document the LIA’s onset, researchers analyzed 94 samples of ancient moss, previously engulfed by ice caps and recently exposed by . . . → Read More: In the News: Birth of the Little Ice Age

The Other Honey

from American Scientist
March-April 2012

In rural Ghana, stingless bees are well known as useful animals. Farmers raid natural hives to collect honey, which they use to treat ailments from eye infections to asthma. Many say the bees improve crop yields, and people refer to different species by their indigenous monikers. (The tifuie, for instance, is named after . . . → Read More: The Other Honey

In the News: Teaching, Not Technology

from American Scientist
March-April 2012

Population growth and devastating droughts have left thousands of Ethiopian pastoralists in poverty and hunger. But community groups that help people learn literacy, business skills and microfinance–rather than new technologies–made participants more resilient and hopeful even after a severe drought. Also in this issue’s news roundup: how humming birds flap, and a gas . . . → Read More: In the News: Teaching, Not Technology

How a Fungus Boosts a Beetle’s Invasion

Microbial evolution helps explain why a mild-mannered American beetle has become a tree killer in Asia . . . → Read More: How a Fungus Boosts a Beetle’s Invasion

In the News: Olives, Herbs and Juniper

from American Scientist
January-February 2012

Ancient Greek trade ships shuttled millions of amphoras—ceramic, vase-shaped storage jars—around the Mediterranean and Black seas. The containers are generally thought to have carried wine, but a new DNA analysis of nine jars, aged 2,200 to 2,400 years, suggests the freight was more diverse. Also in this issue’s news roundup: the colors of . . . → Read More: In the News: Olives, Herbs and Juniper

In the News: Spoiler Alert

from American Scientist
November-December 2011

Movie critics might do their readers a favor by slipping more plot spoilers into their reviews. Far from wrecking a story, revealing a surprise ending makes fiction more enjoyable. Also in this issue’s news roundup: Missing oxygen, Carboniferous harvestmen and leaves with special . . . → Read More: In the News: Spoiler Alert