2015 nature picture highlights
Jan04

2015 nature picture highlights

During the course of my reporting in 2015 I took nearly 20,000 photos. Here are some of the...

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Photos from a few days in the Canadian Rockies
Dec28

Photos from a few days in the Canadian Rockies

Over the Fourth of July weekend, I spent a few days in Alberta’s Banff National Park. The photos are now online on the Canada pictures page. A few more:

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Photos from China’s tropical rainforest
Dec06

Photos from China’s tropical rainforest

In August I did a lecture series at Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden in China’s Yunnan Province. The series focused on communicating science to the public, leveraging the Internet for environmental education, and drivers of deforestation. On the trip I spent some time in Yunnan’s spectacular tropical rainforest. Pictures from the trip are now online. More China...

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Red-eyed tree frog (photo)
Oct22

Red-eyed tree frog (photo)

Red-eyed tree frog, a species found widely in lowland rainforests from southern Mexico to Colombia’s Choco.

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Dead trees in the desert (photo)
Oct21

Dead trees in the desert (photo)

Deadvlei is a famous site in #Namibia’s Namib-Naukluft Park. Its name means “dead marsh” in reference to the unusual white clay pan that formed after flooding from a nearby river. Acacia trees sprouted in the shallow pools only to die when the water dried up after the surrounding sand dunes shifted. Today the site is a popular attraction for tourists and photographers.

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Hollowed-out trunk of a strangler fig (photo)
Oct20

Hollowed-out trunk of a strangler fig (photo)

This is a view from the base of a strangler fig in Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Yunnan, China. The tree that once served as the support for this strangler has long since rotted away, leaving only the roots of the fig.

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A giant leaf-mimicking praying mantis (photo)
Oct19

A giant leaf-mimicking praying mantis (photo)

The giant leaf-mimicking praying mantis was photographed in Suriname’s Brownsberg Nature Park in 2008. It showed no fear of the camera.

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White rhino in South Africa (photo)
Oct18

White rhino in South Africa (photo)

White rhino near on a private game reserve near South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Since this photo was taken 2 years ago, more than 3,000 rhinos have been slaughtered in South Africa for their horns.

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Mongabay’s mascot (photo)
Oct17

Mongabay’s mascot (photo)

Mongabay’s mascot is the scale-crested pygmy-tyrant (Lophotriccus pileatus), a type of flycatcher that lives in the lowland rainforests of Central America and northern South America.

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Blue whale population rebounds after whaling ban
Sep07

Blue whale population rebounds after whaling ban

The population of blue whales in the Eastern Pacific has recovered to 97 percent of historic levels after whaling was banned more than 40 years ago. Researchers from the University of Washington used whale songs to estimate the current population in the Eastern Pacific — one of two Pacific populations — at 2,200 individuals. The authors warn that an increase in ship traffic could present a risk to California blue whales. More:...

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Scientists propose using lasers to map rainforests
Sep06

Scientists propose using lasers to map rainforests

A new Carbon Balance and Management paper argues that mapping the world’s tropical forests with a fleet of airplanes outfitted with advanced lasers, known as LiDAR, could rapidly and accurately assess global forest carbon stocks for $250 million, or less than the cost of a typical Earth observation satellite mission. The paper says the system could be used to provide a baseline for REDD+, a program that aims to compensate...

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Tourism puts the Galapagos at risk
Jan05

Tourism puts the Galapagos at risk

A booming “ecotourism” industry is bringing new threats to the Galapagos, reports a feature in the Wall Street Journal. Unsustainable tourism development, an influx of workers from the mainland, and introduced species are putting endemic biodiversity and habitats at risk. “The islands’ fragile ecosystem can be easily disrupted, particularly as the increasing number of planes and ships landing in the Galapagos...

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A Rainforest in France?
Jan05

A Rainforest in France?

A study suggests that France was once covered with tropical vegetation, reports LiveScience. Writing in the Jan. 4 issue of The Journal of Organic Chemistry, researchers report “the discovery of a new organic compound in amber called “quesnoin,” whose precursor exists only in sap produced by a tree currently growing only in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.” The researchers say the amber likely dripped from a similar tree that...

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Zoos bolster PR strategy to counter criticism after animal escapes
Jan05

Zoos bolster PR strategy to counter criticism after animal escapes

Today’s Wall Street Journal [$ubscription required] features a story on the changing PR strategies of zoos in the midst of animal escapes and attacks like the tiger mauling at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day.  The article says that says are increasingly forthcoming in disclosing details about escape incidents and animal deaths. The nation’s largest zoos are in the midst of a public-relations campaign led by the...

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The First World Consumption Factor
Jan04

The First World Consumption Factor

In a New York Times editorial published January 2, Jared Diamond examines the large discrepancy between consumption in first world countries versus developing countries: citizens of the rich world consume an average of 32 times the resources as those in poor countries. The estimated one billion people who live in developed countries have a relative per capita consumption rate of 32. Most of the world’s other 5.5 billion people...

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Jaguar conservation in Brazil’s Pantanal
Jan01

Jaguar conservation in Brazil’s Pantanal

  Today The New York Times featured an article by J. MADELEINE NASH on conflicts between jaguar conservation efforts and cattle ranchers in the Pantanal.  A couple of interesting points:  Panthera, a big cat conservation group, has recently acquired two ranches which it plans to operate for the purpose of testing techniques for reducing livestock-jaguar interactions.  The results may help other ranchers in the region to “adopt...

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Agricultural benefits of deforestation are short-lived
Dec26

Agricultural benefits of deforestation are short-lived

BBC news reports on a new study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that found the benefits of converting rainforests for agriculture land are short-lived in terms of soil nutrients. “US researchers studied deforested land in Mexico and found that soil levels of phosphorus, a key nutrient for plants, fell by 44% after three growing cycles. In the long-term, the land risked becoming so degraded that...

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