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Preview: Natural Selections Podcast

Natural Selections: Conversations about the natural world with Dr. Curt Stager and Matha Foley



Latest North Country Public Radio regional news by topic. Topic=natselect.



Copyright: ℗ & © 2017, North Country Public Radio
 



Are there really no snakes in Ireland?

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0500

(Nov 16, 2017) Were there really no snakes in Ireland before St. Patrick showed up? Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager ponder this and other questions. They explained there are in fact, places with no native snakes, particularly isolated places like New Zealand and Greenland. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/ns080904.mp3




Where did all the seagulls come from?

Thu, 09 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0500

(Nov 9, 2017) Martha Foley talks with Dr. Curt Stager about the population boom of seagulls in the last few decades, particularly ring-billed gulls found in the northeastern United States and the Great Lakes region. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/171109natselect.mp3




Pointier eggs and ultraviolet colors help some birds survive

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Nov 2, 2017) This week, Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager continue their discussion about eggs, exploring the color and shape of birds' eggshells, from green, white, and brown to pointy and ovoid.Some variations in shape and size are just that, variations, but some have also appear to have survival value for their respective species. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/ns080821.mp3




Why are bird eggs different colors?

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Oct 26, 2017) Why are bird eggs different colors? According to Dr. Curt Stager most of them start out white. Colors come later in development. Glands in the oviduct deposit color onto the eggs as they pass through to be laid. Speckled eggs are actually a little stronger than unspeckled ones. Emu eggs are almost black and some species have metallic colors. Individual variations in eggs of the same species can help parents return to the right nest.Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about why birds' eggs look the way they do. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/ns080814.mp3




Strange relations: Birds get a whole new family tree

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Oct 19, 2017) Whippoorwills and hummingbirds are close kin. And penguins, who only walk and swim, are cousins to the albatross which only flies. Who knew? A new classification system for birds looks at their genetics as well as their anatomy.Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley discuss bird evolution. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/natselect141106.mp3




How do you tell a raven from a crow?

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Oct 12, 2017) Ravens were once a rarity in the North Country, but now they are becoming a common sight. They have a similar appearance to crows, but if you see the two birds together the difference is obvious. For one thing, ravens are big. For another, crows caw, while the cry of a raven is more of a croak.Martha Foley and Curt Stager discuss other ways to tell the two apart, why ravens became a scarce presence in recent times, and why they might be making a comeback now. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/140814natselect.mp3




Yellow perch - Adirondack natives after all

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Oct 5, 2017) For decades, Adirondack resource managers have blamed the yellow perch for the decline of heritage trout strains, believing that perch were introduced to Adirondack waters in recent times and have been displacing the native strains from their historic habitat.But lake sediment core samples taken by Curt Stager and his students at Paul Smiths College yield DNA evidence showing that trout have been co-existing with perch for at least 2,000 years there. While perch are aggressive competitors and native trout are in decline, the reason for the change in balance likely lies in other factors yet to be determined. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/140806natselect.mp3




What happens if you press "reset" on evolution?

Thu, 28 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Sep 28, 2017) When species move into a new habitat, some of the "tricks" their genes have learned no longer work to help them thrive. Some species will pick up new tricks - sometimes the same new trick more than once - and some will fail to adapt. Martha Foley and Curt Stager look at silent crickets and flightless birds. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/140731natselect.mp3




How lichens live on next to nothing

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Sep 21, 2017) What we call reindeer moss is nothing of the kind. It's not even a plant; it's a lichen. Lichens, which account for half of the natural nitrogen fertilizer used by plants and animals, are a combination of a fungus colony with algae and cyanobacteria that can live on practically nothing - dust, pollen, rain and snow.Martha Foley and Curt Stager talk about nature's original minimalists. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/140724natselect.mp3




Natural deceptions: crime (and punishment) among animals and plants

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Sep 14, 2017) Social primates are supposed to share when they find food, but some will cheat. If they are caught, the group will punish them. Some plants and fungi use a kind of barter system to swap nutrients, and some of them will also cheat. But they risk being caught and cut off.Martha Foley and Curt Stager look at crime and punishment in the natural world. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/140717natselect.mp3




Natural Selections: natural deceptions

Thu, 07 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Sep 7, 2017) Birds and other creatures have a sly side and will use deceptive communications to create an advantage for themselves in finding food and finding mates. Blue jays can imitate the sound of a hawk, scaring other species away from the feeder. Some birds mimic the alarm cries of other species, making them think that another of their kind is warning them about a predator.But they can't pull the trick too often. "Crying wolf" has the same consequences in the animal world as it does in the fairy tale. Martha Foley and Curt Stager discuss the "tricksy" side of birds, and of cuttlefish. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/140710natselect.mp3




The tawny crazy ant is coming to America

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Aug 31, 2017) What can take on the big agressive poisonous fire ants that invaded the U.S. decades ago? The tawny crazy ant, also an import from South America. This new "superorganism" is immune to fire ant poison, and they are displacing the previous invaders.Martha Foley and Curt Stager discuss a new addition to the invasive species list. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/170831natselect.mp3




Well-dressed birds of the North Country

Thu, 24 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Aug 24, 2017) While the North Country is not exactly the tropics, we do have our share of exotically-colored birds. Blue creatures, for example, are rare in nature but we have the bluebird, the blue jay and the indigo bunting.Then there are the goldfinches and the cardinals, the ruby-throated hummingbird and more. Martha Foley and Curt Stager celebrate a little of the local color in colder climes. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/170824natselect.mp3




Humans pass the smell test better than we think

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Aug 17, 2017) Contrary to longstanding theories, the human sense of smell is roughly as acute as that of other mammals, with an equivalent amount of neural hardware devoted to the detection of odors. So why do we seem to be so nose-blind compared to the family dog?Martha Foley quizzes Curt Stager about a sense that often operates unnoticed by our conscious minds. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/170817natselect.mp3




Ferns pay off ants to protect them from caterpillars

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Aug 3, 2017) Ferns invented nectar - a sugary reward - long before flowering plants evolved. But instead of using it to attract pollinators, the bracken fern uses it as "protection money," paying off ants and other predatory insects that will keep voracious caterpillars away when the plants are young and vulnerable.Martha Foley and Curt Stager unveil the mobster economics of nature. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/170802natselect.mp3




A graphic account: How Walden Pond has changed since Thoreau (the planet, too)

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Jul 27, 2017) Dr. Curt Stager took students to Walden Pond, the retreat of philosopher and citizen scientist Henry David Thoreau, to take sediment samples and compare modern observations with the meticulous records kept in Thoreau's journals.They found evidence of a changing climate and a lake ecology that has been altered by human use. The graphic novel that records the expedition might have bemused and amused the famed transcendentalist. Curt talks about the work with Martha Foley. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/070727natselect.mp3




How Saharan dust makes our lives better

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Jul 20, 2017) The last time the climate warmed the Sahara was green and had a huge lake in the middle that left behind vast deposits of fine mineral-rich sediments. In these drier days the dust from that ancient lakebed now blows all the way across the Atlantic to nourish the Amazon with phosphorus and the ocean with iron.It also shades the patch of the Atlantic where hurricanes form, lessening the strength and frequency of tropical storms that reach the North Country. The current trend back toward a warmer world might be good for the Sahara, but not so good for us. Curt Stager and Martha Foley explain. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/170720natselect.mp3




Human taste buds drive 4,000 years of citrus evolution

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Jul 13, 2017) The modern supermarket holds a bewildering variety of oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines and more. But they are all the product of 4,000 years of selective breeding by humans to tease out tastier, larger, sweeter and juicier variations and hybrids from four ancestral Asian fruits. Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley climb back down the citrus family tree to look at the Mandarin orange, the pomelo, the citron and the papeda. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/170713natselect.mp3




Plants that punk pollinators

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Jul 6, 2017) Flowers get pollinated, bees get nectar; that's supposed to be the deal. Except that some plants cheat. Known as "food decepters," they advertise rewards they don't deliver. Orchids are notorious for variations on bait and switch, with fully one-third of species giving bupkis to the hard-working insects that help them to propagate their kind. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/20170706nspunkplants.mp3




Most widespread carnivore on the planet? The red fox

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400

(Jun 29, 2017) The red fox isn't always red. The silver fox, for example, is the same species. But they will usually have a white tail tip and always wear black "boots." You can find the red fox pretty much everywhere, from the North Country back yard to the Australian Outback. [full story]


Media Files:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/audio/20170629nsfoxes.mp3