Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Amazing Animal Stories

Check this out! Scientists are learning new info about all kinds of creatures everyday.
Below, is just a little of what we’re learning about animals from all over the world.

Story 1. On the Hoof
Learn more about 4-legged creatures at the Ultimate Ungulate online Activity website: http://www.ultimateungulate.com/

Story 2: Birds, Bats and Bar Codes
New Bats have been discovered in Guyana, South America. I've visited Guyana annd it is such a beautiful country..Lots of biodiversity and a perfect place for ecovisits. In fact, I'll share some of my pictures and adventures from Guyana on the site at a later date. In the meantime, molecular and genetic research is now being put to use to help scientist identify new and well-known species of animals using Genetic Bar Codes. Yes, you read right. DNA of species can read much like in a bar code for items you purchase at the grocery story.
Science magazine features these 2 short articles about Amazing Animal research: Read here to learn more.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chicago Public School Students to Assist in Archaeological Dig in Kenya

Two ninth graders from the Chicago Public School District were chosen to work along side archaeologists from the Field Museum of Chicago in Kenya this summer. The trip is being sponsored by Ernst & Young, the major benefactor of the charter school the students attend.
Read more.

Now, I know this isn't urban ecology, but it's just as GREAT! These inner-city students will be doing Science and working alongside college students, graduate students, and professors. This program gives amazing and unique opportuntities to under-served adn under-reprsented students to explore a science career.

I wish them much luck and success.
Science Rocks!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Listening for Bird Songs...At Night

Recently, the Washington, DC. Audubon Society reported that many birds are more active at night than they ever have been before. Why? Urban areas are always full of activity, noise and light. Yes, light and noise pollution maybe signalling to birds that the day is longer than it actually is. Read the full account here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Invasive Species - Definitely Foe, no Friend

Invasive species are typically non-native or foriegn organisms that have taken up residence in a new place and environment and their growth and spread are out of control.

Why are invasive species a problem?
No Checks & Balances
Species within a given ecosystem depend on each other for survival & population control. When a ‘new resident’ comes into the system, they may not fit in and can throw the whole system off.

Changes the Natural Habitat
Foriegn species alter the abiotic & biotic environment and changes the ability of some organisms to survive
Examples: new trees that native animals can’t live in or eat from, they lose their homes, die or move away
Examples: zebra mussels taking up too much oxygen in the water.

Out-compete Native Species
The alien plant consumes resources faster or takes up space before similar native species do.

Alien plant species might genetically mix with native species and change the entire make-up and ecological role of the native plant.

Why Should we care?
•Decrease local Biodiversity
–When foreign plants invade a new area, these species displace or may even harm native species. The foreign plant may cause larger environmental problems, including extinction. •
–Impacts natural resources like water, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries
•It costs lots of money to get rid of foreign species and the seeds/pollen from these plants may impact local food chain and food supply dynamics.

What can be done to stop invaders?
Biological Control
–Using Natural Enemies to keep the invade population growth in check.

• Mechanical Control
–Physically removing or destroying the invaders.

What else can be done?

–International, Federal, & State Agencies

What can I do?
• Education
–Community Outreach, Public Service Campaigns••

Action Items:
Tell others about Invasive Plant Species and the problems they cause.
Work to promote planting and gardening native plants, flowers, and trees in your neighborhood.
Create a Public Service Annoucement Poster to educate your neighbors and friends about invasive plant species.

•Tell your audience:
–WHO are the players - the name of the invasive plant species.
–WHAT is the problem - the problems caused by invasive species.
–WHY they should care.
–HOW they can help solve the problem.

When you're done, your WANTED poster might look something the one created by one of my students involved with an After-school Program at Normandy Senior High School in St. Louis, Missouri.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Science news: Lizards are dwindling, too.

Lizards join frogs in rapid decline
The precipitous loss of amphibians in recent years has been blamed on habitat loss, global warming, fungal infections, and pesticides.
Read more about how our we changing our planet -- and not always in a good way.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Urban Parks are great!!

Urban parks an answer to global warming?

Scientists looking at the effect global warming will have on our major cities say a modest increase in the number of urban parks and street trees could offset decades of predicted temperature rises. The University of Manchester study has calculated that a mere 10% increase in the amount of green space in built-up centres would reduce urban surface temperatures by as much as 4°C.

from http://www.scienceblog.com/

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