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NCPR News Staff: Natural Selections

Stories filed by Natural Selections

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People have wondered how colors work for a long time, as shown by <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Boutet_1708_color_circles.jpg">Claude Boutet's 7-color and 12-color color circles</a>, from a publication in 1708.
People have wondered how colors work for a long time, as shown by Claude Boutet's 7-color and 12-color color circles, from a publication in 1708.

Natural Selections: Seeing Colors

The notion that all colors mixed together make white can be disputed by any child who has made a stew of his paint set, but that is what a prism shows us. Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley talk about colors, and how they differ to different eyes.  Go to full article
<em>Elysia chlorotica</em> is a photosynthetic slug that uses chloroplasts from the algae it eats to make energy from sunlight. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elysia_chlorotica_%281%29.jpg">Patrick Krug</a>, Cataloging Diversity in the Sacoglossa LifeDesk
Elysia chlorotica is a photosynthetic slug that uses chloroplasts from the algae it eats to make energy from sunlight. Photo: Patrick Krug, Cataloging Diversity in the Sacoglossa LifeDesk

Natural Selections: "Alternative" animals

In general, plants make food from sunlight, and animals fuel themselves by "burning" oxygen. But some animals think outside the box.

Curt stager and Martha Foley look at a photosynthetic slug that hijacks the genetic machinery of the algae in its diet, and at a jellyfish that needs no oxygen, burning the alternative fuels of hydrogen and sulphur.  Go to full article
A pigeon's eye view from the Empire State Building. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/yuan2003/1187720684/">Richard Yuan</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
A pigeon's eye view from the Empire State Building. Photo: Richard Yuan, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: more on pigeons

The ubiquitous bird of cities and towns was designed for a different environment. The pigeon's distinctive style of flight is adapted for maneuverability in tight places--near vertical takeoffs and quick changes of direction. This adaptation to cliff and mountainside environments serves them well among our urban cliff dwellings. Curt Stager and Martha Foley discuss.  Go to full article
Originally a cliff-nesting species, pigeons have easily adapted to the man-made cliffs of urban environments. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/zayzayem/3620661261/">Michael Zimmer</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Originally a cliff-nesting species, pigeons have easily adapted to the man-made cliffs of urban environments. Photo: Michael Zimmer, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Pigeons and doves

Pigeons and doves, both domestic and feral, are the same species. Today's urban environment mimics their original favored habitat, seaside cliffs in Europe and Asia.

Martha Foley and Curt Stager discuss this commonest bird companion in densely settled areas.  Go to full article
Spotted hyena in Kenya. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vidyo/6136697677/">Ray Morris</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Spotted hyena in Kenya. Photo: Ray Morris, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Hyenas

Martha Foley wonders, "Is there a more maligned and mischaracterized animal than the Hyena?" Dr. Curt Stager, a hyena fan, gives the real lowdown on this social animal.  Go to full article
Hermit thrush. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hermit_thrush_qmnonic.jpg">Matt MacGillivray</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Hermit thrush. Photo: Matt MacGillivray, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Hermit thrush

One of nature's most beautiful singers is the hermit thrush. The opposite of "good children," they are often heard but seldom seen. Martha Foley and Curt Stager talk about this elusive insectivore of northern forests.  Go to full article
Northern Flicker (red-shafted variety) feeding young. Photo: Larry Master, used with permission
Northern Flicker (red-shafted variety) feeding young. Photo: Larry Master, used with permission

Natural Selections: Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is one of the most recognizable birds. This distinctly-marked member of the woodpecker family, instead of browsing wood for their food like their relatives, digs for food in the ground. Martha Foley and Curt Stager explore its habits.  Go to full article
How humans inhale and exhale. Clip art: <a href="http://www.clipart.dk.co.uk/457/subject/Biology/Breathing">DK Images</a>
How humans inhale and exhale. Clip art: DK Images

Natural Selections: the evolution of breathing

All creatures breathe in some fashion, but how the job gets done has changed from fish to amphibian to reptile to mammal. Curt Stager and Martha Foley chart the evolution of animal respiration.  Go to full article
The garden-variety earthworm is a modern interloper in the northern forests. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Earthworm.jpg">Fir0002/Flagstaffotos</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
The garden-variety earthworm is a modern interloper in the northern forests. Photo: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Invasive earthworms

Earthworms, friend to lawn and garden, are actually an invasive species in northern forests, which developed in the worm-free environment of retreating glaciers 10,000 years ago. Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager discuss their return, and the consequences for boreal soil, trees and wildflowers.  Go to full article
1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MSH80_eruption_mount_st_helens_05-18-80-dramatic-edit.jpg">USGS</a>
1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington. Photo: USGS

Natural Selections: Predicting Volcanos

Database analysis shows that winter, in addition to its other woes, is volcano season. Martha Foley wonders why. Dr. Curt Stager points the finger at the Pacific Ocean, which piles water on the North American coast and lightens the load on Asia. The stress comes out it crustal acne.  Go to full article

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