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NCPR News Staff: Natural Selections

Stories filed by Natural Selections

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American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), in Quebec. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tamiasciurus_hudsonicus_CT.jpg">Cephas</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), in Quebec. Photo: Cephas, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Squirrel diet

Red squirrels do well in an abundant year for spruce and balsam cones, eating as many as fifty a day. Introduced to Newfoundland for the first time in the 1960s, squirrels eat as much as two-thirds of all the black spruce cones produced. Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley talk about the eating habits of squirrels and their impact on the environment.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="http://capl.washjeff.edu/2/l/4348.jpg">Washington & Jefferson College</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Washington & Jefferson College, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Sense of smell

Humans aren't naturals at tracking smells like dogs, but they can, in fact, track by scent just like dogs. The main difference is humans get better with practice. Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about people's sense of smell.  Go to full article
Ripples in sand: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30302870@N08/2839605958/">Markles55</a>, and in snow: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/n031/3285104971/">Clear Inner Vision</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Ripples in sand: Markles55, and in snow: Clear Inner Vision, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

No, the North Country's not the coldest place on earth

Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager discuss the hottest and coldest places on earth. Death Valley is no longer the hottest. Libya takes (or bakes) the cake these days. The lowest, as you would expect, is in Antarctica. How cold? You don't want to know.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/hobgadlng/11393404204/">Tee La Rosa</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved<br />
Photo: Tee La Rosa, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

You're a moth: How do you defend yourself?

The battle for survival among insects is not always carried out with mandible and stinger. This branch of the animal kingdom also employs chemical warfare. Some moths and butterflies store plant poisons in their bodies that make them so toxic, spiders will cut them loose from their webs. Some spiders make their webs and the food stored within deadly to ants and some create toxic "veils" to protect their mates while they are vulnerable. Martha Foley and Paul Smith's College biologist Curt Stager explore the arsenal of the natural world.  Go to full article
Opossum with "babies on board," near Brier Hill, NY. Archive Photo of the Day 6/26/13: Bruce Dana
Opossum with "babies on board," near Brier Hill, NY. Archive Photo of the Day 6/26/13: Bruce Dana

Why Opossums are coming to the North Country, and why they look like they're made from spare parts

Opossums may be thought of as a southern animal, but they are becoming more common in the North Country as they expand their range north and west. They are the only marsupial, or pouched mammal, in North America.

Martha Foley tells Curt Stager that they look a little weird, as if they were made from parts of other animals: the tail of a rat, the pouch of a kangaroo, funny little hands.  Go to full article
A turtle under the ice. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/90434877@N00/3206736457/">Richard Due</a>. Creative COmmons, some rights reserved
A turtle under the ice. Photo: Richard Due. Creative COmmons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: How do turtles survive a winter underwater?

Unlike frogs, turtles don't hibernate through the winter. In fact, sometimes you can see snappers and other species moving around under the ice. While their metabolism runs at very low ebb in the cold, they remain alert to changes in light and temperature that signal the coming spring.

How do they survive without oxygen? As Paul Smiths College biologist Curt Stager tells Martha Foley, they get energy from their body tissues, and their shells neutralize the resulting lactic acid build-up.  Go to full article
Flying Squirrel. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/errrrrrrrrika/3150513527/">errrrrrrrrika</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Flying Squirrel. Photo: errrrrrrrrika, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Flying squirrels

Rarely seen during the day, flying squirrels don't actually fly, but use flaps of skin that connect their fore and hind legs that enable them to glide up to a hundred feet, between trees and from tree to ground.

Unlike their more earthbound cousins, they do not hibernate in the winter. And their preferred diet is lichens and mushrooms, rather than nuts and cones.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="ww.flickr.com/photos/90891744@N00/2313038401/">GP(MPK)</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: GP(MPK), Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Cryoseisms and other sounds of ice

One of the features of a hard winter can be loud spooky booming noises. These may be cryoseisms or "icequakes," caused when masses of ice expand and contract until they reach a breaking point. The sound signals the release of large amounts of energy.

Lake ice can also make alarming noises; some expert skaters can accurately estimate the thickness of the ice from the pitch of the noise. Ice expansion within trees and within homes can also add to winter jitters. Martha Foley and Curt Stager listen to the winter.  Go to full article
Erika Edgley ice skating on Lower Cascade Lake. Archive Photo of the Day: Matthew Hobart
Erika Edgley ice skating on Lower Cascade Lake. Archive Photo of the Day: Matthew Hobart

Natural Selections: Ice over time

Fresh ice, sometimes called black ice, can be nice and clear and great for skating, but after a while ice gets kind of funky. Freezes and thaws and snowfalls take their toll on ice, creating white ice, which contains a lot of trapped air and gases. Martha Foley and Curt Stager talk about how the ice evolves over the season.  Go to full article
Antarctica as seen by the Earth Observatory mission. Photo: <a href="http://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/36000/36839/Antarctica_AMO_2009027_lrg.jpg">NASA</a>
Antarctica as seen by the Earth Observatory mission. Photo: NASA

Natural Selections: The other Polar Vortex

While much of this winter's extreme weather has been blamed on polar vortex weather systems reaching farther south into North America, there is a another polar vortex in the Antarctic.

Martha Foley and Curt Stager talk about the weather at the bottom of the world, and how it differs from weather patterns at the top of the world.  Go to full article

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