Natural Selections

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About
Natural Selections

On Natural Selections each week, join a short conversation on the natural world. Topics range from evolutionary biology to geology and wildlife, from climate science to animal and human behavior.

Ellen Rocco
The program is hosted by NCPR news director Martha Foley joined by naturalist Dr. Curt Stager of Paul Smith's College.

Support for Natural Selections is provided by the Glenn and Carol Pearsall Adirondack Foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of life for year-round residents of the Adirondack Park, and by Paul Smith's, the College of the Adirondacks.

New Book: Deep Future

"The course we take in the coming decades will affect not just the next hundred years, but the next hundred thousand years of life on this planet." --Curt Stager

Deep Future
In bookstores now

Order at: Amazon | Borders
Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Powell's Books
And please remember your local independent booksellers. Find one near you.

 

Nature features

Curt Stager on On Point

Curt StagerListen to Dr. Curt Stager as the guest on On Point, 3/24/11, talking about his new book, Deep Future: the Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth.

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Natural History
This bird likes livers, kidneys, entrails — anything it can pluck that's freshly dead. But what if you served it ... a painting?
 
Museums are filled with dead insects, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles meticulously gathered worldwide in the name of scientific discovery. But some researchers now say scientists should think twice.
 
A secretive, nocturnal species that lives on a remote island off the coast of Mexico had not been spotted since 1936. Scientists have concluded it is genetically distinct from mainland neighbors.
 
The Smithsonian is set to unpack something it's never had before: a rare, nearly complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. It's a gift from a Montana museum that says this T. rex deserves to be famous.
 
A 325 million-year-old fossil find shows that the gill structures of modern sharks are actually quite different from their ancient ancestors.
 
more science news from NPR

Natural Selections with hosts Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager airs Thursday mornings during The Eight O'Clock Hour.

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 Recent Natural Selections programs
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Natural deceptions: crime (and punishment) among animals and plants

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.  Go to full article
If you want the feeder to yourself, there's nothing like being able to imitate a hawk. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/57974696@N00/8015491794/">pwhellen</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
If you want the feeder to yourself, there's nothing like being able to imitate a hawk. Photo: pwhellen, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: natural deceptions

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.  Go to full article
Nylanderia pubens, the tawny crazy ant (worker variety). Photo: <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d4/Nylanderia_pubens_worker.png">Daniel Mietchen</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Nylanderia pubens, the tawny crazy ant (worker variety). Photo: Daniel Mietchen, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

The tawny crazy ant is coming to America

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.  Go to full article
Male indigo bunting. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/kristi_decourcy/7539738334/">Kristi</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Male indigo bunting. Photo: Kristi, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Well-dressed birds of the North Country

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 the oriole. Martha Foley and Curt Stager celebrate a little of the local color in colder climes.  Go to full article
This is how small a deer tick is. Photo: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tick_male_size_comparison_%28aka%29.jpg">Andre Karwath</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
This is how small a deer tick is. Photo: Andre Karwath, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Deer ticks: How they get on you, how to get them off

Spring and early summer is the prime time of year for encounters with deer ticks, carriers of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. While still uncommon in the Adirondack upcountry, deer ticks are plentiful in the North Country lowlands.

They're hard to see, and hard to remove safely. But not impossible. Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about the life cycle of the deer tick, and practical ways to minimize exposure to Lyme disease.  Go to full article
Lamprey control aims at eradicating them in the larva stage (in hand) before they grow into toothy adults (inset) Photo: Sarah Harris
Lamprey control aims at eradicating them in the larva stage (in hand) before they grow into toothy adults (inset) Photo: Sarah Harris

Natural Selections: Lampreys

Lampreys - are they fish or eel? Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about this jawless fish with a head full of teeth and a sucking mouth.  Go to full article

The return of the black fly

This pest of the northern spring can travel up to twenty miles on the wind. How to get away? Dress in yellow, some suggest, or tie a dragonfly to your hat. Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager consult.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/21585925@N07/3988403205/">Parry</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Parry, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

The way we understand animals is human-centric

Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about how we understand animal behavior and the natural world through the human perspective.  Go to full article
Martha and Curt at a recent Natural Selections call-in. Photo: Dale Hobson
Martha and Curt at a recent Natural Selections call-in. Photo: Dale Hobson

Listen: Natural Selections climate change call-in

Climate change is in the news, from the recent update by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its detailed report on national and local impacts, to the news of the melting Antarctic ice sheet.

Dr. Curt Stager, author of "Deep Future: the Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth," joins Martha Foley for a special Natural Selections call-in on climate change and other topics.  Go to full article
Octopus vulgaris. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Octopus2.jpg">Albert Kok</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Octopus vulgaris. Photo: Albert Kok, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Octopuses are amazingly smart, and just amazing

The octopus has held a fascination for people throughout the ages. Martha Foley describes a surfside encounter with beauty, and Dr. Curt Stager talks about the unusual qualities of this shelless mollusk, from its discernible intelligence to its oddball but efficient anatomy.  Go to full article

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