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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Curt's Save the Carbon Blog

Spring, 2012: Just A Fluke, or A Taste of the Future?

Partial ice-out on Lower Saint Regis Lake , March 22, 2012.Record-high March temperatures have driven the ice... more

The weather of 2011: a waste or a wake-up call?

We've been having a difficult time with weather this year in the North Country.  But let's not... more

The Power of Moving Water

Spread your arms out sideways and your hands will be roughly one meter apart.  Use that span to sculpt an... more

Upper Jay, six days after Irene.

Six days after Irene drove the Ausable River and its tributaries over their banks, Kary and I visited the heavily... more

Irene devastates the Ausable Valley

Former hurricane ("tropical storm") Irene did relatively little damage last Sunday near my home in Paul Smiths, here in... more


Natural History
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.
 
Curators say they'll use the big grant from Boeing to better highlight how exploratory flight — from the Spirit of St. Louis to the <em></em>Starship Enterprise — has transformed the world.
 
An apprenticeship program in New York City helps lower-income and minority students break into advanced sciences. For one, the love of the stars was motivation to tackle the tough field of astronomy.
 
OK, maybe it just munched vegetation, small animals and eggs. But this newly named dino looked like a cross between a chicken and a bulked-up ostrich. Five-inch claws? We'd have stayed out of its way.
 
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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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
A polar vortex centered over Maine, 1/21/85. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Polarvortexjan211985.jpg">National Meteorological Center</a>, Camp Springs, MD
A polar vortex centered over Maine, 1/21/85. Photo: National Meteorological Center, Camp Springs, MD

Natural Selections: Polar vortex

The meteorological term "polar vortex" has a dramatic and ominous sound--the title of a disaster movie, maybe. But it is a just pattern of winds that is with us all the time and played a big role in recent deep cold snaps. They occur when the southern edge of this weather system pushes farther south than usual. Martha Foley and Curt Stager take a little of the hype out of this winter's weather buzz-word.  Go to full article
Flappy the muskie, 54 inches. She swam happily away after being caught and released last November near 40 Acres Shoal off Grindstone Island. The fishermen: Leo Greene (age 8, 52 inches), and guide Mackie Hodges in the <em>Tinker Toy</em>, owned by Richy Glassberg. Photo: Andy Greene
Flappy the muskie, 54 inches. She swam happily away after being caught and released last November near 40 Acres Shoal off Grindstone Island. The fishermen: Leo Greene (age 8, 52 inches), and guide Mackie Hodges in the Tinker Toy, owned by Richy Glassberg. Photo: Andy Greene

Natural Selections: Muskies, Part 2

The muskellunge, or muskie, is a popular fighting fish found in Northern waters--and so is its cousin, the Northern Pike.

Martha Foley and Paul SMiths College naturalist Dr. Curt Stager continue their discussion about primitive fresh water predators.  Go to full article
Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy). Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Esox_masquinongyeditcrop.jpg">Eric Engbretson</a>, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy). Photo: Eric Engbretson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Natural Selections: Muskies, Part 1

The muskellunge, or muskie, is a popular fighting fish found in Northern waters.

Martha Foley and Paul Smiths College naturalist Dr. Curt Stager talk about this primitive fresh water predator.  Go to full article

Natural Selections: "A Field Guide to Bacteria"

Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager discuss Betsey Dexter Dyer's book, A Field Guide to Bacteria, and the distinctive traits of individual bacteria that are visible to the naked eye.  Go to full article
Myxobacteria detect surrounding cells in a process known as quorum sensing, migrate toward each other, and aggregate to form fruiting bodies up to 500 micrometres long. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Myxococcus_xanthus.png">Ayacop</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Myxobacteria detect surrounding cells in a process known as quorum sensing, migrate toward each other, and aggregate to form fruiting bodies up to 500 micrometres long. Photo: Ayacop, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Bacterial "quorums"

Bacteria have an awareness of when they are part of a large population, and change their behavior as a result. In the sea, bioluminescence is governed by this phenomena, known as "quorum-sensing." In the body, it may trigger the disease-causing effects of large infections. Martha Foley and Curt Stager get together with microbial crowds.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluestardrop/4574604134/">Andrea Mucelli</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Andrea Mucelli, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Elders

Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about the role of individuals once they are past fertility. Elders help hold communities together by acting as the living histories and resource libraries.  Go to full article
The striking colors in this peacock feather come from irridescence, not pigments. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/9422878@N08/7557113322/">Bill Gracey</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
The striking colors in this peacock feather come from irridescence, not pigments. Photo: Bill Gracey, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Feathers and irridescence

Most color in nature is the result of pigments that reflect a particular wavelength of light, but some of nature's brightest offerings are created by physical structures within skin, scales and feathers that scattter and interfere with light.

Martha Foley and Curt Stager talk about one of nature's flashier displays--irridescent bird feathers.  Go to full article
Chipmunk with attitude. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wainwright/234922450/">Chrissy Wainwright</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Chipmunk with attitude. Photo: Chrissy Wainwright, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Bold Chipmunks

Chipmunks aren't exactly shy--their metabolism runs too high to turn down a free lunch--but neither are they social among themselves, once beyond the nest. Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley talk about this aggressively territorial backyard fixture.  Go to full article

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