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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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
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

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