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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A forested floodplain: Lousiana bayou along the Pearl River. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/99012321@N00/3499802982/">Josh Kellogg</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
A forested floodplain: Lousiana bayou along the Pearl River. Photo: Josh Kellogg, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Flood-plain forest restoration

Trying to put nature back the way we found it can be more complicated than just leaving things alone. Dr. Curt Stager talks with Martha Foley about attempts to restore "green tree reservoirs," flood-plain forests that have been reduced 80 percent in size by human encroachment.  Go to full article
A male Siamese Fighting Fish flaring at his reflection in a mirror. Photo: Maldeez via <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Betta_Fighting_Reflection.JPG">Wikimedia Commons</a>
A male Siamese Fighting Fish flaring at his reflection in a mirror. Photo: Maldeez via Wikimedia Commons

Natural Selections: Winners and Losers

Animals, like humans, keep an eye on their fellows, particularly when the action is hot. Siamese fighting fish who witness a conflict treat the winners and losers differently. Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about nosiness in nature.  Go to full article
Lionesses love the mane. . . Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalart/3240381175/">Art G</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Lionesses love the mane. . . Photo: Art G, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Lion Manes

Why would a heavy fur cape, like a lion's mane, be appropriate on a tropical savanna?

As with male fashion in humans, it appears the that the lionesses of the Serengeti like it--the thicker and darker, the better. Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk hair.  Go to full article
Gecko walking on the wall of a glass enclosure. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithmarshall/3934863305/">Keith Marshall</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved. Inset: microstructure of Gecko toe, by <a href="">Douglasy</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved.
Gecko walking on the wall of a glass enclosure. Photo: Keith Marshall, Creative Commons, some rights reserved. Inset: microstructure of Gecko toe, by Douglasy, Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

Natural Selections: Gecko feet

Geckos have a remarkable ability to run up vertical surfaces, and even across ceilings. But their feet do not form suction cups, nor are they sticky with any kind of secreted glue. Dr. Curt Stager tells Martha Foley the secret of the lizard's gravity-defying feet, which has as much to with atomic physics as biology.  Go to full article
Diagram of a mitchondrion. Graphic: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mitochondrion_mini.svg">Kelvinsong</a>, released to the public domain
Diagram of a mitchondrion. Graphic: Kelvinsong, released to the public domain

Natural Selections: Mitochondria

Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley explore the role of mitocondria--components that burn food molecules and produce energy--in cells.  Go to full article
Kid's around a life-size model of a whale heart at the Carnegie Museum. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nosuchuser/4152475705">feral godmother</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Kid's around a life-size model of a whale heart at the Carnegie Museum. Photo: feral godmother, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Animal hearts

From worms to whales, most creatures have hearts. In a worm it's a simple tube, in a whale it can pump 60 gallons of blood per minute.

Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley discuss the variety of hearts in the animal kingdom.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrishunkeler/7760119788/">Chris Hunkeler</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Chris Hunkeler, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Laughter

What is laughter? Is it exclusive to humans? Is it different for women and men? Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager discuss "the best medicine."  Go to full article
A degassing jet now helps keep Lake Nyos in Cameroon from exploding again. Photo: <a href="http://mhalb.pagesperso-orange.fr/nyos/">Degassing Nyos</a>
A degassing jet now helps keep Lake Nyos in Cameroon from exploding again. Photo: Degassing Nyos

Natural Selections: Exploding lake

When local legend in Africa spoke of an exploding lake, western researchers scoffed. They were wrong--Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about the exploding lake, Lake Nyos.  Go to full article
Common Chaffinch, singing in Munster, France. Photo <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/33866697@N05/4211692413/">Amy Evenstad</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Common Chaffinch, singing in Munster, France. Photo Amy Evenstad, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Bird vocabulary

Birds we think of as quiet will sometimes raise a ruckus. And Curt Stager noted that European birds seem to have a wider and more improvisational range of songs than their American cousins.

Martha Foley and Curt Stager discuss the vocabulary of birds.  Go to full article
Beaver meadows are slow to reforest because they lack a soil fungus needed by black spruce. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/38983646@N06/3975369109">Putneypics</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Beaver meadows are slow to reforest because they lack a soil fungus needed by black spruce. Photo: Putneypics, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Fungus and forest

Tall trees may be the kings of the forest, but there is another kingdom of forest life that passes unnoticed. Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley talk about the arboreal network of fungus.  Go to full article

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