Why are invasive species a problem?

In early spring, wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) vines and honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) bushes bloom fragrantly all over North America. The plants are abundantly green, and their elegant blossoms pour their perfume out into the warming air. It’s delightful, even magical, but any ecologist or naturalist will tell you it’s a bad sign for the environment. These plant species, introduced to North …

The Elevation Time Machine

Going up thousands of feet or meters in elevation, it’s easy to notice temperatures getting cooler, and air getting “thinner”. You may also notice the air getting less humid, or the dirt beneath your feet changing. The soil itself may change to something more sandy, gravelly or rocky…

The truth about opossums

In this Wildlife Spotlight post, I’d like to put in a good word for an animal that people see all the time but tend to misjudge: the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana). These cat-sized, fuzzy, long-whiskered beasts tend to have a polarizing effect on people. Everyone seems to think they’re either hideous or adorable. They have a reputation for being dim-witted, …

What is a biome?

As you may have read in my post on describing outdoor places, biomes are the largest category for classifying the natural environment. From scorching deserts and frozen tundra to the endless blue of the marine pelagic zone, biomes highlight differences in nature at a huge scale. But what makes them different? What makes some biomes cold and others hot, or …

Amazing facts about water striders

The insect world is filled with weird and impressive animals with under-appreciated abilities. Since they’re so small and short-lived, we often fail to notice their miraculous feats and fascinating lifestyles. This means that we end up missing plenty of true natural wonders. Water striders are a great example. While biblical accounts of walking on water are considered divine miracles, we …