What is ecological disturbance?

Ecologists and naturalists describing ecosystems and other natural places often bring up the concept of ecological disturbance. Whether you’re taking a science course or looking to better understand the outdoors, it’s a central concept. In fact, it helps explore a lot of the patterns that we notice in nature. Let’s step (gently!) into the science in this Deep Stuff post: …

What is forest bathing?

One of my favorite things about spending time in nature is that there are so many ways to do so. From backpacking to birdwatching to reading a book under a tree, the natural world is unequal for healthy, relaxing recreation. Mindfulness practices in nature are becoming increasingly popular for their many health benefits, especially since the COVID pandemic. As more …

If you touch a baby bird, will its mother reject it?

Every spring I hear from readers about finding baby birds outside. Finding an unexpected and seemingly helpless baby bird in your backyard or a nearby park can be worrisome. After all, the little things typically can’t fly yet and look very vulnerable. Sometimes you might find such a bird in a place that is dangerous. There might be cats around, …

Is 2024 a cicada year?

You may have heard rumors that 2024 will be a big year for the cicada. News outlets and magazines are putting out panicked headlines about an “insect apocalypse”. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about in 2024! In this Biologist Ruins Everything post, let’s get to the bottom of these claims and learn about the cicadas in question. …

What’s the difference between horns vs. antlers?

Large mammals are some of the most exciting wildlife to watch in nature. Not only are they often somewhat shy and elusive, but they often display some fantastic adaptations. Whether you’re out for a stroll a neighborhood park in England, or India or on safari in the tropics, big furry beasts are super exciting. Among the most impressive characteristics of …

9 plants that stay green in winter

A dash of color can go a long way among the browns and grays of a long winter. With many trees losing their leaves, many of us are desperate for the vibrant green of Spring by the time it rolls around. Fortunately, if you know where to look, it can be relatively easy to find plants that are evergreen. This …

16 amazing nature trips in Florida

One of the most important ways to get to know nature is to witness its many forms in different parts of the world. Because of this, I encourage readers to check out nature in their own neck of the woods, but also to include nature in their itineraries for any trip further afield. The United States is an incredible place …

Whirligig beetles: Nature’s bumper cars

Freshwater environments like rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands are filled with fascinating nature. Teeming with life, they are great natural settings for outdoor activities and among the best for doing sit-spots. If you pause by a body of water in late Summer or Fall, you may be treated to the antics of our latest Wildlife Spotlight: whirligig beetles. Beetles are …