Why do species have scientific names?

If you’ve looked at any field guide or read a scientific paper in ecology or biology, you’ve probably run into scientific names. These are the fancy, often Harry-Potter-sounding words written in italics and describing a species. Often times you’ll hear them, or read them, after a species’ common name. A friend of mine once told me that to be a …

Vernal Pools and why they’re totally awesome

Spring is a fleeting and fickle season. Warm weather often comes and goes a few times before it finally settles in for good. Flowers start to bloom on trees and out of the ground as it thaws. In many temperate areas and higher latitudes, melting snow from the winter, and increased rains, lead to a wetter landscape. Many of us …

Fall Foliar Fruit Flagging: Are trees talking to us?

The dramatic color changes of autumn leaves in some parts of the world are captivating, seemingly magical, and widely appreciated. Dazzling reds and oranges pop up every year while we’re planning our Halloween costumes or breaking out a flannel shirt. Plant scientists (called botanists) are working to understand why these gorgeous displays happen. But there is more to the story: …