Whoever named the "temperate zone" must have had a sense of humor. I'm writing this during a week of humid, 90-degree days, and just a few months ago it was 13 below, a stiff north wind providing the icing on that frozen cake. Since then, we've had rain, snow, sleet, warm spells, cold snaps and thunderstorms.
De-extinction, or the act of bringing extinct species back from the dead, has been riding a wave of enthusiasm. Nearly 2 million people have watched Steward Brand's TED talk on the topic, and Beth Shapiro's book How to Clone a Mammoth has received rave reviews.
Cary Institute President Dr. Joshua Ginsberg discusses how global populations of many large carnivores have started to recover. Discover which animals are on the rebound and what their improvement tells us about the future of wildlife conservation.
Genetic engineering may allow us to rebirth close facsimiles of extinct species. But would bringing back a few individuals of a famously gregarious bird like the passenger pigeon truly revive the species, when the great oak forests that sustained them are gone? And if it succeeds, what if the birds don't fit in anymore in our changed world?
As much of the U.S. East Coast continues to dig out from last week's historic blizzard, it's easy to think of snow as a disruptive force that causes normal life to come to a standstill. While that might be true for large cities and the people who live in them, it is not true for wildlife—especially wild animals that have long made their homes in the fields and forests
Beavers are one of nature's most industrious engineers. Using branches and mud, the intrepid animals create dams that slow moving water. In New York's Hudson Valley, their constructions are a common sight on streams and in wetlands.
New York's Hudson Valley is experiencing a "mast year." Mast refers to the seeds of woody plants that are eaten by wildlife. "Soft mast" has seeds surrounded by fleshy pulp, and includes berries and fruits. "Hard mast" has seeds protected by an outer coat, such as acorns and hickory nuts.
In New York's Hudson Valley, it's hard to go outside without stepping on an acorn. Oaks have 'boom and bust' acorn production cycles. In lean years, trees produce a handful of nuts. In boom years, acorns seem to rain down from the sky.
Here in the Hudson Valley, nature’s harvest has been abundant. Nuts and fruits will help wildlife fuel their southern migrations or stock their winter larders. Not every year produces such a bounty; this season’s bumper crop of wild foods will impact local plants and animals for years to come.
We have talked about monarch butterflies before. The orange and black butterflies are often used in school lessons about insect ecology. Monarch caterpillars forage exclusively on milkweed; in the process they acquire foul-tasting chemicals that ward off predators. In late summer, monarchs living in the Eastern U.S. migrate to overwintering grounds in Mexico.
Here in the Northeast, after a long winter signs of spring have finally arrived. Many of us are tuned into budding plants and migratory birds. It's also a great time to take a hike and observe the awakening of amphibian life.
Opossums are North America's only native marsupials. An opossum vaguely resembles a cross between a housecat and a giant rat, and while they're tolerated as a relative newcomer to Maine's wilderness — migrating into the state within the last half century or so — they're not especially cherished.
Visitors to the Cary Institute's Millbrook campus will admire our diverse woodlands, but may wonder why there are so many standing and fallen dead trees left scattered, sometimes in prominent places. Some might even say that our forests are messy.
This spring, amphibians displayed their singing skills in the flooded lowlands at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies' Millbrook, NY campus. Eastern American toads were major contributors to the evening chorus, which was at times deafening.
This spring, April showers made favorable conditions for amphibians to display their singing skills in the flooded lowland fields at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Eastern American toads (Anaxyrus americanus) were major contributors to the evening chorus, which was at times deafening.
Award-winning photographer Robin Moore chronicled the search for frog, toad, and salamander species not seen in over a decade. In a visually stunning presentation, he shares the science behind what frogs disappearing around the globe means for our planet.
Woodland pools are small, seasonal wetlands. In the Northeast, they are typically covered with ice and snow in the winter. In the heat of summer they dry up. And in the spring and late fall they contain standing water. Now is a great time for exploring the diversity of life in woodland pools.
Around the world, millions of frogs, toads, and salamanders are dying from two emerging diseases. The first plague appeared in the 1990s, and is so deadly to amphibians that it is causing what has been described as the most spectacular loss of vertebrate biodiversity due to disease in recorded history.
For nearly 20 years, Gary Lovett has kept a journal with notes about a variety of natural events taking place in his backyard in southeastern New York, including the date that spring peepers begin peeping in his vernal pool each year.
In New York State, if you hear howling at night, it's not a wolf. And it's not your imagination. When New York's wolves were killed off in the 19th century, it left an ecological vacuum that coyotes were happy to fill.
Serving as inadvertent innkeepers for opossums may turn out to be good for your health. Scientists at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, have learned that opossums act like little vacuum cleaners when it comes to ticks, including those that can spread debilitating Lyme disease to humans and other animals.
Breeding wolves were killed off in New York back in the 1890s. But hearing nighttime howling today should not be blamed on our imaginations. Another predator, the eastern coyote (Canis latrans), abounds in our area and provides a similar hair-raising effect when we hear it calling.
One of the first signs of spring in the Northeast is the unmistakable calling of the spring peeper. The peeper is a small frog, weighing only a few grams, but its mating call is louder than many songbirds weighing 10 times as much.
For many years, oaks in the Northeast were prolific acorn producers. The 2010 crop was record-breaking—many will recall getting hit with acorn rain or slipping on acorns underfoot. Last fall, however, acorns were scarce.
There were once three hundred species of mussels in the United States. They supplied food to Native Americans and people harvested them for pearls and for mother-of-pearl to make buttons. Now, hardly anyone eats freshwater mussels and buttons are mostly made of plastic.
Mike Clark, Executive Director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, talks about some of Yellowstone’s most iconic wildlife, and discusses how climate change, shrinking habitat, and politics are shaping its future.
In 1890, there were about 250,000 pairs of Atlantic puffins breeding on Grassholm, a 22-acre island a few miles off the southwest coast of Wales in the United Kingdom. By 1940, there were only 25 breeding pairs