Hyenas Probably Have More Friends Than You: Spotted hyena social hierarchies

by Lorena Lyon figures by Lorena Lyon If you’ve ever backed down from an argument with a popular kid, you might relate to a male spotted hyena. Spotted hyenas are highly social animals, forming large groups called clans, which range from 6 to over 100 members. Hyenas in clans, like eighth graders in middle school, are sorted into complex social hierarchies. At the top of … Continue reading Hyenas Probably Have More Friends Than You: Spotted hyena social hierarchies

New Drug May Prevent Mosquitoes From Wanting to Bite You

While you are likely familiar with the annoying experience of being a mosquito’s ‘meal of the day’, more is going on behind the scenes of that insect bite than meets the eye.  Mosquitoes, which are drawn to human scent and breath, require proteins from the blood of their victims to develop their eggs and reproduce. This sounds harmless enough, but mosquitoes also excel at picking … Continue reading New Drug May Prevent Mosquitoes From Wanting to Bite You

The Worst Part of Waking Up: Wild coffee species at risk of extinction

Coffee is one of the world’s most highly consumed food products, with its farming and distribution comprising a multi-billion dollar global industry.  While many Americans (64% in 2018, according to Reuters) could not imagine making it through the day without a hot cup of joe, there is bad news for coffee drinkers: new research from the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens finds that a majority of … Continue reading The Worst Part of Waking Up: Wild coffee species at risk of extinction

Bees

By carrying pollen from plant to plant in their quest for nectar, bees help to facilitate plant reproduction, giving bees an essential role in the sustainability of our agriculture.  Bee populations have been threatened over the last decade by a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder, where the bees leave their hives and never return.  This year, however, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released positive … Continue reading Bees

Vines

Plants grow in interesting ways. You may have noticed that your houseplants “lean” towards the window, seeking the sunlight. This movement towards light is called phototropism. Tropism is a general term referring to any instance of growth or movement of an organism in response to the environment. Vines display another kind of tropism known as thigmotropism, meaning they respond to touch. In this set of … Continue reading Vines

Seeds of poison: new research suggests that the world’s most widely used insecticide is linked to declining bird populations

As children, we learn about one of Nature’s most beautiful and ingenious inventions:  the seed. We learn that the coat of a seed provides both protection and nutrition for the fledging plant inside. We learn later in life about the less beautiful truth of commercial seeds. Our modern-day seeds are often covered in a layer of synthetic chemicals, designed to protect the plant from pests … Continue reading Seeds of poison: new research suggests that the world’s most widely used insecticide is linked to declining bird populations