Beaver Builders: Beavers are nature’s engineers. It turns out they are also good at restoring ailing ecosystems. In eastern Oregon, researchers are doing some extreme fieldwork (snorkeling in rivers and streams in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter!) to learn more about how beaver dams are helping create healthier streams and rivers for salmon, trout, songbirds, and for nearby communities.
Wrangling Water: Cattle are not the only things being rounded up at some Florida ranches. Residents are also herding water! And it’s proving to be a good thing both for the economy and the environment. A pilot program pays ranchers to use their low-lying lands to store water. Water that’s captured during the wet season can then be slowly released during dry months into the tributaries of Lake Okeechobee.
Body Electric: Ever listen to a fish? It’s possible with an electric knifefish! While better known electric eels use electricity to stun their prey, these creatures use electricity to navigate and communicate. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are intrigued by this sixth “electro sense,” and are learning more about how these fish use this tool to find their way around— and locate their next meal.
Census in the Smokies: This nature audit has been going on for 10 years and gives scientists a good idea about the trends of life in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A small army of “citizen scientists” help researchers collect specimens, and then analyze their findings.