Archive for ‘Nature / Ecology’

Sunday, June 17, 2007

An ode to meadows & grasslands

by Caroline Brown

A study released yesterday by the National Audubon Society found that the populations of many common birds have taken a nosedive, primarily due to habitat loss:

The dramatic declines are attributed to the loss of grasslands, healthy forests and wetlands, and other critical habitats from multiple environmental threats such as sprawl, energy development, and the spread of industrialized agriculture.


Overall, agricultural and development pressures have driven grassland birds to some of the worst declines, followed closely by shrub, wetland and forest-dependent species.

I’m sad about the birds, but it’s also depressing to think that some day, children won’t know what a meadow looks like. Read the press release for yourself to learn about which birds are declining in numbers; there’s no need for me to restate the Society’s good work. I’ll spend my time eulogizing their habitats instead. First, an ode to grasslands and meadows.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Great resource on gardening and global warming

by Caroline Brown

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has a lot of interesting programs and information for “citizen scientists” and everyday nature advocates. A recent entry that’s pretty impressive is The Gardener’s Guide to Global Warming. They do a really good job of tying together many of the issues facing gardeners as global climate change becomes a reality.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Species evolution due to climate change

by Caroline Brown

Today’s Boston Globe carried an interesting article about how climate change has caused and will continue to cause species to evolve as they adapt to new conditions. It seems that scientists have identified five species that have already evolved due to climate change: the pitcher plant mosquito; Canadian red squirrels; the European blackcap (a bird); the fruit fly; and the European great tits (yes that’s really its name, and it’s a bird).

At left is a photo of the purple pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea, home to the pitcher plant mosquito, Wyeomyia smithii. (Photo courtesy of Janet Novak and the Connecticut Botanical Society.) The mosquito lives exclusively in bogs where the purple pitcher plant grows. Purple pitcher plants can live up to 100 years, eating insects that drown in its pitcher-shaped, water-filled leaves. This particular mosquito has a symbiotic relationship with the pitcher plant, because it doesn’t die in the leaves and actually feeds on decaying insects that have drowned.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

The Grey Lady weighs in

by Caroline Brown

If it seems like I’m obsessed with the weather, it’s because I am. Curt and I went on a CANOE RIDE yesterday. In New England, in January. (The blog header shows what the same lake looked like a year ago.) But rest easy everyone, because the New York Times’s Maria Newman wrote yesterday that the unseasonably warm weather in the Northeast is not due to global warming:

Thursday, January 4, 2007

More about our bizarre warm winter

by Caroline Brown

A couple of days ago, I noted the warm weather but mentioned that we were “back on track” for cold weather. Wrong–today’s high is supposed to be 58 degrees F. The weather is so weirdly warm that it’s turned into a topic that everyone’s talking (and writing) about. From yesterday’s Providence Journal, Michelle Lee writes about the effects of the warm winter that we’ve been having:

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Natural plant communities for ecological gardening

by Caroline Brown

Ecological gardens–sometimes called forest gardens–are based on natural native or naturalized plant groupings or communities in your region. I’ve been looking into the concept and have felt for some time that the hardest part about planning this type of garden is knowing what to plant. OK, you know that in your area there are many oak/history forests–now what?