Can beavers catch chronic wasting disease?

New research suggests beavers may be susceptible to the fatal illness – increasing spread between species

Can beavers catch chronic wasting disease?Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an infectious disease that affects the central nervous systems of animals, typically affecting cervids such as deer, elk and moose. “CWD is always fatal. There’s no cure; there are no treatments,” says Debbie McKenzie, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. CWD is increasing its geographic range as well…

My neighbour the osprey in all its grandeur

These magnificent birds often nest in odd places, such as the light standards and hydroelectric towers

My neighbour the osprey in all its grandeurThe waterfront of Port Perry, Ont., is hosting new neighbours. Two osprey have taken up residence right in the middle of town on the waterfront. These magnificent birds inspire awe but often nest in odd places, such as the light standards and hydroelectric towers. A pair has nested for years at the ball fields at…

Forestry grad harvests his passion for the outdoors into a career

Fergus McSween is applying his new knowledge of forests, plants and animals to help protect them

Forestry grad harvests his passion for the outdoors into a careerFergus McSween loves the outdoors. Growing up in Calgary, he spent much of his youth outside the city, roaming Alberta’s forests as a Scout, on school outdoor education trips, or camping with friends and family. “Nature is so peaceful and tranquil. It’s a place where I can be myself, turn my brain off and just…

Does the internet make us better naturalists?

While the amount of information available is astounding, it is usually hard to find the answers

Does the internet make us better naturalists?When I was a kid, we didn’t have cellphones, the internet or even computers. Facebook, TikTok, Tumblr, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram or myriad other social media platforms didn’t exist. Add to that the many apps that are available to help us learn bird songs or identify everything from plants, mammals and insects to mushrooms, and we…

New approach using species traits could be critical for conservation efforts

Examining characteristics could help scientists better predict how climate change will affect all life

New approach using species traits could be critical for conservation effortsIt’s not enough to understand what the effects of climate change are. Society needs ways to get ahead of these changes, to predict them before they actually happen. And when it comes to conservation, the approach scientists use to study species in the wild could be critical to these predictions, according to a recent research…

Uptick in avian flu cases poses little threat to humans

Risk of transmission to people and pets is very low unless you're regularly in contact with birds

Uptick in avian flu cases poses little threat to humansIf the recent increase in avian influenza cases has you concerned, you likely have nothing to worry about and don’t need to take any added measures, according to a University of Alberta expert on influenza in birds. As with human flu, there are a variety of strains of avian flu, explains Katharine Magor, a professor…

Give a hoot and support the Great Canadian Birdathon

The Great Canadian Birdathon is designed to raise much-needed funds to protect Canadian birds

Give a hoot and support the Great Canadian BirdathonOne of the biggest challenges birds face is the journey north each spring. Migration is rife with obstacles to survival. This spring is especially problematic due to the cold and wet weather we’ve had. Birds that rely on insects to fatten up for the migration face unprecedented challenges as snow, rain, wind and very cold…

Birdwatching in Honduras – plumage aplenty

Daily delights greeted us – toucans, parrots, butterflies, flowering trees, towering mountains

Birdwatching in Honduras – plumage aplentySpring is an exciting time of year as everything awakens and regrowth is rampant. I always eagerly anticipate the return of the birds that migrated southbound last fall. Their beauty and – more importantly – their song delights and revitalizes me. I know where they go, but I seldom get a chance to see them…

Including Indigenous perspectives in conservation planning

How Indigenous and Western knowledge can be equal partners in conservation solutions

Including Indigenous perspectives in conservation planningProtecting the world’s increasingly fragile environments through land and wildlife management, using the thoughtful approach of Indigenous knowledge, is an idea close to Jared Gonet’s heart. As a citizen of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, the University of Alberta student in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences is working with his community and with…

Breeding bird study offers insights into health of the environment

Continuing intensive breeding bird survey involves thousands of volunteers, hundreds of thousands of bits of data

Breeding bird study offers insights into health of the environmentEvery spring, I get excited as the birds start to return to Ontario from South and Central America. Life is emerging everywhere. Even though nature sometimes seems to conspire against them with cold snaps following sunny days, birds persist. Fire, rain, wind, predators, agricultural and industrial activities, cars, cats and inadvertent human disturbance all work…

Cluster flies on your window? Spring has sprung

They share our home until the weather warms enough, then emerge and try to find their way home

Cluster flies on your window? Spring has sprungIt isn’t hard to see that the land is awakening as spring slowly unfolds before our eyes. One of the revelations I always marvel at in the spring is the rapid emergence of insects when it’s still so cold outside. Even though the outside temperature was only a few degrees above freezing at my house…

Biologists develop better way to identify individual animals at night

Will help answer questions related to population density, foraging patterns and more

Biologists develop better way to identify individual animals at nightBiologists and ecologists often need to identify individual animals in the wild to help answer questions related to population density, foraging patterns and more. But there’s an issue: many of the markers they use, such as tags with colours or numbers, are only clearly visible in daylight – which poses a challenge for studying nocturnal…

Are we Earth’s protectors if we carelessly wipe out species?

The well-being of the animals and the benefits they provide us rarely factored in

Are we Earth’s protectors if we carelessly wipe out species?Typically I note articles that cross my desk that report negative stories about nature. Historically, they didn’t emerge that frequently and nature, in general, was doing pretty well, despite some ongoing issues with overhunting, predator control, urbanization, pesticides and poaching. I read and keep these stories because sometimes lessons can be learned by studying other…

How bugs and worms could help restore land after industrial use

‘A whole world under our feet’: soil dwellers offer a fuller picture of how reclamation efforts are working

How bugs and worms could help restore land after industrial useThe tiny creatures teeming in the dirt under our feet don’t seem important, but University of Alberta research is starting to unearth ways some of them could help measure land reclamation efforts. Invertebrates such as worms, mites, centipedes and beetles affect the soil, but they aren’t included in current criteria that help mining, forestry, oil…

Containment key to managing invasive species in Alberta lake: study

New research yields critical information on Chinese mystery snail

Containment key to managing invasive species in Alberta lake: studyNew research led by University of Alberta scientists could help contain the spread of the Chinese mystery snail, an invasive species whose discovery in a southern Alberta lake is as enigmatic as its name. “Chinese mystery snails have been found throughout Eastern Canada and most of the continental United States, but to find them in…
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