Ecology | WCAI


Is Winter Miserable for Wildlife?

Dec 22, 2019
tim elliott/

Fall Gardening a Time to Think Holistically

Sep 9, 2019

If you’re like many people you might think of fall as the end of the gardening and landscaping season: time to rake the leaves and clear out the veggie beds. That’s definitely part of it, but there’s a lot more to fall gardening than that.

Making Catch-And-Release Safer For Sharks

Jun 10, 2019
Scientist Jeff Kneebone tags a juvenile sand tiger shark in Quincy Bay off Wollaston Beach.
Courtesy Jeff Kneebone

Say the word “shark” to a New Englander these days and the mind jumps straight to great white sharks, which have seen a remarkable increase here in recent years.

But great whites aren't the only sharks around. And it turns out we know little about many of the sharks that frequent New England's waters.

Now there’s a new effort to understand how catch-and-release fishing of sandbar sharks impacts their survival.

Creating Gardens That Double as Habitat

May 5, 2019
Wildlife habitat gardens provide food and shelter for wildlife in the midst of human neighborhoods.
Photo by David Mizejewski / National Wildlife Federation

Habitat loss is one of the greatest threats to the diversity of plants and animals on Earth. Parks and wild lands are essential for conserving ecosystems. But it turns out our back yards and even urban balconies can also play an important role. 

Osprey Comeback Is A Welcome Success Story

Apr 14, 2019
Photo by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash

When an English farmer spotted an osprey a century ago, she would aim her shotgun at the broad silhouette and shoot.

“They were seen as vermin,” says Alan Poole, a senior research associate at Cornell University.

Zebras' Stripes Ward Off Flies

Feb 24, 2019
Paul Maritz /

The question of why zebras have stripes goes back to the time of Charles Darwin.

One theory goes that they work as camouflage. Another theory is that they are an identification system that only zebras can understand.

Now we know that the stripes serve as an important protection against biting flies.

Fish Noises Help Scientists Locate, Understand Them

Dec 10, 2018
The striped cusk eel makes a woodpecker-like drumming sound.

The sounds fish make can actually be an important tool for scientists attempting to track and manage fish populations. Underwater microphones can identify the presence of invasive species or reveal when and where fish are mating.

Noah’s Ark for Endangered Species

Jul 30, 2018

Over the past couple of weeks, both President Trump and Congress have proposed multiple changes to the Endangered Species Act. Those changes are controversial, but it’s worth noting this isn’t the first attempt to modify the Act. In fact, the Center for Biological Diversity says there have been more than 300 changes or proposed changes in the past two decades, and the pace has picked up in the past several years.

Cape Cod Rivers Getting Needed Attention

Jul 30, 2018
Courtesy WHRC,

Cape Cod is known for beaches, not rivers. But rivers are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding and addressing coastal water quality issues. And it turns out that the Cape’s rivers have been relatively neglected by scientists as well as the public. Not so anymore.

Walk into a wine shop today and you’ll likely find hundreds of brands and vintages, but most of them will be made from a handful of grape varieties grown in a handful of wine-making hot spots, like France, Italy, California, and Australia. 

One might think that's because those are the best wine grapes and the best places to grow them, but wine has been grown and made in a wide range of places for thousands of years.

Korea, Geopolitics, and Frogs

May 28, 2018
Jack Hamilton /

The Korean peninsula is at the center of global geopolitics right now. It might also be ground zero for the global decline of amphibians. And, strangely, the two might be connected. 

You Can Take Part In The Female Bird Song Project

May 21, 2018

Until recently, researchers thought that most of the birds that sing were males. But in 2016, Karan Odom went through samples of songs from more than a thousand species from around the world and found that 64 percent of the species had females that sing.

Odom is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Leiden University and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She has launched a new citizen science initiative called the Female Bird Song Project.

Native Plants for New England Gardens

Mar 19, 2018
Viet Vang / unsplash

Mid-March is when many in southern New England would usually get their gardens started. With the weather we’ve been having, that may seem a distant dream right now. That just leaves us extra time for planning.

A New Guide to Walden Pond

Mar 5, 2018

About half a million people visit Walden Pond State Reservation annually. Many come because of Henry David Thoreau’s book, “Walden,” which remains at least as popular as it was 150 years ago.

Inside the EPA

Nov 27, 2017

Autumn Oczkowski made headlines earlier this month, not for her science, but for the fact that EPA leadership told her she couldn’t present that science at a conference about the future of Narragansett Bay. EPA leadership never said why they made that decision, but many assumed it was because climate change would be a major theme. A week later, though, Oczkowski was allowed to present her research at a different conference.