Over the past century the grasslands of northern Mexico have been taken over by shrubby mesquite and turned to desert. Ecologist Gerardo Cellabos is on a mission to turn them back. Can he restore an entire prairie ecosystem? Cellabos hopes he can, with the help of an unlikely ally. Ari Daniel Shapiro reports from Chihuahua.
Image Credit: Arthur Chapman, Flickr: EOL Images. CC BY-NC-SA
What can species as different as a hedgehog, a swift, and a glow-worm possibly have in common? To find out, we journey to southwest England. We’ll join two naturalists on a walk through the heart of Exeter, a city known more for its football club and cathedral than for its wildlife. You may be surprised at what we find.
Image Credit: Piotr Halas, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA
Does the mane really make the lion? Certainly, luxurious locks are the feature that sets Panthera leo apart from the other large cats. But surprisingly, not all male lions have manes. And back in the early Pleistocene, manes covered more of the lion than just the head.
Ari Daniel Shapiro speaks with archivist Connie Rinaldo of the Biodiversity Heritage Library and Harvard University and curator of mammals Bruce Patterson of Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History to learn about the diversity of lions in the distant past and the challenges they face in the present.
Image Credit: H. Vannoy Davis, CalPhotos, California Academy of Sciences. CC BY-NC-SA
There’s a chill in the air this week as we travel to a mountain range in Norway in search of muskoxen, Ice Age survivors that once roamed the far north alongside the woolly mammoth. Introduced to Norway from Greenland in the 1940s, muskoxen flourished on these cool, dry slopes until 2006, when the seemingly healthy animals began to die. Ari Daniel Shapiro investigates the muskox mystery.
Atlantic Bluefin can weigh up to 1,000 pounds (454 kgs), and swim up to 45 mph (72 km/ph). Scientist wondered where these tuna were going and turned to electronic tagging to follow them. They were surprised at what they discovered.
It may have pretty purple flowers, but Eichhornia crassipes is a green menace. Introduced to Africa from the neotropics, this invasive weed is choking Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest lake. Water hyacinth has carpeted vast stretches of the lake, fouling fishing nets and blocking harbors. Ari Daniel Shapiro teams with reporter in the field, Gastive Oyani, to speak with local fishermen and botanist Helida Oyieke. They learn how the lake and the lives of the people who depend on it are responding to this weedy challenge.
Learn more about water hyacinth and meet Dr. Oyieke on the Learning + Education section of the Encyclopedia of Life.
Vacuumed up from its habitat a mile down in the ocean, the red paper lantern jelly may not look like much. Mostly water, it’s so fragile that once brought to the surface it’s reduced to a tattered blob in a jar. But this unassuming jellyfish has lessons for scientists. It’s teaching researchers in Japan how intricately life is connected down in the ocean’s deep, dark depths—and how the fate of this small red lantern sheds light on the fragility of life close to home.
Curators Charlotte Taylor and Carmen Ulloa Ulloa at the Missouri Botanical Garden. (Photo Credit: Kate Lawless, courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden)
In a large greenhouse at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri, there grows a slender sapling of Cinchona pubescens, a tree that has played a remarkable role in human history. Journeying to this artificial tropical forest under glass, Ari Daniel Shapiro asks curators Carmen Ulloa Ulloa and Charlotte Taylor just what makes this famous “fever tree” special. He also learns how it’s possible to open a three-hundred-year-old bundle of dried plant specimens and disappear—happily—into the past. Listen to this Encyclopedia of Life One Species at a Time podcast to hear the story.
We want to know about the plants that you collect – both the live ones and the flattened and dead ones. Send us your photos and tell us why these plants are interesting to you. Email us at: education(at)eol.org.
Renowned evolutionary biologist Edward O. Wilson has spent his long career cracking the code of ants. It’s the ants’ ability to communicate and form tight-knit societies that lies behind their extraordinary evolutionary success. We visit Wilson in his office at Harvard to learn the nature of the ants’ special language—and what’s in an ant’s name. Listen to this Encyclopedia of Life One Species at a Time podcast to hear the story.
What is the Encyclopedia of Life?
The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is a free, online collaborative encyclopedia intended to document all of the 1.9 million living species known to science — and those yet to be discovered. The information on EOL is aggregated from existing scientific databases and from contributions by experts and non-experts throughout the world. It aims to build one “infinitely expandable” page for each species, including video, sound, images, graphics, as well as text. EOL encourages citizen scientist contributions to help build this global biodiversity resource.
What is One Species at a Time?
The audio series One Species at a Time is a tribute to life on Earth and is a way to make information about species interesting and accessible. Each episode is a story, a mystery, a riddle, or an exploration of a different creature pulsing, fluttering, surging, respiring and galloping on this planet. Biodiversity is center stage.