Natural Selections from NCPR

From NCPR

Conversations about the natural world with Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley, from member-supported North Country Public Radio.More from Natural Selections from NCPR »

Most Recent Episodes

Cliff swallows grow smaller wings to dodge cars

(Jan 12, 2017) Researchers have found that variations in the wingspan of cliff swallows has a measurable impact on their survival in a human-dominated environment. In this week's Natural Selections, Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley discuss how cliff swallows living in a high traffic area have adapted to survive the conditions.

Bumblebees and "flower power"

(Jan 5, 2017) Static electricity plays a role in getting pollen to come loose from the blossom and to stick to the pollinator. According to a recent study using petunias and bumblebees, British researchers observed that the flowers increase their electrical charge in response to the presence of pollinating insects.The charge peaks in intensity just before the potential pollinator begins feeding on nectar, and decreases after they go away.Martha Foley and naturalist Curt Stager discuss this unique example of "flower power."

Flowers entice bees with nectar, and a little caffeine

(Dec 29, 2016) Plants have many strategies for manipulating animals to do their bidding. Some flowers focus the attention of their pollinators with a familiar pick-me-up: caffeine. Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager discuss the natural world.

Cryoseisms and other ominous sounds of ice

(Dec 22, 2016) One of the features of a hard winter can be loud spooky booming noises. These may be cryoseisms or "icequakes," caused when masses of ice expand and contract until they reach a breaking point. The sound signals the release of large amounts of energy.Lake ice can also make alarming noises; some expert skaters can accurately estimate the thickness of the ice from the pitch of the noise.Ice expansion within trees and within homes can also add to winter jitters. Martha Foley and Curt Stager listen to the winter.

How ice evolves over time

(Dec 15, 2016) Fresh ice, sometimes called black ice, can be nice and clear and great for skating, but after a while ice gets kind of funky. Freezes and thaws and snowfalls take their toll on ice, creating white ice, which contains a lot of trapped air and gases.Martha Foley and Curt Stager talk about the evolution of ice over the season.

Spiders cast a wide variety of nets

(Dec 1, 2016) Spiders from big to tiny use their webs to snag and trap prey in fascinating ways. One spider even reels in tiny gnats that come to "roost" on the web. The silky constructions are wonders of engineering and construction. They're also highly specialized, spider to spider. Martha Foley and Curt Stager talk about spiders and the tangled webs they weave.

If a porcupine climbs a tree, don't stand directly underneath

(Nov 24, 2016) Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley talk about porcupines: why (and how) they climb trees and why it can be a dangerous job. Plus, what to do when one lives under (and gnaws on) your porch.Get up close, but not too close, to porcupines.

Natural Selections: Fungus and forest

(Nov 17, 2016) Tall trees may be the kings of the forest, but there is another kingdom of forest life that passes unnoticed. Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley talk about the arboreal network of fungus.

The violent effects of slow continental drift

(Nov 10, 2016) The theory of continental drift, the idea that the continents are islands of rock adrift on the earth's molten core, first gained acceptance in the 1960s. Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley talk about the consequences of their extreme slow motion collisions - earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Leaf cutter ants are fungus farmers

(Nov 3, 2016) Why do leaf cutter ants cut leaves? Nesting material, food? As Martha Foley and Curt Stager explain, these ants are composting. What they actually eat grows on the rotting leaves.

Back To Top