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

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

Are there really no snakes in Ireland?

Were there really no snakes in Ireland before St. Patrick showed up? Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager ponder this and other questions. They explained there are in fact, places with no native snakes, particularly isolated places like New Zealand and Greenland. [full story]

Where did all the seagulls come from?

Martha Foley talks with Dr. Curt Stager about the population boom of seagulls in the last few decades, particularly ring-billed gulls found in the northeastern United States and the Great Lakes region. [full story]

Pointier eggs and ultraviolet colors help some birds survive

This week, Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager continue their discussion about eggs, exploring the color and shape of birds' eggshells, from green, white, and brown to pointy and ovoid.Some variations in shape and size are just that, variations, but some have also appear to have survival value for their respective species. [full story]

Why are bird eggs different colors?

Why are bird eggs different colors? According to Dr. Curt Stager most of them start out white. Colors come later in development. Glands in the oviduct deposit color onto the eggs as they pass through to be laid. Speckled eggs are actually a little stronger than unspeckled ones. Emu eggs are almost black and some species have metallic colors. Individual variations in eggs of the same species can help parents return to the right nest.Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about why birds' eggs look the way they do. [full story]

Strange relations: Birds get a whole new family tree

Whippoorwills and hummingbirds are close kin. And penguins, who only walk and swim, are cousins to the albatross which only flies. Who knew? A new classification system for birds looks at their genetics as well as their anatomy.Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley discuss bird evolution. [full story]

How do you tell a raven from a crow?

Ravens were once a rarity in the North Country, but now they are becoming a common sight. They have a similar appearance to crows, but if you see the two birds together the difference is obvious. For one thing, ravens are big. For another, crows caw, while the cry of a raven is more of a croak.Martha Foley and Curt Stager discuss other ways to tell the two apart, why ravens became a scarce presence in recent times, and why they might be making a comeback now. [full story]

Yellow perch - Adirondack natives after all

For decades, Adirondack resource managers have blamed the yellow perch for the decline of heritage trout strains, believing that perch were introduced to Adirondack waters in recent times and have been displacing the native strains from their historic habitat.But lake sediment core samples taken by Curt Stager and his students at Paul Smiths College yield DNA evidence showing that trout have been co-existing with perch for at least 2,000 years there. While perch are aggressive competitors and native trout are in decline, the reason for the change in balance likely lies in other factors yet to be determined. [full story]

What happens if you press "reset" on evolution?

When species move into a new habitat, some of the "tricks" their genes have learned no longer work to help them thrive. Some species will pick up new tricks - sometimes the same new trick more than once - and some will fail to adapt. Martha Foley and Curt Stager look at silent crickets and flightless birds. [full story]

How lichens live on next to nothing

(Sep 21, 2017) What we call reindeer moss is nothing of the kind. It's not even a plant; it's a lichen. Lichens, which account for half of the natural nitrogen fertilizer used by plants and animals, are a combination of a fungus colony with algae and cyanobacteria that can live on practically nothing - dust, pollen, rain and snow.Martha Foley and Curt Stager talk about nature's original minimalists. [full story]

Natural deceptions: crime (and punishment) among animals and plants

(Sep 14, 2017) Social primates are supposed to share when they find food, but some will cheat. If they are caught, the group will punish them. Some plants and fungi use a kind of barter system to swap nutrients, and some of them will also cheat. But they risk being caught and cut off.Martha Foley and Curt Stager look at crime and punishment in the natural world. [full story]

Natural deceptions: crime (and punishment) among animals and plants

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