Food supply chain resilience put to the test by B.C. floods

Supply chains in Western Canada have always been vulnerable and that’s not going to change anytime soon

Food supply chain resilience put to the test by B.C. floodsImages from British Columbia over the past week have been heartbreaking: human casualties, dairy cows barely breathing above water before being pulled to safety, the loss of livestock across the Fraser Valley. Just devastating. And the flow of goods on rail and roads is severely compromised. Many now claim that flash floods and atmospheric rivers…

How animals use mimicry to survive and thrive

Mimicry is usually designed to protect prey from predators. But some also use the tactic to fool prey

How animals use mimicry to survive and thriveWhat you see may not be what you get when it comes to the natural world. Many animals use mimicry to fool predators and prey into thinking they’re something else, with insects putting on the best show in this regard. Tens of thousands of species of insects aren’t what they seem at first glance. But…

Eight worst wildfire weather years on record happened in the last decade

Communities need to be prepared for more to come

Eight worst wildfire weather years on record happened in the last decadeThe world’s eight most extreme wildfire weather years have occurred in the last decade, according to a new study that suggests extreme fire weather is being driven by a decrease in atmospheric humidity coupled with rising temperatures. “Extreme conditions drive the world’s fire activity,” said former University of Alberta wildfire expert Michael Flannigan, who conducted…

Fossil thought to be missing link between lizards, snakes debunked

The ‘snake with four legs’ is instead a long-bodied marine lizard

Fossil thought to be missing link between lizards, snakes debunkedFilling in the links of the evolutionary chain with a fossil record of a “snake with four legs” connecting lizards and early snakes would be a dream come true for paleontologists. But a specimen formerly thought to fit the bill is not the missing piece of the puzzle, according to a new study led by…

Raptors on the move are a sight to behold

Food and weather are driving migration forces. The best places to look are along coastal areas

Raptors on the move are a sight to beholdNo, this article on raptors isn’t about basketball – it’s about birds. Raptors – including hawks, eagles, falcons, harriers, owls and vultures – undertake prolonged and extensive migrations over a protracted period. What drives them? Where do they go? Let’s talk about owls first. Most owls are actually quite sedentary and only move short distances…

How to catch the fall blue jay migration spectacle

The path of jays follows major waterways: Lakes Ontario and Erie representing major pathways

How to catch the fall blue jay migration spectacleAlthough there are many references to the autumn passage of blue jays (cyanocitta cristata) through Ontario and Eastern Canada in literature, the migration isn’t well documented from a quantitative perspective. The fall passage of blue jays through Ontario has long been observed, with reports at least as early as 1906 by the famous naturalist Arthur…

Do you have smelly neighbours? (Skunks, not pot growers)

To avoid being sprayed, watch for the signs: foot stomping, hissing and tail raising

Do you have smelly neighbours? (Skunks, not pot growers)Ask almost anyone what they think of skunks and their nose will curl up and they’ll frown. I kind of like the smell. Don’t get your knickers in a knot – personal preferences are, well, personal! So why don’t we explore the life of these common, but maligned, mammals? But before we do … although…

100-million-year-old crab trapped in amber helps fill evolutionary gap

Oldest non-marine crab ever – and most complete crab fossil known – identified

100-million-year-old crab trapped in amber helps fill evolutionary gapA young crustacean locked in amber 100 million years ago is filling a crucial gap in the puzzle of crab evolution, according to a University of Alberta PhD graduate whose work adds to growing evidence that the crab form is an evolutionary darling. “This crab is telling us a very interesting story about the tree…

Researcher aims to buy more time for dairy calves to absorb vital antibodies

Immunity problem affects nearly a third of calves worldwide

Researcher aims to buy more time for dairy calves to absorb vital antibodiesA University of Alberta dairy researcher is picking up where scientists left off 40 years ago, trying to solve an ongoing problem with calf health. Up to 30 per cent of dairy calves worldwide don’t get enough vital antibodies before birth to ward off the risk of diarrhea caused by E. coli and other bacteria.…

Fungi fundamentals: the truth about mushrooms

Fungi have great names – turkey tail, pigskin poison, honey mushroom – and come in all shapes and sizes

Fungi fundamentals: the truth about mushroomsMy local nature club recently hosted a mushroom walk. No, that’s not where you take your pet mushroom for a walk. We visited some trails in central Ontario looking for different types of mushrooms, poisonous and edible. We weren’t foraging so we left the woods as we found them, although many others go to local…
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