We can – and must – stop our plastic legacy

Countless animals ingest plastics and die. Do we care? Do we care that these plastics are now in the human food chain?

We can – and must – stop our plastic legacyWe often see news items about the environmental impact of single-use plastic straws. And we want to do something, which is good. Costa Rica plans to ban single-use plastics. At a recent G7 summit, the nations condemned single use straws and said they will discuss the matter at a future meeting. But no action has…

Boreal forests offer refuge to plants, animals as climate changes

U of A biologists lead effort to identify lakes, hills and peat lands where species stand a better chance of survival

Boreal forests offer refuge to plants, animals as climate changesNorth America’s boreal forests are warming and drying from climate change. But they still hold places that can offer refuge for plants and animals, according to University of Alberta scientists who have taken the lead in creating a guide to identify those areas. The information about these sheltered places known as climate-change refugia – including…

COVID-19 could reduce wildfire risk this season: expert

Humans account for up to 80% of Alberta’s wildfires in May but that’s likely to change this year as health measures keep people at home

COVID-19 could reduce wildfire risk this season: expertCOVID-19 may cause a drop in spring wildfires as people are still being asked to self-isolate throughout May, Alberta's riskiest fire month, says a University of Alberta expert. “Since we’re still staying at home in May, there are fewer people recreating or working in the forests and human-caused fires will be reduced,” said wildfire scientist Mike…

Buckets of rain put wildlife in peril

With climate change, unrelenting rains can be challenging for wildlife and plants

Buckets of rain put wildlife in perilaa Rain is a good thing. It has so many beneficial properties – a source of drinking water for everything, a source of nutrition for plants and micro-organisms, a refreshing relief from the heat, a mechanism to replenish aquifers and lakes, a means to clean overlooked homes and cars, fun for kids of all ages,…

Applying barnyard lessons to the pandemic aftermath

For many, the current economic climate is very difficult. There are serious challenges ahead

Applying barnyard lessons to the pandemic aftermathIt had rained all day and as I walked that evening with my wife, I noticed the worms on the road, clambering to escape the torrents of water that were flooding their living spaces. Finding a discarded drink cup, I started collecting them for our garden. Counting them as I went, I was taken back…

Exploring Alaska’s remote, enchanting shores

Joining the few privileged to travel to remote and obscure offshore islands like Baby, Unga, Haystacks, Aghyuk and the Aleutians

Exploring Alaska’s remote, enchanting shoresMy anticipation heightened as I waited for my flight. I was about to join the few privileged to explore Alaska beyond the usual ports of call, travelling to remote and obscure offshore islands. Nome Nome is where it all began for me. I was surprised at the appearance of this small coastal community, for it…

Campground cops could help us regain a simple summer pleasure

Campground cops could help us regain a simple summer pleasureMost springs, Canadians are overjoyed just to hear the words “sun” and “temperatures in the pluses.” But this year, they’ve been supplanted by one simple phrase: “We’re flattening the curve.” We are feeling cautious optimism that the very worst of the COVID-19 threat has passed, and that our country is beginning to gain some ground…

Prying into the private lives of birds in love

Wild things don’t actually fall in love, since reproduction is a serious business that involves advertising for the sole purpose of mating

Prying into the private lives of birds in loveAh spring, a time for flowers and April showers, birds and bees, a chorus of frogs, greening of the earth and love at first sight. Well, wild things don’t actually fall in love, since reproduction is a serious business that involves advertising for the sole purpose of mating. We’re all very familiar with spring birdsong…

Vernal ponds are at the heart of the forest life cycle

Frogs, toads, salamanders, insects and other invertebrates teem in vernal pools, depending on where you live in the country

Vernal ponds are at the heart of the forest life cycleHave you ever walked in a forest in early spring and seen all the beautiful little ponds that dot the landscape? Have you gone there again in July and wondered where they went? I can explain what’s happening here and why they’re so critical to many animals. Vernal pools – also known as ephemeral, autumnal,…