Exploring bee behaviour opens new career possibilities

Tianna Tanasichuk's internship was a chance to gain experience – not learn about herself

Exploring bee behaviour opens new career possibilitiesWorking in the sunshine, surrounded by the soft hum of a dozen beehives this summer, Tianna Tanasichuk couldn’t help thinking of her recently passed Métis great-grandmother. “Whenever I was working with the bees, I felt like if she was here, she’d be proud of me, knowing I took this risk, of trying to grow by…

Is there a good side to forest fires?

Fires are a form of selective harvest

Is there a good side to forest fires?The media is abuzz with the devastating wildfires in western and central Canada and across parts of Europe. Tens of thousands of hectares and countless lives and families have been impacted. As you read on, please don’t think for a moment that I’m uncaring for those affected. But is there an upside to these fires…

Predicting which species most at risk from voracious lionfish predators

We have only two to five years to act once lionfish arrive

Predicting which species most at risk from voracious lionfish predatorsCoastal countries have between two and five years to act to protect native fish species once voracious lionfish arrive in their waters, according to a University of Alberta ecology professor who helped create a tool to predict which fish are in danger. The lionfish, originally a popular aquarium species native only to the Pacific and…

What’s in a name when it comes to groups of animals?

One might find a shrewdness of apes, a congress of baboons, or an obstinacy of bison

What’s in a name when it comes to groups of animals?Often we struggle to name a group of animals when we see several feeding or playing together: Was that a bunch of birds or a flock of felines or a gambit of gnus? Actually, it’s none of those. I decided to compile a list of as many names as I could find for as many…

Venomous fangs evolved independently in vipers and cobras

U of A biology grads shed new light on the evolution of an iconic feature of some modern snakes

Venomous fangs evolved independently in vipers and cobrasVenom fangs evolved separately in several species of modern snakes, according to a new study led by former University of Alberta students and post-doctoral fellows in an international collaboration. “This research provides a textbook example of convergent evolution, in which two or more lineages with a common ancestor tweak that ancestral body plan in similar…

When it gets cold, where do all the bugs go?

Insects reduce their functions so only essential processes work: respiration and waste elimination

When it gets cold, where do all the bugs go?I know it’s still summer but soon it will get colder and things will be radically different. Sometimes I wonder where all the bugs go in the winter. Seems a bit silly but they’re out there somewhere all winter – at least most of them. But where are they? Insects and their allies (e.g. spiders,…

My close and unforgettable encounters with wolves

The wolf came within 25 metres and stared at me as if looking through me, then trotted back into the bush, satisfied that I was neither tasty nor a threat

My close and unforgettable encounters with wolvesThe eastern grey wolf is a mysterious animal that evokes different emotions in us. How you react comes down to how much time you’ve spent with them or, more importantly, how much time you’ve taken to learn something about them. I’ve always revered them, having had several close encounters over the years. Each has left…

ConnecTour Chronicles: Out of the blue, an army on the prowl

The bees came at us like a fleet of enemy fighter planes

ConnecTour Chronicles: Out of the blue, an army on the prowlTroy Media publisher Doug Firby and Travel editor Lisa Monforton are part of a group of Canadians who call themselves ConnecTour. Starting in May in British Columbia and ending in October in Newfoundland, they hope to make an 8,000-km bicycle journey across the country, discovering how the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our lives and our…

How do zebra finches learn to build their nests?

By observing the building techniques of other birds

How do zebra finches learn to build their nests?Like archeologists learning how past humans built their homes, birds can learn construction techniques by observing unoccupied nests, according to a new study. University of Alberta scientists found that zebra finches learn about nest building by observing an empty nest – but only if they first learn what a nest is. “We gave half our…

Student discovers threatened beetle is actually two separate subspecies

Discovery means the nationally threatened Gibson’s big sand tiger beetle is more at risk than previously thought

Student discovers threatened beetle is actually two separate subspeciesAn undergraduate research study has found that a threatened type of beetle found in Saskatchewan and Colorado is, in fact, made up of two genetically distinct subspecies. The discovery has important implications for conservation efforts for the insects and shows that both populations of Gibson’s big sand tiger beetle are more threatened than previously thought.…
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