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endangered species

  • chytrid fungus spore

    How “Useless” Science Unraveled an Amphibian Apocalypse

    One spring day in 1984, Joyce Longcore got a phone call from Joan Brooks, a biologist at the University of Maine. Brooks had received a National Science Foundation grant to study the interactions of fungi and bacteria in peat bogs. She needed a hand, and she heard through the grapevine that Longcore knew a bit […]

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    The Hated, Invasive Parasite That’s Actually a Key Part of Its Ecosystem

    Sea lampreys showing off their unusual mouthsJoanna Gilkeson/USFWS Several years ago, a young man bow-fishing on New Jersey’s Raritan river spotted a long, thin creature in the murky water. He shot the animal through the neck, reeled it in, and posed for photographs. Eventually a friend posted one to Reddit. Within days it went viral, […]

  • passenger pigeon eggs de-extinction hero

    To Bring Back Extinct Species, We’ll Need to Change Our Own

    Passenger pigeon eggs at the Maine State MuseumBrandon Keim; displayed courtesy of Paula Work, registrar & curator of zoology at the museum The last passenger pigeon died just over a century ago, though they’ve lived on as symbols—of extinction’s awful finality, and also of a human carelessness so immense that it could exterminate without really […]

  • hellbender hero

    Biologists’ Clever Way to Detect Animals They Can’t Find

    A hellbender at the National Zoo in WashingtonBrian Gratwicke via Flickr Wildlife doesn’t get much weirder than the hellbender, a frilly, crayfish-gobbling salamander, about the length of a baby alligator, whose bizarre aliases include “snot otter,” “devil dog,” and “grampus.” The giant amphibian stalks rocky streambeds throughout the eastern United States—or at least it did, […]

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    Where Endangered Vultures Go for a Healthy, Rotting Meal

    A young, captive Cape vultureChelsea Biondolillo   The sun is hot and high over Hartbeetspoort, South Africa, the air thick with humidity and flies. On the dirt in front of us are the remains of three cows. Bridgette Cahill asks, “Ready to get your hands dirty?” Her fellow volunteer Nobuhle Thelma Mabhikwa nods. They work […]

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    How to Build a Better Bat Cave

    Paul Kingsbury/The Nature Conservancy In the winter of 1975, a biologist named Merlin Tuttle bought himself a state-of-the-art digital thermometer and set out on a road trip from Wisconsin down to Florida. Tuttle, who was in his mid-30s and sporting a brown, push-broom mustache, was trying to measure something that no one had really measured […]