Of Wasps and Figs

511tQZJac7L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Today’s feature has How on Earth’s Beth Bennett talking with Dr. Mike Shanahan, a biologist who has a degree in rainforest ecology.  He has lived in a national park in Borneo, bred endangered penguins, and investigated illegal bear farms.  His writing has appeared in The Economist, Nature, and The Ecologist, and he also was the illustrator for the book: Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals.  His interests delve into what people think about nature and our place in it.  Beth had a chance to talk with Dr. Shanahan about his new book: Gods, Wasps and Stranglers: The Secret History and Redemptive Future of Fig Trees.

Host: Joel Parker
Producer, Engineer, Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Additional contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender

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Diatoms: Ecology and Aesthetics

An example of the 'glass house'

An example of the ‘glass house’

Beth interviews Dr Sarah Spaulding, of the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research here in Boulder. Sarah studies microscopic single celled algae, creatures that photosynthesize but aren’t plants. She discusses their ecological roles in numerous ecosystems as well as challenges in identifying them and her long term goals in studying these elusive but ubiquitous creatures. See more at https://westerndiatoms.colorado.edu/
Host: Beth Bennett
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender
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A History of Water in Colorado’s Front Range

land made of waterHost Beth Bennett interviews Bob Crifasi, author of A Land Made of Water (starts at 4’55”). Bob works in water management and planning and is an environmental scientist with over 25yr experience. He was the Water Resources Administrator for the city of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Dept. He has served on board of directors of 11 ditch companies and as the president of several, supervising all aspects of ditch operation.

Hosts: Beth Bennett, Alejandro Soto
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Additional contributions: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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Are GMOs Environmentally-friendly?

Genetically-modified crops

Genetically-modified crops

GMOs (start time 5:35) An interview with Dr Sharon Collenge, an ecologist at the University of Colorado. Dr Collenge is an advocate of using new genetic technologies to make slight modifications to plant genomes which can increase yield, protect against disease and reduce pesticide use.

Host: Beth Bennett
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Additional contributions: Joel Parker, Beth Bennett
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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Hope On Earth

Hope_On_Earth_coverHope On Earth (starts 7:08): Few people have thought as critically and deeply about the state of Earth and our role on it than Paul Ehrlich. Over the course of several decades, the Stanford University biologist and ecologist has written many books, including 1968’s controversial The Population Bomb, in which he predicted that hundreds of millions of people would starve to death in the 1970s due to overpopulation and limited resources.

He has just come out with a new book, which he co-wrote with Michael Charles Tobias, an ecologist, filmmaker, book author and animal rights advocate. The book is called Hope On Earth: A Conversation. And indeed, it is a conversation between Ehrlich and Tobias. In fact, their conversation –many of them — took place here in a research outpost just outside of Crested Butte.

Both men join us by phone to discuss the book and the most pressing environmental issues of the day that it explores.

Producer: Ted Burnham
Co-Hosts:
Ted Burnham, Susan Moran
Engineer:
Ted Burnham
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Salt Lake City’s Drier Future // Spruce Beetle Outbreak

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, How On Earth brings you one short report and two features:

Feature 1 – Salt Lake City’s Drier Future (start time 4:25): Guests Laura Briefer and Tim Bardsley talk with How On Earth’s Jim Pullen about how science is helping water management planners in Salt Lake City prepare for an uncertain—and drier—future.  Briefer is the water resource manager for Salt Lake City’s Department of Public Utilities and Bardsley is a hydrologist working with Salt Lake City via University of Colorado’s Western Water Assessment.

bark beetleFeature 2 – Spruce Beetle Outbreak (start time 15:12): We continue with the climate theme, but bring it away from the cities and into the forests.  Picture this: Up high, in the mountains of Colorado, a small beetle, about the size of a grain of rice, works its way into the bark of a spruce tree, where it burrows in to find some tasty morsels—the tree’s reproductive tissues.  Here it will feast, and, under the right conditions, kill the tree.  This is not the more familiar mountain pine beetle, but a spruce beetle.  Same idea, different tree.  And the scale of a current spruce beetle outbreak in our state is being referred to by CU researchers as “massive.”  University of Colorado ecologist Sarah Hart tells How On Earth’s Beth Bartel more about Colorado’s spruce beetle outbreak and the drought that’s causing it.

Short Report – Animal Tagging (start time 1:07): Does tagging animals affect the very behavior scientists are trying to study? Susan Moran reports on how one study finds that even small tags and equipment can drag marine creatures down. For more information, check out NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center page and photos or, better yet, videos of model (mock?) turtles and their wind tunnels.

Hosts: Beth Bartel, Jim Pullen
Producer: Beth Bartel
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Beth Bartel
Additional Contributions: Susan Moran

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Snowshoe Hare // Cubelets Robotics

Snowshoe Hare Faces Uncertain Future (start time 6:35). They don’t get much cuter than bunnies. One of the cutest of them all is the snowshoe hare. It’s elusive, and well camouflaged, so you may well never have seen one. To survive, these hares change their coats with the seasons – white in the snowy winter and rusty brown in the summer.  So  now, some hares’ fur turns white before the snow covers the ground. Think what it’d be like to be naked in public, an easy meal for eagles and other predators.  Whether these fragile hares can evolve and adapt to their changing homes fast enough is a question some biologists are studying hard.  Hillary Rosner, a local science journalist and author, wrote about the plight of the snowshoe hare in the current issue of High Country News and now talks with How on Earth’s Susan Moran.

Cubelets Robotics (start time 15:00) is an award-winning modular robotics kit created and made in Boulder. The concept is simple:  you take these magnetic blocks and snap them together to make an endless variety of robots with no programming and no wires. You can build robots that drive around on a tabletop, respond to light, sound, and temperature, and have surprisingly lifelike behavior. But instead of programming that behavior, you snap the cubelets together and watch the behavior emerge like with a flock of birds or a swarm of bees.  To find out more, How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender talks with Modular Robotics Design Director, Eric Schweikardt. Cubelet theme song by Blorp Corp.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Susan Moran
Contributor: Breanna Draxler
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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Wild Turkeys // Light Pollution

Wild turkeys in Utah

Merriam's turkey, courtesy of Flickr user "Fool-On-The-Hill."

In celebration of Thanksgiving, Beth Bartel interviews Stan Baker of the National Wild Turkey Federation about wild turkeys in Colorado. You may be surprised at the story of the wild turkey in North America and just how different the wild turkey is from the domestic turkeys we’re used to. There’s a reason Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey, not the bald eagle, to be our national bird.

Can light pollution at night lead to air pollution during the day? Jim Pullen talks with researcher Harald Stark of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES) to find out. Stark’s work has taken him over Los Angeles to measure the chemistry of the night sky. What he is learning increases our understanding of ground-level ozone, which is a major pollutant of our urban air.

Photo of L.A. at night

Los Angeles, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Hosts: Joel Parker & Beth Bartel
Producer: Beth Bartel
Engineer: Ted Burnham
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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How On Earth is produced by a small group of volunteers at the studios of KGNU, an independent community radio station in the Boulder-Denver metro area. KGNU is supported by the generosity and efforts of community members like you. Visit kgnu.org to learn more.

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