Pollinators Matter // Denver BioLabs

Butterfly girl
Photo credit: Butterfly Pavilion

Pollinators Matter (starts at 4:43): Now that backyard gardens are in full bloom it’s a good time to think about pollinators. Honeybees, butterflies, beetles and other pollinators depend on many flowering plants for nectar. And we depend on these pollinators for many foods we love in our diet, from almonds to apples to blueberries. Some of these pollinators, especially honeybees and monarch butterflies, are facing severe threats, here in Colorado as well as globally. Among the culprits are habitat destruction and insecticides called neonicotinoids.  The Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster is not only a popular destination for kids and adults who want to walk among butterflies, and tough tarantulas. It is also conducting research on pollinators and their habitat. Mary Ann Colley, vice president of science and conservation at the Pavilion, discusses with host Susan Moran some pollinator-focused research and educational campaigns. Info on Butterfly Pavilion’s citizen science efforts–Colorado Butterfly Monitoring Network and Urban Prairies Project–are on the Pavilion’s website. Related citizen science projects: The Bees’ Needs and Xerces Society. For more info on pollinators go to the National Wildlife Federation and USDA Agriculture Research Service.

Denver Biolabs Co-founder RJ Duran shows how synthetic biology is used to make bacteria glow. Photo credit: Denver Biolabs

The New Biology (starts at 16:48): Denver Biolabs is the first community do-it-yourself bio-lab in Colorado. It focuses on making synthetic biology–where biology meets engineering–accessible to everyone. Biolabs is a community resource, giving students, researchers, entrepreneurs and others access to a community lab space. It also offers training in building bio-tools, learning lab fundamentals and experimenting with molecular gastronomy. Biolabs also develops technologies related to bioinformatics, biomimicry, bio-hacking and bio-printing. Dr. Heather Underwood is the co-founder and executive director of Denver Biolabs, which she discusses with host Leslie Dodson. For info on similar labs that have inspired Denver Biolabs, go to: Berkeley Biolabs, BioCurious, and Counter Culture Labs.

Hosts: Leslie Dodson, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender


Winter Stars // Pollinators and Insecticides

Sky_MilkyWay_BearLake_300x300Winter Stars (starts at 5:30).  We talk with Dave Sutherland, an interpretive naturalist with Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, about winter star-gazing.  This program is tied to an upcoming concert performance by the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra on February 12, 2016.  More information about the Boulder night hikes and other programs can be found at:  www.naturehikes.org and to find out more about for the starry concert and to purchase tickets, check out http://boulderphil.org/site/concerts/spheres-of-influence

Monarch larvae Photo credit: Jonathan Lundgren
Monarch larvae
Photo credit: Jonathan Lundgren

Pollinators and Insecticides (starts at 10:06).  Although they may be hidden in the chill of winter, crickets, bees and thousands of other insects play a critical role year-round in how we grow the food we eat. Dr. Jonathan Lundgren, a South Dakota-based entomologist, talks with host Susan Moran about how predator insects serve as biological pest controls. Dr. Lundgren’s research on adverse effects of a controversial class of insecticides, called neonicotinoids, on pollinators such as honeybees and monarch butterflies,  has made him the target of political pressure from his employer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A watchdog group has filed a whistleblower complaint on Lundgren’s behalf against the USDA. Dr. Lundgren recently started a research and education farm, called Blue Dasher Farm, which promotes regenerative agriculture.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer & Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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