City birds are more aggressive than country birds

A new study published in Behavioral Ecology suggests that increased aggression in urban song sparrows is related to resource availability. The study, by Virginia Tech researchers Sarah Foltz and Ignacio Moore, was featured this week in Science. 
“City folk have a reputation for being less friendly than their rural counterparts, and the same appears to be true for garden birds. Urban song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) are more aggressive toward their neighbors than are sparrows out in the country. But whereras the temperament of ...

What would planet warming sound like in a song?

When faced with the challenge of sharing the latest climate change discoveries, scientists often rely on data graphics and technical illustrations. University of Minnesota undergrad Daniel Crawford came up with a completely different approach. He’s using his cello to communicate the latest climate science through music.
Thermometer measurements show the average global temperature has risen about 1.4 °F (0.8 °C) since 1880. Typically, this warming is illustrated visually with line plots or maps showing year-by-year changes in annual temperatures. ...

New in Science: Polar bears fail to adapt to lack of food

Polar bears are unable to adapt their behaviour to cope with the food losses associated with warmer summers in the Arctic. Scientists had believed that the animals would enter a type of ‘walking hibernation’ when deprived of prey. But new research says that that bears simply starve in hotter conditions when food is scarce.
The authors say that the implications for the survival of the species in a warmer world are grim.
Back in 2008 polar bears were listed as a threatened ...

VT Scientists work to preserve biodiversity in the Amazon Rainforest

From VT News:
July 8, 2015
The Amazon Basin’s vast tropical rainforests, rivers, and soils are rich ecosystems vital to the basic functioning of the planet. They churn moisture into the atmosphere, sequester global carbon, regulate climate patterns, and house much of the world’s biodiversity.
But those extensive, interconnected ecosystems are increasingly fragmented and degraded by unsustainable agriculture and ranching, illegal logging, unmitigated mining, and exploitative commercial fishing practices.
Scientists from Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment — economists, ...

Postcards from the field: Maya Wilson studies swallows in the Bahamas

July 12, 2015
Postcard from Maya Wilson
“I am just finishing up my four-month field season in The Bahamas! Overall, it has been a success!
I am here studying the Bahama Swallow, a poorly known and endangered bird species that only breeds on three islands in the northern Bahamas. I was here last summer for two months, but this is my first full season as a PhD student. I have spent most of the time on Abaco Island with my ...