BRITTANY STEFF | Freelance Science Writer

Invasive Hedgehogs and Ferrets Habituate to and Categorize Smells

To catch a thief, the saying goes, you have to think like a thief. The same is true for invasive predators: to foil their depredations on native wildlife, scientists have to understand how they think. A new study published in the Ecological Society of America’s journal Ecological Applications examines how invasive mammalian predators both habituate to and generalize avian prey cues.

Lost Harlequin Toads

Our top “most wanted” lost harlequin toads include species that have been lost to science for at least a decade (and often for much longer!) and, like our top 25 “most wanted” species, may be lost for a variety of reasons. We worked with the Atelopus Survival Initiative to determine this list of lost harlequin toads. In some cases, biologists may be actively out searching—or interested in going out to search—for these species. In other cases, these species represent the kinds of compelling stories that can help raise their group’s public profile, even if nobody is out actively looking.

Purdue researchers 3D-print minerals in order to better predict fracture formation

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Cracks are everywhere, and they often mean trouble. In the foundation of your house, in your windshield, in the tectonic plates below your feet. But, surprisingly, scientists don’t actually understand them as well as they would like. Purdue physics professor Laura Pyrak-Nolte and her lab team works with Purdue’s Rock Physics Research Group to better understand how and where fractures form. Being able to predict and understand fractures is vitally important to a wide range

Eritrean Gazelles: Once Lost, and Now Found in Their Namesake Country

Like a mirage in the desert, a long-missing gazelle species has reappeared as if from thin air in Eritrea. The Eritrean Gazelle is an endangered species that lives within the horn of Africa, primarily along the Nile River. But for more than 80 years, no Eritrean Gazelles had been reported in Eritrea. That changed this April when GWC associate Futsum Hagos was conducting a wildlife survey.

The Superheroes Of The Squirrel World: Flying Squirrels

Say the word “squirrel” and everyone pictures nearly the same thing: bushy tail, buckteeth, ornery personality, and a propensity for burgling their way into people’s birdfeeders. However, there’s another type of squirrel; a more exotic, arguably cooler cousin that lurks like ninjas in the night: the flying squirrels. Nocturnal, big-eyed, and tuft-eared, flying squirrels live throughout the world, including in the eastern United States and the northwest coast.

Tiny Lost-And-Found Toad Becomes Harbinger Of Hope

Six years ago a conservation biologist and his friend, a herpetologist, hiked into a little-explored rainforest in northern Ecuador to conduct the first-ever survey of reptiles and amphibians in the site. On the very first night in the field, they stumbled upon a tiny toad about 100 meters from their cabin—a toad that left them perplexed. It was the long-lost (and now found) Tandayapa Andes Toad (Rhaebo olallai), found in a place the species hadn’t been found before, in a region that is staggeringly remote and difficult to explore.

Tracking The Treasures of Pu Mat National Park

In the mountains of north-central Vietnam, Pu Mat National Park perches on more than 900 square kilometers of rugged, forested mountainous terrain in the Annamite Mountains on the border with Laos. It is one of the most remote areas in the country—and is consequently a refuge for a number of Southeast Asia’s imperiled wildlife, including the Annamite Striped Rabbit, the Large-antlered Muntjac, and one of the rarest of all large terrestrial mammals: the Saola.

Taking The Temperature Of Wildlife Health Across The Planet

Popularly called the “Barometer of Life,” the Red List is a massive publication organized and published by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Since the mid-1990s, IUCN’s Red List has been the decisive list tracking the health, conservation progress, and likelihood of survival or extinction of thousands of plants, animals, and fungi. This list then guides conservation action for these species and the places they live all over the globe.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Study Finds Forest Giants Suffer Worst During Droughts

In a study published Sept. 28 in the journal Nature Plants, a team led by Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute scientists found that bigger trees suffer the most during droughts, regardless of location or forest type. The team analyzed 40 droughts in 38 forests across the globe, searching for size-related patterns in growth and mortality.
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Spe·cies rich·ness  (noun)

  1. A technical term from the field of ecology. The number of different species present in an ecological community, landscape, or region.
  2. More philosophically, a lovely and poetic phrase that conveys the value and wonder inherent in the range of species on the planet and in all the amazing detail of the living world.
  3. A freelance science writer's call sign (see above).

I am a science writer, editor, blogger, and creative communicator who is passionate about innovative, informative and inspiring storytelling. Email me

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