Alexandra Murphy

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Earth Notes
3:02 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Earth Notes: Aerial Acrobats

Photo: Jim Peaco/National Park Service.

  As cliff swallows return to the Colorado Plateau this spring, they set about building mud nests on cliffs – or, just as often, on manmade structures like bridge abutments or under wide eaves. That takes a lot of work—more than a thousand beakfuls of mud for a new nest.

  Cliff swallows live communally, and they’ll sometimes fast-track the nest-building process by stealing mud from neighbors or laying an egg or two in a nearby nest.

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Earth Notes
3:29 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Earth Notes : Migratory Birds May Carry Global Hitchhikers

Credit Credit: Wikipedia Commons.

Migratory birds are among the forces that stitch the globe together. Biologists have long known that animals can carry seeds and spores on their bodies, or may eat them and spread them in their waste.

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Earth Notes
5:00 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Earth Notes: Restoring Arizona’s Grasslands

Arid grasslands once covered significant parts of the Southwestern states — as much as 24 million acres in Arizona, for example. American pronghorn were widespread in these open spaces, along with many other grassland-dependent wildlife species. 

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Earth Notes
5:01 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Earth Notes: When Does Wildlife Need Rescuing?

A Mexican spotted owl

When Bea Cooley and Brooks Hart headed down Oak Creek Canyon to do some birding last winter, they had no idea just how close their bird encounters would be.

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Earth Notes
8:49 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Earth Notes: BAER Program Looks At Wildlife After Slide Fire

Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona.
Credit Sherry Sperry

Soon after the Slide Fire burned 22,000 acres in, and around, Oak Creek Canyon in northern Arizona, researchers from the Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response - or BAER Program - took stock of its impact on sensitive wildlife species.

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Earth Notes
4:07 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Earth Notes: The Slide Fire’s Mosaic of Impacts

The State Route 89A switchbacks in Oak Creek Canyon after the Slide Fire. Large areas of steep terrain were severely burned in May.
Credit Ryan Heinsius

In late May of this year, wildfire swept through upper Oak Creek Canyon in northern Arizona. By the time firefighters contained it in early June, the Slide Fire had burned some 22,000 acres of chaparral, mixed conifers, and ponderosa pine forest.

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Earth Notes
8:49 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Earth Notes: Measuring the Night on the Colorado Plateau

Chaco Canyon National Historic Park
Credit National Park Service

Some 27 national parks and monuments protect the Colorado Plateau’s remarkable canyons, rivers, and wide-open spaces. But, people increasingly visit the plateau to experience another rare natural resource: its dark skies.

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Earth Notes
12:06 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Earth Notes: Tracking Climate Change In Northern Arizona

Grand Canyon
Credit Northern Arizona University

In late September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Summary for Policymakers for part-one of its  massive Fifth Assessment Report. Its message? Earth's climate is warming, and human influence on that warming is clear.

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Earth Notes
9:20 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Earth Notes: Caddisflies Inspire Medical Innovation

Caddisfly
Credit Fred Hayes for the University of Utah

Imagine an adhesive that could take the place of pins and plates when fixing broken bones, or that could replace staples and sutures during surgery. But creating a glue that sticks to a wet surface is no easy task. That's why University of Utah researchers are taking their cues from a proven master of the art - the diminutive caddisfly.

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Earth Notes
7:52 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Earth Notes: Glen Canyon Dam - What Flows In (And Not Out)

Upstream from Glen Canyon Dam
Credit National Park Service/Kyler Carpenter

Two hundred miles upstream from Glen Canyon Dam, the Colorado River roars through Cataract Canyon in a rust colored tumult, thick with silt and clay. Each year, the Colorado and its tributaries carry, on average, some 61 million cubic yards of sediment into Lake Powell, enough to fill more than 200,000 railroad boxcars.

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