Scientists have noticed a sharp population decline in monarch butterflies migrating between Mexico and Canada. Flagstaff entomologist Mike Wagner wants to know if growing more milkweed will boost their numbers. Milkweed is a pollinator plant for many insects and the only plant on which monarchs will lay their eggs.
Northern Arizona University is home to a giant collection of dried plant specimens that scientists across the globe use as a resource center. The Deaver Herbarium is essentially a plant museum that holds more than 120 thousand samples from the Southwest, some gathered more than 100 years ago. Biologist Tina Ayers is the director and curator.
A rare “super bloom” is rolling across the Southwest this spring. A late, wet El Niño pattern has caused an explosion of wildflowers from the Pacific Ocean, to the Mojave Desert, to the mountains of northern Arizona. Brian Klimowski is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Flagstaff.
By studying the relationship between minerals and microbes on Earth, scientists hope to learn more about the environment on Mars. The recent discovery of high concentrations of manganese on the Red Planet may suggest the signature of life. Now, a group of scientists is studying similar manganese-rich rock samples near Flagstaff to try to make a biological connection.
An elusive bat in the forests of Nicaragua has caught the attention of researchers at Northern Arizona University. The Vampyrum spectrum is the largest bat in the Americas, with a three foot wingspan. Wildlife biologist Carol Chambers collects data on the rare animal. She says habitat loss and human disturbance make them particularly susceptible to population decline.