Earth Notes

Earth Notes
4:39 am
Wed May 20, 2015

Earth Notes: Where There's Smoke, Plants Notice

Credit USDA Forest Service

Smoke is a complicated substance. Most people who live in or near western forests have a good feel for how it affects people. But what's less well known is that it affects plants, too.

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Earth Notes
12:00 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Earth Notes: Utah’s Bison

Above Moab’s Mill Canyon, a sandstone cliff holds an art gallery. Its images range from petroglyphs left by the ancient Fremont people to cowboy inscriptions. One stands out—a bull bison, complete with hump and horns. Nearby, painted Ute warriors carry shields, a form of body armor crafted from the animal’s skin.

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Earth Notes
11:56 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Earth Notes: Arizona's 'Water' Hawks

Arizona's "Water" Hawks
Credit Northern Arizona Audubon Society

Each spring, common black hawks soar into Arizona skies from their wintering grounds in Mexico. These large, coal-black raptors, with distinctive white-banded tails, spend the warmer six months of the year here breeding, nesting and raising young.

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Earth Notes
8:38 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Earth Notes: In New Mexico, Bighorns Are Back

Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Managing wildlife sometimes means weighing the value of one species against another in order for the more threatened of the two to survive. This is the case in New Mexico, where state game managers were able to remove desert bighorn sheep from the state's endangered species list, in part, by reducing a robust mountain lion population.

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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
3:11 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Earth Notes: After a Fire, Is a Spring an Oasis?

Springs are magical places where groundwater comes to the surface — lush green patches that are among the most diverse, productive, and threatened ecosystems on Earth.

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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
8:00 am
Wed March 11, 2015

Earth Notes: Tiny Particles, Big Impact

Credit NASA/JPL-Snow Optics Laboratory

  For those living in the American Southwest, dust is as much a part of the environment as dryness and sunshine. Tiny particles seem to get into everything, including houses, cars, and noses.

While dust can be annoying, scientists believe it plays a vital role in the region’s ecology. It appears to provide essential minerals and chemical compounds to high-mountain ecosystems, just as seafaring salmon bring ocean nutrients high up into freshwater streams.

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Earth Notes
8:00 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Earth Notes: Walnut Canyon Celebrates a Century

  This year, Walnut Canyon is celebrating a hundred years of protection as a national monument—protection that came none too soon because its prehistoric sites were being seriously damaged.

It was people known to archaeologists as the northern Sinagua who built some three hundred rooms in the limestone alcoves of this hidden canyon near the San Francisco Peaks. They lived, farmed, and hunted in the canyon and on the rim from the 1100s into the mid-1200s.

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Earth Notes
8:00 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Earth Notes: Grand Canyon's Pioneering Cactus Collector

Credit National Park Service

  It was a long way from the civilized college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Mexican Hat, Utah, back in the summer of 1937. But Dr. Elzada Clover made the trip.

A botanist at the University of Michigan, she had an ambitious dream to explore the little-known plant life of the Colorado River region. Cacti were her specialty. Where better to find them than the Southwest deserts?

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