strange behaviors

Cool doings from the natural and human worlds

  • Richard Conniff

  • Reviews for Richard Conniff’s Books


    Ending Epidemics: A History of Escape from Contagion: “Ending Epidemics is an important book, deeply and lovingly researched, written with precision and elegance, a sweeping story of centuries of human battle with infectious disease. Conniff is a brilliant historian with a jeweler’s eye for detail. I think the book is a masterpiece.” Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone and The Demon in the Freezer

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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The Weekly Green News Roundup (Giant Rodents Rule)

Posted by Richard Conniff on February 21, 2014

Here’s the weekly news roundup from the Nature Conservancy’s Cool Green Science blog:


Winter warrior: why the ptarmigan may be the best-adapted bird when it comes to thriving in snow. (Audubon)

Not-so-mighty-mouse: the unfortunate politics, hyperbole and myth surrounding the endangered Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. (High Country News)

Why are males and females different? How the climate 27 million years ago shaped sexual dimorphism in pinnipeds. (Science Daily)

New Research

Planet of the Rodents: Researchers predict giant rats will rule the earth when other species go extinct. (Focusing on Wildlife)

Ants join forces to float queen (and brood) to safety. Surprisingly, the young go on the bottom — not because they are more expendable, but because they are more buoyant. (PLoS ONE)

Doing conservation across geographic and political boundaries presents special challenges. A new survey zeroes in on effective approaches. (Conservation Biology)

More bad news for pollinators: The crazy diseases that are killing off honeybees are hitting bumblebees, too. (Nature)

Climate Change

Might corals swap skeleton material? Some corals may have another option as calcite skeletons succumb to ocean acidification. (Nature Communications)

High water reveals floodplain vulnerabilities. Findings inform planning to mitigate damage from climate change driven flooding. (Environmental Science and Technology)

Yes, the Atlantic current CAN shut down and turn the UK into a frozen wasteland — because it’s happened before. (Science; subscription required)

Nature News

New whistleblower site — Wildleaks — launched to report wildlife and forest crimes. (Mongabay)

Have you had your “Nature Daily Allowance“? (Conservation Magazine)

Conservation Tactics

Eat the invaders: company plans to harvest and market berries from non-native autumn olives. Their supermarket name? Lycoberries. (Invasivore)

A new use for pesky duckweed: genome suggests great potential for biofuel. (Eurekalert!)

Time-lapse video shows American chestnut with blight-resistant genes fighting off disease. (SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry)

When conservation focuses on human needs, is it saying “yes” to extinctions? Richard Conniff examines the debate — and Peter Kareiva responds to Conniff’s satisfaction. (Strange Behaviors)

Science Communications

Imminent ruling in FOIA suit for climate scientist Michael Mann’s e-mails unites strange bedfellows. (Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media)

Why don’t scientists advocate more for pure-science funding? This graph might have the answer. (Roger Pielke Jr.’s Blog)

Another nail in the science-writer coffin: The Washington Post is now running press releases on science in its Health & Science section. (Journalism at MIT Tracker)

This & That

Stranger than a Carl Hiaasen novel: State of Florida joins lawsuit to fight cleanup of Chesapeake Bay. (And you are correct; the Chesapeake Bay is nowhere near Florida). (Miami Herald)

You’ve heard of rooftop gardens, but what about rooftop “meat”? In Thailand urban farmers are growing an edible cyanobacteria meat alternative (SciDevNet)

The next big thing in ecology? Soundscape analysis. (Science; subscription required)

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