The title of this blog, Living Alongside Wildlife, is a reference to a land ethic suggesting human and wildlife populations can coexist if we respect our natural resources. Our goals should include living alongside wildlife in perpetuity, rather than unsustainable exploitation, wanton killing and irreversible destruction of their habitats. For more about conservation and land ethics, check out the work of Aldo Leopold, particularly A Sand County Almanac. These essays were a great influence in formulating my own stances on various environmental issues.
When I created this blog I had two primary goals. The first of which was to encourage an appreciation for wildlife that tend to have a bad reputation, primarily amphibians and reptiles. The second goal was to make my research accessible to a general audience. Over time, a third goal manifested itself. Many are generally unfamiliar with the natural history of reptiles; as a result there are a plethora of e-mail forwards containing outlandish stories and photos of these animals. All too often, these e-mails are circulated and accepted as fact. For animals that are already maligned, scary and fabricated stories only serve to perpetuate the myth they are dangerous and malevolent. Perhaps this is no more true than in the case of the giant dead rattlesnakes, wherein a dead rattlesnake is shoved towards the camera and a bogus story is made up about how various townsfolk were saved in the nick of time by the marauding monster. I use this blog to discuss these e-mail forwards, which I\'m often able to debunk based solely on the biology of the organism in question.
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Some observations come before you realize how important they are. Only later do you slap your forehead and realize that you should have taken more detailed notes, because the likelihood of you seeing such a thing again is slim. This is why I encourage everybody interested in wildlife to take down field notes.
When I was in high school, every afternoon when I got home I would take a
S. P. Graham (2013). How frequently do Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus) bask in trees?, Journal of Herpetology, 47 428-431. DOI: 10.1670/12-082
A story that went viral on Thanksgiving stated a python in Kerala, India had just swallowed a drunk man that was lying on the street outside of a liquor store. The story popped up just about everywhere on the internet (here's one example of many). Several people e-mailed me the story and it also showed up a few times in my Twitter feed.
It wasn't long before Buzzfeed
If you enjoy this blog, here's a reminder that if you are doing any Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping on Amazon.com, consider reaching the site through this link. I receive a small referral fee when you purchase something. Scientific outreach and education is its own reward, but a little cash goes a long way in rationalizing the time I spend on it (this independent blog appears
Plastic Dinner. Photo by Alex Bond.
Imagine carrying around several kilos (or
pounds) of plastic in your stomach, unable to rid yourself of it, and gradually
adding pieces day by day. This is
what many marine animals go through every day. Millions of pieces of plastic enter the world’s oceans each
day, and once it’s there, it doesn’t go away. Instead, it breaks into smaller and
Bond, A.L., J.F. Provencher, R.D. Elliot, P.C. Ryan, S. Rowe, I.L. Jones & G.J. Robertson S.I. Wilhelm (2013). Ingestion of plastic marine debris by Common and Thick-billed Murres in the northwestern Atlantic from 1985 to 2012, Marine Pollution Bulletin, DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.10.005
Bond AL & Lavers JL (2013). Effectiveness of emetics to study plastic ingestion by Leach's Storm-petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa)., Marine pollution bulletin, 70 (1-2) 171-5. PMID: 23507234
Avery-Gomm S, O'Hara PD, Kleine L, Bowes V, Wilson LK & Barry KL (2012). Northern fulmars as biological monitors of trends of plastic pollution in the eastern North Pacific., Marine pollution bulletin, 64 (9) 1776-81. PMID: 22738464
Paging Indiana Jones, do natural history specimens belong in museums or can they be sold to the public? What about Dodo bones? The author's conclusion is sometimes. What about dueling dinosaur fossils? Well, they didn't sell at auction. The San Diego Museum of Natural History changed their mind at the last minute and pulled their fossils out of the same auction.
This shark bit off more