Success story or fluke? The forest lion of Gabon

It was hard not to feel excited when the video footage landed in my inbox a few weeks ago. Researchers studying chimpanzees in the forests of Gabon’s Batéké Plateau National Park had captured footage of a solitary male lion on a remote camera – the first lion spotted in Gabon in 20 years. The national park was fairly young, established in 2002 as one of … Continue reading Success story or fluke? The forest lion of Gabon

Expanding the conservation tent

As I wrote my recent article for High Country News, I felt torn. Like many conservationists, I value biodiversity and natural ecosystems for their own sake, regardless of any tangible benefit they provide to humanity. That’s the argument for saving nature that conservation icons going back more than 100 years have made to help protect America’s wilderness, parks, and wildlife –and the argument that has … Continue reading Expanding the conservation tent

Bird sex and bar stools

Long ago and far away I was a field assistant studying bobolinks for one of my Cornell professors, Tom Gavin, as an undergraduate intern. I went out each morning into dew-drenched meadows at Cornell’s Biological Field Station at Shackelton Point on Oneida Lake, and watched tiny birds that had migrated thousands of miles from their winter home in South America to nest in upstate New … Continue reading Bird sex and bar stools

Wild things

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, a law that promised to preserve America’s largest wild places in an “untrammeled” state untouched by people. But back in 1964, no one anticipated the Anthropocene of the 21st century – a period in which humans affect every corner of the Earth. Today, global climate change and invasive species from foreign lands (and waters) are … Continue reading Wild things

Beaches and biodiversity

It’s August, and for me, that means beach time. Sun, sand and waves feel great, but it’s also about shorebirds, sea turtles and seashells. In other words, biodiversity. Part of the exhilaration I feel on my summer vacation comes from the wildlife I encounter while there. So it seems particularly fitting that Ensia published my article on environmental DNA (eDNA) this month.  In it, I … Continue reading Beaches and biodiversity