Photo by Piccinng on Pexels


Photo by Piccinng on Pexels

Diatoms: Storytellers of the past

When diatomist Karthick Balasubramanian visited the Inter-University Accelerator Centre, a research institute in Delhi, he serendipitously met archaeologist C R Gayathri, who too was at the centre with a few ancient pottery shards. They were at the centre to look back in time—biological and archaeological—for their respective research and got talking. Over the next six years, ideas bounced off each other resulting in the first-of-its-kind scientific study that uses diatoms from ancient pottery i

Conservationists welcome new PNG Protected Areas Act — but questions remain

With more than 70% of the country blanketed by tropical rainforests, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a megadiverse country home to more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity, including charismatic tree kangaroos, egg-laying echidnas and flightless cassowaries. However, since 1972, nearly a third of the country’s rainforest has been lost or degraded due to logging, road construction, agricultural expansion and mining.

In a significant push to conservation, the country’s parliament passed the Protected A

Finding a lost turtle by tapping into people’s wisdom

In the monsoon months of 2019, turtle researcher Ayushi Jain and her team visited a few villages on the banks of the Chandragiri River in Kasargod, Kerala, to check how the Cantor’s giant softshell turtle was doing. Between 1970 and then, scientists had recorded only 15 sightings of this elusive turtle, and recent surveys had spotted none. Jain and her team set out to confirm if the critically endangered turtle had gone extinct in the region.

Local ecological knowledge is the knowledge people h

No joking: Great apes can be silly and playfully tease each other, finds study

Being silly and indulging in humor may sound easy, but our brains need to do a lot of heavy lifting to pull it off. Landing a joke requires recognizing what’s socially acceptable, being spontaneous, predicting how others may react, and playfully violating some social expectations. Until now, research on the complex cognitive abilities that underpin humor has focused primarily on humans, while other species are understudied.

In a recent study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal So

‘Shocking’ mortality of infant macaques points to dangers of oil palm plantations

For 12 years, primatologist Nadine Ruppert and her colleagues have had one recurring task on their calendar: tagging along with a group of southern pig-tailed macaques in Segari, Peninsular Malaysia, as these primates hop between native rainforests and the neighboring oil palm plantations. Over the years, the researchers successfully habituated the group: they named every individual, discerned their life histories, and watched their behavior to understand how these monkeys adapt to human-modifie

What principles should define natural climate solutions? A new study has some answers

Following a litany of conferences and calls that stress the urgency to address climate change, there’s growing interest and investments in nature to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Protecting and restoring natural ecosystems, such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, farmlands and oceans, could remove at least 10 gigatons of CO per year by 2050, according to a 2021 report. Besides cooling our planet, these interventions can prevent floods and droughts, conserve biodiversity and, in some cases,

In PNG, researchers record 9 new species of predatory hermaphroditic land snails

In the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, where arboreal tree kangaroos, vibrant birds-of-paradise and ornate birdwings hog the limelight with their charismatic presence, teeny-tiny, leaf litter-eating land snails don’t always stand a chance to vie for scientific attention. Although land snail shells hold an essential place in PNG’s culture — as jewelry and adornments in ceremonial clothing — scientific understanding of these mollusks is, at best, patchy.

Worldwide, more 30,000 land snail species

Study: Singapore biodiversity loss is bad — but not as bad as previous estimate

With its iconic skylines and waterfront vistas, Singapore is today a bustling city-state with one of the highest population densities in the world. Two centuries ago, before the British chose to build the port city in 1819, Singapore was covered by rainforests, mangrove forests and swamp forests. In the two centuries that followed, these forests were cleared to make way for people, plantations and concrete structures, and iconic species like tigers and leopards vanished.

A new study estimates t

India's grasslands in peril

From the lofty Himalayas to the montane Shola forests of the Western Ghats, from the arid Thar Desert to the fertile floodplains in the east, grasslands once covered nearly two-thirds of India. An understory of grass dominates these landscapes, while woody plants lie scattered in the mix.

The study found a steep decline in plant species growing in altered landscapes compared to old-growth savannas, with agricultural lands recording the least. Tillage agricultural land also had the fewest native

Tracing turtle trafficking routes in India

Cuddling a palm-sized tortoise, which shyly withdraws its head into its patterned shell, seems so appealing that it has spurred a growing interest among people to own it as a pet. For some, its meat—especially the soft gelatinous tissue on the lower shell called calipee—is appetising. The result: Tortoises and turtles are now the most trafficked animals in the multi-billion-dollar international wildlife trade.

A recent study by researchers at the Wildlife Conservation Society - India (WCS-India

To keep track of salmon migrations in real time, First Nations turn to AI

Between spring and fall each year in coastal British Columbia, when salmon migrate upstream, the region’s First Nations manually count the number of fish passing through to get a sense of how healthy the population is. But it’s work that takes place in remote and hard-to-access streams of the province, making it laborious, time-consuming, and often error-prone.

So for a recent study, marine scientists, computer scientists and conservation practitioners partnered with Indigenous-led fisheries or

Study: Despite armed conflicts, Indigenous lands have better environment quality

For nearly 2,000 years, the Indigenous Karen people of southeast Myanmar have led a relatively tranquil life in the hilly forests that are part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot. But in the last seven decades, Karen civilians have found themselves entangled in the world’s longest armed conflict, between the Karen National Union and the Myanmar military regime—a battle over self-determination that’s been a part of the wider Myanmar civil war.

For them, the forests their ancestors once stewa

Expected ship traffic to LNG Canada port could see whale deaths also rise

In September 2022, researchers at BC Whales, a Canadian research nonprofit studying cetaceans in the north of British Columbia province, gasped when they saw a drone image of a humpback whale known as Moon. Each summer, she regularly visited the many meandering waterways in the region with her calves, along with hundreds of other humpbacks, feeding in the food-rich, tranquil waters. But this time, she looked different.

Moon’s spine was crooked and her back half was paralyzed, probably after bei

For urban poor in Global South, nature-based solutions have always been a way to get by

We live in a rapidly urbanizing world, with half of humanity now concentrated in cities.

Without adequate and affordable housing, more than a billion people live in informal settlements or urban slums, which lack essential infrastructure and services such as sanitation and secure land tenure.

As the climate changes, people living in these informal areas are increasingly at risk.

“Informal settlements are some of the areas that are disproportionately affected by disasters,” says urban research

Biodiversity map reveals conservation priority areas

The need to protect various living forms, many of which are disappearing at an unprecedented rate, is often an afterthought in today’s human-centric world. Although our well-being strongly depends on the health of our environment, measures to protect the natural world are met with sluggish actions.

“The only effective way to conserve biodiversity is to integrate conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and human welfare,” says ecologist Kamaljit S Bawa, Founder of Bengaluru-based Ashoka

PNG youths’ loss of tradition is bad news for hunting — but also for conservation

With two-thirds of the country draped in dense, tropical rainforests, Papua New Guinea is home to diverse wildlife, including several marsupial species, flightless cassowaries, and vibrant birds-of-paradise. Just as diverse are the cultures of its people, who have inhabited the land for nearly 50,000 years, first as hunter-gatherers and later as agriculturalists.

Today, more than 85% of the country’s population live in rural and remote areas, where subsistence hunting is still a part of life. P

Here's how deforestation is raising the risk of wildfires in Borneo

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Deforestation fans fire risk in Borneo as temperatures rise

The dry season of 2015 was a devastating one for Indonesia, with around 100,000 fires engulfing thousands of hectares of tropical rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands on the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and New Guinea.

The infernos, strengthened by dry weather caused by El Niño, raged for months, in the process emitting more carbon dioxide than a year’s worth of US economic activity. The haze spread so far it threatened public health not just in Indonesia, but also in Singapore, Malaysia and Tha

Deforestation drives fire risk in Borneo amid a warming climate, study finds

The dry season of 2015 was a devastating one for Indonesia, with around 100,000 fires engulfing thousands of hectares of tropical rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands on the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and New Guinea. The infernos, strengthened by dry weather caused by El Niño, raged for months, in the process emitting more carbon dioxide than a year’s worth of U.S. economic activity. The haze spread so far it threatened public health not just in Indonesia, but also in Singapore, Malaysia and Th

What Should I Do If I Find a Nest Where It Doesn’t Belong?

Mourning Doves are frequent home invaders, laying eggs in an air-conditioning vent, on an outdoor shelf, or, here, in a hanging planter basket.

Pledge to stand with Audubon to call on elected officials to listen to science and work towards climate solutions.

Some birds are quite comfortable building their homes right next to ours. It’s not uncommon to see Mourning Doves in an air-conditioning vent, Eastern Phoebes on a windowsill, American Robins in a wreath, or House Finches in flowerpots.


SE Asia’s COVID legacy is less wildlife trade, but more hunting, study finds

The COVID-19 pandemic, which began spreading in a seafood and poultry market in Wuhan, China, shone a spotlight on zoonotic diseases and the risks that markets selling wild meat can pose to human health. Following the outbreak, some countries like China temporarily closed down wet markets, while others like Vietnam banned the wildlife trade outright. A WWF survey found that the overall consumption of wildlife dropped by 30% in Southeast Asia and the U.S.

On the surface, the pandemic may seem to

Learn to Grunt and Growl like an Antarctic Minke Whale

Scientists didn’t know Antarctic minke whales existed until the 1990s. Before then, these elusive whales, which lurk beneath the cold sea ice and gulp down krill in the Southern Ocean, were often confused with their far more familiar cousin, the common minke whale. Although scientists know very little about the species, a new study led by Ari Friedlaender, a marine mammal ecologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has offered an unprecedented look at one of the whale’s most fundament

When bee dance inspires robot design

Honeybees are incredible in many ways. Swooshing at over twenty kilometres per hour, they fly a whopping 90,000 kilometres—a distance equal to going around the world 2.2 times—to make half a kilogram of honey. There’s a strategy behind the success: instead of all the workers aimlessly wandering in search of pollen and nectar, a forager bee first ventures out in pursuit of food. When she finds a bounty, she returns to the hive and recruits an army of her kin to bring it all.

But there’s a catch—

When famine turns deadly for elephants

As a natural phenomenon, droughts are remarkable; they shape landscapes and civilisations and etch their mark on our societies. Studies show that megadroughts in Africa, which occurred between 135,000 and 90,000 years ago, forced humans to spread out of the continent to other parts of the world. In the Arabian peninsula, droughts in the sixth century paved the way for the formation of Islam as a religion.

While humans can cope with drought to some extent, the worst affected are animals in the w
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