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Overdressed for the Party: How Climate Change is Bad News for Snowshoe Hares

Snowshoe hares, on trend with arctic fashion, have snow-white winter coats they shed in favor of sleek, earthy brown duds in warmer months.

This luxurious look blends with their locale, keeping them safe from predators like stoats and foxes.

As the earth warms, we’re seeing fewer snowy days each year. The snow melts earlier and arrives later. Models predict that 50 years from now in Montana—one place snowshoe hares hop—there will be 20 fewer snow days each year than today. Snowshoe hares use day length, not temperature, to determine when to molt. Until recently, this trusty strategy was a more reliable indicator of seasonal flux. Now, however, snowshoe hares find themselves overdressed for the party.

But snowshoe hares don’t know they’re overdressed. They think they’re camouflaged and still practice their now not-so-sneaky “you can’t see me!” sit-and-hide strategy, making them easy pickings for hungry hare hunters. They have a 7 percent higher chance of being eaten, which might or might not sound like a lot, but, according to Scott Mills, NC State University professor of wildlife population ecology, “at this rate, given what we know, we can predict that hares will severely decline by the end of this century.”

Hares might be able to hop out of this pickle. They could learn to run and hide, or they could start changing their coats earlier and wearing their brown coats longer, thanks to natural selection.

Snowshoes aren’t the only creatures suffering a fashion faux pas. At least 14 arctic species change coats with the seasons.

Check our facts!

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/281/1782/20140029.short

http://www.pnas.org/content/110/18/7360.short

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ele.12568/full

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Written by Roar. Illustrated by Leia K.
Leia K. […]

By |February 22nd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How Climate Change Puts Fish on a Diet

If humans continue to emit greenhouse gases at their current rate, catch at ocean fisheries may decline 20-50 percent by the end of the decade. (That’s 2-5 percent per decade.) JoAnna Wendel, science journalist and illustrator in Washington, D.C., caught up with Phoebe Woodworth-Jefcoats from NOAA to explain why.

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In a warmer environment, fish metabolism rises, which means they need to eat more. But in these warmer waters, there’s less to eat.


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In the North Pacific, there’s a huge, natural vortex of wind and warm water swirling clockwise. Because of warm temperatures, nutrient-rich water from below doesn’t get mixed in with surface water, which means zooplankton can’t live there.


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If there are fewer zooplankton, that means less food.

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The material for this comic was inspired by a presentation by Phoebe Woodworth-Jefcoats at the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Meeting in New Orleans, LA, earlier this year. Woodworth-Jefcoats is a research oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.  She studies the open ocean ecosystem in the central North Pacific.  Her work focuses on how this ecosystem is impacted by factors such as fishing and climate change.

Written and illustrated by JoAnna Wendel, a science journalist in Washington, D.C., covering Earth and space science for eos.org, the news magazine of the American Geophysical Union. She also likes to dabble in science comics covering all topics of science. You can follow her on Twitter at @JoAnnaScience and check out some of her Earth and space science […]

By |August 31st, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Our Favorite Shower Singers

Sometimes before we fall asleep, it makes us happy to think of all the wonderful things right under our noses that humans are just now discovering. Like mice roaring to their lovers and giraffes humming into the darkness. All kinds of “silent” animals turn out to be making a racket—we just didn’t know about it until recently. While they’re probably not going to form a new rock band any time soon, we think it’d be pretty killer if some of our favorite secret singers teamed up.

Strumming the bass: giraffes

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Thought since forever to be silent giants, in 2015 researchers recorded giraffes humming tunes at night. They’re not sure yet why they hum, but it sounds like happy Tibetan monks wandering a country road.

Keeping the beat: baby fish

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Grey snapper larvae pop and growl at each other in their little fishy nests. Those who watch them don’t think they’re mad; instead they might be checking in on each other in the dark when they can’t see.

At the mic: mice

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Male Peromyscus sp. are more of the John Lenonesque crooners of the mouse world, while females play the Yoko, barking and roaring to their loves. All this mousy singing takes place in ultrasound, just outside our human hearing.

Adding whimsy: turtles

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South American river turtles (Podocnemis expansa) would play the kazoo in our band because, to be polite, their vocalizations sound a bit like tooting. These turtles have a lot to say to each other, but our favorite is […]

By |April 27th, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

The Usual Suspects

Most entomologists have received a phone call along the lines of, “YOU WON’T BELIEVE THIS CRAZY BUG.” These calls often feature the same few species, and entomologists usually can make a quick tentative ID of the “usual suspects.” Here are some of eastern North America’s repeat offenders:

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Unlike their periodical cousins, adult dog day cicadas turn up each summer. Males sing to females using membranes called tymbals.1 The resulting sound, resembling a shaking metal sheet, is produced when the males flex their muscles, buckling the tymbals.

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This spider has been wrongly accused! The golden garden spider is often found on the sides of homes. Females are large and vibrant, while males are small and drably colored.2 The female’s bold, aposematic coloring may be frightening, but she’s unlikely to bite. If found inside, try gently moving her outdoors to safety.3

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These voracious predators are aquatic and often become disoriented by porch lights as they’re flying to new habitats. To move this bug to safety, use a safe transport technique3; this species (and its close relatives) can deliver a painful defensive bite when stressed.4

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House centipedes are native to the Mediterranean but have spread globally with humans.5, 6 They have 30 legs (one pair per body segment) and often turn up in basements, where they prey on smaller invertebrates.7

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Often […]

By |April 13th, 2016|Uncategorized|6 Comments

When Your Lover Could Just Eat You Up

Spider mating is like two serial killers making out. Sure, they’d like to hook up, but each one is also likely to kill the other. Because male and female spiders both walk around with venom-packed fangs and a penchant for the arthropod buffet, many species have come up with some cool behaviors to form a truce and get busy.

The Hopeless Romantic
To let their girlfriends know they’re available for love and not supper, male Argiope writing spiders strum out a love song on the females’ webs. Responsive females invite their boyfriends in for “coffee” and they go at it. But male writing spiders aren’t taking any chances with paternity.

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Once they mate, they die with their sex organs still clinging inside the female, using their whole bodies as mating plugs that remain there until someone eats them or they fall out.

The Cosby

To let females know they’re into them, Grass spiders, Agelenopsis aperta, flex females’ webs and then sway their abdomens from side to side in a hypnotic spider-love dance. Once females seem down to party, males release “spider roofies,” an airborne chemical that makes females pass out cold.

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The Emotional Abuser

When they’re ready to roll, black widow (Latrodectus) females release a “come and get me” pheromone that draws males from all around. To reduce competition, an early arriving male quickly wraps up some of his potential girlfriend’s web, decreasing her pheromones’ attractiveness to other males.

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The Gigi

Spotted orb weaver (Neoscona crucifera) males find a good thing and take no chances. If one finds a web with an immature female living in it, he’ll […]

By |February 11th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Waterfall-Climbing Fish

If swimming against the flow was a fish-world Olympic event, climbing gigantic waterfalls would be an X-treme sport. 

In tropical island rivers, it’s feast or famine. Yearly rainfall fluctuates between gushing flash floods and desolate patchy pools. You might think such extreme conditions too inhospitable for fish.

Not for the thrill-seeking amphidromous fish! Their adventures start upstream, where adult amphidromous organisms live and reproduce.

On their upriver journey to reproduce, fish often encounter impassable migration barriers, like waterfalls. However, for  amphidromous gobies of the subfamily Sicydiinae, waterfalls are simply a conquerable challenge.

Whereas most fish have a pair of pelvic fins on their underside used for steering and stabilization, gobies (Gobiidae) have a single fused pelvic fin that holds onto rocks, like a suction cup, in turbulent waters. Sicydiinae gobies uniquely use their sucker fins in tandem with their mouths to slowly and methodically climb the faces of massive waterfalls.

Waterfall climbing has its benefits. Not only can these gobies access unoccupied upstream habitats, they can also evade voracious non-climbing predatory amphidromous fish lurking below.

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Written by Patrick Cooney, a certified fisheries scientist who is unable to climb gigantic waterfalls. However, he is a leading expert in sampling and researching waterfall-climbing gobies in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. For his day job, Patrick trains fisheries scientists how to use electricity in water to safely sample fish for scientific purposes, and for fun, he co-founded The Fisheries Blog in 2012 with the purpose of sharing awesomeness about fish.  Patrick is known to media agencies as the guy who spoils […]

By |January 27th, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Announcing Buzz Hoot Roar’s new Artist in Residence!

We at Buzz Hoot Roar are pleased and proud to announce our newest Artist in Residence! Over the next year, Christin Hardy will use her unique graphic style to explore six science posts. Read on to learn more about Christin, and stay tuned to enjoy her excellent work.

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Who: I’m Christin Hardy, a graphic designer and illustrator living in the city of oaks, Raleigh N.C., and hailing from Seven Springs, a teeny tiny town in rural Eastern North Carolina where the livestock outnumber people.

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I graduated from NC State University with my bachelor’s in graphic design, and after a few odd jobs landed my current job as a graphic designer for the NC Department of Transportation. There, I get to work on projects from all sorts of divisions ranging from aviation and rail to highways and bike/pedestrian. One of my favorite projects was the poster I made for National Train Day in 2014:

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Why: I’ve always loved science and tend to choose extracurricular activities that reflect that, such as volunteering for the Duke Lemur Center (so much fun), working for the entomology lab at NCSU where I counted bee sperm for a summer (not as fun, but cool) and interning at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. (definitely ties with the lemurs).

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So, when I got the email asking if I wanted to be the next artist in residence, I immediately gasped and said “YES!! Of course!!!” While I enjoy my work for the government, Buzz Hoot Roar gives me an outlet where I can […]

By |November 3rd, 2015|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Keepin’ It Glassy: How Some Animals Turn to Glass to Survive

Thirsty? Why not turn yourself to glass until you can get a drink? That’s what a tiny fly called the sleeping chironomid does.

As babies passing their days in the super-dry areas of Africa, sleeping chironomids live in little huts they make for themselves out of dirt and slobber.

The problem with living in a puddle in a super-dry place is that puddles don’t last too long. Everybody dries up.

If we dried up, our cells would collapse and would be irrevocably damaged. Nobody could bring us back to life. If we lose just 14 percent of our bodies’ water, we croak. Remember all those leathery people they find in the desert sometimes? That’s people for you.

To keep their cells from the fate of humans, sleeping chironomids first make a whole bunch of sugar called trehalose, which takes the place of water in their cells.

 

 

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Other animals, like sea monkeys and the ever-indestructible tardigrades, do it, too!

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Check our facts!

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/iub.463/full

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0014008#pone-0014008-g005

http://jeb.biologists.org/content/211/18/2899

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18070104

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By Roar and Chris Hedstrom.

Chris Hedstrom is a entomologist in Corvallis, OR studying biological control for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. He’s also an illustrator and photographer. Check out new drawings, photos and writing as they appear at chedstrom.tumblr.com or oregonbeatsheet.wordpress.com.

By |January 14th, 2015|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Hoot’s Adventures with Emu Poop

Speaking of poop, while wandering the Australian Kwongan sandplains, Hoot and his companion noticed not all emu poop was created equal1. It turns out that emus are pretty good at helping seeds spread around by scarfing down fruits and plant material and plopping out fertilized seed cakes all over the land2. Check out Hoot’s emu poop glamour shots and marvel at those long-legged seed dispersing machines, emus.

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Check our facts!

1) Mccoy, N. (2009) The Geographical Mosaic of Myrmecochory in a Global Biodiversity Hotspot and the Fate of Myrmecochorous Seeds Dispersed by a Keystone Seed Disperser. (Master’s Thesis) Department of Biology, North Carolina State University.

2) Calviño-Cancela, M., R. Dunn, R., Van Etten, E. J. B. and B. Lamont, B. (2006), Emus as non-standard seed dispersers and their potential for long-distance dispersal. Ecography, 29: 632–640. doi: 10.1111/j.0906-7590.2006.04677.x

By |April 30th, 2014|Uncategorized|3 Comments