Caught between circuses, theme parks, museums, and menageries, zoos are struggling to be leaders in the conservation world. Getting there may mean letting some animals go.
Letting Biodiversity Get under Our Skin
Some aspects of dirty living can be healthy. A new study posits that the decline of plant and animal diversity in cities may be linked to the recent surge of allergies and other chronic inflammatory diseases.
Lured by a utopian vision of nature, government agencies for decades carpet-bombed thousands of remote mountain lakes with billions of trout. Now, they’re determined to undo the damage they caused.
Natural History Upgrade
Struggling to survive in the twenty-first century, naturalists might take a page from their own playbook: evolve, adapt—and use technology to woo people back to nature.
Finding Genes That Fit
Desperate to break up the genetic monotony that cripples endangered species, researchers are outfitting populations with borrowed genes. The payoff is survival. The price is uniqueness.
The New Normal
As though working through the five stages of grief, more and more ecologists are reluctantly accepting that we live in a human-dominated world. And some are discovering that patchwork ecosystems might even rival their pristine counterparts.
Wounds That Can Heal
A pioneering study of nature’s recovery times delivers a startling conclusion: that some damaged ecosystems bounce back in decades, not millenia. The findings offer a ray of hope—and a respite from apocalyptic storylines.
A new generation of unruly adolescent wildlife has some experts wondering whether what we’re missing isn’t so much habitat as adult supervision.
The (Un)Natural Order of Things
Have we unwittingly exchanged the language of the living world—the names of real plants and animals—for a vocabulary of Tony the Tigers and Geico geckos?
Operation Sex Change
Imagine waking up to discover that your mother, your sister, and your friends’ wives are all men. That could be reality for invasive fish if a radical plan to exterminate them takes shape.
On the Fence
People construct fences, sometimes across whole continents, on the poetic assumption that good fences make good neighbors. Unfortunately, for wildlife, gated communities are rarely tranquil.
Not So Silent Spring
Blackbirds in Europe are mimicking car alarms, ambulance sirens, and cell phones at jarringly life-like volumes. And they aren’t the only wildlife switching frequencies in order to be heard over the human din.
The Most Popular Lifestyle on Earth
Forget lions, tigers, and sharks. The billions of tiny parasites that make a living castrating and brainwashing their hosts may be the new kings of the food web.
Confessions of a Hit Man
Our mark was an invasive pest that had made a remote tropical island its home. But good and evil are not so easily discerned in ecological systems, even when a place looks like Eden.
Hybridization can be both a creative and a destructive force. And it’s on the rise. Should we embrace it or quash it?
A Witness to Violence
Long before the Darfur crisis, Michael Fay foresaw that the murderous Sudanese horsemen would not stop at killing elephants.
Cancer on a Whole Species
The gruesome disease ravaging Tasmanian devils is unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Pull predators out of the mix, and a once lush green world turns into an ecological shop of horrors.
When most of us think about environmentally friendly places, we imagine a terrain untouched by concrete. Cities seem like ecological nightmares. But perhaps the conventional wisdom is exactly backward.
Charged with downsizing wildlife populations to fit the geography of the modern world, a small group of researchers is out to replace bullets with family planning.
The Last Gladiators
How joyful, really, is the resurrection of a species if the modern world cannot find a single haven for it and if it seems doomed to slip into limbo once more anyway?
Aliens Among Us
Invasive species stand accused of ecological insubordination, mass murder, and other crimes against nature. But the case is far from closed.
Earnest, pious, and quite allergic to irony: nature writing has none of the trademark qualities that play well in 2007. So is it time for a change?
Pristine forests of the Amazon were not encountered in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; they were invented in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Do No Harm
The story of the Hawaiian crow is a parable of doing harm by going to all lengths to do good. What role should the ancient advice of Hippocrates play in endangered species conservation?
Cloning could be the Holy Grail of conservation or the ultimate folly. Either way, the fact is, cloning works.
Us or Them
Killing predators stands as one of the most age-old and enduring forms of wildlife management. Even now, myth and politics trump ecology. Is there a way out?
When context is lost, what kind of tales can biological relics tell? Paleoecologists are forcing us again and again to rethink what was once established fact.
Imagine a portable DNA barcode scanner that could transform people’s relationship with nature. Could such futuristic technology be to biodiversity what the printing press was to literacy?