Celebrating Community Science Month – How you can get involved

If you are a science enthusiast looking for ways to become more involved, community science is the perfect activity for you and your friends and family. Community scientists are people interested in science who volunteer to make observations, collect data, and report findings. Recently, community scientists in Ohio worked with experts to track declining native ladybugs in their backyards. April is global community science month and the perfect time to get involved with projects like these!

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Dead and Gone? – The loss of decaying wood communities in urban forests

Forests are beautiful. From flourishing plants to tranquil wildlife to decaying logs, all parts are beautiful, vital, and connected. Dead logs are responsible for maintaining a healthy forest thanks to teams of fungi and wood-dependent insects inside. These organisms break down plant material to add nutrients back to the ecosystem. Forests are essential for human health and well-being, but human disturbance could threaten these ecosystems. To keep our forests healthy and beautiful, we depend on these decomposers, but can they rely on us?

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Puzzling Mice – City mice are better problem solvers

What’s your strategy for completing a jigsaw puzzle? Puzzles and games require problem solving and strategy. Animals also need to problem-solve to overcome challenges in their environment, but it’s not all fun and games for them. Human disturbance and constant change in cities can make for really challenging conditions for city animals, such as mice. City and county striped field mice will have to prove their problem-solving wit by sliding, lifting, carrying, and digging their way through eight obstacles.

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Stop Copying Me! – Spiders that buzz like wasps

Buzzzzzz. It’s a wasp. It’s a bee. No, it’s a spider! Did you know that some spiders can make a sound? Palpimanus spiders can produce a wasp-like buzz by rubbing their front appendages against their mouthparts. Many animals have learned not to eat anything that buzzes for fear of being stung. To avoid being eaten, Palpimanus spiders have copied this sound even though they are entirely harmless. Stop by to find out what all of the spider buzz is about!

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Clues to the Past – What fossils tell us about ancient animal behavior

Hundreds of millions of years ago, Earth was teeming with life. Since humans weren’t around back then, we have to rely on fossils for snapshots into that world. Fossils give clues on how animals and their behaviors have evolved throughout geological time and can help with today’s conservation efforts. But what can fossils tell us about animal behavior, and when were some of the earliest behaviors? That’s a mystery worth digging into!

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Bats Can Chat! Bats use echolocation to identify group members

Halloween has passed, but we can still have fun talking about bats! Bats use echolocation to find food, but could there be more hiding in these calls? Social bats search for prey together to reduce the time and energy it takes to find food. Besides, teamwork makes the dream work! Bats need to identify group members to know who is searching and where they have been. Echolocation calls are distinct between individuals allowing bats to discriminate among groupmates.

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Life in the City – Humans alter city habitats for plants and animals

Cites are ecosystems, just like a forest, desert, and prairie are ecosystems. As human populations grow and move to urban areas, cities expand into other ecosystems. Plants and animals must adjust to the rapid changes that result. Humans are the biggest threat to organisms, but why are cities challenging environments for plants and animals? Let’s learn more about one of the largest and growing ecosystems on land… cities!

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It’s Complicated: Plant-pollinator relationships differ from urban to rural areas

Flowers and the butterflies they attract are beautiful additions to any yard, but your garden is serving a greater purpose. Pollinators – including butterflies, moths, bees, and wasps – depend on plants for survival and are essential for plant reproduction. Plant-pollinator relationships are especially important for agriculture and our food supply. Cities pose many challenges for both plants and their pollinators which could strain their relationship. Find out how cities put pressure on plant-pollinator relationships and what you can do to help!

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Stop and Smell the Flowers: Color-changing spiders blend in to avoid being eaten

Can you think of any animals that can change colors? I bet a spider didn’t come to mind! Believe it or not, crab spiders can change colors from white to yellow depending on the color of the flower they occupy. When an insect arrives at a spider-inhabited flower, the crab spiders use their long legs to grab their meal. Matching the color of their flower may allow crab spiders to hide from their prey and predators. Stop, smell the flowers, and see if you can spot some crab spiders!

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Good Vibrations: Katydids communicate when the wind is calm

Bzzzt! Our phones vibrate to let us know that someone has sent us a message and would like to communicate. Hundreds of thousands of species of animals, including katydids, use vibrations to communicate too. Male katydids vibrate their abdomens against plant branches to send information to other katydids, but these communications can be interrupted when wind vibrates plant branches at the same time. To avoid this disruption, katydids wait until the wind calms down to broadcast their signals. “Can you hear me now?”

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