The invasive Kentucky bluegrass

The grass species known as Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) – contrary to its name – is not native to Kentucky nor is it blue (spoiler: it’s green). It is originally from Europe and northern Asia and is the most popular lawn grass in the Unites States. Unfortunately, it has also become a huge invasive problem in natural grassland environments.

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In Winter: Where the Cold-Blooded Wild Things Go

When days become shorter and the temperature outside begins to drop, our home interiors become warm, welcoming refuges from the rain and snow outside. We see the trees enter dormancy as they drop their leaves, and wildlife become busy preparing for winter: Many birds migrate, some mammals prepare to hibernate, but where do the smooth and scaly things go? The frogs? The snakes? The turtles? And without a fur coat and thick layer of blubber, it makes one wonder how they survive in prolonged freezing temperatures. As it turns out, behavioral and physiological adaptations – such as brumation and supercooling – allow many amphibians and reptiles to withstand some of our planet’s most extreme winter conditions.

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Poison Ivy’s Pervasiveness

Are you part of the 80% of the population that is allergic to poison ivy? What do we really know about poison ivy beyond its potential to cause an itchy rash on our skin? Poison ivy can actually adapt to its environment and exploit a variety of habitats, which helps explain its ubiquitous distribution. A future climate with greater carbon dioxide concentrations is expected to expand its distribution and increase its toxicity – bad news.

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The Novel Axolotl: A Conservation Paradox

The axolotl is a special kind of salamander. Unlike other salamanders, this species maintains its juvenile morphology and remains aquatic its entire life. This unique “forever-young” feature is one reason axolotls are so widely popular. In fact, the axolotl is the most widely distributed amphibian worldwide because of its attraction as a pet and its status as a model organism in biomedical research. At the same time, this species is on the verge of extinction in its native habitat, giving it the unique status of a “conservation paradox”.

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Palm Oil’s Inconvenient Truth

Palm oil is quickly growing to be one of the most economically lucrative crops, at a huge expense to the environment. With weak political clout by environmental groups in western nations and high demand for palm oil products in India and China, there is little that can be done to curb rainforest habitat loss as the market for palm oil continues to soar.

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