Shifting Baselines in the Outback

Daniel Pauley, a fisheries scientist, coined the term “shifting baselines” in 1995 to describe how depleted fish populations came to be considered “normal” by generations that had never experienced the teeming abundance their grandparents had known. The concept is now a fundamental one in conservation. As ecosystems change and as human memory dims, former states […]

Who Killed the Bramble Cay Melomys?

This summer, the Bramble Cay melomys, a reddish-brown rodent that resembles a large mouse, made international news. In mid-June, the Guardian reported that the melomys, last seen in 2009, had been confirmed extinct in its only known habitat, a tiny, isolated coral outcrop in the narrow strait between Australia and New Guinea. “First mammal species wiped […]

Funny Bird

  Here comes dawn. The sky yawns and the sun flicks its lids above the horizon. But just before the lights come up on Virginia’s rolling hills, the sound of morning commences. Can we call it a song? That might be a stretch. There’s a certain musicality to it. You’re no doubt familiar with its silly refrain. […]

Of Time and Turtles

On Tuesday two people who I met a few years ago posted similar pictures. One still lives in the town of Kiruna, north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden, where I briefly lived; the other, last I heard, had moved even farther north, to somewhere in the Norwegian wilds. Each posted a picture showing the […]

Corridors of the Rainforest

Captain Matty is a brilliant storyteller. I know because earlier this month I went on his famous tour through the rainforest of Far North Queensland, Australia. As he drove our orange bus up petrifyingly narrow, sinuous roads, Matty told tales, tall and short: about the legendary ‘drop down‘, wicked cousin of the koala, so named […]

On Turkey Legs

This story is so kooky that I must lead with the video: This slow-motion film stars turkeys of different ages, from hatchlings to adults, and yes, they’re furiously climbing a steep wooden ramp. The video comes from a study published earlier this month. But let me start at the beginning.