The Science of Sustainability

Biology

Why I Do Science: Dan Costa

Why I Do Science: Dan Costa

One of the great things about my job is to be able to talk to some of the world's greatest and most charismatic scientists, like Professor Dan Costa of UC Santa Cruz.

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Architecture for the Birds

Architecture for the Birds

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as many as one billion birds die each year in collisions with man-made structures. Recently, lawmakers have started to do something about this problem.

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Climate Change Favors Invasive Species in California Grasslands

Climate Change Favors Invasive Species in California Grasslands

California’s grasslands are some of the most heavily invaded habitats in the state. As the climate changes—temperatures increase and water becomes scarcer—the conditions will favor exotic grasses, which will become even more prevalent.

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Science on the SPOT: Sound Waves – Listening to Orcas

Science on the SPOT: Sound Waves – Listening to Orcas

They are an icon of the Pacific Northwest, stirring a mix of fascination, awe and affection. Thousands of people come to the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound just to catch a glimpse of the Southern Resident orcas that call these waters home.

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Into the Waves with Orcas

Into the Waves with Orcas

Orcas use sound to navigate, find food and communicate. But underwater noise is making it more difficult. We explore how scientists use hydrophones to track noise from ships and boats to discover what affect noise pollution really has on orcas.

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Why Killer Whales Don’t Eat People: Where Science and Legend Meet

Why Killer Whales Don’t Eat People: Where Science and Legend Meet

It’s clear that in the wild, orcas seem to have a pretty universal rule: don’t attack humans. The reason would appear to be both biological and cultural.

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Herbicides: Help or Harm?

Herbicides: Help or Harm?

Recent headlines have brought to light some of herbicides’ unintended effects. Herbicides can provide farmers and gardeners with advantages over unwanted weeds—but they also come with drawbacks.

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Cultural Differences in Northwest Orcas

Cultural Differences in Northwest Orcas

Even though different groups of orcas in the Pacific Northwest often share the same waters, they don’t interact outside of their group, follow a distinct diet and demonstrate unique behaviors.

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Puget Sound Orca Poop is a 'Treasure Trove' for Researchers

Puget Sound Orca Poop is a 'Treasure Trove' for Researchers

Scientists are looking for clues in killer whales' aquatic droppings as they try to determine why their numbers remain so low in Puget Sound. To sniff out these floating data dumps, researchers have turned to a furry colleague named Tucker.

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The Killer Affecting Killer Whale Populations

The Killer Affecting Killer Whale Populations

Nothing excites whale researchers and whale fanatics more than seeing a new calf born into the pod. However, researchers have learned that calf survival rates are incredibly low, especially for the orca’s first born. The mother’s young calf often dies because of something the mother passes on to her offspring—PCBs.

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Web Extra: How Hummingbird Got Fire

Web Extra: How Hummingbird Got Fire

Chariman of the Amah-Mutsun Ohlone tribal band, Valentin Lopez, reads the legend of how Hummingbird got fire from the Badger People.

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Autism More than Genes

Autism More than Genes

A new twin study suggests that the environment may play a bigger role in autism than scientists previously thought.

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Gulls Threaten South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Work

Gulls Threaten South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Work

One of the most ambitious wetland restoration projects in the country is underway in San Francisco Bay. Thousands of acres of those ponds are being restored for shorebirds and wildlife.

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The State of the Ocean

The State of the Ocean

The ocean is our planet’s heartbeat, and the future heartbeat for billions of humans.

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Bioplastic Boom

Bioplastic Boom

Companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Heinz ketchup have determined that plastic made from plants — not oil — makes sense both for the environment and for business. The growing demand has meant a boom in the bioplastic industry. Could this mean the end of the plastic bottle as we know it?

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Patient-Specific DNA Sequencing Finally Paying Off

Patient-Specific DNA Sequencing Finally Paying Off

Here Dr. Starr talks about three patients who have dramatically improved lives because scientists sequenced their DNA and correctly interpreted the results. The dream of helping individual patients using data from the human genome project is finally being realized.

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Sea Lions, Herring, and Climate Change

Sea Lions, Herring, and Climate Change

I thought I’d check in on the sea lions at Pier 39. Just a few years ago, there were about 1600 of them. Then in 2009, most of them swam away.

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Color Evolution in Nudibranchs

Color Evolution in Nudibranchs

Dr. Rebecca Johnson, postdoctoral researcher from the California Academy of Sciences, tells why nudibranchs evolved to have such beautiful and brilliant color patterns to aid in their defense.

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Summer Solstice, Shifting Spring

Summer Solstice, Shifting Spring

Tomorrow is our summer solstice—the longest day of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere.

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The Cloud in the Silver Lining

The Cloud in the Silver Lining

There are no free lunches in genetics. Having a certain version of a gene may protect you from one thing, but make you susceptible to another.

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