Cheryl Lyn Dybas

“They came back,” says biologist Donald Webster. “This year.” His voice has a wistful note, wondering if the king of ducks, as the beautiful, crimson-headed canvasback is known, will return to rule Chesapeake Bay again next winter. In parka, gloves and hat, Webster, waterfowl coordinator for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), raises his…

Wildlife

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What’s the cost of a shrimp-and-steak dinner? Ask these ghosts of mangroves past in Madagascar. (Photograph: J. Boone Kauffman) What’s the cost of an average shrimp-and-steak dinner? If it comes from the loss of mangrove forests to aquaculture and agriculture, it’s 1,795 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s about the same amount of greenhouse gases…

Wildlife

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Are answers to diseases hidden in the leaves and bark of trees such as maples? Researchers are finding out. (Photograph: University of Rhode Island) In the 1992 film Medicine Man, biochemist Robert Campbell, played by actor Sean Connery, searches for new drugs in the Amazon’s vast rainforests. There Campbell finds a cure for cancer not in…

Human Journey

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Body snatcher: The worm Chaetogaster limnaei, viewed through a microscope. The worm has just eaten a young Asian clam, an invasive species in Lake George, N.Y. (Photograph: Dave Winkler) Public enemy number one, it might be called: Eurasian watermilfoil. It’s not on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, but maybe it should be, say scientists…

Wildlife

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Bone-dry winds are blowing across South Africa’s Kruger National Park (KNP), uprooting savanna grasses and whirling them like tumbleweeds across a sere landscape. How is the park’s world-renowned wildlife faring in an extreme drought? To find out, I talked with Izak Smit, Science Manager for Systems Ecology at South African National Parks (SANParks), which oversees KNP….

Wildlife

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It sounds like the plot of a summer horror flick: Malignant cells floating in the sea, ferrying infectious cancer everywhere they go. The story is all too true, say scientists who’ve made a discovery they call “beyond surprising.” Outbreaks of leukemia that have devastated populations of soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria) along the east coast of…

Wildlife

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A woodland caribou peers through spruce trees on Lake Superior’s Slate Islands. (Photograph: Andrew Silver) Qalipu, it’s called by Canada’s Mi’kmaq people. To others, it’s the elusive gray ghost of the far northern forest. Most know it simply as caribou. Woodland caribou are medium-sized members of the deer family. In Canadian provinces such as Ontario,…

Wildlife

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