Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"I love you" - Them's fightin' words

Love is in the air, and so is hate! On the April 15th show, we talked about the aggression that is born of the mating season. Many animals, like these male elephant seals, battle it out to secure mating rights to females. Often we see this combat in polygamous mating systems - where one male mates with many females.

It's thought that some animals have evolved elaborate visual, auditory, and olfactory displays as a strategy for avoiding costly conflicts. For example, through singing loudly and visibly from perches, male songbirds broadcast their presence to both males seeking their own territories and females searching for a mate. Lions rub their scent on trees and rocks to alert neighboring lions of their presence. Think of it as putting up a "No Trespassing" sign.

So do the ladies really just care about the biggest baddest boy on the block? Well, a male can woo a female in other ways. For example, male chimps have been shown to barter burgers for bonks. And in one ant species, the females have sworn off men completely!

For the sound quiz, we heard from some of these aggressive males: lions, elephant seals, chimps, moose, and the more showy peacock.

Music featured included John Fahey, Tony Trischka, The Appleseed Cast, The Flaming Lips, The Shins, The New Pornographers, PJ Harvey, Pajo, and Marvin Gaye.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Great horny toads, and horny frogs for that matter!

For the April 1st show, we focused on the sounds and trials of frogs, toads, and other amphibians. First we heard from Nature Stories in an archived piece called Frogs on the Road.

Good news for froggers (is that what the people are called who like to compile lists of frog species they've seen in the wild?) - new species of frogs found in Papua New Guinea! This photo is of a green tree frog discovered (Genus Nyctimystes). This warrants an emoticon :D

I also played a wee joke on my listeners... it was April Fool's after all. I featured the following video clip, pretending that I was a believer. Of course, anyone familiar with the Onion knows better.

Then we busted the recently born myth that spider bites can cure paralysis. Where were these people's editors?

Other topics discussed: skewed sex ratios in the tropics and trouble for scientists in Madagascar.

The weekly sound quiz was all frogs and toads of course! The eastern narrowmouth toad goes out to my boy, Jason. His love of this toad was the inspiration for this show.

Some music featured included Mirah, Vivaldi, America (Last Unicorn Soundtrack, that's right!), Doc Watson, Tom Vek, Blur, the Police, the Flaming Lips, the Faint, and Dana Falconberry

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Take a hike!

Oh Spring Break, how I wish I could have enjoyed you like so many other students. Alas, I was tied to my duties as teacher and researcher that week. I did, however, feature outdoor recreation during the March 18th show, because if I can't go play outside, I'm at least gonna talk about it!

First off, we covered some of the fantastic hikes you can do in Northwest Arkansas. Find out more at Some of my favs include the Buffalo River Trail, Lost Valley, Cecil Cove Loop, and Whittaker Point.

We also learned about how to build a shelter of leaves from Gimme Shelter, a Nature Stories podcast, and heard about how to follow some of core principles of Leave No Trace ethics.

As usual, we ended the show with the weekly sound quiz, which featured mammals of Arkansas. Download the podcast linked to the date above and see if you can figure out which mammals are making the vocalizations!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Most Underrated Predators

It's all fun and games until someone loses a throat! On the March 4th show, we covered the top 10 underrated predators as seen on

Dolphins were #10, so we spent some time learning about their vocalizations from the Dolphin Communication Project and then we heard a song about the diversity of dolphin species out there.

We ended with the domestic house cat, which most people tend to ignore when it comes to identifying vicious predators... which is exactly why they make this list. Most people explain away their killing rampages as natural, and therefore justified. But here's the deal... most domestic cats kill for shits and giggles... not because they need to eat (excluding the strays of course). And their human owners enable this killing by letting them roam outside. If you care about wildlife (e.g. backyard birds, moles, snakes, etc.) then you'll keep the killers inside. Besides, vets and the Humane Society recommend it for their health anyway.