Nature's Archive

Michael Hawk

Get inspired by amazing leaders and naturalists on the forefront of nature conservation! Each episode I interview ecologists, naturalists, educators, authors, researchers, and others in order to help you become a better naturalist and nature advocate. I promise to cover the nuance of each topic, and show you the unique and inspiring ways people are making a difference. My name is Michael Hawk, and I’ve worked in tech in Silicon Valley for the last 20 years. My interest in nature has grown into a calling to help everyone ascend the ladder of environmental care. This podcast is just one element of that calling, and I have exciting plans for the future! Please join me in this journey. And I'd love to get your feedback and evolve the show to provide more of what YOU want. Thank you!

#46: Paul Johnson - Finding and Counting Butterflies
Do you want to find more butterflies? Paul Johnson can help. Paul is a Wildlife Biologist at Pinnacles National Park, and a long time lepidopterist, or one who studies butterflies and moths. Paul also leads several North American Butterfly Association (NABA) butterfly counts in California, which is how I got connected with Paul in the first place, and a primary focus of this episode.Today, we discuss Paul's path to wildlife biology and butterflies. Being a wildlife biologist at a National Park sounds like a dream job to me, so I also probed a bit about that, and what makes Pinnacles National Park such a unique place. As a hint, Pinnacles is named for geologically unique spires of volcanic origin.We then turn our attention to butterflies and butterfly counts - North American Butterfly Association, or NABA, Fourth of July counts. Despite the name, these counts are held over the months of June and July. We discuss the structure and goals of the counts and how to participate. With 450 counts across North America, and most skill levels needed, there might be an opportunity for you!Paul also discusses butterfly behavior, which aside from being fascinating, is also helpful for finding them. This includes behaviors such as hilltopping, mudpuddling, and larval food plant associations.You can find Paul on iNaturalist as euproserpinus (you-pro-serpinus). And if you are interested in participating in a NABA butterfly count, check out naba.org for the count circles and count leaders (or this link for additional details for Northern California counts). Did you have a question that I didn't ask? Let me know at naturesarchivepodcast@gmail.com, and I'll try to get an answer in my monthly newsletter. If you aren't already subscribed, go here. I promise, no spam. I share the latest news from the world of Nature's Archive, as well as pointers to new naturalist finds that have crossed my radar, like podcasts, books, websites, and more. FULL SHOW NOTESPeople/OrganizationsArt Shapiro - professor at UC Davis, Dr. Shapiro has been tracking butterflies for 45+ yearsJerry Powell - UC Berkeley entomologistLiam O'Brien - lepidopterist and illustrator who is creating a butterfly guide (instagram)Xerces Society - nonprofit focused on conservation of invertebrates and their habitatsBooks/OtherHandbook for Butterfly Watchers - Robert Michael PyleThe Butterflies of North America - A Natural History and Field Guide - James ScottChecklist of Butterflies at Pinnacles National ParkRelated Podcast Episodes#28 - Milkweeds - Dr. Carrie Olson-Manning and Sydney Kreutzmann#30 - Dr. Jaret Daniels Butterflies, Creating Habitat in Overlooked Landscapes, Creative Outreach#37 - Dr. Stuart Weiss – Checkerspots, Cars, and CowsSupport the show
May 16 2022
51 mins
#45: Siena Mckim - The Wild World of Sea Sponges
My guest today is Siena Mckim. Siena is a PhD student at UC Santa Barbara studying sponges in the kelp forest, which is arguably one of the most iconic marine communities. In particular, she's looking at sponge symbionts - basically, the tiny marine organisms that use sponges as a habitat. Today we hear about Siena's unique path to marine biology, developed in part from an unlikely interest in algae while at the University of Michigan, and accelerated by a love of SCUBA diving.We then quickly transition to the wild diversity of sponges, including glass sponges the size of a minivan, to sponges that sneeze, and even carnivorous sponges! As mentioned, Siena is looking at sponge symbionts, so we discuss that research and some of the discoveries and mysteries that she is tracking.Siena shares tons of fun facts in this episode, too. For example, I had to ask a cliché SpongeBob SquarePants question that might also be on your minds, but I was surprised at the answer! I'll just say that you'll have to listen to find out the reality of sponge fashion choices. And PLEASE read on below to see photos of some of these amazing creatures!And of course, Siena offers tips for locating sponges yourself, whether on docks, in tidepools, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, or even in freshwater.This interview was a lot of fun, and Siena's enthusiasm really shows. You can find Siena on Instagram as imlichentoday, and on iNaturalist with the same handle.See the FULL SHOW NOTES for photos of many of the subjects discussed today!Links To Topics DiscussedPeople and OrganizationsGeorge Matsumoto - MBARI researcherTom Turner's Lab at UCSB - and Tom on iNaturalistOlogies episode w/ Cal Academy of Sciences' Rich Mooi about Echinology (Michael mentioned this episode during the interview)Dockfouling w/ Cricket Raspett - past Nature's Archive episode with all of the ins and outs of finding cool marine creatures on docks.Books and VideosEVNautilus - YouTube channel that Siena recommendsMBARI - The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute has an amazing YouTube channel - and look for them on social media, too!YouTube Video of sponges filtering dye - Jonathan Bird's Blue WorldSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
May 2 2022
54 mins
#44: Eric Eaton - Insectpedia, Insect Ecology, Wasps, and the Future of Entomology
Eric Eaton is an entomologist and the well known author of Wasps: The Astonishing Diversity of a Misunderstood Insect, and co-author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Today, we discuss his most recent work, Insectpedia, due out on May 3. Insectpedia promises to be a fascinating and non-traditional look at insects, the people who study them, and their role in history and society.In today's discussion, we spent a few minutes learning about Eric's non-traditional path to entomology and writing, and the lasting impact of one of his kindergarten teachers.And soon enough we get into some amazing entomological facts. For example, do you know what the fly belt is? As a hint, I'll tell you it's not a leather strip used to keep a fly's pants from falling off. Joking aside, you will hear exactly what the fly belt is and how the tsetse fly is filling a preservationist role. You'll also learn about parasitoids - and specifically, the differences between parasites and parasitoids. You'll hear how a wasp targets yellow jacket wasps, but only indirectly through a third party caterpillar. Prepare to have your mind blown.And Eric tells us why aphids are actually really important to our food web. And as frequent listeners know, I love aphids because of those links to the food web.Eric also gives us some perspective on how we, as individuals, can help make societal-level shifts to improve our environment. And stick around to the end - Eric has plenty of fine book recommendations, too (all are listed in the full show notes).You can find Eric @bugeric on Twitter and bug_eric on iNaturalist, and on Facebook. You can also find him on his blog at bugeric.blogspot.com.People, Organizations, WebsitesArthro-pod PodcastBirdability - accessibility in birding and natureBird Names for Birdsbugeric.blogspot.com - Eric's insect blogEric's Interview on the Ologies podcast with Allie WardMike Houck - Portland Audubon SocietyOregon Entomological SocietyPrinceton University Presssenseofmisplaced.blogspot.com - Eric's social commentary blogUnipress BooksBookslinks are affiliate linksInsectpedia, Eric Eaton's latest, due out May 3, 2022.Insects Did It First, by Greg Paulson and Eric EatonLate Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony, by Lewis ThomasLives of a Cell, by Lewis ThomasMariposa Road, by Robert Michael PyleThunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban Wildland by Robert Michael PyleWasps: The Astonishing Diversity of a Misunderstood Insect, Eric Eaton's ode to the wonders of wasps.What Are People For? by Wendell BerrySupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Apr 18 2022
53 mins
#43: Alison Young - The City Nature Challenge
Today’s guest is Alison Young, Co-Director of the Center for Biodiversity and Community Science at the California Academy of Sciences. Alison has a background in marine biology, including a MA in Marine Biology from Humboldt State University and a BA in Biology from Swarthmore College.[FULL SHOW NOTES]At the Cal Academy, Alison is a driving force behind the City Nature Challenge, which is a 4 day global BioBlitz event that had over 1.25 million nature observations in 2021 across 400 different global locations. Mark your calendars! This year it runs from April 29 to May 2 local time, and I hope all of you plan to participate! I know my calendar is full of fun and unique events all four days!Today Alison and I discuss the community, science, and fun that is the City Nature Challenge, and how you can participate in this year’s event. Whether you live in a city or not, in northern or southern latitudes, or are stuck at home, you can participate, and Alison offers wonderful insights for all of those scenarios.We discuss the goals of the challenge, and of course, exactly what it is. Alison also tells us how the City Nature Challenge grew from what was initially thought to be a one-time competition between two rival cities - Los Angeles and San Francisco, to the massive annual event that it is today.And Alison offers several tips for making useful observations in iNaturalist, taking good photos, and how to make the City Nature Challenge a fun and enticing event even if the season or weather isn’t what you’d consider optimal for your area.You can get more information at citynaturechallenge.org, and follow the city nature challenge at citnatchallenge on both twitter and instagram. And follow Alison at alisonkestrel on Twitter and Instagram, or just kestrel on iNaturalist.FULL SHOW NOTESLinksPeople, Events, OrganizationsGreat Southern BioBlitz - an event for the Southern HemisphereJulia Butterfly Hill - lived in a Redwood tree for 738 days to draw attention and prevent cutting of rare old growth redwoodsLila Higgins, Senior Manager, Community Science at Natural History Museum of LA CountySnapshot Cal Coast - A California Coast bioblitz event BooksThe Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction by David Quammen. This 1997 book was influential to Alison.Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Apr 4 2022
55 mins
#42: Dr. Peter Alagona - Cities: The Accidental Ecosystem
I live in a city of 1 million people that is part of a metropolitan area of close to 8 million people. Yet, at my suburban home I often hear Coyotes howling at night, turkeys gobbling in the morning, and great-horned owls hooting. There are Bald Eagles that nest near a school not too far away. And San Francisco is famous for its Sea Lions. These stories of urban wildlife are quite common across much of the United States and the world. And just a few decades ago, this wasn't the case. Why the change? My guest today provides a fascinating history and explanation of this phenomenon. Dr. Peter Alagona is an environmental historian and professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He's also the author of the new book, The Accidental Ecosystem, People and Wildlife in American Cities, which I've had the pleasure of previewing, and will be released on April 19.In our discussion, Dr. Alagona provides a deep perspective, highlighting that even animals such as the Eastern Grey Squirrel were once considered exotic, and white tailed dear were a threatened species in much of the first half of the 20th century. He describes how things became so bleak in cities, and some of the reasons that some animals find success in cities today.To help explain this, Dr. Alagona provides a framework for thinking about urban ecology and the creatures living in urban environments. We talk raccoons, squirrels, deer, mountain lions, bald eagles, wolves, and more. And even learn a bit about Dr. Alagona's other passion - grizzly bears.You can find Dr. Alagona at PeterAlagona.com, and you can learn about his grizzly bear project at calgrizzly.com.FULL SHOW NOTESLinks To Topics DiscussedPeople and OrganizationsThe California Grizzly Research NetworkBooks and Other ThingsThe Accidental Ecosystem, People and Wildlife in American Cities, Dr. Peter Alagona's latest bookAfter the Grizzly: Endangered Species and the Politics of Place in California, Dr. Alagona's previous bookComing into the Country by John McPhee - a wonderful account of Alaska and the Brooks RangeSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Mar 22 2022
1 hr
#41: Michael Kauffmann: Conifers - Extreme Survivors
My guest in this episode is Michael Kauffmann. He's a life-long educator, ecologist, and author, as well as founder of Backcountry Press. He's also an expert in conifers - those wonderful trees that include some of the tallest, widest, and oldest living trees on Earth. Think Giant Sequoia, Coast Redwood, and Bristlecone Pine for just a small taste of what conifers have to offer.Today we discuss the many things that make conifers such an amazing group of plants. Michael walks us through their evolutionary history, what makes them different from other trees, and gives us a special look at the amazing diversity of conifers in his area - the Klamath region of far northern California. This deep dive reveals many interesting ecological processes that likely can be generalized to other regions and other plants. It's truly fascinating.Michael also discusses how he turned his love of conifers into two amazing projects. With the creation of his first book, Conifer Country, Michael established Backcountry Press. It has since grown to produce several wonderful natural history books, and he gives us a preview of some new ones due out soon. And the second project is his establishment of the 360 mile Bigfoot Trail. It's a playful name for a truly serious trail if you are in to backpacking or botanizing, and it boasts 32 conifer species.You can find Michael at MichaelKauffmann.net, on Instagram, or on iNaturalist.FULL SHOW NOTESLinks To Topics DiscussedPeople, Organizations, ThingsGriff Griffith - past podcast guest that introduced Michael and I The Miracle Mile - all of the species Michael documented in the famed 1 square mile of the Klamath.Books MentionedCalifornia Desert Plants - coming in May 2022 from Backcountry PressConifer Country, by Michael KauffmannConifers of California by Ronald LannerConifers of the Pacific Slope, by Michael KauffmannThe Klamath Knot by David Rains WallaceThe Klamath Mountains: A Natural History Tour - coming October 2022 from Backcountry PressField Guide to Manzanitas, by Michael Kauffmann, Tom Parker, and Michael VaseyNorthwest Trees by Stephen ArnoSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Mar 7 2022
55 mins
#40: The Crazy World of Wild Green Ecological Memes - Rhett Barker and Curtis Sarkin
My guests today are Rhett Barker and Curtis Sarkin of the incredibly popular Wild Green Memes for Ecological Fiends.If you don’t know Wild Green Memes, it’s a Facebook group of over 475,000 members. And it’s quite possibly the most enjoyable place I’ve found on social media. Before I go any further, yes, today’s episode is a bit different than my typical episodes. But you’re still going to learn some fascinating ecology! You’ll hear about spiders that keep frogs as pets, the amazing nomadic steller’s sea eagle, a tree that has exploding seed pods, lungless salamanders, and more.But the focus of today’s episode is how the humble meme has turned into an amazing tool for fun, education, and even nonprofit fundraising! In case you’re wondering what the heck a meme is, I found this nice succinct definition. A meme is a virally transmitted image embellished with text, usually sharing pointed commentary or humor about cultural symbols, social ideas, or current events.Today Rhett and Curtis discuss how Wild Green Memes came to be, and the clever ways that they manage the group, facilitating its insanely rapid growth while maintaining the group’s culture. You’ll hear how they turned a trend of wildlife “gang” memes into a basis for highly successful nonprofit fundraising.And of course, we talk about the funniest memes and meme trends that they’ve seen.As Curtis, says, we’re only scratching the surface of the potential of memes.You can find Wild Green Memes for Ecological Fiends on Facebook, and they also have a presence on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, as well as a podcast called Wild Green Streams.FULL SHOW NOTESSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Feb 21 2022
55 mins
#39: Dr. Elaine Ingham - The Ecology of the Soil Food Web
If you’ve listened to more than a few of my podcast episodes, you’ve likely noticed some common themes. One in particular is that everything in nature is interconnected in multiple ways. And today’s episode demonstrates that in some mind bending ways.What’s the topic? Well, it’s an often overlooked subject. If it is handled well, it will sequester carbon, reduce the impacts of droughts, improve our water quality, and probably save you money. And if you need another hint, when it is healthy it also makes your food more nutritious. By now you probably guessed the topic - soil ecology and the soil food web.My guest today is Dr. Elaine Ingham. Dr. Ingham has over four decades of experience in soil biology, and is generally recognized as the foremost expert in the field. She is the primary author of the USDA Soil Biology Primer, and founder of Soil Food Web Inc, a group dedicated to empowering ordinary people to bring healthy soils back to life. Dr. Ingham has a B.A. in biology and chemistry from St. Olaf College, an M.S. in microbiology from Texas A&M University, and a Ph.D. in microbiology from Colorado State University.Our wide-ranging conversation only scratched the surface of soil ecology. As I said a moment ago, everything is interconnected, so it makes conversations like these somewhat challenging since, like soil ecology itself, everything inter-relates.So what did we cover? Well, we talked about the difference between dirt and soil, which is an ecosystem unto itself, consisting of varying amounts of fungi, bacteria, predators, and parasites such as protozoa and nematodes. Dr. Elaine discusses the entire process of how fungi, bacteria, and other organisms convert soil nutrients to forms readily available to plants, and how plants actually induce this behavior through chemical signaling. She discusses how plants trade sugars for nutrients from fungi, and how these trades are dynamic and constantly adjusting. We dig deep into how to measure soil health, and this includes how to compost and how to assess both soil and compost with a microscope.We surfaced from our microscopy deep dive to discuss easy shortcuts you can use to assess your own soil health and compost health without a microscope.And we touched on many other topics, such as the impact of soil compaction, and the negative impacts of inorganic fertilizers.Be sure to check out the show notes because some of the topics really require some visual aides. I’ve included a graphic provided by Dr. Elaine that summarizes the importance of soil health, as well as some videos showing Dr. Elaine’ technique for mixing your soil solution for the microscope, and a video of some spirilla bacteria - they’re pretty wild!FULL SHOW NOTES include links and videos too.People and OrganizationsSoil Food Web School - look for the resources and classes mentioned in the episodeSoil Regen Summit 2022 - March 15, 2022. This is the Soil Summit Dr. Elaine mentioned.Books and Other ThingsTeaming with Microbes, The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne LewisUSDA Soil Biology Primer - free online book, largely authored by Dr. Elaine.Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Feb 7 2022
1 hr 11 mins
#38: Beth Pratt - P-22 And The Age of Wildlife Crossings
Highways, roadways, and railways isolate animals, prevent them from reaching needed food and water, cause genetic isolation, and make populations vulnerable to natural disasters. And as you’ll hear today, the impacts go much deeper, and sometimes in surprising directions. But wildlife crossings go a long way towards mitigating this damage.My guest Beth Pratt of the National Wildlife Federation and Save LA Cougars tells the astonishing story of how a Los Angeles mountain lion named P-22 triggered a cascade of support leading to one of the most ambitious wildlife crossings ever conceived. This crossing, called the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing at Liberty Canyon, is about to break ground over the 10 lane US-101 highway.Beth tells how P-22, with support from amazing people like Beth, helped the second largest city in the USA wake up to the fact that we need to find ways to coexist with nature. We also discuss some of thedetails of wildlife crossing design. For example, she discusses the pros and cons of overpass crossings vs tunnels and culverts, and how design can be used to influence animals to use the crossings. And of course, the specific wildlife protection goals influence the design, too.Beth also describes many surprising ways that wildlife crossings help improve ecosystems and the food web. Even plants need connectivity, and some bird species are negatively impacted by highways - and these crossings aim to help.Beth Pratt has over 25 years experience in environmental leadership, and is currently the Executive Director of the California Region for the National Wildlife Federation. Beth previously served as Vice President and CFO at the Yosemite Conservancy, and also serves on the board of Outdoor Afro.If that wasn’t enough, Beth authored the book “When Mountain Lions are Neighbors”, which was highly influential in my progression as a nature advocate. Beth and her work have been featured in the media, including a recent piece in the LA Times by Louis Sahagún, who coined the term The Age of Wildlife Crossings.You can find Beth online at bethpratt.com, on Twitter @bethpratt, and on Facebook @bethpratt1. And of course, you can also find P-22, the talented mountain lion that he is, on Twitter @p22ofhollywood and Facebook @p22mountainlionofhollywood.More links and photos in the FULL SHOW NOTESRelated Episodes and Content#20 Dr. Yiwei Wang#35 Ben Goldfarb#37 Dr. Stuart Weiss Dr. Merav Vonshak's newt roadkill awareness effortsBooksCougar: Ecology and Conservation by Maurice Hornocker, Sharon NegriHeart of a Lion: A Lone Cat's Walk Across America by William StolzenburgWhen Mountain Lions are Neighbors by Beth Pratt OtherAnnenberg FoundationPuma Profiles - recommended by Beth SaveLACougers.orgThe Badger and Coyote VSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Jan 24 2022
1 hr 1 min
#37: Dr. Stuart Weiss - Checkerspot Butterflies, Cars, and Cows
Today, Dr. Stuart Weiss unravels an amazing and unexpected series of discoveries that connect cows, cars, and conservation, all triggered by the study of the threatened Bay Checkerspot butterfly. These discoveries have had reverberations across ecological circles and have led to amazing conservation successes, despite a senior US Air Force official calling the tiny butterfly a national security threat.Before we get into that, a bit about Dr. Stuart Weiss. Dr. Weiss has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Stanford University, and is the Founder and Chief Scientist at Creekside Center for Earth Observation. He has 29 peer reviewed publications and has wide-ranging research experience in conservation and population biology, microclimate characterization, and statistical analysis.Today’s episode begins with a bit of background to set the stage, describing the land where these discoveries occurred, what makes them unique, and then a bit about the Bay Checkerspot. This butterfly had been in decline for decades, first due to direct reduction of habitat due to development and invasive non-native plants. But Dr. Weiss’s systematic study showed that something else was happening, leading him to unravel the mystery, revealing an unexpected relationship between cars, cows, and the checkerspot that we discuss today.Dr. Weiss’s work also showed that landscape and population connectivity was a critical, and missing, component. This was at a time where connectivity was not well understood - and even today policymakers and the general public is often unaware of how important it is. Ultimately, the story of the Bay Checkerspot and the cascade of conservation discoveries and actions is an amazing success story that continues to grow. I hope you enjoy the discussion. I promise you’ll learn a bit about not only the checkerspot, but also soil ecology, the nitrogen cycle, the nuance of land management and grazing, tule elk, and much more.Note that there was a bit of scratchy audio at a few spots, but stick with it because we did get it worked out.Lastly, I expect to release an episode specifically covering wildlife connectivity and wildlife crossings in the next few weeks, as well as another that will deep dive into soil ecology. So if you enjoy those aspects of today’s story, stay tuned for those upcoming episodes!Full Show NotesLinks To Topics DiscussedBay Checkerspot butterflyBay Area Conservation Lands Network (CLN)California Native Plant SocietyCalifornia Rangeland Conservation CoalitionCommittee for Green Foothills (now just Green Foothills)Cows, Cars, and Checkerspot Butterflies - Dr. Weiss' 1999 Research PublicationCreekside ScienceEdith Allen at UC-RiversideHoward Baker and the Snail Darter Controversy - wikipediaThe Moore FoundationTule ElkValley Habitat AgencySupport the show
Jan 10 2022
1 hr 4 mins
Happy New Year! - And Big Changes for Nature's Archive!
Regular episodes return next Monday with a fascinating interview that delves into an ecological mystery that unravels a connection between a threatened butterfly, cars, cows, and soil ecology. You don’t want to miss this one!As for today, THANK YOU for a wonderful 2021. The podcast really took off this year, with each month surpassing the previous month, usually by hundreds of listens.But I have a big announcement. Don't worry, the podcast will remain!The short story: I'm leaving my Silicon Valley tech job in April so I can focus on conservation full time. My path isn't entirely clear, but I have some solid options and my next few steps are clear. I've developed a personal vision, and will start executing on that in 2022.I'm ecstatic to pursue my dream, but leaving the salary, benefits, and certainty of my day job is uncomfortable, to say the least.For that reason, I’ve launched a Patreon page to give you, my listeners, an opportunity to help me achieve this dream. If you choose, you can support the production costs of the show by becoming a monthly contributor. There are four option levels, and each level offers fun perks, including access to exclusive content, die-cut stickers, special access to learn about future guests and ask questions in advance of episodes, and occasional AMAs (Ask Me Anything), where we can chat about anything - show ideas, questions about how I use iNaturalist, favorite nature encounters, the latest field guide I’ve added to my collection - whatever! You can check out my patreon by either checking the show notes for the link, going to podcast.naturesarchive.com, or patreon.com/naturesarchive.If you are unfamiliar with patreon, many creators use it to support content production. My goal right now is to simply cover my production costs. My costs are about $75 a month, and will grow to about $150 a month with my 2022 plans. You may wonder what costs go into producing audio content? Well, my recurring costs include paying a podcast hosting service, website hosting, domain names, and software licenses for editing and production. I hope you will consider becoming a patron!And again, I want to thank everyone for their support in listening to and sharing the show. I am constantly surprised at the reach of the show. It’s been fun and surprising to get emails and DMs from strangers discussing episodes or suggesting topics. More and more I also encounter listeners at various nature events I attend! And if you don’t want to contribute through patreon, please take a moment and rate my podcast on apple podcasts, spotify, amazon, and/or podchaser. Better still, share your favorite episode with whichever nature groups you are part of. Thank you again for a wonderful 2021 and I look forward to even greater things in 2022.Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Jan 2 2022
4 mins
#36: Damon Tighe - Fungi, Mushrooms, and Community Science (Mycology)
Finally! A deep dive into the Fungi Kingdom. It took me 36 episodes, but we're finally here thanks to fungi expert Damon Tighe (instagram, iNaturalist). Damon is a skilled naturalist, photographer and science communicator, biotech educator, and prolific iNaturalist contributor. He has a biology and chemistry degree from Saint Mary’s college, and has years of professional experience in genomics and DNA sequencing, including with the Human Genome Project at the National Lab’s Joint Genome Institute. Damon is also a core member of the California Center for Natural History.Today, Damon describes the basics of fungi - what they are, and how they reproduce. Damon covers the three primary lifestyles that fungi take on - saprophytic, which like to eat dead stuff, parasitic, which like to eat something still alive, and mycorrhizal, where they team up with something, often a plant.We discuss fungi and mushrooms that one might encounter, their seasonality, how to read the landscape to find mushrooms, and how to identify them. Damon covers some common mushroom myths as well, and whether it is OK to pick mushrooms for identification or general foraging. Damon also tells us about some fascinating mushroom behaviors, such as how Chicken of the Woods fruit in anticipation of rain, and the story of the notorious Deathcap mushroom. Throughout the episode Damon mentions many species, and I've included pictures in the FULL SHOW NOTES. You definitely need to see the Chantrelle!We wrap up with a discussion of the convergence of DNA sequencing technology and citizen science. DNA sequencing is achievable at home relatively inexpensively, and a community of citizen scientists are driving new discoveries. Referenced EpisodesThe Magic of Lichens - Kerry KnudsenThe Amazing World of Plant Galls - Adam KranzLinksEntangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by SheldrakeMushrooms of the Redwood Coast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern California by Siegel and SchwarzAlan RockefellerBarcode the Lake at Lake Merritt, in Oakland, CaliforniaCalifornia Center for Natural HistoryHow Many Fungal Spores Do We Breathe In? Source1, Source2SOMA Camp, an enthusiasts gathering in CaliforniaFungal DNA Barcoding ResourcesEverymanBioSigrid JakobDamon's overview of DNA sequencingWilliam Padilla-Brown - one of the few using Oxford Nanopore sequencingSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Dec 21 2021
1 hr 25 mins
#35: Ben Goldfarb - Beavers, The Quintessential Keystone Species
Today you'll become a Beaver Believer thanks to my guest, Ben Goldfarb. Ben is the author of the book Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter, winner of the 2019 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Aside from being an author, Ben is an environmental journalist, with writing appearing in The Atlantic, Science, The Washington Post, and many other esteemed publications. Ben holds a Masters of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.Beavers truly are ecosystem engineers, capable of creating a series of habitats just by living their semi-aquatic lives. But did you know that not all beavers build dams and lodges? And in order to spend so much time in water, they have many amazing adaptations, such a a second set of lips behind their teeth that acts like a valve sealing off water.And this is just the tip of the beaver lodge, so to speak. Ben tells us so many great facts about beavers and their ecology that I'm sure you'll walk away with an expanded respect for these animals. Ben tells us why beavers are perhaps the quintessential keystone species, creating a disproportionate impact on the land. For example, beavers may actually help salmon populations, reduce and slow wildfires, recharge groundwater supplies, and much more. They create ponds, dig creek channels, and trigger ecological succession. We also discuss how beavers fit into the classic Yellowstone trophic cascade. Maybe I could have had a shorter interview if I just asked Ben what beavers don't do?Find Ben on his website, or on twitter. Full Show NotesLinksPeople and OrganizationsEmily Fairfax, PhD - Ecohydrologist who has researched how beavers make landscapes more fire resilientJoe Wheaton - Fluvial Geomorphologist who has studied how beavers are restorative, and can be used like a restoration tool.Sarah Koenigsberg - filmmaker for The Beaver BelieversBooks and Other ThingsEager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter - by Ben GoldfarbSupport the show
Dec 6 2021
1 hr 5 mins
#34: Chloe and Trevor Van Loon - Finding More in Nature
My guests today are Chloe and Trevor Van Loon. Chloe has a background in ecology and environmental science, and while Trevor’s educational background is in math and computer science, he’s also become a fanatical amateur naturalist. In fact, both Chloe and Trevor are highly skilled naturalists and prolific iNaturalist contributors. No biome or habitat is off limits for them, and as you’ll hear, they have an insatiable drive to learn more.Today’s episode could be broadly described as “how to maximize your time in the field”, whether it be casual hikes, random walks in nature, goal-driven hikes, or BioBlitzes.  Chloe and Trevor offer tips and techniques to identify the plants, fungi, and insects you find, regardless of whether you are a budding nature lover or a seasoned naturalist. We discuss approaches to making new personal discoveries, using iNaturalist to locate nearby and interesting taxa, and many specific techniques, including using UV lights at night, using a sweep net, and challenging your own assumptions about where to find interesting things. Who knows - maybe you too can observe a nival aeolian fallout! Stay tuned to learn exactly what that is!There are so many actionable suggestions and ideas that I really just gave up on the idea that this intro would do the episode justice. And be sure to check the show notes at podcast.naturesarchive.com for links to the resources mentioned today. And find Chloe and Trevor on their iNaturalist account, on instagram, or on Chloe's blog.Full Show NotesLinks To Topics DiscussedPeople and OrganizationsDamon Tighe's Instagram and iNat pagesMarin Mushrooms (Alison Pollack) on InstagramBooks and AppsJepson Manual - the classic for California plantsROCKD geology appSibley Guide to Birds of the Western North AmericaChloe's recent review of The Cougar ConundrumOther Naturalist Tools MentionedHand lens or loupe - this 10x lens came highly recommended to me by a biologist friend, as a good mix of optical and build qualityInsect aspirator (aka pooter) - here's an example, but check bioquip.com for better ones.Phone macro lenses - turn your smart phone into a macro camera. Make sure the lens you buy is compatible with your phone and case!UV Lights: USB UV Kit for backpacking; High powered for general use; the "Gold Standard" LepiLEDSupport the show
Nov 22 2021
1 hr 10 mins
#33: Dr. Andrew Farnsworth - Predicting Bird Migrations with BirdCast
My guest in this episode is Dr. Andrew Farnsworth. Andrew is a Senior Research Associate in the Center for Avian Population Studies at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and has a BS in Natural Resources from Cornell University, MS in Zoology from Clemson University, and PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell.Andrew started birding at age 5 and quickly developed a fascination with bird migration, which continues to this day. His research advances the use and application of multiple technologies to study bird movements on continental scales. This includes the use of weather surveillance radar, audio and video recording and monitoring tools, citizen science datasets, and machine learning techniques.Today we discuss one of his primary projects, BirdCast. BirdCast presents near real time bird migration status, provides migration forecasts up to three days out, and provides local migration alerts to inform conservation action.Creating BirdCast has required decades of research and a combination of many disciplines.  Andrew discusses how ground-truth observations, acoustics, and radar data are correlated to weather data to produce a predictive model that accurately forecasts migration days in advance. Andrew discusses how advances in computing technology and machine learning have dramatically advanced model accuracy and accelerated progress.We get into the details of the model, including why temperature is the most important factor in bird migration prediction, how tropical storms impact migration, and why migration and monitoring in the western USA is different from the eastern USA.We also discuss how birders can use BirdCast for their interests, and the many ways that migration prediction helps with conservation efforts, such as Lights Out Texas.You can see the forecasts and a lot of research and technical data at birdcast.info, or follow the team @DrBirdCast, on twitter.Full Show NotesLinks to People and Topics DiscussedThe Academy of Natural SciencesAdriaan Doktor, Benjamin Van Doren and Kyle Horton from the birdcast teamDr. Sidney Gauthreaux - Dr. Farnsworth's advisor at Clemson University, and a pioneer in the field.How radar detects birds (from birdcast.info) Lights Out Texas from Texan By NatureWSR 88D (aka NexRAD) - the US National Weather Service overview of the technologyLinks to Related EpisodesBrian Sullivan - Brian is a former project lead for eBird, also from the Cornell Lab. This episode discusses that, as well are many technological opportunities to better understand birdsProject Terra - learn more about bird telemetry, nocturnal flight calls, and associated tracking technologies Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Nov 8 2021
1 hr 2 mins
Encore: Rick Halsey on Wildfire in the West and California's Chaparral
This is an encore of my popular wildfire in the west interview with Rick Halsey of the California Chaparral Institute.Don't worry, more great new episodes are coming.  Do you want to learn about bird migration forecasting? I’ve got you covered. And how about maximizing your nature observations when in the field? Covered again. And I have a bunch of other episodes and new projects in the works, too, from wild memes to beavers to mycelium - that confirms it! I’m really a fungi! Onto the encore of episode 9. And if you enjoy the topic of wildfire, also check episode #24 with Justin Angle.Rick Halsey is the author of “Fire, Chaparral, and Survival in Southern California”, and has a background in Environmental Studies, Anthropology, and Education, with degrees from University of California Santa Barbara and Cal State San Diego and UC Berkeley. He is the founder and director of the California Chaparral Institute, dedicated to preserving California’s chaparral through scientific research, nature education, and activism. Chaparral habitats are expansive and the most important habitat at the wildland/urban interface in California’s major cities. In this episode we discuss the myths and realities of wildfire. There are many eye opening insights that often get lost in our desire to have single, simple answers. That’s the theme of the episode - nuance. Causes and solutions vary by habitat and condition. And while we focus a lot on California, the principles apply to much of the west.We discuss the ecosystems of the west, their historical fire behaviors and how that history was determined through charcoal records and tree ring analysis. We discuss the fact that huge, hot fires are not necessarily unnatural, and why the “fuel build up” narrative is often untrue, and when it makes sense. And the dramatic increase in human caused ignitions, which often occur at the more unnatural and dangerous times of the season. We discuss indigenous fire management and application and simple solutions for people living in the wildland-urban interface.We also delve into Rick’s insights as an educator. His skill and dedication led to him receiving the McAuliffe Fellowship. Over the years he’s fine-tuned his delivery and we discuss his wonderful essay on his transformation from lecturer to the engage model.Full Notes Jack CohenKeith LombardoRick's BookCamp Fire Paradise, CA disasterSanta Rosa’s Coffey Park disasterStudy shows improved hospital recovery for park-facing patientsSanta Monica NRA wildfire chaparral resourcesABA Podcast Steve Maguire’s high school ornithology classThe Nature Fix – Why Nature Makes us HapSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Oct 25 2021
1 hr 29 mins
#32: Cricket Raspet on Dockfouling - Finding Amazing Sea Creatures the Easy Way
My guest today is Cricket Raspet (@chilipossum on Instagram). Cricket is a Curatorial Assistant at the California Academy of Sciences, specializing in marine mammals.  She’s a passionate community scientist, a raptor bander with the GGRO and a rescue and animal care volunteer at the Marine Mammal Center.  An interest (obsession?) with the colorful sea slugs of the pacific coast led her from the tidepools to the strange community of creatures that make floating docks their home. With a handful of like-minded explorers, she founded the Dockfoulers Union to educate people about this unique ecosystem and document its inhabitants through photography and iNaturalist observations.  To explain, dockfouling is a captivating hobby where one observes the amazing diversity that forms in ecosystems around floating docks. Think of it like tidepooling, but with some distinct advantages that we discuss today. Unique and colorful creatures can be readily seen, and these areas are ripe for personal and scientific discovery. Simply put, dockfouling can be both a crash course and a masters course in marine ecology.In this episode we discuss what dockfouling is, and the related concept of biofouling.We discuss Cricket's amazing finds in these floating dock biomes, the emergence of a dock fouling community, and how you can easily observe these magnificent creatures next time you are near a floating dock. It turns out it is easy to get started - no equipment necessary! But if you want to start taking photos, Cricket offers suggestions as well.Cricket also provides great resources to learn more, including books, videos, and iNaturalist projects. And it turns out it's "Doctober" - a special month-long BioBlitz intending to document these communities on iNaturalist.Find Cricket on Instagram at chilipossum, docfoulersunion, glamourslugs. And iNaturalist as chilipossum.Full Show NotesLinks to People and ResourcesDock Fouling in California - iNaturalist projectDock Fouling in Washington State - iNaturalist projectDoctober - Dockfauling bioblitz for October 2021Nature Lookings - website with resources on Dock Fouling and DoctoberOlympus TG-6 Waterproof Camera- recommended for underwater and terrestrial macro, with built-in focus stacking, recommended by Cricket. And a tutorial to use the TG-6 for Tidepool PhotographyThe Light and Smith Manual: Intertidal Invertebrates from Central California to Oregon, by James T. CarltonSeashore Life of the Northern Pacific, by Eugene Kozloff - illustrated marine biology book that will help with your identification and udnerstandingPeople and Organizations DiscussedCalifornia Academy of SciencesDamon Tighe - presentations on YouTube at Lake MerrittDockfoulers Union (instagram)Support the show
Oct 11 2021
51 mins
#31: BONUS: Gall Week 2021 with Dr. Merav Vonshak
Dr. Merav Vonshak is a former guest on the podcast from episode 7. Merav is an ecologist, naturalist, and citizen science organizer (see BioBlitz.club) located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Merav volunteers as a curator on iNaturalist, and has an astounding 42800 observations on iNaturalist. She has also lead a project to document and raise awareness about the tragically high roadkill mortality of pacific newts along Lexington reservoir in the San Francisco Bay Area.Merav is one of those people who has many fascinating projects and nature observations. But today, we’re talking about her latest idea - Gall Week 2021, which is planned from October 2 to October 10 (yes, it is a week PLUS a bonus weekend!).The idea is to get everyone, regardless of naturalist ability, to get out and observe these fascinating creatures.If you aren’t sure what a plant gall is, I can point back just two episodes ago to my interview with Adam Kranz covering all things galls. But the short answer is these are beautiful and sometimes bizarre growths on plant tissues induced by another organism, such as a wasp, midge, or many others. They often develop vivid colors and evocative shapes, and all have fascinating natural histories. These growths occur specifically to support the life cycle of the inducer, and are often induced in amazingly precise ways.Today Merav tells us about the project, how to participate, and has a few tips and tricks for documenting your observations.Full Show NotesLinks To Topics DiscussedGall Week 2021 iNaturalist Project - join this project so you can add it to your gall observationsBooks and Gall ResourcesGallformers.org - searchable (by host plant or gall) website with detailed descriptions of galls Plant Galls of the Western United States, by Ronald Russo – HIGHLY recommendediNaturalist Gall Projects:Galls of CaliforniaGalls of North AmericaLeaf and Plant Galls - a global project Merav has a pamphlet of San Francisco Bay Area gallstLmp7wt64fIZgzs9vmcNSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Sep 29 2021
25 mins
#30: Dr. Jaret Daniels - Butterflies, Creating Habitat in Overlooked Landscapes, and Leveraging Creative Outreach
My guest today is Dr. Jaret Daniels. Dr. Daniels is a professor specializing in lepidoptera research and insect conservation at the University of Florida, and is curator of Lepidoptera at the  Florida Museum of Natural History. In addition to that, Dr. Daniels is the author of over a dozen books that help connect the general public to butterflies, insects, and gardening for wildlife. These include titles such as Backyard Bugs, Insects and Bugs for Kids, and Native Plant Gardening for Birds, Bees and Butterflies, which is a series of regionally-specific books.In this episode we dive into Dr. Daniels ability to connect with the public, and how he “flips the switch” between academic endeavors and authoring for the general public. We discuss some of his specific books (links in the show notes). And he outlines why creativity is so important for public outreach. Along those lines, he tells us about the butterfly themed beer partnership with First Magnitude Brewing, which even used yeast from a butterfly!Dr. Daniels also discusses some of his conservation activities and successes, including helping to restore the federally listed Schaus’ Swallowtail, which only lives in tropical hardwood hammock habitats in southeast Florida. This restoration also involved important efforts from community science (or citizen science) doing hard work monitoring populations in very challenging environments. This butterfly occupies a limited geographic range, meaning it is vulnerable to both habitat loss and storms such as hurricanes. Dr. Daniels discusses the recovery plan and how they intend to make Schaus' Swallowtail populations more resilient.As you know, I love to highlight ways we can make non-traditional spaces more wildlife friendly, and this is a specialty of Dr. Daniels. We hear about how Dr. Daniels worked with the Florida Dept. of Transportation to demonstrate that reduced roadside mowing frequency was a win-win-win for drivers, the department, and insects.And to support homeowners looking to make better plant choices, Dr. Daniels is collaborating to create a wildlife-friendly plant certification program. Additionally, Dr. Daniels reveals some surprising findings from studying attractiveness of various home landscapes in Florida. The short story: plant larger quantities of fewer "good" plants, and you'll create a better habitat than lots of variety, but with only one specimen of each species.You can also find Dr. Daniels on twitter.This was an enlightening discussion on a number of fronts, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Full show notes.Dr. Daniel's BooksBackyard Bugs: An Identification Guide to Common Insects, Spiders, and MoreInsects & Bugs for Kids: An Introduction to EntomologyNative Plant Gardening for Birds, Bees & Butterflies: A series covering the Upper Midwest, Southeast, South (coming soon)Other LinksPlasterer Bees of the Southeast - an iNaturalist project started by the Florida Museum of Natural History looking to gather knowledge and observations about these rare bees. And more about the Plasterer Bee Project from the museum.\The Florida MuseuSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Sep 21 2021
1 hr 2 mins
#29: Adam Kranz - The Amazing World of Plant Galls
My guest today is Adam Kranz. Adam has a BA in Environmental Studies from Lawrence University in Wisconsin, and a Masters of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Science from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His thesis was on insect pest ecology in diverse agroforestry plantings, but of late has taken a special interest in plant galls. He’s since founded Gallformers.org, which is a website designed to be the authoritative resource for all plant galls of the United States and Canada.We start discussing how Adam got into galls and how gallformers came to be. If you’re reading now wondering “what’s a gall anyway?” Well, these are beautiful and sometimes bizarre growths on plant tissues induced by another organism, such as a wasp, midge, or others. They often develop vivid colors and evocative shapes, and all have fascinating natural histories.These growths specifically support the life cycle of the inducer, and are often induced with amazing precision that you’ll have to hear to believe. For example, Adam explains how the larvae inside the gall may steer the plant response throughout their lifespan! I have photos of several of these amazing species in the show notes and on my instagram. We also discuss strategies and techniques for looking for galls in the field. They are quite common throughout much of the world, and many can be easily identified. We discuss some of the attributes of a gall that might be helpful to identify them, when and where to look, what makes an identifiable iNaturalist observation, and other plant growths that might be confused with galls.  And as it turns out, there is still much to learn about galls, so they are a great area of focus for naturalists looking to discover and describe new species.Adam also gives a nice overview of three extremely interesting galls that are among his favorites.Callirhytis quercusoperatorDryocosmus quercuspalustrisCallirhytis quercusgemmariaEach of these have fascinating natural histories, including peculiarities like hollow centers with free-rolling cells, and what might be considered a gall threesome, where a second cynipid wasp comes along and entirely changes the gall’s developmental trajectory. You can find Adam on twitter @gallformers, and on iNaturalist @megachile.Full Show NotesLinksBiodiversity Heritage LibraryBugguideCharley Eiseman’s blog BugTracksiNaturalist Gall Projects:CaliforniaNorth America BooksPlant Galls of the Western United States, by Ronald Russo - HIGHLY recommendedTracks and Signs of Insects and Other Invertebrates by Charley Eiseman - also HIGHLY recommendedWeld Cynipid Books: Free! See the show notes or just google it.Note: links to books are affiliate linksPodcasts MentionedCharley EisemanSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/naturesarchive)
Sep 14 2021
48 mins