Many of us in Michigan are fans of a small, shy bird known as the Kirtland Warbler. This creature has a wonderful story of going from nearly extinct to growing to a respectable sized population largely through thoughtful attention and management by a host of government agencies, researchers, non-profits and enthusiasts. A wonderful, highly readable account of the bird is found in William Rapai’s The Kirtland Warbler-the story of a bird’s fight against extinction and the people who helped save it, published by the University of Michigan Press.
Part of the story is the slow, painstaking research that individuals have been undertaking to understand the bird and to help ensure it’s progress is not wiped away.
Northern Michigan University master’s student, Katie Bjornen is one such researcher.
Her research focuses on bird’s ability to use their olfactory sense to smell chemicals released by trees when the trees are being eaten by insects causing the birds to come to the trees and eat the insects. At least that is the theory currently being investigated.
Katie’s research focuses on the jack pine, a type of tree preferred by the Kirtland Warbler. Her promising research could help develop greater understanding of the exact processes used by birds and trees to help promote their mutual survival.
For more information about Katie’s research, please read NMU’s Katie Evans’ article here.
Teachers of biology and ecology may find this article of benefit for their classrooms.
Questions for Discussion
- How do birds choose which trees to eat insects from?
- What is Katie’s research hypothesis?
- How does Katie’s research extend what is already known about how bird’s choose the trees to forage from?
- What is the implication of Katie’s research for the Kirtland Warbler?
- What is a deciduous tree?
- How did Katie get her start in avian research?
- What is ornithology?
Any of us who know a friend or family with a movement or other neurological disorder, understand how difficult life can be.
The simplest tasks such as writing, drinking your morning coffee, or brushing your teeth are fraught with difficulty and frustration, or the inability to complete the task.
Thankfully, there is hope on the horizon, if the initial success of University of Washington’s interdisciplinary researchers continues through additional clinical trials.
The treatment, a form of targeted brain stimulation, created by an interdisciplinary team of electrical engineers, medical researchers and ethicists, have created an innovation based on deep brain stimulation.
Essentially, deep brain stimulation is always “on” which reduces battery life and can create the need for additional surgery. However, with this targeted treatment, the electrical stimulation can be delivered only when necessary.
Hopefully, this important research will continue to be successful and deliver additional relief to the over 7 million Americans who suffer with Essential Tremor Disorder.
Check out Jennifer Langston’s article for a more comprehensive look.
Teachers in any science class would find sharing this with their students a valuable endeavor to help create real-world connections to their content.
Questions for Discussion
- How does traditional deep-brain stimulation work?
- What does this treatment do differently?
- When are individuals with Essential Tremor least likely to be affected?
- How long does a battery last in the current treatment? How much longer will it last with this innovation?
- How are the neural signals decoded?
- What role did ethicists play in this research do you think?
- What additional uses will there likely be if this is successful?
- How will this device be likely turned on and off in the future?
Teachers of ecology and basic biology will definitely want to check out Cornell Unviersity’s Max Helmberger and his exceptional claymation videos.
These videos on a variety of topics such as The Soil Food Web and nematode’s are short, interesting and informative. Showing them to your class as an additional resource for an ecology unit will certainly help enrich the subject.
Check out Chrisna Ramanujan’s piece in the Cornell Chronicle for more info and links to the videos.
Questions for Discussion:
1.How long does it take Max to create his two minute videos?
2. What childhood experiences inspired his current work?
3. What is a nematode?
4. How does it infect its host?
5. How would you use these videos in your classroom?
Biology teachers and those interested in ecology and wildlife will definitely want to check out Falcon Cam at Bowling Green State University.
A pair of Peregrine Falcons, the mascot of Bowling Green State University have chosen to nest once again, the seventh year in a row, at the Wood County Courthouse. The county and the university have teamed up to provide Falcon Cam, a way for students, educators, and interested nature fans to have access to the amazing nesting process.
Educators will especially love the Peregrine Falcon facts on the webpage. Did you know that they have a wingspan of 40 inches and that females are more powerful than males?
Learn about these fascinating birds on Falcon Cam at Bowling Green State University. This is an excellent resource, worthy of a few minutes of your time.
Click here for Bowling Green’s Falcon Cam.
Questions for Discussion (answers on the Falcon Cam website)
- How long is an adult’s wingspan?
- What is the adult falcon’s diving speed?
- Describe the adult falcon’s appearance.
- Describe the nesting behavior of the falcon.
- How many eggs are usually in a nest?
- Who incubates the eggs?
- What is a young falcon called?
- Describe the process for falcon’s learning to fly.