Friday, September 30, 2016

Persian Vegetable Frittata

(photo:  Goran Kosanovic/For The Washington Post)

Why eat low on the food chain?  Here's why.

Here's a great weeknight recipe that I found in the Washington Post (8/31/16).   Frittata with some different spices -- it tastes as good as it looks!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

More animal diversity in urban areas -- what's going on?

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington, University of Oregon, and the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle (and reported on in Conservation), found that aquatic environments in some urban areas seem to have more species diversity than similar environments in less urban areas.  The researchers used DNA analysis to come to this surprising conclusion.

When I read this report, I immediately thought to myself, "well, that's probably because they have more non-native invasive species in the urban areas", but the researchers concluded that non-native invasives aren't the source of the diversity.  I found this study very interesting, because I've studied butterfly diversity along an urban gradient and also had somewhat surprising results.  We'll have to continue to study urban environments to more fully understand impacts on species diversity!


Di Mauro, D., T. Dietz, and L. Rockwood.  2007.  Determining the Effect of Urbanization on Generalist Butterfly Species Diversity in Butterfly Gardens. Urban Ecosystems.

Kelly RP et al. "Genetic signatures of ecological diversity along an urbanization gradient"  PeerJ. 2016.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Celebrities doing green stuff -- Tom Lalampaa

OK, maybe Tom Lalampaa isn't a big celebrity, but he should be!  Mr. Lalampaa is the 2016 winner of the Bright Award, which recognizes "unheralded individuals" who have made major contributions to global sustainability.  Mr. Lalampaa is the chief programs officer for the Northern Rangelands Trust (photo credit: NRT), an organization established in 2004 to develop community conservancies that conserve natural resources.  This type of conservation uses the expertise of local people and demonstrates the benefits of conservation to their local communities. Here's what the Stanford News(9/26/16) reported from the nominating committee:

"No one better illustrates the future potential for Kenya and Africa than Tom Lalampaa," said nomination committee chair Barton H. "Buzz" Thompson Jr., the Robert E. Paradise Professor in Natural   "Through his work at the Northern Rangelands Trust, Tom has demonstrated the opportunity to promote economic development, sow peace among neighboring tribes and conserve Africa's tremendous wildlife, all at the same time.  Tom is an accomplished practitioner of the essential art of community-based conservation."  Read more about this inspiring Kenyan who's making waves in the conservation world!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Soup from the blender!

Why eat low on the food chain?  Here's why.

Fast blender soups seem to be making the rounds on the internet, and there's a good reason for it -- they're easy and tasty.  Here's the recipe for tomato soup that I made in the blender:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup habanero lime olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 slices of white bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes, or the equivalent of chopped fresh tomatoes (I used fresh)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2-3 tsp (or 4) Old Bay seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender (split into two batches, if it doesn't fit in your blender).  Blend on "chop" for 15 seconds and then puree until smooth.
  2. Pour into saucepan and heat.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Million Dollar Duck

I love great storytelling whether it's a well-written novel, a story on the radio, or a professional storyteller.  But I think my favorite type of storytelling is the documentary.  Skilled filmmakers can take what might otherwise be a mundane topic and make it interesting, even exciting!

The filmmakers behind The Million Dollar Duck did exactly that -- they made the story of the national duck stamp an edge-of-your-seat movie about an art competition.  If you're not familiar with the duck stamp, it's an annual stamp that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife issues to raise money to support national wildlife refuges.  And raise money it does!  98 cents of every $1 spent on duck stamps goes directly into the national wildlife refuge system.  Since 1934, the duck stamp program has purchased more than 5.7 million acres of wetland habitat.  And it all starts with an art contest.

So here's your next movie night pick!  Pop some popcorn, make a milkshake and enjoy The Million Dollar Duck as it tracks the highly skilled artists who enter the competition each year.  It's definitely worth watching -- here's the trailer.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Happy Sea Otter Awareness Week!

It's Sea Otter Awareness Week, so let's re-run a post with some fun facts about sea otters!

I was born in Carmel, California, and the Monterey Bay area is always a favorite of mine.  This week's mammal comes from beautiful Monterey Bay -- it's the sea otter!  Did you know,

  • sea otters are the only marine mammal that doesn't use blubber to stay warm in the icy waters of the Pacific -- to stay warm, they have incredibly thick fur that traps air
  • sea otters are a keystone species in their habitat -- the role that they play impacts all the other species in the area
  • sea otter populations seem to be spreading (that's good news!) -- there was a recent sighting in southern California
  • sea otter mothers tie their babies into floating seaweed while they go looking for food, but there's always a plan B:

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Update on the Dakota Access Pipeline Controversy

There's been interesting news on the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy -- the tribes lost their lawsuit, but the departments of Justice, Army, and Interior have temporarily stopped construction pending a review of the environmental and cultural issues.  For more details, see this Washington Post article.