Whooping Crane Chick #804 had a lot to say in the egg

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Posted on 12th January 2009 by Judy Breck in animals | biology | ecology

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Journey North invites us to come online and Meet the 2008 Whooping Crane Chicks. For this post I have selected Crane #804, born May 9, 2008, shown in the two pictures with this post. Like all 2008 chicks, #804 was born in captivity because none of last year’s nests produced live young. The egg care givers report in their notes that:

This chick has huge personality. He already had a lot to say while still in the egg! Barb said, “When it was in the hatcher, we would check on the egg by making crane vocalizations to assess its strength and progress. Each time I did this, #4 just peeped and peeped and peeped. It was like a little girl who had her phone privileges taken away for a month and finally was able to talk on the phone again to her girlfriends. Chick #4 did this before hatching and also after being old enough to go to a pen.”

Read more about this chatty crane on #804’s personal page. It includes the explanation for the second picture above: “Bees were a problem at the refuge and 804 was stung. The bee sting made his beak get out of line, but it was soon back to normal.”

Chick #804’s page is part of Operation Migration, a remarkable project to reintroduce Whooping Cranes to their natural migration. The cranes, including #804, are now almost finished with their October 2008-January 2009 migration.

The virtual birth, life, and migration of Chick #804 is gold for learning within the internet swamp. A printed textbook and/or the most creative and exciting classroom work cannot provide the learning experience that a student gets by following Chick #804. This is not a substitute for education as we have known it. It is a marvelous phoenix of learning hatching in the swamp.

Learn Node: Atmospheric Radiation and Hurricane Ike Image

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Posted on 24th September 2008 by Judy Breck in animals | biography | ecology | engineering | environment | general science | health | math | sciences

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The image above is the Hurricane Ike Interactive Map from NOAA. When you go to the page you can click into the boxes to locate and study satellite photos of damage. StormWatch is part of the work of the Johns Hopkins University/ Applied Physics Laboratory.

Remote sensing imagery and study materials abound on the internet. An excellent cluster of information can be found at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program which “is a multi-laboratory, interagency program, and is a key contributor to national and international research efforts related to global climate change. A primary objective of the program is improved scientific understanding of the fundamental physics related to interactions between clouds and radiative feedback processes in the atmosphere. ARM focuses on obtaining continuous field measurements and providing data products that promote the advancement of climate models.”

To learn scientific and technical background for the field MIT offers open couseware on Atmospheric Radiation that is “an introduction to the physics of atmospheric radiation and remote sensing including use of computer codes. Subjects covered include: radiative transfer equation including emission and scattering, spectroscopy, Mie theory, and numerical solutions. We examine the solution of inverse problems in remote sensing of atmospheric temperature and composition.”

A NASA- based Remote Sensing Tutorial provides further introduction to the field.

Learn Node: Gorilla conservation good news

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Posted on 5th August 2008 by Judy Breck in biology | ecology | environment

This learn node about the discovery of 150,000 western lowland gorillas is prompted by a New York Times Science Times report. The image with this post is from a slide show accompanying the Science Times article. The discovery was announced by the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Society’s information section on the Western Lowland Gorilla does not yet have the good news of the new discovery as this learn node is written. By the time you are reading this it probably will because online resources are usually the first science to be updated. Although the new discovery makes some of the gorilla numbers happily out of date in this Gorilla Rescue video, the presentation is an excellent introduction for young humans to the challenge that lies ahead in their lifetime for caring for their fellow creatures of our planet.

Learn node: West Nile Virus transmission cycle and the dilution benefit

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Posted on 21st July 2008 by Judy Breck in biology | ecology | health

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The illustration for this learn node is from a Tufts University on “Emerging Infections and Agents of Biological Warfare.” The West Nile Virus transmission cycle is also illustrated in a chart at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An interesting angle on the transmission is that protecting biodiversity of birds slows it down, as described in a Public Library of Science article:

We found there is lower incidence of human WNV in eastern US counties that have greater avian (viral host) diversity. This pattern exists when examining diversity-disease relationships both before WNV reached the US (in 1998) and once the epidemic was underway (in 2002). The robust disease-diversity relationships confirm that the dilution effect can be observed in another emerging infectious disease and illustrate an important ecosystem service provided by biodiversity, further supporting the growing view that protecting biodiversity should be considered in public health and safety plans.

Learn Node: Looking at forest threats to biodiversity

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Posted on 3rd June 2008 by Judy Breck in biology | ecology | geography | sciences

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The New York Times report on the biodiversity topic “Forest Disappearing in Papua New Guinea” is a learn node connecting to interrelated topics of significance and urgency. The full rain forest report can be downloaded from the PGN Remote Sensing Center whose homepage is shown in the image with this post. For background on the Papua New Guinea location of this specific biodiversity challenge, the New York Times has a detailed PNG country section. Enriching this learn node from the sciences side are Connexions learning objects on the definition of biodiversity and an introduction to biodiversity.

Learn node: Lady bugs as green troops: beetle (Coleoptera) study and variety

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Posted on 22nd October 2007 by Judy Breck in animals | biology | ecology | environment

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beetle anatomy diagram

Lady bug star in this learn node, noting that this week 720,000 lady bugs were released by groundskeepers to find and kill pests harming plants and grass at a major New York City housing complex. Ladybugs, also called lady beetles, are natural enemies of many insects, especially aphids and other sap feeders. The beetle brigades are being used in the New York project to protect the greenery without using chemical insecticides. The tiny bugs are awesome predators: one lady bug can eat as many as 5000 aphids in her lifetime. Not only ladybugs are serving as beetle battlers for the green world. For another example, a Michigan report describes how beetles take a bite out of purple loosestrife.

There are an awful lot of beetles � and a lot beetle websites, often with titles including their scientific order name Coleoptera. The Coleopterists Society home page begins: “We live in the age of the beetles: Beetles, the insect order Coleoptera, are the dominant form of life on earth. One of every five living species of all animals or plants is a beetle! . . . ” Many of the beetle species have shown up online; for one example there are the beautiful Bembidion �where the webpage is the direct presentation of a scientist who is a leading expert on the species he showcases.

The beetle breakout of body parts in the image above is from a Russia Zoological Institute Beetles (Colelptera) and Coleopterists exhibit. From anatomy to poetry and ecology to jewelry, the exhibit showcases our human fascination with the dominant form of life on earth.

More learn nodes at: learnodes.com

Learn Node: Journey with the Whopping Crane migrations

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Posted on 20th October 2007 by Judy Breck in animals | biology | ecology | sciences

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whooping crane chick journey north
The bird in this learn node is Crane #722 who is now participating in her first Journey South. She hatched on May 21, 2007 and is a member of 2007 Autumn Release Group III of captive-born whopping cranes who this fall are on their 1st migration, led by ultralight planes . She is part of the Journey North Whooping Crane adventures in which new online participants (you) are invited to take part. The wonder of the many Journey North global studies of wildlife migration and seasonal change in which many thousands of students and nature enthusiasts have participated for more than a decade is that their subjects are real. You can, for example, visit the Journey North monarch butterfly migration map to see where the great winged beauties have been sighted this fall as they are moving toward Mexico to winter there.

Crane #722 is playing a role in efforts to reestablish whooping cranes, who had almost become extinct in the 20th century. We are learning from her more general lessons about migration of birds. For more on that, there is a student project on The Mystery of Bird Migration in these MIT engineering class materials and even more in this lecture on migration and navigation.

More learn nodes at: learnodes.com