Wild Watch

Natural-born killers rich in grace and guile

Nov 8, 2001 FELINES OF THE WILD...

Serendipity in Hokkaido's autumnal air

Oct 25, 2001 It was just a bridge, not even a special bridge. The Heiwa Bridge spans the eastern end of Lake Tofutsu in northeastern Hokkaido. To the north there is a narrow neck of wooded land and then the Okhotsk Sea. To the south lies more woodland, then great expanses of farmland. It was just a bridge, but suddenly I discovered it was also something of a fl...

Rare hybrids on evolution's way to where?

Oct 18, 2001 Humans like rules as a way of ordering the world into familiar and comfortable patterns. For naturalists, one of the basic rules is the concept of biological species, which forms the basis of modern biodiversity and conservation studies. ...

Marveling at mammalian masters of flight

Oct 4, 2001 I have dreamed of flying since childhood, and perhaps that is why I am obsessed with flying creatures. As ground-hugging humans, we readily identify with our fellow terrestrial mammals, assuming, easily enough, that being earthbound is a natural state for life on earth. But, think again. Even among the plants, the most obviously rooted species on E...

Giant umbellifer stalks northern Japan

Sep 20, 2001 Towering above the surrounding lush summer herb growth stands the hollow-stemmed monster known locally as Ezo nyuu and to botanists as Angelica ursina. These pearl-headed plants appear at the height of summer, a potent reminder that the longest days are past and that, despite the heat, autumn is not far around the corner. ...

Quitting the wandering life to settle down

Sep 6, 2001 Where waves crash across rocky shores there is a narrow region between the uppermost level covered at high tide and the lowest level exposed at low tide, the intertidal zone, that is prolific of life. Living there are seaweeds, shellfish, fish that prefer shallow water and can survive the varying temperatures of tidal pools, a scattering of shorebi...

Slow and steady wins the dispersal race

Aug 16, 2001 Humans have an anthropocentric tendency to look down on “cold-blooded” reptiles. We even use the term “cold-blooded” in a derogatory way to criticize people who seem somehow less than human. ...

Salt tolerance and life's dispersal derby

Aug 2, 2001 Salt is an interesting mineral. We all need it. It is crucial to the operation of the cells that make up our bodies. ...

Cracking the Coleridge conundrum

Jul 19, 2001 Snorting salt through the nostrils may seem a strange habit, but it must surely be healthy and can even be a crucial adaptation. After all, albatrosses do it and they can live for 50-70 years, an exceptional age among birds. ...

Beauty versus the environment

Jul 5, 2001 Concerns over the introduction of alien species to environments that have no protective mechanisms against them are beginning to filter through the bureaucratic system in Japan to the point where action is being contemplated — or even taken. ...

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