Wasp vs. Wolf Spider
You may be surprised to know that the tarantula hawk wasp (Pepsis formosa) is bound to win. Thank you to our friends at El Morro National Monument, NM, for sharing this incredible photo of nature in action.  To learn about this national park that protects over 2,000 inscriptions and petroglyphs, as well as Ancestral Puebloan ruins, visit: here. Photo: National Park Service, El Morro National Monument 
(via: National Park Foundation)

Wasp vs. Wolf Spider

You may be surprised to know that the tarantula hawk wasp (Pepsis formosa) is bound to win. Thank you to our friends at El Morro National Monument, NM, for sharing this incredible photo of nature in action.

To learn about this national park that protects over 2,000 inscriptions and petroglyphs, as well as Ancestral Puebloan ruins, visit: here.

Photo: National Park Service, El Morro National Monument

(via: National Park Foundation)

SeaWorld is 50 years old and we have 50 good reasons NOT to go there! No. 35: Wild orcas are capable of traveling up to 100 miles per day and are found in all the world’s oceans, yet are allowed to be held in small concrete tanks for their entire lives. Please go to http://uk.whales.org/Wdc-in-action/ending-captive-cruelty to support our fight against captivity!
(via: Whale and Dolphin Conservation)

SeaWorld is 50 years old and we have 50 good reasons NOT to go there!

No. 35: Wild orcas are capable of traveling up to 100 miles per day and are found in all the world’s oceans, yet are allowed to be held in small concrete tanks for their entire lives.

Please go to http://uk.whales.org/
Wdc-in-action/ending-captive-cruelty to support our fight against captivity!

(via: Whale and Dolphin Conservation)

The search for the Great Basin spadefoot

by Richard Bartlett

How far would you drive to see and photograph a frog?

Well, a toad actually. Or to be absolutely accurate, a spadefoot, a little burrowing anuran of the family Pelobatidae. How far? Not too far, you say. But that statement really means nothing. It needs to be quantified. Would you go 100 miles? Maybe. 200 miles? Well, for a good reason, maybe. But the reason would have to be good. 500 miles? Nope. Never.

I needed a photo of a Great Basin spadefoot, Spea intermontana, and I had already failed on two attempts, each of which entailed a drive from Florida to southern California and back. On the second attempt I had met up with Gary Nafis, Pacific Coast herper par excellence. Together we had failed, and I was looking at another 2,500 mile drive back home with a big X rather than a photo next to the Great Basin spadefoot listing…

(read more: Kingsnake.com)

photographs by Richard Bartlett

Alaska National Parks
 While wildfire season has been quiet in Alaska’s national parks, our crews have been busy with projects, including fire ecology research one year after the Lake Clark National Park & Preserve 1,900-acre Currant Creek fire and the 17,000-acre Kristen Creek fire.
While studying the Kristen Creek fire, staff discovered Rock Harlequin (Corydalis sempervirens) blooming in the burned area. Corydalis seeds can lie dormant on the forest floor for decades or even centuries, until germination is triggered by a disturbance, such as a wildfire. A pioneer species, it is most abundant the first few years after a fire. 

More information: Rock Harlequin - NPS 

NPS: Yasunori Matsui/NPS

 While wildfire season has been quiet in Alaska’s national parks, our crews have been busy with projects, including fire ecology research one year after the Lake Clark National Park & Preserve 1,900-acre Currant Creek fire and the 17,000-acre Kristen Creek fire.

While studying the Kristen Creek fire, staff discovered Rock Harlequin (Corydalis sempervirens) blooming in the burned area. Corydalis seeds can lie dormant on the forest floor for decades or even centuries, until germination is triggered by a disturbance, such as a wildfire. A pioneer species, it is most abundant the first few years after a fire.
More information: Rock Harlequin - NPS
NPS: Yasunori Matsui/NPS
The Cosmic Web:
Observations and simulations of the intergalactic medium reveal the largest structures in the universe
by Robert Simcoe

There is no such thing as empty space. The idea of absolute emptiness realizes its closest approximation in the barren expanses between the stars and the galaxies, but even the most remote corners of the universe are suffused with very low density gas—which becomes increasingly rarefied as one ventures farther away from the places where galaxies consort.
Consider this fact: In the air we breathe, each cubic centimeter contains roughly 5 X 1019 atoms. In contrast, the intergalactic medium has a density of only 10–6 particles per cubic centimeter—each atom inhabits a private box a meter on each side.
This would seem to suggest that there is not much matter in the intergalactic medium. But, given the enormous volume between the galaxies, it quickly adds up: The combined atomic mass of intergalactic gas exceeds the combined atomic mass of all the stars and galaxies in the universe—possibly by as much as 50 percent! There is indeed something in empty space.
As cosmologists construct new narratives of the universe’s evolution from its beginning—the Big Bang—to the present day, it is becoming clear that we must understand the physics of intergalactic matter if we are to write the history of how the galaxies, stars and planets formed. In the past decade, rapid advances in both the design of telescopes and computing power have allowed us to study the remote corners of intergalactic space in unprecedented detail. These new results deepen our understanding of how the grandest structures in the universe formed and evolved…
(read more: American Scientist)
Images courtesy of Renyue Cen, Princeton University

The Cosmic Web:

Observations and simulations of the intergalactic medium reveal the largest structures in the universe

by Robert Simcoe

There is no such thing as empty space. The idea of absolute emptiness realizes its closest approximation in the barren expanses between the stars and the galaxies, but even the most remote corners of the universe are suffused with very low density gas—which becomes increasingly rarefied as one ventures farther away from the places where galaxies consort.

Consider this fact: In the air we breathe, each cubic centimeter contains roughly 5 X 1019 atoms. In contrast, the intergalactic medium has a density of only 10–6 particles per cubic centimeter—each atom inhabits a private box a meter on each side.

This would seem to suggest that there is not much matter in the intergalactic medium. But, given the enormous volume between the galaxies, it quickly adds up: The combined atomic mass of intergalactic gas exceeds the combined atomic mass of all the stars and galaxies in the universe—possibly by as much as 50 percent! There is indeed something in empty space.

As cosmologists construct new narratives of the universe’s evolution from its beginning—the Big Bang—to the present day, it is becoming clear that we must understand the physics of intergalactic matter if we are to write the history of how the galaxies, stars and planets formed. In the past decade, rapid advances in both the design of telescopes and computing power have allowed us to study the remote corners of intergalactic space in unprecedented detail. These new results deepen our understanding of how the grandest structures in the universe formed and evolved…

(read more: American Scientist)

Images courtesy of Renyue Cen, Princeton University

The Bird and the Pine Tree at Crater Lake National Park

Tuesday’s Tree this week is the Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) and its relationship with the Clark’s Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana.) The Whitebark Pine is known as a “stone pine”, meaning that the cone doesn’t open on its own.

The Whitebark Pine needs the Clark’s Nutcracker’s sharp beak to open the cone and distribute the seeds, stashing them around Crater Lake. The Clark’s Nutcracker gets a winter food source from the “stashed” seeds, and the next generation of Whitebark Pine trees grow from the seeds not reclaimed.

(via: Crater Lake National Park)

A giant, 100-foot-diameter (30 meters) telescope has been green-lighted for construction on the island of Hawaii.

When it begins operations, TMT will enable astronomers to explore objects inside the solar system, stars throughout the Milky Way and neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the farthest edge of the observable universe…