Mapping the Micro Wilderness: Urban Bugs

Urban biodiversity explodes as you shrink your view. Explore urban invertebrate biodiversity projects in Los Angeles (BioScan) and Boston (Boston Harbor Islands All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory). Guest host Isa Betancourt (remember her from Season 1?) joins us to share her own urban bug research and education work.

And here’s a link to some info about the featured beetle Bembidion nigropiceum. See some pics here.

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Smog, Sprawl, and Lifers: Birding Shanghai

White bellied green pigeon, Shanhai, by Craig Brelsford

White bellied green pigeon, Shanhai, by Craig Brelsford

 

What is urban birding like in the biggest city in the world? Join Tony as he interviews Craig Brelsford, the birder behind Shanghai Birding. They discuss birding in a city of 24 million souls, all while racing rampant coastal development and fighting dense smog.

And here’s Billy’s favorite Shanghai Birding post, White-bellied Green Pigeon! (or, How We Slogged Our Way through the Shanghai Smog and Picked Up a Lifer).

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You Deserve Hedgehogs

How do you bring biodiversity to urbanites? Guest host Joan Blaustein of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation joins us to talk about preserving urban parks biodiversity. We also listen to Dr. Nigel Reeve tell us about the effort to save the hedgehogs of London’s Regent Park. We conclude with Billy’s recent trip to NYC to see some monk parakeets and the humpback whales we covered in our very first episode.

Hedgehog seen through thermal imaging (Royal Parks Foundation).

Hedgehog seen through thermal imaging (Royal Parks Foundation).

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Wall Swifts, Wall Lizards, Wall Dolphins? (Part 2)

Sometimes the artificial IS natural. Helena Van Vliet of BioPhilly (of the Biophilic Cities network) joins us as guest host to envision cities as habitat. Of course several species already use cities as habitat:

  • We listen to Amnonn Hahn of Friends of the Swifts talk about the swifts of Israel and the Western Wall
  • Mauro Ferri talks about efforts to preserve Italian swift architecture/habitat
  • Karen Etter Hale of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative talks North American chimney swift trends and conservation
  • Frank Spikmans of RAVON talks about preserving railroad embankment habitat for wall lizards in Maastricht, Netherlands
  • And Nicholas Horne tells us about the dolphins of Aberdeen in Scotland and how they use the harbor seawall to hunt salmon.

This was too much for one episode, so split it into two parts.

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Wall Swifts, Wall Lizards, Wall Dolphins? (Part 1)

Sometimes the artificial IS natural. Helena Van Vliet of BioPhilly (of the Biophilic Cities network) joins us as guest host to envision cities as habitat. Of course several species already use cities as habitat:

  • We listen to Amnonn Hahn of Friends of the Swifts talk about the swifts of Israel and the Western Wall
  • Mauro Ferri talks about efforts to preserve Italian swift architecture/habitat
  • Karen Etter Hale of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative talks North American chimney swift trends and conservation
  • Frank Spikmans of RAVON talks about preserving railroad embankment habitat for wall lizards in Maastricht, Netherlands
  • And Nicholas Horne tells us about the dolphins of Aberdeen in Scotland and how they use the harbor seawall to hunt salmon.

This was too much for one episode, so split it into two parts.

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Raccoons (not really Nazis) and Raccoon Dogs

Learn more about your cute, furry, smart, and sometimes destructive mesopredator neighbors. Christian Hunold, political scientist and urban wildlife photographer extraordinaire, joins us as guest host has we hear about German (not exactly Nazi) raccoons from researcher Ulf Hohmann, about clever urban raccoons from researcher Susanne MacDonald, and Tokyo’s palm civets and tanuki (a.k.a. raccoon dogs) from Matt Alt. And yes, we talk about the tanuki’s magical scrotums.

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Lions and Tegus and Deer! Find them in the Park Next Door

Get wild right down the street. This episode we podcast from the Wissahickon Valley in Philadelphia and talk about the wild parks right next to or right in our cities. We hear from Akshay Vishwanath of the Friends of Nairobi National Park in Kenya and Cora Rimaldi, who birds the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Billy fondly remembers the tegus. What are the pressures facing wild lands next to growing cities? What does “wild” mean when it’s post-industrial? Let’s talk about it.

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Parakeets Invade!

What are rose-ringed parakeets doing in London, or in Tokyo, or Amsterdam, or in Glasgow…? Learn about how escaped pets birds are colonizing cities around the globe. Matt Halley joins us to talk about his own parrot field work and to discuss urban parakeets. We hear from Krishna Girish of Off Road Birder to learn about the rose-ringed parakeets in their native range (Bangalore), we hear from Ralph Hancock of London to hear about how their exotic parakeets feed the local raptors, and we go back to Sourav Mahmud to hear about his work to help the alexandrine parakeets of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

(and we wind up with some bonus urban birding discussion with Krishna)

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Bonus: Awesome Turtles and Youth Research Assistants

Tobias Landberg & Snapper

Tobias Landberg & Snapper (Patrick Raycraft)

What’s cooler than turtles breaking a bite-o-meter? High school urban ecology research assistants, that’s what! We had so much great conversation with Tobias Landberg from Episode 13 that we’re posting some more of it as a bonus episode. Tony and Tobias share notes on turning kids onto science through hands on research, and we all geek out over the wonders of snapping turtles.

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Assisting Axolotls, Transplanting Toads, and Preserving Pond Turtles

Urban wildlife can’t always take care of itself. Herpetologist Tobias Landberg of Arcadia University joins us as we take our podcast to Mexico City with Luis Zambrano of the Reserva Ecologica del Pedregal de San Angel and a project to save the axolotl from extinction in the wild (as opposed to captivity, where they thrive as a research subject). We also talk to Phillip Spinks of UCLA about the pond turtles of California and hear about Tobias’ work with axolotls in the lab as well as taking urban toads to the suburban Briar Bush Nature Center.

Axolotl

Axolotl (by Carmen Loyola)

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