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BioScience Talks

Author: American Institute of Biological Sciences

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We hope you enjoy these in-depth discussions of recently published BioScience articles and other science stories. Each episode of our interview series delves into the research behind a highlighted story, giving listeners unique insight into scientists' work.
153 Episodes
For this episode of BioScience Talks, we're joined by DeeAnn Reeder, Professor of Biology at Bucknell University and a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution. We spoke about a number of topics, including bats, disease ecology, and community outreach. Underlying that conversation was an important message about the One Health concept, which will be the subject of a forthcoming special issue of BioScience.  Potential contributors to the One Health special issue can find more information here. Read Dr. Reeder's latest paper, Ecological countermeasures to prevent pathogen spillover and subsequent pandemics | Nature Communications.
For today's episode, we're joined by Catalina Munteanu, Researcher at the University of Frieberg in Germany, who has a background in geography and forest sciences. Also joining us is Volker Radeloff, Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the SILVIS Lab, where he works on satellite imagery to look at land use. They were here to discuss the potential value of images from Cold War-era spy satellites for current ecological research and practice.  Read their article in BioScience. Captions are available on YouTube.
For today's episode, we're joined by Thomas Meinzen, recent Master's of Science graduate from Montana State University in Bozeman, Diane Debinski, who is a Professor and Department Head in the Department of Ecology at MSU, and Laura Burkle, a Professor also in the MSU Ecology Department. They were here to talk about the subject of their recent BioScience article, roadside verges, and in particular, the way that these habitats may prove to be a boon—or bane—for pollinating insects.  Captions are available on YouTube.
For today's episode, we're joined by Avery Paxton, who is a Research Marine Biologist with NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Chris Taylor, Research Ecologist, also with NOAA's NCCOS, and Melanie Damour, who is a Marine Archeologist and the Environmental Studies Coordinator with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's Gulf of Mexico Region Office. They were here to discuss their recent BioScience article on "Shipwreck Ecology," and the ways in which these sites can be hotspots for biodiversity—and also for research.  Read the article here.  Captions can be found on YouTube. 
For today's episode, we jump back to last spring's Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Our guest is Sinlan Poo, Curator of Research at the Memphis Zoo and one of the co-organizers of the Global Women in Herpetology Project. You may remember her from a previous interview, but we recorded an extra mini-podcast to talk about the book "Women in Herpetology: 50 Stories from Around the World," which features a diverse group of authors describing their journeys to and through the world of herpetology. Proceeds from the book's sales will fund a conference scholarship for women students.  Captions are available on YouTube. 
For today's episode of BioScience Talks, we're joined by Dr. Simone Soso, Assistant Director of Research and Workforce Development at the MSI STEM Research & Development Consortium. She was here to discuss the NSF-funded Re-Envisioning Culture (or REC) Network and its recent activities. I'll let her tell you more, though, so let's go to the interview. Captions are available on YouTube.
In this episode, we're joined by Jeremy Bruskotter, faculty member and Professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University and John Vucetich, Distinguished Professor at Michigan Technological University, in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. They were here to talk about their recent article in BioScience on the governance issues related to rewilding, or the restoration of native species to their traditional ranges. Read the article here.Captions are available on YouTube.
Our guest for this episode of BioScience Talks is Adam Sepulveda, Research Scientist with the US Geological Survey's Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center in Bozeman, Montana. He joined us to talk about READI-Net, an environmental DNA-based program that was recently funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill as a priority for addressing aquatic invasive species. Learn more about READI-Net here. Captions are available on YouTube:
Today’s episode features three representatives of the Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS), which is an American Institute of Biological Sciences member organization. We discussed many topics related to field stations, including the research performed there, as well as the ways that field stations collaborate through organizations like OBFS and AIBS to improve their research, education, and outreach efforts. Our guests were: Lara Roketenetz, Director of the University of Akron Field Station, in Ohio. She is also currently serving as President of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.  Rhonda Struminger, Codirector and Cofounder of the Centro de Investigaciones Científicas de las Huastecas "Aguazarca" (CICHAZ), in Calnali, Hidalgo, Mexico. She is also affiliated with the University of Padova, in Italy, and is Cochair of the OBFS's International Committee.  Chris Lorentz, Professor of Biological Sciences at Thomas More University and Director of Ohio River Biology Field Station. He is currently serving as Past President of OBFS.  Learn more about OBFS and their ongoing efforts on their website.Captions can be found on YouTube.
This episode of BioScience Talks was recorded on location at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Norfolk, Virginia, and features a range of presenters and organizers.Our first guests were Sinlan Poo, who is Curator of Research at the Memphis Zoo and affiliated with Arkansas State University, and Prosanta Chakrabarty, who is Curator of Fishes and a Professor at Louisiana State University's Museum of Natural Science. Dr. Chakrabarty is also the current President of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, one of the organizations that convened the meeting. They joined me to talk about the ZooMu symposium, which was held as part of the meeting. Read more about zoo and museum collaboration in BioScience. Next up, I sat down with Karen Caceres from Old Dominion University. She spoke about Florida cottonmouths and how they manage to live on small islands that typically lack freshwater resources. Maisie MacKnight, PhD candidate at Penn State, gave a talk about fieldwork and the ways in which it can be made safe and inclusive for all participants. We discussed her talk, as well as some of her other work. Oliver Shipley, Research Professor at Stony Brook University in New York, and Maria Manz, a graduate student at Stony Brook University, joined me to talk about sharks, their movement, and the ways that scientists study them.  Erin Anthony, President of the Virginia Herpetological Society, chatted with me about her organization's public outreach efforts, as well as herps native to Virginia.Last, I was joined by Sarah Yerrace, a master's student at the University of Washington in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. Her talk was focused on the invasive lionfish, and we chatted about a new approach to surveying their abundance at deep ocean depths.Captions are available on YouTube. 
For today's episode, we were joined by L. David Mech, from the US Geological Survey’s Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center and the University of Minnesota in St. Paul and David E. Ausband, from the Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, at the University of Idaho. They were here to talk about the successful recovery of gray wolves in North America, and in particular, the challenges associated with that success. Below is a brief article describing their BioScience article.____Over the past 30 years, efforts to recover gray wolf populations in the United States have been broadly successful, with many regions now sporting robust populations of the charismatic carnivore. Writing in BioScience, wolf experts David E. Ausband and L. David Mech describe the conservation landscape and also the obstacles that wolves face as their populations expand into their historical ranges."Remarkable wolf conservation success yields remarkable challenges," say the authors, as 6000 wolves now occupy habitat across 11 states. These growing populations now face significant threats as they attempt to colonize human-dominated areas, among them "fragmented habitats and barriers to dispersal, as well as increased encounters with humans, pets, and livestock."In response to those concerned about wolves’ potential impacts to prey populations and domestic livestock production, many jurisdictions have ramped up wolf efforts. For instance, in Wisconsin, "the legislature requires a public hunting or trapping season whenever wolves are delisted from the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) list of Endangered species." In contrast, wolves are seen as desirable in other areas, such as Colorado, where voters recently passed a ballot initiative to reintroduce them in the state. The authors caution that such pro-reintroduction initiatives, which may seem initially promising for wolves, could have the unintended consequence of setting precedent for laws barring reintroduction and thus complicate management. An uncertain regulatory regime, say Ausband and Mech, could cause major fluctuations in wolf populations, with dire consequences for conservation efforts.The answer to this quandary, the authors suggest, is thoughtful management that carefully considers the needs of diverse stakeholders: "Future wolf conservation in the United States will be affected by the ability of managers to predict colonization and dispersal dynamics, to reduce hybridization and disease transmission, to mitigate and deter wolf–livestock conflicts, to harvest wolves sustainably while satisfying diverse stakeholders, to avert a reduction in tolerance for wolves due to a disinterest in nature, and to engage diverse stakeholders in wolf conservation to avoid management by ballot initiative or legislative and judicial decrees." Only through such science-informed management, argue Ausband and Mech, can the present success of wolf conservation be built on in the future. Captions for this episode are available on YouTube.
Today's episode of BioScience Talks is a second dispatch from AIBS's spring Congressional Visits Day, which is a program that gives researchers a chance to travel to Washington, DC, to meet with their Congressional representatives and advocate for science. I had the chance to talk with a number of participants about their research, their interest in policy, and their plans for the next day's Capitol Hill visits. Participants included:Peri Lee Pipkin, University of California Botanic Garden, Claremont UniversityConner Philson, University of California, Los Angeles; Rocky Mountain Biological LaboratoryValentina Alvarez, University of Hawaii at ManoaKatherine Charton, University of WisconsinLauren Orton, Sauk Valley Community CollegeRebecca Kauten, Iowa Lakeside LaboratoryNews about this year's event.Learn more about our Congressional Visits Day, and stay tuned for the next event. Captions are available on YouTube.
For today's episode, I was joined by Dr. Peter Gleick, Cofounder and Senior Fellow at the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, author of the new book, The Three Ages of Water, and member of the National Academy Sciences. He joined me to talk about a number of water-related topics, starting with a recent piece he wrote in the Kyiv Independent about the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam on the Dnieper River and the ensuing human and ecological tragedies. We also discussed his new book, which tells the fascinating story of human history and the way that it has always been deeply intertwined with the history of water on Earth. Learn more about the book: Gleick's personal website: www.gleick.comThe article in the Kyiv Independent: captions can be found on YouTube:
For today's episode, I was joined by Juan Amador, who is the Executive Director for the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). We discussed SACNAS's 50th anniversary, its upcoming meeting, as well as the organization's crucial work over the years.  Become a SACNAS member.Donate to SACNAS.Learn more about the 2023 National Diversity in STEM (NDiSTEM) Conference in Portland Oregon, 22–26 October. Closed captions are available on YouTube.
For today's episode, we're joined by Dr. John Van Stan, Associate Professor at Cleveland State University in the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, where he runs the Wet Plant Lab. A description of the article follows, and captions can be found on YouTube . Scientists need to get out of the lab and into the rain, say an interdisciplinary group of researchers led by John T. Van Stan of Cleveland State University. Writing in the journal BioScience, the authors make the case that human observation of storm events (be it rain, snow, or occult deposition) is key to understanding wet weather and its myriad effects on the natural world.Recently, Van Stan and colleagues noted a trend in the scientific community towards relying on remote sensing to study storms and their consequences: "Natural scientists seem increasingly content to stay dry and rely on remote sensors and samplers, models, and virtual experiments to understand natural systems. Consequently, we can miss important stormy phenomena, imaginative inspirations, and opportunities to build intuition—all of which are critical to scientific progress." This type of "umbrella science," they warn, can miss important localized events. For instance, in describing rainwater's flow from the forest canopy to the soils, the authors note that "if several branches efficiently capture and drain stormwaters to the stem, rainwater inputs to near-stem soils can be more than 100 times greater."The authors also point out that important phenomena like low-lying fog events, vapor trapped beneath forest canopies, and condensate plumes may escape remote detection, yet be sensible to scientists on the ground. At the broader scale, these oversights can affect Earth systems models, which often underestimate canopy water storage. They argue that these errors may represent a "large potential bias in surface temperatures simulated by Earth systems models."Direct observation, however, has merits beyond remedying the shortcomings of “umbrella science.” Van Stan and colleagues see intrinsic value in firsthand storm experiences – not only for natural scientists, but also students studying climate change impacts on ecosystems. They claim that this immersive method enhances understanding, incites curiosity, and strengthens bonds with nature, thereby enriching environmental education, inspiring research, and preparing the future scientific community.An audio version of the article is available here.
Today's episode comes "live" from AIBS's 2023 Congressional Visits Day in Washington, DC, where our guests gathered for a communications boot camp and meetings with their congressional representatives. Our interviewees were winners of AIBS's Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award: Inam Jameel (2023 awardee, University of Georgia), Elena Suglia (2023 awardee, UC Davis), Michael McCloy (2022 awardee, Texas A&M), and Heidi Waite (2022 awardee, UC Irvine). During the busy preparations for the upcoming congressional visits, we took a few minutes to chat about science and the policies needed to support it.If you're interested in applying for the EPPLA or in joining us in Washington, DC, for our next Congressional Visits Day, please visit the links above.Captions can be found on YouTube.
In this episode of BioScience Talks, we're joined by Professor Roy Sidle, Director of the Mountain Societies Research Institute and Professor in Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Central Asia. He was here to discuss his new BioScience article, Food Security in High Mountains of Central Asia: A Broader Perspective.Captions can be found on YouTube.
A recent article in BioScience discusses "Nature's Chefs"—animal, plant, and fungal species create or mimic food for others for a variety of reasons. In this episode of BioScience Talks, we're joined by authors Robert Dunn and Pia Sörensen to discuss the article and some of these food-creating species (including humans).Captions can be found on the YouTube version:
For this episode, we're joined by Samantha Kreling, PhD candidate at the University of Washington, in the Prugh Lab. She's here to discuss her new BioScience article So overt it's covert: Wildlife coloration in the city.Captions can be found in the YouTube version.
Today's interview is with Dr. Richard Hill, Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University and author of the BioScience article "Living Naked in the Cold: New Insights into Metabolic Feasibility in Primeval Cultures."Captions available on YouTube at:
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Nov 1st
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