In my previous post, I detailed the nature of the influenza virus and its impact on personal health. In this post, we’ll look at how and why this virus is such a challenge for humanity. Despite prodigious advancements in medical care as well as vaccine technology, we still face yearly health hazards from seasonal influenza, as well as the generational threat from occasional influenza pandemics. … Continue reading Talking Evolution – The Challenge of Influenza – Part 2
ENVIRONMENT Landslides are terrifying and dangerous for anyone caught up in them, but they may also have helped life spread around the world. (BBC Earth) What is a landslide? Use our reference resource to learn more. Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit. Discussion Ideas New research links mega-landslides to the way plants and other living things colonize … Continue reading Landslides Help Explain How Life Reaches Remote Islands
GEOGRAPHY The biodiversity of the Amazon rain forest is not entirely pristine. It was also shaped by an ancient hunger for fruits and nuts. (Nature) Use our activity to learn more about biodiversity in the Amazon. Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit. Discussion Ideas A new study analyzes the distribution of domesticated trees in the Amazon rain … Continue reading The Amazon Rain Forest Is Not an Untamed Jungle
SCIENCE Australia was one of the first regions modern humans reached after leaving Africa some 50,000 years ago. And no one visited them for a long time. (Christian Science Monitor) Use our resources to trace our “global human journey” out of Africa. Scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit. Discussion Ideas The new paper discusses genetic research on the … Continue reading Australians Spent 50,000 Years Isolated from the Rest of Us
bi•o•ge•og•ra•phy noun [bahy-oh-jee-og-ruh-fee]: the study of the geographical distribution of living things1.
Photograph by Sam Abell, National Geographic Stock.
In its broadest sense, island biogeography is the study dedicated to figuring out why certain plants and animals came to exist on a specific island or group of islands. What factors allowed a species like the Galapagos turtle to end up in a small cluster of islets over a thousand miles away from any continent? How did the plump little Kiwi find its way to New Zealand without any wings to fly over the sea? Why can the same species of butterfly be found on two distinct islands separated by an entire ocean? These are the questions that biogeography aims to answer by observing populations and taking into account biotic (living) and abiotic (nonliving) environmental factors.
The obvious isolation of islands away from mainland sources of plants and animals has allowed geographers and biologists to think outside of the box and expand their understanding of the factors influencing evolution and species migration. The fact that many seemingly deserted islands in the middle of the ocean can be teeming with life is testament to the journeys that some animals will travel will travel–often covering vast amounts of water– and the adaptability of species to new environments.