Discoveries in little-known fungi: Adventures in looking at lichens

Opegrapha parmeliiperda, cross section of one fruiting body showing four-celled spores developing inside spore sacs; blue colour result of treatment with potassium hydroxide followed by Lugol’s iodine solution. (Photo courtesy of Kendra Driscoll)

Opegrapha parmeliiperda, cross section of one fruiting body showing four-celled spores developing inside spore sacs; blue colour result of treatment with potassium hydroxide followed by Lugol’s iodine solution. (Photo courtesy of Kendra Driscoll)

I used to think that scientists understood the basics about most living things on Earth, that new species were all discovered long ago by people like Linnaeus and Darwin. Maybe you could find new species in the most remote corners of the planet,...

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A case of mistaken identity: Goldenrod and ragweed

Monarch butterfly on Canada goldenrod (Photo by Peter Jessen, CC BY-NC 4.0)

Monarch butterfly on Canada goldenrod (Photo by Peter Jessen, CC BY-NC 4.0)

I count myself fortunate when the change of seasons doesn’t bring about a runny nose, itchy eyes, headache and coughing, among other symptoms brought about by pollen (a fine powder produced by plants for sexual reproduction). Some pollen is...

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Clowns of the sea: the Atlantic puffin

Atlantic puffins (Photo by Laurel Bernard/NCC staff)

Atlantic puffins (Photo by Laurel Bernard/NCC staff)

The summer of 1999 was a unique one for me. I spent three months living on a small 23-acre (9.5 hectare) island 16 kilometres away from the nearest land. Machias Seal Island in New Brunswick was home to two full-time lighthouse keepers, three...

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Something’s Fishy: On the down low

Aerial view of Foxner Nature Reserve, NB (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Aerial view of Foxner Nature Reserve, NB (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Many freshwater fish are extremely susceptible to changes in the waters they live in. Pollution and sediments can all impact the health of lakes, rivers and streams. But did you know that temperature can impact the amount of oxygen in the...

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Canada's splendid sparrow crew

Dark-eyed junco (Photo by Bill Hubick)

Dark-eyed junco (Photo by Bill Hubick)

Sparrows often don’t get enough credit. Many don’t have flashy plumage like jays, orioles or cardinals, or melodic songs like thrushes or meadowlarks; however, sparrow species are often fairly distinct (once you get to know them) and...

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This Groundhog Day, it's all relatives

Groundhog (Photo by Cephas/Wikimedia Commons)

Groundhog (Photo by Cephas/Wikimedia Commons)

Tomorrow marks Groundhog Day, a North American tradition dating back to 1888. The groundhog, also called the woodchuck, is the largest member of the squirrel family and one of four marmot species that live in Canada. Rather than just focusing on...

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Giving away a legacy

Ephraim Island, NB (Photo by NCC)

Ephraim Island, NB (Photo by NCC)

A source of great joy in my work at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is learning the stories behind the lands that we protect. Perhaps the most touching stories are the lands that are donated to NCC. I have come to appreciate that, as...

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Stopping habitat loss is the key to saving Canada’s endangered species

Evening grosbeak (Photo by Anna Tchoulik)

Evening grosbeak (Photo by Anna Tchoulik)

Canada has been losing and saving species for a long time. Since European settlement, over 100 species have been lost here. These include plants and animals that are extinct and extirpated and species that are considered historic (no one has seen...

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Twelve spooky facts about Canadian bats

Townsend's big-eared bat (Photo by Brock Fenton)

Townsend's big-eared bat (Photo by Brock Fenton)

There are 18 known bat species in Canada. Although they are subjected to a spooky stigma around Halloween, they’re nothing to be afraid of. Here are 12 things you didn’t know about these not-so-scary mammals: 1. The snooze...

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Coasting along Canada’s habitats

Musquash Estuary, NB (Photo by NCC)

Musquash Estuary, NB (Photo by NCC)

Canada is a nation bordered by three oceans: Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic. In many ways, the habitats, local culture and economies are shaped by them. Often when those of us who don’t live near the shoreline think of oceans, we picture a...

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