Press "Enter" to skip to content

Naturalism in the 21st century

The informational revolution of the late 20th and early 21st centuries has benefited ecology and evolutionary biology tremendously. Nowadays, genomic data on thousands of species are readily available, we can determine the types of plants a prehistoric rhino consumed by examining Carbon isotope ratios in its teeth, and computers can…

Understanding animal coloration

Sometimes animal coloration has an obvious adaptive explanation. Snowshoe hares are white in winter because individuals that blended with the snow were less likely to get eaten than those that didn’t. A kingsnake that looks like a venomous coral snake is less likely to get preyed upon than one that…

Understanding animal coloration

Sometimes animal coloration has an obvious adaptive explanation. Snowshoe hares are white in winter because individuals that blended with the snow were less likely to get eaten than those that didn’t. A kingsnake that looks like a venomous coral snake is less likely to get preyed upon than one that…

The Kentucky Coffee Tree: An evolutionary anachronism

On Carleton’s campus and in a few spots in the Arboretum, a curious reminder of North America’s past awaits discovery. The Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioicus) is a member of Fabaceae, the legume family. The most noticeable feature of the Coffee Tree in fall is its large seedpods, which resemble…

A glimpse at birdlife in the winter

Snow drifts across the brutally frozen Arb landscape, where life seems to lie in wait for spring. The quiet is almost deafening as you clumsily tread through the packed snow. You pause for a moment to take in the silence, only to hear a high cheery whistle up in the…

Investigating the Arb’s Prairie Plant Preparedness

If you’ve been out in the Arb prairies at all during the past few weeks, you might have noticed that the lush grass and flowers of September are now gradually rusting away into an autumnal copper. Familiar prairie plants such as Virginia Mountain Mint and Blazing Star are already beginning…

Gophers: Gardeners of the grassland

Have you ever wondered what forces make the tallgrass prairies in the Arb and McKnight Prairie such rich, biodiverse ecosystems, teeming with grassland plants, insects and birds? Well, one answer might lie beneath your feet. Much of what you see above ground is directly influenced by a number of unseen…

Species of Carleton

All college students know that each major connotes a certain prejudice, gait, manner of speaking, vocal pitch, habit (or lack thereof) of talking to oneself, level of focus, hairstyle, manner of dress, choice of notebook storage facility (satchel, backpack, etc.), daily routine, and perhaps a specific highly frequented spot on…

A Surreal Forray into the Periodicals

As I enter the UNESCO-protected moss-draped literary woodland, flanked by Dakota County gingko groves and abundant shrubbery from which the piercing screams of the circulation desk shred out mundanity and order, I hear the translucent humming of a Yo La Tengo track on the midnight crammer’s laptop. Reference librarians scuttle…