For a long time, veteran environmental journalist Fred Pearce thought in stark terms about invasive species: they were the evil interlopers spoiling pristine “natural” ecosystems. Most conservationists and environmentalists share this view. But what if the traditional view of ecology is wrong—what if true environmentalists should be applauding the invaders?

In The New Wild, Pearce goes on a journey across six continents to rediscover what conservation in the twenty-first century should be about. The case for keeping out alien species, he finds, looks increasingly flawed. As Pearce argues, mainstream environmentalists are right that we need a rewilding of the earth, but they are wrong if they imagine that we can achieve that by reengineering ecosystems.


  At some point during the last 100,000 years, humans began exhibiting traits and behavior that distinguished us from other animals, eventually creating language, art, religion, bicycles, spacecraft, and nuclear weapons—all within a heartbeat of evolutionary time. Now, faced with the threat of nuclear weapons and the effects of climate change, it seems our innate tendencies for violence and invention have led us to a crucial tipping point. Where did these traits come from? Are they part of our species immutable destiny? Or is there hope for our species’ future if we change?

With fascinating facts and his unparalleled readability, Jared Diamond intended his book, The Third Chimpanzee for Young People: On the Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, to improve the world that today’s young people will inherit.

Species interaction dictates a great deal of a location's biodiversity.

Susan Kalisz, professor of biology at the University of Pittsburgh, is linking the diet of deer to the success of the animals' surrounding flora.

RNA seems like the unsung little brother of DNA and protein.

But Yehuda Ben-Shahar, assistant professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis, is learning a great deal about their very important molecular responsibilities.

Dr. Yehuda Ben-Shahar is an assistant professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis. His research focuses on the roles of genes, genetics, and evolution in shaping and driving specific animal behaviors. He earned a PhD from the University of Illinois in 2002.

Studying how insects metabolize and process oxygen could bring some relief for farmers hoping to protect their crops without using dangerous pesticides.

Dr. Scott Kirkton of Union College is learning a great deal about the biochemistry that triggers a grasshopper's molting process.

Science is the topic this Wednesday as we host professors Ed Stander (geology), Andrea Worthington (biology), and Nancy Slack (biology), and Ken Welles (physics) to provide conclusions to your hypotheses. It's the Vox Pop Science Forum, hosted by Alan Chartock.

Vox Pop : Science Forum : 3/22/12

Mar 22, 2012

The Science Forum is underway. We gather our panel of experts in the areas of biology and chemistry once a month to respond to your science-related questions and comments. On today’s show: Barbara Brabetz, Ken Welles, Jim Pickett and Ed Stander. WAMC’s Ray Graf hosts.