Interesting this Week – bees, babblers, travelers and bees

This will be the first in a series of weekly posts showcasing interesting nature and science links.

In the News

Commuting Bees – In the light of the worlds recent bee declines, citizens in Norway’s capital, Oslo, have decided to help these industrious little flyers by creating the worlds first “bee highway” through the city. The goal of the project is to have bee-friendly flowers placed every 800 feet to serve as small rest and refuel stations for the bees. The project is coordinated through a website  where everyday citizens can plot where they’ve placed their flower bee station and see where others still need to be planted. Though this particular project takes place in Norway, bee populations all over the world could use a boost. Consider planting some bee friendly flowers in your garden, or if you live in a more urban environment placing a small potted plant on your balcony.

Not So Babbling Babblers – In a new study, chestnut crowned babbler birds, native to southeastern Australia, have exhibited the ability to discern distinct meanings from different arrangements of the same syllables – a necessary precursor to the formation of language. The study utilizes playback experiments to determine whether or not the babblers can distinguish meaning between two different vocalizations that are made up of the same two phrase components (A and B) in different orders (AB and BAB). The first vocalization (AB) is used in flight while the other (BAB) is used when flying to the nest to feed nestlings. During playback, the bird subjects responded appropriately and in context depending on the vocalization they heard. When a recording of the AB vocalization was played they looked to the sky, when the BAB vocalization was played they looked to the nest. Click here to read the full paper.

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Traveler Photo Contest – Entries closed earlier this week for the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. Split into four categories – Sense of Place, Spontaneous Moments, Travel Portraits and Outdoor Scenes  – there are photos of interest to anyone and everyone. Though the winners are picked by judges, you can still show support for your favorites by logging in and liking or commenting.

Bee Development Timelapse – In a project for National Geographic, photographer Anand Varma has made a fascinating sixty-second film showcasing the first 21 days of a bees life. It’s been circulating the internet for a while now, but for anyone that missed it the video is a must-see. (Featured photo is from this series by Anand Varma.)


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