Ecology

Common clownfish have three white stripes, which they "count" to identify other members of their species as potential threats, a new study suggests.

Clownfish Can 'Count' Stripes on Other Fish to Identify Intruders, Study Suggests

Notoriously aggressive, common clownfish may be using basic mathematics to determine if another fish is a friend or foe

A sea otter basks in the water with some kelp. Sea otter populations plummeted as they were killed for their pelts in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Hungry Sea Otters Help Prevent Erosion on California's Coast

The marine mammals, which were once hunted nearly to extinction, feed on crabs that would make the land more susceptible to erosion by digging holes in the soil and eating roots

Western monarchs prefer to cluster in areas with little to no wind, high humidity, dappled sunlight and easy access to nectar-producing plants.

Monarch Butterflies Wintering in California Are Down 30 Percent From Last Year

The insects' population is slowly rebounding from a historic low in 2020, but they remain in crisis, having declined by more than 95 percent since the 1980s

When researchers reviewed footage of flying insects, they saw that the bugs tilted their backs toward the source of artificial light.

Why Are Flying Insects 'Attracted' to Lights? Scientists May Finally Have an Answer

Moths and other insects might turn their backs toward the brightest source of light around—which has historically been the sky—to determine which way is up and which is down, according to a new paper

One possible explanation for the low-frequency noises? Mating black drum fish.

Mysterious Bass Sounds Irking Florida Residents Might Just Be Fish Mating Loudly

The Tampa community raised money to fund an investigation, and now, a local scientist will install underwater microphones to look for the source of the racket

This spring, Brood XIII and Brood XIX of periodical cicadas will emerge together for the first time since 1803.

Cicadas Are Coming: Rare 'Dual Emergence' Could Bring One Trillion of the Bugs This Year

The 13-year and 17-year broods that will emerge from underground this spring will be appearing together for the first time in 221 years

Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge

Could Climate Change Cause More Lakes to Turn Bright Pink?

While rosy-hued waters exist naturally around the world, a pond in Hawaii recently turned pink, and Australian scientists say the same could happen there

Cats are not picky and will eat nearly anything they can catch.

Cats Prey on More Than 2,000 Different Species

A new study sheds light on just how many creatures domestic cats will eat—including hundreds that are threatened or endangered

Our ten favorite science books of the year covered everything from astronomy to undersea exploration.

The Ten Best Science Books of 2023

From stories on the depths of the ocean to the stars in the sky, these are the works that moved us the most this year

A group of gray wolves in Canada. Before a wolf pack recently migrated to Colorado, gray wolves were last known to live in the state in the 1940s.

Colorado Will Reintroduce Endangered Gray Wolves This Month

In 2020, voters narrowly passed a measure in favor of wolf reintroduction, and now, wildlife officials are about to begin the controversial effort

This year's titles include Daughter of the Dragon, Whalefall and Witness.

Smithsonian Scholars Recommend Their Favorite Books of 2023

Curators and staffers satisfied their endless curiosity with novels, short stories, biographies, art collections and journalistic reporting

Dividing the estimated length of 240,000 miles of stone wall by the geographic area of the New England heartland yields about six linear miles of stone per square mile of land.

How Stone Walls Became a Signature Landform of New England

Originally built as barriers between fields and farms, the region’s abandoned farmstead walls have since become the binding threads of its cultural fabric

In recent years, the European perch (Perca fluviatilis) population has been steadily declining due to the combined impact of climate change, pollution and overfishing.

Italian Divers Revive Centuries-Old Tradition to Help Save European Perch

Nurseries built from bundles of tree branches may help conserve the freshwater fish in the age of climate change

Billions of periodical cicadas emerge every 13 or 17 years in the eastern United States, creating an all-you-can-eat buffet for birds.

Huge Cicada Broods Have Ripple Effects on Birds, Caterpillars and Trees

When Brood X emerged in 2021, scientists measured how the influx of billions of insects affected the ecosystem near Washington, D.C.

Mass Audubon's science coordinator Mark Faherty examines a horseshoe crab in Pleasant Bay, where he has conducted research on them for years.

New Synthetic Horseshoe Crab Blood Could Mean Pharma Won't Bleed the Species Dry

The “living fossils” have been vital for testing intravenous drugs, but a few large pharmaceutical companies are using a lab-made compound instead

A mule deer crosses a road near Aspen, Colorado.

How Roads Have Transformed the Natural World

A brief history of road ecology, the scientific discipline that is helping us understand our impact on the environment and how to diminish it

Caribbean reef sharks are as comfortable cruising coastal coral reefs as diving 1,000 feet into the depths. 

Efforts to Bring Back the Caribbean Reef Shark May Become a Conservation Success Story

The endangered creature is a target for fishing off the coast of the Bahamas—and a magnet for ecotourists who just might save it

Antlers remain intact for hundreds to thousands of years.

How Conservation Paleobiology Serves as a Guide for Restoring Ecosystems

Researchers use historic remnants like antlers, shells, teeth and pollen to learn how natural communities once worked

An aerial image of the banyan tree taken on August 10, 2023

Will Maui's Beloved 150-Year-Old Banyan Tree Survive the Scorching Wildfires?

Amidst the devastation of Lahaina, a coastal town in Maui, the tree is burned but still standing

A trumpetfish shadows a parrotfish. A new study suggests that this tactic makes it harder for prey to notice the predatory trumpetfish behind the non-threatening, plant-eating parrotfish.

These Long, Skinny Fish Hide Behind Bigger Fish to Sneak Up on Their Prey

Scientists made 3D-printed models of fish and tested them in the ocean to study this clever hunting strategy

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