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One Species at a Time Podcasts

Last updated almost 3 years ago

The One Species at a Time podcast series is hosted by Ari Daniel Shapiro and brought to you by the Encyclopedia of Life and Atlantic Public Media.

Visit the EOL Podcast pages to find more learning materials for each podcast, including a "Meet the Scientist" and "Extras" sections. Podcast Categories identify scientific topics and skills discussed in each podcast to help teachers plan their classroom learning experience.

The One Species at a Time podcast series is supported through the generosity of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology.

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    One Species at a Time Podcast: Beetles and Moths

    Video of Nebria brevicollis

    How much trouble can an unassuming black beetle no bigger than your fingernail be? Plenty, as we learn in this episode of One Species at a Time. Tiny stowaways like the European Gazelle beetle are arriving on container ships and wreaking havoc with native ecosystems. Long-standing pests like the gypsy moth have been joined by new exotic species that are crowding out North American fauna. Ari Daniel Shapiro journeys to the forests of Oregon to meet the beetles.

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    EOL Arctic Tern Google Earth Tour

    Video of Sterna paradisaea

    The arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) makes an incredible migration each year. These small birds travel distances of more than 50,000 miles, from pole to pole, crossing through temperate and tropical regions along the way. Carsten Egevang used geo-locator tags to track ten of these terns, and he shares their story with us in this tour. Narrated by Ari Daniel Shapiro. Produced by Atlantic Public Media (www.atlantic.org) and Eduardo Garcia Milagros.

    Download the Google Earth Tour file

  • Dinoflagellates

    Audio of Dinoflagellate

    Science contributor Josh Kurz, tells the story of dinoflagellates through “music from the bottom of the food chain.” There are “billions of these microscopic creatures in every bucket of the salty sea,” Kurz reveals. Learn which dinoflagellate has a special glow, and which one is responsible for killing more people every year than sharks.

  • Chinook Salmon

    Audio of Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

    Can painted wooden fish on a schoolyard fence change human behavior and help clean up the ocean for the real salmon? Stream of Dreams in British Columbia thinks so, and a lot of wooden fish and some 100,000 school kids later, they have some intriguing results to show for their effort.

  • Lebanon Cedar

    Audio of Cedrus libani

    Mentioned in the Bible and in the 8000-year-old epic Gilgamesh, Lebanon’s iconic cedars have been reduced to a fraction of their former range by centuries of logging. Ari Daniel Shapiro walks the Shouf Cedar Reserve to learn how scientists are working to save the last remaining trees from a more insidious threat—climate change. The answer may surprise you.

  • Foothill Yellow-legged Frog

    Audio of Rana boylii

    How is a tadpole like a short-sleeved white tee shirt? The answer lies in the Alameda Creek outside San Francisco, California, USA. Ari Daniel Shapiro wades into the issue of dams and biodiversity with two biologists sampling the DNA of this threatened frog in order to save it.

  • Chamois

    Audio of Rupicapra rupicapra

    Growing up in a village in the foothills of the French Alps, Francis Roucher used to hunt the chamois, a cross between a goat and an antelope. But on the day one of his shots went astray, Roucher was transformed from hunter to game manager, working to reverse the chamois’ decline.

  • Bowhead Whale

    Audio of Balaena mysticetus

    Writer Karen Romano Young takes an icebreaker to Barrow, Alaska, to join in the festival of Naluqatak and learn about the intimate relationship between the Inupiat Eskimos and the bowhead whale. Listen as she tells Ari Daniel Shapiro how the whole community turns out for whale hunt, how the bowhead nourishes the Inupiat, both physically and spiritually—and how the hunt is proving to be an unexpected gift to scientists.

  • Ediacaran Fauna Fossils

    Audio of Dickinsonia and 1 other taxon

    In this episode, journey back in time to learn about Ediacaran Fauna, a diverse group of organisms that lived in the world's oceans about 580 million years ago. We’ll meet Dickinsonia rex, a sort of living bathmat without eyes or a mouth, and other strange denizens of the primordial slimebed. Paleontologists Mary Droser and Jim Gehling explain how they’re working to reconstruct this ancient ecosystem by studying fossils and shed light on the enduring evolutionary puzzle of how and why the first complex life forms arose.

  • Lichens

    Audio of Umbilicaria mammulata and 1 other taxon

    Most of us walk past lichen-covered rocks, splotched with grays, greens, and golds, without giving them a closer look. Ari Daniel Shapiro visits with mycologist Anne Pringle and graduate student Benjamin Wolfe to learn about these amazing symbiotic organisms, formed when a fungus partners with an algae. Each lichen can host an entire microcosm, a microbial landscape teeming with life. These worlds-within-worlds are proving an invaluable tool for scientists studying our changing landscapes.

  • Quinine Tree

    Audio of Cinchona pubescens

    In a large greenhouse at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri, there grows a slender sapling of Cinchona pubescens, a tree that has played a remarkable role in human history. Journeying to this artificial tropical forest under glass, Ari Daniel Shapiro asks curators Carmen Ulloa Ulloa and Charlotte Taylor just what makes this famous “fever tree” special. He also learns how it’s possible to open a three-hundred-year-old bundle of dried plant specimens and disappear—happily—into the past.

  • Great White Shark

    Audio of Carcharodon carcharias

    Students from Martha's Vineyard Regional High School in Massachusetts and La Salle Academy in Rhode Island question shark researcher Greg Skomal about this charismatic predator at the top of the ocean food chain. Learn some surprising facts and the answers to such questions as what preys on the Great White and do they mate for life?

  • Red Paper Lantern Jellyfish

    Audio of Pandea rubra

    Vacuumed up from its habitat a mile down in the ocean, the red paper lantern jelly may not look like much. Mostly water, it’s so fragile that once brought to the surface it’s reduced to a tattered blob in a jar. But this unassuming jellyfish has lessons for scientists. It’s teaching researchers in Japan how intricately life is connected down in the ocean’s deep, dark depths—and how the fate of this small red lantern sheds light on the fragility of life close to home.

  • Polar Bears

    Audio of Ursus maritimus

    In this podcast, host Ari Daniel Shapiro relates two close calls with polar bears. Listen as Heather Cray recalls how, dumped by a storm on a small Arctic island, she got an unexpected wake-up call. And when researcher Steve Amstrup accidentally crashed through the roof of a polar bear’s den, no one could predict what happened next.

  • Giant Squid

    Audio of Architeuthis dux

    How do you get two dead Giant Squid the size of a school bus from a fishing boat in Spain to a museum in Washington, DC, USA? Call in the Navy! Find out how Operation Calamari unfolded and how the museum managed to put their new Giant Squid on display.

  • Insects of Costa Rica

    Audio of Insecta

    In this episode, EOL education director Marie Studer journeys to Costa Rica to experience firsthand the astonishing variety of insect life in this tiny Central American nation—20,000 different kinds of butterflies and moths alone! José Montero and Manuel Zumbado, both of the Costa Rican National Biodiversity Institute, INBio, explain how this crossroads between North and South America became a hotspot for evolutionary innovation, producing such spectacular specimens as Thysania agrippina, a moth so large that it’s often mistaken for....well, you'll have to listen to find out!

  • Riftia

    Audio of Riftia pachyptila

    Host Ari Daniel Shapiro dives deep to discover a white worm as tall as your refrigerator that breathes through bright red feathery “lips.” This isn’t a creature from outer space. Meet Riftia, a tube worm that lives in deep-sea vents, and learn the surprising lessons this denizen of the abyss is teaching scientists about life on Earth.

  • Sea Slugs

    Audio of Elysia chlorotica

    Come one, come all! See the amazing, the astonishing, half-animal, half-plant! Journey to Tampa Bay, Florida, where scientist Skip Pierce and one of his students first made a remarkable discovery twenty years ago. Meet Elysia chlorotica, a bright green, solar-powered, algae-slurping sea slug that’s still turning our understanding of the classification of life upside down.

  • Marine Iguana

    Audio of Amblyrhynchus cristatus

    No iguana wants to be cooked alive on a hot rock and then served up as dinner for a Galapagos hawk. But it turns out the marine iguanas have a strategy that warns them of the presence of hawks they can’t see. They learned to tune in to a kind of police scanner…the alarm calls of mockingbirds.

  • Box Jellyfish

    Audio of Cubozoa

    Learn how three fiery, painful stings during an early morning swim in Hawaii changed the life of researcher Angel Yanagihara. Once the young biochemist had recovered from her box jelly encounter, Carybdea alata had her full attention. Now she works to unlock the secrets of venom of these beautiful, and sometimes dangerous, angels of the sea.

  • Branch-tip Spiders

    Audio of Dictyna

    The hills near Missoula, Montana, are changing, native grasses and other plants increasingly squeezed out by nonnative plants. Knapweed, cinquefoil, and other weeds aren’t only changing the look of this ecosystem but its very structure. As ecologist Dean Pearson’s research has shown, however, some species are benefitting from the changed habitat in unexpected ways. You just have to look closely to see them.

  • Lichens

    Audio of Umbilicaria mammulata

    Hidden

    Most of us walk past lichen-covered rocks, splotched with grays, greens, and golds, without giving them a closer look. Ari Daniel Shapiro visits with mycologist Anne Pringle and graduate student Benjamin Wolfe to learn about these amazing symbiotic organisms, formed when a fungus partners with an algae. Each lichen can host an entire microcosm, a microbial landscape teeming with life. These worlds-within-worlds are proving an invaluable tool for scientists studying our changing landscapes.

  • E.O. Wilson

    Audio of Paraponera clavata

    Hidden

    Renowned evolutionary biologist Edward O. Wilson has spent his long career cracking the code of ants. It’s the ants’ ability to communicate and form tight-knit societies that lies behind their extraordinary evolutionary success. Ari Daniel Shapiro visits Wilson in his office at Harvard to learn the nature of the ants’ special language—and what’s in an ant’s name.

  • Sea Cucumbers

    Audio of Holothuroidea

    Hidden

    What reef animal comes in a rainbow of crazy colors, can throw out its innards to immobilize predators, then creep away and regrow a brand-new stomach? It’s the sea cucumber, prized as a gastronomic delight by some cultures and beginning to yield some of its secrets to scientists. Follow host Ari Daniel Shapiro from a Chinatown market to the reefs of Fiji to learn more about this amazing creature. View the Sea Cucumber narrated Google Earth Tour

  • Great White Shark

    Audio of Carcharodon carcharias

    Hidden

    Students from Martha's Vineyard Regional High School in Massachusetts and La Salle Academy in Rhode Island question shark researcher Greg Skomal about this charismatic predator at the top of the ocean food chain. Learn some surprising facts and the answers to such questions as what preys on the Great White and do they mate for life?

  • Red-Shouldered Soapberry Bug

    Audio of Jadera haematoloma

    Hidden

    In the lab at American University in Washington, DC, evolutionary biologist David Angelini and graduate student Stacey Baker are studying a snazzy red-and-black insect called the red-shouldered soapberry bug. These tiny insects with the big name are speedy and hard to catch—and speedy in other ways, too, as Ari Daniel Shapiro discovers.

  • Right Whale

    Audio of Eubalaena glacialis

    Hidden

    Hear how research unfolds at sea. Playing female whale calls into the water, researcher Susan Parks suddenly finds herself the center of attention of a group of male North Atlantic Right Whales. Will she be able to gather crucial data before a breaching whale crashes down on her boat?

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    Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Podcast Google Earth Tour

    Video of Thunnus thynnus

    What is it like to be eyeball to eyeball with a fish the size of a Volkswagen? Learn about the process of tagging tuna and how those tags are revealing surprises that might help save tuna from their own popularity in sushi restaurants.

    Download the Google Earth Tour file

  • Water Hyacinth

    Audio of Eichhornia crassipes

    It may have pretty purple flowers, but Eichhornia crassipes can be a green menace. Introduced to Africa from the neotropics, this invasive weed is choking Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest lake. Water hyacinth has carpeted vast stretches of the lake, fouling fishing nets and blocking harbors. Ari Daniel Shapiro teams with reporter in the field, Gastive Oyani, to speak with local fishermen and botanist Helida Oyieke. They learn how the lake and the lives of the people who depend on it are responding to this weedy challenge.

  • Mangroves

    Audio of Rhizophora mangle

    Follow researchers Candy Feller and Dennis Whigham as they scramble, climb, crawl, and creep through the tangled roots of a mangrove forest. Along the way, learn what’s threatening these unique ecosystems where the ocean meets the land. Studying these flooded forests is a challenge, but pursuing science in this strange landscape has its own rewards.

  • E.O. Wilson

    Audio of Solenopsis invicta and 1 other taxon

    Renowned evolutionary biologist Edward O. Wilson has spent his long career cracking the code of ants. It’s the ants’ ability to communicate and form tight-knit societies that lies behind their extraordinary evolutionary success. Ari Daniel Shapiro visits Wilson in his office at Harvard to learn the nature of the ants’ special language—and what’s in an ant’s name.

  • Four-Leaf Clover

    Audio of Trifolium repens

    Scientist-in-training Summer Praetorius has an unusual skill—she is really, really good at spotting four-leaf clovers (Trifolium repens L.). A single gene causes the normally three-leafed clover to produce a fourth, supposedly lucky, leaf. As it turns out, good science depends on both close observation—a skill Praetorius uses to spot tiny shelled animals called foraminifera—and a little bit of luck.

  • Chaffinch and Winter Wren

    Audio of Fringilla coelebs and 1 other taxon

    Every morning when he walks the dog, retired professor of natural history Peter Slater can identify as many as thirty birds by their song alone. On a walk in a Scottish town with Ari Daniel Shapiro, Slater explains what two common songsters, the chaffinch and winter wren, are singing about, and how even city dwellers can learn to “bird by ear” in their own neighborhoods, with rewarding results.

  • Red-Shouldered Soapberry Bug

    Audio of Jadera haematoloma

    In the lab at American University in Washington, DC, evolutionary biologist David Angelini and graduate student Stacey Baker are studying a snazzy red-and-black insect called the red-shouldered soapberry bug. These tiny insects with the big name are speedy and hard to catch—and speedy in other ways, too, as Ari Daniel Shapiro discovers.

    Learn more about soapberry bugs at Soapberry Bugs of the World

  • Island Fox

    Audio of Urocyon littoralis

    Hidden

    In this episode, reporter Molly Samuel journeys to Santa Cruz Island, off the coast of California, to look into the mystery of the island’s tiny foxes, descendants of gray foxes who rafted over from the mainland more than ten thousand years ago and branched off to form a new, smaller species. Despite weighing a mere three pounds, these diminutive grey foxes thrived and for millennia they reigned as the island’s top predator. But twenty years ago, their numbers began to plummet, from three thousand in the early 1990s to fewer than one hundred by 2000. Samuel tells how conservationists solved the puzzle of the vanishing foxes and helped them stage a comeback.

  • Beetles and Moths

    Audio of Nebria brevicollis and 2 other taxa

    How much trouble can an unassuming black beetle no bigger than your fingernail be? Plenty, as we learn in this episode of One Species at a Time. Tiny stowaways like the European Gazelle beetle are arriving on container ships and wreaking havoc with native ecosystems. Long-standing pests like the gypsy moth have been joined by new exotic species that are crowding out North American fauna. Ari Daniel Shapiro journeys to the forests of Oregon to meet the beetles.

  • Scottish Wildcat

    Audio of Felis silvestris grampia

    Scottish Wildcats or Felis sylvestris grampia have been around since the last ice age. A symbol of strength and independence, the cats used to roam the whole of Great Britain, but researchers believe there are now fewer than 400 left in the rugged highlands. We journey to Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland to learn about the threats that have this secretive species on the run and what the Cairngorms Wildcat Project is doing to help protect them.