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Exploring Montana’s Sea of Grass

By Ellen Anderson, American Prairie Reserve -  In prairie ecosystems, it is difficult to see the biodiversity that is there from the window of a vehicle, even for people who are plant nerds like my husband Lars and me. Who can really distinguish different grass species without walking out into the prairie? Once we throw…

Strange “Fairy Rings” in Seafloor Explained

Seafloor “fairy rings” that have stumped scientists have their roots in a toxic plant-killer, a new study says.

NASA May Test Its Lunar Green Thumb

If all goes as planned, NASA may land its first experimental garden on the moon in late 2015. Scientists at the Ames Research Center in California are putting together the “Lunar Plant Growth Habitat” project with the hopes of sending an automated small greenhouse (complete with turnips, basil and flower seeds) to the moon in…

New Species of Fuzzy Daisy and Other Furry Flora

A new species of fuzzy daisy discovered in the Venezuelan Andes joins a cadre of fuzzy flora.

Bats Use Rolled-Up Leaves as “Trumpets”

A species of tiny bat seems to be using rolled-up leaves like trumpets to amplify its voice, a new study says.

Remembering Two Field Biology Pioneers

Twenty years ago this month, the conservation community and the world suffered a tragic loss when a small plane flying out of the coastal city of Guayaquil, Ecuador crashed into a cloud-covered mountain.

Plants “Hear” Herbivores Coming—and Prepare

New research shows that plants ‘eavesdrop’ on their attackers to help defend themselves.

Top 10 Headlines Today: Plants Perform Arithmetic, Dangerous H7N9 Flu…

The top stories on National Geographic’s radar today: Scientists find that plants perform mathematical calculations, researchers warn of the dangers of the H7N9 flu, and…

Studies Link Warming to Increased Weather Extremes

A new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) finds global temperatures to be one of the best predictors of hurricane activity. In fact, the PNAS study found that a one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in global temperatures could multiply the frequency of Katrina-like storms by two to seven times. In the Arctic, melting sea ice—which reached its sixth lowest…

Purple Loosestrife: Freshwater Species of the Week

Today I flipped through a reference book called A Handbook of Global Freshwater Invasive Species (always a cheerful read). My eye was caught by purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria L.), since I have often encountered it on wetlands hikes around the country. Purple loosestrife is native to Eurasia, but has become an aggressive invader in North…

Spider, Butterfly Orchids on Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Come along on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Smithsonian’s orchid collection, which includes the odd-looking spider orchid and mysterious butterfly orchid.

BioBlitz Finds 489 Species in Rocky Mountain National Park

A 24-hour BioBlitz by some 150 scientists and 2,000 students this weekend identified 489 species alive and well in Rocky Mountain National Park. Or did a last-minute flyover by a bald eagle make the final count 490? Presenting the tally confirmed by scientists this afternoon, BioBlitz coordinators said there were 89 species of birds, 12…

Ferns of Rocky Mountain National Park

Botanist Scott Smith specializes in ferns, orchids and cactus, but today at the Rocky Mountain National Park BioBlitz he was looking for ferns. At something like 9,500 feet above sea level, in the park’s subalpine zone, he showed visitors how to find two species of an ancient plant invisible to all but expert eyes. Story, photos and video.

July 29, 2012: Adventures of “Jungle” Jack Hanna, Forest Fires Threaten Homes, and More

This week on “National Geographic Weekend,” join host Boyd Matson as we pepper spray a bear in Glacier National Park, survive Colorado’s largest forest fire, ride along America’s “Enchanted Highway”, dive for three thousand year old wrecked ships in Turkey, meet Botswana’s Unlikely Leopard, park a $2.5 billion vehicle at 13,000 miles per hour on Mars, eat red beans and rice in New Orleans, and learn America’s dying languages.

How Do Antarctic Plants Survive? Some Survive On Ancient Penguin Poo

Scientists studying moss beds in East Antarctica have found that the moss there is growing on the site of an ancient penguin colony. The colony is believed to date back some 3,000 to 8,000 years ago. No penguins live there now, but their droppings have been preserved, thanks to Antarctica’s constant cold temperatures.