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Cheryl Lyn Dybas

Science journalist and ecologist Cheryl Lyn Dybas, a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers, brings a passion for wildlife and conservation to National Geographic, Natural History, National Wildlife, BBC Wildlife, Scientific American, The Washington Post, and other publications, and is a featured speaker on science journalism and conservation biology. Eye-to-eye with the wild is her favorite place to be.

Fall Color In-Depth: Maple Trees Offer New Answers to Diabetes, Alzheimer’s

In the 1992 film Medicine Man, biochemist Robert Campbell, played by actor Sean Connery, searches for new drugs in the Amazon’s vast rainforests. There Campbell finds a cure for cancer not in the rainforest’s rare flowers – which don’t have “juju,” or the power to heal – but in an indigenous ant species. All is looking…

Sushi Roulette: Is the Fish You Ordered the One You Got?

Have plans this summer to visit your favorite sushi restaurant? You might order spicy tuna roll. Or maybe salmon or halibut. But is the fish you selected the one you got? If you’re in Los Angeles or many other cities around the globe, it’s a flip of the coin. Scientists at Loyola Marymount University, the…

The Owls of Winter: Ghosts of the Grasslands Appear at Twilight

They emerge at twilight, the magical time when rarely seen creatures come out of the shadows. In the balmy air of an unseasonably warm February dusk, twilight indeed has opened a portal to another world. Like bats that flutter from caves at sundown, short-eared owls take to the skies over Stonebridge Farm near Front Royal,…

Into the Heart of the Jungle: Tracking the Black Panthers of Malaysia

Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody dared to cross his path; for he was as cunning as [the golden jackal] Tabaqui, as bold as the wild buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree, and a skin softer than dawn. —Rudyard Kipling,…

Invasion of the Aliens: Body Snatching Worms, Cold Winters May Rout Lakes’ Enemies

Public enemy number one, it might be called: Eurasian watermilfoil. It’s not on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, but maybe it should be, say scientists who study lakes. The invasive weed’s crime? It crowds out native underwater plants, fouls boat propellers and smothers swimming areas in freshwater lakes across the northern U.S. The invader’s…

African Lions on the Brink: A Conversation with Lion Expert Craig Packer

With roars that rend the African night, lions have captured our imaginations since the dawn of humankind. “Lions have long been celebrated in art and literature throughout the world,” says ecologist Craig Packer, National Geographic Explorer and Expeditions Council grantee, and director of the University of Minnesota Lion Center. In the face of habitat loss and…

Q&A: Extreme Drought in South Africa’s Kruger National Park: How is Wildlife Faring?

Bone-dry winds are blowing across South Africa’s Kruger National Park (KNP), uprooting savanna grasses and whirling them like tumbleweeds across a sere landscape. How is the park’s world-renowned wildlife faring in an extreme drought? To find out, I talked with Izak Smit, Science Manager for Systems Ecology at South African National Parks (SANParks), which oversees KNP.…

It’s Catching, If You’re a Clam: Infectious Cancer Spreading in Soft-Shell Clams, Other Mollusks

It sounds like the plot of a summer horror flick: Malignant cells floating in the sea, ferrying infectious cancer everywhere they go. The story is all too true, say scientists who’ve made a discovery they call “beyond surprising.” Outbreaks of leukemia that have devastated populations of soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria) along the east coast of…

Wolf – Caribou Detente? Clues Hidden on Lake Superior Islands

Qalipu, it’s called by Canada’s Mi’kmaq people. To others, it’s the elusive gray ghost of the far northern forest. Most know it simply as caribou. Woodland caribou are medium-sized members of the deer family. In Canadian provinces such as Ontario, these shadows in the forest are listed as threatened – quickly vanishing. Non-migratory woodland caribou…

Shadow Cat: Canada Lynx Silently Cross U.S. State, National Borders

The forest has eyes. And somewhere in the shadows of a winter dusk that falls across towns in northern New England, they’re watching. The deep green eyes of the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) have the advantage in the region’s dark spruce-fir, or boreal, forest. They see without being seen. The better to go walkabout in new…

Phantom of the Forest: Could the Cougar Again Haunt Eastern U.S. Woodlands?

The phantom, it’s been called, this big cat that now prowls western North and South America forests from the Yukon to Patagonia. It has dozens of monikers, from panther to puma to mountain lion, catamount to deer tiger to cougar. However it may be known, could the feline, long gone from the U.S. East but…

How can you eat, eat, eat–and stay healthy? Ask a blind cavefish.

Barbecues and clambakes. Ice cream and berry pies. Summer is the season of food, food and more food. Is there a way to binge and still stay healthy? For answers, look far underground, say scientists, to the denizens of darkness: blind cavefish. Biologists studied blind cavefish, Astyanax mexicanus, living in freshwater pools in deep caves…

No Ice in Sight: Polar Bears Scrabble Onshore to Find Food

On June 4, 1773, English naval officers were dispatched on an expedition to the Arctic. Their goal was to locate a passage from the British Isles to the Pacific Ocean. Instead, on ice floes near Spitsbergen (Svalbard), Norway, they found polar bears. The explorers were the first Europeans to describe the bears as a distinct…

Is “Extinct” Forever? Central Asia’s Caspian Tiger Traverses the Comeback Trail

Comments Off on Is “Extinct” Forever? Central Asia’s Caspian Tiger Traverses the Comeback Trail

I imagine a tiger. He’ll move through the forest and his days Leaving his traces on the mud banks Of a river whose name he doesn’t know. In his world there are no names or past Or future, only the certainty of now. —Jorge Luis Borges, The Other Tiger In reeds tinged red in the…

Where Is a Lion a Shark? In the Savannas of the Sea

Mtumbwi hauwezi kujua panapokuwa pamejaa maji. (Swahili) The dugout canoe does not know the depth of the water. (English) So believe the Hangaza, an ethnic group living along Lake Victoria near Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. The lake has long been an object of contemplation for the Hangaza. They know that animals like crocodiles swim just beneath…