Yowsa! It’s been awhile since we’ve done a Reading Round-up. Here’s some good stuff we read (and watched) this week related to the biodiversity we encounter in our daily lives:
- Allergies: What’s biodiversity got to do with it? Is there a link between the environmental biodiversity around your home and the microbes that live on us? Is your sensitivity to allergens somehow related to your exposure to environmental biodiversity? Might the functioning of your immune system then be linked to the microbes living on your skin (which in turn might influenced by biodiversity exposure)? Finnish ecologist Ilkka Hanski and colleagues took a stab at answering these questions in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their work builds on the hygiene hypothesis – the idea that “modern living” and our increasing disconnectedness from nature might be responsible for the uptick in allergies and autoimmune diseases (something we’re also trying to investigate in the Wild Life of Our Homes study). Here’s a nice non-technical summary of the study from ScienceNOW.
- Why aren’t cities littered with dead pigeons? I’m sure this is a question that keeps you up pondering late into the night. Apparently it kept John Metcalfe up. He gives us a run-down of pigeon (vertebrate) predators on The Atlantic’s Cities blog (including a video of Snapping Turtle vs. Pigeon). We can’t help but think bugs also play a huge role in the Dead Pigeon Clean-up Patrol – so maybe a follow-up post is in order?
- Speaking of dead things and insects…We thoroughly enjoyed this whimsical photographic ode to dead insects. Perhaps it’s time to memorialize the dead cockroach I found on the back porch the other night.
- Knowing your household microbe Huge shout-out to the Urban Pantheist who shared and photo-documented his experience sampling the surfaces of his home for our Wild Life of Our Homes project. We’re just as eager as he is to learn about the microbes living in his home!
- Backyard Biodiversity A few weeks back Carol Kaesuk Yoon wrote a nice piece about documenting the wildlife in her own backyard in northwestern Washington. In addition the Science Times asked readers to share photos of the diversity of life in their yards – and they responded in spectacular fashion: Check out the photo gallery!
- Explore Your Inner Ecosystem The cover story for the June 2012 issue of Scientific American Magazine is all about the bacteria that call our body home. Check out their interactive online feature that lets you get up close and personal with some of the players in the human microbiome.