biology

Fish actually have ears

Although fish have ears, they do not have eardrums like humans and other wildlife A number of years ago, while writing outdoor columns for some Ontario newspapers, I touched on the subject of the anatomy of the sensory parts of animals and fish. After the publication hit the newstands, I walked into a coffee shop …

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My Failed Pancreas …

Mikka and others with type 1 diabetes are sharing their stories at the event My Failed Pancreas: Life with Type 1 Diabetes,

Let’s All Learn Gwich’in

Let’s All Learn Gwich’in With Allan Benjamin from Old Crow Gwich’in Expressions: Gwich’in Ginjik Native Language Dinjii zhuh ginjik jihtth’ak I understand Native language Lée nizhigwiłts’īk? Are you hungry? Jidìi Niindhan? What do you want? Jidìi nid i’ii? What do you have? Jidìi Kàgwanah’in? What are you looking for? Ch’ivēedzyāa at’iinihthān kwaa I don’t like …

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Haska-What Now?

Raspberries, blueberries, crowberries and cranberries: being on Yukon time means planning your weekends around where to pick once the – dare I say it? – latter part of summer rolls around and hints at fall. There is one berry fairly new to the Yukon scene that is well over and done with by the time …

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Sowing the Seeds of Spring

The light returns to the Yukon long before the heat and we’re still in the prime season of huge oscillations in temperature between day and night. Mornings dawn crisp – but early – and as of yet we feel no compulsion to head outside until it warms a little. Midafternoon brings mud and even t-shirt …

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Good Advice

Jamie Bastedo is not new to the Yukon. He first came to the territory 35 years ago as a biology graduate student. “Think Never Cry Wolf,” he says. “My head full of book knowledge about northern landscapes and cultures.” The Yukon still means a lot to him and he is excited to be coming back. …

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The Life of Rabbits and Hares

Growing up in the 1930 and early 40s was tough times. First, there was the Great Depression, followed closely by the Second World War. For the average family, money was tough, far tougher than today and rabbits and hares often graced the supper plates. Of course the cottontail rabbit was the choice of the two …

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Wild Times

“They’re [cranes] a much more delicate bird, compared to the swans,” says Carrie McClelland, a wildlife viewing biologist with Environment Yukon. “They stand three and a half to four feet tall, with a six foot wingspan, but they only weigh around seven or eight pounds. They’re very slender.” Lesser sandhill cranes migrate each year from …

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What’s the Appeal?

I was making a carrot cake this week for one of the Jack Russell’s birthdays (he gets the carrot ends, we get the cake, seems like a pretty good deal), and the subject of peeling vegetables came up. I have always been reticent about sending the outer portion of my fruits and vegetables to the …

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What’s Up with Your Feet

Leonardo da Vinci said the “human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art,” which it is. The foot has with a complex network of 26 bones, 37 joints, more than 100 ligaments, some 20 muscles, thousands of nerve endings, tendons and tissues uniquely designed to withstand pounds of pressure and stress. …

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Feeding the North

Food is important to me because I have a large family. Five boys under the age of nine” says Sonny Gray, CEO of North Star Agriculture Corp., as his company will soon announce plans to start construction in the Yukon. Like many in the Yukon he’s concerned about fresh produce. Yukoners like to buy local …

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Color Me Blue

It struck me a couple days ago that I have gotten out of the habit of baking, and was missing having nibbly bites about for those mid-meal moments that require just a little something. I briefly mentally bemoaned my lack of muffins, before remembering that this is one of the things that I can actually …

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Bingeing on Brassicas

Potatoes, kale and cabbage is a pretty common answer to the question, “What can you grow up there, anyways?” For those of us who get excited about growing, however, it is easy to go kind of crazy even within the parameters of a single vegetable family and the brassicas (also known as coles or crucifers …

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Don’t Ignore that Gut Feeling

“Were the gut solely responsible for transporting food and producing the occasional burp, such a sophisticated nervous system would be an odd waste of energy. Nobody would create such a neural network just to enable us to break wind. There must be more to it than that.” –an excerpt from Gut: The Inside Story of …

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’Tis The Examination Season

The student population studying for finals are fascinating creatures. Next, there is a dietary shift in students, where once semi-nutritious meals are replaced by caffeine and variants of sugar. The date of the finals attack can be characterized by the temporary nocturnal ability students will gain 1-2 days before the exam. These extra hours are …

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Yukon Trees in Winter

Trees that naturally grow in and around Whitehorse There are only three families of trees represented in the southwest Yukon. Sounds easy enough? It isn’t, so don’t feel bad if you can’t see the trees for the forest. The willow family (Salicaceae): willow and poplar The birch family (Betulaceae): alder and birch The pine family …

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Waterbugs in Winter

I use the word ‘bug’ here, to describe little creatures with … legs. Insects, but more than that. Not everything I call ‘bug’ living underneath the ice are insects, some turn out to be crustaceans. In the beginning of October, before it started snowing, there was a brief period when the thermometer dropped below zero …

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Your Guide to Vitamin D

Facebook friends are filling my feed with photos of stunning sunrises that they are seeing on their way to work. Everyone marvels at them, yet all I can focus on is how we are about to be plunged into months of darkness. It’s that time of year. If you’re looking to get a head start …

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To go where few people go: I wonder if that is why we saw four wolverines playing?

On August 13, my friend Nancy Ohm and I went for a hike in my backyard. I’ve been working on a walking trail towards the mountains for 20 years. I am making slow process, using only a small ax and clippers. Lately, I have seen signs of people, probably neighbours, establishing the trail. Great! Still, …

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Berry Picking

For me, the summer of 2016 has been the best berry year ever. My berry season starts with wild strawberries and they were bigger than ever this year. Wild raspberries are almost always abundant. Our famous Yukon cranberries are looking extremely promising this year. The wild season ends with rosehips. I like to compare Mother …

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Know Thy Microclimate

I’ve put a lot of miles under me this spring between Victoria, B.C. and the Klondike Valley, and had thought I would be riding the green wave north. It is true that there were more leaves out on the Gulf Islands than there were when I arrived at home in Mount Lorne, but in between, …

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Intimate, Insightful and Non-Traditional

It’s 1929, Virginia Woolf publishes her famous extended feminist essay, called “A Room of One’s Own,”  exploring the gender disparity between women and men. Fast forward to 2016 and discussion around gender politics has widened to include people living beyond the male/female binary. Cyn Lubow’s documentary film A Womb of Their Own asks the question, …

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Sharing His Knowledge of Wolves

For 20 years, Robert (Bob) Hayes was the Yukon’s wolf biologist. During those years, he studied hundreds of radio-collared wolves and conducted several long-term wolf-prey studies. He is considered a world expert on moose and caribou predation by wolves and the effects of wolf control efforts on wolves and their prey. Over time, his studies …

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Boost Your Health with Flax

If you’re not eating flax every day, it’s time to start. While it may not seem like the sexiest superfood in its tiny boring brown package, its many nutritional superpowers will soon have you thinking otherwise. High in fibre, omega-3’s, and lignans, just two to four tablespoons of ground flax a day can offer huge …

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What Not to Eat: Water Hemlock

When I first began eating wild mushrooms, I was studying squirrels. I watched which mushrooms they picked to stash in trees, and figured that whichever ones they ate were probably not (or not very) poisonous. These days I know a little more and am glad I didn’t base my entire wild diet on this type …

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Killing My First Fish

The day I kill my first fish I eat a tuna sandwich for lunch.I’m on a bush excursion, assisting a field biologist. On our lunch break, which we take on a log on the marshy edge of Snafu Lake, I open a can of tuna I purchased at the Superstore and spread the flaked bits …

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The Real Dirt

A few years ago, a neighbour told me my garden needed to be amended with some dirt. He was referring to the stereotypical black soil that can be purchased from either big-box stores or a local distributor who harvests the soil from old marshland. Neither source promised high nutrients for the vegetable garden. Here in …

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Fulfilling a Childhood Dream

As a young biologist and a newly married husband, the Yukon offered Dave Mossop a chance to combine these recent developments in his life. “[Grace and I] were looking for an adventurous place to have a honeymoon, and I had the chance to research ptarmigan up here,” says Mossop. It’s almost 40 years later and, …

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