Environmental Almanac

Weekly commentaries on the environment and appreciating the natural world, by Rob Kanter from the School of Earth, Society, and Environment at the University of Illinois.


Eine durchschnittliche Folge dieses Podcasts dauert 4m. Bisher sind 156 Folge(n) erschienen. Dies ist ein wöchentlich erscheinender Podcast


Bird reports from friends signal arrival of spring

One way you can tell spring has arrived is to listen to the conviction with which cardinals are now singing, including this one, which I stopped to record while I was out for a run last week. Another is to hear the reports friends bring me about what they’ve been observing. A friend I’ll call “Anna” recently stopped by my office to talk about what she had seen with her son, a second-grader, on their walk to Bottenfield School in Champaign...


 2016-03-11  4m

Appreciating Illinois amphibians and the habitats that support them

It may be too early in the year to contemplate April showers bringing May flowers. But in much of Illinois heavy rains in late February and early March trigger an astonishing and ancient natural phenomenon—the annual congregation of amphibians in the waters where they breed...


 2016-03-04  4m

Exploding insects top bill at this year’s Insect Fear Film Festival

In anticipation of the 33rd Annual Insect Fear Film Festival, which they will host Saturday on the U of I campus, this week’s commentary comes from three members of the Entomology Graduate Student Association : Josh Gibson, Todd Johnson, and Tanya Josek. Believe it or not, they’re here to talk real-life insects that explode. Bombardier beetles (Todd) One day Charles Darwin was returning from a collecting trip when he spotted an interesting beetle...


 2016-02-25  4m

Birding abroad: Part 2

Although the other members of my family enjoy a range of outdoor activities when we travel together, I like to spend more time birding than they do. I especially enjoy staking out a spot where I can spend some quality time with my camera early in the morning. On the second stop of our tour in Senegal, this was just across the road from our lodging which was located on a narrow spit between the Senegal River and the Atlantic Ocean...


 2016-02-18  4m

Contemplating courtship rituals

Whether or not you planned well for it, Valentine’s Day is here. I won’t comment on the human behavior associated with this holiday, but I can provide a bit of diversion and give suggestions about where to see animal courtship spectacles in Illinois. Consider, suggests May Berenbaum, who is head of the UI Department of Entomology, the bizarre (to us) behavior of some pyralid moth males. In the process of courtship they beat females over the head with the tip of their abdomen...


 2016-02-11  3m

Birding abroad

The city of Dakar, which is the capital of the West African nation of Senegal, is not a birding destination. Some two and a half million people live there, and the streets are crowded with traffic that includes everything from people on foot and horse drawn carts, to motor scooters, taxis, private cars, and a variety of buses, among them the colorful and jam-packed cars rapide...


 2016-02-06  4m

Earth materials in buildings—don’t take’m for granite [from the archive]

Teachers and learners alike value opportunities for field observation. There’s just something about seeing things in the wild that’s hard to replicate in a classroom. Teaching Shakespeare? See a play. Teaching ornithology? Step outside. Teaching geology in east central Illinois? “We’re working under a real handicap here,” says Eileen Herrstrom. “Nearly all of our rock is covered by 300-foot deep glacial deposits...


 2016-01-29  3m

Wildlife moments from 2015

As regular listeners know, I take great pleasure in observing wildlife, whether I’m out for the specific purpose of doing that, or I’m just going from one place to another in the course of a normal day. As you also know, I enjoy looking into questions that arise from my observations, and sharing my findings. In today’s commentary I look back at some things I saw for the first time in 2015 and tell what I learned in my follow up investigations...


 2016-01-21  4m

2016 is the year for rooftop solar in Champaign County

I’ve got a confession to make. I’m sometimes very, very slow to act on my good intentions--especially when my good intentions involve home improvement.  To wit. In the past, I’ve written about projects by local people to reduce or eliminate the need for fossil fuel at home through combinations of efficiency, conservation and solar power...


 2016-01-14  4m

Deer management program yields multiple benefits at Allerton

As someone who values the U of I’s Allerton Park and Retreat Center—especially for the natural areas—I’m happy to report this week on an ongoing effort that has really paid off there, the deer management program begun in 2004. “Deer management” here refers primarily to reducing the number of deer inhabiting the natural areas through carefully regulated hunting...


 2015-12-10  4m