November 2, 2018
Making Sense of Autumn’s Scent
By Matthew Capucci/Washington Post
Photo by Mark Leary/flickr
With autumnlike weather becoming entrenched over the Lower 48, you may catch an extra whiff of something in the air. As it turns out, you can actually smell the change of seasons.

Many people report a particular scent appearing around this time of year; some describe it as melancholy, while others associate it with more pleasant harvest-type smells. The scent of autumn can be as much  an emotional shift  as it is a herald of the waning daylight. Whatever you feel when fall rushes in, odds are smell has a surprisingly big role in it — after all, olfaction is more closely linked to memory than any other sense.

But where does this smell come from? No, it’s not just a cloud of pumpkin spice wafting in the breeze. Instead, it has a unique scientific explanation.

Reclassifying Tigers May Ensure Their Survival
By Rachel Nuwer/The New York Times
Photo by Mathias Appel/flickr
Fewer than 4,000 tigers remain in the wild. New research aims to give conservationists an improved understanding of their genetics in order to help save them.

After years of debate, scientists report in the journal Current Biology that tigers  comprise six  unique subspecies. One of those subspecies, the South China tiger, survives only in captivity.

“The results presented in this paper are important because they contradict the currently accepted international conservation classifications for tigers,” said Uma Ramakrishnan, a molecular ecologist at the National Center for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India, who was not involved in the study.

A system  recently proposed  by some scientists that would classify the world’s tigers into two subspecies would harm the world’s remaining tigers rather than benefit them, said Shu-Jin Luo, a geneticist at Peking University who led the study.

Toss a Salmon. You Might Help a Tree.
Photo by Katmai National Park/flickr
This is the story of a research project that is akin to a nested doll: an experiment run on data generated by another experiment.

Thomas Quinn at the University of Washington in Seattle and his colleagues survey sockeye salmon ( Oncorhynchus nerka ) carcasses in a small stream in southwestern Alaska. As part of a study of salmon consumption by bears, team members scoop dead fish out of the stream to count them and, to prevent double-counting, throw each recorded carcass into the forest.

Starting in 1997, the salmon-counters threw fish only onto the left-hand bank. Quinn wondered whether the white spruce trees ( Picea glauca ) on the banks where the dead salmon were discarded would grow faster, thanks to all the fishy fertilizer.

Fishing Captains Work to Save the Everglades
By T. Edward Nickens/Garden & Gun
Photo by christoph.schrey/flickr
  “This is what’s at risk,” Captain Chris Wittman tells me. “This is what we are fighting for.” He doesn’t need to point to what he’s referring to. Open waters and islands dense with mangroves unfurl in every direction. We’ve run a Hell’s Bay poling skiff through skinny water outside Everglades City, Florida, for a morning of hunting tarpon. This is primal country, without the blemish of a single human-built structure. Untouched, or so it seems.

Two years ago, Wittman, who lives in Fort Myers, would spend three days on the water for every one on land, guiding anglers to tarpon, permit, and redfish along the Gulf of Mexico. He still watches plenty of sunrises from a poling platform, but these days he finds himself under fluorescent lighting more than he’d like: on the phone, in meetings, in legislative offices in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

As a founding director of  Captains for Clean Water ,  a nonprofit that advocates for the restoration of Florida’s estuaries and the Everglades, Wittman is helping channel into action a rising tide of anger over the state’s catastrophic water pollution.

Listen and Learn the Facts on Chronic Wasting Disease
Hunt Talk
McGraw photo
In this podcast, two hunter-scientists who have made their careers studying Chronic Wasting Disease talk about what is known and what is not yet known about CWD and its effect on North American whitetail deer.

Their best advice? Keep hunting, even if CWD is in your hunting area.

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."

- Albert Camus
To read past McGraw Reports click here.