Wildfires generate their own weather

July 13, 2018

A wildfire's heat and rising plumes of air cause it to create its own weather, and now we appreciate that the big wildfires send aerosols — both particulates and gases — all the way around the world.

Checkered beetle

Ornate checkered beetles eat bees and pollen

June 28, 2018

Ornate checkered beetles are bright, conspicuous and tolerant of humans, so they are easily found and fun to watch.


Smoke season is replacing the monsoon season

June 13, 2018

My trip was to be three nights long, combining camping and photography, and I longed for clear air and skies for photography of the Milky Way. But I was beleaguered by smoke. I started at the Railroad Bridge Campground on the Arkansas River near Buena Vista, but as night approached...


Hummingbirds pollinate claret cup cactus

May 30, 2018

A profound drought has delayed spring in the southwest, and claret cup is one of the first cacti to flower in spring.


Mat saltbush thrives on Mancos Shale

May 4, 2018

Plant communities are usually nicknamed for the most dominant species, such as a ponderosa pine community or a pinyon-juniper woodland. Mat saltbush, also called matscale, communities live on such harsh soils that they are sometimes the only species in in the community.


We live in the dawn of the Anthropocene

April 19, 2018

The Anthropocene epoch is a unit of geological time in which humans exert a dominant influence on climate and the environment, but we have not reached consensus on its starting point.


Following dinosaurs along Colorado's Purgatoire River

April 6, 2018

More than 1,500 fossil footprints allow you to follow dinosaurs as they walked along a lakeshore 150 million years ago. The dinosaur tracksite, the largest in North America, is beside the Purgatoire River in Picketwire Canyon south of La Junta.


Silky phacelia is a handsome wildflower with a special talent

April 4, 2018

On soils containing gold, silky phacelia is protected by gold, cyanide and even some arsenic. On soils devoid of gold, it is protected by cyanide.


The paradox of toxic nectar and pollen in death camas

March 12, 2018

Some species of plant, such as death camas, include toxins in nectar and pollen, presenting a bedeviling paradox. Why attract pollinators and then kill them?


Native Americans domesticated turkeys

Feb. 27, 2018

Analyses of DNA from turkey bones at archeological sites and from modern samples of wild turkeys throughout their range indicate that the domesticated birds in Central Mexico and the domesticated birds from the Southwest are distinctly different.