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Birds that change colours AND wear snowshoes

I find ptarmigan quite fascinating. They live in alpine and tundra areas. These areas are not typically bird habitat, but ptarmigan like grouse primarily live on the ground. They walk around foraging for plants and occasional insects. They will live in these barren areas all year round, so it isn’t surprising that they are well … Continue reading

What kind of workout is cross country skiing?

On the surface, cross country skiing seems akin to something like running. You primarily work at a steady pace with occassional extra effort on a climb or a brief moment of respite downhill. However, competitive cross country skiers in both sprint and distance events have a much more variable output. In most races, the terrain … Continue reading

Do you feel safe enough to be active?

I am fortunate that I feel fairly comfortable being active outside on my own, but I know many women who are not comfortable going for a run alone in their neighbourhood, or who won’t go explore the amazing river valley through the city on their own because of safety concerns . This of course isn’t … Continue reading

What if we got rid of the allergens?

I am deathly allergic to peanuts. I have wondered for some time if I’m allergic to all peanuts or whether certain strains of peanuts might be more or less likely to trigger my body’s overreaction to what should be a mundane protein. This, it turns out, is the focus of some research recently presented by … Continue reading

Turkey, seratonin, and uncertainty

We just had Canadian Thanksgiving here and aside from my growing discomfort with colonial history it is a good time to recognize the many things that I’m grateful for. It is also as good a time to find the science in the everyday. Turkey is of course connected to the turkey stupor, which it turns … Continue reading

Cat Genetics Activities

I created this activity for an introductory biology class. It covers Mendelian and Non-Mendelian patterns of inheritance and has some suggest activities for practicing the Hardy-Weinberg equation. Since most of the questions ask you to cross a cat that you found there is no answer key. Teachers, please feel free to use this activity in … Continue reading

The making of a tabby cat

I’ve found it quite fascinating to look into cat genetics over the past week. I should have my entire planned activity for my bio students to share by next week, but in the meantime I thought I’d write about the agouti and tabby genes. The presence of a dominant agouti gene affects pigment distribution along … Continue reading

Why is there green foam on the lake?

I’ve been canoeing a lot this summer, so I’ve also seen a lot of notices about blue-green algal blooms, but this past weekend took it to a whole other level with piles of green foam on the beach and beautifully, but disturbingly coloured banks. While these blooms are relatively common regardless of conditions, warming climates … Continue reading

What is neuroblastoma?

As I continue to ride in support of the Sick Kids Foundation through the Great Cycle Challenge Canada, I’m also continuing to learn more about childhood cancer. Through the challenge I’ve heard about incredible kids and their families and the fights that have been won, lost, and are still in progress. They inspire me to … Continue reading

Consider where the bike lanes are

One of the key factors when I was looking for a home was bikeability: how safe would the area be for me on my bike. This did significantly restrict my search areas and it turns out one of the bike paths was actually horrendously dangerous and another was removed from the area I chose. But … Continue reading

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