Research

New research could have implications for cattle and sheep grazing in the habitat of a ground-dwelling bird that environmentalists say needs federal protection across the Rocky Mountain region.

A study published in the December issue of Wildlife Biology examines the relationship between nesting success by the greater sage grouse and the height of grass nearby.

Environmental groups including WildEarth Guardians say the study is cause for concern about livestock grazing in sage grouse habitat. Others say grazing can improve habitat for sage grouse.

sheep, pasture, barn
Heidi Schuyt / Flickr Creative Commons

Scientists have found that, contrary to what many people think, killing wolves does not always reduce attacks on livestock.

Researchers at Washington State University found that for every wolf killed in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming over the past 25 years, there was a 5 percent increase in the sheep and cattle killed the next year. Livestock kills only started going down after overall wolf numbers were reduced by more than 25 percent.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

A new study out of Canada reveals a surprising side-effect that hunting may have on wolves.

Researchers wanted to compare the hormone levels in wolves that often deal with hunters’ fire, versus wolves that are hunted very little. They were able to measure levels of progesterone, testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol by looking at samples of wolf hair from different parts of northern Canada.

school lunch, cafeteria, students
Lance Cheung / USDA | Flickr Creative Commons

Most Idaho kids went back to school this week, meaning for many, a return to school lunches. Food in public schools has changed significantly since new federal nutrition guidelines were passed in 2010.

The northern arm of the Rocky Mountains is sometimes called "the crown of the continent," and its jewels are glaciers and snowfields that irrigate large parts of North America during spring thaw.

But the region is getting warmer, even faster than the rest of the world. Scientists now say warming is scrambling the complex relationship between water and nature and could threaten some species with extinction as well as bring hardship to ranchers and farmers already suffering from prolonged drought.

Inciweb

It might seem like fire season is as bad as it’s ever been. But there’s a group of researchers who question that prevailing wisdom.

Three fresh science papers from separate institutions each makes the case that today's forest fires in the West burn less than in historical times. One of the co-authors is Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist at the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon.

Buzzworthy Breeding To Bring Back Bumble Bees

Aug 10, 2014

Some scientists are going to great lengths to help the agreeable Western bumble bee make a comeback.

Research geologists have just finished a field trial to test a less invasive way to complete seismic hazard surveys.

yogurt, chobani
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A fungus found in Chobani yogurt produced at its Twin Falls facility last year that led to a voluntary recall was more virulent than first thought.

In August and September 2013 more than 200 people were made sick by the Greek yogurt after a strain of fungus called Mucor circinelloides was detected in the product.

forests, research, wildfires, colorado
Philip Higuera / University of Idaho

Fire season has come alive in the Northwest. On Monday, 20 homes in Idaho's Sun Valley area were briefly under evacuation when a fire broke out in a nearby canyon. A 5,000-acre fire north of Wenatchee, Washington, continues to threaten houses in the area.

Fires can be devastating to people's lives. But according to new research, at least certain types of forests recovery fairly quickly.

squirrel, fire, forests
David Maher / Flickr Creative Commons

The patchy recovery of lodgepole pine trees after the 1988 Yellowstone National Park fire could be due in part to the effects of squirrels.

Research from the University of Wyoming finds red squirrels could be having an impact on how lodgepole pine forests evolve.

cans
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The chemical BPA, or bisphenol A, is commonly found in plastics, soup cans, and store receipts. Scientists continue to study how the chemical affects people. New research from the University of Idaho may sound a cautionary note for humans. 

Gordon Murdoch is an associate professor of physiology at the University of Idaho. He focused on fetal heart development in rhesus monkeys.

For the study, pregnant monkeys were fed fruit containing BPA. “Our question was did it affect the genes in the fetal heart?” he asked, “And to our surprise and dismay, it did.”

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Last December, we told you about Idaho researchers studying the impact of road noise on animals in Boise’s Foothills. Project Director Jesse Barber, Associate Professor at Boise State University, built a “phantom road” in the forest. Now, study results are in.

Researchers found that road noise did have an effect on birds. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Southern Idaho ground squirrels are found only in the Gem State and are a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. In May, we told you about a project to give some of these squirrels a new home near Horseshoe Bend to study ways to boost their numbers. Now, scientists know a bit more about this squirrel.

Washington State University will lead a new federal research center focused on finding new biofuels for jet airplanes.

wildfires, smoke
Ashley Smith / Times-News

Researchers are flying over Western wildfires to sample the thick smoke they emit to study its role in cloud formation and climate.

The data-gathering campaign is intended to help researchers flesh out one of the least understood areas of climate: the role of aerosols, or particles given off by wildfires, and how they evolve over time.

Nilsrinaldi / Flickr Creative Commons

The National Institutes of Health Wednesday announced it will retire the great majority of chimpanzees used in federally-supported medical research. The institute director says the use of our closest animal relative for invasive studies can no longer be justified in most cases.

That means more than 300 chimps are headed into retirement. Neither of the two chimpanzee sanctuaries here in the Northwest say they're prepared to take new chimps.


A swarm of factors is causing heavy losses in honey bee colonies. That's the bottom line of a report issued jointly Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report identifies a parasitic mite as a leading culprit in combination with diseases, poor nutrition, genetics and pesticide exposure. People who care about bees here in the Northwest were underwhelmed.