Science + Research

Science
9:32 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Are Western Wildfires Really Getting Worse? 3 Recent Studies Say No

Smoke rises from the Snag Canyon fire burning in southeast Washington.
Credit 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.

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Science
9:25 pm
Sun August 10, 2014

Buzzworthy Breeding To Bring Back Bumble Bees

Preparing to inseminate a queen bee.
Megan Asche

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 11:20 am

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

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Research
4:45 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

USGS Tries Listening To Human Racket To Understand Seismic Hazards

A seismic "thumper" used to map earthquake faults.
Horemu Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 6:22 pm

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

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Vital Statistics
5:55 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Fewer People Are Getting Married In Idaho, More Are Having Babies

Credit Allan / Flickr

More Idaho babies are being born outside of marriage than ever before, and the state's marriage rate is at a 60-year low, that's according to a recent report from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The latest Vital Statistics Annual Report is for 2012 and it covers everything from births, population, marriages, and deaths.

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Research
9:03 am
Thu July 10, 2014

It Takes 100 Years For Forests To Recover From Wildfire, Study Finds That's Fast

Odessa Lake and subalpine forest in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA.
Credit 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.

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Research
3:44 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

How Red Squirrels Could Be Changing Western Forests

Red squirrels live in lodgepole pine forests and eat lodgepole seeds.
Credit 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.

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Recreation
6:38 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Fan Of Boise's Greenbelt? Survey Says You Probably Have A College Degree

Hundreds of people use the Boise Greenbelt everyday. Surveys found there's no average user of the trail system.
Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Most of the people who use the Boise Greenbelt have a college degree. And last year, more people used it on weekdays. Those are two big conclusions from two years’ worth of surveys on the 45-year-old trail system.

Jaap Vos is director of the Community and Regional Planning Program at Boise State University. BSU has done surveys on the Greenbelt two years in 2012 and 2013.

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Science
3:09 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Hybrid Trout Threaten Montana's Native Cutthroats

Clint Muhlfeld, an aquatic ecologist with the USGS, holds a native Westslope cutthroat trout in Glacier National Park.
Noah Clayton USGS

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 7:53 am

Many parts of the U.S. have been getting warmer over the past several decades, and also experiencing persistent drought. Wildlife often can't adjust. Among the species that are struggling is one of the American West's most highly prized fish — the cutthroat trout.

In springtime, you can find young cutthroats in the tiny streams of Montana's Shields Basin. Bend over and look closely and you might see a 2-inch fish wriggling out from under a submerged rock — the spawn of native cutthroats.

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Earthquakes
2:21 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Seismologists: Idaho Earthquake Swarm Tapering Off

Credit Domesticat / Flickr Creative Commons

A swarm of central Idaho earthquakes that rattled Challis residents for more than a month appears to be dying out.

But seismologists say five portable seismographs have provided new information about the area that saw a sequence of quakes up to 4.9 in magnitude, peaking in mid-April.

Mike Stickney with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology based in Butte, Montana, says the earthquakes are occurring on a northwest trending zone on the west side of the Salmon River.

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Health
5:40 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Source Of Fungal Illness Discovered In Eastern Washington Soil

Coccidioides’ tube-shaped cells living in the soil can break into spores and go airborne.

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 9:57 am

A disease-causing fungus thought to be confined to the deserts of the U.S. Southwest has been discovered in soil samples from eastern Washington.

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Science
1:43 am
Wed April 16, 2014

A T. Rex Treks To Washington For A Shot At Fame

Pat Leiggi (right) of the Museum of the Rockies prepares to move a leg bone of the T. rex at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 2:33 pm

This week, scientists at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History will start unpacking some rare and precious cargo. It's something the Smithsonian has never had before — a nearly complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex.

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Earthquakes
6:17 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Lack Of Scientific Equipment In Idaho Makes Understanding Challis Earthquakes More Difficult

A portable seismograph used by the U.S. Department of the Interior
Credit Wikipedia Commons

Geologists plan to install three portable devices known as seismometers or seismographs in the Challis area in central Idaho to help experts better understand a recent flurry of earthquakes.

The U.S. Geological Survey has recorded a sequence of quakes rumbling the area, the largest of which was a 4.9-magnitude quake on Saturday which shook pictures off walls. Challis residents also felt earthquakes above 4.0-magnitude on Monday and April 10.

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Research
7:30 am
Mon March 10, 2014

University Of Idaho Researchers Find Common Chemical Changes Fetal Monkey Genes

Credit 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.”

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