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Science Says What?

Science Says What? is a monthly column written by Great Lakes now contributor Sharon Oosthoek exploring what science can tell us about what’s happening beneath and above the waves of our beloved Great Lakes and their watershed.

Science Says What? Pitcher plants feast on salamanders, unveiling a brutal side of botanical carnivory
- by Sharon Oosthoek

As the year draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about this kind of science – unexpected discoveries made through a combination of coincidence and a curious mind.

Science Says What? Global worming and the Great Lakes (yes, you read that right)
- by Sharon Oosthoek

Invasion of the earthworms! It sounds like a bad Hollywood movie, but science can be stranger than fiction.

Science Says What? How eDNA research is evolving to create a new era in conservation
- by Sharon Oosthoek

“When I started my Ph.D., we didn’t know of anyone who had even tried to look for variation within the nuclear genome in the context of eDNA sampling – we didn’t even know if it was possible.”

Science Says What? How an airlift of wolves saved Isle Royale’s ecosystem and sparked a conservation controversy
- by Sharon Oosthoek

It was a cascade of events that saw local conservationists take opposite sides over the extent of our responsibility to re-balance the island’s ecosystem in an era of human culpability.

Science Says What? The weight of the world rests on a small Canadian lake
- by Sharon Oosthoek

A tiny lake just an hour’s drive from Toronto made headlines earlier this summer as the best place in the world to illustrate the dawn of a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene.

Science Says What? Lessons learned from a deliberate dilbit spill
- by Sharon Oosthoek

Water flowed black and shiny, coating turtles and waterfowl with a smelly goo and transforming grasses and bushes along the banks from green to oily black.

Science Says What? Bacteria in Lake Huron sinkhole do a daily tango
- by Sharon Oosthoek

Home to brilliant purple mats of cyanobacteria and white floating ponytail-like bacteria, the sinkholes have always struck me otherworldly, almost dreamy.

Science Says What? Looking for love as northern forests heat up
- by Sharon Oosthoek

Today, southern flying squirrels are routinely found in Ontario’s Algonquin Park, roughly 62 miles (100 km) from their historic northern limit and solidly in the territory of a separate species of squirrel – northern flying squirrels.

Science Says What? What’s up with dissolved organic carbon (AKA why is my local stream murky?)
- by Sharon Oosthoek

If you’ve noticed your local waterway turning a deeper shade of brown over the past few decades, you’re not alone. Scientists in the Great Lakes region have noticed the same thing.

Science Says What? How 5th-graders counting plants can lead to positive change
- by Sharon Oosthoek

These young researchers are participating in citizen science — the public voluntarily helping to conduct scientific research.

Science Says What? Microplastic pollution — how worried should we be?
- by Sharon Oosthoek

Scientists have found these tiny bits of plastic all over the world — even in mosquitoes’ bellies.

Science Says What? Climate change, deluges and snow days
- by Sharon Oosthoek

In this new feature, see what scientists are learning about the impacts of climate change on the region – and what can be done to mitigate them.