Tree Soil, Rodent Biologist, Soundscape Artist. Sept 8, 2023, Part 2

Episode 615,   Sep 08, 2023, 10:00 PM

Treetops can hold complex ecosystems that include soil and other plants. Plus, a rodent biologist reflects on her career.

Where Soil Grows Above The Trees

You might be used to the feeling of Earth under your feet, but did you know that there’s soil high above your head? Way up in the treetops, where ferns, mosses, flowers, and even trees grow on top of the forest. A new study in Geoderma describes the factors that contribute to how canopy soil is formed.

Ira talks with lead author Jessica Murray, an ecologist and PhD candidate at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. They discuss the importance of canopy soil, what we do and don’t know about it, and what it’s like to study it.

Check out views from Murray’s field sites at!

‘I Will Not Be Vole Girl’—A Biologist Warms To Rodents

The path to becoming a scientist is not unlike the scientific process itself: Filled with dead ends, detours, and bumps along the way.

Danielle Lee started asking questions about animal behavior when she was a kid. She originally wanted to become a veterinarian. But after being rejected from veterinary school, she found a fulfilling career as a biologist, doing the type of work she always wanted to do—but never knew was possible for her.

Science Friday producer Shoshannah Buxbaum talks with Dr. Danielle Lee, a biologist, outreach scientist, and assistant professor in biology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in Edwardsville Illinois about what keeps her asking questions, what rodents can help us understand about humans, and the importance of increasing diversity in science.

This Soundscape Artist Has Been Listening To The Planet For Decades

Jim Metzner is one of the pioneers of science radio—he’s been making field recordings and sharing them with audiences for more than 40 years. He hosted shows such as “Sounds of Science” in the 1980s, which later grew into “Pulse of the Planet,” a radio show about “the sound of life on Earth.”

Over the decades, Metzner has created an incredible time capsule of soundscapes, and now, his entire collection is going to the Library of Congress.

John Dankosky talks with Metzner about what he’s learned about the natural world from endless hours of recordings and what we can all learn from listening. Plus, they’ll discuss some of his favorite recordings. To hear the best audio quality, it might be a good idea to use headphones if you can.

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