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Smithsonian scientists discover tropical tree microbiome in Panama

Human skin and gut microbes influence processes from digestion to disease resistance. Despite the fact that tropical forests are the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems on the planet, more is known about belly-button bacteria than bacteria on trees in the tropics.

Baby bird study proves innate ability for midair maneuvers

How did the earliest birds take wing? Did they fall from trees and learn to flap their forelimbs to avoid crashing?

Volunteers needed to preserve astronomical history and promote discovery

Before iPhones and laptops there were human computers, some of whom worked at the Harvard College Observatory.

Our birds are in real trouble. Can we fix it? Yes we can!

Eastern Meadowlark © Gerrit Vyn The report card is in for the state of the birds in the USA. So how did we do?

“The State of the Birds” report assesses health of nation’s birds

One hundred years after the extinction of the passenger pigeon, the nation’s top bird science and conservation groups have come together to publish The State of the Birds 2014—the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S.

The State of the Birds: Four critical U.S. habitats

Wetlands Wetlands are one of the habitats to benefit most from conservation. The North American Wetlands Conservation Act has enabled strategic conservation projects covering a collective area larger than Tennessee.

The State of the Birds

The nation’s top bird science and conservation groups have come together to publish The State of the Birds 2014—the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S.

The State of the Birds: Frequently asked questions

Q: Are things getting better or worse for birds in the United States? The 2014 The State of the Birds report provides both encouraging and discouraging findings.

The State of the Birds 2014, USA: News Conference

The post The State of the Birds 2014, USA: News Conference appeared first on Smithsonian Science.

Faithful crabs engage in risky behavior when opportunity arises

In theory, crabs of the species Planes major should stay true to their mates for life. Heterosexual pairs of these small crustaceans live on loggerhead sea turtles, tucked snugly in the tiny space between a turtle’s tail and its shell.

New: myVolcano crowd-sourcing app

myVolcano is a crowd-sourcing app that enables you to share your photographs and descriptions of volcanic hazards, as well as collecting samples and measurements of volcanic ash fall, helping scientists to gather vital new information about volcanic eruptions.

American bison return to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

  In honor of its 125th anniversary, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is once again home to American bison, the animal that began the Zoo’s living collection in 1889 and sparked the conservation movement.

Cutting through the dust: Radar showing moon’s true face for first time

We’ve seen a serious series of super moons this summer and the show’s not over yet. Mark your calendars: the next one is Tuesday, Sept.

Smithsonian scientist brings Kennewick Man to life in new book

Nearly 20 years since Kennewick Man was serendipitously discovered along the banks of the Columbia River in Washington State, the scientific saga of his life and legacy is being released.

Discovery: New ant species branched off as parasite inside its own colony

A newly-discovered species of ant supports a controversial theory of species formation. The ant, known to live only under a single eucalyptus tree on the São Paulo State University campus in Brazil, branched off from its original species while living in the same colony, something thought rare in current models of evolutionary development.

NASA’s Chandra Observatory searches for trigger of nearby supernova

New data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory offer a glimpse into the environment of a star before it exploded earlier this year, and insight into what triggered one of the closest supernovas witnessed in decades.

Crowdsourcing the Olinguito

One year ago, the olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) stepped out of the forest shadows into the spotlight and onto the pages of science—the first carnivore species in the Americas to do so in 35 years.

University of Michigan forest preserve joins Smithsonian global network

A 57-acre research plot at a University of Michigan forest preserve northwest of Ann Arbor has been added to a Smithsonian Institution global network used to study tropical and temperate forest function and diversity.

Poison ivy primer

Ahhh, the sensations of summer…ocean sand between your toes, a cool drink in the shade, and red itchy welts courtesy of that three-leaved miscreant:  poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans).

Volunteers needed for massive Smithsonian digitization project

Today the Smithsonian launches its Transcription Center website to the public. The website is designed to leverage the power of crowds to help the Smithsonian unlock the content inside thousands of digitized images of documents, such as handwritten civil war journals, personal letters from famous artists, 100-year-old botany specimen labels and examples of early American currency.