Voyage of the Beagle: a podcast about the science of ecology and conservation


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About Voyage of the Beagle

Voyage of the Beagle is a podcast about the science of ecology and conservation. Host Dr. Jai Ranganathan interviews leading environmental scientists about their latest research. Intended for everyone interested in the world around them, the discussions are fun and lively, while still delving into the heart of the science.

Where the name comes from

From 1831 to 1836, Charles Darwin was the naturalist on board the HMS Beagle on its travels around the world. His book about the expedition, The Voyage of the Beagle, contained a treasure trove of new findings in zoology, botany, geology, and many other fields. In homage to this classic, this podcast continues the voyage of discovery.


Jai Ranganathan can be reached at:e-mail

Ecology/conservation blogs

The EEB & flow

December 2, 2010
New ecology podcast: Curiouser and Curiouser

Interested in ecology and conservation? There is a new weekly podcast just for you: Curiouser and Curiouser. In the podcast, produced by Miller-McCune magazine, I interview scientists (mostly ecologists) about their exciting research. From the secret global trade in frog legs to the future of coral reefs, Curiouser and Curiouser covers a wide range of fun and interesting issues. You can also subscribe via iTunes. Check it out!

Download the podcast (1 minute, 21 seconds long).

December 21, 2009
What will global warming do to life in the ocean?

Scientists predict that oceans will rapidly warm over the next century because of climate change. What effect will this have on ocean ecosystems and on the fisheries that so many people depend on for their survival? Dr. Mary O'Connor, a Postdoctoral Associate at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, explains how global warming may change marine ecosystems in a way that actually improves fisheries.

Download the podcast (13 minutes, 52 seconds long). Read Dr. O'Connor's research in PLOS Biology.

December 9, 2009
Are parasites changing human societies?

Throughout the animal world, parasites manipulate the brains - and behavior - of infected hosts for their own ends. What happens when humans are infected with these mindbending parasites? Dr. Kevin Lafferty, a Research Ecologist at the United States Geological Survey, talks about how one incredibly common human parasite has had a massive effect on human behavior and on the character of societies worldwide.

Download the podcast (15 minutes, 54 seconds long). Read Dr. Lafferty's research in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

November 22, 2009
Why are there so many species?

There are millions of species on the planet, but how do so many species coexist? It is a question that is currently raging through ecology, with some saying that coexistence occurs because of differences among species and others saying that it is all due to random chance. Dr. Nathan Kraft, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia, brings his insight into the controversy with his findings from one of the most diverse parts of the Amazon.

Download the podcast (11 minutes, 53 seconds long). Read Dr. Kraft's research in Science.

November 20, 2009
How should conservation groups respond to climate change?

Climate change has the potential to unexpectedly alter practically every aspect of the natural world, making it a really slippery problem for conservation groups to deal with. In this podcast, we talk about how the Nature Conservancy, one of the biggest conservation groups in the world, is responding to climate change. Dr. Rebecca Shaw, the Director of Conservation for the California Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, weighs in on how the threat of climate change reshapes how the Conservancy operates.

Download the podcast (12 minutes, 40 seconds long).

November 18, 2009
Can the largest of ecosystems be controlled by the smallest of species?

Sometimes it is the most unexpected species that have the largest impacts on ecosystems. In the Serengeti ecosystem of East Africa, the eradication of a cattle disease started a chain reaction that remade the face of the ecosystem in less than fifty years. Dr. Andy Dobson, a Professor at Princeton University, discusses the links in the chain that connect diseases to the fate of ecosystems.

Download the podcast (11 minutes, 47 seconds long). Read Dr. Dobson's research in PLOS Biology.

November 14, 2009
Discovering the ecology of dinosaurs by unlocking the secrets in their bones

Dr. Brian Inouye, a Professor at Florida State University, has opened a new window into the ecology of dinosaurs, by the unlikeliest of methods. He has found a way, for the first time, to determine lifespans of individual dinosaurs from fossils alone. With just this little extra bit of knowledge, Dr. Inouye discusses how it is now possible to understand the patterns of life and death for many dinosaur species.

Download the podcast (12 minutes, 8 seconds long). Read Dr. Inouye's research in PLOS One and Science.

November 11, 2009
Using Google to understand complex ecosystems

An essential step in conserving an ecosystem is to determine the species that sustain the health of that ecosystem. Unfortunately, even the simplest ecosystems are usually too complicated to identify those linchpin species. Dr. Stefano Allesina, a Professor at the University of Chicago, talks about a new way he has found to solve this problem, adapting the method Google uses to search for web pages.

Download the podcast (11 minutes, 54 seconds long). Read Dr. Allesina's research in PLOS Computational Biology.

November 10, 2009
Can we predict the location of future epidemics in humans and wildlife?

Global epidemics like AIDS, SARS, and Swine flu, strike seemingly without warning, severely threatening humans and wildlife alike. However, new research by Dr. Jonathan Davies, a Postdoctoral Associate at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, shows that the pattern of disease emergence is not as random as it appears. Dr. Davies details how mapping primate populations may hold the key to understanding the future of disease.

Download the podcast (14 minutes, 29 seconds long).