If you’re reading this, you’ve hopefully seen The Rise of Skywalker, meant to be the conclusion to the Skywalker Saga that started forty-something years ago with a New Hope.

I’m gonna be honest: I never liked Star Wars as a kid. I watched A New Hope and I wasn’t filled with wonder at the idea of a Force or lightsabers. I thought it was, frankly, dumb. And as I grew up, I kept to that opinion. Until the Sequel Trilogy, and until I caught hint of a villain that had the potential to be redeemed.

Kylo Ren.

Thanks to my…

Feral cat in Madagascar with native rat prey.

Somewhere in Madagascar’s most pristine rainforests, right at this very moment*, a feral cat is killing an adorable, chubby rat with fur the color of rust.

A ring-tailed vontsira, a small native carnivore that is facing declines at two sites in Madagascar.

It is the early 21st century. Cheetos are hot, avocados are putting millennials into debt, and where traveling across the ocean used to be a months-long endeavor on a ship filled with danger, disease, and a dearth of food variety, now one can simply deal with the above on a plane for less than a day.

Things are also changing in tropical countries like Madagascar, despite the idea of these places staying forever a nature lover’s wonderland. …

It was a small bird, scientists said see you later bird, it wasn’t rare enough for them…

If you go into the Madagascar rainforest today, you’re in for two assured sightings: a small, black-and-white bird called a Madagascar magpie-robin, and a small, red-furred rodent called a red forest rat.

The gorgeous lead figure for the new Global Ecology and Biogeography article on global patterns in carnivore presence.

Trail cameras are perhaps the coolest wildlife research tech used today. Those teeny GPS backpacks that send you locations of a tagged bat or bird or turtle directly to your computer get pretty close.

Yes. Pretty close.

But c’mon. In addition to getting candid snapshots of crazy-cool things like a puma and her babies…

or a fosa peeing…

or yellow-throated martens rubbing on each other…

trail camera data helps wildlife scientists answer questions like:

— what species are present in a protected area?

— how many animals are in a forest patch?

— what time are animals…

A ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) seen at the Bronx Zoo, New York.

*Please note that we have published this information in the International Journal of Primatology here*

If you are at all interested in wildlife, you might have heard about the newest shocking decline. According to two new studies (Gould and Sauther 2016 and LaFleur et al. 2016), ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta), Madagascar’s most famous creature, have faced a 95% population decline, with as few as 2,000 individuals left in the wild. I was particularly surprised. As someone who had conducted her Master’s research in Madagascar (albeit on the other end of the island, in the northeast) I knew that ring-tailed lemurs…

“Are you sure?”

The guides talked amongst themselves in Malagasy. I sat patiently, looking at the picture on my laptop that had caused such excitement. The bench made of two lashed together logs hurt my butt, but I was too tired by a morning of checking our camera traps to move. The sun tapped audibly on the green tarp above. It would be another warm, dry day in the rainforest.

Finally, Donah turned back to me and said, “Yes. That is the fitoaty.”

This was it. This was the mysterious fitoaty. We all looked at the picture again.

“Huh,” I…

Other than being incredibly dashing and smart, scientists — particularly biologists and the corresponding Biology Twitter — tend to be social media mavens, creating fun and educational hashtags left and right that quickly get picked up by news outlets (pay us!). Here’s a quick roundup of 10 hashtags from 2016.

#WildBum (credit: Gabriela K Hajduk @AmidstScience)

For every National Geographic cover-worthy picture of wildlife, there’s going to be hundreds of pictures of an animal’s butt. This hashtag made those hundreds of butt-shots something tweet-worthy.

#BiologistSpaceFacts (credit: David Steen @AlongsideWild)

Earlier this year, Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson “left his lane” and tweeted something INCREDIBLY inaccurate

The fosa (Cryptoprocta ferox), Madagascar’s largest native predator, thinking about eating soap (probably).

How would you feel about going on a spontaneous tropical cruise with a group of your closest friends? No planning, no talking it over, just getting up and sailing away. Nice, right? The catch here is that this cruise is a one-way journey that will take place on a mat of vegetation. There will be little food and water. A few of your friends will probably die. When you finally make landfall, hopefully you’re attracted to your remaining friends, because they are now your only dating options. Better throw on some Isleys or Marvin Gaye.

A similar cruise happened to…

Asia Murphy

Studying wildlife in PA & Madagascar with trail cams. twitter: @am_anatiala.

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