All posts by Melissa Gaskill

Melissa Gaskill is a freelance science writer based in Austin, Texas. Her work has appeared in Nature Conservancy Magazine, Scientific American, The New York Times, Alert Diver, Men’s Journal and many other publications.
Amazon River Dolphins in Decline
Amazon River Dolphins in Decline

Those who explore the waters of the Amazon basin occasionally hear a forceful snort, the sound that a pink river dolphin or boto makes when it surfaces to exhale. Visitors sometimes catch a glimpse of a pinkish, rounded forehead or small dorsal fin just above the surface. That’s likely all they’ll get, though. Not only are these freshwater dolphins relatively shy, but their numbers have also drastically declined in recent years.

For Scientists, Tag is a Serious Game

American Spring LIVE: Episode 1 - Birth and Rebirth

For Scientists, Tag is a Serious Game

To protect many species of wild animals, we need to learn more about them. Often, that means having to tag, collar or otherwise track them. It’s a game that scientists take seriously.

Citizens, Start Your Science!

American Spring LIVE: Episode 1 - Birth and Rebirth

Citizens, Start Your Science!

Citizen science programs mobilize people from all walks of life to contribute to scientific research. These projects tap the power of the public, with more people working in more places and for longer than researchers possibly could on their own.

Wolves and Willows: A Howling Success
Wolves and Willows: A Howling Success

When someone shot the last wolf in Yellowstone National Park in 1926, they probably gave no thought to the effect that action might have on trees. But the absence of apex predators –those animals at the top of the food chain, such as lions, sharks and wolves – causes changes that cascade throughout an ecosystem, in this case, right down to its plants.

Bighorn Sheep Have a Problem with Their Domestic Relatives

Running With The Herd: A NATURE Short Film

Bighorn Sheep Have a Problem with Their Domestic Relatives

Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) can catch a bacteria, Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, from domestic sheep that causes pneumonia in the wild sheep and, often, death. Researchers noted a correlation between the introduction of domestic sheep and the rapid disappearance of bighorn sheep as early as 1928 and pneumonia remains a significant problem for the wild species today.

No Brain? For Jellyfish, No Problem
No Brain? For Jellyfish, No Problem

Are brains over-rated? After all, jellyfish lack them, yet carry out sophisticated functions and a complex reproductive cycle. Their lack of a nervous system control center even confers some advantages, such as the ability to lose a chunk here and there with little harm done.