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.

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.

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

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.

Coral’s Big Summer

Just after sunset in early August, divers descend into inky black waters of the Gulf of Mexico, 100 miles from shore. The beams of their dive lights pierce the darkness, illuminating a large coral mound, its textured surface covered in tiny white dots. At some unseen signal, the dots begin to rise toward the sea […]

Summer of No Love for Sea Turtles

Rising temperatures could produce only female hatchlings and leave sea turtles facing future summers of no love. All sea turtles lack sex hormones. An embryo develops into a male or female based on surrounding conditions as an egg incubates in the nest, primarily temperature. Lower temperatures produce more males, higher ones, more females. Generally, at […]