The IPad, the 8-year old, and The Matrix

Nature: brought to you by Apple?

My stepdaughter is of an age that is mesmerized by video games. We try to broaden her horizons and bribe her into trying out the outdoors, but it’s a constant battle against the onslaught of new and shiny technology which makes the digital world more ubiquitous and unreality increasingly more real.  The deep vibrance and alluringly smooth graphics of her dad’s IPad are enticing in a new way, replacing once desperately loved games on PS3 and the Wii.  The complete focus and stillness, only her fingers moving in swipes across the screen, is a strange counterpoint to her otherwise almost frantic energy. Watching her has shown me, in a very vivid fashion, that the pace of technology is not slowed by any human need to digest it before moving on, or an unwillingness to digitize almost any experience. Continue reading

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Oh, the naivety of the young (salmon)…

Humans aren’t the only ones who might experience culture shock – and for some animals a failure to adjust to different “cultures” might be lethal!  In the case of juvenile Pacific salmon and invasive smallmouth bass, young salmon innately recognize the smell of their native predators (northern pikeminnow) but either don’t recognize the smell of non-native smallmouth bass or associate it with danger.  A paper on my research into behavioral responses of salmon to the different predator cues just came out in the journal Freshwater Biology, adding to the body of literature on how aquatic species and ecosystems respond (or don’t!) when a mysterious stranger moves into town.  You can link to the article here – you can also check out a short video clip which shows the differences in behavioral responses to the two predator odors that we saw in our lab experiment.

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