marbled murrelet

Notes from Understory: A Berkeley Biologist Gauges the Health of the Redwoods from the Ferns on the Forest Floor.

Emily Burns was driving north from the Bay Area one day, idly woolgathering, when it hit her.

“Western sword ferns,” she recalls thinking. “They’re twice as big in the northern end of their range as in the southern end. And it struck me that it had to be due to water availability. The fact that it’s wetter in Redwood National Park in Humboldt County than, say, Lime Kiln Creek on the Big Sur coast translates as larger ferns in the north. It all seems obvious now, but there was nothing in the literature on it.”

Counsel for Critters: Nature Conservancy Relies on These Pro Bono Lawyers

If burrowing owls and Coho salmon could talk, they probably wouldn’t tell many lawyer jokes. For the most part, attorneys have helped such endangered creatures. The courts are often, well, the court of last resort for rare animals and their habitats.

But lawyers are expensive, and bank accounts aren’t a priority in the animal kingdom; except for kangaroos and some other marsupials, wild critters don’t even have pockets to carry around cash. So who pays?

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