SciCom students report for global conservation site

November 13, 2011

The threatened migration of the monarch butterly, through drought-stricken Texas to a dwindling forest grove in central Mexico, is the focus of a news article on by current SciCom student Sarah Jane Keller. Photo: Lincoln Brower
SciCom student Beth Marie Mole reported on a Kenya-based study about the possible benefits of letting cattle graze alongside wild animals, such as zebras. Photo: Wilfred Odadi

The news section of, a noted international site on conservation and the environment, features articles written by the ten graduate students in this year's Science Communication Program class at UC Santa Cruz.

The stories are part of a continuing agreement between SciCom and, which attracts more than two million unique visitors each month. Site founder and editor Rhett A. Butler, a San Francisco Bay Area photojournalist and author, runs the site as a global clearinghouse of conservation news, focused on the tropics.

Students in UCSC's fall newswriting class covered new research on the threatened North American migration of the monarch butterfly, a new technique to trace waves of amphibian deaths in Central America, and an in-depth assessment of the most endangered species of fish. Each student was required to interview the lead scientist of a recent study and at least one independent commentator. All ten of the November 2011 stories appear in this chronological listing of UCSC-written news articles.

Other stories describe the results of a 21-year-long survey of coelacanths, the "fossil fish" of the Indian Ocean; a controversial study on whether marine reserves help coral reefs recover in the Caribbean; research on the effects of "entertaining" chimpanzee ads on attitudes toward conservation; and a look at the surprisingly coprophagous relationship between a pitcher plant in Borneo and the small mammals that visit to lick its nectar. Students acquired images from the research teams to accompany the stories.

In their other fall-quarter work, the former scientists in UCSC's program are writing original news reports for the San Jose Mercury News and other regional newspapers; proposing stories to ScienceNOW, the daily news service published by Science; and publishing a news and photography blog about research and policy in central California, called The Crashing Edge.