Tree sleuths are using DNA, machine learning and isotope wizardry to hunt down logging crime.

A slew of new technologies is making it easier to spot illegal wood imports. My piece for Nature begins with a technology that could tell that a batch of rosewood came from Madagascar and nowhere else …. “When 420 tonnes of deep crimson logs arrived at a Sri Lankan port in April 2014, customs officers cast a suspicious eye … more here

The exquisite array of vessels in wood is unique to each family

The Dark Side of Light: How Artificial Lighting is Harming the Natural World

It’s a summer night near a forest lake in Germany and something unnatural is going on. Beyond the dark waters lapping at the shores, a faint glow emanates from rings of light hovering above the surface. Nearby, bobbing red torchlights — the least-disruptive part of the visible spectrum — betray the presence of scientists on the shoreline. They are testing what happens when they rob the lake creatures of their night . Read more….

In mini-ecosystems in the Netherlands, researchers test the effects of artificial light. Credit: Kamiel Spoelstra/NIOO-KNAW

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I’m gradually adding the best of my archives here. Yet to come: my travel book following the last journey of David Livingstone; my colour supplement piece on the orchid-eaters of East Africa; my guidebook to the Cape Verde Islands; my award-winning feature on the race to patent genes….