One Species at a Time

with Ari Daniel

The story of Earth's biodiversity from the Encylopedia of Life.

One Species at a Time is heard every second Monday on WCAI: during Morning Edition at 8:30 and afternoons during All Things Considered at 5:30.

Discover the wonders of nature—right outside your back door and halfway around the world. In our new season of audio broadcasts, we’ll be learning about life as small as yeast and as big as a bowhead whale. Hear people's stories about nature and hone your backyard observation skills. We’ll be exploring the diversity of life—five minutes and One Species at a Time. Listen to us online, or download us and take us with you on your own exploration of the world around you. Brought to you by the Encyclopedia of Life and Atlantic Public Media.

The host and producer is Ari Daniel. Jay Allison and Viki Merrick edit.

Visit the Encyclopedia of Life and explore their full catalog of podcasts.

For archives of One Species at a Time, including episodes dating from before October 2012, go to the One Species at a Time Archives



One Species at a Time
3:01 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

How Canned Tuna becomes Dolphin-Safe

Credit Howard Goldstein, NOAA Fisheries. World Register of Marine Species. CC BY-NC-SA

You have probably seen cans of tuna in your local supermarket marked “dolphin safe.” That label means the tuna was fished in a way that spares most dolphins from being killed in the tuna fleet’s giant nets. Biologist and guest reporter Matt Leslie brings us a story about tuna, the intertwined fate of fisheries and dolphins, and the work of scientists. It’s a story that lies behind the label of every can of tuna. It spans two generations of scientists and a revolution in scientific methods. Matt reports from a dolphin morgue in La Jolla, California, USA.


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One Species at a Time
8:27 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Keeping the European Honey Bee Healthy

Credit John Baker, Flickr: EOL Images.


Have you heard the buzz about bee colonies collapsing? Entomologist Noah Wilson-Rich wanted to study ways to keep bees healthy, but grant money proved elusive. For One Species at a Time, Ari Daniel ventures into a cloud of honey bees to learn about the unique way one bee scientist is managing to help bees and fund his research at the same time.


Learn more about Apis mellifera. 


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One Species at a Time
4:41 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Descend into Devil's Cave amid 4000 Long-nosed Bats

Credit Rodrigo Medellin

The batman of Mexico has his own bat-cave. He just shares it with 4,000 Mexican long-nosed bats. In this episode, join researcher Rodrigo Medellin as he descends into the Devil’s Cave just north of Mexico City. It’s a journey that started decades ago when Medellin was on a game show as a boy. He lost the game show, but won a prize far more valuable—for himself, his students, and Mexico’s bats. Ari Daniel Shapiro reports from Tepoztlán.

Find out more about Leptonycteris nivalis.

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One Species at a Time
2:19 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Parasitic Wasps Employ Virus Ancestor to Invade Hosts

Credit CNC/BIO Photography Group. Biodiversity Institute of Ontario

Sometimes it’s hard to tell where one organism stops and another begins. That’s especially true with the kind of evolutionary arms race that takes place between parasites and their unwilling hosts. It’s biological warfare at the level of the genes. Ari Daniel reports from Athens, Georgia.

Find out more about parasitic insects at the Encyclopedia of Life.

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One Species at a Time
8:35 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Micro-species Thrive in a Roadside Ditch

Credit Fleming, E. J., et al

If you were driving along a highway in Maine, past pine trees and summer cottages, you might not give a ditch of rust-colored water a second thought, unless you had the bad luck to drive into it. In this week’s podcast, Ari Daniel Shapiro meets some scientists who are wading into the rusty water and finding a whole ecosystem of unusual life forms.



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One Species at a Time
10:00 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Born to Invade: Bittersweet Nightshade

Svdmolen, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA


Some species are born invaders, like bittersweet nightshade, a non-native vine with purple flowers and red berries. So what makes it such a successful space invader while other foreign plants never make it? It turns out the answer may be right underfoot. Ecologists Jean Burns and Angela Brandt have devised clever experiments to get to the root of the matter. 

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One Species at a Time
9:33 pm
Sun July 21, 2013

A Unique Urban Problem: Too Many Crocodiles

Credit Gerald and Buff Corsi. CalPhotos. CC BY-NC-SA

The city of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory lies in the heart of crocodile country. In the 1950s, saltwater crocodiles were shot, skinned, and turned into shoes and handbags. After hunting was banned in the 1970s, crocodile numbers climbed. Now there’s a croc for every man, woman, and child in Darwin. Can the human citizens learn to live alongside their toothy neighbors?

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One Species at a Time
6:32 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Cue the Epic Music: Here Come Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterfly
Credit Ted Kropiewnicki, Tree of Life Project CC BY-NC-SA


Every year monarch butterflies begin a journey north from their overwintering grounds in Mexican forests. The epic migration spans generations and the better part of a continent. In this first of two episodes, we’ll meet a pair of women united by their fascination with this iconic insect. Mexican geographer Isabel Ramírez and American biologist Karen Oberhauser are working to save monarch habitat on both ends of this remarkable insect’s 2,500 mile journey. Ari Daniel Shapiro reports.

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One Species at a Time
9:31 pm
Sun April 28, 2013

Gazelle Beetle a Tiny Stowaway and Big Problem

Nebria brevicollis
Lovenholm Skov, Biopix

How much trouble can an unassuming black beetle no bigger than your fingernail be? Plenty, as we learn in this episode of One Species at a Time. Tiny stowaways like the European Gazelle beetle are arriving on container ships and wreaking havoc with native ecosystems. Long-standing pests like the gypsy moth have been joined by new exotic species that are crowding out North American fauna. Ari Daniel Shapiro journeys to the forests of Oregon to meet the beetles.


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One Species at a Time
10:32 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Disappearing Seagrass Signals Endangered Ecosystem

Credit Pillon, Roberto, World Register of Marine Species. CC BY-NC-SA

The species that was Àlex Lorente’s passion was an extraordinarily long-lived seagrass, once common along the coast of his native Spain. Tragically, Lorente himself was not to enjoy a long life: he died in 2012 at the age of 37. But his colleagues in marine conservation are working to make sure the links Lorente forged between scientists and fishermen survive, for the good of the Mediterranean that he cherished. Ari Daniel Shapiro reports.


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