This American Land

Fiddler Crabs, Disappearing Chincoteague, Californ

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Fiddler Crabs: Between their digging and mating rituals, fiddler crabs can amuse us endlessly! That big, odd claw on the male can be a weapon or an enticement to a female. But these little crustaceans also have a big impact on their environment. From watching them surround their burrows with mud balls, to viewing a parade of thousands of crabs scurrying across the wetlands, scientists are still trying to understand just where these animals fit into the coastal ecosystem. Disappearing Chincoteague: Virginia's Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge gets 1.4 million visits a year, making it one of the most popular in the country. The refuge is part of Assateague Island, home of the world famous Chincoteague ponies, and also 300 species of birds. But this tourist destination is changing rapidly. Rising sea levels will likely turn grasslands into marshes, drown the wetlands, and erase parts of the island completely. We'll show you how the island is preparing for this dramatic change in landscape. California Desert: The rugged desert around Death Valley, California is teeming with life. But you need the proper guide to make sure you see it all. 75 year-old Tom Budlong knows this wild place better than just about anyone. And he wants to protect the junipers, the Joshua trees, and the pinon trees from mining and other development. Nearby, date farmer Brian Brown helps eco-tourists learn more about the rich history of the land. They are working with many others to protect this stark but dynamic ecosystem. Hurricane Sleuth: Not all hurricane hunters need to stand out in a storm to understand these powerful weather events. Geologists are taking a look back, using core samples to study deposits that were washed in during hurricanes. These archives from Mother Nature can paint a picture of the drama that took place hundreds of years ago. Researchers are also exploring the link between climate change and hurricanes-to help determine whether warmer oceans will mean tropical storms
 

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