About

Kathleen M. Wong is a science writer based in Oakland.

Contributions

Habitat and Humanity

July 01, 2010 by Kathleen M. Wong

With millions of people and millions of acres of open space, the Bay Area is a lively, and sometimes uneasy, blend of wild and urban. In the East Bay, dozens of rare species -- from birds along the Bay to wildflowers in the hills -- survive against the odds thanks in part to the East Bay Regional Park District, whose staff does everything from creating nesting islands to clearing trees for the sake of imperiled plants and animals.

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The Battle of the Bulge

July 01, 2008 by Kathleen M. Wong

Snakes are famous for the amount of food they can stuff inside their skinny bodies. It’s common for a snake ...

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View from the Ground

July 01, 2008 by Kathleen M. Wong

Most folks don't think much of snakes unless they trip over them. It turns out that a remarkable diversity of serpents lives nearby, from beautiful red-bellied ring-necked snakes hiding under logs in damp woodlands to three- or four-foot rattlers sunning themselves on rocky slopes in Sunol Regional Wilderness. Able predators, many of our local snakes have evolved fascinating strategies for subduing their prey, whether rodents, amphibians, or even other snakes.

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Lord of the Burrows

January 01, 2008 by Kathleen M. Wong

Ask most people to name the most important species of our grassland habitats, and they'll probably pick coyotes, golden eagles, or even rattlesnakes. But experts say that the strongest contender of all is the animal eaten by all those other ones: the lowly California ground squirrel, a true keystone of local grasslands. Belowground, the squirrels' lengthy burrows harbor insects, snakes, owls, and even frogs and salamanders that couldn't live in such a dry landscape without the squirrels' help. And above-ground, they've evolved some unusual defenses that allow them to thrive, even as they feed so many others.

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A Moveable Feast

July 01, 2007 by Kathleen M. Wong

Fog rolling over Twin Peaks may not seem like a boon for salmon, sea lions, and blue whales, but it is. Coastal upwelling is the phenomenon that brings nutrient-rich colder water to the ocean surface just off our coast most every spring and summer, and that means fog for us and plenty of food for everything from phytoplankton to humpback whales.

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Islands in a Sea of Grass

April 01, 2007 by Kathleen M. Wong

The East Bay hills are dotted with hundreds of ponds, many of which offer welcome habitat and shelter to native wildlife, from threatened California red-legged frogs and tiger salamanders to toxic newts, voracious water bugs, and migrating waterfowl. Just about any pond, from a verdant clear blue pool to the merest muddy puddle, has something interesting going on beneath the surface. But perhaps the most remarkable fact about these ponds is that nearly all of them were created as watering holes for livestock. Today, the East Bay Regional Park District is working to understand the complex relationships between native species, grazing cattle, and artificial ponds.

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Bay Activist: Florence LaRiviere

October 01, 2004 by Kathleen M. Wong

When Florence LaRiviere heard last year that 16,000 acres of Cargill’s salt ponds had been acquired for restoration, the longtime ...

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Refuge Volunteer: Eileen McLaughlin

October 01, 2004 by Kathleen M. Wong

The baylands’ swampy smells and power lines are distasteful to many. But to Eileen McLaughlin, Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge ...

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Scientist: Howard Shellhammer

October 01, 2004 by Kathleen M. Wong

Howard Shellhammer is known as the champion of a very rare mouse. A world expert on the endangered salt marsh ...

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Shrimper: Tom Laine

October 01, 2004 by Kathleen M. Wong

Tom Laine knew the salt ponds long before they were making salt. “I was born here in 1937, and I’ve ...

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