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We want to make cutting edge research in the environmental sciences accessible to all by highlighting recent studies and explaining how these advances shape the understanding of our world.

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Throwback Thursday: How did streams and rivers flow before humans started changing things?

Throwbacks aren’t just for old songs and embarrassing childhood photos. Knowing how rivers and streams flowed before people started changing things can help us to create water management practices that are better for the ecological health of these systems. However, the first challenge of throwing it back to these natural flows is just figuring out what these natural flows are.

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Amazonian birds eavesdrop on antshrikes (Thamnomanes ardesiacus) to avoid predation

Neotropical birds can form flocks consisting of multiple species, but the birds that aren’t antshrikes benefit from the presence of these alarm-callers without returning the favor. How would they fare if the antshrikes weren’t around? An experimental study was conducted by Martinez et al. (2018) to determine just how much of an impact antshrikes have on the livelihood of other birds.

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“Pollen-ology”: what microfossils can tell us about sea level rise

Ever wonder how scientists reconstruct environments from the earth’s history? For those studying mangroves in South Florida, the answer is a little smaller than you would think. Palynology, or the study of fossilized pollen, can tell researchers about what plants were present in an area in the past, aiding in understanding how things have changed in the last few thousand years. With the help of this reconstruction, pollen fossils can also help us predict how mangrove systems will change in the future.

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Intertidal Examination: Competition Between an Invasive and Endemic Species

Coastal New England isn’t independent from the world of invasive species. The Asian shore crab has encroached on many crustaceans habitats in the last few decades and recently this includes the American lobster. Work done by Baillie and colleagues suggest that specific life stages of the lobster may be negatively impacted by the invasion of the crab. Not only will understanding the interactions between these two species aid in preservation of one of North America’s most important fisheries, it may also provide critical insight into the fascinating relationship between endemic and invasive species.

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Do you know where your electronic waste is going?

Think of all the electronic devices you’ve owned within your lifetime. As technology advances, it’s always exciting to get the new, latest and greatest. Once you upgrade to the newest technology it is easy to discard and forget about your former belongings. But what happens to these discarded items? Electronic waste contains hazardous materials that need to be properly disposed of, but this is not always the case as its safe disposal can be complicated. Monitour is an electronic waste transparency project that takes aim at tracking illegal and previously hidden international electronic waste export routes.

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