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Will the Eurasian tench (Tinca tinca) be the newest invader to wreak havoc in the Great Lakes?

The Great Lakes are a hot bed for invasions, and aquatic invasive species (AIS) from the world-over have ‘hitchhiked’ on shipping vessels, or have accidentally been released into the lakes over many years. AIS can severely affect the water quality, food-webs, nutrient cycling, and fish productivity of invaded waters. Notable examples in the Great Lakes basin include zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and Asian carp (which actually consists of four species from the family Cyprinidae). In fact, up to now the Great Lakes have been invaded by at least 188 AIS, out of which 28 are fishes. In this paper Avlijaš and colleagues (2018) identify and review threats posed by the Eurasian tench (Tinca tinca), as they appear to be the most likely invader to expand into the basin next.

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Can seaweed farming help fight climate change?

Seaweed farming is the fastest growing sector of food production and provides healthy, nutritious sea vegetables. Farming seaweed can also have positive benefits by decreasing wave action, taking up carbon dioxide, and locally reducing the effects of ocean acidification. Spatial planning, market analyses, and infrastructure development are needed to facilitate the expansion of seaweed aquaculture.

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Why was it so hot during the years 2014-2016?

The extreme heat in recent years has led to many unprecedented events, such as global coral bleaching and reductions in Arctic sea ice.  A study by Yin et al. suggests that El Nino released huge quantities of heat from the oceans, resulting in record-breaking warm temperatures during the years 2014-2016.  The rise in temperatures has been so extreme that global temperatures have now increased by one degree Celsius relative to the pre-Industrial era.  For those of you who have been following the Paris Climate Agreement, that’s already two-thirds of the 1.5 degree threshold that they’re working to avoid!

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A Hazy Outlook over the North China Plain

Beijing, the cultural and political capital of China, is home to a massive population of almost 25 million people has long been known for its air pollution. A team of scientists at Peking University in Beijing looked at the chemistry of the city’s haze and found something surprising: the inorganic mass fraction, normally dependent on only human activities, increased with increasing relative humidity. That’s right: how bad anthropogenic emissions actually are depends on the weather. Exploring this trend will help us to understand how haze forms, which could help Beijing and other major cities to manage their air pollution problems more effectively.

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Edge-of-field scale reduction of fertilizers contamination

In the U.S. agricultural regions such as the Mississippi Delta, on-farm water storage (OFWS) systems can mitigate downstream nutrient-enrichment pollution, especially during spring, as demonstrated by USDA-NIFA-funded researchers from Mississippi State University.

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Fungi to the rescue: Can fungi help clean up radioactive waste?

U.S. Nuclear weapon production in the 1940s resulted in the production of large quantities of radioactive waste. Much of this waste was stored underground in holding tanks that are prone to leak and have been leaking ever since. Due to the massive amount of waste, cleanup is dangerous and expensive. Bioremediation, cleanup using natural organisms, is being considered as an option. This study searched for fungi that could be used for bioremediation of radioactive waste.

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Wastewater and wetlands: a friendship for the ages?

Today’s wastewater is not what it once was. Pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and other lifestyle products are contributing compounds to wastewater that have emerged as harmful contaminants in the environment. In order to combat these contaminants, which are not being effectively treated by conventional wastewater treatment plants, some places have incorporated constructed wetlands as an additional treatment method meant to eliminate emerging contaminants before they enter into the environment.

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Microbes, marshes, and mangroves: Implications for coastal carbon storage

Salt marshes and mangroves are coastal ecosystems known to store excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus helping to reduce negative consequences of climate change. Despite their importance, the relative distribution of marshes and mangroves is changing due to increasing temperatures and sea level rise. It is unclear, though, what these shifts mean for carbon storage. Since microorganisms are crucial in soil carbon cycling, we need to better understand how they function in response to whether marshes or mangroves dominate. A research team in Florida set out to address this question, finding significant changes to the microbial community.

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Soybean Soybetter

By 2050, the demand for staple food crops, such as potatoes and wheat, is expected to nearly double from what it is today. We could farm all the land in the world, but scientists and others believe this could be detrimental for a multitude of reasons. How can we increase our crop yields without expanding our already limited fields? The answer may lie in cutting out leaves. Taking this approach, Srinivasan and colleagues increased soybean production by up to 8%, that’s approximately 6.5 metric tons per year.

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