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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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Climate change can make it harder to help your neighbors – increased insect damage in diverse forest stands during drought

if you’re a tree trying to avoid being eaten by insects, it matters who you’ve got next to you: is it your own species, or another one? Often you’re better off with another species as a neighbor, but a new study shows that climate change can turn this upside down.

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Navigating the science-law interface: opportunities and challenges

Lately, there has been a renewed focus on the need to consider the real-world applications of scientific research and how best to transfer this knowledge to decision makers. A leading journal in the environmental science field even dedicated an entire special issue on translational ecology recently (https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/15409309/15/10). However, incorporating research knowledge into decision making processes remains a challenge. In this paper, Moore et al. (2018) discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with addressing the science-law interface and offer helpful insights to those attempting this endeavor, especially external scientists not directly involved in government. 

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Drought! What is it good for? Native plants

Climate change predictions show that extreme events, including extreme droughts, will be more common in the future. From 2012-2015, California experienced the most extreme drought in over 1,200 years. Scientists from the University of California examined seeds in the soil and plants growing in grassland communities at the beginning of the drought and two years into the drought. They found that the seeds of native plants increased in the soil during the drought, while seeds of non-native grass species that generally dominate the landscape decreased significantly. Their findings suggest that brief, periodic droughts may benefit native plants that produce drought-resistant seeds.

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Reducing Plastic Pollution through Economic Incentives

Strolling along the beach, especially during peak tourist season anywhere and you will inevitably stumble upon someone’s cast away plastic bottle. Whether left by a beach-goer or washed onto the sand from upland, plastic litter can cost you the enjoyment of your beach day. Not only that, but collectively this nuisance plastic waste costs lost revenue from decreased tourism as well as harm to public, wildlife, and overall ecosystem health.

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Homeward Bound: Salmon Straying in the Pacific Northwest

For salmon to complete their life cycle, juveniles must migrate out to the ocean and return as adults to spawn in the river where they were born. Adult salmon find their way back to their natal river after years at sea through a process called “homing”, a phenomenon that scientists still don’t fully understand. Some salmon never make it home at all, which can have lasting effects on populations. Read on to learn more!

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It’s a nutrient, it’s a deicer, it’s polluting our environment.

Winter is over… Or at least according to the calendar. Yet, this morning I awoke to flurries in Cambridge, Massachusetts. These flurries turned into full-fledged snowfall by the time I got to work. Really? It’s April 2nd. The good thing is that hopefully the city will not see the need to salt the roads heavily because it should be warm enough to prevent ice patches from forming.

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Wineries: don’t waste the wastewater

The recycling of wastewater at large-scale production facilities such as wineries is considered by some to be a sustainable and innovative response to the harsh climate and water shortages many areas are currently facing. However, the question of what impact this wastewater will have on both the facilities and the surrounding environment is still up for debate. Recent research has investigated the effect that irrigating vineyards with wastewater has on the crops, the soil, and the wine produced by several wineries in California.

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