It Makes “Cents”: Generating Renewable Electricity Benefits Health and Climate

Replacing fossil fuel electricity generation with renewable technologies has measurable benefits to human health and the climate. Researchers recently developed a simulation tool that reveals benefits are higher in certain regions of the US than others. Read more to see where deploying renewables would have the biggest impact!

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What is scarier than zombies, ghosts, and witches? A modern mass extinction

When I was a little kid, the things that scared me were a little silly – the slime monster from Ghostwriter, caterpillars, or a sinkhole developing underneath my bed that would swallow me while I slept. While I’ve gotten over these mostly ridiculous fears, being an adult doesn’t mean I am now fearless. Instead, the things that I consider “scary” have shifted. Now, the things that scare me are all too real – things like climate change and mass extinction.

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It’s all in the genes: how water pollution keeps silver carp at bay.

Silver carp are a notorious invasive fish that are spreading throughout the Mississippi River Basin. Despite their rapid-fire range expansion, silver carp have yet to make it to the Great Lakes. A recent study explores the possibility that polluted Chicago-area waters may be preventing the spread of silver carp into Lake Michigan and beyond.

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Listen for a Change: Bioacoustics in Restored Habitat Combats the Bird Decline

Excerpt: A recent study has revealed that 3 billion birds have disappeared since 1970 in North America. Restoring habitat can help reverse this loss, and technology in listening for birds can be a vital tool to see if this approach to restoring bird habitat is working.

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What is “dark diversity” and how can we use it to guide conservation and restoration?

The core of ecology is devoted to studying the interactions among species and their environment. But why are some species present and others absent in an environment? Think of a region of forest that has been converted to an agricultural field. The species that were thriving in the forest now have become absent because they are not tolerant of the new environmental conditions imposed upon them in the agricultural field.

Only a subset of all species in a region can tolerate the ecological conditions of a given site (the site-specific species pool). Of those, not all are realized in the local species pool. These absent species form what is called the dark diversity of a community. Authors Lewis et al. (2017) believe that the dark diversity concept can be used to complement and further develop conservation prioritization and management decision

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A Grizzly Situation: Saving Bears by Mitigating Conflict

Many people become fearful at the mention of “bear country.” But is the risk of being hurt by a bear, or even seeing a bear, on your trip really that high? The answer is no: many campers and hikers don’t even know they have passed close to a bear during their time outdoors because bears largely try to avoid humans. When bears do come close to people, it is usually due to conflicts over food and space. Humans often retaliate against bears in these situations, which can ultimately threaten the survival of bear populations. In an effort to save these bears, a team of scientists came up with a program to mitigate human-bear conflicts and create spaces where both humans and bears can coexist.

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Streamside Vegetation Can Capture Pesticides

Blueberries and other crops are being impacted in the Pacific northwest by a new invasive species. Pesticide use to combat this problem may impact nearby aquatic life. Researchers studied agriculture areas with and without woody vegetation along stream banks to understand if they could play a role in keeping pesticides out of streams. Sites with woody vegetation reduced 96% of pesticide measured in the stream on average compared to sites without. Increasing woody vegetation next to streams could help farmers fight off invasive species while still protecting water quality.

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In Winter: Where the Cold-Blooded Wild Things Go

When days become shorter and the temperature outside begins to drop, our home interiors become warm, welcoming refuges from the rain and snow outside. We see the trees enter dormancy as they drop their leaves, and wildlife become busy preparing for winter: Many birds migrate, some mammals prepare to hibernate, but where do the smooth and scaly things go? The frogs? The snakes? The turtles? And without a fur coat and thick layer of blubber, it makes one wonder how they survive in prolonged freezing temperatures. As it turns out, behavioral and physiological adaptations – such as brumation and supercooling – allow many amphibians and reptiles to withstand some of our planet’s most extreme winter conditions.

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