Seaweed as far as the eye can see

In the center of the Atlantic Ocean lies the Sargasso Sea. The brown seaweed, Sargassum, gives the Sea its name; However, in the past decade this belt of Sargassum has been exploding. During certain seasons, the Sargassum belt has expanded from West Africa to the Americas. Beached seaweed has led to numerous problems and concerns for much of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Research led by Dr. Mengqiu Wang from the University of South Florida used previous data to determine what makes these seaweeds take over the ocean in order to better predict when these blooms may occur.

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Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products Alter Lake Food Webs

The pharmaceutical and personal care products we use daily enter aquatic environments. Phytoplankton, or microscopic algae, are important pieces of the aquatic food chain. Phytoplankton exposed to pharmaceutical and personal care products in two Norwegian lakes responded quickly and dramatically – altering their community structure. The effects of these compounds on phytoplankton suggest these compounds have the potential to alter the food webs of entire aquatic ecosystems.

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Red, White, and Blue-Green Algae: Harmful Algal Blooms Block Summer Plans, and Could Become More Common Without Action

Recent harmful algal blooms in the Northeast US have thwarted holiday plans for many lake-goers, and climate change might make such blooms more common. If we could have tighter control on the nutrients flowing into the lake, we may have a chance at preventing blooms in the future.

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The Fabric Cycle: Generating Microplastics from our Laundry

Tons of microplastics are entering the oceans each year in the form of microfibers from laundering textiles. Recent research shows fabric type and washing settings can influence the amount of microfibers released into the environment from your home laundry. Read more to find out how you can reduce your footprint.

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Chocolate beans and Brazilian birds

Global popularity of chocolate has led to intensive cacao bean cultivation, creating far-reaching environmental and social consequences. Agroforestry is a sustainable cultivation method that can reduce environmental impact. It is known to sustain native plants and animals more effectively than monocultures; but how do agroforestry areas compare to pristine forests?

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Dead trees and utility poles partially offset the impacts of deforestation on birds

Mature trees serve as important habitats for a variety of species including insects and birds. Birds use trees for many purposes including nesting, perching, and foraging. Conservationists are exploring strategies to maintain bird populations in areas where mature trees are being lost due to agricultural expansion, wood production, and increased urbanization. In a recent study, scientists in Australia measured how utility poles and erected dead trees impacted the number and abundance of bird species in urbanized regions. The results suggest that artificial structures can offset some, but not all, of the bird loss due to deforestation.

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Backyard Biodiversity: Urban Schoolyards Can Play an Important Role in Conservation

Biodiversity matters. Not just in the Amazon, but in your backyard, too. The recent report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) took the world by storm; the biodiversity crisis is here, and plants and animals across the globe are facing extinction, ultimately transforming ecosystems as we know it. Since the report, there has been a public outcry about what we can do to slow the impending biodiversity crisis, covered everywhere from scientific journals to media outlets worldwide.

While there are many pathways to address the crisis, a paper from a team of African researchers published in Urban Forestry and Urban Greening points to the importance of addressing a big problem on a small scale, suggesting urban schoolyards can positively impact local biodiversity for both native and exotic species.

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Mentally “exhausted” honey bees—petroleum exhaust makes bees learn slower and forget faster

Scent pollution from exhaust fumes could disrupt the relationship between honey bees and the flowers they feed from and pollinate. The smell of flowers invites pollinators to come and feast on their nectar. But exhaust masks those smells, making it harder for bees to learn and remember the floral scents that cue them in to flowers.

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