Ecological grief: In my feelings along the Gulf Coast

Aldo Leopold stated “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” He meant that those of us with deep connections to the natural environment, whether that be a farmer, fisher, or ecologist, are more aware of declining ecological health. We notice that there are less birds. We notice all the dead turtles along the road. We notice that it hasn’t rained in weeks and all the plants are crying. The unprecedented changes stemming from climate change have gained an increasing amount of people’s attention leading to the formation of the term ecological grief. The verdict is out. Climate change is making many of us depressed.

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Every birdie poops: How birds could be helping coral reefs in a changing climate

Warming ocean temperatures pose a big threat to coral reefs, but could coral reefs be getting some help from having feathered friends nearby? In this study, scientists investigate how the nutrients from bird poop may be helping to keep coral reefs from going to waste.

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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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