182 Years in the Making: Invertebrate Communities of Narragansett Bay

Benthic invertebrates support various ecosystem functions and services such as shellfish production and biogeochemical cycling. Historical data spanning 182 years permitted Hale and colleagues to determine the trends and current conditions of invertebrate communities in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. From the 104 studies, the authors detected over 1,000 different taxa that have been observed within the esturary and suggest human influence has greatly impacted the overall biodiversity of the invertebrate community.

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Intertidal Examination: Competition Between an Invasive and Endemic Species

Coastal New England isn’t independent from the world of invasive species. The Asian shore crab has encroached on many crustaceans habitats in the last few decades and recently this includes the American lobster. Work done by Baillie and colleagues suggest that specific life stages of the lobster may be negatively impacted by the invasion of the crab. Not only will understanding the interactions between these two species aid in preservation of one of North America’s most important fisheries, it may also provide critical insight into the fascinating relationship between endemic and invasive species.

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Conserve the Lobster

Caught between a rock and a hard place. The American lobster has become the largest fishery in the United States. American lobster populations are increasing in the Gulf of Maine. However, pressures of climate change and harvest have virtually eliminated the fishery from Southern New England. Work done by Le Bris et al uncover the differences between the two locations and determine that active conservation efforts in the Gulf of Maine have permitted the crustacean to remain even with increased water temperatures and fishing.

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Spawn of the Dead

Migratory animals such as the Pacific salmon are critical to the transport of nutrients and energy across large distances and between different ecosystems. However, along with important nutrients also come contaminants and pollutants. To understand the impacts of salmon, Brandon Gerig and colleagues investigate contaminant levels of riparian fish populations in streams where salmon runs do and do not occur in the Great Lakes region.

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River Streams Benefit from Fallen Trees

Rivers have suffered the most from human urbanization. Damming, river straightening and removal of large woody debris have disrupted many natural processes essential for healthy habitats of fish, insects and algae. Many land managers have returned fallen trees back into rivers in hopes to improve habitat quality. It wasn’t until this research by Thompson and colleagues that there was clear evidence that this management strategy was successful.

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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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