Crowdsourcing Sharks: a citizen science success story

Conserving the environment and its organisms works most effectively when managers and scientists have a lot of environmental information. However, some of the world’s most vulnerable animals, like the sand tiger shark, are also the most secretive. Luckily for these scary looking predators, amateur scientists can be an agent of change.

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How the Driest Regions on the Planet Add to Sea Level Rise

Terrestrial water loss is a major contributor to water stress around the world. Areas that are hydrologically isolated tend to lose water twice as fast as other regions. But where does that water go? New evidence is showing that water from the driest regions on the planet may have a consequential impact on global sea level rise.

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How Pre-Industrial Charcoal Changed the Soils Under Our Feet

Tragically, when some people look at the soil beneath our feet, they only see ‘dirt’. They are missing the fact that soils contribute so much to nature and our lives. But, what happens when humans alter soils from their natural state? Researchers from Cottbus, Germany, aimed to find out how charcoal production in the Northeastern US during the mid 1800s impacted the soils and ecology of the forests that we see today. Surprisingly, the answer is a little bit below the surface.

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Bacteria, Viruses and Carbon: how microorganisms in arctic soils can alter our climate

Wetland soils store 20-30% of global soil carbon, that carbon is mostly controlled by bacterial populations. Arctic wetland soils store twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, but are frozen year round as permafrost which limits microbial activity. We try to predict what will happen with microbial communities and soils when temperatures continue to warm, but we’re finding out it’s more than just bacteria that are driving arctic carbon cycles.

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Is there enough dirt in the Mississippi River to save the delta?

I know what you’re thinking: dirt flowing down a river doesn’t sound too exciting. But what if I told you this dirt could be the difference between building and losing physical land on our coastlines? Information like how much sediment is flowing down the river, what kind it is, and where it might end up is important in deciding how people will manage coastlines in a delta. For some places, like the Mississippi River Delta, sediment can be the difference between saving and losing precious natural resources, and even people’s homes.

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“Pollen-ology”: what microfossils can tell us about sea level rise

Ever wonder how scientists reconstruct environments from the earth’s history? For those studying mangroves in South Florida, the answer is a little smaller than you would think. Palynology, or the study of fossilized pollen, can tell researchers about what plants were present in an area in the past, aiding in understanding how things have changed in the last few thousand years. With the help of this reconstruction, pollen fossils can also help us predict how mangrove systems will change in the future.

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Can New Jersey Marshes just “Fuhgettabout” Superstorm Sandy?

After a storm that left 149 people dead and thousands without homes, how could New Jersey coastal wetlands have possibly survived Hurricane Sandy basically unscathed? To find out how these protective ecosystems made it through the storm, we may need to look a little bit below the surface. Most of us know about “Jersey Tough”, but how many knew that applied to the salt marshes, too?

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One man’s waste water is another man’s “accidental” wetland: How urban wetlands can revolutionize restoration

After the Salt River passes through the metropolitan area of Phoenix, AZ about 90% of the original water has been removed for human and agriculture use. Because of reduced water connectivity, similar to many urban streamside areas, plant and wildlife diversity in the Phoenix area have taken a big hit. “Accidental” wetlands forming along the river may be the money-saving restoration solution Phoenix, and hundreds of other cities, are looking for.

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