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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Which Wetland? National Dataset Helps Reduce Flood Risk

Flooding is an expensive and dangerous problem across the globe. Freshwater wetlands can help reduce flood risk and damage. During large storm events, wetlands hold extra water allowing it more time to flow downstream or into the soil. In order to help communities understand where to spend their time and resources to utilize these important landscape features, researchers created a national dataset that identifies the wetlands that would be best for mitigating flood risk.

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Glimmer of Hope: Seagrasses Starting to Recover in Europe

Seagrasses provide vital habitat and resources for marine ecosystems. Water pollution, disease, and coastal modification have led to a decrease in 30% of seagrasses across Europe. Researchers analyzed over 1,000 studies to understand the trends of seagrasses over nearly 150 years. While overall losses have been great, the last few decades have shown seagrasses are starting to recover – likely due to strategies to decrease water pollution and protect vital habitats.

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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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Tweet tweet: Using social media to help bird conservation

Conservation areas are vital to maintaining biodiversity, and as a result, it’s important to know which conversation areas humans are most likely to visit. Looking at publicly available social media data, researchers analyzed how many people posted on Twitter and Flickr in over 12,000 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas across the globe. Understanding how many people visit what areas is important for funding, and eco-tourism, but also to see which areas may have higher threats with so many visitors.

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Improvements in Water Quality Offset Climate Debt in UK Rivers

By analyzing over 20,000 samples of aquatic macroinvertebrates, researchers were able to show that shifts in macroinvertebrate communities corresponded to improvements in water quality from 1991 to 2011. The improvements in water quality have created a “credit” that could have offset the climate debt created by rising temperatures. Local improvements can potentially offset global climate impacts, but for how long can this trend continue?

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Cover Crops: Good for Water Quality?

Cover crops have been a popular management strategy to reduce nutrient runoff from agriculture. However, evidence suggests that some cover crops may in fact release nutrients, instead of keeping them out of the water. One study explores whether five types of cover crops release phosphorus, and how that may impact water quality in the important Great Lakes region.

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Down the drain: What man-made products are in our waterways?

Humans use thousands of pharmaceutical and personal care products in any given day. What happens to these products after we use them? The unfortunate answer is that many of them end up in our waterways. Population size and land use may help us predict what products we can see in a waterbody. If we know what products are out there, we could better understand what effects these products can have on aquatic ecosystems and human health.

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