Radioactive exclusion zone or restoration at work? Insights from the re-wilding of Chernobyl

In 1986 a nuclear disaster rocked Belarus and forced thousands of people to abandon their homes for fear of radiation exposure. Now, removed from the impacts of human settlements, wildlife are returning to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ). In a new study, researchers studied the raptors in the CEZ to test re-wilding and ask the question: can removing humans from a landscape help restore the natural environments? And like all things in ecology, the answer is more complicated than it seems but offers a glimmer of hope for re-wilding endeavors in this Decade on Ecological Restoration.

Read more

Who Pollinates a Potent Plant?

About once a decade, the corpse flower blooms and attracts human visitors of all ages who want to see the short-lived flower and smell the plant’s natural perfume of rotting flesh. But in the wild, these plants must attract a different kind of visitor –pollinators. Read on to learn more about the mysterious pollinators of the Corpse Flower and learn about the questions scientists still don’t know the answers to.

Read more

When Geological Processes Collide– Exploring the Link Between Earthquakes and Glaciers

What happens when glaciers melt? Scientists have discussed numerous effects of deglaciation including sea level rise and loss of habitats but recently, geologists have been thinking about how glaciers interact with the crust of the earth. Researchers from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks found a link between melting glaciers and earthquakes in Southeast Alaska which adds new understanding about the indirect effects of climate change and the role of humans in natural disasters.

Read more

Combine Crickets and Lockdowns and get an Unlikely Experiment

In the spring of 2020, we all dealt with lockdowns in a different way. In urban parks, animals were suddenly exposed to a world without humans, and this disrupted ongoing urban ecology experiments. But resourceful ecologists used the sudden silence near businesses and the uptick of outdoor recreation to understand how shifting human behaviors change timing and duration of chirping urban crickets.

Read more

Using Plants to Protect the Past

A new study found that plants that are culturally significant to Native American tribes are abundant near archeological sites in Bears Ears National Monument suggesting that historical human behavior is still shaping our ecosystems today. Now, we need to use our resources to protect this cultural and ecological legacy and educate others about the history of these ancestral lands.

Read more

New Discovery of Microbes Gobbling Up Greenhouse Gases in Extreme Environments

A new group of microbes can eat up methane, a common component of greenhouse gas. Named for Dr. Thomas Brock, this new phylum sheds new light on the role microbes play in the global carbon cycle. This study demonstrates the astounding biodiversity of microbes in extreme environments and how tiny creatures shape our world.

Read more

Phoning the Queen with Fanning and Pheromones

Like a game of telephone, bees pass pheromones to each other by sticking their butts in the air and frantically fanning their wings. This individual behavior helps the entire group aggregate around the queen. A recent study used video recording and machine learning to understand how these pheromones are passed from bee to bee and understand collective behavior in honey bees.

Read more