Possible link between oil spill clean ups and harmful algal blooms

Oil spills are damaging the marine environment. One method for cleanup is applying dispersants to break up oil slicks on the water surface, making oil easier to decompose. Unfortunately, researchers started to observe harmful algal blooms after the application of these dispersants. The scientists in this study wanted to understand what was causing these blooms.

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Bacteria can eat plastic?

Plastic can now be found everywhere, from your kitchen to the ocean. Recently a group of scientists discovered a bacteria that can grow on one of the most abundant types of plastic: PET. Researchers in this study explored the mechanism behind this bacteria’s ability to survive on plastic. Read on to learn more about how these microbes might help us solve our plastic pollution problem.

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Sweet Science: Artificial sweeteners can help track septic effluent

Some homes treat waste onsite using what is called a septic system. These systems release treated water (effluent) into the ground where it eventually combines with natural groundwater. Septic effluent is a concern because it could contaminate groundwater that is used as drinking water. As a result, researchers have been searching for ways to track septic effluent in groundwater. The scientists in this study examined whether artificial sweeteners could do the trick.

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Fungi to the rescue: Can fungi help clean up radioactive waste?

U.S. Nuclear weapon production in the 1940s resulted in the production of large quantities of radioactive waste. Much of this waste was stored underground in holding tanks that are prone to leak and have been leaking ever since. Due to the massive amount of waste, cleanup is dangerous and expensive. Bioremediation, cleanup using natural organisms, is being considered as an option. This study searched for fungi that could be used for bioremediation of radioactive waste.

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Can clams help detect microplastic pollution in freshwater?

When plastic trash enters water environments it is often broken down into small pieces of plastic known as microplastics that can harm organisms. While a lot of research has examined the impacts of microplastic pollution in the ocean, little is known about its impact on freshwater environments. The researchers in this study set out to determine if the Asian clam could provide information about microplastic pollution in freshwater environments.

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The Dynamic Duo: Pine trees partner with fungal communities to survive climate change

With climate change comes increased drought, which can have serious consequences on many species. This study examined whether one tree species, the Pinyon pine, can rely on a relationship with fungal communities in its roots to survive drought conditions. Does the relationship last? Read on to find out.

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Turn out the lights: Does artificial light keep song birds up at night?

Have you ever thought about how much light we humans create at night? Well it’s a lot, and all of this light can have a large impact on the animals we share our environment with. In this study, the researchers wanted to determine the effect artificial light at night has on the sleeping behavior of two songbird species: Great tit and blue tit. Read on to learn whether we are keeping birds up at night.

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Fishy Investigation: Using fish larvae to track nitrogen pollution

While nitrogen is essential to life, too much nitrogen in coastal environments can result in negative consequences such as fish kills. Nitrogen derived from human sources (ex. fertilizer) tends to have a unique chemical fingerprint. Researchers in this study investigated whether larvae of the common goby could be used to track nitrogen pollution by measuring the nitrogen fingerprints in the fish.

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