New on the menu – plastics for microbes

There are trillions of pieces of plastic floating across the ocean’s surface. Once plastics enter the ocean, they can release dissolved organic carbon, which is a food source for marine microbes. This study estimated that about 60% of that released dissolved organic carbon is available as an edible food source to marine microbes and can help stimulate growth at the base of the marine food web. As plastic pollution increases, more dissolved organic carbon may be released, having unknown effects on marine microbes.

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Will sea level rise harm tidal marshlands?

Tidal freshwater wetlands sit at the interface between the salty estuary and freshwater uplands, making the vulnerability of these habitats uncertain as sea level rise progresses. This study used over 5 years of plant and water level monitoring data, along with an elevation survey, to assess the relationship between plant species coverage and early season flooding. The researchers found that early in the season flooding was associated with sharp declines in plant coverage. These observations and analyses could provide insights into how sea level rise will affect tidal freshwater wetlands.

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How can we help salt marshes recover after an oil spill?

Salt marshes impacted by oil spills (like Deepwater Horizon) often experience vegetation diebacks and a loss of ecosystem function. Researchers recently found that re-establishing the dominant salt marsh vegetation, Spartina alterniflora, is critical to ensure and enhance the presence of other marsh animals. Unexpectedly, the addition of fertilizer had little to no effect on the recolonization of salt marsh critters.

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Biking – When and where you ride could affect your health

Trading your car for a bike to get around can help reduce traffic congestion and vehicle emissions, which is why many major cities have started to install bike lanes along roads. This study looks at the potential exposure to airborne black carbon, an indicator of fossil fuel combustion, that a bicyclist could experience during their commute in a major Brazilian city.

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Location, Location, Location – Planting Milkweed for Monarch Conservation

Monarch butterfly populations have severely decreased, largely because of the loss of the only plant they lay eggs on: milkweed. While planting more milkweed may seem like the easy answer, the location and size of a milkweed patch may affect the number of monarch eggs and caterpillars that survive.

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