Invader vs. Predator: Invasive species benefit from control of apex predators

Humans have laid claim to almost every habitable place on the globe, and in doing so, have brought with them many species causing introductions of foreign species to lands they would have otherwise never seen. “Invasive species” are an ecological hot topic these days. What is an invasive species? According to the NISIC (National Invasive Species Information Center) an invasive species is “non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause harm.” Many conservation groups, governments and activists have spent much time and money in efforts to get rid of these species and in order to control the effects they might have on their “native” counterparts. However, another group of animals has longer been threatened by man, the predator. The loss of predator species has not only led to changes in the way the regions they belonged to operate, but has also allowed for foreign species to flourish.

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Beefore It’s Too Late: A Study of Diminishing Bee Populations and Why We Must Act Now!

There has been a major decline in bee populations over the past 50 years, although demand for insect pollination has tripled. In their article, Dave Goulson and colleagues touch on problems such as habitat loss, intensification of agriculture, and increasing reliance on pesticides, which can mean pollinators are chronically exposed to harmful chemicals faster due to climate change. About 75% of our crop species benefit from insect pollinators, which provide a global service worth $ 215 billion in food production. If we enter the pollination crisis, crop yields may begin to fall which is concerning for the future generations.

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What can we learn from the things in lakes?

We all know the saying right… An Ecosystem in Motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an outside force (aka humans), but what happens after that force hits? How does the ecosystem in question react? Does it crumble and die or does it dust itself off and try again?

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Warding Against Wildfires: How Well Does it Work?

You would have to be living under a rock not to know about the wildfires that seem to almost constantly be devastating the forests in western states like Colorado and Arizona. It seems like every couple of years, there is another new huge fire ravaging this portion of the United States of America. But, why are these wildfires so common and what can we do to stop them?

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Drought! What is it good for? Native plants

Climate change predictions show that extreme events, including extreme droughts, will be more common in the future. From 2012-2015, California experienced the most extreme drought in over 1,200 years. Scientists from the University of California examined seeds in the soil and plants growing in grassland communities at the beginning of the drought and two years into the drought. They found that the seeds of native plants increased in the soil during the drought, while seeds of non-native grass species that generally dominate the landscape decreased significantly. Their findings suggest that brief, periodic droughts may benefit native plants that produce drought-resistant seeds.

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Salt marsh and mangroves are equally vulnerable to sea level rise

Mangroves have extended their range as a result of climate change and have established in areas that were previously salt marshes. Both mangrove stands and salt marshes act as buffers against coastal storms. Studies have suggested that mangroves and salt marshes have the ability to cope with global sea level rise by increasing local elevation through trapping soil and expanding their root structure. A recent study in the Mississippi River Delta reports that black mangroves and salt marsh plants have similar abilities to build sediment in coastal areas, but the rate of elevation increase is still lower than sea level rise. Therefore, both salt marsh and mangrove-dominated habitats of the Mississippi River Delta are at risk from sea level rise.

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Can seaweed farming help fight climate change?

Seaweed farming is the fastest growing sector of food production and provides healthy, nutritious sea vegetables. Farming seaweed can also have positive benefits by decreasing wave action, taking up carbon dioxide, and locally reducing the effects of ocean acidification. Spatial planning, market analyses, and infrastructure development are needed to facilitate the expansion of seaweed aquaculture.

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Mercury rising. How the climate is driving recent increases in the mercury levels of freshwater fishes

Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that is present in many fishes that we eat. Although environmental regulations have cut down on mercury emissions in developed nations, the level of mercury in many top predator fish including large mouth bass has been increasing in recent decades. A complex mix of many different factors including local weather conditions and global climate patterns affect the levels of mercury in fish.

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O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree. How Christmas tree farms affect bird communities.

Grasslands, such as hay meadows, have been increasingly replaced with Christmas tree farms across Europe as the Christmas tree industry expands. A recent study documented higher bird abundance and more bird species in Christmas tree farms than in grasslands that had low shrub and bush (i.e. hedges) abundance. Grasslands with a large amount of hedges had similar amounts of birds compared to Christmas tree farms. As Christmas tree farms take up more and more grasslands, there is a need for more research to determine the quality of bird habitats within Christmas tree farms.

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Alien Plants in Urban Landscapes

Alien plant species, or non-native plant species, provide positive benefits, such as improving aesthetics and contributing to local food production. However, these species can also have negative effects on urban landscape by producing allergy-inducing pollen and taking over habitat from native species. In order to effectively manage urban landscapes, more research is needed on the positive and negative impacts of alien plant species.

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