Be quiet, please – I’m listening for bees

Sounds are everywhere in nature, and are important communication tools for many organisms. Plants may not be the first organisms you’d think of that would rely on sound to assess their environment, but new research shows that flowers can respond to the sound of a nearby buzzing bee by producing sweetened nectar, likely an adaptation that lets them avoid “wasting” resources on nectar production in the absence of hungry pollinators.

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The Hunger Gaps: when flower supply fails to meet bee demand

Wild bees are indispensable pollen-transporters that support and maintain diverse plant communities in nature, but in discussions about the well-being of bees, they tend to lose the spotlight to their honeybee cousins. One issue where both wild bees and honeybees are struggling, however, is in facing the lack of food continuity throughout the growing season. Mapping the “hunger gaps” for foraging bees, and working to close such gaps, is a key issue for bee conservation.

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Cutting through the doom and gloom – how psychology can be used to promote climate action

Do you feel overwhelmed by the apocalyptic scenarios presented in news related to climate change? You’re not alone! The fact that so many people feel hopeless about the prospects of halting climate change can put a spoke in the wheel of any efforts to inspire broad, public involvement in climate action. But by factoring in human psychology, climate change communicators can strike an optimally motivating balance between hope and fear.

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Green spaces that are more than just green

Many urban ecologists are looking to shift the perception of what the “green” in green space should actually signify. New avenues within lawn research and development can help communities embrace wildness over uniformity in urban ecosystems, and push for the creation of urban green spaces that are more resilient to climate change.

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Near-death experiences: sublethal effects of pesticides on pollinating insects

Negative impacts of pesticides on pollinators can take different forms: direct kills on contact (called lethal effects) or indirect effects, through the pollinators’ abilities to reproduce (called sublethal effects). These sublethal effects are generally not spotted by regulatory bodies through traditional ecotoxicological tests, but have severe impacts on pollinator health.

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Mismatches between biodiversity research and policy needs – how can anyone compete with climate change?

If you would conduct a quick poll among the next twenty people you meet and ask them what they think the most important cause of global biodiversity loss is, there’s a good chance you would get a lot of the same two-word answer: climate change. In the English-speaking world today, there are few anthropogenic threats that appear in the news as often as often as climate change. While climate change is undeniably an important driver of biodiversity changes worldwide, there’s a risk that other equally important drivers have ended up too far from the scientific spotlight.

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Climate change can make it harder to help your neighbors – increased insect damage in diverse forest stands during drought

if you’re a tree trying to avoid being eaten by insects, it matters who you’ve got next to you: is it your own species, or another one? Often you’re better off with another species as a neighbor, but a new study shows that climate change can turn this upside down.

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Daylight at night – the consequences of a world without darkness

We don’t tend to think of artificial light in terms of pollution. Most often it’s something positive; it helps us find our way around the house after dark, lets us read signs along the roads during night-time drives, and makes us feel safer while walking through cities at night. But the problem with our increasingly illuminated lifestyle is that we’re inadvertently messing with nature’s sensitive regulation systems, all fine-tuned by millions of years of evolution.

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From bad to worse: nitrogen deposition amplifies negative impacts of drought in California’s biodiversity hotspots

The release of excess nitrogen into nature, for example through fossil fuel combustion, still gets relatively little attention in the public debate about biodiversity threats, especially compared to climate change and habitat destruction. But human-driven nitrogen increases in natural ecosystems demand our attention, as they can worsen the negative effects of climate change in biodiversity hotspots, and threaten some already endangered species.

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