What goes around, comes around: Accumulation of PFAS in Marine Critters

PFAS are a family of chemical pollutants of emerging concern. They are extremely useful in processing and manufacturing non-stick and stain-resistant consumer products, as well as foams used in firefighting, but they are also particularly persistent in the environment, and in humans! Efforts are being made to control the spread of these chemicals, and it’s important to understand both where they are coming from and how they move through the environment. In a recent study, researchers show how snails and crabs might be better informants about PFAS contamination sources than fish.

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Dumpster diving diet: city rats have higher protein diet distinct from other rural mammals

Rats have shared our cities for a long time. Because of this they can be used a model to learn more about how animals colonized cities and what features of cities can be advantageous for some species. A new study focuses their attention on whether 19th century city mice had an advantage over their rural neighbors. Read on to find out more!

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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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Chocolate beans and Brazilian birds

Global popularity of chocolate has led to intensive cacao bean cultivation, creating far-reaching environmental and social consequences. Agroforestry is a sustainable cultivation method that can reduce environmental impact. It is known to sustain native plants and animals more effectively than monocultures; but how do agroforestry areas compare to pristine forests?

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Dead trees and utility poles partially offset the impacts of deforestation on birds

Mature trees serve as important habitats for a variety of species including insects and birds. Birds use trees for many purposes including nesting, perching, and foraging. Conservationists are exploring strategies to maintain bird populations in areas where mature trees are being lost due to agricultural expansion, wood production, and increased urbanization. In a recent study, scientists in Australia measured how utility poles and erected dead trees impacted the number and abundance of bird species in urbanized regions. The results suggest that artificial structures can offset some, but not all, of the bird loss due to deforestation.

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Tweet tweet: Using social media to help bird conservation

Conservation areas are vital to maintaining biodiversity, and as a result, it’s important to know which conversation areas humans are most likely to visit. Looking at publicly available social media data, researchers analyzed how many people posted on Twitter and Flickr in over 12,000 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas across the globe. Understanding how many people visit what areas is important for funding, and eco-tourism, but also to see which areas may have higher threats with so many visitors.

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Can we increase agricultural production without threatening biodiversity?

The world population is expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. This increase in population will put pressure on agriculture to produce more food. Many studies have reported that land-use changes, such as cutting down forest to make new farmland, can lead to a loss in the number of species living in an area, known as the biodiversity. It is important to maintain biodiversity because it supports healthy ecosystems and ultimately a healthy planet. A recent analysis of previously published scientific articles suggests that when farming efforts are intensified, agricultural production increases but the number of species supported by the farm decrease. This means that increasing agricultural production comes at a cost.

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Islands and Alleles: How genetics can help protect endangered species

When talking about diversity in the natural world, we often think of the bright colors and bold patterns of fish gliding among a reef, or the variety of flying, creeping, and crawling critters found in the layers of a rainforest canopy. However, diversity even within a single species is an important indicator of a population’s health and stability. This type of diversity can be invisible to us when contained in the form of genes that control which traits organisms possess. In this study, scientists helped us to see the invisible diversity of an endangered skink and learn how to more effectively conserve this diversity.

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