Winter coat color determines species survival in a changing climate

We’ve all seen pictures of a bright white arctic fox or snowshoe hare in a snowy landscape. But did you know, these same animals actually have brown coats during the summer? The ability of animals to change their seasonal coat color enables them to camouflage themselves against the landscape year round. A decrease in the duration of winter snow cover is one of the most widespread signals of climate change. Without snow, bright white arctic foxes and snowshoe hares will be obvious to predators and have decreased survival. A recent study reports that populations that have a mix of individuals with either brown or white winter coats may be better able to adapt and persist during this age of climate change.

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Following a Coastal Geologic Hazards course in Rhode Island

Coastal communities are impacted by hazards such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and beach erosion. Geologists reconstruct past events to understand future events. Follow along as a University of Rhode Island geology class explores coastal geologic hazards.

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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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Last call for African forest elephants

African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) are in trouble; this may not be news to you. They are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation as well as poaching for the ivory trade. Rather than beat this information over everyone’s heads, scientists are trying to get us to understand why we will miss the elephants when they are gone.

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Is there enough dirt in the Mississippi River to save the delta?

I know what you’re thinking: dirt flowing down a river doesn’t sound too exciting. But what if I told you this dirt could be the difference between building and losing physical land on our coastlines? Information like how much sediment is flowing down the river, what kind it is, and where it might end up is important in deciding how people will manage coastlines in a delta. For some places, like the Mississippi River Delta, sediment can be the difference between saving and losing precious natural resources, and even people’s homes.

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“Pollen-ology”: what microfossils can tell us about sea level rise

Ever wonder how scientists reconstruct environments from the earth’s history? For those studying mangroves in South Florida, the answer is a little smaller than you would think. Palynology, or the study of fossilized pollen, can tell researchers about what plants were present in an area in the past, aiding in understanding how things have changed in the last few thousand years. With the help of this reconstruction, pollen fossils can also help us predict how mangrove systems will change in the future.

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Out to lunch or sticking with the worm diet? Food decisions of the Australian ibis

If you’ve been to a busy park during lunch hour, surely, you’ve noticed that many birds are on the prowl for some of your delicious lunch crumbs! Recently, urban ecologists have been interested in learning how much human food animals eat, and how it might affect them. Read on to learn more about how the Australian ibis decides whether to grab some human grub or stick to its natural diet.

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