Community and home gardens are hotspots for pollinators in cities

Pollinators, such as bees, are important parts of the environment since they are required for plant success and fruit production by humans and animals alike. However, populations of pollinators have been declining worldwide due to a number of issues, including widespread pesticide use and loss of habitats. A recent study conducted by researchers in the UK and their colleagues examined pollinator use of urban areas, comparing community gardens, home gardens, cemeteries, and other spaces. The researchers show that the abundance and diversity of many pollinator groups was highest in community and home gardens, and suggest that urban planners should increase these spaces to boost pollinator populations.

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What counts as evidence? Local vs. research knowledge in the evidence-based policymaking movement

While evidence-based decision- and policy-making have become quite the buzzwords in recent decades, what constitutes ‘evidence’ in evidence-based is less straightforward. In this paper, Persson and colleagues help unpack the term evidence in the context of sustainability studies, discuss how scientific evidence sits at the top of the evidence hierarchy, and why ignoring local knowledge can be detrimental to sound decision- and policy-making. Additionally, they suggest an alternate model for considering both local and research knowledge to obtain a more holistic understanding of the subject matter at hand, which they argue may ultimately lead to more applicable and suitable decision- and policy-making.

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Genetics and bee conservation: telling the full story of a species’ decline

We’ve all probably watched bees engage in pollination as they move from flower to flower collecting pollen. This process is essential to the reproduction of many plants, including crops. When most people think of pollinators, they think of the honey bee (Apis mellifera). However, more than 20,000 species of bees have been described—all of which are pollinators! In fact, honey bees are actually native to southeast Asia and have spread across the globe due to human activities, potentially competing with other bees. Despite the honey bee’s ubiquity and popularity, native bees are important pollinators because ecological adaptations that differ from those of honey bees. For example, the tongues of many native bees such as bumble bees can reach the nectar of longer flowers for pollination better than the honey bee.

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Finding fish using their DNA

Traditionally the size of fish populations is estimated by towing nets off boats (trawling). Unfortunately trawling is expensive, time consuming, and only catches certain species. In this study Phillip Thomsen and his colleagues determine whether a new method known as environmental DNA (eDNA) can supplement or replace the use of trawling for fish surveys.

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Chagas Disease Eradication in Guatemala: An Example of Successful Cooperative Vector Control

Large-scale cooperation from anyone for anything often seems out of reach. Large-scale cooperation from multiple government entities to control a disease vector and actually bring about a decline in the disease in one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere is a truly difficult goal. That is what’s happening in Guatemala in an attempt to control Chagas disease. Has any real progress been made?

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Are your car’s windshield wipers helping your town’s stormwater management?

You decide to go out and run some errands on your day off, even though there is a chance of rain in the forecast. You are just starting your 30-minute walk back to your house and get caught in a torrential downpour. You are now forced to call a ride-share because you know the stream next to the path on your way back will likely flood and you would have to take the long way home. Once in the car, you are happy you do not have to walk in the rain. Little do you know, the car you are in may actually help improve rainfall maps and with that urban stormwater management. How? The car’s windshield wipers are turned on!

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Fantastic felines and how to be a responsible pet owner

Cats are fascinating creatures that allow us to live in proximity to them from time to time. Many cat owners let their furry companions to roam around the neighborhood. Because of that, these fantastic predators can have large impacts on other animals. A new study shows what farmland felines eat when they roam farms.

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Evidence from the sediment: Lake Baikal diatom community changes in response to shifting environmental conditions

Located in Siberia, Russia, Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world (Figure 1). Similar to other waterbodies around the world, both big and small, Lake Baikal is exhibiting changes in the community composition of its primary producers in response to climate change induced changes in surface temperatures and nutrient inputs. In this study, scientists examine community composition shifts in a group of primary producers known as diatoms and examine the influence of climate change on this shift.

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Is there space for nature in man-made jungle?

We humans are responsible for not just shaping existing environments, but for creating new ones as well. Urban and industrial areas can sometimes be seen as “unnatural” but new research has shown that a ton of new species want to be neighbors. On top of that- they’re thriving. Read on to learn more!

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Alaskan Megathrust Earthquakes: Sedimentary records provide new data and a look 2000 years into the past

In 1964, a historically unprecedented magnitude 9.2 earthquake struck the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. The earthquake prompted scientists to figure out that the Aleutians lie along a unique form of fault, now known as a “megathrust” fault. During a megathrust earthquake, large swaths of land suddenly rise or sink, depending on their location relative to the fault rupture. Over long periods of time, as tectonic plates slide under one another, compression causes the top plate to buckle and rise up along the coast. When enough energy is accumulated, a slip eventually occurs. In places that were being uplifted, the land suddenly falls a few meters as the strain is released, otherwise known as an earthquake. It has been thought that areas of uplift and subsidence remain constant, always rising or falling in exactly the same place with every earthquake. However, a recent study suggests that these areas are not constant, further complicating our understanding of how “megathrust” earthquakes occur.

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