Does wearing a face mask make humans less scary to tree sparrows?

Environmental conditions can change quite quickly. In this case, due to the global pandemic of COVID-19 we’ve all been wearing masks when we venture outside. How might this sudden change in our appearance affect animals that frequently live amongst us? Find out how Eurasian tree sparrows responded to wearing masks in two provinces of Sichuan, China.

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From Food Waste to Roadways: Using Compost to Improve Soil Conditions and Tree Success Along Highways

Planting trees along highway roadsides is a good way to increase tree coverage in cities, but getting trees to grow here and maintaining these plantings over time can be difficult. Reducing soil compaction and adding organic material, such as compost, can improve roadside soils and support tree growth in these areas. A 5-year study in Ontario recently found that loosening up the soil and mixing in 10-25% food waste compost relative to soil can help improve tree growth along roadsides, possibly reducing the need to follow up and maintain these trees over time.

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Life in the City – Humans alter city habitats for plants and animals

Cites are ecosystems, just like a forest, desert, and prairie are ecosystems. As human populations grow and move to urban areas, cities expand into other ecosystems. Plants and animals must adjust to the rapid changes that result. Humans are the biggest threat to organisms, but why are cities challenging environments for plants and animals? Let’s learn more about one of the largest and growing ecosystems on land… cities!

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Identifying the Urban Populations in Africa at Risk for Malaria from a New Vector

Malaria continues to ravage many parts of the world, particularly in rural sub-Saharan Africa. A recently detected outbreak of malaria in urban areas has now been traced to an invasive species of mosquito from Asia. This species, A. stephensi, thrives in urban settings and its presence in Africa considerably increases the populations that are now at risk of contracting malaria.

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How to Study Invasive Species from Space

There are certain things on earth, like oceans and even the Great Wall of China, that can be seen in space by the human eye. Did you know that satellites can also take pictures of the Earth and can be potentially useful for real ecological restoration efforts? Researchers at the University of Cincinnati tested it out in their own backyard and found that they could identify a well spread invasive species. Early detection may be key to saving habitats from harmful, non-native organisms.

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It’s Complicated: Plant-pollinator relationships differ from urban to rural areas

Flowers and the butterflies they attract are beautiful additions to any yard, but your garden is serving a greater purpose. Pollinators – including butterflies, moths, bees, and wasps – depend on plants for survival and are essential for plant reproduction. Plant-pollinator relationships are especially important for agriculture and our food supply. Cities pose many challenges for both plants and their pollinators which could strain their relationship. Find out how cities put pressure on plant-pollinator relationships and what you can do to help!

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How to strike harmony between clean energy and nature-based tourism

Iceland is a beautiful country and my vacation there was one of my favorites! However, there is some tension in the country balancing clean energy development and maintaining the pristine natural areas that draw tourists annually. Authors of this paper explore how these two conflicting interests can work together and help to promote renewable energy production.

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Space Invaders? Exotic Bees in the Urban Landscape

One up and coming target for bee conservation has been the urban landscape, as some recent findings have indicated that cities can maintain diverse bee communities. Though on the surface these findings seem promising for bee conservation, many of these studies do not actually address whether this is a positive thing for native bees. One group of scientists decided to delve further into this topic by looking at the effects of urbanization on bee species. Specifically, they wanted to find out whether exotic bees, including the European honeybee, were found more abundantly in cities and other urban areas than in rural communities and how their presence affected native bees.

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From Cropland to Cities: Aerial Transport of Fungi

How connected are our farms to our cities? If you are a flying fungus, they may be very connected! In a new study, researchers from De Paul University found fungi from the soil on the rooftops of Chicago and wondered why. It turns out, small fungal spores can travel from agricultural fields through the air into the cities and form friendships with the city-dwelling plants. Understanding how these spores move from agriculture to cities could help researchers develop new insight of the urban ecosystem.

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Unequal Access to Urban Tree Benefits in the Bronx

Urban trees provide many ecosystem services to residents, but tree cover can be unequally distributed, resulting in fewer benefits for disadvantaged neighborhoods. This is true in the Bronx, where a recent study demonstrates that the distribution of services provided by trees is related to median income as well as population density. Analyzing the inequity of ecosystem services in our cities is the first step towards developing solutions to improve access to ecosystem services and make the distribution of these resources more just.

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